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.
4. The Problem of Human Suffering.
The problem of human suffering has at all times engaged the thoughts and attention of men. For it does seem strange that the sorrows and afflictions of many a human life should far outweigh its joys and hours of gladness. Holy Scripture rightly compares man’s existence to a warfare, and in the liturgical language of the Church, we speak of man’s life as a journey through a vale of tears. Each one’s own individual experience forces the bitter truth upon him that joy is soon followed by sorrow, and that heart-ache speedily followeth after the brief spell of delight.
The un-Christian philosophy of our day has taken up the question “why so much poverty and pain and distress among the children of men?” And it must confess that it knows not their meaning and value, nor can it suggest any motive of hope and encouragement to the man whom calamity seems to have marked out for its special victim. The adherents of that modern school of thought which proudly boasts that it has outgrown the faith and doctrine of Christianity, are almost forced to look upon suffering and misery as nothing but obstacles to progress and to the universal reign of culture.
And why is it that there are so many and such deplorable failures in a matter which concerns our deepest interests here below and is intimately bound up with our eternal destiny in the life to come? The reason of the many failures lies in this, that the solution of the problem demands the light of faith. That problem is closely related to the end and aim of man’s existence on earth. And man is destined for a supernatural end, for God, for His love and eternal possession. We are in fact pilgrims, wayfarers to our true home and fatherland. Alas! that the way to that eternal life lies through a vale of tears and bitterness. It was not intended so originally by the Eternal Father. For life, which by Him was destined to be all gladness and sunshine, has through the fall of man been blighted by misery. We are now a fallen race. Sin has entered into the world. With sin came sorrow and pain and suffering and—death.
Yet we are not cast out into the utter darkness. A Redeemer came to open the pathway to eternal life, to clear the way, to brush aside the obstacles on our onward march to the heavenly Jerusalem. It was His immeasurable love for us that caused Him to come. Love prompted Him to leave the eternal mansions and to walk pilgrim-like in the flesh for the space of thirty-three years, working out a painful human life, like the humblest and poorest of the children of men. He purchased for us the right to be called again children of God. He was the Son of God and He alone could make atonement for the sins of men. For so the infinite justice of God the Father—a justice which cannot be measured by human standards—demanded. That vicarious atonement was necessary. For the offense was sin—and the malice of sin we never can fathom. It is infinite in so far as it offends an infinite God. And only an infinite person, distinct from the outraged majesty of God the Eternal Father, could take up the work of expiation.
And this vision gives unto us the key to the problem of human suffering. For Christ indeed stands forth as the Saviour, the Ransomer, the Life-giver, the Redeemer of men. But say not that all has been accomplished. For every one of us the right has indeed been secured of having access to the Father on account of the infinite merits of the passion and crucifixion of the Divine Son. But we, too, must walk the Way of the Cross—the royal road that leads to Calvary. For Christ is not only our Saviour, but He is also our King and Lord. He desires our service. His way must be our way. Where the King and Master trod, there too must go the children, His subjects. We are His children and subjects. And know you not that therefore man’s life upon earth is a warfare—that therefore through many tribulations we must enter the Kingdom of heaven, and that therefore every child of Adam, that would not forfeit the eternal inheritance placed by Jesus Christ within the reach of all, must take up the cross—the burdens and afflictions of life—and follow Him up, up the steep heights of Calvary? He went before us and drank the bitter chalice which His Father had prepared for Him. And it is not for us to seek a smooth and easy path to eternal life, when the redeeming work of Christ, our King, was wrought in the valley of toil and tears. Thus it becomes plain why sorrow and sadness accompany us also on the journey of life. For we must become like unto the Master to enter into His glory.
From the Cross of Christ there come to us bright and consoling rays which illumine the dark problem of human woe and suffering. The sufferings of our Divine Lord now appear as a necessary element in the economy of our Redemption. Now His passion and agony stand forth not only as a vehicle of grace unto us, but as a great gift of divine love. Christ, the Crucified, has shown us that for sinful man the glory and privilege of being called children of God has been purchased by the shame and ignominy of the Cross. Christ, the Crucified, offers us the solution of the problem of human suffering. By His passion and death He has achieved for us the greatest triumph. By that same passion and agony he wrought out the greatest work ever given man to accomplish—the salvation of the race.
When dread disease overtakes us, when burning pain and torture rack our limbs, when the hour has come for us to say a last farewell to our loved ones and to take leave of the things of earth—then we take our crucifix into our trembling hands, and kissing it reverently, pray for strength and perseverance. For we know that only from the Cross can come light in darkness, only from it can stream hope and uplift in that last dread crisis. The Cross of Christ and the dreadful sufferings which it symbolizes—these give unto the Christian the sweet assurance of victory in that last great hour. But this sign of salvation also offers him the solution of one of the most puzzling of world problems—the problem of human suffering.
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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