On the Love of God.
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.
On the Love of God.
This only take care of with all diligence, that you love the Lord your God.” — Josua xxiii. I.
LOVE is strong as death (Cant. viii. 6): since both equally separate the soul from the body and all terrestrial things, the only difference is, that the separation is real and effectual when caused by death, whereas that occasioned by love is usually confined to the heart.
I say usually, because divine love is sometimes so violent that it actually separates the soul from the body, and, by causing the death of those who love, it renders them infinitely happier than if it bestowed on them a thousand lives.
As the lot of the reprobate is to die in sin, that of the elect is to expire in the love and grace of God, which is effected in several ways.
Many of the Saints died, not only in the state of charity, but in the actual exercise of divine love. St. Augustine expired in making an act of contrition, which cannot exist without love; St. Jerome, in exhorting his disciples to charity and the practice of all virtues; St. Ambrose, in conversing sweetly with his Saviour, whom he had received in the Holy Eucharist; St. Antony of Padua also expired in the act of discoursing with our Divine Lord, after having recited a hymn in honour of the ever-glorious Virgin; St. Thomas of Aquinas, with his hands clasped, his eyes raised to heaven, and pronouncing these words of the Canticles, which were the last he had expounded: “Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the field” (Cant. vii. II).
All the apostles, and the greater number of the martyrs, died in prayer. Venerable Bede, having learned the hour of his death by revelation, went to the choir at the usual hour to sing the evening office, it being the feast of the Ascension, and at the very moment he had finished singing vespers, he expired, following his Guide and Master into heaven, to celebrate His praises in that abode of rest and happiness, round which the shades of night can never gather, because it is illumined by the brightness of the eternal day, which neither dawns nor ends.
John Gerson, Chancellor of the University of Paris, remarkable for his learning and virtue—of whom Sixtus of Sienna said, “that it is difficult to decide whether the vein of piety which runs through his works surpasses his science, or whether his learning exceeds his piety”—after having explained the fifty properties of divine love mentioned in the Canticles, expired at the close of three days, smiling, and pronouncing these words of the same sacred text: “Thy love, O God, is strong as death” (Cant. viii. 6).
The fervour and ardour of St. Martin at the hour of his death are remarkable. St. Louis, who has proved himself as great a monarch among the Saints as an eminent saint among kings, being attacked by the plague, ceased not to pray, and after receiving the viaticum, he extended his arms in the form of a cross, fixed his eyes on heaven, and, animated with love and confidence, expired in saying with the Psalmist: “I will come into Thy house, O Lord; I will worship towards Thy holy temple, in Thy fear” (Ps. v. 8).
St. Peter Celestine, after having endured the most cruel and incredible afflictions, seeing the end of his days approach, began to sing like the swan, and terminated his song with his life, by these words of the last Psalm: “Let every spirit praise the Lord” (Ps. cl. 5).
St. Eusebiâ, surnamed the Stranger, died kneeling in fervent prayer. St. Peter the Martyr yielded his last sigh in writing (with his finger, which he had dipped in his blood) the articles of the faith for which he sacrificed his life, and in saying: “Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit” (Ps. xxx. 6).
The great apostle of the Indies and Japan, St. Francis Xavier, expired holding a crucifix, which he tenderly embraced, and incessantly repeated in transports of love: “O Jesus! the God of my heart!”
St. Francis de Sales.
From his Treatise on “The Love of God.”
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.
He who does not love God with his whole heart, is loving something for itself, and not for God – St. Ignatius of Loyola, Letter 3.
February Devotion: The Holy Trinity (also the Holy Family)
Virtue to practice: Humility
I vow and consecrate to God all that is in me: my memory and my actions to God the Father; my understanding and my words to God the Son; my will and my thoughts to God the Holy Ghost; my heart, my body, my tongue my senses and all my sorrows to the sacred Humanity of Jesus Christ, ‘who was contented to be betrayed into the hands of wicked men and to suffer the torment of the Cross.’ – St. Francis de Sales
An indulgence of 3 years.
A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, if this act of oblation is devoutly repeated every day for a monh (S.P.Ap., Sept. 22, 1922 and May 12, 1934).
The faithful who devoutly offer any prayers in honor of the Most Holy Trinity with the intention of continuing them for nine successive days, may gain:
An indulgence of 7 years once each day:
A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions at the end of the novena (S.C. Ind., Aug. 8 1847; S.P. Ap., Mar. 18, 1932).
Novena in Honor of Our Lady of Lourdes
O ever Immaculate Virgin, Mother of Mercy, Health of the Sick, Comforter of the Afflicted, thou knowest my wants, my troubles, my sufferings; deign to cast upon me a look of mercy. By appearing in the grotto of Lourdes thou wert pleased to make it a privileged sanctuary from where thou dost dispense thy favors, and already many sufferers have obtained the cure of their infirmities, both spiritual and corporal. I come, therefore, with the most unbounded confidence, to implore thy maternal intercession. Obtain, O loving Mother, the granting of my requests. Through gratitude for thy favors, I will endeavor to imitate thy virtues, that I may one day share in thy glory. R. Amen.
V. O Mary, conceived without sin,
R. Pray for us who have recourse to thee.
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