The Protection of the Holy Angels against the Devils, with Particular Reference to their Different Temptations, which are here Treated of. – continued.

St. Teresa of Avila, ora pro nobis.

The Protection of the Holy Angels against the Devils, with Particular Reference to their Different Temptations, which are here Treated of. – continued.

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.

The Protection of the Holy Angels against the Devils, with Particular Reference to their Different Temptations, which are here Treated of.-continued.

These wretched spirits do their utmost to discover the designs of God with respect to a soul, with the view of misleading it in the ways of grace, and drawing it aside from its vocation. They will induce one who is called to serve the Church in the world, to enter the cloister, while, on the other hand, they will persuade him who is called to the cloister, to become a secular priest. If they observe that a person is called by grace to a wide sphere of action, and has a decided vocation to labour in various places for the good of souls, they will try to fix him in some cure, or prebend[1], or other benefice requiring residence. The holy man Avila, thoroughly penetrated with this truth, would never consent to the proposals made to him by a great prelate, with a view to detain him in his diocese; and the event proved plainly that the glory of God was interested in the matter. This consideration (independently of the particular reason affecting their Order) constrained several eminent members of the Company of Jesus, as is related in their history, to resist the urgent solicitations of the Emperor, who wished them to accept bishoprics. “Our labours,” they said, “must not be confined to one diocese.” “The whole world,” said the late M. Vincent[2] to an ecclesiastic of great piety, who was refusing a cure of souls to which his uncle desired to present him, in order to enter the Congregation of the Mission— “The whole world must be your cure.”

Others there are upon whom so general a grace has not been bestowed, and these they will induce to burden themselves with too many employments; and thus, by exhausting their strength, they unfit them for the more limited duties which God requires of them. There are directors who have grace given them to conduct souls that are beginning to walk in the paths of virtue; there are others who have grace to guide the more advanced; there are others, again, who are endowed with admirable talents for directing those who are in the highest paths of perfection. It has been remarked that one of the most distinguished servants of God who has appeared in our age, was gifted with a marvellous grace for directing the most perfect souls, and very little, or scarcely any at all, for the conversion of sinners. Holy persons are also to be met with, whose labours in drawing souls out of sin are blessed with extraordinary fruit, but who have but little success in leading men on to eminent sanctity. It is a rare thing to meet with those who have a universal gift of direction: the devils, then, strive to divert the labours of directors from the line of their graces, and to make them undertake either too much or too little in the guidance of the souls which God sends to them. A great man of our day, very generally known by several volumes of Meditations which he published, said to a person who consulted him, “I have no knowledge of that way.” And another religious of the same Congregation said, in answer to a person who asked his opinion concerning his state, “My lights extend only so far.” These were souls truly devoted to God, who, notwithstanding the high esteem in which they were held, were not ashamed to acknowledge that there were certain states in the spiritual life into which they had no insight for the direction of others.

These artful spirits inspire those whom grace would lead to occupy themselves externally for the good of their neighbour, with a wish for solitude, and incline to an active life those whom grace would draw to retirement. “Oh, how many there are,’’ says the holy man Avila, in one of his letters which we have already quoted, “who enter holy orders, and intrude themselves into the sacerdotal office, through the instigation of devils; who, seeing plainly their  faults and vicious inclinations, know well the profanations and sacrileges which will hence result when such men have to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass almost every day! Many of these would have saved their souls in the married state.

They tempt fathers, mothers, and relatives, by the love of riches or honours, to compel their children, with a view to these objects, to enter into states to which God does not call them. Thus they will force them into the priesthood, or into religion, to relieve their family of the burden of their maintenance, or for the sake of aggrandisement; and from similar motives they will press them to accept some judicial appointment, though they do not possess the required knowledge, or the application necessary to acquit themselves worthily of the duties of a good judge or a good lawyer, or to fulfil the obligations of any other office which may be entrusted to them. Indeed we may say that the great majority of persons, through the arts of these wicked spirits, are altogether differently employed to what they ought to be.

