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.
VI — The Kiss of Judas.
“And forthwith coming to Jesus he said: ‘Hail, Rabbi,’ And he kissed Him.” — Matt, xxvi, 49.
THERE have been those who have seen in the action of Judas the indiscretion of a fervent disciple trying to force his Master to declare Himself the Messias and the leader of the nation. In this view his act is not treachery, but indiscreet zeal. It is as though he would put his Lord in such a position that He must either declare Himself or perish, and he would overcome that extremity of caution which stands so much in the way of the deliverance his Lord could bring to His nation. The words of Judas to the priests: “What will you give me, and I will give Him into your hands?” give a very different motive.
There are others who look upon Judas as a traitor from the beginning of his apostolate. He was the only one of the twelve who was not a Galilean. He was almost the only one who had any experience of the dealing with money. He saw early in his apostolate how bitter was the feeling against our Lord. His natural inclination in this view was to advance himself, and he saw a means of at least gaining money by living with our Lord and disarming suspicion, so that at the opportune moment he might turn the hatred of our Lord to his own advantage.
The more common Catholic view is that Judas was called by our Lord, and answered the call in very much the same dispositions as the rest of the disciples, but did not correct his natural selfishness as the others did, but allowed even the kindness of our Lord to increase his self-love. Our Lord trusted him with the alms given to Himself and the disciples, and in this very trust gave him an opportunity to overcome completely his natural and acquired tendency to use all things for his own advantage.
Our Lord allows each one of us to be in circumstances in which the natural weaknesses may be overcome, and He does so, not as a temptation, but as a means of strength. Judas used this kindness to his own ruin, and instead of rising out of selfishness, he became more and more steeped in it, till it overcame his first loyalty to our Lord, and made him capable of treachery.
This last view of the fall of Judas shows each of us how we are to use the circumstances of life to control and ultimately to overcome our natural inclinations to evil, especially to selfishness. This most common of failings was the cause of the ruin of Judas. It may be the cause of mine. There is ever a danger in having to deal with money in religion, for there is thus given into my hands a means of self-seeking, either in supplying myself with things which the rest have not, or of giving things to others, and so gaining a good name from others by unlawful means. The dealing with money, unless very strictly guarded, may lead me to separate myself from the community, to take my own will as the test of all I do. Yet, on the other hand, a strictness about money is capable of ridding my life of all self-seeking. It is a trust from our Lord which I must use in the spirit in which He gives it to me.
The gradual deterioration of Judas from the fervour of his first association with our Lord to the baseness of His betrayal is a warning to me to be on my guard in time, not only in dealing with money, but in correcting the inclinations of nature in all other ways. All these lead to selfishness in the long run. My carelessness about immoderate speech, my carelessness about merely natural affection may lead me in time to utter and sinful uncharity on the one side, and to a loss of the love of our Lord on the other. As Judas could blame Magdalen for her use of the precious ointment in Bethania, so his love of money robbed him of his love for his Master.
Lord Jesus, I thank Thee that Thou hast allowed Thy disciple to give me such a lesson. Thy love of Judas was shown in Thy correction of his uncharity towards Magdalen, and in Thy word to him in the very act of his treachery: “Friend, dost thou betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” Thou didst know how completely his love of himself had taken charity out of his heart, and Thou didst know that the same self-seeking had robbed him of his former love of Thee.
Thou knowest. Lord, how fatal to me also will be the self-love of which I am guilty. Thou knowest how the uncharitable words I utter and the uncharitable thoughts I entertain prepare the way for treachery. Save me. Lord, from myself. Correct me as Thou didst not fail to correct Judas. Let not the want of charity, of which I am so frequently guilty, deafen me to Thy words of correction. Thou speakest, Lord, but Thou knowest how little I heed Thy voice. Thou knowest how ingrained in me is the habit of judging uncharitably. Oh, preserve me from myself. It is from the neglect of Thy warnings that I may become so full of self, that Thy love may find no room in my heart. Do not allow me so to banish Thy love from me. There is no treachery that is not open to me if Thy love leave me. Leave me not, Lord. Take not Thy hand from me. I need Thy correction, I need Thy love as greatly as Judas did. In spite of my uncharitable thoughts and words let me still love Thee, Lord. Save me, for Thou alone canst save me from myself. 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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