The Second Sunday of Lent. – On the Motives for a Change of Life. – continued.

The Second Sunday of Lent. – On the Motives for a Change of Life. – 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.

The Second Sunday of Lent. – On the Motives for a Change of Life. – continued.

3. The cross is the only inheritance bequeathed by Christ to His Church. Our union with Him in heaven depends on our suffering with Him on earth, 2 Tim. ii. 22. This is the spirit of our Avocation, and the foundation of our hope. This alone distinguishes us from the idolatrous nations who know not Christ. Take away from the morality of the gospel, the maxims of the cross, self-denials, humility, the renouncing of our own will, and a thorough contempt of the world, and of all its fleeting pleasures; and we might have learnt the rest from the philosophers, whose doctrines abounded with moral precepts, and inculcated the necessity of a strict guard against vice and excess.

The cross, therefore, of Jesus, properly constitutes the grand characteristic of a Christian, and is the great road to salvation, which He has marked out to His disciples. – I say, the cross of Jesus: for the world has its crosses; our passions have their crosses; and we possess the art of forming to ourselves crosses of various kinds, that are purely imaginary. These, however, are the crosses of concupiscence. They are the punishments due to our passions, and not the remedies of our crimes. They are the sad consequences of vice, and not the rewards of virtue. And yet, we submit, to them all; but, from the cross of Jesus, we turn away with precipitation and disgust. We refuse to suffer any thing for His sake: we neither resist our passions, our humours, our caprices, nor make the sacrifice of our disorderly inclinations or unlawful pleasures. We carry the cross of our passions, the cross of our discontents, the cross of our hatred and envy; that is to say, the cross of the world and of the devil, and we attempt not to ease ourselves of the load. Alas! the cross of Christ is pleasant, and much lighter, and we throw it from us! the cross of Christ imparts happiness to those who carry it, and sweetens the crosses of the world, and we will not give it the preference! the cross of Christ is the price of eternity, and we think it beneath our notice!

What infatuation is this! How long shall we be the dupes of our own illusions, and shut our eyes to the light of heaven? Why will we not be convinced that the Lord sweetens the yoke we carry for His sake? We have experienced that the yoke of the world is a yoke of iron, which overpowers and destroys: we believe that the wages of sin are death; and why will we not believe that the grace of God is everlasting life?

4. Ah! be no longer deceived: open your eyes to the light which the Sun of Justice throws around you. Now is the time to arise from sleep. The graces which flow from the cross during this season, offer you resources, which you may not perhaps enjoy at another time. The example of the whole Church invites you, and the prayers of all the elect are offered up in your behalf. The saints crucify their flesh by fasting and retirement; and their voice, like the voice of innocent blood, ascends to the throne of God, not to solicit His judgments, but to draw down His mercies. Be not, then, discouraged by the idea of difficulties: but have confidence, and good will. If the corporal mortifications of Judith alone in Israel, reconciled the Lord with His people, and averted the effects of His just indignation, what may you not expect from so many faithful souls, who, in every quarter of the globe; offer up their prayers and austerities to heaven for the pardon of your sins? What may you not expect from so many holy pastors, who contribute their supplications and labours to gain you to Christ? – from so many pious solitaries, from so many chaste virgins, who, in the recesses of their retreat, mourn like the dove, and endeavour to disarm the anger of the Lord, and change the thunders of His vengeance into the mild dews of benediction and grace?

Every assistance, my dear friends, is offered you. And will you still refuse to enter into the bosom of the clemency of your God? Will you oppose the efforts with which the whole Church endeavours to recall you to a more Christian and holy life? Are you obstinately bent on perishing, at the time that the whole congregation of the just are stretching out their hands to save you from shipwreck? – What more can the Lord do for you? He tortures you with remorse of conscience, and you resist the motions of His grace. He offers you the abundant resources of religion, and you refuse their aid. He unites in your favour the prayers of all His elect, and you render them useless by your obstinate impenitence. He proclaims, by the mouth of His ministers, the promises and the threats of His law, and they are effaced from your minds the moment they are pronounced. What more can He do for you? The only remaining access to your heart is punishment. He must chastise you. He must execute the threats of His indignation. This is His last resource. He has spoken in vain: now He must strike, in order to compel you to listen to His voice.

