The First Sunday in Lent.

On the Utility of Fasting.

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 Utility of Fasting.

To-day, my soul, contemplate in imagination the picture portrayed to view in to-day’s Gospel, which opens with the words: “When He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards He was hungry.” (St. Matt. iv. 2.) What an instance of self-denial! How long a time to abstain from taking any nourishment, to live without food or drink! What a signal conquest over the strongest craving of human nature! Now contemplate the emaciated, the wasted form of your Redeemer; see how He, of whom the Psalmist says: “The eyes of all hope in Thee, Lord, and Thou givest them meat in due season” (Ps. cxliv. 15), Himself now feels the pangs of hunger. Most assuredly our Lord had some design in enduring this extraordinarily severe fast. He intended to encourage us to fast in like manner, for this mortification of the body is most profitable, as the Fathers of the Church concur in asserting.

1st. Consider that fasting is the most powerful weapon whereby to resist the devil. The first Adam ate and was conquered; the second Adam fasted and conquered. Fasting, St. Basil says, provides man with a weapon whereby he may vanquish all the hosts of hell. Fasting, St. Jerome tells us, is a truly glorious thing; it is glorious for man, since it cleanses him from sin and renders him acceptable to God and to the angels, and it is terrible for the devils, because it smites them as with a keen, sharp-edged sword and confounds both them and all their devices. The might which fasting imparts, St. Athanasius declares, is one which all the demons dread. Wherefore if, according to the unanimous testimony of the Fathers, fasting is a weapon of such great potency against the enemies of our salvation, gird on with joy, my soul, at once, at the very outset of the ecclesiastical fast this excellent means of defence, and be assured that the more valiantly you employ it during the solemn season of Lent, the more certainly will you have cause to rejoice in the happy Easter-tide in the victory you have gained over the devil.

2d. Consider that fasting is nourishment for the soul. Just as material food is necessary for the growth and development of the body—to quote St. Chrysostom’s words—so fasting makes the soul stout and strong, and gives her wings wherewith she may soar aloft and contemplate divine mysteries. Fasting, St. Athanasius tells us, is the refreshment of the soul, nourishment to the heart, a salutary medicine and the source of chastity. Prove the truth of this from your own experience, my soul; when have you the happiest inspirations, when are your meditations most profitable and your devotional exercises most sweet to you, when can you raise your thoughts with greater facility and dwell on the joys of Heaven with more rapture; at the time when you have eaten a full meal, or when you are fasting and your body is no hindrance to you? You have given your body food, abundance of food, long enough already; now the time has come for your soul to receive the nourishment she needs.

3d. Consider that our Lord’s prayer is not granted by His heavenly Father. O great and wondrous mystery! Never Consider what an attraction fasting gives us in the eyes of the angels. We read that after our Lord had fasted forty days, “Angels came and ministered to Him.” (St. Matt. iv. 11.) This is no wonder, for fasting is an angelic food, and those who fast are counted among the angels. St. Basil says that the angels go about in the churches, and write in their books the names of those who fast; and this doubtless they do because they consider such persons to be more worthy of their celestial company and they defend them mightily in all dangers temporal and spiritual. St. Basil even goes so far as to say that Almighty God calls together all the denizens of the heavenly courts that they may look upon those Christians who fast. Why indeed, since the fallen angels took a malicious pleasure in seeing Adam eat, should not the good angels take delight in seeing the sons of Adam fast? Wherefore, my soul, fast in such a manner as to cause annoyance to the devil, to give refreshment to your soul and joy to your holy angel; and thus you will obediently follow the teaching of the Fathers and of the Gospel for to-day.

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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