On the Benefit of the Sacrament of Penance.
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 Benefit of the Sacrament of Penance.
For the purpose of convincing yourself of the immensity of the benefit which the sacrament for the remission of sin, instituted by our Lord after His resurrection, is to man, place before your mind an unhappy sinner, guilty of mortal sin, who, like Cain, is tortured by remorse of conscience, who nowhere finds rest and tranquillity, whose nights are sleepless, whose days are full of disquiet and uneasiness.
1st. Amongst all the afflictions that trouble the human soul there is none more terrible than remorse of conscience. The stings of conscience, St. Augustine says, are greater torture than the gloomiest dungeon, nay, than hell itself. Oh the deplorable state of that conscience where Christ does not dwell, but the devil rules supreme! He who lives in a state of mortal sin makes his heart the throne of a tyrant who is cruel indeed. Whether he eats or drinks, whether he joins in sports or in amusements, his guilty conscience follows him like his shadow on a wall, poisoning his food, putting gall into his cup, spoiling his sports and turning all enjoyment into bitterness. Alas! how many groan upon the rack, writhe under the torture of a guilty conscience. Perhaps after all, my soul, you may be one of these pitiable individuals.
2d. Consider on the other hand St. Paul’s words: “Our glory is this, the testimony of our conscience.” (II. Cor. i. 12.) The Apostle alludes to a clean conscience that has no stain of sin wherewith to reproach a man. This he designates as his “glory,” and it may justly be thus designated, for there is nothing that gives joy and gladness of heart more than the testimony of a good conscience. “Keep a good conscience,” we read in the Imitation, “and thou shalt always have gladness. A good conscience can bear very much and is exceeding joyful in the midst of adversity. . . . He will easily be content and in peace whose conscience is clean.” (Imit. B. ii. ch. 6.) Ponder this golden maxim, look at the experience of your bygone life, and ask yourself if it does not bear witness to the truth of these words. And when you are fully and deeply impressed with the misery occasioned by a guilty conscience and the peace resulting from a good conscience, proceed to consider the third point.
3d. The power of absolution conferred on the apostles is that which is capable of delivering us from the torture of remorse and giving us peace. Confession, and that alone, says St. Thomas of Villanova, destroys the worm which gnaws our vitals, remorse of conscience. If you were to shed tears like an ocean, if you were to give most liberal alms, if you were to fast with the utmost rigor, all this would not still the reproaches of your conscience, or remove the burden of sin. The worm of an evil conscience cannot be appeased by indulgence in the pleasures of the table, by luxury or renown; it cannot be destroyed by means of fasting and mortification; there is but one means whereby it can be conquered, and that is the power of absolution conferred upon the apostles by our Lord after His resurrection; that alone can restore to us the jewel of a good conscience when we have lost it. Wherefore, my soul, give thanks to-day to your risen Lord for this gift of His grace whereby He renders a spiritual resurrection possible for you, and of your charity pray for poor sinners that they may have recourse to this means of ridding themselves of the gnawing worm of a guilty conscience.
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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