If they cannot tum us aside from the paths of grace, they devise means to make us do things in a different manner to what God wills. Does God require of a soul fasting, watching, and the exercise of holy prayer, they will make it fast, watch, and pray too much. “This,” says the devout Louis of Grenada, “is a common temptation with those who are beginning to serve God, and who often by these excesses render themselves unfit for the performance of what they ought to do, or might have been able to do in course of time. They contrive to conceal from persons the injury they are inflicting on mind and body, so that they may have more time to accomplish the ruin of both one and the other, persuading them that such practices do them no harm. God requires perfection; they urge persons to pursue it with a natural eagerness which proceeds only from self-love. God desires us to feel sorrow for our faults; they will mingle with it anxiety, despondency, melancholy, and vexation. God requires of us that we should labour for our sanctification with the help of His grace; they will neglect nothing by which to move us to impatience, and dishearten us, proving to us, by the repeated faults into which we fall, that success is, so to say, impossible for us. They will do their utmost to make us either outrun grace, or lag behind it, prompting us to do things out of God’s appointed season. We must do good, and we must do that good which God desires of us, in the manner which He desires, and at the time that He has ordained. St. Philip Neri was undoubtedly called to the priesthood; but it was God’s design that he should not enter it until he was already somewhat advanced in years; he therefore constantly resisted the solicitations of those who would have induced him to take holy orders before that time had come. The Adorable Jesus came into the world to sacrifice His divine life for its salvation; and He flies and hides Himself until the time prescribed by His Eternal Father has arrived. “He hath put the times and the moments in His own power,” said our gracious Saviour (Acts i. 7); it is not for us therefore either to hurry on before or to linger behind. Our dear Master was to die; but He was to die at the time decreed by His Eternal Father. Silence is a great virtue, nevertheless St. Francis reproved one of his religious because he carried it to excess.

God demands of souls the exercise of holy prayer. The devils will detain at discursive prayer, or at simple meditation, those whom the Holy Spirit is attracting to divine contemplation; while they will raise others to contemplation who ought still to proceed by the discursive way. They will encourage souls to proceed from active to passive contemplation whom the Spirit of God does not lead thereto; while to those whom He has so led, they will suggest fears, and cause others to suggest them. They will give sensible consolations, to draw men away from resting on pure faith, or to enfeeble their bodily powers; they will impel to too much application of the imagination and the understanding, and try to injure the brain. They will transform themselves into “angels of light,”[3] by false visions, revelations, interior utterances; and their stratagems are so artful, that they will even make their operation pass for purely intellectual visions—an operation so subtle, that it would seem as if the external and internal senses had no share in it, and that it was consequently a supernatural operation of the Spirit of God; and this that men may put their trust in it, and thereby fall more deeply into delusion.

God wishes us to go to confession: they will make us approach this sacrament from self-love, in order to be relieved as soon as possible of the burden of our sins; not so much from the love of God, and the movement of His grace, as from the love of ourselves, because our pride is hurt by seeing itself in so humiliating a condition. It is also observable that such as approach in this manner fall more grievously afterwards. We may confess every day, nay, frequently during the day, as some Saints have done; but then we must do it as they did it.

God requires us to go to communion: the devils will hinder the frequentation of this Sacrament of Love, or they will induce souls to approach it too often who have not the necessary dispositions, and even at times are prompted by a secret movement of self-love, though they do not perceive it. A student, a regent, a preacher, a judge, a bishop, ought to attend to their respective avocations, and fulfil the duties of their state: the devils, under the pretext of retirement, disengagement from the world, or application to prayer, will make them quit their studies, their professional employments, or the care of their diocese; and, on the other hand, under the plea of study, business, or the onerous cares which the Episcopate imposes, they will induce them to throw themselves entirely into external occupations, and the prelate, the judge, the preacher, will do nothing but study, talk of business, and mix with the world, without scarcely allowing time for prayer and converse with God.

O my God! to what a miserable state is the human heart reduced through the artifices of these ministers of hell, even in the highest paths of grace! The Venerable Father John of the Cross,[4] a man of eminent sanctity, teaches us that even in those who are aspiring to perfection there is to be found a certain secret satisfaction in their own good works, a wish to give others lessons in the spiritual life, an itching desire to talk about it. The devils, says this great master of the way of perfection, prompt them to perform many of their good works from a motive of self-love. Sometimes they manifest their devotion by exterior demonstrations, such as gestures or sighs, and are too ready to talk of their virtues, though even in the confessional it is with difficulty they can get themselves to make a simple declaration of their faults. At times they make little account of their sins; at others they grieve for them to excess. They are reluctant to praise others, and are too glad to be praised themselves. They are never satisfied with the gifts and graces of God, or with the counsels and directions they receive, or the books they read. They take up curious practices of devotion. When they do not enjoy sensible sweetness in prayer, they are angry with themselves and with others. They declaim against the vices of others with an intemperate zeal, and rebuke them in the same impatient spirit. They would wish to become saints in a day, and their desires of perfection are so purely natural and so imperfect, that the more good resolutions they make the more faults they commit. They seek after sensible pleasure in their devotional exercises, and take to practising excessive austerities, which they sometimes conceal from their directors; or, again, they will argue with their spiritual fathers, and try to bring them over to their views. They relax their endeavours, and give way to sadness, when contradicted, and believe that all is going ill with them when they are denied their little practices of devotion. They think the ways by which they are being led are not understood, when any opposition is made to their views. They would have God do their will; hence they readily believe that what is not to their taste is not according to the will of God. They envy the spiritual good of their neighbour, and are troubled when they see themselves outstripped in the ways of grace. In fine, they have no love for the cross and pure mortification, for complete abnegation and annihilation of self.

