Of the Acts of the Will, in which this exercise chiefly consists, and after what manner they are to be produced. – continued.

Of the Acts of the Will, in which this exercise chiefly consists, and after what manner they are to be produced. – 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.

Of the Acts of the Will, in which this exercise chiefly consists, and after what manner they are to be produced.

But because there are three states in a spiritual life the purgative, for those that begin; the illuminative, for those that are advanced; and the unitive, for such as are perfect – some, therefore, judge three sorts of aspirations or ejaculatory prayers necessary. Aspirations of the first kind regard the purgative way, and help to obtain pardon of our sins, to purify the soul from vices, and to withdraw it from all terrene affections. Those of the second kind conduce to the acquiring of virtues, the overcoming temptations, the gaining courage to embrace all sorts of labours for God. The third, in fine, appertain to the unitive, and have for their end, the union of the soul with God, by the bond of perfect charity. The object of this distribution is, that each one should be able to employ himself in that exercise which is most conformable to the present state of his soul. But, after all, let us be ever so perfect, there cannot be an exercise more agreeable to God, than to employ ourselves in conceiving a lively sorrow for our sins, and in begging grace that we may never offend Him. So, also, those that still labour to overcome their imperfections, and the bad habits they have contracted, or to gain those virtues they stand in need of, though they should not yet be in the state of perfection, yet may also exercise themselves in making acts of the love of God, that they may render their enterprise more easy and pleasant. And all in general may sometimes apply themselves to make the following acts: O my God, happy are they that have never offended Thy divine goodness! Never permit me O Lord! to be so unhappy as to displease Thee. Let me rather die than sin. Nay, grant that I may rather die a thousand deaths than ever commit one mortal sin. At another time we may elevate our hearts to God, either by returning Him thanks for the general or particular benefits we have received, or by begging of Him to grant us some particular virtue; as profound humility, perfect obedience, ardent charity, or firm and unshaken patience. At another time we may make acts of the love of God, of conformity to His divine will – pronouncing these words, taken from divers places of Scripture: “My Beloved to me, and I to Him” (Cant, II, 16). “Not my will, but Thine be done” (Luke xxii, 42). “What have I in heaven? and besides Thee what do I desire upon earth” (Ps. Ixxii, 25). All these sorts of aspirations or ejaculatory prayers are very conducive to keep us in the presence of God. But the best and most efficacious of all, (though, perhaps, they cannot be conceived in such proper and expressive terms as those we have just now mentioned) are such as the heart produces of its own accord when touched by God. Oftentimes a bare repetition of the same act with fervour, is sufficient to keep us many days in His presence, or, even for our whole life. You may, therefore, if you think good, often repeat these words of St. Paul; “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do” (Acts ix, 6). Or those of the Spouse; “My Beloved is all mine, and I am all His.” Or this verse of the Psalmist; “What is there that I pretend to in heaven, besides the enjoyment of Yourself, O Lord? And what is there I desire upon earth in comparison of You?” You need no other than these; wherefore entertain yourself with them, let them be your continual exercise, and the constant means you make use of, to keep and maintain the presence of God in your heart.

Amongst the many aspirations and ejaculatory prayers we may make use of for the practice of this exercise, one of the chief and most proper is, that which St. Paul prescribes in the first Epistle to the Corinthians – “Whether you eat or drink, or whatsoever else you do; do all to the glory of God” (i Cor. x, 31). Endeavour, in all things you do, to elevate your heart to Him, saying to Him, Lord, it is for Your sake I do this; it is to please You, it is because You will have it so. Your Will, O Lord! is mine, and I have no other comfort or satisfaction but Yours. “I know not what to desire, but I wish to desire whatever Your Holy Will should desire.” All my joy, all my satisfaction, is the fulfilling Your Will; and so that I do but please You, I desire nothing more; there is nothing in heaven nor upon earth that I desire to behold but Yourself – and provided I can but please and satisfy You, I have all that can please, or be a satisfaction to myself. This is a most excellent and most perfect way of walking in God’s presence; because it is to practise a continual exercise of the love of God. There is no better or more profitable means than this, to keep ourselves always in that continual prayer, which the Saviour of the world requires we should practise, when He says, “We ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke xviii, i). For what better prayer can we make, than constantly to desire the greater glory of God, to conform ourselves continually in all things to His Divine Will, and to place all our joy and contentment in the joy and contentment of God.
A famous Doctor of the Church speaking on ejaculatory prayer performed in this manner said with a great deal of reason; that whosoever continued constant in this exercise, would reap so much fruit from it, that, in a short time, he would find his heart quite changed, and should feel in it an exceedingly great hatred of the world, and an extraordinary love of God. If you observe this holy method, as you certainly should you will be no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the Saints, and the domestics of God” (Eph. II, 19). It is of such as adopt this method that St. John speaks in the Apocalypse, when he says, “they shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads” (Apoc. xxii, 4). Those who live in this manner, properly speaking, have no more connection or conversation with the world. All their conversation is in heaven. They “look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen, are temporal, but the things which are not seen, are eternal” (2. Cor. iv, 18).
Moreover, we must take notice, that when we make these acts which we have now spoken of, we must say them, not as elevating our heart, or raising our thoughts to something without us, but as speaking to God present within us. This is what will render our prayers more sweet, more pleasant, more easy, and more profitable to us than any other sort of prayer whatsoever. For those spiritual writers that have treated of prayer observe that if, for example, we meditate upon Jesus Christ hanging upon a cross or bound to a pillar, that we are not to imagine this is a thing that happened in Jerusalem so many ages since, because our imagination is hereby tired, and our heart is less moved and excited: but we must imagine it as a thing present, that passes before us, and as if we heard the blows of the hammer and the strokes of the whips. If we also meditate upon death, they say, we must, in like manner, imagine, that we are at this moment in immediate danger of death; that the physicians despair of us, and that we already have the hallowed candle or the crucifix in our hands. With far greater reason, therefore, is it suitable that, in the exercise of the presence of God, we should make such acts as I have here mentioned; not as if we were speaking to one absent or far distant from us, but as speaking to God present, because it is in this precisely that the exercise consists, and that His Presence is thus really and truly enjoyed by us (Rodriguez; Christian Perfection, Sixth Treatise, Chapter III-IV).

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 you look into it, you will see that in times past, when you fell into many sins, and were less desirous to serve our Lord, you were neither tempted nor troubled as much by this serpent, who is ever seeking to disturb us. For then your mode of life pleased Him, while now He cannot endure the change in you. St. Ignatius of Loyola, Letter 13.

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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.

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To thee, O blessed Joseph, do we have recourse in our tribulation, and, having 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 loving 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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