St. Francis de Sales.
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.
St. Francis de Sales.
To love one’s neighbour as oneself is a greater thing than all holocausts and sacrifices (St. Mark xii. 33).
I. Consider first, that not every act thou dost for the benefit of thy neighbour, in clothing, feeding, cheering, or consoling him, is an act of supernatural charity, such as is spoken of in this passage; but only such acts of kindness as are done to him for the love of God, Who has commended to thy care this thy neighbour as if He gave Himself in person to thy keeping. Considering this, there can be no doubt that “to love one’s neighbour is a greater thing than all holocausts and sacrifices,” for acts of supernatural charity are greater than acts of religion. If, indeed, I should not rather say, that these same acts of supernatural charity are themselves acts of religion, because they are directed to the greater honour of God; and, on the other hand, they possess the additional advantage of being performed in aid of our neighbour. Therefore, when it is laid down that “to love one’s neighbour is a greater thing than all holocausts and sacrifices,” the things of which we treat belong to the same order, and consequently we are speaking of sacrifices which are preferred to other sacrifices. Such is St. Augustine’s opinion.
II. Consider secondly, how important it is, if this be so, that whenever thou dost any act of charity to thy neighbour, thou shouldst raise thy heart to God, and not act merely from natural compassion, which makes thee wish to help one whom thou seest lying before thee hungry, thirsty, naked, fever-stricken. This natural impulse is of no great value. Know, then, that there are many to be met, who are called “the noble sons of Sion,” but who, for all that, are only “clothed in the best gold,” having of supernatural charity, which is the true gold, nothing but the outward show. They may be as noble as they desire in the eyes of men, but they are of small esteem in truth. “How are they esteemed as earthen vessels, the work of the potter’s hand?” They perform only natural acts, in all respects like the works of the humble potter, who pays very little regard to the vessel which he fashions. A sculptor or engraver puts all his mind into his work, but the potter does not keep his mind working with his hands, but lets his wheel go round and round, and what he makes is of little value. If thou wouldst make much profit by thy acts of charity, accustom thyself always to lift thy mind to God, and to avoid doing what may be called the potter’s work.
III. Consider thirdly, that, apart from what has been said so far, “to love one’s neighbour is a greater thing than all the holocausts and sacrifices,” because the Lord readily allows acts of charity, even when not performed from a supernatural motive, to take precedence over acts of the virtue of religion. It is, for example, lawful on a festival to omit attendance at Mass, in order to assist a patient, even though he pay thee liberally. Who can fail to admire herein the supreme goodness of the Lord, in thus consenting to make more account of our advantage than of His own honour. Thou dost not act with the like generosity when thou dost so often prefer thy own convenience to the honour of thy God. Learn at least from this to set the highest store by acts of charity, which are so pleasing to God.
IV. Consider fourthly, that the personal sacrifices which thou dost make to God by corporal austerities ought also to yield place to acts of charity; for the Lord requires thee sometimes to forego fasting and disciplines, if these would detract from the good thou couldst otherwise procure for thy neighbour. This truth seems often to elude thy grasp. It may be that thou art addicted to much practice of penance, and, at the same time, extremely reluctant to put thyself to a little inconvenience in order to comply with some request; thou art unwilling to pardon thy neighbour an uncivil word, and must needs return a haughty answer, mortifying and abusing him, nor canst thou ever, in conversation, abstain from hostile criticism of the actions of one, who, being absent, cannot justify himself. Unhappy man! canst thou not understand that “to love one’s neighbour is a greater thing than all the holocausts and sacrifices”? The Lord cannot accept thy lesser sacrifices whilst thou dost still neglect the greatest of all, which is charity.
V. Consider fifthly, how far thy love for thy neighbour ought to be carried. Thou art to love him “as thyself.” The command is not as much as, but as thyself; for the Lord never commanded anything to which thou canst not accommodate thy conduct in perfect accordance with all the laws of well-regulated self-love. Therefore, in all things which concern thy true welfare, as, for instance, the grace of God, humility, obedience, and all interior virtues, thou must not yield a single point to thy neighbour—nay, thou must even look upon him with a holy envy. The Apostle, after having said, “Follow after charity,” immediately adds, “Be zealous of spiritual gifts,” in order to show us that rivalry in spiritual gifts is not opposed to charity, as rivalry in temporal matters is; for spiritual goods can be possessed at the same time by many, without loss to any one. But, on the other hand, in things which do not touch the welfare of thy soul, give place to the utmost to thy neighbour, for in so doing thou art really advancing thy own best interests likewise. Oftentimes thou wilt concede to others some good of little value—money, or glory, or precedence, or convenience, and thou wilt thereby purchase for thyself an eternal good. It is true that in everything thou art bound to love thy neighbour “as thyself,” so that thou must desire for him the same good thou dost desire for thyself, that is to say, true and solid good, and with the same kind of desire, that is to say, with well-ordered desire, and with the same kind of zeal, that is to say, with practical zeal. That charity which “seeks not the things that are its own,” because by so doing it may do positive injury to another, is good, but it is not perfect charity. Perfect charity not only shrinks from doing positive injury to the interests of others, but it cannot even consent to disregard them: it treats their interests as its own.
