Friday after the Third Sunday in Lent.

On the Release of Barabbas.

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 Release of Barabbas.

Realize to-day, my soul, to the best of your ability, the striking contrasts presented by the scene in the history of our Lord’s Passion when He is placed in opposition to Barabbas. Pilate again had found no fault in our Lord, and consequently he resorts to what appears to him a sure method of setting the innocent Prisoner free. He places Him beside a murderer, and then appeals to the people, saying: “Whether will you of the two to be released unto you?” (St. Matt, xxvii. 21.) Picture to yourself the Saviour standing there, holy, innocent, adorable, the Benefactor of the Jewish people, who fed them in the desert, who healed their sick in towns and villages, and beside Him a sinister-looking criminal as unlike Him as darkness is to light, one on whose brow vice is plainly written, on whose soul rests a heavy load of guilt; yet the deluded populace give the preference to this infamous wretch rather than to the Holy One of Israel! This is indeed a strange, a sorrowful sight!

1st. Consider how innocence is forsaken. See how Barabbas, a man notorious for his crimes, finds many partisans, nay, a whole nation clamors for his release, whereas Jesus, the Source of life in contrast to this murderer, the Mirror of sanctity in contrast to this villain, the Benefactor of the people in contrast to this outrager of the public safety, Jesus stands alone; not a single voice is raised to befriend Him; on the contrary a thousand voices cry: “Let Him be crucified.” Well indeed may St. Augustine exclaim: “O fools, what is it that you demand? It is nothing else but that He who raised the dead to life should Himself be slain, and he who destroyed the living should have his life spared to him.” Reflect, my soul, upon this truth, that in the world innocence most frequently stands alone, forsaken by all; and ask yourself whether you have not sometimes abandoned your fellow man when he was reviled by the tongue of slander, persecuted by the hand of envy and malice; whether under such circumstances you have not left him helpless, without speaking a word in his defence, or endeavoring to console him.

2d. Consider how inconstant men are. Only a few days previously the very same multitude were almost frantic with exultation, intoxicated with delight and rapture in accompanying with hosannas “Him that cometh in the name of the Lord;” in fact only a little more was wanting and they would have taken Him and made Him their king by acclamation, in preference to all others. Now, a few days later, the mere sight of the self-same Individual excites them to an indescribable fury of hatred and anger, and they give Him the last and lowest place, preferring a common murderer to Him. Let this be a warning to you, O Christian. Do not be too much concerned as to whether you are praised or blamed, blest or curst by your fellow men. For if they behaved in so false and fickle a manner in regard to your Lord and Master, how can you, His servant and disciple, expect better treatment at their hands? Men are unstable and their judgments are only too unreliable. Wherefore do not dread the criticism, do not pay too much heed to the opinion of a man who to-day is and to-morrow is no more, but fear God, Who ever remains unchangeable. Barabbas, acquitted by the popular voice, was not acquitted by God, and our Lord, condemned and sentenced to death by the fickle mob, was justified in the sight of God. As an example to you see how a few days ago He was as indifferent to and unmoved by the acclamations of the people as He now is by the hatred they evince toward Him.

3d. Consider how often you commit the same sin of which the deluded Jewish people were guilty. Every temptation to sin is nothing more or less than the question put to you, whether you value more highly Christ or Barabbas, the Creator or the creature; whether you give the preference to the will of the Most High or the sinful propensities of your fallen nature. And as often as you yield to the assaults of the world, the flesh and the devil, you cry with the Jews: “Away with this Man! Away with Christ, away with His grace, away with His law; set free the passions that law restrains; release the murderer of my soul, the robber that deprives me of my eternal felicity.” What a terrible, appalling cry! Alas! how often is it heard from your lips?

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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