Of Ourselves we are Nothing.
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.
Of Ourselves we are Nothing.
Let us adore Our Lord declaring that, notwithstanding His divine perfections, He was, as man, nothing (Ps. xxxviii. 6); calling Himself often Son of man that is to say,—Son of nothingness. Consequently, during the whole of His life He treats Himself as man, who is nothing. In the bottom of His soul, He continually makes to God, His Father, the confession that He is nothing, and is content that God should be all. Let us admire these dispositions of His heart, and let us rejoice at the honor He thereby renders to the supreme majesty of God.
All our being is from God. We are only His stewards and administrators; He alone is the proprietor. What were we in the eternity which preceded our birth? We were less than a worm of the earth, less, than an atom in the air: we were nothing. Even now we should be nothing if God, through His wholly gratuitous goodness, had not chosen us from amongst millions of possible beings, without any merit on our part—had not drawn us out of the abyss of nothingness. At this very moment we should fall into our first state if God were to withdraw His powerful hand, which holds us suspended, as it were, above the abyss. Oh, what nothingness are we then! “All that is good in me, O my God, all that is good in me, is a present of Thy mercy,” says St. Augustine (in Ps. lviii.). How unsuitable is it, then, for a man to esteem himself to be something, no matter how small, and to take pleasure in what he is! It is a falsehood, since it is the truth that of ourselves we are nothing; it is a sacrilegious larceny, because it is appropriating to ourselves that which belongs essentially to God; it is the greatest pride, since it is the raising ourselves presumptuously above what we are. God has said: I alone am Being; I contain in Myself all Being, and I possess it in fullness (Ex. iii. 14). If God is what is, every creature is necessarily that which is not. Yes, my God, “all nations are before Thee as if they had no being at all” (Is. xl. 17). With still greater reason I, who am so small a thing in the midst of all the nations, am nothing in Thy sight; and Thy apostle had good reason to say: “If any man think himself to be something, whereas he is nothing, he deceiveth himself” (Gal. vi. 3). Let us remain for a time in a state of abasement at the feet of Our Lord to receive the impression of those words, I am nothing; to make it penetrate into the centre of our nothingness, and to affirm ourselves in the deep feeling that we are nothing.
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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