VI. Consider sixthly, that the sacrifices commanded by God in the Old Law reduced themselves to three. One was “the sacrifice for sin;” and this was required as of necessity to be offered up in order to obtain forgiveness of sin, and it represented the state of penitents who make confession. Hence, one half of the victim was burned in sacrifice to the honour of God, and the other half remained for the priest, in order to show that the forgiveness of sin in the Sacrament of Penance is effectuated by God, working through His ministers. The second was “the peace-offering;” and this was offered up, either to obtain some benefit, such as peace, or prosperity, or health, or in order to return thanks for some benefit received, and it represented the state of those already advanced in virtue, who strictly adhere to the Divine commands. In this case, therefore, the victim was divided into three parts: one was burned in honour of God, another was reserved for the priest, and another for the person offering the victim, in order to signify that the salvation of men is effected by three, acting concurrently: by God through His grace, by the priest through his guidance, and by the applicant himself, who must achieve salvation by his own exertions. The third was the “holocaust,” in which all the victim was burned in the Divine honour. It represented the sublime state of the perfect, who, by observing in full the counsels as well as the commandments of God, consecrate their whole being to His service, without keeping anything back.
Now to return to the meaning of the text. “ To love one’s neighbour as oneself is a greater thing than all holocausts and sacrifices,” because the charity here mentioned is also itself, as I said before, the greatest of all sacrifices, inasmuch as, on the one hand, it belongs to the class of holocausts, since “it seeks not its own;” and, on the other hand, of all holocausts it is the most worthy, for it is altogether consecrated to the honour of God, not only in His own Person, but likewise in the persons of those whom He has recommended to us as Himself. So that, rightly understood, it fulfils all the law to perfection. “All the law is fulfilled in one word: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself;” and such was the perfect holocaust continually offered to God by the Saint of this day, St. Francis de Sales.
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.
Among those who are united in our Lord Jesus Christ by the bonds of charity, and by the desire to procure the honor and glory of God, the most profitable words are those which the Holy Ghost engraves on their hearts by the prayers which they offer for one another.–St. Ignatius of Loyola, Letter 64.
Litany of the Most Holy Name of Jesus
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Jesus, hear us.
Jesus, graciously hear us.
God, the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God, the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.
Jesus, Son of the living God, have mercy on us.
Jesus, splendor of the Father, have mercy on us.
Jesus, brightness of eternal light, have mercy on us.
Jesus, King of glory, have mercy on us.
Jesus, sun of justice, have mercy on us.
Jesus, Son of the Virgin Mary, have mercy on us.
Jesus, most amiable, have mercy on us.
Jesus, most admirable, have mercy on us.
Jesus, the mighty God, have mercy on us.
Jesus, father of the world to come, have mercy on us.
Jesus, Angel of great counsel, have mercy on us.
Jesus, most powerful, have mercy on us.
Jesus, most patient, have mercy on us.
Jesus, most obedient, have mercy on us.
Jesus, meek and humble of heart, have mercy on us.
Jesus, lover of Chastity, have mercy on us.
Jesus, lover of us, have mercy on us.
Jesus, God of peace, have mercy on us.
Jesus, author of life, have mercy on us.
Jesus, example of virtues, have mercy on us.
Jesus, zealous lover of souls, have mercy on us.
Jesus, our God, have mercy on us.
Jesus, our refuge, have mercy on us.
Jesus, father of the poor, have mercy on us.
Jesus, treasure of the faithful, have mercy on us.
Jesus, good Shepherd, have mercy on us.
Jesus, true light, have mercy on us.
Jesus, eternal wisdom, have mercy on us.
Jesus, infinite goodness, have mercy on us.
Jesus, our way and our life, have mercy on us.
Jesus, joy of the Angels, have mercy on us.
Jesus, King of the Patriarchs, have mercy on us.
Jesus, Master of the Apostles, have mercy on us.
Jesus, Teacher of the Evangelists, have mercy on us.
Jesus, strength of Martyrs, have mercy on us.
Jesus, light of Confessors, have mercy on us.
Jesus, purity of Virgins, have mercy on us.
