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.
The Universal Expectation of the Saviour. (continued)
“And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root.”-Is. xi. 1.
Then, as Noe’s family became extended, and began to repeople the earth, the germ of evil reappeared in the descendants of those good men whom God had spared. Darkness was spread over the earth, and the true light remained only in the hearts of a small number. Then God chose from amongst them a man destined to become the father of a people, in which the deposit of truth should be preserved for centuries, and in the midst of all human errors. “And God said to Abraham: Go forth out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and out of thy father’s house, and come into the land which I will show thee. And I will make of thee a. great nation, . . . and I will bless them that bless thee, curse them that curse thee, and in thee shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.” Abraham obeyed the word of God. He was obedient all his life with an heroic fidelity, separating himself from the rest of men by that docility which is the mark of the elect. He is ready to sacrifice to the Lord even his son, the pledge of His promises. Then God stays his arm, restores to him his son, and renews His promises, and the covenant passes from the faithful father to the son. I will multiply thy seed like the stars of heaven, said God to Isaac, and I will give to thy posterity all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.
The family which was to become the people of God increased. They lived neither in houses nor in towns, but travelled about feeding their flocks. The patriarch or father was the chief whom all obeyed. His life, though shorter than that of Adam and his first sons, was, nevertheless, far longer than ours, in order that the old man, who had seen so many things happen for more than a century, might instruct the generations which sprung up around him like the young shoots round a great tree. After the death of the patriarch, God renewed the promise directly to his son. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, received it each in turn in the same form of words. I will multiply thy seed like the stars of heaven, and like the dust of the earth: in thee and in thy race shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.
Now this blessing is the Redeemer, who was to be born of this chosen race, and to save all men. As time goes on, we see this promise unfold itself more clearly. Jacob is led into Egypt through the wonderful fortunes of his son Joseph, the saviour of his brethren, who had betrayed him, a touching figure of Jesus Christ. The patriarch dies surrounded by his twelve sons, who are about to form, in the midst of the idolatry of Egypt, the twelve tribes of the people of God. Enlightened on his deathbed by Divine inspiration, he points out which of his sons is to become the father of the royal race out of which would come the Saviour. Juda, thee shall thy brethren praise . . . the sons of thy father shall bow down to thee . . . The sceptre shall not be taken away from Juda, nor a ruler from his thigh, till He come that is to be sent, and He shall be the expectation of nations.
The growing prosperity of the children of Israel alarmed the Egyptians. A terrible persecution rose against them; but in vain did they load them with work, and reduce them to the most cruel slavery, the Hand of God protected them. In vain were their new-born children exposed on the waters of the Nile: God guided the frail cradle which bore the liberator of His people; He moved with pity the daughter of the persecutor himself, and the child who was saved from the waters became Moses, the greatest of His servants.
We all know by what wonders God delivered His people from the slavery of Egypt, and led them through the desert. Too often evil appears amongst the children of Israel: they murmur ungratefully at the fatigues of the journey, and they return to the idols of Egypt. But God is with them: His Fatherly Hand guides them, His justice punishes them, His mercy pardons them.
On the summit of Mount Sinai Moses receives from His mouth the written law, which confirms and fixes for ever the primitive law, which up to this time had been transmitted from the patriarchs to their sons. Moses renews in God’s name the promise upon which all their hopes had been founded, and in the first pages of the sacred book in which he records by the inspiration of God the history of His people, the promise of the Redeemer is inscribed close to the condemnation.
After forty years passed in the desert as a punishment for their ingratitude, the people of God entered at last into the promised land. There they are established by miracles, and the Hand of God is heavy upon their enemies. When they fall again into error the Hand of God is withdrawn from them, and their enemies become strong. When they return to God in slavery and sorrow, the Lord remembers His promises, and sends them a strong man who saves them. Their misfortunes infallibly follow their sins, their victories follow their repentance. Hoping to be defended against the reverses which they brought upon themselves, they ask for a king. Saul, chosen by God, and victorious so long as he is faithful, is abandoned when he disobeys, and perishes miserably. Then comes David, the great servant of God, the glorious king of the race of Juda, whose house shall keep the sceptre till He shall come who is to be sent. God gave to him the gift of prophecy. He saw beforehand the glories and the misfortunes of his people, but above all he saw with a clearness before unknown the promised Saviour, whom he calls at the same time his Lord and his Son.
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.
August Devotion: The Most Pure Heart of Mary
Virtues to practice: The sanctification of our actions, diligence, edification, fidelity in little things
O Heart of Mary, Mother of God, and our Mother; Heart most worthy of love, in which the adorable Trinity is ever well pleased, worthy of the veneration and love of all the angels and of all men; Heart most like to the Heart of Jesus, of which thou art the perfect image; Heart full of goodness, ever compassionate toward our miseries; deign to melt our icy hearts and grant that they may be wholly changed into the likeness of the Heart of Jesus, our divine Saviour. Pour into them the love of thy virtues, and kindle in them that divine fire with which thou thyself dost ever burn. In thee let Holy Church find a safe shelter; protect her and be her dearest refuge, her tower of strength, impregnable against every assault of her enemies. Be thou the way which leads to Jesus, and the channel, through which we receive all graces needful for our salvation. Be our refuge in time of trouble, our solace in the midst of trial, our strength against temptation, our haven in persecution, our present help in every danger, and especially at the hour of death, when all hell shall let loose against us its legions to snatch away our souls, at that dread moment, that hour so full of fear, whereon our eternity depends. Ah, then most tender virgin, make us to feel the sweetness of thy motherly heart, and the might of thy intercession with Jesus, and open to us a safe refuge in that very fountain of mercy whence we may come to praise Him with thee in paradise, world without end. Amen.
An indulgence of 7 years once on any day of the month; A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, if this act of devotion is repeated daily for entire month (Apostolic Brief Dec. 21, 1901)
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