On the Ascension of our Lord.
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.
On the Ascension of our Lord.
Imagine yourself, my soul, present on this day on the Mount of Olives; imagine yourself standing amongst the disciples of our Lord, gazing at your Saviour whilst He takes leave of His followers, gives them His final blessing, and then slowly rises up into Heaven. When you have vividly realized this marvellous scene, proceed to meditate upon the following points:
1st. At the very same instant in which our Lord was lifted up from the earth and began slowly to soar upwards to Heaven, the souls of the just men of earlier times who were in Limbo rose up also, in order, together with their Redeemer, with their heavenly King, to make their triumphal entry into the Heaven whose portals were opened to all believers. What joy, what rapture must have filled the hearts of that saintly band, the venerable patriarchs and holy prophets, the great men and pious women of the Old Dispensation, for whom, released at length from their tedious captivity of a thousand years, the time has now come to enter with delight into the heavenly Jerusalem! And as once before, when Jesus came down from Heaven to earth, the angels ascended and descended, so they doubtless did on this happy occasion when their Lord and King returned to the Heaven He had left. Fix your attention upon the glory, the jubilation, the triumph that attended our Lord’s Ascension, and when you have to some extent realized it you may consider next:
2d. How fully the prediction of the Royal Prophet which the Church takes upon her lips to-day was accomplished: “Thou hast ascended on high; Thou hast led captivity captive.” (Ps. Ixvii. 19.) Our Lord took with Him to Heaven captives of two kinds. These were the souls of the just, who had for so long a time waited in captivity in Limbo, and there were also His beloved Mother and the apostles, who, being still held in bondage in the prison of the body, could not follow Him actually, though they could follow Him spiritually, inasmuch as they were consumed with longing to ascend at once with Him into Heaven. From the time of His departure, despising all earthly things, they only aspired to heavenly things, and yearned more and more after them, anticipating with holy impatience the day when they would see God and dwell with Him for ever in Heaven. My soul, if you are conscious of yet clinging with your affections to the things of time and sense, pray God that on His Ascension this day into Heaven, He would take your heart captive and draw it thither after Him.
3d. Consider how a bright cloud received our Lord and gradually veiled Him from His disciples sight. There they remained standing, in hallowed silence, for the Scriptures do not mention a single word having been spoken by them; their souls too full for words, divided between the sorrow of parting, regretful desire, and eager aspiration. If you, my soul, experience similar emotions, if with Thomas à Kempis you are fain to say: “When, good Jesus, shall I contemplate the glory of Thy kingdom? When shall I be with Thee in Thy kingdom which Thou hast prepared for Thy beloved from all eternity? “then listen to the reply which our Lord gives you, speaking in the words of this admirable little book: “Wait a little while and thou shalt see a speedy end of evils; meanwhile labor faithfully in My vineyard; I will be thy reward. Write, read, sing, sigh, keep silence, pray, bear thy crosses manfully; eternal life is worthy of all these and greater combats.” (Imit. iii. ch. 47.) Forget not this saying of our Lord: “The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence and the violent bear it away.” (St. Matt, xi. 12.)
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 onceWednesday after the Fourth Sunday after Easter.
—On Holy Mass as a Sacrifice of Atonement.
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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