The Feast of St. Dominic. (August 4.)
On the Saint as a Great Preacher.
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. Dominic. (August 4.)
On the Saint as a Great Preacher.
That was a memorable moment, and the scene must have been an impressive one when, more than six hundred years ago, the bells of the cathedral in Toulouse rang out solemn and sweet as angels’ voices, and the people flocked thither in vast multitudes to listen to the wonderful preacher who proclaimed the Word of God with a force and unction till then unknown in that city, and who explained the mysteries of the holy Rosary with convincing eloquence. It is St. Dominic of whom we speak. Picture to yourself that celebrated preacher, the Founder of the Order of Preachers, whilst he is standing in the pulpit, and meditate upon the following points.
1st. What made St. Dominic so famous a preacher was the spirit of holiness. He was, it is true, endowed by nature with remarkable oratorical talents, but other men have had similar gifts, without making their mark as preachers. Natural gifts may have power to delight, to attract, to facinate, but they do not touch the heart, they do not lead to amendment. Moreover the preacher’s words must above all be supplemented by his example. It was so in St. Dominic’s case. His very appearance was a sermon in itself; the sight of his saintly, mortified countenance, on which charity and gentleness were written, was enough to touch, to impress, to awaken emotion in the beholder. The heretics of that day, on whom the most forcible and convincing arguments urged in the formal, cut-and-dried manner of the stately controversialist produced no effect, were converted when Dominic, barefoot and poorly clad, proclaimed to them the self-same truths. St. Augustine says that the weakness of man is so great, that he can rarely be stimulated to apply himself to the pursuit of justice unless he sees others practising it. Hence it is that so much depends upon the preachers of the Gospel being men of virtue, so that their hearers may have before their eyes a model for their imitation. Weigh this well, my soul. Of what avail is choice rhetoric, a good delivery, profound erudition, if your life gives the lie to your words? The reverse is also true. Your oratorical gifts may be of a mean order, your knowledge scanty, yet if you are pious and virtuous, your weak words will be fraught with no little power. “I do not require you to deliver a discourse,” a Cardinal once said to St. Francis Borgia, “all I want is that you should go up into the pulpit and show yourself to the people, that all may see one who has left everything for God’s sake.” Thus we see that every man may preach by a good example, whether Priest or layman, high or low; but it is preeminently incumbent upon Religious to preach by this means. Are you also one of these silent preachers?
2d. Consider that it was the Holy Ghost who made St. Dominic so great a preacher. The saint was not actuated and incited by his own spirit, but by the Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son. The famous orator did not act on his own responsibility, but as the chosen instrument of the Most High, in conformity with the will of God and assisted by His grace. Upon that all depends. It was that which gave him irresistible power over the hearts of the most hardened sinners; people felt that God was speaking by his lips. “The conversion of souls,” says the Ven. Rodriguez, “is Thy work, O God, and not ours; for what can we do towards it of ourselves, unless Thou touch the heart?” And when one of the Brothers asked the holy Father St. Francis how it was that every one wanted to see and hear him, although he was not learned, nor had he the gift of eloquence, the saint replied: It proceeds from the infinite goodness of God, who vouchsafed to cast His eyes upon me, although I am the greatest of sinners and the most miserable of all His creatures. Thus the saints invariably attributed all to the grace of God, on which their success was founded. Learn of them. Never enter upon any undertaking without having first invoked the aid of the Holy Ghost, and consider yourself best qualified and most fully prepared for the service of God and to labor for the salvation of souls when you, like St. Dominic, can be said to be a “man filled with the Holy Ghost.” There is yet one more point to be considered. Although the saint was so powerful a preacher, although his marvellous eloquence was supported and emphasized by the Holy Ghost and his own personal sanctity, yet many of his hearers remained obdurate. You may be surprised at this, but you must remember how many preachers filled with the Holy Ghost speak to you. Think of your daily meditations, your spiritual reading, the example of the saints of your state or your Order, and yet where is the fruit of all their eloquence? O forget not, it is not the preacher alone who needs the assistance of the Holy Ghost, the hearer needs it as well; and the latter ought to implore that assistance as earnestly as the former.
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.
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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