Motives of self-interest moving us to Conformity with the Will of God
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.
Motives of self-interest moving us to Conformity with the Will of God
But were the love of God so faint within us as not to have the power to subject our will to the Divine will, the love of ourselves, at least, should avail to bring us to this state of submission, to which we are in duty bound. For neither is there, nor can there be, anything more advantageous to ourselves than to do in everything the will of God. We must be firmly convinced that whatever God wills or allows to happen to us, He wills and permits with a view to our good; and that if any evil result happens, it arises from the bad use we make of it, especially in refusing to conform to a most loving Providence.
This is an undeniable truth, because it is founded wholly on revelation. We learn in the Sacred Writings that God compasses us about on every side with the shield of His favour, so as to ward off from us real evils, and to leave us open only to such as, are in truth, for our advantage, “O Lord, Thou hast crowned us, as with a shield of Thy good will” (Ps. v, 13). We read that God, beholding our misery, takes thought for our welfare; that “He keeps us as the apple of His eye;” that “to touch us is to touch the apple of His eye” (Zach. ii, 8). We meet with still more tender expressions, wherein God disdains not to compare Himself to a hen gathering her young brood under her wings, declaring to us that even so does He gather us under the fostering wings of His protection. “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered together thy children, as the hen doth gather her chickens under her wings, and thou wouldst not?” (Matt, xxiii, 37). At one time He compares Himself to an eagle spreading its wings over its young, and hovering over them, to teach us that, in like manner, He too is ever at our side, sheltering us beneath the wings of His loving Providence (Deut. xxxii, II). At another time He likens His love to the love of a mother who cannot forget her child, assuring us that, even if she should forget the fruit of her womb, yet will He never be unmindful of us, but will ever bear us jealously in His hands, as the object dearest to His heart. “Can a women forget her infant, so as not to have pity on the son of her womb? and if she should forget, yet will not I forget thee” (Isaias xlix, 15). He even goes so far as to make His own of that other expression, so full of sweetness, that He will, like a tender mother, clasp us to His bosom, whence we shall drink of the milk of His mercy (Isaias Ixvi, 12, 13). All these expressions of tenderness are so many proofs of the loving care entertained for us by God, Who cannot wish anything to be to us a real evil.
We have said a real evil for, as has already been observed, many a thing is reckoned an evil because it grieves us, which in truth is a real benefit, inasmuch as God turns it to our advantage. We have now to see to what useful purpose God puts those trials which we call evils, although, viewed by the light of faith, they prove to be substantial benefits.
In the first place, the trials which afflict us in this life are oftentimes designed by God to be the means whereby we attain to great temporal prosperity; they cannot, therefore, properly speaking, be considered as evils, since, even in the natural order, they are productive of great good. Joseph was sold as a wretched slave by his brethren to the Ishmaelites; loaded with chains, and a close prisoner in a dark dungeon, where he bewailed his hard fate. Who could have imagined that the ignominy of chains and the disgrace of slavery were destined to be the means of conducting Joseph to the throne, and of procuring for him the viceroyalty of Egypt? Yet so it was; for, whilst no one thought of it, God, in His Providence, was secretly preparing to turn the shame of a prison into the glory of a throne.
Saul lost his beasts of burden, and taking the loss for a great misfortune, full of anxiety he scoured the plains, climbed the hills, traversed the woods and forests, in quest of his beasts. Who would have divined that on that very day Saul was to find the royal crown and throne of Israel, in lieu of a few worthless animals? Yet so it was; and God, Who foresaw it, was making ready to compensate the loss with the gain of a kingdom.
On the contrary, it never could have occurred to any mind that the honours which Aman had received from King Assuerus, and his advancement to the position of favourite courtier of his sovereign, were ordained to conduct him to a shameful death on the gibbet. It is nevertheless certain that Aman was brought to this pass by his rise to power. God knew it, and decreed that the opprobrium of the scaffold should be the end of Aman’s ambitious and prosperous career. Therefore we must infer that what we take to be evil is often the means of temporal advantage, and that, consequently, all sensible men will allow themselves to be led by God, Who, in His loving Providence, seeks nothing but our good.
In the second place, it often pleases God to visit us in this life with many grievous afflictions, that we may be spared the more lasting and incomparably more severe chastisements of the next life; thus we purchase by suffering in this world immunity from pain in the life to come. Is not this a substantial advantage cheaply bought at the cost of a trifling evil? Holy Job was well convinced of this truth, and this is why he begged of God not to spare him, but to crush him with the weight of affliction, appreciating, as he did, the greatness of the benefit which God bestowed upon him in commuting the dreadful torments of the next life into the slight sufferings of this present one (Job vi, 8).
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.
When God shall have wholly occupied our souls in spite of ourselves, since no one can rob us of our Divine Treasure, there is nothing in the daily occurrence of this life which ought to grieve or worry us much, for every affliction, whatsoever may be the cause, only comes from the loss of an object that one loves, or from the fear of losing it. – St. Ignatius of Loyola, Letters.
March Devotion: St. Joseph
Virtue to practice: Mortification
Novena in honor of St. Joseph – Day 5
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 Humility
JOSEPH excelled in humility because he realized that glory is due to God alone, and that, of himself, man is but misery and nothingness. By reason of his humility Joseph was accorded the most glorious privileges and entrusted with the most sublime mission. To accomplish His designs, God employs only the humble who do not claim for themselves the glory.
As Foster Father of Jesus and Spouse of the Queen of Heaven and earth, Joseph was more highly honored than any king in this world. What pretexts, furnished by zeal for the glory of God, might have prompted him to speak, to put himself forward, to attribute to himself the greatness of the precursor of the Messiah, and the glories of the apostles! He rather conceals the astonishing prodigies which have been revealed to him, and the sublimity of the functions he exercises. Under an impenetrable veil he hides all that can draw upon him the esteem of men.
O Saint Joseph, what a lesson for me ever so eager to appear, so anxious to display before the eyes of men the graces that I owe entirely to the liberality of God. Obtain that I may attribute to God the glory of all things; that I may love the humble and hidden life; that I may not desire any other position than the one given by Providence, and that I may always be a docile instrument in the hands of God. 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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