Monday after the Third Sunday in Lent.

On the Despair of Judas.

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 Despair of Judas.

To-day, my soul, place before your eyes the unhappy traitor Judas, whose guilty conscience allows him no peace, no rest on the day of our Lord’s crucifixion. See how he runs first to the chief priests, and flings the blood-money he received from them down on the ground at their feet with abhorrence, and then, half-demented with grief, tortured with pangs of conscience, he departs out of the city, takes a rope and hangs himself. This awful end of an apostle, of one who was chosen to inherit eternal felicity and to occupy one of the highest places in the kingdom of God will be the subject of your meditation to-day.

1st. Judas did almost everything appertaining to penance. He acknowledged his sin, he felt bitter compunction, he was almost frantic with grief, he even confessed his transgression and cried aloud in the presence of the chief priests: “I have sinned in betraying innocent blood.” (St. Matt, xxvii. 4.) Finally he went so far as to fling away the pieces of silver given him as the price of his iniquity, with loathing; and yet, in spite of his penance, he was eternally lost. What was the reason of this? It was because he despaired of God’s mercy. If instead of going to the Jewish priests he had betaken himself to Jesus, the divine High Priest upon the cross, if he had confessed his guilt at the foot of the cross, he would have been saved. But in his despair he did not do this. See, my soul, how cunningly the devil acts. First of all he inspires the sinner with overweening confidence, so that he sins recklessly in rash reliance on God’s mercy, and after the sin has been committed he fills the soul of the transgressor with mistrust of that same divine mercy. Wherefore beware of presumption in the first place and you will not fall into despair afterwards.

2d. Consider that Judas in his penitential sorrow applied to the wrong physician for aid. The unhappy apostle confessed his sin to those who were impotent to deliver him from it; he exposed the wounds of his soul to physicians who were themselves laboring under a fatal disease. Instead of consolation he met with nothing but cold contempt: “What is that to us? Look thou to it,” So spake the chief priests, and very probably their pitiless words put the climax to his despair. Learn hence a lesson of great importance for the spiritual life. Speak of the disease you are suffering from, disclose the wounds of your soul, the temptations and dangers that imperil your salvation only to those who are qualified and authorized to help you, your Superiors and the director of your conscience. The loss of many souls has been brought about through their having chosen to confide their temptations, their transgressions, not to their Confessor or Superior, but to other persons who perchance were victims of the self-same malady. Thus both were only strengthened in evil, and one blind man leading the other, both fell into the pit. Let the example of the unhappy Judas be a warning to you; alarmed by his awful fate, lay to heart seriously to-day the maxims of the Wise Man: “Open not thy heart to every man. Be in peace with many, but let one of a thousand be thy counsellor.” (Ecclus. viii. 22; vi. 6.)

3d. Consider that Judas’ fate was not undeserved. How often divine grace had knocked at the door of his heart! How lovingly our Lord admonished him at the Last Supper! Was not the washing of feet, were not the pathetic words: “One of you shall betray Me” (St. John xxiii. 21), was not the bread dipped and given to him, each and all so many urgent exhortations to him to return and repent? They were all in vain. And even when the act of treachery was accomplished, was not the charity of our Lord, who addressed the traitor by the name of friend, and in divine meekness returned the treacherous kiss, a last tender appeal to his disloyal heart? It too was in vain. One single look sufficed to convert the apostle who denied our Lord, but graces lavished on the traitor failed to overcome his obduracy; and when at last his conscience was awakened, it was too late, the season of grace was past. Learn, my soul, this one thing from Judas: Never trifle with divine grace. You can never know when you have reached the limit of that which is assigned to you. Perhaps your last confession, the most recent reprimand of your Superior, the latest fraternal warning addressed to you by your Brethren in religion, may have been for you the final call of grace; wherefore see that you do not turn a deaf ear to it with the stubbornness of a Judas, but obey it with the penitence of Peter.

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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