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.
I. A FUNDAMENTAL QUESTION
It has sometimes been said that the ignorance among large classes of people in this country, regarding religious truths, is startling. We are living in an age of enlightenment, universal education, and of the Public Library, which now goes out on the highways and into the byways to invite all to come and share its treasures. And though many respond to the call, yet the blindness and want of insight regarding the truths of faith and concerning teachings that must have influence upon man’s eternal destiny are not dispelled. Certainly many are unable to give a clear and ready answer to that most important and fundamental question: “Why have you been created?”
The editor of one of our popular, or rather sensational monthlies, took this widespread ignorance and uncertainty as a basis for a “series of leading articles” in his publication some  years ago. He put that fundamental question into a slightly different form: “What life means to me?” He then sent it to a score of prominent American writers. He asked them to write a candid reply in answer, with a view of publishing the same in his magazine . . . Among those who replied were Jack London, John Burroughs, Upton Sinclair, and Alfred Henry Lewis.
It will suffice to give the answer of the last-named author to the question of the editor. “If any one were to ask me how to become a good man, I would say,— become a good animal.” This is the bold answer of Mr. Lewis. This is his philosophy of life. This is the sum total of his strivings and ambitions. What a horrible comment on the meaning of our so-called culture and education. In one sentence we are brought back to the darkest days of pagan antiquity, nay, even further back than this,—to the primitive savage still groveling in the abyss and to whom had come as yet neither material culture nor the bright light of revelation. Mr. Lewis is proud of his advice. He says that he gives it after reflection. This sad confession of a supposedly highly-educated man reveals the abysmal ignorance above alluded to, in matters of religion, in truths connected with our eternal destiny as children of God.
How immensely richer are our little children who during their first years at the parochial school are taught the one and only correct answer to the same fundamental question : “Why did God create us?” They give, and fully understand the reply: “To know, love, and serve God, and by so doing to save my immortal soul.” This answer contains a true, a sound, a rational and even a working philosophy of life. For the man forgetful of God, of his obligations towards Him, and towards his own soul, stumbles blindly through life. His life has neither purpose nor direction. His existence is bound to be a failure. Unless he come to some firm knowledge as to the purpose of his stay upon earth, he may well be compared to the rudderless ship sent adrift upon the main.
He may know many things in science, in politics, and in history. He may have studied the achievements of great men. But we repeat, unless his own life has some definite object, unless he clearly realizes the one reason why he has been created, all his strivings and ambitions, and even his very achievements, count for nothing. And yet even reason alone must tell him that he has been created for something which the world can never give. If he looks about him he will notice that everything created serves a definite purpose, and ministers to something higher than itself in the scale of creation. Plant-life, with its marvelous variety, serves the interests and use of the animal-world and of men. The animal-world, with its numerous species, benefits man and answers in many a way to his various needs. Shall man alone be devoid of any higher aim or purpose? It may be said perhaps that this aim and purpose of his existence is to be found in the things of sense and time. Some have tried to find it, for instance, in the conquest of vast riches, in the attainment of worldly prestige, and in sensual indulgence. “These are our gods,” say some, “these are things worth striving for, in their attainment consists the purpose of our creation.”
Alas! that man should be so blind and short sighted, as to seek his happiness there, where it cannot be found! For never shall these frivolous pursuits fill the yearning of his heart for happiness. Ever has it been true what Solomon said of old, concerning the inane and insane craving for things of earth: “Vanity of vanities, and all is vanity.” St. Augustine stated the same truth when he said: “Our heart is made for Thee, O God, and it rests not until it finds Thee.” In other words, we are made only to know, love and serve God.
Without a higher, a spiritual and a supernatural world-view, without religion, man, even the one most highly gifted, becomes a mere machine. Without Christ, who can change even the most rugged cross of suffering into a privilege enriching life—man will either become a gloomy pessimist, or a victim devoted to morbid broodings on the ills inseparable from life. We need high and exalted ideals to carry us over the, at times, oppressive burdens and afflictions of life. In our weaknesses, temptations and sufferings, in our days filled with sorrows, and during our nights when the lamp of hope burns low, we need strength from on high. But the man who has been taught that he is made to know, love and serve God will more readily ask for this supernatural light and guidance and will more surely obtain them. For his religion teaches him a watchword “Sursum corda!” Lift up your hearts! This man has come to understand the one fundamental question the object of his existence. He need not keep his eyes groveling on the ground in the dark hour of trial, but he can lift them up to his home beyond the stars, and receive thence the help needed to continue bravely and manfully life’s pilgrimage.
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.
True Comfort Is to Be Sought in God alone.
Do with me, O Lord, whatever Thou pleasest; dispense to me either good or evil, health or sickness, life or death, prosperity or adversity, consolations or trials; Thou wilt find me disposed, with the assistance of Thy grace, to receive all things indifferently from Thy fatherly hand, with patience, with submission, with joy, with love and thanksgiving. In one thing, alone, Thou wilt not admit of indifference, and that is, in the business of my salvation. Overwhelm me, therefore, with every misfortune, provided Thou art pleased to preserve me from sin; take from me all riches except those of Thy grace; and in depriving me of all, deprive me not of Thyself; be Thou always my portion, both for time and eternity. Amen. – Thomas à Kempis – Imitation of Christ Bk III, Ch XVII prayer.
June Devotion: The Blessed Sacrament and the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Virtues to practice: Obedience, Piety, Dutifulness
Prayers to the Wound of the Heart of Jesus.
Blessed be the holy Wound of Thy Heart, my most sweet Jesus! Accept, O Lord, my heart and all the powers of my soul. Detach them from earthly affections. Let me lose even the remembrance of the things of this world. Cast my soul into the adorable Wound of Thy Side, into the ocean of Thy love, into the source of true life. Unite my heart for ever to Thy tender Heart, so truly that it will be impossible for me to desire what is not in conformity with Thy will. May I in all things entirely renounce my own will, and unite myself by faith, hope and charity to Thee, my Lord, my God and my Creator. Amen.
O most sweet Jesus, through the Wound of Thy Heart, pardon, I beseech Thee, all my offences against Thee by acting without sufficient purity of intention, or by following my own perverse will. I offer Thee my heart, that Thou mayest unite it to Thy Heart. Then I shall neither seek nor see anything but Thee in all things. I shall have no other will than Thine. Amen.
Jesu! Creator of the world,
Of all mankind Redeemer blest,
True God of God, in Whom we see
Thy Father’s image clear expressed!
Thee, Saviour, love alone constrained
To make our mortal flesh Thine own,
And, as a second Adam, come
For the first Adam to atone.
That selfsame love which made the sky,
Which made the sea and stars, and earth,
Took pity on our misery,
And broke the bondage of our birth.
O Jesus! in Thy Heart divine
May that same love for ever glow!
Forever mercy to mankind
From that exhaustless fountain flow!
For this the Sacred Heart was pierced,
And both with blood and water ran –
To cleanse us from the stains of guilt,
And be the hope and strength of man.
Jesu, to Thee be glory given,
Who from Thy Heart dost grace outpour,
To Father and to Paraclete
Be endless praise for evermore. Amen.
An indulgence of 5 years. A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, If this hymn is devoutly recited every day for a month (S.P.Ap., March 12, 1936). (Raccolta)
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