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.
VII — Our Lord Heals the Wound made by Peter.
“Then Simon Peter having a sword, drew it; and struck the servant of the High Priest, and cut off his right ear. And the name of the servant was Malchus. Jesus therefore said to Peter: ‘Put up thy sword into the scabbard. The chalice which my Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it?’”—John xviii, 10, 11.
IN this act our Lord exercises for the last time the healing by the touch of His hand. There is no occasion during His passion, because His hands are either bound with cords or used to hold the cross on His shoulders or nailed to the cross. Therefore, it is not possible for Him without miracle to use His hand again, but the last act of His free hand is to heal the wound made by one of His own disciples on the person of one of His enemies. He cures the wound given by His too eager disciple. He had just demanded that as they sought Him only, the soldiers and servants should not molest the disciples; but Peter would not so be separated from Him, and he had brought a sword and must use it foolishly.
I find that the unconsidered eagerness of His followers still endangers the peace and invites fresh insults upon our Lord without doing any good to the cause they have in view. We may well believe that this attack on the part of Peter had only one effect — the binding of our Lord’s hands. As an armed attack had been made upon the band, it was necessary to secure their prisoner.
Then I see how anxious our Lord is that the servant of the High Priest should not suffer, and, putting aside the disciple, He stretches out His hand and heals the wound. He will not have the servant suffer, though he was obeying an evil master.
Haste inconsidered often puts a community in a false position, and, though our Lord condones much folly, He does not promise that His Church shall not suffer from the thoughtless, hasty conduct of His servants. The calmness and the intense charity of our Lord is in striking contrast with the haste of His disciple. Once again and for the last time He exerts the power of healing which He had given to the body He had assumed, and, touching the ear of the servant of the High Priest, heals it. Perhaps Malchus was making himself objectionable, even more so than the rest. There are characters who are brave in company, and capable of much bluff when others are near, but cowards when alone. These are very provoking, especially to those who are not quite sure of themselves, like Peter. But here we have our Lord bearing with both Malchus and Peter, and kind to both the one who was provoking and to the other who hastily took provocation. The passion was not to be the result of either folly, but a perfectly deliberate act on the part of our Lord and of the High Priests and rulers of the Jews.
So it is in religious communities. Our Lord wishes the sacrifice of self to be deliberate, and not to rest on merely thoughtless enthusiasm. Many wounds are given by unconsidered words, often in part untrue, which only result in greater difficulties for those who love our Lord and wish to have part in His life and passion. He alone suffers from the act of His disciple; the rest are only needlessly alarmed, and fly from Him, leaving Him to be bound and led bound to the court of the High Priest. What a depth of kindness towards those who attack us does our Lord show in this miracle! But more still He shows me the complete deliberateness with which I am to follow Him. Indeed the boldness or haste of Peter did not prevent him from flying and afterwards denying our Lord. It is not these spasmodic efforts which are blessed, but the perfectly contained and deliberate determination to do and to suffer all that the Father in His inscrutable designs puts upon me. This conduct will indeed bring me less honour before the crowd, and make me less remembered by men, but it will please my Father who is in heaven, and effect much more for Him and for the state of life to which He has called me than hasty attack and capitulation such as Peter made.
O Lord Jesus, I beseech Thee let me learn this lesson which Thou designest to teach me. Thou showest me Thy own firm will to go through deliberately with all that is before Thee — every insult, every provocation. Thou takest upon Thyself the haste of Thy disciple, and, by bearing it, overcomest all. If Thou hadst encouraged Peter, there is no knowing what folly he might not have been guilty of. If Thou hadst resisted Malchus the deliberateness of Thy passion might have been taken away, and the disciples might have met their death before the Holy Ghost had come upon them. What a loss to the world would this have been! Whereas Thy kindness is a lesson for all time and an example to every soul that comes to Thee. Indeed, for the most of these Thou seemest to be more pleased with constancy than with great and heroic actions. Give me Thy own deliberateness, Thy own constancy, dear Lord. 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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