Palm-Sunday. On Communion.
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.
Palm-Sunday. On Communion.
Tell ye the daughters of Sion, behold thy King cometh. . . . Matt. xxi. 5.
The oracles of the prophets, the manifestations of the Lord to the patriarchs, the sacrifices and oblations of the law, together with its mysterious signs and figures, announced to the unfaithful Jerusalem, during the space of several ages, that her Deliverer and her King would visit her in the fulness of time, and be seen in the midst of his people. At length the Precursor appeared, and by the command of God announced his arrival. – These happy tidings, so far from being the subject of universal joy to this ungrateful city, occasioned a general uneasiness and alarm. At the triumphal entry of the Son of David, the whole city was in commotion; the priests and pharisees were agitated by fear, jealousy, and rage; only a few simple and pious souls went forth to meet him, and formed a harmless triumph by their acclamations of joy, and by the palm-branches which they strewed before him to adorn his entrance.
In the same manner is the Lord received, by Christians at the present time. From the beginning of this holy season, the Church has incessantly admonished you that the King of Glory would come, and be himself your passover. On this day, in order to inflame your ardour, she announces that he is near at hand: tell ye the daughters of Sion, behold thy King cometh. But, my beloved, what are the impressions which these happy tidings create in your souls? Are they impressions of fear and sadness? Are you sorrowful at the thought of your Easter duty? These, at least, are the impressions which are made on the generality of Christians. A few pious souls only will, welcome him with salutations of gladness and love. – The law, however, is obligatory on all. Every one is summoned, and commanded to go forth to meet him; and, probably, not an individual in this assembly will refuse to obey. – What, therefore, are your dispositions? This is a question, of the utmost importance; for on them depends the worthy reception, or the profanation of the most tremendous mysteries of the Deity. This, I say, is a question of the utmost importance, and I entreat you, as you value your salvation, not only to favour me with your attention, but to endeavour with the utmost solicitude to acquire the dispositions for a worthy communion, which will be displayed before you in this discourse.
Let a man prove himself, says the apostle, and so let him eat of that bread, (1 Cor. xi. 28.); or in other words, let a man prove himself, and examine, first, whether he be truly converted from the error of his ways; secondly, whether he has reduced his passions into subjection, and commenced a course of penitential atonement; thirdly, whether he be animated with an ardent and sincere desire of being united to Jesus Christ in the holy communion. – This is the triple proof, by which alone the Christian can certify whether he be properly disposed to receive his Lord at the approaching solemnity.
1. In the first place, therefore, my beloved brethren, have you given proof that you are truly and sincerely determined to forsake the ways of iniquity? This is an indispensable point. If you are not thus disposed, you still continue in the shades of sin and death, and consequently the table of the Lord is forbidden you; for the holy communion is the bread of life; the soul must be alive in the sight of God, in order to be capacitated to receive it; – it is the table of the children of God, his enemies are strictly charged not to approach it; – it is the precious pearl mentioned in the gospel, it must not be cast before the unclean. – Question yourselves, my beloved, on this subject. Examine the state of your souls. Have you removed every defilement of sin? Are you truly penitent and contrite? Is it probable that your reformation will be permanent and complete?
In order to proceed regularly in this investigation, let us enter into particulars. I will suppose that you have scrutinized the affections of your hearts in their inmost recesses, and that you have made an entire confession of all your sins: but have you reduced your passions into order? have you renounced your criminal habits? – I will suppose that you were regularly absolved by your director; but was the absolution ratified in heaven? Were you truly justified? With what sentiments were you animated? Did you feel the fervour of compunction and sorrow? Were you sincerely desirous of atoning for the past? Did you form real and effective resolutions to begin a new life? Had you determined on proper expedients for breaking off your criminal engagements, and removing yourselves from the occasions of sin? Had you planned in your mind the duties, the occupations, the connections, the whole detail of the moral conduct which ought to be embraced in order to ensure your perseverance? These are the cares, these are the solicitudes, which, for a length of time beforehand, engross the whole attention of the man who is sincerely resolved on a change of life. By this you may know whether the conclusion of your dissipated life is at hand; and whether our Lord, when he enters the house of your souls, will address you, as he formerly addressed Zacheus, with these words: This day salvation is come to this house, Luke xix. 9.
