Fourth Sunday after Pentecost.—Death is certain and uncertain.
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.
“Let down your nets for a draught.”—Luke v. 4.
In this day’s gospel we find that, having gone up into one of the ships, and having heard from St. Peter, that he and his companions had laboured all the night and had taken nothing, Jesus Christ said: “Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.” They obeyed; and having cast out their nets into the sea, they took such a multitude of fishes, that the nets were nearly broken. Brethren, God has placed us in the midst of the sea of this life, and has commanded us to cast out our nets, that we may catch fishes; that is, that we may perform good works, by which we can acquire merits for eternal life. Happy we, if we attain this end and save our souls! Unhappy we, if, instead of laying up treasures for heaven, we by our sins merit hell, and bring our souls to damnation! Our happiness or misery for eternity depends on the moment of our death, which is certain and uncertain. The Lord assures us that death is certain, that we may prepare for it; but, on the other hand, He leaves us uncertain as to the time of our death, that we may be always prepared for it—two points of the utmost importance.
First Point. It is certain that we shall die.
Second Point. It is uncertain when we shall die.
First Point. It is certain that we shall die.
1. “It is appointed unto men once to die.” (Heb. ix. 27.) The decree has been passed for each of us: we must all die. St. Cyprian says, that we are all born with the halter on the neck: hence, every step we make brings us nearer to the gibbet. For each of us the gibbet shall be the last sickness, which will end in death. As then, brethren, your name has been inserted in the registry of baptism, so it shall be one day written in the record of the dead. As, in speaking of your ancestors, you say: God be merciful to my father, to my uncle, or to my brother; so others shall say the same of you when you shall be in the other world; and as you have often heard the death-bell toll for many, so others shall hear it toll for you.
2. All things future, which regard men now living, are uncertain, but death is certain. “All other goods and evils,” says St. Augustine, “are uncertain; death only is certain.” It is uncertain whether such an infant shall be rich or poor, whether he shall enjoy good or ill health, whether he shall die at an early or at an advanced age. But it is certain that he shall die, though he be son of a peer or of a monarch. And, when the hour arrives, no one can resist the stroke of death. The same St. Augustine says: “Fires, waters, and the sword are resisted; kings are resisted: death comes; who resists it?” (in Ps. xii.) We may resist conflagrations, inundations, the sword of enemies, and the power of princes; but who can resist death? A certain king of France, as Belluacensis relates, said in his last moments: “Behold, with all my power, I cannot make death wait for a single hour.” No; when the term of life has arrived, death does not wait even a moment—“Thou hast appointed his bounds, which cannot be passed.” (Job. xiv. 5.)
3. We must all die. This truth we not only believe, but see with our eyes. In every age houses, streets, and cities are filled with new inhabitants: their former possessors are shut up in the grave. And, as for them the days of life are over, so a time shall come when not one of all who are now alive shall be among the living. “Days shall be formed, and no one in them.” (Ps. cxxxviii. 16.) “Who is the man that shall live, and shall not see death?” (Ps. Ixxxviii. 49.) Should any one flatter himself that he will not die, he would not only be a disbeliever—for it is of faith that we shall all die—but he would be regarded as a madman. We know that all men, even potentates and princes and emperors, have, after a certain time, fallen victims to death. And where are they now? “Tell me,” says St. Bernard, “where are the lovers of the world? Nothing has remained of them but ashes and worms.” Of so many great men of the world, though buried in marble mausoleums, nothing has remained but a little dust and a few withered bones. We know that our ancestors are no longer among the living: of their death we are constantly reminded by their pictures, their memorandum books, their beds, and by the clothes which they have left us. And can we entertain a hope or a doubt that we shall not die? Of all who lived in this town a hundred years ago how many are now alive? They are all in eternity—in an eternal day of delights, or in an eternal night of torments. Either the one or the other shall be our lot also.
