Fourth Sunday of Lent.
On Confession. – 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 Confession. – continued.
2. The second general defect, is a want of sincerity in the confession of our sins. – Nothing is more repugnant to the nature of man, than the acknowledgement of guilt. Pride is his predominant passion, and therefore, being conscious of innumerable failings, and dreading the confusion which would attend their publicity, he has recourse to artifice and dissimulation in order to conceal them from the eyes of others.
This is his nature. But how truly deplorable is it, that this pride should influence him even in his acts of humiliation; and that he should carry his dissimulation even to the foot of that great tribunal, where he presents himself on purpose to declare the secrets of his conscience, and to judge himself before Christ.
I allow, indeed, that few Christians are so far abandoned, as to come with a determined resolution of lying to the Holy Ghost. To people of this description, instructions would be of little service; the thunders of the Almighty alone could rouse them: the language of St. Peter to Ananias, and Sapphira, would be the only language calculated to make an impression on their hearts.
But there is a dissimulation of a different kind; a dissimulation, which endeavours to palliate, and sometimes to excuse entirely the sins confessed. Of this dissimulation we are guilty when we endeavour to expose our sins in the most favourable light; when we are solicitous to extenuate their enormity in the eyes of our director; when we confess our greatest crimes in the fewest words, in order to avoid enquiries; when we pass over in silence circumstances, and incidents which increase the sin, and which are, sometimes, more criminal than the sins themselves; and when, instead of entering into a minute explication, we substitute vague, and general expressions, which declare the actions, but which expose not the true state of our interior.
My friends, the language of a contrite heart is an humble, simple, natural, sincere language. It is a stranger both to dissimulation, and forced excuses. It explains the beginning, the progress, the minutest circumstances, and the consequences of every crime. Instead of endeavouring to extenuate the guilt, it exposes it in the most odious colours before the minister of God. – But how little is this language known! How few in number are the Christians who confess their sins without dissimulation! If we confessed to man only, such an artifice would succeed; it would be easy to deceive a judge who could not penetrate the recesses of the mind. But we confess to Jesus Christ, who has been invisibly the witness of the whole history of our lives; who reads in our hearts, as in an open book, the most hidden secrets, and who, at the time that we endeavour to impose on his minister by our hyprocrisy, laughs at the ridiculous efforts of our shame; and upbraids us, as the prophet upbraided the Queen of Israel who endeavoured to deceive him under a borrowed dress: “why dost thou feign thyself to be another! (3 Kings xiv. 6.) Senseless man! Dost thou think to conceal thy shame with a thin veil from the sight of Him, whose eye pierces the deepest abyss? Knowest thou not, that thou attemptest to hide thy desperate, and corrupted wounds from him, from whom alone thou canst expect a cure?”
We are guilty of dissimulation, in the second place, when we neglect to examine into the motives, and principles which occasioned our sins. – Religion informs us that the whole merit and demerit of every action depend solely on the intentions, and dispositions of the heart. In order, therefore, to be fully acquainted with their nature, it is necessary that we trace them to their very source. If we are addicted, for instance, to calumny, and detraction, we must examine from whence this disposition takes it rise; whether it be from pride, envy, or avarice: – if to swearing, quarrelling, or hatred; whether it be attributable to the loss of the fear of God, or to a passionate, and revengeful temper: – if to intemperance, and sensuality; whether it proceeds from the spirit of irreligion, or from an inordinate attachment to earthly things: – if to the sins of the flesh, whether it originate from a rooted, and obstinate affection for those brutal pleasures, or from courting the company of the objects which excite them. – These are indispensable subjects of inquiry, and must be held in view through the whole course of our examination: otherwise we shall never acquire a competent knowledge of the extent either of our sins, or of the corruption of our hearts. If, therefore, we are negligent in this point, we are guilty of dissimulation, by voluntarily concealing the true state of our interior both from ourselves, and from the director of our consciences.
And yet how common is this dissimulation! and how serious are the consequences! Your confession is not succeeded by that peace, and serenity of mind, which attends a good confession: you feel that you are not disburdened of that heavy load of guilt which oppressed your souls: you continue to be the devoted victims of anxiety, and remorse: your hearts tell you that you are not at peace with God.
Senseless as you are! why will you foster in your breasts a serpent, which may so easily be dislodged? You undergo the humiliation of confession; and by your insincerity, you deprive yourselves of its consolations. You publicly declare that you are sinners; and this declaration, which is so painful to human nature, becomes one of your greatest crimes.
Be no longer deceived, Christian brethren. Suffer not the enemy of your souls to impose on you by his delusive artifices. Your salvation depends on the worthily receiving the sacrament of penance. Arise, therefore, from the abyss. Subject every motion of your souls to a strict examination. Investigate minutely in what manner you perform the duties of your state, to what good purpose you employ the talents entrusted to you. Open your hearts without reserve to the minister of God. Display the true state of your interior before his eyes. Be not satisfied with a mere verbal declaration of your sins, but expose the causes; lay open the root of the evil. – Then, if you are truly contrite, you will obtain the pardon of them; you will enjoy the consolations of penance; and you will receive grace to live holily and piously for the future.
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.
God takes particular care to detach those from the fleeting pleasures of this life whom He loves with a love of predilection, by the desires with which He inspires them for the heavenly life, and by the griefs and afflictions which He sends them in this life. – St. Ignatius of Loyola, Letter 432.
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, 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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