Occasions 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.
Occasions of Sin.
Who is my neighbor?-From the Gospel of the Sunday.
THIS is a very important question, my brethren. We depend much for our happiness on the kind of persons who live around us and on how they feel towards us. Our Lord answers the question by the famous and touching parable of the Good Samaritan. By that parable He teaches us kindness of heart; He makes that the mark of true neighborly conduct. The good neighbor is the friendly and benevolent one. But may we not turn the question around and learn another good lesson from it? I think we can. The Gospel is like a piece of good cloth. You know when a wise mother buys some cloth to make the children clothes she will get a piece that, as they say, will do to turn—that is, when one side is worn out you can rip up the garment and make it over again with the inside turned outside, and so it will last quite a while longer. So we may learn, perhaps, another lesson from the question in the Gospel by reversing it and asking, “Who is not my neighbor?”
The saloon-keeper is not your neighbor. Geographically speaking, no doubt he is your neighbor. He takes care to be handy to you. He is on the ground-floor of the big tenement-house you live in, so that you must pass his door to get to your own. Or he is on the corner you must turn twenty times a day. If nearness were the only mark of a neighbor, the saloon-keeper is very neighborly indeed. But, morally speaking, and in the meaning of our Lord’s parable, He is perhaps the last man who can claim to be your neighbor. Yet many honest fellows treat the saloon-keeper not only as their neighbor, but as a partner in their business. They do the hard work; the workingman’s share in the partnership is to bend under the heavy hod in the hot sun, or to strike with the heavy sledge on the rocks, or to be half-stifled the livelong day in the hot factory; the other partner has for his share of the work only to smile and pass the bottle. You know which one gets the bulk of the profits; or if you do not, the workingman’s wife and family know it all too well. How many foolish men are there who have taken this bad neighbor into partnership the most confidential, and not only give him most of their money in return for worse than nothing, but have made him, besides, the managing partner of their leisure, their friendships, and their politics! As to the sorrows that are bred by the saloon-keeper s traffic, he manages to escape them for a time; and may God give him the grace to repent of his sins and fly from their occasion—that is, change his business—that he may escape the divine wrath in the future.
Another very bad neighbor, and one very unworthy of that name, is a certain class of newsdealers. I say a certain class, for I hope that not all newsdealers are alike. But there are very many of them who are guilty of the loss of human souls by selling periodicals and books which can only corrupt the mind and heart of the reader. I ask you, Christian parents, what do you think of those who dress out their windows, with bad pictures to lure passionate youth to the early wreck of soul and body? What do you think of persons who actually make a living in selling journals which are but the pictured proceedings of the police courts? O my brethren! how often is the grace of a good confession and Communion destroyed by a few minutes bad reading! How many there are whose first mortal sin has been some act of youthful depravity suggested by what was bought at a newsdealer’s! Such newsdealers hold Satan’s certificates to teach the science of perdition. What need has the Evil Spirit to fear the Catholic Church and Catholic school as long as he is not hindered from laying his snares for youthful virtue in every direction, as long as the laws against obscene literature are a dead-letter? Therefore, let Catholic parents furnish their families with good reading, both secular and religious; let them take at least one Catholic paper, and let them patronize and direct their children to patronize newsdealers who do not sell dangerous matter.
Of course there are other bad neighbors, such as those who invite you to a public dance, or a moonlight excursion, or a Sunday picnic, or a low theatre. But I think you will agree with me that the commonest vices are intemperance and impurity, and that our worst enemies are those two bad neighbors, the saloon-keeper and the vendor of impure literature.
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.
August Devotion: The Most Pure Heart of Mary
Virtue to practice: The sanctification of our actions, diligence, edification, fidelity in little things
O Heart of Mary, Mother of God, and our Mother; Heart most worthy of love, in which the adorable Trinity is ever well pleased, worthy of the veneration and love of all the angels and of all men; Heart most like to the Heart of Jesus, of which thou art the perfect image; Heart full of goodness, ever compassionate toward our miseries; deign to melt our icy hearts and grant that they may be wholly changed into the likeness of the Heart of Jesus, our divine Saviour. Pour into them the love of thy virtues, and kindle in them that divine fire with which thou thyself dost ever burn. In thee let Holy Church find a safe shelter; protect her and be her dearest refuge, her tower of strength, impregnable against every assault of her enemies. Be thou the way which leads to Jesus, and the channel, through which we receive all graces needful for our salvation. Be our refuge in time of trouble, our solace in the midst of trial, our strength against temptation, our haven in persecution, our present help in every danger, and especially at the hour of death, when all hell shall let loose against us its legions to snatch away our souls, at that dread moment, that hour so full of fear, whereon our eternity depends. Ah, then most tender virgin, make us to feel the sweetness of thy motherly heart, and the might of thy intercession with Jesus, and open to us a safe refuge in that very fountain of mercy whence we may come to praise Him with thee in paradise, world without end. Amen.
An indulgence of 7 years once on any day of the month; A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, if this act of devotion is repeated daily for entire month (Apostolic Brief Dec. 21, 1901).
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