On the Practical Benefit the Religious Derives from Meditation on Our Lord’s Passion.
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.
On the Practical Benefit the Religious Derives from Meditation on Our Lord’s Passion.
Think, my soul, of the vast number of saints who for the space of an hour or more have kept their eyes fixed upon the crucifix; who in rapt meditation upon the sufferings of their crucified Lord have become oblivious of all around them; who have departed this life clasping the cross in their thin, white hands, with their eyes, fast glazing in death, fixed upon that sacred symbol. O what a wonderful book is this, read by so many, read so often, and yet never read to the end. Did we but understand how to do this, what infinite treasures, what an abundance of divine wisdom and celestial grace might be drawn from it! And in fact, in the writings of the early Fathers we read of two monks, who left the world at the same time, one of whom was a very learned man, the other utterly ignorant. The learned one, continually engrossed with his studies, after a time found life in the cloister so wearisome, that he seriously thought of returning to the world. When his unlearned Brother became aware of his intention, he spoke to him with such force and unction of the advantages of the Religious state, that the heart of the wavering Brother was touched and he fully made up his mind to remain. And when he asked the other whence he, who did not even know how to read and write, had learnt to speak so eloquently and had acquired so thoroughly the spirit of his Order, he answered as follows:
1st. “I read daily the book of our Lord’s Passion, which is written in three different kinds of letters. One page of this book is written in black characters and teaches us to fear the judgment of God. The Evangelist tells us that Judas, after he had received the morsel unworthily, went out, adding: ‘And it was night.’ (St. John xiii. 30.) The darkness of night was around Judas and yet darker night reigned within him, the night of despair, by which he became a victim of divine justice without hope of redemption. Again, Jesus went out into the dark, black night on Mount Olivet, and there His troubled soul was filled with dread and apprehension of the death which He, burdened as He was with the guilt of our sins, anticipated with trembling fear. And lastly, when Jesus hung upon the cross for our iniquities, there was thick darkness over the earth for the space of three hours; and so heavily, so terribly did the wrath of the just God weigh upon Him—the sinless One—who had taken upon Himself the burden of our transgressions, that in unspeakable anguish of soul He cried aloud: ‘Eloi, Eloi, My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?’ Now when I read those dark characters, my soul is filled with a salutary fear of God’s justice, so that I gladly endure the austerities and penances of the monastic life in expiation of my sins.” Do you, my soul, draw from the contemplation of our Lord’s Passion this first, most useful lesson; learn to fear and tremble at the thought of the divine justice; thus penance will be made more easy to you, and you will be less likely to sin. Yet not in fear and trembling only are you to work out your salvation.
2d. Consider the other characters the Brother found in his book: the part written in red letters. “Those,” he continued, “ are the sufferings of our dear Lord by which His blood was shed; the agony and bloody sweat in the Garden of Olives, the awful loss of blood when He was scourged, the drops that trickled down from beneath the terrible crown of thorns, the streams that flowed from His five sacred wounds upon the cross. Oh when I contemplate those crimsoned pages, when the blood-red letters are before my eyes, then bitter tears of contrition and of love fill my eyes and flow down my cheeks because of the charity and mercy of my God, ready to sacrifice the last drop of His blood for my sake. Kindled and inflamed by this love, I gladly and cheerfully bear all the hardships and trials of the religious state.” O my soul, do you also study these pages written in letters of blood; immerse yourself by meditation in the infinite love and compassion of your suffering Saviour, and then the salutary fear you at first experienced in regard to the judgments of God will give place to sincere repentance and will gradually mount up to Heaven in the flame of an ardent love of God.
3d. Consider finally the last page of the Brother’s wondrous book; it is written in letters of gold. “These” said the monk as he concluded his explanatory discourse,” are the glorious virtues that shone out prominently in the course of our Lord’s Passion: His resignation to the will of God on Mount Olivet, His meekness in the hall of judgment, His patience at the pillar of scourging, the love of His enemies which He displayed on the cross; the self-renunciation of His whole life. And while reading these golden words, I feel myself inspired not to rest content in the path of contrition and penance, but to push onward, and emulating my divine Lord who was so rich in every virtue, to advance in religious perfection, and with the assistance of God’s grace in daily conflict with my rebel nature to add evermore fresh golden ornaments to the circlet of virtue which is to be the crown of my life.”—After hearing this exordium, the erudite monk threw aside his books and began to study the simple volume of his brother monk. This he did to such good purpose that he soon became not only a model penitent, but an exemplary Religious striving after the highest perfection.
My soul, to you I say: Go and do likewise!
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.
February Devotion: The Holy Trinity (also the Holy Family)
Virtue to practice: Humility
I vow and consecrate to God all that is in me: my memory and my actions to God the Father; my understanding and my words to God the Son; my will and my thoughts to God the Holy Ghost; my heart, my body, my tongue my senses and all my sorrows to the sacred Humanity of Jesus Christ, ‘who was contented to be betrayed into the hands of wicked men and to suffer the torment of the Cross.’ – St. Francis de Sales
An indulgence of 3 years.
A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, if this act of oblation is devoutly repeated every day for a monh (S.P.Ap., Sept. 22, 1922 and May 12, 1934).
The faithful who devoutly offer any prayers in honor of the Most Holy Trinity with the intention of continuing them for nine successive days, may gain:
An indulgence of 7 years once each day:
A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions at the end of the novena (S.C. Ind., Aug. 8 1847; S.P. Ap., Mar. 18, 1932).
Novena in Honor of Our Lady of Lourdes
O ever Immaculate Virgin, Mother of Mercy, Health of the Sick, Comforter of the Afflicted, thou knowest my wants, my troubles, my sufferings; deign to cast upon me a look of mercy. By appearing in the grotto of Lourdes thou wert pleased to make it a privileged sanctuary from where thou dost dispense thy favors, and already many sufferers have obtained the cure of their infirmities, both spiritual and corporal. I come, therefore, with the most unbounded confidence, to implore thy maternal intercession. Obtain, O loving Mother, the granting of my requests. Through gratitude for thy favors, I will endeavor to imitate thy virtues, that I may one day share in thy glory. R. Amen.
V. O Mary, conceived without sin,
R. Pray for us who have recourse to thee.
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