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.
But the fruit of the Spirit is charity.—EPISTLE OF THE SUNDAY.
MARK these words, brethren; for they describe the Christian religion, at least as far as its practical effects are concerned. The presence of the Holy Ghost is known by a kindly disposition, a friendly feeling towards others, a longing to make others happy, an affectionate sympathy for their sufferings; and all this for the love of God. So St. John says: “We know that we have passed from death to life because we love the brethren.” The necessary result of sanctifying grace is a deep attachment to our friends and a loving forgiveness towards our enemies. “For all the law,” says St. Paul, “is fulfilled in one sentence: thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” Kindness of heart, generosity, self-forgetfulness, done to be like Jesus Christ, is the beginning and the end of our holy faith.
“I give you a new commandment,” said our Lord to his disciples, “that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you love one another.” Again: “By this shall men know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.” He thus tells us what his law is—fraternal charity; that is the newness of life man got from heaven above; that is the torrent of heavenly influence rushing down upon us and bearing us away upon its billows; and that is the mark set upon us by which we know ourselves, and others may know us, to be the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
But somebody might say, How about the love of God? Is not the love of God the end of all religion? Is it not our first duty to love God so strongly that we prefer him to all things else, even our nearest relatives? Is not the love of God the one absorbing duty of our lives? In answer, my brethren, I have only to say that that is but another way of looking at the same thing; for since the coming of our Lord among us God has become man, and we are born in holy baptism, “not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” When our Lord, true God as he was, took human nature, He took our poor nature just as it is, saving its sinfulness; and it is His blessed will that one by one every man, woman, and child in the world should personally be joined to His divine nature by baptism, and, as St. Peter says, be made partakers of the divinity He possesses. And even the poor, unbaptized heathen, they are to be gifted with this divine privilege of baptism by our loving efforts to give it to them. Now do you not see why our Lord, His Apostles, and His church made so much of the love of one’s neighbor? And do you not see that, whether you begin to love with God or with man, if you do it along with Jesus Christ, you do it with the God-man, and therefore always in God and never out of man?
Yet another might say: But, Father, what about the sacraments, and what about the practice of prayer, and what about the laws of the church? I answer by a comparison: Why do men plant and then reap a field of wheat? That they may in due time get the grain, make bread of part for themselves and families, and sell the rest to their neighbors. Now, some may use the very old-fashioned way of thrashing out the grain by the tread of oxen, and others by the beating of the flail, and others by the great, roaring thrashing-machine. The last way is the quickest and cleanest and best. So our Lord, when he became man, invented the sacraments; He established His church as the new and best way of obtaining the ripe fruit of the Holy Spirit, and that way He commands us to use. So the man who really loves his neighbor as himself learns to do it by using our Lord’s methods, the sacraments, and he cannot get along without them.
So, brethren, cultivate more and more this sweet Christian virtue of fraternal love; and especially in your families. When the children cry, when they are sickly and peevish, when others are cross and exacting, when some are dull and stupid, when the meals are too late or the food is not cooked right, when the thousand-and-one annoyances of living with others vex and harass you, remember that you are a Christian, and that loving patience, great good nature, fondness for friends to say nothing of zeal for the conversion of poor sinners are virtues that will win you the kingdom of heaven.
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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