Ash Wednesday.

On Our Lord’s Agony in the Garden.

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 Our Lord’s Agony in the Garden.

To-day, when the Church with the utmost solemnity calls upon the faithful to do penance, and reminds them that they are naught else but dust and ashes, meditate attentively on our Lord’s agony in the Garden of Olives, in order more deeply to engrave this impression on your heart, and imbue you with a more fervent determination to do penance. Imagine that you behold your Saviour kneeling there in indescribable anguish of soul. His head is bowed down to the ground; the ashy hues of death overspread His countenance; His arms hang nerveless by His side; His heart palpitates feebly; the groans that rend His breast are those of one in the very arms of death. What is it that causes Him such awful anguish, what is the load that oppresses Him with this terrible weight?

1st. Consider that our Lord now goes to judgment. That God of whom Isaias says: “I will visit the evils of the world, and against the wicked for their iniquity. For this I will trouble the heaven: and the earth shall be moved out of her place for the indignation of the Lord of Hosts.” (Is. xiii. 11, 13.) Consider that God is now present to the sight of Jesus, who appears before Him laden with our sins, burdened with the guilt of our transgressions. It is no longer His heavenly Father before whom He stands, but His stern Judge. Hence it is, my soul, that we see Jesus overwhelmed by fear and dread. For your sake Jesus trembles in presence of the Judge, and you, Christian, heed so little, feel so little apprehension concerning the terrible judgments of the just God. If the Son of God is overcome with dread of this tribunal, if He feels such fear as was never felt before, how can you, who are dust and ashes, sin so heedlessly, just as if there were no judgment to come?

2d. Consider that our Lord feels the burden of sin. He is not only man, He is God also, the God of infinite holiness. As such nothing is more odious, more hateful to Him than sin. And now He is compelled to take upon Himself what is most abhorrent, most intolerable to Him, sin, and not one sin alone, but the sins of the whole world. Only think, my soul, of the awful ocean of guilt that began with the prevarication of Adam and goes down to the last human being that shall be born into the world; all this weight of sin rests upon the God made man. On Him, the Holiest of the holy, rests Cain’s horrible fratricide; on Him rests the sins for the sake of which the world was destroyed by the deluge and Sodom consumed by fire from heaven. O frightful burden, in itself sufficient to weigh the Son of God to the dust! But this is not enough, the flood of iniquity rolls on afresh; on Him the transgressions of the people of Israel during the thousand years wandering in the desert, the abominable practices of the idolatrous heathen, the evil deeds of ungrateful Christians, all this is laid on Him to whom even the slightest sin is utterly abhorrent. Imagine yourself, my soul, chained to a corpse, condemned to remain fettered to it until it was completely decomposed, what intolerable misery that would be. Now behold, it was far more terrible for Jesus, the Holy One, to take upon Himself the guilt and iniquities of the world. Yet alas! how little concern people feel about their sins; they seem to revel in them, like swine in the mire!

3d. Consider furthermore that our Lord looks into the future; He sees in anticipation His whole Passion, all the suffering that awaits Him. He sees Judas’ treachery, which cuts Him to the heart more sharply than the keenest blade. He feels beforehand the rough usage, the maltreatment He is to receive from the coarse soldiers, the crown of thorns, the cross erected on Calvary. He who gave His life for us all, He who of His divine nature is immortal, feels and views in anticipation the pangs of dissolution, the cruel, ignominious death which fills Him with such horror that in His agony He exclaims: “My soul is sorrowful even unto death.” (St. Matt. xxvi. 38.) Then His strength forsakes Him and He falls prostrate on the ground. Oh look upon your Saviour, engrave upon your mind this pitiful sight, but at the same time remember you have not yet taken into consideration that which gave its greatest poignancy to our Lord’s agony in the Garden of Olives. Recollect that at the moment when in His grief and sorrow the climax of His agony was reached, His omniscient eye, gazing sadly on into the far future, beheld thousands to whom He would one day be forced to address this reproach: “Where is thy soul, which I endured such unspeakable anguish? where is thy soul, for which I sweat great drops of blood? Alas! it is lost, it is unsaved by My earnest prayers; My sweat of agony has been for thee not a blessing but a curse; for thee My tears of blood on Olivet were shed in vain!” At the sight of such black ingratitude a shudder passes through the soul of Jesus; His delicate physical organization is convulsed with such anguish at the mournful vista which the future presents that the warm blood from His heart is forced out of every pore of the finely-strung body and falls in drops to the earth. As St. Bernard remarks: Not His eyes alone shed tears of blood and water for our sins, His whole body wept. In view of all you have seen to-day, my soul, strew ashes on your head and delay no longer to do penance.

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.

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March Devotion: St. Joseph

Virtue to practice: Mortification

Litany of St. Joseph

Lord, have mercy on us.

Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven, Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost, Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, Have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Illustrious Son of David, pray for us.
Splendour of patriarchs, pray for us.
Spouse of the Mother of God, pray for us.
Chaste Guardian of the Virgin, pray for us.
Foster-father of the Son of God, pray for us.
Watchful Defender of Christ, pray for us.
Head of the Holy Family, pray for us.
Joseph most just, pray for us.
Joseph most pure, pray for us.
Joseph most prudent, pray for us.
Joseph most couragious, pray for us.
Joseph most obedient, pray for us.
Joseph most faithful, pray for us.
Mirror of patience, pray for us.
Lover of poverty, pray for us.
Model of all who labor, pray for us.
Glory of family life, pray for us.
Preserver of virgins, pray for us.
Mainstay of families, pray for us.
Solace of the afflicted, pray for us.
Hope of the sick, pray for us.
Patron of the dying, pray for us.
Terror of demons, pray for us.
Protector of the Holy Church, pray for us.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us.
V. He hath made him master of His house,
R. And ruler of all His possessions.

Let us Pray.

O God, Who in Thine ineffable providence didst vouchsafe to choose Blessed Joseph to be the spouse of Thy most Holy Mother; grant, we beseech Thee, that we may be worthy to have him for our intercessor in heaven whom on earth we venerate as our Protector. Who livest and reignest world without end. Amen.

Ancient Prayer to St. Joseph

(This prayer was said to be founded in the 50 A.D. In the 1500′s it was sent by the Pope to Emperor Charles when he was going into battle. According to oral tradition, whoever reads this prayer, hears it, or carries it, will not fall into the hands of the enemy, nor be burned in any fire, nor will they be defeated in battle.)

O St. Joseph whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in thee all my interests and desires. O St. Joseph, do assist me by thy powerful intercession and obtain for me from thy Divine Son all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord; so that having engaged here below thy heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of fathers. O St. Joseph I never weary contemplating thee and Jesus asleep in thy arms. I dare not approach while He reposes near thy heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine Head for me, and ask Him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, patron of departing souls, pray for me. Amen.

Prayer to St. Joseph by Pope St. Pius X

O Glorious St. Joseph, model of all those who are devoted to labor, obtain for me the grace to work conscientiously, putting the call of duty above my natural inclinations, to work with gratitude and joy, in a spirit of penance for the remission of my sins, considering it an honor to employ and develop by means of labor the gifts received from God, to work with order, peace, moderation, and patience, without ever shrinking from weariness and difficulties, to work above all with purity of intention and detachment from self, having always death before my eyes and the account that I must render of time lost, of talents wasted, of good omitted, of vain complacency in success, so fatal to the work of God. All for Jesus, all through Mary, all after thine example, O Patriarch, St. Joseph. Such shall be my watchword in life and in death. Amen.

Good St. Joseph protect us, protect the holy Church.

O good and kind St. Joseph guide us in the way of perfection.

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