Thursday after the Eighth Sunday after Pentecost.
On the Cure of the Man who Had a Withered Hand.
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.
Thursday after the Eighth Sunday after Pentecost.
On the Cure of the Man who Had a Withered Hand.
In the synagogue at Jerusalem there was a man who had a withered hand. Tradition says that he was a mason, and therefore the use of the diseased hand was absolutely necessary for him to earn his daily bread. Behold him standing as a suppliant before Him who has power to help him, the all-merciful Saviour, whilst in the background the wily Pharisees are looking on, for it is a Sabbath day and consequently, according to their mistaken views, it would be unlawful to attempt to heal the sufferer. With this scene present to your mind proceed to consider what may be learnt from it.
1st. Our Lord knew that the Pharisees were only on the watch for an occasion to bring an accusation against Him, that they might destroy Him, and it was only with this evil intention that they put the question to Him; “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath days?” (St. Matt, xii. 10.) Nevertheless the precept of charity, the spirit of compassion, outweighed with Him every scruple, every personal consideration. Though He was exposing Himself thereby to their anger and hatred, to their vengeance and their calumnies, He did not hesitate to utter the words: “Stretch forth thy hand (v. 13), and thus healed the man’s infirmity. Learn from our Lord’s example to give the first and highest place to God’s law, to hold it in greater consideration than the favor of men, to practise charity and do a deed of mercy even at the risk of incurring the wrath and slanders of men. One ought never, it is true, to give scandal or occasion of offence to any one, but if one clearly recognizes the performance of some act to be a duty towards God or one’s neighbor, no selfish motives, no thought of human respect, or dread of losing the favor of men ought to hold one back. If we were deterred by these things, where would there be any good works? Our Lord would not have founded His Church, the saints would not have founded Orders. My soul, lay to heart this important teaching and for the future pay less regard to man and more to God, remembering those golden words: “He who covets not to please men and fears not their displeasure shall enjoy much peace.” (Imit. B. iii. ch. 28.)
2d. Consider that Jesus is not satisfied with having, undeterred by the craft of the Pharisees, shown mercy to the afflicted man; He goes so far as to extend His kindness to His antagonists, gently rebuking them, and endeavoring by means of the comparison of the sheep that had fallen into a pit to convince them that He had done rightly. But the Pharisees will not take this kindly rebuke. Their pride will not permit them to admit the justice of that which their reason approves. Instead of allowing themselves to be corrected, they only hate the speaker more bitterly. You are perhaps, my soul, shocked at the malice of these bad men, but think a moment, are you not condemning yourself in condemning them? For, as St. Bernard says, we are so puffed up with pride, that we cannot tolerate the slightest reprimand, and instead of thanking those who call us to account for our faults, we regard their reproof in the light of an unjust persecution. This is an abominable, a most pernicious fault. An eminent divine compares those who will not be corrected to the devil, because they are incorrigible as he is. “He that hateth to be reproved walketh in the trace of a sinner.” (Ecclus. xxi. 7.) The great St. Basil also writes thus on this subject: “If for our health’s sake we make use of bitter medicines, and thank the physician who for our cure employs the knife or applies caustic, is it not meet that for the salvation of our soul and the good of the Order we should in like manner submit to be rebuked, however repugnant this may be to our whole inner man?”
3d. Consider how our Lord acted subsequently. When He saw that His kind words, far from doing good, only added fuel to the fire of the Pharisees anger and hatred against Him, when He saw that they actually “made a consultation against Him how they might destroy Him,” He retired from thence. He would not enter into any disputation, any strife with them. As kindness was of no avail, He withdrew out of the way. Learn of Jesus, my soul, to yield to your opponents and keep silence, to bear and suffer patiently where the only other alternative is wrangling and struggling with them. The observance of this rule is a necessary condition for the peace of every family, every Community, every convent. “If two hard things collide, a great noise is made, but if a hard substance strikes against a soft one, the impact scarcely causes a sound to be heard.” “A cannon-ball,” says Rodriguez, “knocks down a tower with a loud report, but if it hits a wool sack, it makes no noise and does no harm.” Learn of Jesus to cultivate this wise habit of yielding to others; you need not fear that you will thereby demean yourself. Examine your conscience as to how matters are with you in this respect, and ponder well this admonition of Holy Scripture: “A mild answer breaketh wrath, but a harsh word stirreth up fury.” (Prov. xv. 1.) “Strive not with a man that is full of tongue, and heap not wood upon his fire.” (Ecclus. viii. 4.)
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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