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.
II — The Prayer in the Garden of Olives.
“And He was withdrawn away from them a stone’s cast; and kneeling down He prayed, saying: ‘Father, if Thou wilt, remove this chalice from Me; but yet not My will but Thine be done.’” — Luke xxii, 41, 42.
THE actual prayer of our Lord is a great help to me. Not unfrequently the burden of work seems too much for me to bear. Our Lord has allowed Himself to feel the same hopelessness which is a trial to so many religious. Either the actual work given to me, or the circumstances of that work which make it a double burden, or the want of sympathy on the part of those associated with me, makes the burden of life too much for me, at least to my cowardice it appears too much. The work our Lord was commissioned to do demanded from Him the loss of life, of reputation, the loss of faith in Him of many who had hitherto believed in Him. It was to be performed in the most open and public manner in the courts of Jerusalem and on the hill of Calvary; it was to be completed without one word of sympathy, except from the thief hanging beside Him and from the centurion after His death. There were indeed His Mother, Magdalen and the holy women, but their sympathy was silent. His disciples fled, one of them betrayed Him, and one denied that he knew Him. The burden indeed was greater than any I have to bear, and He encouraged Himself to take it up and carry it through by the same thought that He wishes me to have in mind when I am in difficulties over work given to me. “But yet not My will, but Thine be done.”
Work which would be insuperable if undertaken by my own will and with my own strength becomes even easy when done according to Thy will and in Thy power, dear Lord.
Jesus would feel the impossibility of His passion if He rested on His own human will, and if He relied on His own human power to show me the folly of self-will and of reliance on my natural character. I find when this depression attacks me that I am relying too much on myself. Our Lord would have me remember that I am not alone, that God does not ask me to act only by myself, but that His will supports me, and His hand will work for the work I am engaged in. He will not leave me to myself. At times He seems to do so as at this moment of prayer the Father seemed to leave His beloved Son. I must learn from Him to turn from myself, from my own will, my own power, to Him. Thus, as far as I find myself seeking my own will, I must put that effort aside and seek only God’s will and God’s power. I must subordinate my own will and my own energy to the will and the power of God, or my work will fail, and if it appear to succeed the success will not be permanent.
In my religious life 1 have a sure way for testing my reliance on self, and that is my attitude towards obedience. This is the means given me by our Lord when He gave me the call to religion. He gave me this means of leaving my own will or of purifying my will so as to make it conformable with the will of God. Therefore, our Lord would have an angel from heaven to comfort Him. I also have an angel from heaven, a messenger of the will of God in my superior, for, as my superior, he is, without doubt, a messenger from God. Thus does our Lord show me the manner in which I am to approach all work which I undertake for Him.
But He gives me another example, for, “being in agony, He prayed the longer.” When I am relying on myself my depression in difficulty too often leads me to shorten my prayer and to allow the difficulty to become a mere distraction. Our Lord shows me that 1 must be more particular over the time of my prayer, and to increase rather than shorten it. How completely our Lord teaches me the method He wishes me to follow! He would have me question my own will, follow more exactly the orders of authority, and be more exacting with myself over my prayer. Then may I rely on the will of God and rest on His assistance, working no longer by myself, but with the strong support of my God.
Lord Jesus, Thou wast thinking of me in Thy agony in the Garden, and teaching me how to act. Give me, I beseech Thee, the grace to understand and to follow Thee in Thy resolution. Teach me to use the means Thou proposest. Teach me to leave myself and my own will and to give myself entirely to Thine. Help me to submit myself to the authority Thou hast placed over me. Let me be comforted by Thy angel, that with Thy generous spirit I may go forward with the work Thou hast given me to do. In Thy mercy let me not abandon my prayer in times of difficulty, but, after Thy example, the harder the work the more instant let me be in prayer, that Thy power may strengthen my weakness, enabling me to work in Thy service for the good of souls. Amen.
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.
The Versicles and Responses used in the Office of the Church, in the Lauds and Vespers, on Fasting days and during the penitential Times of Advent and Lent.
LORD have mercy on us.
Christ have mercy on us.
Lord have mercy on us.
Our Father, &c.
V. And lead us not into temptation.
R. But deliver us from evil.
V. I said, O Lord, have mercy on me.
R. Heal my soul, for I have sinned against Thee.
V. Turn to us, O Lord; O how long wilt Thou be angry?
R. And be Thou entreated in favour of Thy servants.
V. Let Thy mercy be upon us, O Lord.
R. As we have put our trust in Thee.
V. Let Thy priests be clothed with justice.
R. And let Thy holy ones rejoice.
V. Lord save the king.
R. And hear us in the day that we shall call upon Thee.
V. O save Thy people, O Lord, and bless thine inheritance.
R. And rule them and exalt them for evermore.
V. Remember Thy congregation.
R. Which Thou hast possessed from the beginning.
V. Let peace be in Thy strength.
R. And plenty in Thy towers.
V. Let us pray for the faithful departed.
R. Eternal rest give to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.
V. Let them rest in peace.
V. For our absent brethren.
R. O my God, save Thy servants, who put their trust in Thee.
V. For the afflicted and captive.
R. Deliver them, O God of Israel, from all their tribulations.
V. Send them help, O Lord, from Thy sanctuary.
R. And from Sion protect them.
V. O Lord God of Hosts, convert us to Thee.
R. And show us Thy face, and we shall be saved.
V. Rise up, O Christ, and help us.
R. And deliver us for Thy name’s sake.
V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come to Thee.
Let us Pray.
O God, whose property is always to have mercy and to spare, receive our petitions, that we, and all Thy servants who are bound by the chains of sin, may by the compassion of Thy goodness mercifully be absolved, through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour, Who, with Thee and the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth, one God, world without end. Amen.
The Penitential Prayer of St Austin.
Ante oculos Tuos, Domine, &c.
Before Thy eyes, O Lord, we bring our offences, and with them compare the stripes we have received.
If we weigh the evil we have done, we find that what we suffer is much less than we deserve.
What we have committed far outweighs what we endure.
We feel the punishment of sin, and yet we turn not from our wilfulness in sinning.
Our weakness faints under Thy scourges, but our perverseness is still the same.
Our diseased mind is racked with pain, and our neck is as stiff as ever.
Our life is spent in sighs and grief, but in our actions we are not reformed.
If Thou expectest our amendment, we grow no better; if Thou takest revenge, we are not able to subsist.
When we are chastised we acknowledge what we have done, but when Thy visitation is over we forget what we weep for.
If Thou stretchest out Thy hand, we promise duty; if Thou suspendest Thy sword, we keep not our promise.
If Thou strikest, we cry for pardon; and if Thou pardonest, we provoke Thee again to strike.
Here, O Lord, are Thy criminals confessing their guilt. We know that, unless Thou forgivest, Thou mayest justly destroy us.
Grant, O Almighty Father, without merit, what we ask, as out of nothing Thou didst create us to ask Thee: through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
We wait in expectation of our Saviour’s coming, who will reform our frail bodies according to the pattern of His glorious body.
V. Behold, the God of heaven is our Redeemer.
R. In Him will we put our confidence, and will not fear.
Almighty God, who for the redemption of mankind didst send Thy only-begotten Son to assume our flesh, and suffer death upon the cross; we humbly pray, that as our Saviour hath left us here the example of His patience, He would both enable us faithfully to follow His example, and make us hereafter partakers of His glory: Who, with Thee and the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth, one God, world without end. Amen.
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