Feast of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Sorrowful Mother, ora pro nobis.
How Vain in its Principles is the Esteem of Men.
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.
How Vain in its Principles is the Esteem of Men.
We will meditate upon a fifteenth reason for being humble; it is that not to be humble is to run after the vainest thing there is in the world, which is the esteem of men; and in order that we may be deeply imbued with this thought, we shall see how vain this esteem is: 1st, in its principles; 2d, in its effects. We will thence deduce the resolution: 1st, to have God alone in sight in all our actions, and to put away from us with supreme contempt any thought of vanity which may mingle with our intentions; 2d, not to attach any importance to the praises or testimonies of esteem which may be addressed to us.
“The Lord knoweth the thoughts of men, that they are vain” (Ps. xciii. II).
Let us adore Our Lord Jesus Christ recommending us never in our actions to aim at gaining the esteem of men, but to think only of pleasing God (Matt. vi. i). Let us thank Him for so useful a lesson, and beg of Him to enable us thoroughly to understand all the vanity of the esteem of men.
When we are praised, or when marks of esteem are bestowed upon us, self-love is very ready to tell us that it is a homage rendered to our merit, a debt which is paid to us; but in reality nothing is more false. Sometimes on the part of our flatterers it means nothing more than mere civility, the fear of wounding our susceptibility, which they know to be very great, the desire of pleasing us, the knowledge they have that we like to be praised, and they laugh behind our backs at the weakness which they caress to our face; sometimes it is an encouragement bestowed upon our weakness, a help given to our cowardice, which without such aid would fall to the ground. At other times it is the charity which thinks no evil and sees nothing but good in all things, which, honoring Jesus Christ in us, treats us with consideration, speaks to us with respect, loves us with cordiality. Often, also, it is a prejudice in our favor, a blind friendship formed by flesh and blood or by social relations. Then, the mind regulating its movements in accordance with the attachments of the heart, all that we do, all that we say, seems worthy of praise, and nothing but virtue and spiritual riches are seen where God often beholds nothing but poverty and misery, and great talents where truth sees nothing but what is very ordinary. Oftener still, if indeed it be not always, it is ignorance and falsehood. We are praised and esteemed because we are judged in accordance with deceitful appearances, because our characters are not known. Oh, how rare would the language of flattery be upon earth if the eyes of men could but see what in reality the persons are of whom they speak. Ignorance in those who praise us may, indeed, excuse the language of which they make use, but we who know the truth respecting ourselves, is it reasonable in us to take pleasure in it? If we were to go and say to a poor man reduced to the last degree of indigence, covered with rags and ulcers, “We admire you, great prince; you are immensely rich, no one is your equal in beauty and in grace, nothing could be more magnificent than your attire,” and if we found that the poor man took pleasure in such language, we should say he had lost his senses; and yet this is exactly our own history. We are poor in every respect, we are nothing, we have nothing, we can do nothing, and yet we take pleasure in hearing others say that we are rich in merits and virtues, and, however false may be the praises which are given us, we are delighted to listen to them, caring very little about what we really are in the sight of God, but only about what we are in appearance and in the opinion of men. What folly, what simplicity is ours! Ah, these praises and these marks of esteem ought rather to be considered by us as they were by the saints, an insult inflicted upon our extreme poverty. “Receive praises as though they were mockeries and insults,” said St. Francis Xavier. “Those who flatter me, scourge me,” said another saint; and truly, if we did but know ourselves, we could not be of any other opinion.
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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