The Undervaluation and Neglect of the Soul – pt. 3.
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.
The Undervaluation and Neglect of the Soul – pt. 3.
But, although you conclude that the total absence of all thought about your souls clearly evinces your little anxiety for them, yet there is a sign even more evident than this. It is to think of them, and yet not to care for them. And do I not plainly see that the service of the soul is made subordinate to every other interest, and that, as if it were the less important or the less pleasing thing to be attended to, it is invariably thrown into the background, and deferred to the last? Yes, yes, too clearly do I perceive this; and oh, that I had eyes to lament it, as I have eyes to see it! Such a person among you is deeply convinced that his soul is laden with sin; he knows it, he feels it, and, while he ponders the imminent danger that surrounds him, he is forcibly smitten, as it were, in his conscience by a call from Heaven, seeming to say, “Go, wretched sinner, go and inquire for some priest, and make your confession to him.” “Go, show thyself to the Priest.” What reply does he make to this call? “By all means; I am quite resolved to go and unburden my soul to him. But when shall it be? This very day?—Why, to-day I am invited to that agreeable party. I’ll go tomorrow.”—“This morning it’s right I should hear Mass: I will do so; that is, if there’s time to spare for Mass, after I have conferred with my solicitor about the lawsuit.”— “This morning I should get good to my soul by hearing the Lent sermon. I will go; that is, if there’s leisure for it, after I have settled my accounts at that mercantile house.”—And so you go on talking in like matters, always wishing to pay attention to the interests of the soul, if there be only spare time left for it—wise for to-morrow. And is this your notion of being in earnest?
Eliezer, the renowned servant of Abraham, after a tedious journey, reached Nachor, a city of Mesopotamia, from whence he had to bring back one of the family of Bathuel, as a fit spouse for the youthful Isaac. No sooner was he recognized and hospitably received, according to custom, than the people crowd about him, each anxious to show him some token of respect: one would help him to unload; another would conduct him to a room; another, seeing him faint from the fatigues of the journey, would run to bring him some immediate refreshment, before supper was ready: “And bread was set before him.” How, think you, did he treat their hospitable preparations? “Not so quick, not so quick, my friends; take no trouble, I beg, on my account: for I solemnly assure you that I will not taste a single morsel, until I have first delivered my message. ‘I will not eat till I tell my message.’” Accordingly, not waiting even to lay aside his travelling dress, he gets up to make a long statement and detailed report of the circumstances, relating to his journey—the desire of Abraham, the good qualities of Sarah, the primogeniture of Isaac. the ample riches of the family, the conversation which had recently taken place at the well between himself and the courteous damsel Rebecca, the water, which she had drawn for him, and the gifts, which he had presented to her. What more? He was determined at that first meeting to hasten on to a favorable conclusion the business, so prosperously begun; in a word, to settle the marriage: nor did he cease, till it was said to him, “Behold! Rebecca is before thee, take her and go thy way, and let her be thy master’s son’s wife.” “ But why all this apprehension, thou noble servant? Dost thou fear, lest time should fly, and the opportunity escape thee? or, lest there should be some negotiation already in hand to bestow Rebecca elsewhere? I am certain thou canst entertain no such apprehension. Wait a little then, take some slight refreshment, accept our civilities, and do justice to the hospitality we show thee: afterwards, when thou hast rested and recovered thy strength, attend, as thou wilt then be better able to do, to the matter, which so much presses thee.” What is it, they ask, that he should wait? Ah! the anxiety he feels to execute his master’s commission will never allow it. The thing most urgent must in the first place be attended to; and therefore it is quite impossible for him to rest or take food. “I will not eat, till I tell my message.” In saying this he proves, as Liranus well observes, that he really has at heart the trust confided to him. If this be a true remark, judge for yourselves, whether the regard you bear to your souls can be called an anxiety on their account, while you not only make them give place to the necessary refreshment of your body, but to your idle pastime, your frivolous, your unprofitable amusements? Is there one among you, who ever says to himself, “This morning I have committed a sin: well, then, until I have discharged my soul of its deadly infection by confession, ‘I will not eat.’”—“I have defrauded that poor man of his due: until I have first got him out of his difficulties by paying him, ‘ I will not eat.’”—“I have defamed the character of that competitor of mine: until I have first repaired the injury by retracting my words, ‘I will not eat.’”—“I have violated the discipline of the Church and treated my spiritual Superior with pride, disrespect, and contumely: until I have first humbled myself before him, acknowledged my fault, and professed my purpose of amendment, ‘I will not eat.’” Oh, my brethren, where is the man among you, who conducts himself in this way, and who does not rather mind his worldly business and his carnal gratifications in the first place, before he ever once thinks of settling his conscience in matters of religious obligation?
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.
Of the Confession of our own Infirmity, and of the Miseries of this life.
Reflection. What are the trials which come to us from without, in comparison to those which we find within ourselves? We resist the first with all our strength; in
the second case it is divided, and the powers of the soul fight against each other. This is what casts down weak souls, humiliated by this shameful war, and without cease trembling lest they may succumb. This is why the Apostle said: Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? The grace of God by Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom. vii. 24, 25). Let us therefore cast ourselves into His divine arms, which, with inexpressible love, are stretched out to receive us; let us draw near to His sacred heart, from which emanates a virtue terrible to the power of evil. Let us rely but on Him; let us place our hopes in Him only.– Imitation of Christ Bk III, Ch XX.
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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