On the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar As the Tree of Life.
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 Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar As the Tree of Life.
Picture to yourself to-day, my soul, the tree of life that stood in the midst of paradise. How fair to behold, how pleasant to the taste, how strengthening to those who eat of it must the fruit of that tree have been, since it had power to impart to them life in fulness, nay, life immortal! He who ate of that tree was never tortured by sickness, never subject to death or a prey to corruption. Yet no mortal was ever so fortunate as to eat of that tree of paradise, but, thousands, nay, millions eat daily of another tree of life, that they may escape eternal death, and this tree of life blossoms and bears fruit in our midst; it is the adorable Sacrament of the Altar.
1st. Consider these words of our Lord: “This is the Bread that cometh down from Heaven, that if a man eat of it he may not die.” (St. John vi. 50.) Here it will be seen that Christ says the very same of the Blessed Sacrament that God the Father once spoke concerning the tree of life in paradise. Both the one and the other are said to possess the self-same virtue of preserving from death. “The eucharistic bread,” says St. Charles Borromeo, “imparts to the faithful power to keep free from sin, to withstand the force of temptation; it is the divine medicine of the soul, whereby it is preserved from being infected by the deadly poison of sin.” Furthermore, St. Laurence Justinian declares that by partaking of this celestial bread enmities are abolished, thoughts of bitterness and hatred are extinguished, dissensions are set at rest, strife and quarrels are suppressed, in a word, everything that endangers the life of the soul is eliminated or not suffered to approach.
2d. Consider this also which our Lord says: “If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever.” (v. 52.) Here again we find the identical expression employed that God the Father made use of speaking of the tree of life in paradise: “lest he take also of the tree of life and live for ever.” (Gen. iii. 22.) Thus the Most Holy Sacrament has not only the power which we saw it to possess in the first point of this meditation, that of preserving us from the death of the soul and from all that leads to that spiritual death, it also has power to sustain the life of the soul and maintain it for ever. This bread does indeed confer on us strength to persevere in justice, and when our mortal life is ended to enter upon life immortal. St. Bernardine of Siena says on this subject: “The Bread of Heaven fortifies the powers both of mind and body. It imparts strength to the mind that it may persevere in virtue, to the body that it may not fall into sin. Thus both soul and body attain eternal life.” Reflect on this truth attentively, how vivifying, how invigorating this celestial food is to you in the pilgrimage of your earthly existence! O how powerful it is in supporting you in the way of justice, in stimulating you in the pursuit of perfection! It is that miraculous nourishment that, like the food given to the prophet Elias of old, in the strength of which he walked unto the mount of God, Horeb, gives us also power to attain eternal life. St. Chrysostom very justly says that we ought, when we leave the holy table, to resemble lions breathing out fire to strike terror into the devils. Is it not so with yourself? Do you not feel after every fresh Communion a perceptible increase of courage and strength? And thus if you frequently partake of the fruit of this tree of life you will have life here on earth, by the practice of good works, and by persevering in good works, you will have life eternal hereafter.
3d. Consider furthermore these words of our Lord: “And the bread I will give is My flesh for the life of the world.” (v. 52.) This tree of life, the Blessed Sacrament, as it preserves the individual soul, so it preserves the whole world from spiritual death and gives it life eternal. In order to grasp this truth, just think of this miserable, guilty world, of the sin and vice, the crimes and transgressions daily, hourly committed, which continually, like the blood of Abel, cry to Heaven for vengeance, challenge the retributive justice of God displayed in days of yore, when the earth was drowned in the waters of the deluge, and visited with fire and brimstone on account of its wickedness. Why is God so long-suffering now? What restrains His chastising hand? It is the Bread that is given for the life of the world. However loudly the sins of the world cry to Heaven for vengeance, the Bread of Life cries yet more loudly for reconciliation, for pardon. And if the wretched, thankless world does not acknowledge, or recognize this benefit and blessing, do you, my soul, at least, not show yourself ungrateful, but resolve, as the fruit of to-day’s meditation, to spend some portion of each day in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, giving thanks, not for yourself alone, but also on behalf of the busy world which never stays to utter a word of praise or gratitude for this great gift, the Bread of Life which our Lord has given us from Heaven, and of which whoso eateth will live forever.
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.
June Devotion: The Blessed Sacrament and the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Virtues to practice: Obedience, piety, dutifulness
DEVOTION TO THE SACRED HEART.
CONSIDERATIONS.—Let us endeavour to strengthen our love for Jesus Christ. Let us often reflect on the motives we have for loving Him. What is more just, more honorable, more useful, more necessary or more sweet than to love our Divine Saviour! Although He is infinitely above us and that we are as nothing in His sight, He allows us to love him. Though He is in Himself all sufficient, and that He has no need whatever of us, that we can in no way add to His greatness, that He is infinitely amiable, since in Him are all perfections, He wishes us to love Him, He even commands us to do so.
Prayer.—Adorable Heart of my Saviour! to Thee I present my desires, in Thee alone can I find happiness. Sacred Heart! Thou will be the source where I will quench the thirst of my ardent desires, and replenish my heart.
Heart or Jesus, teach me to endure sufferings.
PRAYER TO THE SACRED HEART.
Jesus! Creator of the world,
Of all mankind Redeemer blest,
True God of God, in Whom we see
Thy Father’s image clear expressed!
Thee, Saviour, love alone constrained
To make our mortal flesh Thine own,
And, as a second Adam, come
For the first Adam to atone.
That selfsame love which made the sky,
Which made the sea and stars, and earth,
Took pity on our misery,
And broke the bondage of our birth.
O Jesus! in Thy Heart divine
May that same love for ever glow!
Forever mercy to mankind
From that exhaustless fountain flow!
For this the Sacred Heart was pierced,
And both with blood and water ran –
To cleanse us from the stains of guilt,
And be the hope and strength of man.
Jesus, to Thee be glory given,
Who from Thy Heart dost grace outpour,
To Father and to Paraclete
Be endless praise for evermore. Amen.
An indulgence of 5 years. A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, If this hymn is devoutly recited every day for a month (S.P.Ap., March 12, 1936). (taken from The Raccolta (c)1957)
Prayer to the Holy Ghost.
O HOLY SPIRIT, divine spirit of light and love, I consecrate to Thee my understanding, heart and will, my whole being for time and for eternity. May my understanding be always submissive to Thy heavenly inspirations, and to the teaching of the Catholic Church, of which Thou art the infallible Guide; may my heart be ever inflamed with love of God and of my neighbour; may my will be ever conformed to the Divine Will, and may my whole life be a faithful imitation of the life and virtues of our LORD and SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST, to whom with the FATHER and Thee be honour and glory for ever. Amen.
300 Days, once a day.
Pius X, June 5, 1908.
Novena for Pentecost.
i. Seven Years and Seven Quarantines, each day.
ii. Plenary, once during the Novena, Feast or Octave.
This Novena may be made publicly or privately, and the same Indulgences are granted for special prayers said every day during the Octave. Any prayers to the HOLY GHOST may be used.
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