Consideration on the Health of the Body.
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.
Consideration on the Health of the Body.
Why do you sin? to content your flesh? Fool! do you not perceive that you are ruining it? If you lose your soul, you will save your body may be? No; either both happy, or both damned. It is with one body only we have to do; if this be damned, you have no other body to substitute in its place in order to become happy. The torment will be that of the whole body, of all its least fibres, veins, nerves, bones, of all its senses, and not then, as at present, the pain of one of its limbs, or of a particular member. We are tired out with a headache, with a bed somewhat hard, with a seat a little inconvenient, a distasteful food, or an incommodious posture. But in hell, ah! in hell, how will matters be there?
How ambitious are you now that your body may be a good figure! You will die, and your head will remain a skull, bare, without flesh, without skin, without eyes, without lips, without tongue; hands and feet stripped of flesh, and the rest a den of rottenness and worms. But if you be, moreover, damned, . . . your hair will be a group of snakes and serpents, your tongue will shake like a fiery viper, and your eyes be like two burning coals; in fine, you will become a devil! Bethink yourself of this.
When your flesh wishes to make you sin, you should say to it, Ah, rebel flesh, if I accede to your wishes, you will burn in fire with me for all eternity! Will it be worth the while to enjoy so small a joy, and yet be punished for ever? Ah, if you wish to love your body, love it if you will; but procure it a true good, a true beauty, a good and a beauty eternal in Paradise.
MARY is not only protectrix of the soul of her devout servants, but also that of the body. Agatha of the Cross of the order of St. Dominick had good proof of this. She was playing one day (Auriem. pt. ii. p. 252), in her childish days, with one of her own age, on a high place at the top of the house, and got pushed off from thence, and fell to the ground. Agatha, as she fell, said, “MARY, help me.” The Virgin ran to her, and with her sacred hands placed her on the ground without any hurt. But the favours of MARY towards those that are hers will not end here. One day when standing alone, a poor man came to her house to beg for alms; the good Agatha, moved with compassion to him, mounted to cut down something or other which was hanging on a peg. The devil being a capital foe to the children of MARY, made her fall from the ladder on which she was mounted, and with the knife she held in her hand, she cut off her finger. Agatha, both from the pain she felt, and from the fear of being teased by her companions when they came home, recommended herself to the Blessed Virgin, who, it is said, appeared visibly to her, restored the finger which was cut off and fallen to the ground, and said to her, “My daughter, be not afraid of the devil; when he wishes to hurt you, call my Son to your assistance, and you will be free.” So said MARY. Can there be any affection more tender than that of this great Mother of fair love?
ACT OF HOMAGE.
Do an act of mortification of your appetite; as a penance for the unlawful satisfactions given to your body.
“Munda cor et corpus meum, Maria.”
“Be love of thee the purging fire
To cleanse for God my heart’s desire.”
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.
May Devotion: The Blessed Virgin Mary
Virtue to practice: Meekness, purity, the spirit of poverty
O holy Mary, my Mistress, into thy blessed trust and special keeping, into the bosom of thy tender mercy, this day, every day of my life and at the hour of my death, I commend my soul and body; to thee I entrust all my hopes and consolations, all my trials and miseries, my life and the end of my life, that through thy most holy intercession and thy merits, all my actions may be ordered and disposed according to thy will and that of thy divine Son. Amen (St. Aloysius Gonzaga)
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that any one who fled to thy protection, implored thy help or sought thy intercession, was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins and Mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful; O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.
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