[1] The right of a member of a chapter to his share in the revenues of the cathedral; also the share to which he is entitled; in general, any portion of the cathedral revenues set aside for the support of the clergy attached to it (semi-prebends) even for those who are not members of the chapter. They are regarded as benefices (q.v.) and governed by the same laws.–The Catholic Encyclopedia, v. 12. (1913).
[2] St. Vincent de Paul.
[3] 2 Cor. xi. 14.
[4] St. John of the Cross, canonised 1726.

Nihil Obstat:
Henricus S. Bowden.
Censor deputatus.
Imprimatur:
Edm. Can. Surmont,
Vic. Gen.
Westmonasterii,
Die 9, Martii, 1911.

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.

_______________________________________________

October Devotion: The Holy Angels and the Holy Rosary.

Virtues to practice: Confidence.


Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel.

Most glorious prince of the heavenly hosts, Archangel St. Michael, defend us in the battle and in the tremendous struggle we carry on against the Principalities and Powers, against the rulers of the world of darkness and all evil spirits. Come to the help of man, whom God created immortal, fashioned to His own image and likeness, and rescued at a great price from the tyranny of the devil. With the great army of the holy angels fight to-day the battle of the Lord as thou didst of old fight against Lucifer, the leader of the proud, and his apostate angels, who were powerless against thee, and they had no longer a place in heaven; and that monster, the old serpent who is called the devil and Satan, that seduces the whole world, was cast into hell with his angels. But now that first enemy and homicide has regained his insolent boldness. Taking on the appearance of an angel of light, he has invaded the earth, and, with his whole train of evil spirits, he is prowling about among men, striving to blot out the name of God and of His Christ, to capture, to destroy, to drag to eternal perdition the souls destined to the crown of eternal glory. That malignant dragon is pouring abroad, like a foul stream, into the souls of men of ruined intellect and corrupt heart the poison of his wickedness, the spirit of lying, of impiety and blasphemy, the pestilent breath of impurity and of all vice and iniquity. Most cunning enemies have filled with bitterness and drenched with gall the Church, the Spouse of the Lamb without spot, and have lifted impious hands against all that is most sacred in it. Even in the holy place where the See of Blessed Peter and the chair of truth was set up to enlighten the world, they have raised the abominable throne of their impiety with the iniquitous hope that the Shepherd may be stricken and the flock scattered abroad. Arise, then, unconquerable Prince, defend the people of God against the assaults of the reprobate spirits, and give them the victory. Holy Church reveres thee as its guardian and patron; it glories in thee as its defender against the malignant powers of hell; to thee God has committed the souls that are to be conveyed to the seats of the Blessed in eternal happiness. Pray, then, to the God of peace, that He may put Satan under our feet, so completely vanquished that he may no longer be able to hold men in bondage and work harm to the Church. Offer up our prayers before the Most High, so that the mercies of the Lord may prevent us, and lay hold of the dragon, the old serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and hurl him bound in chains into the abyss where he may no longer seduce the souls of men. Amen.

V. Behold the Cross of the Lord, fly ye hostile ranks.
R. The Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, has conquered.
V. May Thy mercies, O Lord, be fulfilled in us.
R. As we have hoped in Thee.
V. Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto Thee.

Let us pray.

O God, and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we call upon Thy holy name and humbly beseech Thy clemency, that, through the intercession of the ever immaculate Virgin and our Mother Mary, and of the glorious Archangel Saint Michael, Thou wouldst vouchsafe to help us against Satan and all the other unclean spirits that are prowling about the world to the great peril of the human race and the loss of souls. Amen.

His Holiness, Leo XIII., Motu Proprio, September 25, 1888, granted to the faithful who recite the above prayer
AN INDULGENCE OF THREE HUNDRED DAYS, once a day.

ANTIPHON.

Sancte Michael Archangele,
defende nos in praelio,
ut non pereamus
in tremendo judicio.

