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.
Where are the nine? ST. LUKE xvii. 11.
OF the ten lepers whose cure is related in this day’s Gospel, only one returned to give thanks, and he was a Samaritan; the others went their way; they were cured indeed of their dreadful disease, but disgraced by our Lord’s sad question, Where are the nine?
Thanksgiving, brethren, should follow after God’s mercies to us, not only as a matter of justice, but in order to secure the effect of those mercies themselves. Just as, in our bodily life, in order to get the benefit of fresh air, breathing in must be followed by breathing out, so the giving of thanks must follow the reception of all divine favors. The grace of God is to the soul what the breath is to the body; and the body, to live, must not only draw the air in, but give it forth again to make room for new and fresher air. So in the life of our souls we breathe in God’s grace and we breathe out thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is furthermore a matter of justice. The holiest debt we owe to God or man is the debt of thanks. Every honest man gives thanks for favors received from other men, and every upright soul gives thanks to God. It is the most indispensable of all our obligations, because it is the least that we can do. In all our traffic with heaven, gratitude is the only coin we can mint ourselves. Thanksgiving is that part of our sanctification necessarily our own. Well, brethren, if this be really true and who can deny it? then a great many of us are insolvent debtors of the worst kind. Now you hear it said sometimes that the man who does not pay his debts is as bad as a thief, and in many cases this is perfectly true. So the difference between an open sinner and a thankless Christian is that between a thief and a man who by his own fault does not pay his debts. Indeed, we sometimes feel as if God ought to thank us for the favor we do him by condescending to serve him. Confession and Communion and daily prayer, forgiveness of injuries and resisting temptations so puff us up with conceit that we are apt to blame God because in view of our holiness he does not exempt us from the ordinary ills of life!
As a matter of fact it is with God and us as with a storekeeper and his customer. You know why a man cannot get trust at a store; it is because he was trusted before and didn’t pay his debts. Now pretty nearly all the pay that God asks for His favors is that we shall give Him thanks, and if we will not do that much He can hardly think us worthy of His further bounty. If we do give thanks He multiplies His favors; for He is determined to keep us in His debt, and as fast as we return thanks so much the faster does He lavish His love upon us.
So when we ask why we suffer this miserable stagnation in our spiritual career, perhaps the true answer would be that we are members of a big multiple of that original thankless nine.
Oh! let us thank God that we have the blessings of the true religion, that He is our Father, Jesus Christ our Redeemer, and the Blessed Virgin Mary our Mother. Let us thank Him for His gracious promise of the everlasting joys of Paradise. For these unspeakable favors our thanks should be ceaseless.
Let us give thanks, too, in our fervent morning prayers that we have escaped the dangers of the night, and in our night prayers that we have been saved from the noon-day demon. When we rise from our meals let us offer a word of thanks, making at least the Sign of the Cross, blessing God for the health He gives us and our family. Let us thank Him for our afflictions yes, even for temptations; for the pains we suffer thereby are the growing-pains of the soul. Especially after receiving Holy Communion let us give long and heartfelt thanks for all God’s dealing with us; for we have then received the greatest of all His gifts, His only-begotten Son.
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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