On the Return of the Prodigal Son.

On the Return of the Prodigal Son.

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 Return of the Prodigal Son.

In commencing to-day’s meditation, place yourself once more in the sad, deplorable condition and state of mind of the prodigal son. Think that you see the unhappy youth hungry, wasted away with want and misery, grief and remorse, alone beside his herd of swine, distracted by varying emotions and conflicting resolutions, until at last, struck by a ray of divine grace, he exclaims:

1st. “I will arise and go to my father, and say to him: Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before thee. I am not worthy to be called thy son; make me as one of thy hired servants.” (St. Luke xv. 18, 19.) At length, having reached the utmost limits of the path of error and career of vice, the unhappy sinner comes to himself. He remembers the happiness that formerly was his, that he enjoyed beneath the paternal roof; he becomes acutely conscious of his present misery and wrong-doing, and he expresses this consciousness in the confession: “Father, I have sinned, etc.” That is the first syllable that he utters, the confession of his guilt to Him who is the Judge of our misdeeds and the God of mercy; who knows everything and yet waits for the words of confession from our lips. For he disburdens himself of the load of guilt who takes on himself the burden of confession; and he who by self-accusation disarms his accusers, robs of its sting the charge brought against him. How valuable is the counsel these words contain! Would that you always followed it, and that you imitated the prodigal son in his penance as you imitated him in his divergence from the path of virtue.

2d. “And rising up he came to his father. And when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him and was moved with compassion, and running to him, fell on his neck and kissed him.” (v. 20.) Oh the infinite love and mercy this simple narrative reveals! Who can read it without emotion? Meditate upon it word by word; follow the footsteps of the contrite son, of the forgiving father, and you will find ample food for thought. Here we see the ways of divine compassion. Desirous of our conversion, it goes forth to meet the penitent sinner, it embraces the soul that does penance, and for her encouragement gives her the kiss of peace. Commenting on this passage St. Ambrose exclaims in a strain of rapture: “He comes to meet thee whilst thou art yet far off, that no one may detain thee on the way. He falls on thy neck as it were with all the warmth of paternal affection, to raise thee from the ground where thou liest prostrate, heavily laden with the burden of sin, immersed in the things of earth. I would therefore rather be a son, than a lamb. For the stray lamb is sought and found by the shepherd, the prodigal son is received with honor by his father.” How often, my soul, have you in like manner experienced the love of your heavenly Father! In the sight of God a wretched, ragged beggar, you present yourself before Him, and scarcely has the confession: “I have sinned.” escaped your lips, before He clasps you to Him with the kiss of peace, He arrays you again in the robe of grace which you had lost, He gives you back the signet-ring, restoring you to the dignity of a son which you had forfeited, He confers on you new graces, in order that with them, as with new shoes upon your feet, you may advance steadily in the path of virtue which you have again entered. Moreover He invites you to His table, rejoicing with you in the eucharistic banquet of gladness. Dwell in thought on the fathomless depth of the fatherly love of our God, and awaken within your breast sentiments of admiration, of love, of thankfulness.

3d. “Now his elder son was in the field, and when he came” and heard and saw what was going on in the house, “he was angry and would not go in.” (v. 25, 28.) Instead of rejoicing with his father at his brother’s return, he was angry; instead of sympathizing in his father’s delight, he reproached him, saying: “Behold, for so many years do I serve thee and I have never yet transgressed thy commandments, and yet thou hast never given me a kid, to make merry with my friends; but as soon as this thy son is come, who hath devoured his substance with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.” (v. 29, 30.) Compare the speech of the elder son with what the younger says. The latter speaks with the greatest humility and makes no claim to be placed on an equality with his brother, he only asks to be treated as one of the day-laborers in his father’s employ. The words of the elder son on the contrary display self-complacent pride and repulsive envy. It was through his father’s kindness that he was allowed to remain at home: did he not value the affection that led his father to say: “Son, thou art always with me, and all that I have is thine.” (v. 31.) If he was really so exemplary, a true son of his compassionate father, would he not for that very reason have rejoiced with his father? Consider this, my soul, and guard against the fault of this elder son. Forget not, if your brother goes wrong, and you remain with your father, that it is no merit on your part, but only a grace God grants you, for which you will in due time be abundantly rewarded. Forget not that even in Heaven there is more joy upon one sinner that doth penance than upon ninety-nine just persons. Forget not, that you will also be a prodigal son, if God should withdraw the support of His grace from you. And if you are really one of the just, you will not miss your recompense, your Father’s love for you will not cease, for He calls the elder son His child. But it is only natural, it only answers to the spontaneous impulse of an uncorrupted heart that, as our Lord says: “It was fit that we should make merry and be glad, for this thy brother was dead and is come to life again; he was lost, and is found.” (v. 32.) But although that may be quite natural, yet does not a feeling of envy, a sort of surprise stir within you, when you see a Brother, a Sister, who formerly only too nearly resembled the prodigal son, now receiving special favors from God and their Superiors? when you see them, after all, better treated than you are, who were always “with your Father”? That it may be otherwise with you, remember how much you blame the speech of the elder son in the parable.