5. Having, therefore, filled up the measure of our iniquities, He has at length poured out the bitter chalice of His wrath on our guilty heads. He has abandoned His inheritance; He has delivered up the kingdoms of Christianity to the rage of our mortal enemy, the prince of darkness. He has permitted the dissemination of the most pernicious principles, of doctrines the most destructive of society, of harmony, of peace, and of all our beloved worldly enjoyments. He has permitted the flames of war to ravage nations, and destroy kingdoms. He has not spared even the seat of Christianity itself. He has empowered misery, wretchedness, and want, to fix their empire on the ruins of prosperity, happiness, and abundance; and to heap their horrid gifts with profusion on their devoted subjects.

Yes, beloved friends, His wrath has burst over our heads. The enormity of our crimes has ascended to the tribunal of His justice. He has looked down from His high sanctuary, says the prophet, (Ps. ci. 20.) and He has beheld the faithful without morals, the nobility without religion, the ministers of the altar without piety, and the fairest of our creation without chastity, and without modesty.

He has looked down from His high sanctuary, and He has beheld adulteries, fornications, blasphemy, and impiety, honoured and applauded in the midst of His people; rapines and injustice covered with the specious title of lawful gain and traffic; the most extravagant excesses authorized by the example of the great; and profusion and luxury every where increasing with public calamities.

He has looked down from His high sanctuary, and He has beheld the corruption of the whole human race. He has seen them bend their servile knee to mammon, and offer up their sighs and tears, their prayers and supplications at the unhallowed shrine of the golden calf: He has seen the false deity, the molten god, the object of universal adoration. He has seen religion despised, and treated as the lowest weakness; and the few that still continue to pay their adoration to Him, He has seen coming to Him with divided hearts, and confining their worship to mere exterior homage, to a few prayers pronounced with their lips, whilst their minds are given up to tepidity, to sensuality, to hatred, animosity, and discontent. In a word, He has seen Himself dethroned from the hearts of His people, and faith almost banished from the earth.

He has, therefore, discharged the cup of His indignation and wrath on the earth: He has let loose the implacable spirits, war, pestilence, and famine, to ravage the whole Christian world.

And what use have we made of these public chastisements? What measures have we taken to disarm the anger of the Lord? We render ourselves more criminal by our complaints, impatience, and discontent; and we neither lament, nor do penance for our murders, our sorceries, our fornications, and our thefts!

Good God! how shall I endure the scrutiny of Thy justice! What hast Thou not done for my salvation? and what have I not done to obstruct the effect of Thy mercies? – Thou hast exerted every means to preserve Thy creature from destruction: Thou hast invited Him by Thy graces and inspirations; Thou hast stimulated Him by anguish of mind, by thwarting His passions, by disappointing His hopes; Thou hast endeavoured to compel Him by calamities both public and private: Thou hast moreover formed His heart for goodness; Thou hast instilled into it sentiments of virtue and uprightness – sentiments, which made Him shudder at impiety and excess, which incessantly chided Him in secret for His shameful weaknesses, and importuned Him to return to Thee. My God! what reply shall I make, covered as I am with Thy benefits, and with my own ingratitude? – Lord, cease not to stretch out Thy hand to my relief. Thou hast already done too much, to suffer Thy creature to perish without aid. The more unworthy I am of new favours, the more will I hope in Thee. The wretchedness of my state increases my confidence, and the excess of my miseries is the only title on which I claim Thy eternal mercies.

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.

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If we confide in God’s providence and resign ourselves entirely into His hands, and renounce our individual pleasure, He is pleased to reward us with great peace and interior consolation, and all the more so if we seek ourselves less, and more purely desire the Divine glory and God’s good pleasure. – St. Ignatius of Loyola, Letter 139.

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March Devotion: St. Joseph

Virtue to practice: Mortification

Novena in honor of St. Joseph – Day 8

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.

Eighth Day

Saint Joseph, Model of Obedience

St. Joseph regarded obedience as rendering man particularly pleasing to God. What esteem Joseph had particularly for obedience, when he heard Mary answering the Angel: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to thy word!” When he saw Jesus submit to his orders, anticipate his wishes, execute them faithfully and promptly! When he considered that the Incarnate Word would be obedient under death, even the death of the Cross.

Prayer

O St. Joseph, so faithful to display in thy conduct the obedience of Jesus and Mary, obtain for me this important virtue. Obtain for me a perfect docility of heart to accomplish the will of God, and that of those who replace Him. Inspire me by your example, to obey with promptness and generosity: obtain for me above all, the grace to obey without murmuring, without reasoning upon the orders given me, in spite of every pretext, and with an entire immolation of my own will. 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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