Our Spiritual Armor.
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.
Our Spiritual Armor.
Our Liturgical Hymns.
In his “Chapters in European History,” Mr. W. S. Lilly says: “Not the least important chapter in European history is written in the hymns of the Christian Church.” Other writers and scholars, even those not of our faith, have often commented upon the beauties and splendid meaning of these Latin hymns which form such an important part of our liturgy.
These hymns are an embodiment of the spirit, the life, the faith, the hope, the aspirations of the Middle Ages. They have been translated again and again into different modern languages and of some of them there exists more than a score of different versions.
The private use of liturgical hymns very probably preceded their public use in the churches. For St. Jerome says that those who in his day went into the fields might hear “the plowman at his hallelujahs, the mower at his hymns, and the vine-dresser singing David’s psalms.”
Concerning these mediaeval hymns a recent writer has said: “It is to be regretted that we have forgotten in these late days that the fundamental function of the knees is kneeling. The reason is clear, however. Kneeling is a manifestation of the emotions, and to-day it is hardly good taste to show emotion. . . . Now the spirit of the mediaeval hymn is the spirit of kneeling, the spirit of adoration.” This is true of all our great hymns, and more especially of the two sublime sacramental hymns—The Tantum Ergo and the O Salutaris Hostia.
St. Hilary of Poitiers, who died 369, first introduced such hymns into the public worship of the Church. After him, St. Ambrose, the great Bishop of Milan, devoted his literary talent to the writing of Latin hymns for liturgical purposes. His chants may be regarded as the beginning of Christian poetry in the West. Sublime religious truths, expressed in austere simplicity but in majestic form, are the subject of the hymns of this learned doctor of the Church. Ambrose found many imitators, and a vast number of hymns was composed, not all of which, however, were honored by being introduced into the liturgy of the Church. Seven of these are often collectively called “the greatest mediaeval Latin hymns.” They are the Laus Patriae Coelestis, Veni Creator Spiritus, Veni Sancte Spiritus, Dies Irae, Stabat Mater, the Alleluja Sequence, and Vexilla Regis.
The two most celebrated classes of these compositions— works which have exercised the talents of the greatest musical composers and of translators into almost all languages, are the Dies Irae (That Day of Wrath, that Dreadful Day) composed probably by Thomas of Celano, the companion and biographer of St. Francis of Assisi, and the Stabat Mater Dolorosa (By the Cross Sad Vigil Keeping), often ascribed to Jacopone da Todi, a member of the Franciscan brotherhood.
After the two sacramental hymns, those best known and very often heard in our churches, are the two Pentecostal hymns—the Veni, Creator Spiritus, and the Veni, Sancte Spiritus. Of the former there are about sixty versions in English and it has sometimes been called “the most famous of hymns.” The latter has been styled the “Golden Sequence.” For “it is above all praise, because of its wondrous sweetness, clarity of style, pleasant brevity combined with wealth of thought, so that every line is a sentence.”
We have, then, in these sacred hymns an element which lends a precious charm to our liturgical services, especially to the Solemn High Mass, and to the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. In her frequent use of these hymns the Church shows herself the patron of art and the fruitful mother of the sublimest sentiments that can well up from the heart of man. May not these glorious hymns be looked upon as a faint echo of the everlasting hosannas sung in the City Celestial to the glory of the Eternal 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.
Of supporting injuries, and who is proved to be truly patient.
[Disciple.] V. May Thy grace, O Lord, make that possible to me, which seems impossible to me by nature.
Thou knowest that I can bear but little, and that I am quickly cast down by a small adversity.
Let all exercises of tribulation become amiable and agreeable to me, for Thy name’s sake; for to suffer and to be afflicted for Thee is very healthful for my soul. – Thomas à Kempis – Imitation of Christ Bk III, Ch XIX.
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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