Brother Giles on Holy Prayer.
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.
Brother Giles on Holy Prayer.
Prayer is the beginning, the middle and the end of all good; prayer illumines the soul, and enables it to discern good from evil. Every sinful man ought to pray every day continually, humbly begging of God to give him a perfect knowledge of his own miseries and of his sins, and of all the benefits which he has received and still receives from God. And the man who knows not how to pray, how can he know God? And all those who would be saved, if they rightly use their reason, will, before all things, wholly turn themselves unto prayer.
Brother Giles said: “If a man had a son, who had been condemned to death or to banishment for his evil deeds, it is most sure that his father would be full of solicitude, laboring to the utmost of his power both by day and by night to obtain a reprieve or to have the sentence of banishment removed, addressing all possible petitions and making presents, according to the extent of his ability, both personally, and through the means of others. If, then, a man would do this for his son’s mortal life, how much more should he be solicitous to pray God, and moreover to get all good men in this world to pray, and still more, in the other all the holy Saints, for his soul which is immortal, when it is banished from the Heavenly City, or rather, condemned to eternal death for his sins!”
A Brother said to Brother Giles: “Father, it seems to me that a man should grieve within himself, when he cannot attain to the grace of true devotion in prayer.” To whom Brother Giles replied: “My Brother, I counsel thee to proceed very gently; for if thou hadst a little good wine in a cask, in which there still remained some dregs beneath, of a surety, thou wouldst not shake or move the cask, for fear of mixing the good wine with the dregs. And so also I say to thee, until prayer is entirely separated from all carnal concupiscence and vice, thou canst not receive Divine consolations; because that prayer is not pure in the sight of God which is mixed with the dregs of carnal things. And therefore a man should bestir himself as far as in him lies to cast out all the dregs of vicious concupiscence, that his prayer may be pure in God’s sight, and then he shall not want devotion, or Divine consolations.”
A Brother once asked Brother Giles: “Father, wherefore is it that when a man is worshipping God, he is much more tempted, disturbed and troubled in his mind than at any other time?” To which Brother Giles answered: “If any man has a cause to plead, and goes before the judge to state his reasons, and asks his counsel and aid, immediately his adversary hears of it, he appears also, to contradict and resist the claims of the first, and throw every impediment in his way, seeking to disprove all that he says. And thus also it happens when a man betakes himself to prayer; for then it is that he seeks aid of God in his cause. Immediately, therefore, his adversary, the devil, appears with his temptations, to resist and to contradict him, and to use all the force, cunningness and argument he can to frustrate his prayer, and hinder it from being acceptable in the sight of God, so that he may have neither merit or consolation from it.
“And this we can see very clearly for ourselves; because it is not when we are speaking about the things of this world that we have to suffer temptations or distractions; but when we go to prayer, in order to delight and comfort our soul with God, immediately we feel our minds struck as with thunder bolts, which are the temptations which the devils bring against us, in order to make the mind wander, so that the soul may have neither delight nor consolation in speaking with God.”
Brother Giles said that a man, when he prays, should be like a good knight in battle, who, if he be wounded or thrown down by his enemies, does not on this account straightway give up the battle, but rather resists valiantly, that he may gain the victory over his enemies; because when he has obtained the victory, he shall rejoice and be comforted in the glory thereof; but if he fled from the field as soon as he was thrown down or wounded, surely he should be put to shame and confusion. And thus also should we do; that is to say, not give up our prayer for every temptation, but resist courageously, for “Blessed is the man who endureth temptation,” says the Apostle, “for when he hath overcome, he shall receive the crown of Eternal Life:” but if a man depart from prayer, because of temptation, of a surety, he shall be put to shame, or vanquished by his diabolical foe.
A Brother said to Brother Giles: “ Father, I have seen other men who received from God the grace of devotion and of tears in their prayers, and I cannot feel in myself any such grace, when I go to worship God.” To whom Brother Giles answered: “My Brother, I counsel thee to persevere humbly and faithfully in thy prayers; for the fruits of the earth cannot be had without toil and labor applied beforehand; and even after we have labored, the desired fruit does not follow immediately, but only in its season, when the fullness of time has come.
“And thus also, God does not give these graces immediately to a man in answer to his prayer; but in the end, when the time appointed is come, as it pleases Him, and not until the mind is cleansed from every carnal affection and vice. Therefore, my Brother, labor humbly in prayer; for God, Who is all good and gracious, knoweth all things, and discerneth what is best; and when the time and the season has come He will graciously give thee much fruit of consolation.”
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.
That temporal Miseries are to be borne with Patience after the Example of Jesus Christ.
REFLECTION: The life of man on earth is full of grief, of misery, and of sufferings. Who is there that does not know this? We are visibly punished, and as the justice which chastises us is all-powerful, there are no means of escape from the chastisement. Now, in this condition, human wisdom has seen but the choice between two alternatives, either to shut its eyes to the nature of things and deny that it was punishment, or to seek a distraction from it in the indulgence of the passions. It has demanded happiness from pride and from the senses, and, deceived in its hopes, it has veiled its head, saying: There is no remedy. The world was in this condition, when suddenly a voice was heard: Blessed are they that mourn! (Matt. v. 5)· The nations listen and are astonished: something new is stirred up within them; they understand, they taste the joy of tears, and from the height of the cross, on which the Man of sorrows (Is. liii. 3) is suspended an inexhaustible river of unknown consolations flows over the entire human race. Life has lost its sadness, since Jesus, bathed in a sweat of blood, and in the midst of His agony, cried out: My soul is sorrowful even unto death (Mark, xiv. 34).– Imitation of Christ Bk III, Ch XVIII.
February Devotion: The Holy Trinity (also the Holy Family)
Virtue to practice: Humility
I vow and consecrate to God all that is in me: my memory and my actions to God the Father; my understanding and my words to God the Son; my will and my thoughts to God the Holy Ghost; my heart, my body, my tongue my senses and all my sorrows to the sacred Humanity of Jesus Christ, ‘who was contented to be betrayed into the hands of wicked men and to suffer the torment of the Cross.’ – St. Francis de Sales
An indulgence of 3 years.
A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, if this act of oblation is devoutly repeated every day for a monh (S.P.Ap., Sept. 22, 1922 and May 12, 1934).
The faithful who devoutly offer any prayers in honor of the Most Holy Trinity with the intention of continuing them for nine successive days, may gain:
An indulgence of 7 years once each day:
A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions at the end of the novena (S.C. Ind., Aug. 8 1847; S.P. Ap., Mar. 18, 1932).
Novena in Honor of Our Lady of Lourdes
O ever Immaculate Virgin, Mother of Mercy, Health of the Sick, Comforter of the Afflicted, thou knowest my wants, my troubles, my sufferings; deign to cast upon me a look of mercy. By appearing in the grotto of Lourdes thou wert pleased to make it a privileged sanctuary from where thou dost dispense thy favors, and already many sufferers have obtained the cure of their infirmities, both spiritual and corporal. I come, therefore, with the most unbounded confidence, to implore thy maternal intercession. Obtain, O loving Mother, the granting of my requests. Through gratitude for thy favors, I will endeavor to imitate thy virtues, that I may one day share in thy glory. R. Amen.
V. O Mary, conceived without sin,
R. Pray for us who have recourse to thee.
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