Faith – continued (2).
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.
Faith – continued (2).
“He hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter ii. 9).
We now go on to ask what are the propositions or truths which we are bound to believe? We are bound to believe everything without exception that God has revealed. But has God addressed each one of us? Has He spoken to you, to me, to them, to all of us? Not to each one of us individually, but to certain special groups of men and through them to all the rest. To whom, then, has God spoken and by whom? Under the Old Law God made His revelations to men through the patriarchs and prophets. The patriarchs, such as Adam and Noah, were the fathers of the human race, or else, like Abraham, the head of one particular people. The prophets were men specially enlightened by God and given by Him a special mission to mankind. Under the New Law God has revealed Himself through His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and through the apostles, who were His first disciples and the earliest teachers of the Church.
And all that God has revealed, whether under the Old, or under the New, Law, has been preserved, proclaimed, and proposed to us by the Church. Therefore, faith, in the Christian sense, means to believe without doubting the truths that God has revealed, and communicated to us through His Church.
What, then, is the subject-matter of God’s revelation to us? What does it contain? With what does it deal? Is it with questions of agriculture, or geography, or with the secrets and forces of nature? It is concerned with none of these things, and when mention of them occurs it is merely to illustrate by way of parable or simile some lesson which it is necessary to bring home to us, as, for instance, when our Saviour speaks of the vineyard, or of the draught of fishes. So, again, we ask, what is the subject-matter of the truths revealed to us by God? They contain everything, absolutely everything which we require to know for our eternal salvation. Oh, what a multitude of great and weighty matters God has unfolded to us concerning Himself and the Godhead, His perfections, His works, and the creation of the world—things that the most perfect telescope ever invented by man would fail to bring within the range of human eyes—the origin of our first parents, the beauty of their primary state, their first home in Paradise—their temptation, their sin and misery! Then comes the human race with the history of its many wanderings, enterprises, and retributions, of the chosen people of God, their patriarchs and prophets, kings and judges, and, finally, their rejection and downfall. Above all, we learn of the life, sufferings, and glory of Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man for us, His apostles, His Church, His sacraments—the end of the world, the judgment, and our own eternal destiny—heaven or hell.
Oh, what a multitude of divine truths the revelation of God embraces! How it lights up the past and radiates into the future! How much it makes known to us which it would have baffled all the discernment and wit of man to discover! God’s knowledge is infinite. He reveals to us many things which we can not and never will understand in this world, and, because His wisdom surpasses ours in such an infinite degree, we must believe all He tells us, and hold it to be true, not because we understand it, but because an all-holy and omniscient God has revealed it to us. This is the foundation on which we Catholics build our faith.
Let us thank the Lord our God, who has called us, as St. Peter says, “out of the darkness into His marvelous light”—out of unbelief, which is truly a groping in darkness. For what does the unbeliever know, either of where he came from, or whither he is going? He is enveloped in a gloom which all the electric light in the world, be it ever so powerful, is unable to dispel; he has no assurance of what awaits him after death, no knowledge of the pitfalls which lurk on the road, no conception of the fearful abyss of hell. He is blind in the light of day.
Let us, indeed, thank God, who has called us out of the darkness into His wonderful light, who not only illumines the way we have to go, but in His merciful love treads it with us. It is that same road on which mankind had traveled since the beginning of the world, and will ever travel, the very ground over which, with its heights and depths, its hills and hollows, its dangers and ultimate goal, you yourselves, each one of you, have to make your earthly pilgrimage.
We will say with the Psalmist: “Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my paths” (Ps. cxviii. 105). Yes, Lord, faith will be the light to guide my feet on the long, weary, and thorny road that may perhaps still lie before me. Grant that this light may never grow dim in my heart, but let it burn so brightly that I may not only know the way, but may walk in it; may not only see the dangers, but may shun them; that I may not only recognize the goal, but may attain it—life everlasting. Amen.
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.
April Devotion: The Holy Ghost
Virtue to practice: Patience
Vexilla Regis prodeunt
The royal banners forward go;
The Cross shines forth in mystic glow,
Where Life for sinners death endured,
And life by death for man procured.
Where deep for us the spear was dyed,
Life’s torrent rushing from His side,
To wash us in that precious flood
Where mingled, Water flowed, and Blood,
Fulfilled is all that David told
In true prophetic song of old;
‘Amidst the nations, God,’ saith he,
‘Hath reigned and triumphed from the Tree.’
O Tree of beauty! Tree of light!
O Tree with royal purple dight!
Elect on whose triumphal breast
Those holy Limbs should find their rest.
On whose dear arms, so widely flung,
The weight of this world’s ransom hung:
The price of human kind to pay
And spoil the spoiler of his prey.
O Cross, our one reliance, hail,
Thou glory of the saved, avail*
To give fresh merit to the Saint,
And pardon to the penitent.
To Thee, Eternal Three in One,
Let homage meet by all be done;
Whom by the Cross Thou dost restore,
Preserve and govern evermore. Amen.
*Instead of: ‘Thou Glory of the saved,’ during Passiontide, say: ‘This Holy Passiontide‘, during the Paschal Season: ‘Thou joy of Eastertide‘, on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross: ‘On this triumphant day.‘
Vexilla Regis pródeunt,
Fulget Crucis mystérium,
Qua vita mortem pértulit,
Et morte vitam prótulit.
Quæ vulneráta lánceæ
Mucróne diro, críminum
Ut nos laváret sórdibus,
Manávit unda et sánguine.
Impléta sunt quæ cóncinit
David fidéli cármine,
Regnávit a ligno Deus.
Arbor decóra et fúlgida,
Ornáta regis púrpura,
Elécta digno stípite
Tam sancta membra tángere.
Beáta, cuius bráchiis
Prétium pepéndit sæculi,
Statéra facta córporis,
Tulítque prædam tártari.
O Crux, ave, spes única,
Gentis redémptæ glória!*
Piis adáuge grátiam,
Reísque dele crímina.
Te, fons salútis, Trínitas,
Colláudet omnis spíritus:
Quibus Cricis victóriam
Largíris, adde præmium. Amen.
(ex. Breviario Romano)
An indulgence of 5 years.
A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions for the daily recitation of this hymn throughout an entire month (S.C. Ind., Jan. 16, 1886; S.P.Ap., April 29, 1934).
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