Passion Sunday. On Contrition. – part 3.
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.
Passion Sunday. On Contrition. – part 3.
My object is not to aggravate the matter, but to state it to you exactly as it is. Let no man say, that the sorrow, which is concealed in the interior of the soul, is sometimes without any very sensible operation on the mind. To argue on such a supposition would be wrong. A change of life is in such direct opposition to our favourite inclinations, and is brought about by such lively, and hitherto unfelt sentiments of divine love, that it is impossible it should take place without operating powerfully on the mind. Were the penitent of a cold, phlegmatic, callous disposition, the case, perhaps, would be otherwise: but this is, not your disposition. Your hearts are naturally tender, and easily affected. In the ardour, with which you have followed after earthly objects, you have shewn the sensibility of your nature, and have sufficiently proved what your minds are capable of. You even boast of the goodness and benevolence of your disposition. And is it possible that your hearts should be then only void of feeling, when God challenges your affections? Is it possible that sorrow for sin should be the only sorrow that can make no impression on your minds? This is an illusion, my beloved friends. If men are not as much in earnest in the great duty of repentance, as they usually are in the pursuit of their pleasures, the reason is, that they are sincere libertines, but that they are by no means sincere penitents.
True contrition, therefore, consists not merely in the dread of the torments of hell, or in ineffectual resolutions of amendment; but it consists principally and essentially in a true and sincere grief of heart for having offended so great, so good, so amiable a God. It takes its rise, not in the love of ourselves, but in the pure love of God above all things. – This love necessarily induces the penitent to take proper measures to avoid a repetition of the same offences: and these measures are not confined within any given time. It obliges the penitent to renounce the world, at least in affection, and all pleasures and pastimes from which God is excluded. It obliges him to pluck out an eye, and cut off a limb, or, in other words, to make the most painful sacrifices when his eternal interests require them. – This is true contrition.
What opinion, then, must we form of those penitents, who are only solicitous to avoid sin for a few days previous to their confession; whose only interior monitor is the catalogue of sins in their prayer–books; whose only sentiments of contrition are those transient affections which are excited by the perusal of the preparatory prayers; who confess their sins only by halves; who make some faint resolutions of amendment, keep them for a few days, and then relapse into their former disorders? These false penitents receive not the sacrament. Their sins are still imputed to them, with the addition of the enormous crime of sacrilege. What a state is this, my beloved! How hopeless is their salvation! And yet, nothing is more common: the number of true penitents is very small. Many are called to the sacrament of penance, but few partake of its fruits.
Enter, therefore, seriously into yourselves. Now it is, that the Church in a particular manner solicits the Lord to shower down His mercies on the most abandoned sinners. Let each one interrogate his own heart. Let him enquire what have been his principal pursuits, and what the general tenor of his conduct through life. Perhaps he will find that his present failings are but a continuation of the follies of his youth: that they have increased with his years: that he is at present precisely what He appeared to be almost at the first dawn of reason, voluptuous, passionate, and tepid. Yes: we have passed through the different stages of life, but our passions have attended us through them all. Our lives have been one continued series of transgressions, diversified only by circumstances, and change of situation. One day hath instructed the next, and one night hath uttered knowledge to the ensuing, Ps. xviii. 3. The buds of our passions appeared in our childhood, and our riper years were defiled with the same produce of corruption, which imbitters our palate at the present moment.
And yet, my God! Thy avenging arm has not been stretched upon me. From the throne of Thy justice Thou didst witness my abominations, and. Thou hast spared me in preference to thousands. Ah! why hast Thou prolonged my days to this hour, in the midst of such wickedness? Thou hast undoubtedly mercies in store for me. Thou wouldst not have preserved me from the dangers which have so often threatened my life, wert Thou not desirous of shewing forth the riches of Thy grace in my repentance.
Great God! I begin to detest my evil ways sincerely. Finish Thy work, and cause me to love the remedy. The state of my conscience fills me with alarm; the corruptions and the disorders of my life overwhelm me with confusion: the remorse occasioned by my crimes imbitters all my days. Finish, O God! Thy work. Break asunder the chains of my captivity. Subdue my rebellious will. Support my weakness in a conflict, which has so often proved superior to my strength. Depart not from me; and grant that I may never regain the tranquillity and peace which I have lost, until I am firmly resolved to be Thy faithful servant for ever.
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 desires but one thing of me, that I submit my soul to His Divine Majesty. – St. Ignatius of Loyola, Letter 9.
April Devotion: The Holy Ghost (The Passion for Lent)
Virtue to practice: Patience
Vexilla Regis prodeunt
The royal banners forward go;
The Cross shines forth in mystic glow,
Where Life for sinners death endured,
And life by death for man procured.
Where deep for us the spear was dyed,
Life’s torrent rushing from His side,
To wash us in that precious flood
Where mingled, Water flowed, and Blood,
Fulfilled is all that David told
In true prophetic song of old;
‘Amidst the nations, God,’ saith he,
‘Hath reigned and triumphed from the Tree.’
O Tree of beauty! Tree of light!
O Tree with royal purple dight!
Elect on whose triumphal breast
Those holy Limbs should find their rest.
On whose dear arms, so widely flung,
The weight of this world’s ransom hung:
The price of human kind to pay
And spoil the spoiler of his prey.
O Cross, our one reliance, hail,
Thou glory of the saved, avail*
To give fresh merit to the Saint,
And pardon to the penitent.
To Thee, Eternal Three in One,
Let homage meet by all be done;
Whom by the Cross Thou dost restore,
Preserve and govern evermore. Amen.
Vexilla Regis pródeunt,
Fulget Crucis mystérium,
Qua vita mortem pértulit,
Et morte vitam prótulit.
Quæ vulneráta lánceæ
Mucróne diro, críminum
Ut nos laváret sórdibus,
Manávit unda et sánguine.
Impléta sunt quæ cóncinit
David fidéli cármine,
Regnávit a ligno Deus.
Arbor decóra et fúlgida,
Ornáta regis púrpura,
Elécta digno stípite
Tam sancta membra tángere.
Beáta, cuius bráchiis
Prétium pepéndit sæculi,
Statéra facta córporis,
Tulítque prædam tártari.
O Crux, ave, spes única,
Gentis redémptæ glória!*
Piis adáuge grátiam,
Reísque dele crímina.
Te, fons salútis, Trínitas,
Colláudet omnis spíritus:
Quibus Cricis victóriam
Largíris, adde præmium. Amen.
(ex. Breviario Romano)
*Instead of: ‘Thou Glory of the saved,’ during Passiontide, say: ‘This Holy Passiontide‘, during the Paschal Season: ‘Thou joy of Eastertide‘, on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross: ‘On this triumphant day.‘
An indulgence of 5 years.
A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions for the daily recitation of this hymn throughout an entire month (S.C. Ind., Jan. 16, 1886; S.P.Ap., April 29, 1934).
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