On the other Lessons to Be Learned from this Incident concerning St. Thomas.
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 other Lessons to Be Learned from this Incident concerning St. Thomas.
To-day, my soul, you are invited to contemplate the unbelieving apostle in a more favorable light, one which brings out his characteristic qualities. When our Lord announced His intention of going to Bethania for the purpose of raising Lazarus from the dead, a journey which the apostles feared might endanger their Master’s life, Thomas in affectionate anxiety and self-sacrificing courage said to his fellow apostles: “Let us also go, that we may also die with Him.” (St. John xi. 16.) Since before our Lord’s resurrection he gave such a noble example to his brethren, how came it to pass that after the resurrection he was found inferior to them all in faith? Let us consider the reasons.
1st. On the occasion of Christ’s first appearance to the apostles Thomas was not with them; he did not see Him and consequently did not believe in Him. Learn hence, my soul, how pernicious it is to separate yourself from the society of your brethren, not to join them in prayer and divine worship, but to hold aloof in self-will and go your own way. Hear what Thomas a Kempis says: “He who strives to withdraw himself from obedience, withdraws himself from grace; and he who seeks his own, loses those things that are in common.” (Imit. B. iii. ch. 13.) “Where there are two or three gathered together in My name,” Christ tells us, “there am I in the midst of them.” (St. Matt, xviii. 20.) If you look back on your past life you will surely find that you have never made much progress when you have persisted in following self-chosen ways.
2d. Another reason was the presumption and impertinence of the apostle in imposing conditions upon God, venturing to dictate the ways and means whereby he might be brought to believe in the resurrection. The ordinary way, trusting to the report of eye-witnesses, the assurances of his fellow apostles and of the women, is not enough for him; he requires something special and extraordinary to convince him. He must needs see with his eyes and handle with his hands; thus for the space of eight days he chooses to remain the prey of disquieting doubts. Learn from this the danger of despising the ordinary way of piety and the service of God, and grasping after uncommon, singular means, almost going so far as to require a miracle worked for one. “Not minding high things but consenting to the humble,” the Apostle writes; and St. Bernard exhorts his disciples to spare themselves the disturbance of their peace, by avoiding singularities which are always productive of unrest.
3d. Finally consider that our Lord permitted Thomas to doubt for our sakes. The apostle atoned for the fault of which he was guilty by his generous confession: “My Lord and my God!” whereby, as St. Gregory the Great observes, he proclaimed the human and divine nature of Christ; the former by addressing Him as Lord, the latter by adoring Him as God. But for us his former doubts and unbelief are of great importance chiefly because of the consoling words our Lord added: “Blessed are they that have not seen and have believed.” For they are animated by a faith of a far higher kind, far more meritorious and blissful; a faith which is not dependent, like that of Thomas, on the testimony of the senses, but what is in finitely more exalted and more praiseworthy, a faith inspired by the operation of the Holy Ghost. Do you belong to the number of those whom our Lord declares to be blessed? Ask yourself this question seriously, and according to the answer of your conscience form resolutions to-day suited to the subject of your meditation.
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.
May Devotion: The Blessed Virgin Mary
Virtues to practice: Meekness, purity, the spirit of poverty
O holy Mary, my Mistress, into thy blessed trust and special keeping, into the bosom of thy tender mercy, this day, every day of my life and at the hour of my death, I commend my soul and body; to thee I entrust all my hopes and consolations, all my trials and miseries, my life and the end of my life, that through thy most holy intercession and thy merits, all my actions may be ordered and disposed according to thy will and that of thy divine Son. Amen (St. Aloysius Gonzaga)
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that any one who fled to thy protection, implored thy help or sought thy intercession, was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins and Mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful; O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.
(For either of the above prayers: An indulgence of 3 years.
A plenary indulgence once a month on the usual conditions for the daily recitation of this prayer.)
The faithful who during the month of May take part in public exercises in honor of the B.V.M. may gain: An indulgence of 7 years on any day of the month; a plenary indulgence if they assist at the exercises on at least 10 days, and moreover, go to confession, receive Holy Communion, and pray for the Holy Father’s intentions.
Those who perform their devotions privately during the aforesaid month are granted: an indulgence of 5 years once on any day of the month; a plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, if they perform these devotions every day during the month; but where public exercises are held, this indulgence is granted only to those who are lawfully hindered from taking part in the same. (Raccolta).
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