On the Mission of the Apostles.
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 Mission of the Apostles.
Picture to yourself, my soul, the moment when our Lord, after His resurrection, standing in the room where the apostles were assembled, confides to them the glorious mission to the whole world, to preach the Gospel to all nations, solemnly transmitting to them the task of carrying on His work upon earth in these words: “As the Father hath sent Me, I also send you.” (St. John xx. 21.) Investing you, that is to say, with the fulness of My authority, the plenitude of My power as My representatives. A grand and glorious office indeed, but one of no slight difficulty and responsibility, as we shall proceed to see.
1st. According to His own words which He employed on an earlier occasion our Lord sends the apostles forth “as sheep in the midst of wolves.” (St. Matt. xx. 16.) He sends them as the Father sent Him to the cross and suffering. The world around them still bears the stamp of sin, the wolf’s nature that loves darkness, crafty, hypocritical and insatiable in its craving for pleasure and for revenge. Yet our Lord does not send forth His peaceful, gentle messengers defenceless to become the certain prey of the fierce wolves. No; on the contrary their mission is to transform the ravening wolf into a gentle lamb by the power of the Word and the might of divine grace. Now, my soul, meditate upon and strive to realize this momentous change; behold how magnificently our Lord’s words have been fulfilled. Rome, who bore a wolf on her escutcheon, Rome, the mistress of the world, who in war and politics, in greed of conquest and love of luxury resembled nothing more strikingly than a devouring wolf, has now seen her vast earthly empire changed by means of the apostles and their successors into a spiritual empire, a heavenly kingdom over which Peter, the pastor of the new flock, and those who succeed him in the Papal See, hold undisputed sway. Marvel at this wondrous fact, and consider the instruments by whom it was effected.
2d. This stupendous change was accomplished by sheep, for thus our Lord calls the apostles, and the name befits them well. Sheep are exceptionally patient creatures; when led to slaughter they utter not a sound; when they are attacked they do not resist; they never do any one an injury, and they take no revenge when they are persecuted and tormented. Consider how all these characteristics may be discerned in the apostles; their whole life may be epitomized in three words: to bear, to suffer, to be silent. And these are the weapons with which they overcame the world. Take example from the apostles, learn of them, and lay to heart these golden words of St. Chrysostom: “As long as we act like patient sheep we conquer our foes without difficulty, but as soon as we assume the nature of wolves, they conquer us, for our divine Shepherd, the Lord Jesus, protects the gentle lamb but not the ferocious wolf. If thou art desirous to revenge thyself on thy enemy with greed of vengeance and calumnious speech, thou wilt resist and impede the action of divine grace within thee.”
3d. Consider that it was not solely by lamb-like patience that the apostles overcame the world, but also by the wisdom of the serpent and the simplicity of the dove. For our Lord enjoined this upon them when He sent them forth on their mission: “Be you therefore wise as serpents and simple as doves.” (St. Matt. x. 16.) The prudent serpent knows well how to escape from her enemies, and when assailed by them her chief solicitude is to protect her head; she would rather lose her tail and have her body cut in twain than expose her head to receive an injury. Thus the apostles and all who believe their teaching, and you amongst the number, ought prudently to elude the enemies of their salvation and those who seek after their life; and if it is impossible to avoid a contest, they ought rather to surrender everything, their property and possessions, even life itself, in order to preserve and hold fast the one thing of real moment, the faith and the grace of God. But in doing so they should be like doves, without treachery or deceit, without bitterness or rancor, in order that by cultivating these characteristics of the dove they may only imitate what is good in the serpent and avoid what is evil in its nature. Ask yourself, my soul, to what extent you have hitherto followed this exhortation our Lord addressed to His apostles. To-day, and on certain fixed days, offer your prayers and penances for this intention, that it may please Almighty God to give to all whom He may now send out into the world as He sent the apostles, as sheep in the midst of wolves, grace to be wise as the serpent and simple as the dove.
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.
April Devotion: The Holy Ghost
Virtue to practice: Patience
Vexilla Regis prodeunt
The royal banners forward go;
The Cross shines forth in mystic glow,
Where Life for sinners death endured,
And life by death for man procured.
Where deep for us the spear was dyed,
Life’s torrent rushing from His side,
To wash us in that precious flood
Where mingled, Water flowed, and Blood.
Fulfilled is all that David told
In true prophetic song of old;
‘Amidst the nations, God,’ saith he,
‘Hath reigned and triumphed from the Tree.’
O Tree of beauty! Tree of light!
O Tree with royal purple dight!
Elect on whose triumphal breast
Those holy Limbs should find their rest.
On whose dear arms, so widely flung,
The weight of this world’s ransom hung:
The price of humankind to pay
And spoil the spoiler of his prey.
O Cross, our one reliance, hail,
Thou glory of the saved, avail*
To give fresh merit to the Saint,
And pardon to the penitent.
To Thee, Eternal Three in One,
Let homage meet by all be done;
Whom by the Cross Thou dost restore,
Preserve and govern evermore. Amen.
Vexilla Regis pródeunt,
Fulget Crucis mystérium,
Qua vita mortem pértulit,
Et morte vitam prótulit.
Quæ vulneráta lánceæ
Mucróne diro, críminum
Ut nos laváret sórdibus,
Manávit unda et sánguine.
Impléta sunt quæ cóncinit
David fidéli cármine,
Regnávit a ligno Deus.
Arbor decóra et fúlgida,
Ornáta regis púrpura,
Elécta digno stípite
Tam sancta membra tángere.
Beáta, cuius bráchiis
Prétium pepéndit sæculi,
Statéra facta córporis,
Tulítque prædam tártari.
O Crux, ave, spes única,
Gentis redémptæ glória!*
Piis adáuge grátiam,
Reísque dele crímina.
Te, fons salútis, Trínitas,
Colláudet omnis spíritus:
Quibus Cricis victóriam
Largíris, adde præmium. Amen.
(ex. Breviario Romano)
*Instead of: ‘Thou Glory of the saved,’ during Passiontide, say: ‘This Holy Passiontide‘, during the Paschal Season: ‘Thou joy of Eastertide‘, on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross: ‘On this triumphant day.‘
An indulgence of 5 years.
A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions for the daily recitation of this hymn throughout an entire month (S.C. Ind., Jan. 16, 1886; S.P.Ap., April 29, 1934).
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