But is this the description of your state? Ah! perhaps there is reason to apprehend that your disorders maintained their influence in your souls to the very day of your repentance; that hardly any interval existed between your iniquities and the confession of them; that, after communion, you will return to your former ways; that you will take no greater precautions against sin than you did before; that your illicit connections will continue; and that your tepidity, your spirit of detraction and immortification, will be as prevalent as ever. – This is what too many have always hitherto experienced after the paschal solemnity. And if you have experienced the same, can you suppose that you succeeded, and succeeded so repeatedly, in perfecting the great work of justification, during that short period which intervened between your former crimes and your relapses? and that you approached to the altar with that penitent heart, that purity of soul, which is required for a worthy participation of the Lamb?
No: my beloved friends, whoever you may be: instead of eating the bread of life, you ate and drank your own condemnation. Good God! can any rational Christian entertain the idea, even for an instant, that these certain and immediate returns to the vomit, this incongruous mixture of sacred and profane, do not disqualify the soul for the reception of the tremendous mysteries? – It is not my intention to insinuate that the worthy participation of the holy Eucharist invariably establishes the soul in a permanent state of justice: this privilege belongs not to the inhabitants of the earth, but to the pure spirits in the heavenly Jerusalem. The life of man is a continual temptation; the most holy are not free from danger; no one stands so firm, but he has reason to tremble lest he fall. But I mean to say, that it is absolutely required, that, after the remedy of penance, you should not appear infected with the same disorders; and that your cure should be, if not entirely, at least almost complete. I mean to say, with St. Chrysostom, that it is absolutely required, that when you leave the altar, you should resist with a firmer resolution the allurements of flesh and blood; that you should avoid with greater care the occasions of sin; and that the blood of the covenant should infuse into your hearts and souls the sentiments and the inclinations of Jesus: in a word, that your communion should not be the business only of a day.
He who eateth My flesh, says our Saviour, abideth in Me, and I in him, John vi. 57. He does not say, he uniteth himself to Me, but he abideth in Me; and in the same manner, He does not say, I unite Myself to him, but I abide in him: as much as to say, I form in his heart a fixed, solid, and permanent abode; I make with him a firm and constant alliance. Whence St. Augustin concludes, that the Christian who receives Jesus Christ, and, instead of abiding in Him, quickly expels Him from his heart by sin, has not spiritually, that is worthily, received his Lord, but has eaten and drunk his own condemnation.
A worthy communion, my beloved brethren, enriches the heart with so many graces, unites it to Jesus in a manner so intimate and ineffable, invigorates it with such strength and courage, that the soul is enabled to advance for a length of time in the paths of salvation, and is, in some degree, rendered incapable of frustrating in an instant the good effects produced by the most powerful remedy of religion, and of falling back immediately into the most shameful weaknesses that can disgrace a Christian.
Look, therefore, into the state of your souls, and ascertain whether your communions have been profanations or not. The process is easy: you have only to examine their fruits. What change did they operate in your interior? What was your subsequent mode of life? Holy and profitable communions are never received by the man whose morals are uniformly worldly and profane. As long, therefore, as you continued to indulge the same passions, and to adhere to the same criminal engagements; as long as you were addicted to the same failings after communion as you were before, so long, you have too much reason to fear, that you were deficient in your preparation, and that your communions were sacrilegious in the sight of God.
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.
We ought to place a bar on the complainings of our bodies, which, under pretence of weakness, wish to prevent us from laboring. – St. Ignatius of Loyola, Bartoli, Book v.
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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