What Vanity is.
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.
What Vanity is.
We will meditate upon another in ordinate vice which is the opposite of humility, which is vanity, and we shall see: 1st, what vanity is; 2d, how we render ourselves guilty of it. We will thence deduce the resolution: 1st, never to speak of ourselves or of anything that will tend to obtain for us praise and esteem; 2d, to propose to ourselves God alone, His good pleasure, or His glory as the end of all our actions, thoughts, or words.
“To the only God be honor and glory” (I. Tim. i. 17).
Let us adore Our Lord reproving the scribes and Pharisees for doing all their actions in order to be seen of men and to be more esteemed (Matt, xxiii. 5). He strongly counsels the people and His disciples not to imitate them if they desire that their best actions should not be in this world or in the next without recompense (Ibid. vi. i). Let us admire the aversion He shows towards vainglory, and give Him thanks for testifying to us that He desires us to avoid it.
Vanity is not, like pride, an inordinate idea of our own excellence; it is an inordinate desire for honor and praise, even when we know that we do not deserve either. It is a kind of vice which is so great, that in order to procure the object of our desires, we lie to our own conscience. We wish to obtain elevated and brilliant positions, of which we feel ourselves to be perfectly unworthy, and we have recourse to all kinds of means which may enable us to occupy them, to become noticed, praised, and applauded. In order to carry out our desires, we descend to the lowest species of baseness, we turn everything into vanity: vanity in regard to our clothes, which we desire should be rich, splendid, and well made; vanity in the very smallest details respecting our dress, to the extent of making a serious affair of it, and sacrificing to it a great deal of time and a great deal of money, even becoming irritated and imbued with discontent, if fashion, taste, and caprice are not fully satisfied; vanity in regard to furniture, which we desire should be handsome; vanity respecting the table, which we wish should be richly served; vanity in our language, which we endeavor to render clever and to distinguish ourselves by being original in what we say; vanity with regard to our talents: instead of making use of them with a view to the glory of God, we make use of them with a view to our own glorification (John xii. 43); vanity in our conduct and deportment, which reveal affectation and a desire to attract notice; vanity in regard to society: we like to frequent the great and the rich; we blush at having relations with the insignificant and the poor: vanity with respect to our virtue: we are more desirous to induce people to think us virtuous than really to become so; we are assiduous in going to church, but we do not pray when we are there; we frequent the sacraments, but without being changed; there is vanity even in out humility: we say that we are miserable and sinners, that we do not know how to conduct ourselves, that we have no intelligence, no talents, but we should be very angry to be taken at our word; we only desire to insinuate that we are very humble, in the hope that we shall not be taken for what we say that we are; and at the bottom, however false may be the praises which are addressed to us, we are delighted to listen to them, caring less for what we are really and in the presence of God than for what we are in appearance and in the opinion of the world. Alas! is not this our history? Let us thoroughly sound our heart.
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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