Our Duties toward the Justice of God.
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.
Our Duties toward the Justice of God.
The Gospel according to St. Matthew, xviii. 23-35.
“At that time Jesus said: The kingdom of heaven is likened to a king who would take an account of his servants. And when he had begun to take the account, one was brought to him that owed him ten thousand talents. And as he had not where-with to pay it, his lord commanded that he should be sold, and his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. But that servant falling down, besought him, saying: Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And the lord of that servant being moved with pity, let him go, and forgave him the debt. But when that servant was gone out he found one of his fellow-servants that owed him an hundred pence, and laying hold of him, he throttled him, saying: Pay what thou owest. And his fellow-servant falling down, besought him, saying: Have patience with me and I will pay thee all. And he would not, but went and cast him into prison till he paid the debt. Now his fellow-servants seeing what was done, were very much grieved, and they came and told their lord all that was done. Then his lord called him and said to him: Thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all the debt, because thou besoughtest me; shouldst not thou then have had compassion also on thy fellow-servant, even as I had compassion on thee? And his lord being angry, delivered him to the torturers until he paid all the debt. So also shall My heavenly Father do to you, if you for give not every one his brother from your hearts.”
We will meditate upon the gospel of the day, and we shall thereby learn: 1st, what are our duties in regard to the justice of God; 2d, our duties towards His mercy. We will then make the resolution: 1st, to recall to ourselves, when we are speaking, that divine justice will demand from us an account of all our words, and when we act, that it will require an account of each one of our acts; 2d, to act towards our neighbor in the same spirit of mercy and endurance which God exercises toward us.
“Be ye merciful, as your Father also is merciful” (Luke vi. 36).
Let us adore Our Lord Jesus Christ under the figure of the king of which our gospel speaks; a just king, who requires from his officers an exact account of the goods he has committed to their stewardship, but also a merciful king, who grants forgiveness to whoever asks it of him, on condition that he himself pardons others. How greatly Jesus Christ deserves through this double title all our homage! Let us render it to Him from the bottom of our heart.
We ought to forestall it, to fear, and to satisfy it. 1st. To forestall it, by always keeping our conscience pure, because, like the master of our gospel, this adorable justice will one day cite us to appear before its tribunal; there we shall have to render to it an account of every action, of every word, of every thought, of the employment of our time, of the use of our talents, of our graces, of our possessions; and we must always keep this account ready, because at any moment death may demand it from us. Alas! we hardly ever think of it! We live as though we had to render no account of anything to anyone, and as though it were due only to ourselves. We should act very differently if we were to say: I am before the eyes of my Judge to whom I shall have to render an account of this action! How much more discreetly should we speak if we said to ourselves: God is there; He is listening to my words and will require an account of them. 2d. We ought to fear the justice of God. “It is terrible” says St. Paul, “to fall into His hands” without being ready. The king, our gospel tells us, “took away from the unfaithful servant all his possessions;” that is to say, God will take away from the sinner all his possessions, whether of riches, of grace, of glory, even of nature itself; He will cast him into “outer darkness;” God will condemn the sinner to the dreadful darkness of hell; He will deliver up the sinner to devils, who in order to torment him will make use of all they possess of intelligence, of strength, and of rage; lastly, “He will cast them into the darkness, hands and feet bound” that is to say, these miserable men will not be able to take one step or perform one single action which will enable them to escape from it; that is to say, their misery will be eternal. These chastisements are doubtless severe, but it was necessary they should be so, because if the fear of so great an evil did not restrain the passions, there would neither be righteous men on earth nor any saints in heaven; every one, yielding to his evil nature, would be damned: Now there is nothing more worthy of God than to have made it a necessity, as it were, for us to be happy, and in a manner forced to enter into paradise. O my God! hitherto I had not understood it. Thanks for hell; it is the creation of Thy love as well as of Thy justice; enable me to fear it with the salutary fear which is the beginning of wisdom. 3d. We ought to satisfy divine justice; this is what is taught us by the servant of our gospel. He prostrates himself at the feet of his master (Matt, xviii. 26): let us humble ourselves in the same way before God. It is the first satisfaction demanded by His justice. Then, again, the servant prays earnestly (Ibid.), he prays with confidence (Ibid.), he prays with a sincere will to repair the past by means of a better life (Ibid.). Let us act in the same way and we shall obtain pardon.
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.
October Devotions: The Holy Angels and the Holy Rosary
Virtue to practice: Confidence
PRAYER TO ST. RAPHAEL, ARCHANGEL. Glorious Archangel, St. Raphael, great prince of the heavenly court, illustrious by thy gifts of wisdom and grace, guide of travellers by land and sea, consoler of the unfortunate and refuge of sinners, I entreat thee to help me in all my needs and in all the trials of this life, as thou didst once assist the young Tobias in his journeying. And since thou art the “physician of God,” I humbly pray thee to heal my soul of its many infirmities and my body of the ills that afflict it, if this favor is for my greater good. I ask, especially, for angelic purity, that I may be made fit to be the living temple of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
His Holiness, Leo XIII., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, June 21, 1890, granted to the faithful who shall recite the above prayer AN INDULGENCE OF ONE HUNDRED DAYS, once a day. .
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