4. But, O God! we all know that we shall die: the misfortune is, that we imagine death as distant as if it were never to come, and therefore we lose sight of it. But, sooner or later, whether we think or think not of death, it is certain, and of faith that we shall die, and that we are drawing nearer to it every day. “For we have not here a lasting city, but we seek one that is to come.” (Heb. xiii. 14.) This is not our country: here we are pilgrims on a journey. “While we are in the body we are absent from the Lord.” (2 Cor. v. 6.) Our country is Paradise, if we know how to acquire it by the grace of God and by our own good works. Our house is not that in which we live; we dwell in it only in passing; our dwelling is in eternity. “Man shall go into the house of his eternity.” (Eccl. xii. 5.) How great would be the folly of the man, who, in passing through a strange country, should lay out all his property in the purchase of houses and possessions in a foreign land, and reduce himself to the necessity of living miserably for the remainder of his days in his own country! And is not he, too, a fool, who seeks after happiness in this world, from which he must soon depart; and, by his sins, exposes himself to the danger of misery in the next, where he must live for eternity?
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 acquiring Peace and Zeal in spiritual progress.
These sentiments, O my God, were dictated by Thy Holy Spirit; we receive them with respect, and desire to put them in practice; but this same Spirit has taught us that without Thy grace we can do nothing; that with it we shall labour to advantage; that we shall obtain as many victories as we experience combats; that without it we shall be certainly conquered. Thou owest this grace, O Lord, to no man; but Thou hast promised it to those who would ask it from Thee in the name of Thy dearly beloved Son. It is through Him we ask it; refuse us not. O God, come to our assistance, encourage and fortify us: O Lord, make haste to help us. Amen.–Thomas à Kempis–Imitation of Christ Bk I, Ch XI prayer.
July Devotion: The Precious Blood of Jesus
Virtues to practice: Simplicity, faith, liberty of spirit, cheerfulness
Prayers in honor of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus.
Most merciful Jesus, lover of souls! I pray Thee, by the agony of Thy most Sacred Heart, and by the sorrows of Thy Immaculate Mother, wash in Thy Blood the sinners of the whole world who are now in their agony, and who are to die this day. Amen.
Heart of Jesus, once in agony, pity the dying.
100 days indul.—Pius IX., Feb. 1850.
“May Thy Blood, shed for us, O Lord Jesus Christ, obtain for me the remission of all my sins, my negligences, my ignorance; may It strengthen, increase and preserve within me, Faith, Hope, Charity, Grace, and every virtue, may It bring me to everlasting life; may It deliver the souls of my parents and of all those for whom I am bound to pray.”
—St. Catharine of Sienna.
O blood of my crucified Jesus, dwell in my soul to purify it. O Blood of my crucified Jesus, dwell in my heart to inflame it. O Blood of my crucified Jesus, dwell in my mind to enlighten it. O Blood of my crucified Jesus, dwell in my thoughts to elevate them! O Blood of my crucified Jesus, dwell in my every action to sanctify them; in every power and faculty of my being, that all within me may exalt Thy might, proclaim Thy benefits and publish Thy mercies!
Praises to the Precious Blood.
Glory be to Jesus!
Who in bitter pains,
Poured for me the life Blood,
From His sacred veins.
Grace and life eternal
In that Blood I find;
Blessed be His compassion,
Blessed through endless ages
Be the precious stream,
Which from endless torment
Doth the world redeem.
There the fainting spirit
Drinks of life her fill;
There, as in a fountain
Laves herself at will.
O the Blood of Christ!
It soothes the Father’s ire,
Opes the gates of heaven,
Quells eternal fire.
Abel’s blood for vengeance
Pleaded to the skies;
But the Blood of Jesus
For our pardon cries.
Oft as it is sprinkled
On our guilty hearts,
Satan in confusion,
Oft as earth exulting
Wafts its praise on high,
Hell with terror trembles.
Heaven is filled with joy.
Lift ye then your voices,
Swell the mighty flood
Louder still and louder,
Praise the Precious Blood!
(100 days indulgence once a day.— Pius VII. , Oct. 1815.)
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