How Hateful Ambition 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.
How Hateful Ambition is.
We will meditate upon a third vice which is the opposite of humility, which is ambition, and we shall see: 1st, how hateful this vice is; 2d, in how many ways we may render ourselves guilty of it. We will then make the resolution: 1st, to be content with the position in which Providence has placed us, without attempting to rise any higher; 2d, to resist the proposals and the urgent endeavors made to us in this sense, at any rate unless we have very clear proofs that what is proposed to us is in the order of God.
Do not seek for high places, “knowing that you receive the greater judgment” (James iii. i).
Let us adore the Holy Ghost forbidding us in the Holy Scriptures to seek after domination and grandeur and the immoderate desire to rise above others; that is to say, the passion of ambition (Ecclus. vii. 4). Let us thank Him for such useful advice and ask of Him grace to profit by it.
It is a vice, the Holy Spirit says, which is hateful to God (Luke xvi. 15). The children of Zebedee asked that they might be raised above the other apostles, and placed in the first rank. You are blind; “you know not what you ask” (Matt. xx. 22; Mark x. 38), Jesus Christ answered them. The princes of the nations aspire to rule; My disciples, on the contrary, are great only in proportion as they abase themselves (Matt. xx. 26). At the wedding-feast some who were ambitious sought out the highest places. Do not you do so, He said to His disciples. “When thou art invited, go sit down in the lowest place; because every one that exalteth himself shall be humbled, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted” (Luke xiv. 10, 11). And Jesus Christ confirmed this doctrine by His example. His whole life preaches nothing else but humility, a hidden life, flight from greatness. When the people desired to make Him king, He took flight as though He were threatened by a great misfortune (John vi. 15). Until He was thirty years of age He lived ignored in a poor dwelling; during His mission He lived a life of poverty, devoid of honor; in His passion He was satiated with opprobrium. If He accepts a crown, it is a crown of thorns; if He receives a sceptre, it is a sceptre of ignominy. How could those present themselves at His tribunal whose sentiments and conduct are in direct contradiction to such an example? Lastly, what faith teaches us, even reason also tells us. Ambition only renders man unhappy. Amongst its slaves whom do we see? Many unfortunate persons who hope; many dupes who hope no longer; very few who enjoy, after having, in order to arrive at the position they occupy, devoured a thousand deceptions without daring to complain, a thousand estrangements and vexations which nevertheless it was necessary they should seem eagerly to embrace, a thousand caprices and repulses the odiousness of which they were obliged to conceal; and now that they have attained the object of their desires, new annoyances and fresh deceptions await them. Something is always wanting to them. The homage of Mardochai, one single man in the whole empire, was wanting to the proud Aman, and he was unhappy. The vineyard of Naboth was wanting to Achab, king of Israel, and he was inconsolable; he knew no rest until he had made Naboth perish. And again, when they had obtained what they wanted, they did not cease to be unhappy: “I have been everything that it is possible to be” said a Roman emperor, “and I see that it is all of no use to make a man happy.”
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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