Self-love is a Folly.
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 a Folly.
We will meditate upon a twenty-first reason for being very humble; it is: 1st, that self-love is a folly: 2d, that self-love makes us lose our senses in regard to our conduct. We will then make the resolution: 1st, to put away from us, at the very moment that we perceive it, all complaisance about ourselves and all desire to be esteemed; 2d, never to say anything which shall be to our own advantage, and cheerfully to accept all the humiliations we may meet with.
“Where humility is, there also is wisdom” (Prov. xi. 2).
Let us adore Jesus Christ hiding Himself in the Eucharist with all His divine grandeurs, in order to teach us to have the good sense not to make ourselves slaves to the opinion of others, or worshippers of reputation, and to content ourselves with the esteem of God alone, who will not allow to pass without recompense anything we do for Him in secret (Matt. vi. 4, 6, 18). Let us render to Him our homage of admiration, of praise, and of love for so precious a lesson.
Where is the man who does not sometimes surprise himself indulging real follies of self-love in his mind and his imagination? Where is the man who would not blush if all the world should know the chimerical projects, the ridiculous reveries, the absurd suppositions, which self-love puts into his head—a true phantasmagoria which would make any one laugh who knew of it? Who, when rendering justice to himself, has not cried out: What a fool I am to indulge in such thoughts! Sad folly of humanity, indeed, which inspired St. Vincent de Paul to utter these humble words: “I am the most ridiculous and the most foolish of men.” Have we not more reason than this holy priest had to apply these words to ourselves? Have we not indulged in the folly of believing ourselves to be capable of all kinds of positions, always wishing to raise ourselves higher and higher, without ever saying: It is enough; the folly of desiring to be preferred to everyone else, looking upon ourselves as being more clever, more intelligent and able to do better than they; the folly of always clinging to our own ideas, without taking counsel of others who are wiser than we are; the folly of desiring to be esteemed by everyone, never being able to bear a want of consideration, a criticism, a reproof, and not yet being able to understand that it is not possible to please everyone, that society is so formed that every one studies the weak side of his neighbor that he may cast against it the arrows of his satire; that even when there is nothing wrong to be reprehended, intentions are interpreted, reservations supposed, in such a manner that no one ever has been or ever will be safe from criticism? Do we not indulge in the folly of preoccupying ourselves to excess with human judgment, with the opinion of our fellows, that miserable quality in which there is nothing constant save its inconstancy, nothing established except its caprice, which so often exalts the contemptible man and depreciates him who is the most honorable? Do we not aim at reputation, which is a thing so idle, which serves here below only to fill us with pride if it is our portion, to trouble us and render us unhappy if it be against us, and which will be of no service to us in the future life unless the esteem of God accompany it? For what will it serve us to have been praised upon earth if we are tormented there where we shall be? (St. Augustine. ) Do we not, lastly, indulge in the folly of begging right and left for the esteem of men, even that of persons for whom we have not the least respect, to feed upon and delightedly enjoy the smallest mark of consideration we receive from them, a word, a procedure, a look, a nothing, provided we can conclude from them that we are thought well of, and that when opportunity arises such persons will speak of us to our advantage? Peter de Blois justly compares those men who are ambitious of reputation, who spend the whole of their existence in the pursuit of a thing so vain, to the spider, which exhausts and spends itself to catch nothing more than a fly in its web. Let us be confounded in the presence of God at these follies of self-love, the principle of the insanity of unfortunate beings who have lost their reason, and who, nearly all of them, imagine themselves to be kings or great nobles; and let us feel that it is supreme wisdom to content ourselves with the esteem of God alone: the only solid esteem, the only esteem which is of use in regard both to time and eternity, the only esteem we are sure of having when we will.
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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