The Universal Expectation of the Saviour. (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.

The Universal Expectation of the Saviour. (continued – 2)

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.

After him, and until the end, we find the same vicissitudes of good and evil, of mercy and chastisement. God raises up prophets to call His people to repentance, or to renew their hopes. Their words were carefully preserved and added to the books of Moses, and to those of the Kings, which were written by the inspiration of God; and as we read these Holy Scriptures we find in each page the promise of the expected Saviour. It is wonderful, as the ages advance, to see how this Divine Figure is gradually completed. Each prophet adds a feature, and at the same time the figure of that blessed woman promised to Eve appears from the shades of the picture. “A virgin,” says Isaias, “shall conceive and bear a Son, and His name shall be called Emmanuel, which, being interpreted, is God with us.”[1] The purest and most touching images are used to paint the Mother of the Saviour. She is the rod of Jesse, from which a flower shall rise up.[2] She is the rising morning;[3] she is the lily among thorns.[4] The Jewish people; amidst all their ingratitude, retain this belief. When they are led captive into the land of enemies charged to execute the vengeance of the just God whom they have offended, this hope follows them, and comforts them in the land of exile. When at last strangers reign over fallen Israel, for the punishment of its faults, it is again their strength and consolation in servitude. But this hope is mingled with many errors. Ungrateful in prosperity, the children of Israel weep and pray in the day of retribution. Supported by the recollections of the past, they know that the mercy of God is greater than their crimes, and they have a hope. But what is it? A powerful king, a warrior who will crush their enemies, and raise Jerusalem from its ruins. In vain the prophets describe to them the Man of Sorrows, the humble and resigned Victim who is to suffer and die for their salvation: their eyes are closed by excessive pride.

However, they suffer and they wait. The race of David, though deprived of its throne, and oppressed like the rest, is still the royal race, honoured above all others, not so much for its past as for its future greatness. From it is to come the Desired of all Nations: they know and believe this. Daniel has told them the year of His birth, and the time draws near. There is not a maiden of the royal house who does not daily beseech the Lord that the rod from the root of Jesse, the blessed virgin who is to be the Mother of the Saviour, may spring up from among her own children, and the woman whom God has deprived of the happiness of being a mother weeps in silence and humiliation. She is looked upon with contempt, as a barren branch on the tree which is to bear the precious fruit expected by all generations.

Lively, however, as is this expectation of the Saviour among the people of God, it is not confined to the narrow space of Judea. We shall find it amongst the idolatrous nations, and in spite of the darkness which surrounds it, we shall admire the providence of God which has caused this fragment of His promises to be cherished from age to age, amidst so many errors. Throughout the vast expanse of the universe there is but one small nation in which He is known and served, and even there how often does error and infidelity break in. All the rest of mankind live in ignorance of God, and a contempt of the law, of which a Christian can hardly form an idea. Of old the knowledge of the true God had been transmitted from father to son, from one faithful heart to another. But now it became more and more corrupted as each generation passed on. The parents turned away from God, the children were brought up in ignorance of Him, each generation became more miserable than the last.

As no intelligent creature can live without worshipping a Superior Being, these poor blinded people made gods for themselves. Some, giving to creatures the homage due to the Creator, worshipped the sun which ripened their harvests, the moon and the stars which enlightened their nights. Others, still more foolish, made coarse likenesses of the Godhead, and, making gods as numerous as the attributes which they supposed Him to possess, they worshipped idols of wood or of stone, representing strength, power, fertility, vengeance, and the like. Others even (see what folly the human mind can reach when abandoned by God’s light,) others went so far as to worship all the passions and vices under the names of gods, whom any of us would be ashamed to resemble. And then, what disorder, what a chaos of war and revenge, what a shock of conflicting passions, what oppression of the weak by the strong! O we little know from what Christianity has delivered us!

Nevertheless, through this deluge of errors and crimes there are some scattered truths floating like the remains of a great storm, and which are found amongst nations least resembling each other, as a proof of their common origin. There is one especially, which is found all over the earth, the expectation of a Redeemer. Man might forget or deny the true God, but he could not deny the grief which was crushing him; he could not refuse to himself the hope of something better to come. Therefore we recognize it wherever we go; the mind, wearied with the absurd errors of paganism, is enlightened by the sudden apparition of this truth. It is a light which strikes the sight and rejoices it, like that friendly light shining from afar, which points out to the villager his home as he returns through the fields some winter evening, and this hope becomes stronger and more likely as the time approaches appointed by God for the coming of the Saviour. When the time is accomplished the general expectation becomes impatient and restless.

All nations, whether barbarous or civilized, are agitated. From their forests, from their deserts, or from their towns, they turn their eyes towards one spot, for they all know pretty nearly from which side of the earth the Saviour is to come.

[1] Is. vii. 14.
[2] Is. xl. 1.
[3] Cant. vi. 9
[4] Cant. ii. 2.

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.

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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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