The Conditions for good Prayer-continued (2).
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.
A third condition which our prayers must have, in order to move effectually the heart of God, is, perseverance in asking.
“The only secret for obtaining favour from God, is to persevere in prayer” (St. Hilary, Cant. 6. in Matt.). For although God has promised to grant us the favours we seek at His hands, provided they help us to attain to our last end, eternal life, He has not promised to grant them immediately, or even soon. To some, He grants what is asked at the outset: but others are kept praying and waiting for weeks and months, nay, for years together, Some obtain what they ask for without any delay: others only insensibly and by slow degrees. All this happens through the hidden and unsearchable counsels of the providence of God, which we cannot pretend to fathom. Suffice it is for us to know, that in this diversity of conduct God has no other end but our greater advantage, and His own greater glory. Certain it is, however, that if we continue to pray, we shall sooner or later, obtain all that is not prejudicial to our final happiness: for the promise of God can in no wise fail.
Hence St. Gregory the Great has well said: “If you are not heard the first time you make your petition, do not cease praying, but rather be earnest in supplication and in lifting up your voice to God. For the Lord wishes to be entreated: to have violence done to Him: to be conquered ever by a kind of holy importunity” (In Psalm Poenit, vi, I).
St. Jerome alleges, in support of this teaching, the example of that blind man who sat on the roadside on the way to Jericho, and who cried out to Jesus for mercy. He was told not to cry so loud, and to hold his peace: but he only cried the louder: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me” (Mark x, 47). “This should be the conduct of everyone who desires by prayer to obtain of God what he stands in need of; he should on no account cease from praying, nor hold his peace, but rather, the less his supplications seem to avail, the more should he persist therein, and the more should he cry to God, in all the earnestness of his heart” (In Lament. Jer., Cap. 3).
But St. Chrysostom is still more emphatic in urging us to this perseverance in prayer and supplication. He sets before us the paralytic man in the Gospel, who had lain for thirty-eight years by the Pool of Bethsaida, trembling on its brink even as the reeds tremble on the river bank. Then all on fire with a holy zeal, the Saint exclaims: “Shame upon us! shame upon us, dearly beloved! let us mourn over our incredible sloth. For thirty-eight years did this man stricken with paralysis wait by the side of the pool, anxiously expecting the moment when he should be healed. And disappointed of his hope, not indeed through his own neglect, but because others got in before him: he did not, for all that, lose heart, nor was he wearied of waiting, nor did he for one moment despair of gaining his wish. Yet we, if we persevere for ten days in prayer, and do not see that we are heard, straightway grow slack at our prayer, are discouraged, and abandon it altogether” (Hom. 35 in Cap. v, Joan).
In order, then, not to fall into this fault of inconstancy, so prejudicial to the efficacy of prayer, causing it more frequently than not to remain without result, let us call to mind these three points. This grace which I am now asking of God, is, as I believe, expedient to my salvation: hence, God cannot refuse to grant it. Heaven and earth may change, not so the promises made by God Almighty. “Heaven and earth shall pass but My words shall not pass” (Matt, xxiv, 35). I am determined, therefore, to persist with the utmost constancy in praying for it, without ever allowing myself to be disheartened: for by such perseverance in asking I am sure eventually to obtain it, either sooner or later; either all at once, or shortly and by degrees: “He continueth faithful, He cannot deny Himself” (2 Tim. ii, 13).
It would be almost impossible to find a more noble example of faith, humility and perseverance in prayer, than that given us by the woman of Canaan. She presented herself before our Blessed Lord, and begged Him to have compassion upon one of her daughters who was cruelly tormented by the devil. But Jesus, turned away His face, and did not even condescend to make answer. She was not dispirited at meeting with so unpromising a reception: but, lifting up her voice, she began to importune our dear Lord with cries so loud, that the Apostles entreated their Divine Master to send away the woman for she was annoying them with her clamours. “And He answering said: I was not sent but to the sheep that are lost of the house of Israel.” The Canaanite woman, hearing that she was excluded from the number of those whom Christ had come to benefit, did not lose heart: but confiding more than ever in His goodness, she ran and threw herself at His feet imploring help. Our Blessed Lord made no sign of being touched by this act of reverence and homage, and said: “It is not good to take the bread of the children, and to cast it to the dogs.” And yet, in spite of this very severe answer, the woman was not put out, but immediately replied: “Yea, Lord, for the whelps also eat of the crumbs that fall from the table of their masters.” Then Jesus made her this answer: “O woman, great is thy faith, be it done to thee as thou wilt,” “and her daughter was cured from that hour” (Matt, xv, 22-28). Great was the faith with which this woman prayed, since so many rebuffs failed to make her lose confidence. Great, too, was her humility: for though treated as an unclean animal, she not only did not show resentment, but acknowledging herself for one, she sought on this very account, to be favourably heard by the Redeemer. Great was her perseverance: for despite the opposition of the Apostles, who would have driven her away, despite the repeated rebuffs she received from Christ, she ceased not from praying. Let us then copy her faith, her humility and her perseverance, when we pray to God. If, in order to try our constancy, Christ seems to turn a deaf ear to us, as He did to this Canaanite woman, let us lift up our voices, and pray the more earnestly; let us fall prostrate in His sight with the more fervour, in fullest assurance that although He may delay granting us what we ask for in such wise, never can He refuse it to us altogether.
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 Resisting Temptation.
VI. However, we must be watchful, especially in the beginning of temptation; because then the enemy is easier overcome, when he is not suffered to come in at the door of the soul, but is kept out and resisted at his first knock.
Whence a certain man said: Withstand the beginning, after-remedies come too late.
For first a bare thought comes to the mind; then a strong imagination; afterwards delight, and evil motion and consent.
And thus, by little and little, the wicked enemy gets full entrance, when he is not resisted in the beginning.
And how much the longer a man is negligent in resisting, so much the weaker does he daily become in himself, and the enemy becomes stronger against him.–Thomas à Kempis–Imitation of Christ Bk I, Ch XIII pt VI.
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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