The Second Sunday after Easter.
Our Lord Appears to the Apostle Thomas.
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.
The Second Sunday after Easter.
Our Lord Appears to the Apostle Thomas.
Imagine, my soul, that you see before you the apostle Thomas, irresolute, swayed to and fro by doubt; he is seated among the other apostles, listening to them while they joyously relate all they have seen and heard of the risen Saviour, but he attaches no credence to their story. Suddenly our Lord Himself stands before him with the print of His five wounds plainly discernible upon His glorified body, stands before the incredulous disciple who required to see those prints as a proof of the resurrection, and speaking affectionately yet reprovingly, says to him: “Put in thy finger hither and see My hands, and bring hither thy hand and put it into My side, and be not faithless but believing.” (St. John xx. 27.) Keep this instructive scene before your mind whilst you make your meditation to-day.
1st. Consider the infinite charity which our Lord has for His sheep. By reason of his unbelief Thomas was at that time a sheep that had gone astray. He requires to see with his bodily eyes that which is the object of faith, and this demand not only takes from faith all its merit, but actually annuls faith in the strict, supernatural sense of the word. “Blessed,” our Lord says, “are they that have not seen and have believed.” (St. John xx. 29.) Now it was in order to seek this wandering sheep, so weak in faith, that our Lord appeared again to the apostles after eight days. He only came on Thomas’ account, to show him the marks of the wounds and thereby to cure him of his unbelief. He does not say to Himself: “All the other apostles believe; this one can be left to the fate he richly deserves;” no, this one sheep is as precious in His sight as are the others, wherefore He grants him the privilege of a second and a special visit. O gracious Lord Jesus, when I reflect how Thou didst seek me, a wandering, faithless disciple, and didst lead me out of the desert of the world into the safe fold of the sacerdotal state and the religious life; when I reflect how often, how very often, Thou didst visit me with Thy grace, well may I in holy astonishment and admiration of Thy loving kindness fall on my knees and exclaim: “My Lord and my God!”
2d. Consider the further details of this apparition. Our Lord did not appear to Thomas when he was alone, but in the presence of the other apostles, in order thereby to give the doubting disciple to understand that this favor was not granted to him for his own merits, but simply because he was in the company of the faithful and pious disciples. To isolate oneself without a special call to do so is never good. Many of the graces you enjoy in Community life would not be granted you if you were alone. Life in the society of devout persons has signal spiritual advantages, and through the fervent prayers of a single one of its members a whole Community has often been known to receive some special favor. Another reason why our Lord did not appear to Thomas when alone was this: because it was desirable that the apostles who had been witnesses of the unbelief of one of their brethren, might also be witnesses of his conversion. Here again our Lord gives us a valuable lesson for Community life. Supposing that we have given scandal to our fellow Religious as St. Thomas did to the other apostles—if they have seen our wrongdoing, let us not feel ashamed to let them see our penance. Let us also endeavor, like St. Thomas, without any feeling of self-complacency, to edify those by our good works whom we previously distressed and scandalized by our evil deeds.
3d. Consider what meaning this apparition of our Lord has for us. “Except I put my hand into His side, I will not believe,” Thomas declared. Our Lord in His omniscience read the heart of the apostle and took his words at their right value. He knew, according to St. Cyril’s comments on this passage, that Thomas had no bad intention. The doubt that arose in his mind and which he expressed in words was due to the peculiarity of his character, and was the outcome of the partly depressing, partly exciting impressions of the last few days. Therefore in the kindness of His heart our Lord satisfied the apostle’s demand, unjustifiable though it was in itself, for his salvation and our instruction. For as St. Gregory (Pope) says: “By permitting the disciple to touch the print of the sacred wounds on His body our Lord healed forever the wound of unbelief in our hearts; thus Thomas incredulity tends to root us more firmly in the faith than the ready belief of all the other disciples.” Here behold an instance of our Lord’s loving kindness, inasmuch as He employs the conversion of a sinner for our greater profit, and always knows how to bring good out of our evil.
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.
May Devotion: The Blessed Virgin Mary
Virtues to practice: Meekness, purity, the spirit of poverty
O holy Mary, my Mistress, into thy blessed trust and special keeping, into the bosom of thy tender mercy, this day, every day of my life and at the hour of my death, I commend my soul and body; to thee I entrust all my hopes and consolations, all my trials and miseries, my life and the end of my life, that through thy most holy intercession and thy merits, all my actions may be ordered and disposed according to thy will and that of thy divine Son. Amen. (St. Aloysius Gonzaga)
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that any one who fled to thy protection, implored thy help or sought thy intercession, was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins and Mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful; O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.
(For either of the above prayers: An indulgence of 3 years.
A plenary indulgence once a month on the usual conditions for the daily recitation of this prayer.)
The faithful who during the month of May take part in public exercises in honor of the B.V.M. may gain: An indulgence of 7 years on any day of the month; a plenary indulgence if they assist at the exercises on at least 10 days, and moreover, go to confession, receive Holy Communion, and pray for the Holy Father’s intentions.
Those who perform their devotions privately during the aforesaid month are granted: an indulgence of 5 years once on any day of the month; a plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, if they perform these devotions every day during the month; but where public exercises are held, this indulgence is granted only to those who are lawfully hindered from taking part in the same.
(from The Raccolta (c)1957).
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