The Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost.
On the Gospel of the Day.
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 Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost.
On the Gospel of the Day.
Set before your mind our Lord when, in His wondrous sermon on the Mount, He expounded to His disciples and to the assembled multitude the whole Christian code of faith and morals, and proclaimed those weighty maxims which contain the perfection of Christian practice. Place yourself among His audience, imagine that you hear from the divine Master’s own lips the words of the Gospel of the day.
1st. “You cannot serve God and Mammon.” (St. Matt, vi. 24.) Such is the statement the Saviour makes. Mammon is the god of riches, and whoso serves Mammon, cannot serve God as well. It must not, however, be thought that the possession of wealth is incompatible with the service of God; no, on the contrary, as St. Chrysostom teaches, it is quite possible to possess riches and property and yet serve God, as Abraham, Job, Solomon, many saints and devout men have done and still do, by spending their substance on good works. In that case they do not forsake the service of God to serve Mammon, but rather make Mammon helpful to them in the service of God. Not so the avaricious, those who are immersed in material interests, who serve Mammon, who are his slaves; such bondman’s service cannot be combined with the service of the free man, of the children of God. Consider this, my soul, in order to understand aright what our Lord declares, and from your meditation draw two practical conclusions. If you have earthly goods, do not serve them, but make them serve you, remembering what the blessed Brother Giles said: “How much sorrow and grief that unhappy man will have to endure, who sets his heart and hopes and aspirations upon earthly things, who for their sake neglects and finally loses heavenly things, since at the end he will, after all, have to part with those earthly things.” If on the other hand you have none of this world’s goods, give thanks to God for not having laid upon you a weight which would have been more of a hindrance than a help to you in your upward way to Heaven; yet beware lest you think yourself superior to your richer neighbor, since St. Francis bids us remember that we ought to judge and despise no one but ourselves.
2d. Consider the further admonition our Lord gives us: “Behold the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor do they reap, nor gather into barns, and your heavenly Father feedeth them.” (v. 26.) By directing our attention to the birds of the air, who take no thought, He does not intend to prohibit all labor and solicitude on our part. Work is the lot, the duty of the sons of Adam; to them as to him, the words apply: “In the sweat of thy face thou shalt eat bread.” (Gen. iii. xix.) It is still more the bounden duty of the children of St. Francis to labor, since shortly before his death our Seraphic Father declared: “I have labored and will labor with my hands, and it is my expressed wish that the other Brethren should all occupy themselves with some honest work.” By what He here says, our Lord supposes that man should work, and His meaning is that we should not be too careful and anxious over our work, and think ourselves entirely dependent on the labor of our own hands for our sustenance, instead of looking for our maintenance from the hands of our heavenly Father. In respect to this St. Augustine remarks: “If we are really unable to work and provide for ourselves, then our heavenly Father will provide for us, as He feeds the birds of the air, who do not distress themselves about the future.” Yes, my soul, you will do well to take example by the birds of heaven, whom our Seraphic Father liked much better than the ants, because they do not lay up a store for the winter time as the ants do. Nor should you burrow in the earth like the ants, or in your restlessness you will never seek rest in God; but when you have built your nest as the birds do, that is to say, when you have provided for your most pressing needs, then imitate them in singing the praises of God, soar aloft on the pinions of meditation and the contemplative life, wing your flight to God and do not be careful as to what you shall eat and what you shall drink, since you serve Him who feedeth the birds.
3d. Consider our Lord’s concluding words: “Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God and His justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (v. 33.) The kingdom of God is the goal of our earthly pilgrimage, and justice is the way that conducts to that goal. If, faithful to our high calling, we walk in this way to our goal, God will not allow us to want; the necessary things shall be added to us, what is needful for the body will be supplied to us on our way.
Now my soul, consider how many men, and you perhaps are after all amongst the number, act in a directly opposite manner. They regard as essential what is merely accessory, the earthly things that are added; on them they expend all their care and all their exertions, thereby forgetting their true aim, and, burdened as they are by material interests, make no progress on the way to that goal. Unfortunate delusion! It does not make man happy here below; on the contrary, it overwhelms him with cares and sorrows, and hereafter casts him into misery still more terrible. See, my soul, that you pursue an opposite course of conduct. Go straight to the mark, strive to gain the kingdom of God, and be assured that in doing so you will not lack what is necessary for the body. Do not forget that as a Priest, as a Religious, you are, so to speak, the domestic servants of God, you belong to His household. Now we know that the upper servants of a king fulfil the duties of their calling, which brings them into the immediate presence of the sovereign, without troubling themselves about food and clothing, since with both their master provides them. In fact, it would be an insult to their king were they to neglect the special duties of their office, under the pretext of having to get their daily bread and see after their clothes. Why do you act like this in regard to the King of Heaven? Will you not alter your conduct in this respect for the future? How shall you set about doing so?
