Consideration on Human Respect.
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 Human Respect.
You would wish to be converted, and do not do it. And whence comes this? from human respect. If I go no more to that house, people will argue that my confessor has forbidden me. If I abandon these scandalous companions, people will think I am going to turn hermit. If I do not take part in those obscene jokes, they will say I have no spirit. If I make my eyes look modest, keep myself aloof from that music, from those walks, they will laugh at me as full of scruples. To be damned for human respect, how foolish!
You have had a mind to become holy, and have never resolved upon doing so. Whence does this proceed? from a human respect If one leaves entirely the conversazzione, the theatre, the sights, they will say one is a savage. If I deprive myself of vanities, of these ornaments, this riband, this dress, they will say I am a clown. If they see me always at hospitals, at church, at benedictions, at the sacraments, they will say that I am a hypocrite. And do not you understand that for such vain apprehensions you lose the glory of a Saint in the world and in Paradise? Oh, what frivolity of mind!
But if you are ashamed of the Crucified, the Crucified will be ashamed of you. He Himself has threatened you, “Whoever is ashamed of Me and of my doctrine, the Son of man also shall be ashamed of him” (Luke ix. 26). “O Lord,” you will say, in the day of judgment, “do you not know me? I am a Christian.” “Go,’’ Jesus will answer, “I know you not. You have been abashed at bearing my livery, at bending your knees at Mass, your head at my holy Name, at making properly a sign of the cross; well, and yet you say you are a Christian! Go; I know you not. Go to your scandalous, immodest, licentious companions. They know you. I know you not.”
There is no human respect more baneful than that which prevents a person discovering his interior wounds to the Physician of souls. A man in Germany affords a striking instance of this (Auriem. t. ii. p. 102); he had fallen into a very great sin, and was attacked by such bashfulness and shame, that he could not bring himself to go to confession. He perceived withal much bitter remorse of conscience; and to free himself from this pang, he took a most rash resolution, which was to plunge himself into a river, thinking, by this death, to put an end to the continual pain which he suffered. The poor man set out; but, by Divine grace, having gone to the brink, he abstained from doing it. He returned home and wept bitterly for his sin, and prayed the Lord to pardon him, as he said, of the plenitude of His power, without going to confession; and went to visit various holy places to obtain peace of conscience. But this God willed to give him, through the intercession of the most holy Mother. One night as he slept, quite absorbed in his melancholy, he felt a gentle blow upon his shoulder, and heard a voice say, “Go and confess.” He got out of bed, and went to Varesdino, to the church of the Society of Jesus, to make his confession. He went there, and was more than ever assaulted with shame, and returned without doing any thing more. After some months had passed, he was struck in his sleep again; returned to the said church—but what? Why his shame came on as before; he resolved to die sooner than tell his sin to a confessor; so he passed the whole day in fighting with himself. At last, it being time to return home, he turned aside to the church to salute the image of our Lady, which was there. He prostrated himself, saluted it, and recommended himself to her in his grievous need. The refuge of sinners, and the consolation of the afflicted, would not abandon him, nor leave him without reward for the slight homage of having saluted her, and she obtained of her Son the victory for him. Scarcely was he on his knees, when he perceived his heart in an altered state. He rose from prayer, called a confessor, and, with many tears, recounted to him the whole series of his life, received absolution, and, with it, serenity of conscience; and, at the same time, so much consolation and contentment that, as he said, he would not have had greater if he had gained all the gold in the world.
ACT OF HOMAGE.
At every image of MARY that you meet with in the road . . .salute it with an “Ave Maria,” overcoming every human respect in doing her this act of homage.
“Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus.”
“To sinners all, to me the chief,
Send, Mother, send Thy kind relief.”
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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