Jesus, crown of all Saints, have mercy on us.
Be merciful, spare us, O Jesus!
Be merciful, graciously hear us, O Jesus!
From all evil, deliver us, O Jesus.
From all sin, deliver us, O Jesus.
From Thy wrath, deliver us, O Jesus.
From the snares of the devil, deliver us, O Jesus.
From the spirit of fornication, deliver us, O Jesus.
From everlasting death, deliver us, O Jesus.
From the neglect of Thine inspirations, deliver us, O Jesus.
By the mystery of Thy holy Incarnation, deliver us, O Jesus.
By Thy Nativity, deliver us, O Jesus.
By Thine Infancy, deliver us, O Jesus.
By Thy most divine life, deliver us, O Jesus.
By Thy labors, deliver us, O Jesus.
By Thine agony and Passion, deliver us, O Jesus.
By Thy Cross and dereliction, deliver us, O Jesus.
By Thy sufferings, deliver us, O Jesus.
By Thy death and burial, deliver us, O Jesus.
By Thy Resurrection, deliver us, O Jesus.
By Thine Ascension, deliver us, O Jesus.
By Thine institution of the most Holy Eucharist, deliver us, O Jesus.
By Thy joys, deliver us, O Jesus.
By Thy glory, deliver us, O Jesus.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, spare us, O Jesus!
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, hear us, O Jesus!
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us, O Jesus!
Jesus, hear us.
Jesus, graciously hear us.
Let Us Pray.
O Lord Jesus Christ, who has said, Ask and ye shall receive, seek, and ye shall find, knock, and it shall be opened unto you, mercifully attend to our supplications, and grant us the gift of Thy divine charity, that we may ever love Thee with our whole heart and with all our words and deeds, and may never cease from praising Thee.
Make us, O Lord, to have a perpetual fear and love of Thy holy Name, for Thou never failest to help and to govern those whom Thou dost bring up in Thy steadfast love: who livest and reignest forever and ever. Amen.
– Raccolta 113 An indulgence of 7 years. A plenary indulgence once a month on the usual conditions, for the daily and devout recitation of this litany (S. C. Ind., Jan. 16, 1886; S. P. Ap., Jan. 2, 1933).
Prayer in honor of the Most Holy Name
O sweet Name of Jesus, holy above all names in heaven and on earth, and to which every knee, both of men and of angels in heaven, on earth and in hell bends. You are the the way of the just, the glory of the saints, the hope of those in need, the balm of the sick, the love of the devout and the consolation of those that suffer.
O, Jesus be to me a help and a protector so that your Name may be blessed for all times. – Thomas A. Kempis
Prayer of Reparation in Praise of the Holy Name of God entitled:
“The Golden Arrow”
May the most holy, most sacred, most adorable, most incomprehensible and unutterable Name of God be always praised, blessed, loved, adored and glorified in heaven on earth and under the earth, by all the creatures of God, and by the Sacred Heart of our Lord Jesus Christ in the most Holy Sacrament of the altar. Amen.
Prayer in honor of the Holy Name
O my Jesus, Thou art the Savior who hast given Thy blood and Thy life for me, I pray Thee to write Thy adorable name on my poor heart; so that having it always imprinted in my heart by love, I may also have it ever on my lips, by invoking it in all my necessities. If the devil tempts me, Thy name will give me strength to resist him; if I lose confidence, Thy name will animate me to hope; if I am in affliction, Thy name will comfort me, by reminding me of all Thou hast endured for me. If I find myself cold in Thy love, Thy name will inflame me by reminding me of the love Thou hast shown me. Hitherto I have fallen into so many sins, because I did not call on Thee; from henceforth Thy name shall be my defense, my refuge, my hope, my only consolation, my only love. Thus do I hope to live, and so do I hope to die, having Thy name always on my lips.
Most holy Virgin, obtain for me the grace of invoking the name of Thy Son Jesus in all my necessities, together with thine own, my Mother Mary; but let me invoke them always with confidence and love, so that I may be able also to say to thee as did the devout Alphonsus Rodriguez: “Jesus and Mary, may I suffer for you; may I die for you; may I be wholly yours, and in nothing my own!” O my beloved Jesus! O Mary, my beloved Lady! give me the grace to suffer and to die for your love. I will be no longer my own, but altogether yours; yours in life, and yours in death, when I hope by your help to expire saying, Jesus and Mary, help me! Jesus and Mary, I recommend myself to you; Jesus and Mary, I love you, and I give and deliver up to you my whole soul.
The Incarnation, Birth and Infancy of Jesus Christ by St. Alphonsus de Liguori. p. 163 (Imprimatur 1927)
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