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.
Of the Love of Solitude and Silence.
What do you seek in the world? Is it happiness? There is none in it. Listen to that cry of distress, that wailing lamentation which arises from all parts of the earth, and continues from age to age. It is the voice of the world. What more do you seek? Enlightenment, help, consolation, in order to accomplish your pilgrimage in peace? The world is delivered up to the spirit of darkness, to all the unholy desires that he inspires, to all the crimes and to all the evils of which he is the principle; and that is why the prophet cries out: Lo, I have gone far off flying away; and I abode in the wilderness (Psalm liv. 8). There, amid the silence of creatures, God speaks to the heart, and His word is so marvellous, so sweet and so ravishing, that the soul no longer desires to hear anything but Him, until the day when, the veils being rent asunder, she will contemplate Him face to face. Christianity has peopled the deserts with those chosen souls who, flying from the world and trampling beneath their feet its pleasures, its honours, its treasures, and flesh and blood, offer to
us, in the purity of their lives, an image of the life of the angels. Nevertheless, Christians are not all called to this sublime state of perfection; but in the midst of the noise and tumult of society, all should create for themselves, in the bottom of their hearts, a solitude into which they may retire to converse with Jesus Christ, and to recollect themselves in His presence. It is thus that, drawn away from the thoughts of temporal to the thoughts of eternal things, they will be disgusted with the former, and will be in the world as if they were not in it. Happy is the state in which is accomplished for the faithful man what the Apostle says: Your life is hid with Christ in God (Coloss. iii. 3 ).–Thomas à Kempis–Imitation of Christ Bk I, Ch XX reflection.
September Devotion: The Holy Cross.
Virtues to practice: Piety, fervor in the performance of sacred duties, the spirit of prayer
Mary, most holy Virgin and Queen of Martyrs, accept the sincere homage of my filial affection. Into thy heart, pierced by so many swords, do thou welcome my poor soul. Receive it as the companion of thy sorrows at the foot of the Cross, on which Jesus died for the redemption of the world. With thee, O sorrowful Virgin, I will gladly suffer all the trials, contradictions, and infirmities which it shall please our Lord to send me. I offer them all to thee in memory of thy sorrows, so that every thought of my mind, and every beat of my heart may be an act of compassion and of love for thee. And do thou, sweet Mother, have pity on me, reconcile me to thy divine Son Jesus, keep me in His grace and assist me in my last agony, so that I may be able to meet thee in heaven and sing thy glories. Amen.
An indulgence of 500 days
Crux mihi certa salus.
Crux est quam semper adoro.
Crux Domini mecum.
Crux mihi refugium.
The cross is my sure salvation.
The cross I ever adore.
The cross of my Lord is with me.
The cross is my refuge.
His Holiness, Pope Pius IX., by an autograph rescript, June 21, 1874, granted to all the faithful who, with at least contrite heart and devotion, shall say these prayers, drawn up in the form of a cross by the Angelic Doctor, S. Thomas Aquinas: AN INDULGENCE OF THREE HUNDRED DAYS, once a day.
Adoramus te, sanctissime Domine Jesu Christe, benedicimus tibi; quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.
We adore Thee, O most blessed Lord, Jesus Christ, we bless Thee; because by Thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world.
His Holiness, Pope Leo XIII., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of indulgences, March 4, 1882, granted to all the faithful who, with at least contrite heart and devotion, shall recite this ejaculation: AN INDULGENCE OF ONE HUNDRED DAYS, once a day.
Act of Perfect Contrition
Oh my God! I am heartily sorry
for having offended Thee and
I detest all my sins because
I dread the loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell;
But most of all because I have offended Thee, My God,
Who art all-good and deserving of all my love.
I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace,
To confess my sins, to do penance,
And to amend my life. Amen.
Prayers in Time of Calamity
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