Third Sunday of Lent. – On Inconstancy in the Ways of Virtue. – 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.
Third Sunday of Lent. – On Inconstancy in the Ways of Virtue. – continued.
2. In the second place, sinners are frequently reclaimed by the taste of the heavenly gift of virtue, which always accompanies the beginnings of wisdom; and by the joy which arises in the soul when she is first disengaged from the enormous load of guilt, and in possession of the sweets of peace and innocence. Ah! dear Christians, nothing can exceed the pious transports of the soul, which after having been buried in the loathsome sink of vice, begins to breathe the pure air of piety, and to taste the delights of love. Thou hast broken my bonds asunder, exclaims the penitent David in an ecstasy of delight: how happy am I to be of the number of Thy servants! how glorious is it to reckon amongst my ancestors one only soul who has been faithful to Thee – more glorious than a long list of potentates and conquerors! I am Thy servant, O Lord, and the son of Thy handmaid, Ps. cxv.
These are the first attractions of grace, and these are its effects on the soul which has never before experienced the force of love, or tasted how sweet is the Lord. – But, as for the inconstant Christian, who has so often been in love with piety, and as often returned to his former pleasures, what new source of enjoyment can he open by a change of life, of which he has not already tasted too often? – Ah! if he had a heart of steel, it might be softened by grace, and made susceptible of retaining its impression. But, as the prophet says, he has a heart of wax, susceptible of every impression, and incapable of retaining any: one impression obliterates the former, and the last that is made keeps full possession till it is succeeded by another. He is fervent in his fits of devotion, and when these are past, he is solely bent on sensual gratifications: his love is centered in God during the moments of compunction, and when these are elapsed, the world alone can satisfy his desires.
If this unhappy man could be convinced of his danger, he would indeed tremble. Our Lord himself says, that whoever putteth his hand to the plough, and looketh back, is not fit for the kingdom of God, Luke ix. 62. He does not say, that he loseth his title to the kingdom of God, or that he exposeth himself to the danger of being excluded from it; but he is not fit for the kingdom of God; that is to say, that his inclinations and dispositions, both of mind and body, render him unfit for completing the great work of salvation. When we say that a man is not fit for any particular state of life, for the church for instance, for the army, or for the law; we mean that his natural and acquired dispositions are such as to preclude every probability of success in that state. In the same state does our Lord say, that of all characters, the character of inconstancy is the most unfit for the kingdom of God, Luke ix. 62.
The hardened, the obdurate sinner may be softened into repentance by the unctions of grace: Manasses in chains adores the true God, whose altars he had overturned: the publican does penance; Zacheus restores his ill-gotten goods; Magdalen washes away her defilements at the feet of Jesus: but an Achab, a Sedeceas, who, at one time, covered themselves with sackcloth and ashes, and at another, wallowed in the mire of sin; who, at one time, were obedient to the instructive and inspired voice of the prophets and ministers of God, and at another, studied to heap the most outrageous insults on their venerable heads; ah! the scriptures no where inform us that they died penitent: no, their levity, their inconstancy rendered them unfit for the kingdom of God.
My friends; in order to be a true Christian, a constant disciple of the crucified Jesus, a man must possess a resolute mind: he must know how to choose, and how to abide by his choice: he must not be impeded by obstacles: he must be guided, not by inclination, but by the rules of the gospel. There must be that something great, elevated, and noble in his character, which exalts the mind above vulgar prejudices and ideas, and enriches it with true wisdom. He must he separated from the company of the inconstant, who, in the words of St. Jude, may be compared to clouds without water, which are driven about by the winds; to wandering stars, which have no fixed course; to the raging sea, which casts from its bosom the lifeless corpse, and by the next swell of its waves swallows it up again.
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.
If you wish to advance in the love of God, speak of it; for pious conversations are to charity what the wind is to the flame.. – St. Ignatius of Loyola, Letter of April 15, 1543.
March Devotion: St. Joseph
Virtue to practice: Mortification
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.
To thee, O blessed Joseph, do we have recourse in our tribulation, and, implored the help of thy thrice-holy Spouse, we confidently invoke thy patronage also. By that charity wherewith thou was united to the immaculate Virgin Mother of God, and by that fatherly affection with which thou didst embrace the Child Jesus, we beseech thee and we humbly pray, that thou wouldst look graciously upon the inheritance which Jesus Christ hath purchased by His Blood, and assist us in our needs by thy power and strength. Most watchful guardian of the Holy Family, protect the chosen people of Jesus Christ; keep far from us most lovely father, all blight of error and corruption: mercifully assist us from heaven, most mighty defender, in this our conflict with the powers of darkness; and, even as of old thou didst rescue the Child Jesus from the supreme peril of His life, so now defend God’s Holy Church from the snares of the enemy and from all adversity; keep us one and all under thy continual protection, that we may be supported by thine example and thine assistance, may be enabled to lead a holy life, die a happy death and come at last to the possession of everlasting blessedness in heaven. Amen.
An indulgence of 3 years. An indulgence of 7 years during the month of October, when said after the recitation of the Rosary and on any Wednesday throughout the year. A plenary indulgence once a month on the usual conditions, If this prayer is devoutly said daily (Leo XIII, Encyclical Aug. 15, 1889; S.C. Ind., Sept. 21, 1889; S.P.Ap., May 17, 1927; Dec. 13, 1935; and March 10, 1941).
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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