On the Special Affection which the Saints had for Humility.
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.
On the Special Affection which the Saints had for Humility.
We will meditate upon a tenth reason for being very humble; it is the special affection which the saints have had for humility. We will make this clear in the first point, and we shall see in the second point how we ought to endeavor to render ourselves like to the saints. We will then make the resolution: 1st, to recall to ourselves in temptations to self-love how humble the saints were, and to be ashamed and confounded by the comparison; 2d, often to ask of God grace to imitate the saints in their generous contempt for all vanity and for all self-love.
“Why canst thou not do what these have done?” St. Augustine.
Let us adore Our Lord Jesus Christ laboring from the first moment of His incarnation down to His latest sigh to teach us humility by His example, and continuing after His death to teach it to us by the great examples set up by His saints, whom He rendered participators in His life of humility upon earth before rendering them participators of His glory in heaven. Let us thank Him for the care He takes to instruct us and for the desire He has to make us very humble.
Even before Jesus Christ came David had said: I have chosen contempt for my portion (Ps. lxxxiii. ii; II. Kings vi. 22). St. John Baptist had said: Every day I desire to become less in the opinion of men, that the Messias may be more honored. I desire to efface myself that He may appear (John iii. 30). It is He who is the master; as for me I am but as a sound which is lost in the air, and of which nothing remains a moment after (John i. 23). I am not worthy to untie the strings of His sandals (Luke iii. 16). Mary places herself in the lowest rank of creatures. She calls herself a poor servant (Luke i. 38), and far from attributing to herself the honor of her divine maternity, she says that the great things which had been done in her were entirely the act of the divine mercy (Luke i. 54), and on that account she devoted herself with all the more love to the obscurity of a poor dwelling. Jesus Christ appears, and passes through life in humiliation; and His apostles, filled with His spirit, esteem it a great cause of joy to have been deemed worthy of humiliation (Acts v. 41). St. Paul finds his happiness in opprobrium (II. Cor. xii. 10; Gal. i. 10), and calls himself the chief of sinners (I. Tim. i. 15). After the apostles come twelve millions of martyrs, who joyfully lose their reputation upon earth, believing that they are only beginning to be disciples of Jesus Christ from the moment in which they begin to be humiliated (St. Ignatius, Martyr). To the martyrs succeed the hermits, who go and hide from the eyes of men their merits and their virtues. Then come the saints of all conditions and of both sexes, who strive to do good in secret, blush to be surprised in a good work, are afraid of esteem as they would be of a dangerous rock, of praise as though it were a scourge, are calm in the midst of calumny and contempt, and esteem themselves to be worthy only of confusion. St. Ignatius looked upon himself as an ulcer, whence infected matter was forever flowing; St. Vincent Ferrer as a hideous corpse, horrible to the sight, unsupportable to all who approach it. St. Francis Xavier is in his own eyes nothing but an abominable sinner, who stands in the greatest need of being recommended to God, because of the infinite multitude of his sins; St. Francis Regis considers himself worthy to be trod under foot by every one; and when perverse men strike and outrage him, he exclaims that they are doing him a great favor, and that he deserves to be treated in a much worse manner. And who has not heard St. Vincent de Paul utter from the bottom of his heart that touching prayer: “O God! I am not a man, but a poor worm crawling over the earth, not knowing whither it is going and only trying to hide itself in Thee, O Jesus, who art all my desire. I am a poor blind man, who cannot advance a single step in virtue unless Thou holdest out the hand of Thy mercy to lead me.” O humility of the saints, how you confound my self-love and my vanity!
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.
September Devotion: The Holy Cross
Virtues to practice: Piety, fervor in the performance of sacred duties, the spirit of prayer
O Mary, most holy Virgin and Queen of Martyrs, accept the sincere homage of my filial affection. Into thy heart, pierced by so many swords, do thou welcome my poor soul. Receive it as the companion of thy sorrows at the foot of the Cross, on which Jesus died for the redemption of the world. With thee, O sorrowful Virgin, I will gladly suffer all the trials, contradictions, and infirmities which it shall please our Lord to send me. I offer them all to thee in memory of thy sorrows, so that every thought of my mind, and every beat of my heart may be an act of compassion and of love for thee. And do thou, sweet Mother, have pity on me, reconcile me to thy divine Son Jesus, keep me in His grace and assist me in my last agony, so that I may be able to meet thee in heaven and sing thy glories. Amen.
An indulgence of 500 days (taken from The Raccolta (c)1957).
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