Ash Wednesday.

On Our Lord’s Agony in the Garden.

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 Our Lord’s Agony in the Garden.

To-day, when the Church with the utmost solemnity calls upon the faithful to do penance, and reminds them that they are naught else but dust and ashes, meditate attentively on our Lord’s agony in the Garden of Olives, in order more deeply to engrave this impression on your heart, and imbue you with a more fervent determination to do penance. Imagine that you behold your Saviour kneeling there in indescribable anguish of soul. His head is bowed down to the ground; the ashy hues of death overspread His countenance; His arms hang nerveless by His side; His heart palpitates feebly; the groans that rend His breast are those of one in the very arms of death. What is it that causes Him such awful anguish, what is the load that oppresses Him with this terrible weight?

1st. Consider that our Lord now goes to judgment. That God of whom Isaias says: “I will visit the evils of the world, and against the wicked for their iniquity. For this I will trouble the heaven: and the earth shall be moved out of her place for the indignation of the Lord of Hosts.” (Is. xiii. 11, 13.) Consider that God is now present to the sight of Jesus, Who appears before Him laden with our sins, burdened with the guilt of our transgressions. It is no longer His heavenly Father before Whom He stands, but His stern Judge. Hence it is, my soul, that we see Jesus overwhelmed by fear and dread. For your sake Jesus trembles in presence of the Judge, and you, Christian, heed so little, feel so little apprehension concerning the terrible judgments of the just God. If the Son of God is overcome with dread of this tribunal, if He feels such fear as was never felt before, how can you, who are dust and ashes, sin so heedlessly, just as if there were no judgment to come?

2d. Consider that our Lord feels the burden of sin. He is not only man, He is God also, the God of infinite holiness. As such nothing is more odious, more hateful to Him than sin. And now He is compelled to take upon Himself what is most abhorrent, most intolerable to Him, sin, and not one sin alone, but the sins of the whole world. Only think, my soul, of the awful ocean of guilt that began with the prevarication of Adam and goes down to the last human being that shall be born into the world; all this weight of sin rests upon the God made man. On Him, the Holiest of the holy, rests Cain’s horrible fratricide; on Him rests the sins for the sake of which the world was destroyed by the deluge and Sodom consumed by fire from heaven. O frightful burden, in itself sufficient to weigh the Son of God to the dust! But this is not enough, the flood of iniquity rolls on afresh; on Him the transgressions of the people of Israel during the thousand years wandering in the desert, the abominable practices of the idolatrous heathen, the evil deeds of ungrateful Christians, all this is laid on Him to whom even the slightest sin is utterly abhorrent. Imagine yourself, my soul, chained to a corpse, condemned to remain fettered to it until it was completely decomposed, what intolerable misery that would be. Now behold, it was far more terrible for Jesus, the Holy One, to take upon Himself the guilt and iniquities of the world. Yet alas! how little concern people feel about their sins; they seem to revel in them, like swine in the mire!

3d. Consider furthermore that our Lord looks into the future; He sees in anticipation His whole Passion, all the suffering that awaits Him. He sees Judas’ treachery, which cuts Him to the heart more sharply than the keenest blade. He feels beforehand the rough usage, the maltreatment He is to receive from the coarse soldiers, the crown of thorns, the cross erected on Calvary. He who gave His life for us all, He who of His divine nature is immortal, feels and views in anticipation the pangs of dissolution, the cruel, ignominious death which fills Him with such horror that in His agony He exclaims: “My soul is sorrowful even unto death.” (St. Matt. xxvi. 38.) Then His strength forsakes Him and He falls prostrate on the ground. Oh look upon your Saviour, engrave upon your mind this pitiful sight, but at the same time remember you have not yet taken into consideration that which gave its greatest poignancy to our Lord’s agony in the Garden of Olives. Recollect that at the moment when in His grief and sorrow the climax of His agony was reached, His omniscient eye, gazing sadly on into the far future, beheld thousands to whom He would one day be forced to address this reproach: “Where is thy soul, for which I endured such unspeakable anguish? where is thy soul, for which I sweat great drops of blood? Alas! it is lost, it is unsaved by My earnest prayers; My sweat of agony has been for thee not a blessing but a curse; for thee My tears of blood on Olivet were shed in vain!” At the sight of such black ingratitude a shudder passes through the soul of Jesus; His delicate physical organization is convulsed with such anguish at the mournful vista which the future presents that the warm blood from His heart is forced out of every pore of the finely-strung body and falls in drops to the earth. As St. Bernard remarks: Not His eyes alone shed tears of blood and water for our sins, His whole body wept. In view of all you have seen to-day, my soul, strew ashes on your head and delay no longer to do penance.

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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February Devotion: The Holy Trinity (also the Holy Family)

Virtue to practice: Humility

I vow and consecrate to God all that is in me: my memory and my actions to God the Father; my understanding and my words to God the Son; my will and my thoughts to God the Holy Ghost; my heart, my body, my tongue my senses and all my sorrows to the sacred Humanity of Jesus Christ, ‘Who was contented to be betrayed into the hands of wicked men and to suffer the torment of the Cross.’ Amen. – St. Francis de Sales

An indulgence of 3 years.
A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, if this act of oblation is devoutly repeated every day for a month (S.P.Ap., Sept. 22, 1922 and May 12, 1934).
The faithful who devoutly offer any prayers in honor of the Most Holy Trinity with the intention of continuing them for nine successive days, may gain:
An indulgence of 7 years once each day:
A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions at the end of the novena (S.C. Ind., Aug. 8 1847; S.P. Ap., Mar. 18, 1932).

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Novena in Honor of Our Lady of Lourdes

O ever Immaculate Virgin, Mother of Mercy, Health of the Sick, Comforter of the Afflicted, thou knowest my wants, my troubles, my sufferings; deign to cast upon me a look of mercy. By appearing in the grotto of Lourdes thou wert pleased to make it a privileged sanctuary from where thou dost dispense thy favors, and already many sufferers have obtained the cure of their infirmities, both spiritual and corporal. I come, therefore, with the most unbounded confidence, to implore thy maternal intercession. Obtain, O loving Mother, the granting of my requests. Through gratitude for thy favors, I will endeavor to imitate thy virtues, that I may one day share in thy glory.
R. Amen.
V. O Mary, conceived without sin,
R. Pray for us who have recourse to thee.

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