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 the Esteem of Men is in its Effects.
Let me be praised or blamed; let me be esteemed or despised; let me be forgotten or let me be unknown, what does it signify? The judgment of man raises me on high to-day: what have I gained? Am I less miserable on account of it? No, doubtless, only I have added to my miseries one more piece of ridicule, that of taking pleasure in esteem which I do not deserve. I have added to my ills one more malady, the swelling up of my pride, which has swollen me without making me any greater. To-morrow, effacing the picture which it had painted, the judgment of men makes me out to be small and contemptible, unworthy of attracting towards me a single glance. What have I lost thereby? Nothing at all but a useless amusement, a little noise highly dangerous to my self-love and my vanity. Alas! I have no need that others should speak to me of the good that is in me, I speak only too much of it to myself. The opinion of men is therefore nothing more than wind and smoke; it gives us nothing, and it takes away from us nothing; and all that can be said of us, whether it be good or whether it be evil, does not make us either better or worse. Therefore, to desire to be esteemed by men is a thing so vain that we cannot help being ashamed of it; there is no one who would not blush at being suspected that he desired praise. We like the good we do to be known, but we do it in such a way as to make others think that it is in spite of ourselves it has become known. We seem as though we suffered violence in listening to praise; we reject it, but it is in such a manner as to incline others to imagine that we merit still greater praise. How strange it is! The esteem of men is so vain that we are ashamed of it, and yet it so sweetly flatters our heart. Ah! it is because we are created to be praised and esteemed by God throughout eternity; but that will be realized only in so far as we shall disabuse ourselves of the passion of being esteemed by men upon earth.
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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