Self-love Takes from us the Merit of our Good Works.
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 Takes from us the Merit of our Good Works.
We will meditate upon an eighteenth reason for being very humble; it is that in our self-love we have the shame of carrying about with us a treacherous thief who: 1st, takes away our merits; and, 2d, takes them often away without our being conscious of it. We will then make the resolution: 1st, in all our actions to direct our intention towards God alone, often saying to Him before and during our actions: All to please Thee, O my God; 2d, carefully to put away from us all other aims which might vitiate our intention.
“See, O Lord, and consider, for I am become vile” (Lam. i. II).
Let us adore God as the last end as well as the first principle of the whole of our being. In His presence we are but nothingness and sin, and we have no right to do anything, to say anything, or to think anything which has any other end save Him alone. To Him essentially belong all honor, all glory, and everything related to us. Let us abase ourselves in presence of His adorable majesty, and be filled with humble sentiments regarding ourselves.
We ought to keep ourselves on our guard against self-love as we should be on our guard against a thief who was trying to rob us of all that we have which is most precious. What, in fact, have we that is more precious here below than our good works, which are, as it were, the money with which heaven is bought, and with which we may obtain at any moment of our existence an increase of glory and of happiness for all eternity? Neither riches nor treasures are worth a possession so great. The humble man preserves this possession in all its integrity, and adds to it the new merit of humility, which infinitely elevates His actions; but self-love squanders the whole of this treasure. It will have done us no good to have labored much, to have given ourselves an infinity of trouble and anxiety; if self-love intervenes, not only will there remain nothing of what might have enriched us, but we shall even be poorer than we were at first. That which might so greatly have profited us will turn against us, and we shall have nothing to expect from God excepting the punishment of the proud. What a loss, what a misfortune, not to be humble! This is why Our Lord repeated so often in His Sermon on the Mount: “Take care not to do your good works before men, that you may be seen of them, otherwise you will receive no reward from your Father who is in heaven. When you give alms try to ignore it yourself, by avoiding to take pleasure in your good works, and let your left hand be ignorant of what your right does. Then your heavenly Father, who seeth in secret, will recompense you for it. When you pray, do not let it be in the sight of the world, but delight to pray in secret, and your heavenly Father, who seeth in secret, will reward you” (Matt. vi. I, et seq. ). Oh, how good then it is to be humble, to close our eyes to all human judgments, and to think only of the good pleasure of God alone! What strange compensations does not self-love offer us! If we had given all our goods to the poor, spent our lives in good works, delivered up our bodies to the flames, all would have no merit in the eyes of God, if self-love has intervened as the determining motive. Let us here examine ourselves in the presence of God. How many have not been the actions of our life from which self-love has taken away all the merit! What riches lost for heaven, and in their place, perhaps, reasons for condemnation at the tribunal of God!
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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