Considerations of the Punishments of Sin.
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.
Considerations of the Punishments of Sin.
God can punish sin if He wills. A man offended with another will wish to avenge himself, but very often cannot do so. In God it is not so; it is enough for Him to will it. He can punish it by taking away health, livelihood, parents’ life; it is enough for Him to will it. If you are now still in sin, He can punish you even now with a sudden death; it is enough for Him to will it. But do you know what His will is? You do not; and yet you sin, and sleep tranquilly in your sin.
God wills absolutely to punish sin. If you have sinned, be sure that God will have satisfaction of you in some way, either in this world or the other, either penitence or hell. Eve and Adam obtained pardon for their disobedience; they are saved; they are saints; but the temporal punishment of their sin lasts still. You say, one sin more, or one sin less, does not signify. Well, then, does one punishment more, or one punishment less, not signify?
God is really even now punishing your sins. These frequent infirmities, these family misfortunes, this post lost, these hopes disappointed, these calumnies of your rivals, these temptations so sharp and so continual, are, perhaps, the punishments of former sins, which you think no more about. But if you are satisfied in your whims, if all your designs go prosperously, this is a punishment more terrible, since you thereby confirm yourself in your bad life, and join sins to sins, and fuel to fuel for hell. But have you ever lost the remorse of conscience, the fear of God’s punishments? Wo to you! you are punished with the utmost rigour of Divine justice. Ah, if any have need of all the protection of Mary, you certainly are the person.
If God has delayed to punish you, ascribe it to MARY’s intercession: but wo to you if you still do not mend your ways. A young gentleman in the kingdom of Toledo (Auriem. t. ii. p. 14) plunged into bad practices, yet preserved some devotion to MARY. While he was going on in this way a devout person saw, while waking, Jesus Christ in the act of wishing to punish, with a sudden death, this scandalous cavalier. The Virgin Mother interposed, and Jesus Christ answered: “For the love of you, I will give him thirty days time to do penance; but if he continues obstinate in his sin, the sentence shall be executed.” This person went at once in quest of a good priest, and begged him to get the young gentleman to turn his attention to his own salvation. The priest accepted this charitable office, and prevailed so far as to induce him to make his confession, and change his life. But what! the cavalier soon fell back into sin. He had recourse to the same confessor, repented again, and determined to leave these habits off. But he did not keep to his resolutions much; he entangled himself worse than ever in sin, and not only avoided the confessor, but one day, when he fell in with him, he gave him a very surly look, saying, “Go about your own business, father; what do you want of me?” The end of the thirty days came at last; and the youth, not caring at all for his intentions, remained more sunk than ever in his filthy pleasures. When midnight came on, the wretched man was attacked with extreme pain: those of the house ran to him at his cries; they went to fetch the confessor, who, upon his arrival, advised him to hope in MARY most holy; but he spoke to a deaf man; for when midnight came, the unhappy man said, with a terrible voice, “Here I die of a spasm in my heart.” So saying, he expired.
ACT OF HOMAGE.
Remain a quarter of an hour, on your knees before an image of Mary, praying her to keep chastisements far from you.
“Mater Dei, ora pro me.”
“Mother of God! let my poor love
A Mother’s prayers and pity move.”
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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