Palm-Sunday. On Communion. – 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.
Palm-Sunday. On Communion. – continued.
2. From this short view of the subject, you will be convinced that confession is not the only proof of a reform of life, which the law requires. The minister who rashly absolves habitual sinners, exceeds his commission; for his delegated powers extend only over the truly contrite: his sentence will not be ratified in heaven; or rather, his sentence will be reversed, and your condemnation will be pronounced in heaven, instead of your pardon: the blood of the Lamb, which he pours on your head, will cry to heaven for vengeance; you will receive the stroke of death from the hand that was stretched out to save you from destruction. – The pastor, therefore, is authorised and required to exact proofs of the sincerity of your protestations, (if your protestations have hitherto been without effect,) before he admits you to the sacraments, and to certify whether you have renounced the occasions of sin, whether you are for ever divorced from the objects of your passions, and whether you have commenced the course of penitential atonement for your former offences.
According to the ancient discipline of the Church, the notorious sinner was not allowed to receive the Holy Communion until he had devoted whole years to the painful works of humiliation, fasting, and prayer: the Eucharist was the Bread of Life, which the sinner ate, as it were, in the sweat of his brow. And can you suppose, that, because the Church has consented, for prudential reasons, to the abolition of this point of discipline, can you suppose that to confess your inveterate crimes, is to atone for them, and that the purity of soul which is required in the worthy communicant, is attained by the bare exposure of the malignity and infection of his spiritual sores? Ah! my friends, the law of God can never be abrogated by custom: the Church, indeed, may dispense with public proofs, but she will not, she cannot dispense with private proofs from the sinners of whom I speak: primitive fervour may abate; but the sanctity of the Lord is the same, and the sanctity of the receiver must be the same.
The Church appointed that the forty days of Lent should precede the Paschal Communion, on purpose that time and opportunity might be given to habitual sinners to weep over their offences, to purify their souls by prayer and fasting, and thus to dispose themselves for a worthy participation of the Holy Mysteries. By this she indicates, that the necessity, still exists of devoting some time to penance after a sinful life, before we presume to sit down to the banquet of our Lord.
There may, indeed, be exceptions to this rule. It may be sometimes expedient, on account of the lively compunction, and the wonderful conversion of a sinner, or even necessary, on account of the danger which would attend delay, when the penitent, who is sincerely converted, is of a fickle and inconstant disposition, to abridge the time of trial. The laws of the Church are replete with wisdom, charity, and prudence. The salvation of sinners is her only object: and the means which conduce more immediately to that end, are the most conformable to her spirit. But this does not operate against the general rule, namely, that sinners should do penance, and that they should prove themselves, before they eat of this Bread.
You, perhaps, may say, that the law of the Church requires that you communicate within a given time, and that you cannot defer it in order to give proofs of your sincerity. What! do you insinuate by this, that the Church commands you to communicate unworthily? and that she considers a sacrilegious Communion as the full accomplishment of the Paschal duty? You would, indeed, by such a Communion, avoid her censures, because her cognizance extends only to exterior appearances, but you would not avoid the anathemas of heaven, which would witness your concealed profanation. – She commands you to receive at this time, on the supposition that you will approach to the altar with a pure conscience; – on the supposition that you have employed this time of Lent in doing penance for your sins, and in making the necessary preparation for a worthy Communion. But if these preparations have been neglected, she commands that your Communion be deferred, and has empowered her ministers to extend the term of the paschal law to a more distant period. The fruits of the Sacrament, and the accomplishment of her precept, are not confined to times and seasons, but depend on the innocence and purity of the receiver.
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.
Of supporting injuries, and who is proved to be truly patient.
[Christ] I. What is it thou sayest, My son? Cease to complain, considering My passion, and the sufferings of the saints.
Thou hast not yet resisted unto blood
What thou sufferest is but little, in comparison to them who have suffered so much, who have been so strongly tempted, so grievously afflicted, so many ways tried and exercised.
Thou must then call to mind the heavy sufferings of others, that thou mayest the easier bear the little things thou sufferest.
And if to thee they seem not little, take heed lest this also proceed from thy impatience.
But whether they be little or great, strive to bear them all with patience. – Thomas à Kempis –Imitation of Christ Bk III, Ch XIX pt. I.
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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