Holy Archangel Michael,
defend us in battle,
that we may not perish
in the tremendous judgment.

His Holiness, Leo XIII., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, August 19, 1893, granted to the faithful who recite the above antiphon
AN INDULGENCE OF ONE HUNDRED DAYS, once a day.

GABRIEL, THE ARCHANGEL.
NOVENA IN HONOR OF S. GABRIEL THE ARCHANGEL.

The Sovereign Pontiff, Pius IX., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, Nov. 26, 1876, granted to all the faithful who, with contrite hearts, at any time during the year, devoutly make the novena in honor of S. Gabriel the archangel, with any formula of prayer, provided it be approved by competent ecclesiastical authority,
AN INDULGENCE OF THREE HUNDRED DAYS, once a day;
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, during the novena, if, truly penitent, having confessed and communicated, they pray for the intention of the Sovereign Pontiff.

RAPHAEL, THE ARCHANGEL.
NOVENA IN HONOR OF S. RAPHAEL, THE ARCHANGEL.

The Sovereign Pontiff, Pius IX., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, Nov. 28, 1876, granted to all the faithful who, with contrite hearts, at any time during the year, devoutly make the novena in honor of S. Raphael the archangel, with any formula of prayer, provided it be approved by competent ecclesiastical authority,
AN INDULGENCE OF THREE HUNDRED DAYS, once a day;
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, during the novena, if, truly penitent, having confessed and communicated, they pray for the intention of the Sovereign Pontiff.

PRAYER TO S. RAPHAEL, ARCHANGEL.

Glorious Archangel, S. Raphael, great prince of the heavenly court, illustrious by thy gifts of wisdom and grace, guide of travellers by land and sea, consoler of the unfortunate and refuge of sinners, I entreat thee to help me in all my needs and in all the trials of this life, as thou didst once assist the young Tobias in his journeying. And since thou art the “physician of God,” I humbly pray thee to heal my soul of its many infirmities and my body of the ills that afflict it, if this favor is for my greater good. I ask, especially, for angelic purity, that I may be made fit to be the living temple of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

His Holiness, Leo XIII., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, June 21, 1890, granted to the faithful who shall recite the above prayer
AN INDULGENCE OF ONE HUNDRED DAYS, once a day.

THE ANGEL GUARDIAN.
PRAYER
.

Angele Dei,
qui custos es mei,
me tibi commissum pietate superna
illumina, custodi,
rege, et guberna.Amen.

Angel of God,
my guardian dear,
To whom His love commits me here,
Ever this day be at my side,
To light and guard,
To rule and guide.
Amen.

The Sovereign Pontiff, Pius VI., by a brief, Oct. 2, 1795, granted to all the faithful, every time that, with at least contrite heart and devotion, they shall say this prayer:
AN INDULGENCE OF ONE HUNDRED DAYS.
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, on the feast of the holy guardian angels (Oct. 2), to those who shall have said this prayer, morning and evening, throughout the year, provided that, on the day of the feast, being truly penitent, after confession and communion, they shall visit a church or public oratory, and pray for the Sovereign Pontiff.
The same Sovereign Pontiff, by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, June 11, 1796, granted:
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, at the hour of death, to all those who, during life, shall have frequently said this prayer, provided they shall have the proper dispositions.

The Sovereign Pontiff, Pius VII., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, May 15, 1821, not only confirmed the above mentioned indulgences, but, moreover, granted:
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, once a month, to all the faithful who shall have said it every day for a month, as above directed, on any day, when, being truly penitent, after confession and communion, they shall visit a church, and pray devoutly for the intention of his Holiness.

NOVENA IN HONOR OF THE GUARDIAN ANGEL.

The Sovereign Pontiff, Pius IX., by a rescript dated at Gaeta, Jan. 5, 1849, and by another of the S. Congr. of Bishops and Regulars, Jan. 28, 1850, granted to all the faithful who, with contrite hearts, at any time during the year, devoutly make the novena in honor of the Guardian Angel, published by the Rev. Joseph M. Falcone, of the Congregation of the Missions:
AN INDULGENCE OF ONE HUNDRED DAYS, once a day.
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, either during the novena or upon one of the eight days immediately following, if, truly penitent, they confess and communicate, and say some prayers for the holy Church and for the Sovereign Pontiff.
By a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, Nov. 26, 1876, the same Sovereign Pontiff deigned to approve that these indulgences may be gained by those who make the novena to the Guardian Angel with any other formula of prayer, provided it be approved by competent ecclesiastical authority.

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