Self-love is not Compatible with any Kind of Virtue.
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.
Self-love is not Compatible with any Kind of Virtue.
What virtue, in fact, could harmonize with self-love? Could it be faith? But faith desires that we should look upon our own minds as ignorant and not able to comprehend anything in the super-natural order, which cannot without temerity examine into subjects beyond its own level, which consequently ought, with the simplicity of a child, without discussion or examination, to accept what is told to it by Holy Church. Now he who is not humble cannot submit to anything of the kind; hence doubts and temptations against faith. Could it be charity? But he who looks upon himself as being superior to others imagines that pre-eminence is always due to him, that the best share of everything belongs to him, that everyone should bow down to his decisions and yield to his will; now, all that is incompatible with charity. Could it be wisdom and prudence? But he who is inebriated with a good opinion of himself throws himself rashly into all kinds of difficulties and dangers, prefers his own ideas to the advice of wise men, makes of himself a master of all subjects and speaks like a doctor. Could it be knowledge of ourselves? But the good opinion of our own merit, like a prism placed before our eyes, changes the color of objects, and hinders us from seeing ourselves as we really are. We have faults which shock every one, and we alone do not even suspect them. We will not even allow ourselves to be warned about them; the most moderate kind of advice embitters and revolts us. Could it be, lastly, the love of God? But divine love is comprehended only by the soul that despises itself. It belongs only to the soul that is conscious of its own baseness and profound misery to appreciate as it ought how good, merciful, and wondrously loving God is, to lower His greatness to our littleness, His holiness to our misery, His goodness to our ingratitude. Then only, then alone, it exclaims with St. Francis Assisi, and with its heart set on fire with love: “Who art Thou and who am I, O my God?” or with St. Augustine: “O God, the abyss of my misery reveals to me the abyss of Thy mercy. Oh, how well Thou dost deserve my love in return for the love Thou dost bear to a creature as miserable as I am!” Let us sigh in the presence of God at the obstacle which self-love has hitherto placed in the way of our progress in all the virtues.
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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