To Practise some Virtue, or abstain from some Vice, in honour of the Holy Angels.
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.
To Practise some Virtue, or abstain from some Vice, in honour of the Holy Angels.
IF we desire truly to love the angels, we must love what they love and hate what they hate. This being so, we must have a love for virtue and an aversion for vice. They require of us (says a holy Father) sobriety, chastity, voluntary poverty, frequent aspirations Heavenward, and, above all, truth and peace. That young nobleman, Falcone, was well persuaded of the truth of these maxims: he had promised, in honour of his good angel, always to speak the truth, and having killed a man, he frankly avowed his guilt, to avoid telling a lie, although there had been no witness of the deed; choosing rather to lose his life than break his promise to his good angel. Behold him, then, led forth to death: but as the executioner was raising his arm to cut off his head, an angel appeared and prevented him; arresting also the arms of three others who came forward to strike the fatal blow. This miracle obtained his pardon; and he afterwards changed his name from Falcone to that of Angelo, and quitted the world, henceforward to converse only with angels.
Humility, purity, and prayer are the sweet virtues which these heavenly spirits look for in those who make profession of honouring them. They cannot endure the proud, and humility is their prime virtue, which, indeed, they are themselves continually exercising amongst us.
Purity is absolutely necessary in order to be admitted to their friendship; they are the friends of the chaste, and specially of virgins; for the purer men are (says St. Ambrose) the dearer are they to the angels: hence virginity is called an angelic virtue, and they who practise it are styled angels upon earth; and justly so, since it is they who bear the closest resemblance to these pure spirits. O ye virgins, whoever ye be, remember that you possess a treasure of inestimable value, and one which is to be preferred before crowns and empires: if its worth were known, our earth would become a heaven, and every one would feel a holy passion for it. It was the virtue dear to Jesus, Mary, and Joseph; to St. John the Baptist, the precursor of Jesus; to St. John the Evangelist, His beloved disciple; and the great Apostle protests (1 Cor. vii. 7) through the light that was given him, that he would that all the world practised it. It is our Master’s great counsel of perfection, and its privileges are inexpressible, and shall endure throughout eternity. No life is too precious to be lost for its preservation, no pain but ought to be endured, no pleasure but ought to be renounced. And here I cannot refrain from a passing observation concerning the wonder I feel at seeing many directors forward in recommending marriage to persons who have an attraction for this virtue, under the pretext of certain difficulties which may stand in the way. Truly, truly, everything ought to be done to preserve so precious a grace. No, never will the Adorable Jesus be wanting to such as, in order to please Him the more, pass their lives in celibacy. He is the same God who has assisted so many virgins, and at so tender an age; who has fortified their courage; who has sustained them against all the rage of devils and of men. O men of little faith that we are! a fly can terrify us, the least difficulty damps our courage, while all that is needed is but to make one good resolution. God can give none but good counsels; and we cannot do better than generously follow them.
Prayer is the other virtue which renders us most like to the angels: accordingly we have seen them assisting in a wonderful manner such persons as have addicted themselves to its exercise. St. Bernard had one day the consolation of seeing them chronicling the prayers of his religious, some in letters of gold, others in letters of silver, while some they marked with ink, and some with water, according to the fervour and tepidity of their interior dispositions.
These heavenly spirits are painted barefooted and treading on clouds, to signify to us their complete disengagement from all earthly things. They breathe only God alone, and they feel a holy jealousy for the least things which concern His Divine interests. . .
If, then, you wish to be devout to the holy angels, you must endeavour to please them; and to please them you must persevere in the solid practice of virtue. Study particularly, with God’s assistance, to acquire such virtues as are most dear to them, and most necessary to yourself; and at the same time use every possible endeavour to extirpate in yourself all that may be displeasing to them. Wage, then, a perpetual war against sin, and, above all, against impurity. St. Basil said that this sin drives away the holy angels from us, as smoke drives away bees, and a putrid smell, doves. It is related of this saint that, being habitually favoured with a heavenly vision before celebrating the Holy Mysteries, and being one day deprived of it, he learned that it was owing to the presence of a deacon, who had fallen into impurity; and, on causing him to withdraw, he immediately enjoyed his usual privilege. The angel of St. Frances, that devout client of these amiable favourites of Jesus and Mary, whom she always beheld under a visible form, used to hide his eyes whenever the least fault or imperfection was committed in his presence. Have a care, then, not to do anything which may offend eyes which are constantly beholding you; and, as we have all some predominant passion, some inclination which cleaves to us more particularly, and which is the source of almost all our disorders, set yourself to combat this disposition in honour of the holy angels; make it from time to time the subject of your particular examinations of conscience, and observe whether you are correcting yourself of it; undertake to offer every day to your holy angel some mortification of this taste or inclination: it is the most acceptable present you can make him; and remember that it is no legitimate excuse to say that this is our weak point; those who are in hell have gone there through that very inclination, which they did not subdue, through that weakness, which has worked their ruin. It is by their weak point that the devil ensnares men, and catches souls; it is there that we ought to be most upon our guard, and have the greatest need of angelic protection.
St. Bernard advises us often to call to mind the presence of our Guardian Angel, in order to keep us from falling into our usual faults. This is a very profitable thought, and is a great help to us in overcoming them. . .
Henricus S. Bowden.
Edm. Can. Surmont,
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.
November Devotion: The Holy Souls in Purgatory.
Virtues to practice: Charity and kindness.
Most loving Jesus, I humbly beseech Thee, that Thou Thyself wouldst offer to Thine eternal Father in behalf of the Holy Souls in purgatory, the Most Precious Blood which poured forth from the sacred wounds of Thine adorable Body, together with Thine agony and death. And do thou likewise, O sorrowful Virgin Mary, present unto Him, together with the dolorous Passion of thy dear Son, thine own sighs and tears, and all the sorrows thou didst suffer in His suffering, in order that, through the merits of the same, refreshment may be granted to the souls now suffering in the fiery torments of purgatory, so that, being delivered from that painful prison, they may be clothed with glory in heaven, there to sing the mercies of God for ever and ever. Amen.
Absolve, O Lord, the souls of all the faithful departed from every bond of sin, that with Thy gracious assistance they may deserve to escape the judgment of vengeance and enjoy the blessedness of everlasting light.
V. Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord
R. And let perpetual light shine upon them.
V. From the gates of hell,
R. Deliver their souls, O Lord.
V. May they rest in peace.
V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto Thee.
Let us pray.
O, God, the Creator and Redeemer of all the faithful; grant unto the souls of Thy servants and handmaids the remission of all their sins: that through our devout supplications they may obtain the pardon they have always desired. Who livest and reignest world without end. Amen.
Eternal rest, etc.
An indulgence of 3 years. A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, if these prayers are said daily for a month (S. C. md., Sept. 15, 1888; S. P. Ap., April 25, 1934).
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