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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October Devotion: The Holy Angels and the Holy Rosary.

Virtues to practice: Confidence.


Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel.

Most glorious prince of the heavenly hosts, Archangel St. Michael, defend us in the battle and in the tremendous struggle we carry on against the Principalities and Powers, against the rulers of the world of darkness and all evil spirits. Come to the help of man, whom God created immortal, fashioned to His own image and likeness, and rescued at a great price from the tyranny of the devil. With the great army of the holy angels fight to-day the battle of the Lord as thou didst of old fight against Lucifer, the leader of the proud, and his apostate angels, who were powerless against thee, and they had no longer a place in heaven; and that monster, the old serpent who is called the devil and Satan, that seduces the whole world, was cast into hell with his angels. But now that first enemy and homicide has regained his insolent boldness. Taking on the appearance of an angel of light, he has invaded the earth, and, with his whole train of evil spirits, he is prowling about among men, striving to blot out the name of God and of His Christ, to capture, to destroy, to drag to eternal perdition the souls destined to the crown of eternal glory. That malignant dragon is pouring abroad, like a foul stream, into the souls of men of ruined intellect and corrupt heart the poison of his wickedness, the spirit of lying, of impiety and blasphemy, the pestilent breath of impurity and of all vice and iniquity. Most cunning enemies have filled with bitterness and drenched with gall the Church, the Spouse of the Lamb without spot, and have lifted impious hands against all that is most sacred in it. Even in the holy place where the See of Blessed Peter and the chair of truth was set up to enlighten the world, they have raised the abominable throne of their impiety with the iniquitous hope that the Shepherd may be stricken and the flock scattered abroad. Arise, then, unconquerable Prince, defend the people of God against the assaults of the reprobate spirits, and give them the victory. Holy Church reveres thee as its guardian and patron; it glories in thee as its defender against the malignant powers of hell; to thee God has committed the souls that are to be conveyed to the seats of the Blessed in eternal happiness. Pray, then, to the God of peace, that He may put Satan under our feet, so completely vanquished that he may no longer be able to hold men in bondage and work harm to the Church. Offer up our prayers before the Most High, so that the mercies of the Lord may prevent us, and lay hold of the dragon, the old serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and hurl him bound in chains into the abyss where he may no longer seduce the souls of men. Amen.

V. Behold the Cross of the Lord, fly ye hostile ranks.
R. The Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, has conquered.
V. May Thy mercies, O Lord, be fulfilled in us.
R. As we have hoped in Thee.
V. Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto Thee.

Let us pray.

O God, and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we call upon Thy holy name and humbly beseech Thy clemency, that, through the intercession of the ever immaculate Virgin and our Mother Mary, and of the glorious Archangel Saint Michael, Thou wouldst vouchsafe to help us against Satan and all the other unclean spirits that are prowling about the world to the great peril of the human race and the loss of souls. Amen.

His Holiness, Leo XIII., Motu Proprio, September 25, 1888, granted to the faithful who recite the above prayer
AN INDULGENCE OF THREE HUNDRED DAYS, once a day.

ANTIPHON.

Sancte Michael Archangele,
defende nos in praelio,
ut non pereamus
in tremendo judicio.

Holy Archangel Michael,
defend us in battle,
that we may not perish
in the tremendous judgment.

His Holiness, Leo XIII., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, August 19, 1893, granted to the faithful who recite the above antiphon
AN INDULGENCE OF ONE HUNDRED DAYS, once a day.

