Tuesday after the Third Sunday after Pentecost.
On the Nocturnal Visit Paid by Nicodemus to Jesus.
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.
Tuesday after the Third Sunday after Pentecost.
On the Nocturnal Visit Paid by Nicodemus to Jesus.
Fix your thoughts on the singular interview that took place by night between our Lord and one of the chief of the Pharisees, Nicodemus. See how the Good Shepherd, to whom day and night are alike, foregoes His sleep, as once He neglected to take His midday meal at Jacob’s well, for the sake of saving one erring soul; see how under the dim light of a lamp He kindles the bright, clear flame of faith in Nicodemus benighted soul. Keep this touching picture before your eyes while you make your meditation.
1st. Nicodemus, the doctor and teacher of theology in the schools of the temple, now may be seen sitting as a scholar at the feet of the divine Teacher. The dignity of our Lord’s person and the testimony of His miracles have attracted this learned rabbi to the Saviour of mankind. He comes with all the importance his position gives him to hold intercourse with our Lord, but he comes by night, he comes secretly for fear of his colleagues. How great is the power exercised by human respect! It even compels a man like Nicodemus to seek the way of salvation secretly, under cover of night. The dread of being despised, ridiculed by his colleagues and his scholars, of being perhaps subjected to persecution, if he were publicly to confess himself to be a disciple of the Teacher from Nazareth, dominated at that time the erudite Scribe, who, at a subsequent period, came forward openly when the body of Christ was taken down from the cross. How many disciples like Nicodemus there are among the Christians of our own day! They have a good will, they desire to be followers of our Lord, but at the same time they are full of anxiety and solicitude not to displease the children of this world, to give offence to no one, to stand well with all men. Beware of indulging this foolish and fatal fear of man, and lay to heart the admonition of Thomas à Kempis: “Who art thou that thou shouldst be afraid of a mortal man? To-day he is and to-morrow he appears no more. Fear God, and thou shalt not tremble at the terrors of men.” (Imit. 13. iii. ch. 36.)
2d. Consider that although our Lord perceived this imperfection in Nicodemus, yet He did not blame it severely, He did not repel this neophyte whose faith was still weak by reproving him harshly. This same divine Lord who but a little while before was seen to act with such rigor, such merciless rigor towards the desecrators of the temple, now shows Himself to be the One of whom it was said: “The bruised reed He shall not break and smoking flax He shall not extinguish.” He knows when to be stern and when lenient; He knows the right time and the right place to administer chastisement or show indulgence. It was owing to His wise forbearance with Nicodemus weakness that this timid disciple conducted himself with such intrepid courage when Christ’s body was taken from the cross. Learn hence, my soul, learn from our Lord’s example to hate, to denounce sin, but to be gentle and indulgent towards the sinner; above all towards those of your Brethren or Sisters who, though well-meaning, are infirm of purpose and apt to waver, and beware especially of falling into a fault to which zealous Priests and Religious are prone, that of not making allowance for the frailty and weakness of others, and blaming them too severely. “We would have others strictly corrected, but will not be corrected ourselves. The large liberty of others displeases us and yet we would not be denied what we ask. We will that others should be bound by laws and we suffer not ourselves to be in any wise restrained. Study to be patient in bearing with the defects and infirmities of others, because thou also hast many things which others must bear withal.” (Imit. B. i. ch. 16.)
3d. Consider the first and most essential condition of salvation which our Lord made known to this neophyte, in these words: “Amen, amen, I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (St. John iii. 5.) This regeneration to the new, the blissful life in God and with God takes place in holy Baptism. O happy Nicodemus, who learnt from the Saviour’s own lips this consoling, this saving truth, to whom alone of all the Jews He pointed this sure way of salvation. But happier far are you, my soul, for our blessed Lord has not only taught you what this new birth is, but has granted you to be born again. Ponder well this benefit, vouchsafed to you in preference to thousands, millions of your fellow-men. Journey in spirit over the whole of this globe. How many millions you will see in Asia and in Africa, in America and all the islands of the South who day by day pass into eternity without having received the grace of regeneration: nay, how many children daily depart out of this mortal life without having been baptized! You have been made a partaker of this grace, but woe betide you if you lose it by your own fault, if you wilfully abuse it. Should you do so, think what vast numbers will rise up against you in the judgment and accuse you in the words our Lord once uttered: “Wo to thee Corozain, wo to thee Bethsaida, for if in Tyre and Sidon had been wrought the miracles that have been wrought in you, they had long ago done penance in sackcloth and ashes.” (St. Matt. xi. 21, 22.)
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.
July Devotion: The Precious Blood of Jesus
Virtue to practice: Simplicity, Faith, Liberty of Spirit, Cheerfulness
Almighty, and everlasting God, who hast appointed Thine only-begotten Son to be the Redeemer of the world, and hast been pleased to be reconciled unto us by His Blood, grant us, we beseech Thee, so to venerate with solemn worship the price of our salvation, that the power thereof may here on earth keep us from all things hurtful, and the fruit of the same may gladden us forever hereafter in heaven. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
Prayers to St. Philomena
Novena to St. Philomena (from July 1st through August 10th)
Illustrious Virgin and Martyr, St. Philomena, behold me kneeling in spirit before the throne on which it has pleased the Most Holy Trinity to place thee. Full of confidence in thy protection, I beseech thee to intercede for me with God. From the height of thy heavenly country, deign to cast a look upon thy humble servant. Spouse of Jesus Christ, console me in my troubles, strengthen me in temptations, protect me in the dangers which surround me on every side; obtain all the graces necessary for me, especially (here mention your particular intention), and, above all, assist me at my death. Amen.
For Victory over Temptations.
O God, who dost sustain us by the merits and example of the blessed Philomena, Virgin and Martyr, mercifully grant that, strengthened in faith and charity, we may never be separated from Thee by any temptation. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
For Growth in Virtues.
O glorious Virgin! whose glory God has been pleased to make known by singular miracles, we address ourselves to thee with entire confidence. Obtain for us that, following thy example, we may fight courageously against whatever is opposed to the reign of Jesus Christ in our heart; that we may adorn our souls with virtues like thine, particularly with that angelic purity of which thou art the perfect model; and that inflamed with the love of Jesus, we may continually walk in the way which He has marked out, to the end that we may one day partake of thy everlasting happiness. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, who with the Father and the Holy Ghost, lives and reigns one God in perfect Trinity, for ever and ever. Amen.
Prayer for Purity.
O glorious Saint Philomena, who, animated by a burning love for Jesus our Savior, didst shine in Holy Church by the splendor of perfect virginity and the practice of the most heroic virtues, obtain for us of thy Divine Spouse the grace to keep ever unsullied the precious treasure of chastity and to practice with generosity the virtues of our state, that having, after thy example, walked in His footsteps during our life on earth, we may, with thee, rejoice in His glory eternally.
Saint Philomena, happy virgin, adorned with all the charm of innocence, and beautified, besides, with the purple of martyrdom, obtain for us the grace to know how to suffer all, and to sacrifice all in order to be faithful to God till death, and possess Him eternally in paradise. Amen.
For Detachment from Earthly Goods.
O Saint Philomena, faithful virgin and glorious martyr, who so courageously preferred to the visible goods of this world the invisible goods of a holy eternity, obtain for us a lively faith, an ardent charity, and a piety always increasing, in order that, faithfully serving our Lord Jesus Christ during our life, we may merit after our death the happiness of contemplating Him face to face in life eternal. Amen.
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