On the Abuses of Fasting. – continued.
PRAYER BEFORE MEDITATION.
My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.
On the Abuses of Fasting. – continued.
3. I will not, however, dwell on this discouraging subject any longer, but continue the series of instructions which I had formed for your benefit at the commencement of this penitential season. Let me exhort you, therefore, in the first place, to bear in mind that your works of self-denial and mortification, at this time, must be devoted to the expiation of the pleasures and crimes of the past year. – According to the gospel, indeed, the whole life of a Christian should be devoted to mortification. But in these days of degeneracy, the Church despairs of inculcating with success the necessity of an uninterrupted course of penance; and therefore, she insists particularly on the due observance of this time, lest the spirit of penance should be totally extinguished in the breasts of her children – Fulfil, then, with alacrity this easy course of penance which she imposes on you: and may the trivial sufferings you will endure supply for every other deficiency. Submit with joy to so lenient a law. Do not murmur under so slight a yoke; and do not exaggerate the inconveniences you may experience, nor complain of the rigours of this relaxed remnant of primitive discipline.
Remember, likewise, that as the object of the fast is to satisfy the justice of God for your former infidelities, you must be particularly on your guard against the commission of fresh crimes. If you are not, you destroy with one hand, what you raise with the other; you offend your Judge, at the time that you are endeavouring to appease him. – What will it profit you to abstain from meats, which are good in themselves, which God hath created, and which may be lawfully eaten at other times, if you abstain not from sin, which, at all times, and in all seasons, is strictly forbidden by the law of God? What will your fasting and abstinence avail you, if they are not accompanied with purity of conscience, which alone can insure you a reward from the great Searcher of hearts? Oh! be not deceived; suffer what you will, unless you refrain from sin, God will pay no regard to your sufferings : fast as rigorously as you please, God, says the prophet,, will reject your fasts. For, can you suppose, even for a moment, that fasting consists wholly and entirely in. abstaining from forbidden food? This was the fast of the Jews, who followed only the letter of the law, which killeth. The fast of Christians is sanctified by renouncing the ways of sin, and is consummated by subduing the passions. – If, therefore, you are not more chaste, more humble, more charitable, more patient, you fast not, or at least you fast in vain. The law of abstinence was instituted to promote a reformation of your lives; and if you reform not, you do not fulfil the law, or, at least, you fulfil it without profit.
Remember, in the third place, that, as it is your duty, at this time, to satisfy the justice of God, you are not only to avoid sin, but you are required to refrain from amusements, which may, perhaps, be innocent, and lawfully indulged at other times. You are now public penitents, striving to disarm the anger of the Lord. Tears, silence, prayers, are the only occupations suited to your penitential course. Plays, parties of pleasure, indolence, and unnecessary pastimes are forbidden. If you partake of them, you renounce the character of true penitents; you abandon the enterprise, you interrupt your course. Yes: you violate the law of Lent, as often as you mingle the pleasures of the world with the holy afflictions of penance.
Lastly, remember, that it is the intention of the Church, that you prepare yourselves during these days of penance, for the grace of the resurrection, and for the participation of the Lamb of God, the true Christian passover. – Begin, then, betimes, to eradicate your vicious habits. Begin, immediately, to abstain from the sins to which you have been hitherto addicted, and which you will lament at the feet of God’s ministers at the conclusion of this season. For why should you defer your preparation for the adorable sacrament till the festival is at hand; and either expose yourselves to the danger of an unworthy communion, or compel the judges of your conscience to refuse you the bread of heaven, at the time when they are breaking it for the rest of your brethren? – Begin, I say, betimes: try your strength; try beforehand, whether your resolutions are sufficiently firm to ensure your fidelity to the promises of amendment which you will then make to God. It is a dreadful thing to be exposed to the danger of sacrilege and perjury. Fight resolutely; and prepare yourselves in such a manner, that you may be able to alledge the past as an earnest for the faithful performance of your promises for the future. The time that intervenes is certainly not too long for your preparation, after the life that you have led. The space of forty days is not more than is necessary for purifying your souls from the defilement of sin, and putting things in order for the reception of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Hearken to the admonition of the apostle read on this day: Behold now is the acceptable time: behold now is the day of salvation, 2 Cor. vi. 2. Shake off immediately the odious yoke under which you have hitherto groaned; and enter seriously on the ways of penance. You have never experienced any real pleasure in the paths of sin. The days, in which you seemed to enjoy them, are gone. The charm, that glittered before your eyes, is vanished; and nothing remains but the agonies of remorse in this world, and the prospect of eternal misery in the next. What are the advantages you have derived? Where are the fruits you have reaped from your multiplied excesses? Ah! you forged new chains to aggravate your slavery; you prepared fresh ingredients to embitter your cup withal. Let the experience of the past undeceive you; and return at length to the Lord. Return to him for the love of virtue; but if that motive be insufficient to influence your determination, fix your eyes on the vanity and emptiness of all the pleasures of iniquity, and return to Him on that account.
Great God! I acknowledge this day in Thy presence, that I have never enjoyed any real pleasure at a distance from Thee: may Thy holy name be for ever blessed. Reject not these feeble commencements of my repentance. I have run with sinners, and have trod in all their ways. But, my God, I here confess that all the pleasures of the world were insufficient to satisfy my desires; and therefore I renounce them for ever. To acknowledge that this were the motive of my return to Thee, would overwhelm me with confusion, were I not convinced that it was Thy grace, O merciful God! that embittered my palate, and rendered insipid all the delights which the world presented to me. For, how many souls are there, who are never disgusted with vanity, never wearied with iniquity? How many souls are there, who are buried in a profound sleep even to the end; who open not their eyes until time is no more; until, struck with the agonies of death, and already judged, they are on the point of appearing before Thy terrible tribunal
Increase, O God, these first symptoms of disquietude, which Thy grace has excited in my soul: increase them, I beseech thee, and cause me at length to feel that happy anxiety, which lead to true repentance. Add to the disrelish of unlawful pleasures, that true love of justice and virtue, which will complete Thy triumph over a corrupted heart, and from a vessel of wrath, change it into a vessel of election and honour.