GABRIEL, THE ARCHANGEL.
NOVENA IN HONOR OF S. GABRIEL THE ARCHANGEL.

The Sovereign Pontiff, Pius IX., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, Nov. 26, 1876, granted to all the faithful who, with contrite hearts, at any time during the year, devoutly make the novena in honor of S. Gabriel the archangel, with any formula of prayer, provided it be approved by competent ecclesiastical authority,
AN INDULGENCE OF THREE HUNDRED DAYS, once a day;
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, during the novena, if, truly penitent, having confessed and communicated, they pray for the intention of the Sovereign Pontiff.

RAPHAEL, THE ARCHANGEL.
NOVENA IN HONOR OF S. RAPHAEL, THE ARCHANGEL.

The Sovereign Pontiff, Pius IX., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, Nov. 28, 1876, granted to all the faithful who, with contrite hearts, at any time during the year, devoutly make the novena in honor of S. Raphael the archangel, with any formula of prayer, provided it be approved by competent ecclesiastical authority,
AN INDULGENCE OF THREE HUNDRED DAYS, once a day;
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, during the novena, if, truly penitent, having confessed and communicated, they pray for the intention of the Sovereign Pontiff.

PRAYER TO S. RAPHAEL, ARCHANGEL.

Glorious Archangel, S. Raphael, great prince of the heavenly court, illustrious by thy gifts of wisdom and grace, guide of travellers by land and sea, consoler of the unfortunate and refuge of sinners, I entreat thee to help me in all my needs and in all the trials of this life, as thou didst once assist the young Tobias in his journeying. And since thou art the “physician of God,” I humbly pray thee to heal my soul of its many infirmities and my body of the ills that afflict it, if this favor is for my greater good. I ask, especially, for angelic purity, that I may be made fit to be the living temple of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

His Holiness, Leo XIII., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, June 21, 1890, granted to the faithful who shall recite the above prayer
AN INDULGENCE OF ONE HUNDRED DAYS, once a day.

THE ANGEL GUARDIAN.
PRAYER
.

Angele Dei,
qui custos es mei,
me tibi commissum pietate superna
illumina, custodi,
rege, et guberna.Amen.

Angel of God,
my guardian dear,
To whom His love commits me here,
Ever this day be at my side,
To light and guard,
To rule and guide.
Amen.

The Sovereign Pontiff, Pius VI., by a brief, Oct. 2, 1795, granted to all the faithful, every time that, with at least contrite heart and devotion, they shall say this prayer:
AN INDULGENCE OF ONE HUNDRED DAYS.
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, on the feast of the holy guardian angels (Oct. 2), to those who shall have said this prayer, morning and evening, throughout the year, provided that, on the day of the feast, being truly penitent, after confession and communion, they shall visit a church or public oratory, and pray for the Sovereign Pontiff.
The same Sovereign Pontiff, by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, June 11, 1796, granted:
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, at the hour of death, to all those who, during life, shall have frequently said this prayer, provided they shall have the proper dispositions.

The Sovereign Pontiff, Pius VII., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, May 15, 1821, not only confirmed the above mentioned indulgences, but, moreover, granted:
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, once a month, to all the faithful who shall have said it every day for a month, as above directed, on any day, when, being truly penitent, after confession and communion, they shall visit a church, and pray devoutly for the intention of his Holiness.

NOVENA IN HONOR OF THE GUARDIAN ANGEL.

The Sovereign Pontiff, Pius IX., by a rescript dated at Gaeta, Jan. 5, 1849, and by another of the S. Congr. of Bishops and Regulars, Jan. 28, 1850, granted to all the faithful who, with contrite hearts, at any time during the year, devoutly make the novena in honor of the Guardian Angel, published by the Rev. Joseph M. Falcone, of the Congregation of the Missions:
AN INDULGENCE OF ONE HUNDRED DAYS, once a day.
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, either during the novena or upon one of the eight days immediately following, if, truly penitent, they confess and communicate, and say some prayers for the holy Church and for the Sovereign Pontiff.
By a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, Nov. 26, 1876, the same Sovereign Pontiff deigned to approve that these indulgences may be gained by those who make the novena to the Guardian Angel with any other formula of prayer, provided it be approved by competent ecclesiastical authority.

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