Consideration upon the Way to Paradise.
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 upon the Way to Paradise.
There are only two ways to Paradise, innocence and penance. As for innocence, what have I to do with it? I may say that I did not know it, even when I lost it. I lost it without knowing it, without bewailing it, without grieving; perhaps I made others lose it too. Poor innocence! lost so soon, for so little, and without remedy!
But, at all events, I have done penance for my sins. What penance? Who can tell if I have even confessed them exactly? Any penance set upon me for my sins, however light, seemed to me insupportable. Voluntary penance I have never done, or scarcely ever. Instead of sackcloth, fasting, retirement, and mortification, I have set myself to find every pleasure and every convenience I could.
And I wish to enter into Paradise! But by which way? I must enter it by one of the two; either that of innocence, or that of penance. By that of innocence I cannot enter; by that of penance, I will not. How, then, am I to save myself? For the present, let us settle the matter thus:
If I have not done penance hitherto, let me do it now. Let me put myself in the way to Paradise while I have time. Who knows how much longer I have to live? Perhaps it is a very short time; and yet with this very short time, and with a very little penance, I can gain Paradise for myself. Why, then, not do it?
He that loses devotion to MARY, loses the way to Paradise. In this danger a youth (Auriem. t. i. p. 23), at first devoted to the service of the Blessed Virgin, found himself, having abandoned that devotion for a very dissolute life. One night he was troubled much by dreams, and having roused himself to find relief from his melancholy, he got out of bed, and took a profane book. Scarcely had he set about reading it, when he heard a loud knock at the door. It opened; and he saw a lady as tall as a giant, with a ghastly and terrible face; and her hands and feet ended in a beast’s claws. He shuddered, and trembled all over at the sight. Having retired to a corner, he invoked the aid of the Blessed Virgin. “In vain,” said the devil to him in that figure, “do you call upon her, who, being abandoned by you, has abandoned you. You are now consigned to my dominion for such and such sins which you have committed (and he named them); soon you will be cast into hell.” The poor youth, half dead, fell into a cold sweat, promised, with the usual offering of the Congregation, to return to his usual devotions. As he finished saying so, he saw the window of the chamber opened, and entering by it a venerable matron, with her face veiled, who made that beast depart; and said to the youth, “You have been in very great danger; be of good courage; go and make a confession, return at once to your devotion, and change your life.” He went from his house betimes in the morning with great speed, and went to find the father who had the care of the Congregation. He, when he saw him so changed, that he appeared to have just come out of the tomb, and still more from the great stench which remained in his room, immediately believed his words, and received him anew; he having already learnt, to his cost, the meaning of putting one’s hand to the plough, and turning back.
ACT OF HOMAGE.
Examine yourself concerning your devotion to MARY; and if you find that you have grown cold in it, resume at once your former fervour.
“Trahe me post te, sancta Mater.”
“O Morning Star! thy beauty be
A light to draw my soul to thee.”
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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