The Undervaluation and Neglect of the Soul – pt. 6 continued.
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. 6 continued.
Solomon in his Proverbs lamented to find some persons so grossly infatuated, that they could “lie in wait for their own blood, and practise deceits against their own souls.” Who are these persons? Who are they, but the very miserable men whom I am now describing—the men who take pains to ensnare themselves by the delusive hope of being able to quiet their conscience on the warrant of certain persons having no conscience at all. How blinded ye are! If they value so little their own souls, how can you think they will worthily esteem yours? But this, as I said before, is the very thing you are aiming at; to hand over your soul to one who cares nothing about it, to let it out on a venture, to let it perish, to let it go to utter perdition. By such conduct you confirm anew what is asserted in the Book of Wisdom; you prove man to be no other than a heartless self-destroyer: “A man killeth through his malice his own soul.” Oh, woe, woe is me! Who will give me eyes to pour forth an impetuous flood of tears, the fit expression of my sorrow, my sorrow at such madness! Now, now it is that “my face should be swollen with weeping,” and that with Jeremias, “my eyes should shed tears, and my eyelids run down with waters.” What impression does this convey to your minds, my hearers? Have you ever seriously paused to consider what is the tremendous import of those words—for ever blessed, or for ever tormented? What is meant by an Eternity of peace or an Eternity of pain? What is meant by a Paradise, where one rejoices everlastingly, or a Hell, where one groans everlastingly? Speak, speak, my brethren; have you ever in good earnest applied your minds to this inquiry ? If you have not, go, I say with Isaias, go quickly, and close fast your chamber door: “Go, my people, enter into thy chambers, shut thy doors upon thee,” no longer talk of other men’s doings, but about thee; and there, with windows closed and lights extinguished, meditate a little while upon these things, and then come back to me; I am sure that you will come back as those did who returned from the cave of the celebrated magician Trophonius, stupefied, absorbed, and unable ever to smile again. But even on the consideration which you have already given to these matters, can you imagine any more dreadful folly and neglect, than to risk on any account a matter of such immense importance, to feel in no hurry about it, to have no anxiety concerning it? It is your own exclusive personal weal or woe, that here lies at stake. And if, which God forbid, any of you should sink into the depths of hell, who will be merciful enough, or who will be strong enough, to raise you out of it? Absalom, when unhappily banished from his country, had one in favor with David to intercede, though it was done with some sinister motive, for his return home. Joseph, when confined in his gloomy prison, had Pharaoh’s butler, who had indeed for a season forgotten him, to recover his liberty for him. Jeremias, cast by wicked men into the muddy bottom of a dungeon, and there left to die of cold, hunger, stench, and filth, had an Abdemelech who in kind pity let him down a cord, by clinging to which he raised himself up. But whom have you got to help you out of “the depth of the belly of hell”? Where is the extended cord which shall reach from heaven to the vast profundity below? Where is the strong arm, mighty to raise you up? Hear attentively what Job declares, “He that goeth down to hell shall not come up, nor shall he return any more into his house.” Think of this. There is no possibility of your return. Have you well considered it? I would say to you then in much sadness with Ecclesiasticus, “My son, keep thy soul, and give it honor, according to its desert.” If I had this morning been endeavoring to persuade you to do something for my own interest, as, for example, that you should come in great numbers to hear my sermon, that you should praise me, or give me some substantial token of gratitude for my labors, you might have justly looked on me with some suspicion; but all I have done has not been for myself or for any one else but you; I have only asked you to take some interest in, to have some pity on, yourselves. “Have pity on thy own soul.” And if you will not grant me as much as this, what can I ever hope for from you; to what can I ever induce you? For to apply to you the reproof of Salvian: “ Nothing so bad, nothing so inhuman, nothing so impious can be said of you, as this —It is impossible by any means to make you love your own selves.” That you do not love your opponents, I can understand you; that you do not love your enemies, I can make some allowance for you; but that you have no love for your own selves, this I cannot tolerate. “Who will justify him” (I speak with the wise man) “that sinneth against his own soul?” Oh, if you are so backward to learn from other sources its paramount value, at least consider how the devil carefully watches for every favorable opportunity of stealing it from you, as I told you at first; how artfully in various ways he attempts to deceive you, to coax you, to seduce you, and to obtain the entire dominion over you. He it is, who leads you to prefer every other consideration to this one, which you ought in reason to prefer to every other. Wherefore only tell me (I speak again in the words of the same great Prelate), “What madness is it for you to despise these souls, which the devil values so highly?” Were he the Lord of the Universe, be assured, he would be most glad to give you all he has, in exchange for your soul. “All these things will I give thee, if, falling down, thou wilt adore me.” And will you gladly let him have your souls for a price so contemptible? Will you barter them for a fleeting pleasure? for a fading beauty? for some paltry advantage of this world? For the sake of a mere nothing will you basely cast yourselves into the jaws of this devouring monster? Never let it be said of you, my hearers, that you ever so fatally wronged your soul: never put it to shame and disgrace by such conduct; but begin this very day to commune with your own hearts, to form a proper estimate of your own real worth, and, as Moses said in Deuteronomy, to “keep your souls carefully.”
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.
III. O my most beloved Spouse, Christ Jesus, most pure Lover, Lord of the whole
creation; who will give me the wings of true liberty, to fly and repose in Thee? Oh, when shall it be fully granted me to attend at leisure, and see how sweet Thou art, O Lord, my God?
When shall I fully recollect myself in Thee, that through the love of Thee I may not feel myself, but Thee alone, above all feeling and measure, in a manner not known to all?
But now I often sigh and bear my misfortune with grief.
Because I meet with many evils in this vale of miseries, which frequently disturb me, afflict me, and cast a cloud over me; often hinder and distract me, allure and entangle me, that I cannot have free access to Thee.
Let my sighs move Thee, and this manifold desolation under which I labour upon earth.– Imitation of Christ Bk III, Ch XXI.
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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