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.
“Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by our word, or by our epistle” (2 Thess. ii. 14).
THE revelation of God reaches us through two channels: the Holy Scriptures and the verbally transmitted tradition of the Church. We have just seen in what Holy Scripture consists— that it is composed of a number of books which are of different kinds, but which have all two important features in common the first that they are written under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and the second that they are recognized by the Church as being the word of God. The whole of Holy Scripture is comprised in the Old and the New Testaments. There can be no question that we must believe Holy Scripture it contains the word of God. But, we might ask, is that not enough? The Catholic Church says no, that is not enough; we must also believe the teaching of tradition. From this arise two questions which with the help of the Holy Spirit we will endeavor to answer:
I. What is tradition?
II. Why must we believe its teaching?
What do we understand by tradition? By tradition we understand those revealed truths which were taught by the apostles, but of which they left no written record.
Tradition therefore consists of revealed truths, that means truths revealed by God. In this respect it may be considered in the same light as Holy Scripture, which also consists of truths revealed by God. Where, then, lies the difference between Scripture and tradition? Holy Scripture does not contain all God’s revealed truths, but only those which under the Old Law and later on were preserved in writing by the apostles. Neither does tradition contain all the truths revealed by God, but only those which, though taught by the apostles, were never by them committed to writing—briefly, the Scripture is the written and tradition the unwritten word of God. Taken together, Scripture and tradition contain the whole treasure of God’s revelation, the entire word of God. They hang together and supplement each other; they mutually explain one another, what is obscure in the one becoming clear in the other.
It is a simple matter to trace how tradition grew up quite naturally. For three years our blessed Saviour preached almost without intermission. Are we to suppose that everything He said was compressed into the four Gospels which can easily be read through in a few hours? Is it probable that His every word was written down, when numbers of His miracles were left unrecorded? St. John tells us at the end of his Gospel, “But there are many other things which Jesus did which, if they were written every one, the world itself I think would not be able to contain the books that should be written” (John xxi. 25). Can we conceive the apostles allowing a portion of Our Lord’s teaching to escape their memory, or their deliberately passing over both in their teaching and in their writings a great part of those things which they recollected Our Lord to have said and done! The one is not possible, for Our Lord promised that the Holy Ghost “would bring to your minds whatsoever I shall have said to you”; and to entertain the idea of the other would be sheer blasphemy. So it resolves itself into this: our Saviour did and said many things which are not written in Scripture, but which the apostles proclaimed by word of mouth and preached, and that in this way an unwritten tradition sprang up. When we speak of an unwritten tradition, however, we do not mean that what belongs to tradition has never at any time been written down; tradition has been put on record, only not by the apostles and not in the writings of Holy Scripture. For this reason it is called the unwritten word of God.
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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