The Feast of St. Alphonsus Liguori. (August 2) —On the Love of the Saint to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and to Poor Sinners.

The Feast of St. Alphonsus Liguori. (August 2)
On the Love of the Saint to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and to Poor Sinners.

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 Feast of St. Alphonsus Liguori. (August 2)
On the Love of the Saint to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and to Poor Sinners.

Represent to yourself this great saint, who was a bishop and the Founder of an Order, at the moment when he, being still quite a young man, threw himself at the feet of our crucified Lord, and with heartfelt emotion exclaimed: “O deceitful world, I have learnt to know thee now; from henceforth I will have nothing more to do with thee.” A slight injustice which he had met with in conducting a lawsuit had made so deep an impression upon the young barrister that he forthwith resolved to cease to be a counsel in worldly matters, and to become a special pleader for Christ; to dedicate all the affections of his soul to Christ and all his powers to the rescue of unhappy sinners. Love to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and love to sinners are in fact the most striking traits in the character of this saint, and these we will proceed to consider.

1st. The saint’s ardent love for the Most Holy Sacrament. Whilst still a student his greatest delight was to kneel before the tabernacle, absorbed in devotion; the Blessed Sacrament was the theme of his first sermon, and wherever there was exposition of the Blessed Sacrament the people always wanted him to preach, since no one else could speak of this great mystery with such ardent, such enthusiastic affection. Not content with giving expression to his love for the adorable Sacrament of the Altar by word of mouth, he had recourse to his pen, and in wonderfully persuasive writings he entreated and adjured all who call themselves Christians to love above all things the God made man present under the form of bread; to adore Him, to receive Him worthily, to receive Him frequently. When upon his death-bed he ejaculated from time to time: “Give me my God! when will my Lord come to me? Bring me my beloved Jesus”; and when the sacred Viaticum was administered to him, he exclaimed in holy rapture: “O my Jesus, sweetest Jesus, come and take full possession of my heart!” Approach in spirit, my soul, to this furnace of charity, kindle your love to the Blessed Sacrament at the flame that consumed the heart of the saint. Indeed what manner of Christian must he be, much more what manner of Priest and Religious, whose feelings towards the adorable Sacrament of the Altar are cold and indifferent? St. Catherine of Siena could not understand that it was possible for any Christians to exist without being inflamed with love to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. A saintly daughter of St. Clare once answered, on being asked how she could remain for hours on her knees before the tabernacle: “I would fain remain there for ever. Is not God really and actually present there, the same God who will be the joy of the blessed to all eternity?” And for you, my soul, a quarter of an hour is almost too long! How can you hope to be for ever happy in His presence in Heaven, if on earth you weary of it in so short a space of time?

2d. Consider the saint’s great love for sinners. After our Lord, the first place in his heart was given to sinners. The principal work of his life was to promote their salvation; for this object he founded his Order, and for their conversion he composed several books which are well known. I never remember, he once said, having treated any sinner with rigor and harshness. When giving missions he frequently offered himself in public as a victim for the sins of the people. If he met with an impenitent sinner, the saint would weep over the iniquities of that stranger as if they were his own; so that one who had been a grievous blasphemer was heard to say that it was impossible for any one to return to his former sins after seeing Father Alphonsus, that eminent servant of God, weeping and doing penance for the sins of others. That was indeed being a genuine follower of the Good Shepherd, who set the first example of love for sinners. If you do but think how closely a poor sinner resembles a man who is liable at any instant to be precipitated into a yawning abyss, and who is withal unconscious perhaps of his danger, can you help feeling sorry for him? And if you reflect that sin is the greatest misfortune, that it is the misfortune for the sake of which the God of mercy came down from Heaven, can you remain unmoved at the sight of the unhappy individuals on whom this misfortune rests? Kindle then your love for sinners afresh, kindle it at the fire of charity which glowed in the heart of the saint. Pray for them, warn them, admonish them, weep and do penance for them, remembering how the great St. Augustine says: “Is your heart of iron, are your feelings of adamant, that they should not be softened, that they should not be in the least touched by those words uttered by the Almighty: Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire?” Truly we have good reason to weep, to weep continually when we think of the number of those who die daily, not the death of the body, but the death of the soul. Can we shed tears to more purpose than in lamenting with the Apostle this sad loss of souls, when he says: “Who is weak and I am not weak?” (II. Cor. xi. 29.) Hear what St. Augustine says, see how St. Liguori acted, and ask yourself, what do you do for sinners?

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.

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August Devotion: The Most Pure Heart of Mary

Virtue to practice: The sanctification of our actions, diligence, edification, fidelity in little things

O Heart of Mary, Mother of God, and our Mother; Heart most worthy of love, in which the adorable Trinity is ever well pleased, worthy of the veneration and love of all the angels and of all men; Heart most like to the Heart of Jesus, of which thou art the perfect image; Heart full of goodness, ever compassionate toward our miseries; deign to melt our icy hearts and grant that they may be wholly changed into the likeness of the Heart of Jesus, our divine Saviour. Pour into them the love of thy virtues, and kindle in them that divine fire with which thou thyself dost ever burn. In thee let Holy Church find a safe shelter; protect her and be her dearest refuge, her tower of strength, impregnable against every assault of her enemies. Be thou the way which leads to Jesus, and the channel, through which we receive all graces needful for our salvation. Be our refuge in time of trouble, our solace in the midst of trial, our strength against temptation, our haven in persecution, our present help in every danger, and especially at the hour of death, when all hell shall let loose against us its legions to snatch away our souls, at that dread moment, that hour so full of fear, whereon our eternity depends. Ah, then most tender virgin, make us to feel the sweetness of thy motherly heart, and the might of thy intercession with Jesus, and open to us a safe refuge in that very fountain of mercy whence we may come to praise Him with thee in paradise, world without end. Amen.

An indulgence of 7 years once on any day of the month; A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, if this act of devotion is repeated daily for entire month (Apostolic Brief Dec. 21, 1901).


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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