PRAYER AFTER MEDITATION.
My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.
– Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur October 10, 1910
Just as we drive out one nail by another, let us oppose effort to effort, habit to habit.. – St. Ignatius of Loyola, Letter 151.
March Devotion: St. Joseph
Virtue to practice: Mortification
Novena in honor of St. Joseph – Day 1
A nine day novena in honor of St. Joseph may be said anytime but especially from March 10th through March 18th before the Feast of St. Joseph on March 19th. Any of the following prayers are suitable.
Prayer Before the Novena
Great Saint Joseph, prostrate at thy feet, with feelings of unlimited confidence, I beg thee to bless the Novena that I begin in thy honor. I will meditate upon thy virtues; grant that I may learn fully to appreciate them. The knowledge of them will be the source of great confusion for me because of the poverty and destitution of my soul.
Great dispenser of the heavenly treasures, assist me in my poverty, help me to display thy virtues in my own soul. “Thou art never invoked in vain,” says the seraphic Theresa of Jesus; be thou to me what thou hast been to that Spouse of the Sacred Heart of Jesus; graciously hearken to me as thou didst hearken to her. Amen.
Saint Joseph, Model of the Life of Faith
THE words of the great Apostle: “The just man liveth by faith,” may be applied particularly to Saint Joseph who was the most just of men and whose life was ever guided by faith. Joseph submitted his intelligence to the holy truths of religion. He applied his heart from his tenderest infancy to the observance of the divine precepts.
In the trials and sorrows of life, Joseph was sustained by faith. He shaped his whole conduct by the desire to please God and he attained the great aim of man upon earth, which is to adore God, to serve Him, and hence to deserve the everlasting Truth.
Let us glorify this great Servant of God who possessed a faith so universal, so simple, so enlightened, so firm, so constant, and above all, so fruitful in good works.
Let us examine ourselves with regard to this great virtue and see how we resemble him.
Is my faith firm, unshaken? Is my conduct animated by faith? Is the predominant thought that directs my acts to please God. and to obtain merit for everlasting life? Have I tried to derive consolation and strength from the thought of faith in time of trial?
O GREAT Saint, model of the just living by faith, revive that virtue in our souls. May it be the principle, the motive, the aim of all my actions; my consolation and my strength in the trials of this life, and the source of abundant merit for everlasting life. Amen.
Litany of St. Joseph
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven, Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost, Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, Have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Illustrious Son of David, pray for us.
Splendour of patriarchs, pray for us.
Spouse of the Mother of God, pray for us.
Chaste Guardian of the Virgin, pray for us.
Foster-father of the Son of God, pray for us.
Watchful Defender of Christ, pray for us.
Head of the Holy Family, pray for us.
Joseph most just, pray for us.
Joseph most pure, pray for us.
Joseph most prudent, pray for us.
Joseph most couragious, pray for us.
Joseph most obedient, pray for us.
Joseph most faithful, pray for us.
Mirror of patience, pray for us.
Lover of poverty, pray for us.
Model of all who labor, pray for us.
Glory of family life, pray for us.
Preserver of virgins, pray for us.
Mainstay of families, pray for us.
Solace of the afflicted, pray for us.
Hope of the sick, pray for us.
Patron of the dying, pray for us.
Terror of demons, pray for us.
Protector of the Holy Church, pray for us.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us.
V. He hath made him master of His house,
R. And ruler of all His possessions.
Let us Pray.
O God, Who in Thine ineffable providence didst vouchsafe to choose Blessed Joseph to be the spouse of Thy most Holy Mother; grant, we beseech Thee, that we may be worthy to have him for our intercessor in heaven whom on earth we venerate as our Protector. Who livest and reignest world without end. Amen.
Ancient Prayer to St. Joseph
(This prayer was said to be founded in the 50 A.D. In the 1500′s it was sent by the Pope to Emperor Charles when he was going into battle. According to oral tradition, whoever reads this prayer, hears it, or carries it, will not fall into the hands of the enemy, nor be burned in any fire, nor will they be defeated in battle.)
O St. Joseph whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in thee all my interests and desires. O St. Joseph, do assist me by thy powerful intercession and obtain for me from thy Divine Son all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord; so that having engaged here below thy heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of fathers. O St. Joseph I never weary contemplating thee and Jesus asleep in thy arms. I dare not approach while He reposes near thy heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine Head for me, and ask Him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, patron of departing souls, pray for me. Amen.
Prayer to St. Joseph by Pope St. Pius X
O Glorious St. Joseph, model of all those who are devoted to labor, obtain for me the grace to work conscientiously, putting the call of duty above my natural inclinations, to work with gratitude and joy, in a spirit of penance for the remission of my sins, considering it an honor to employ and develop by means of labor the gifts received from God, to work with order, peace, moderation, and patience, without ever shrinking from weariness and difficulties, to work above all with purity of intention and detachment from self, having always death before my eyes and the account that I must render of time lost, of talents wasted, of good omitted, of vain complacency in success, so fatal to the work of God. All for Jesus, all through Mary, all after thine example, O Patriarch, St. Joseph. Such shall be my watchword in life and in death. Amen.
Good St. Joseph protect us, protect the holy Church.
O good and kind St. Joseph guide us in the way of perfection.
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