We can do Nothing of Ourselves.
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.
We can do Nothing of Ourselves.
We will meditate upon a third reason for being very humble, which is that we can do nothing; that is to say: 1st, that we can do nothing of ourselves; 2d, that even with the ordinary help of God, we are still weakness itself. We will thence derive the resolution: 1st, to mistrust ourselves and to put away from us occasions of sin; 2d, to confide in God and not allow ourselves to be discouraged by our weaknesses.
“When I am weak then am I powerful” (II. Cor. xii. 10). “I can do all in Him who strengthened me” (Philipp. iv. 13).
Let us adore Jesus Christ, the only one in this world who is powerful (Jud. xi. 6), annihilating His power so entirely that in the days of His infancy He shows Himself to us under the semblance of the most complete powerlessness; that in a more advanced age He affirms that He can do nothing of Himself (John v. 30); and that, after His death, He remains in the Sacrament of the Eucharist in a state in which, judging from appearances, He can neither see nor hear, neither speak nor move, that He may teach us to honor God by the humble confession of our powerlessness when He does not give us His aid. Let us thank Him for this lesson which He gives us, and let us render to Him our accustomed homage.
It is Jesus Christ Himself who affirms it: “Without Me you can do nothing” (John xv. 5). It is reason itself which tells us so, since of ourselves we are nothing, and can do nothing. We are so miserable that, if God did not sustain us, did not move us, did not concur with us, and did not make Himself at every moment the principle of our action, our powerlessness would be as complete as that of a corpse (Rom. xi. 36); without Him we cannot perform the least action (Is. xxvi. 12), nor say the shortest word (I. Cor. xii. 3), nor have the least thought (II. Cor. iii. 5), nor conceive the slightest inclination, the least desire which is of any worth in regard to heaven (Philipp. ii. 13), nor make the very least movement (Acts xvii. 28). We cannot even attribute to ourselves cooperation with grace, because this cooperation is of itself a grace, nor have the knowledge of the truth that we can do nothing, because this knowledge is one of the greatest graces which God can bestow upon us. Lastly, we are so incapable of all good that it was necessary God should buy for us, at the price of His blood, even the least thought of doing good, even the smallest value of the least prayer, even the least movement of the heart which has salvation for its object. Now, at the sight of such total powerlessness, what ought we to do, if not on the one side to pray and humble ourselves like the poor man who asks for an alms, and, on the other side, thank, bless, and admire God for the continual assistance which we receive from His goodness? Do we do both the one and the other?
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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