The First Sunday in Lent.
On Utility of Fasting.
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 First Sunday in Lent.
On Utility of Fasting.
To-day, my soul, contemplate in imagination the picture portrayed to view in to-day’s Gospel, which opens with the words: “When He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards He was hungry.” (St. Matt. iv. 2.) What an instance of self-denial! How long a time to abstain from taking any nourishment, to live without food or drink! What a signal conquest over the strongest craving of human nature! Now contemplate the emaciated, the wasted form of your Redeemer; see how He, of whom the Psalmist says: “The eyes of all hope in Thee, Lord, and Thou givest them meat in due season” (Ps. cxliv. 15), Himself now feels the pangs of hunger. Most assuredly our Lord had some design in enduring this extraordinarily severe fast. He intended to encourage us to fast in like manner, for this mortification of the body is most profitable, as the Fathers of the Church concur in asserting.
1st. Consider that fasting is the most powerful weapon whereby to resist the devil. The first Adam ate and was conquered; the second Adam fasted and conquered. Fasting, St. Basil says, provides man with a weapon whereby he may vanquish all the hosts of hell. Fasting, St. Jerome tells us, is a truly glorious thing; it is glorious for man, since it cleanses him from sin and renders him acceptable to God and to the angels, and it is terrible for the devils, because it smites them as with a keen, sharp-edged sword and confounds both them and all their devices. The might which fasting imparts, St. Athanasius declares, is one which all the demons dread. Wherefore if, according to the unanimous testimony of the Fathers, fasting is a weapon of such great potency against the enemies of our salvation, gird on with joy, my soul, at once, at the very outset of the ecclesiastical fast this excellent means of defence, and be assured that the more valiantly you employ it during the solemn season of Lent, the more certainly will you have cause to rejoice in the happy Easter-tide in the victory you have gained over the devil.
2d. Consider that fasting is nourishment for the soul. Just as material food is necessary for the growth and development of the body—to quote St. Chrysostom’s words—so fasting makes the soul stout and strong, and gives her wings wherewith she may soar aloft and contemplate divine mysteries. Fasting, St. Athanasius tells us, is the refreshment of the soul, nourishment to the heart, a salutary medicine and the source of chastity. Prove the truth of this from your own experience, my soul; when have you the happiest inspirations, when are your meditations most profitable and your devotional exercises most sweet to you, when can you raise your thoughts with greater facility and dwell on the joys of Heaven with more rapture; at the time when you have eaten a full meal, or when you are fasting and your body is no hindrance to you? You have given your body food, abundance of food, long enough already; now the time has come for your soul to receive the nourishment she needs.
3d. Consider what an attraction fasting gives us in the eyes of the angels. We read that after our Lord had fasted forty days, “Angels came and ministered to Him.” (St. Matt. iv. 11.) This is no wonder, for fasting is an angelic food, and those who fast are counted among the angels. St. Basil says that the angels go about in the churches, and write in their books the names of those who fast; and this doubtless they do because they consider such persons to be more worthy of their celestial company and they defend them mightily in all dangers—temporal and spiritual. St. Basil even goes so far as to say that Almighty God calls together all the denizens of the heavenly courts that they may look upon those Christians who fast. Why indeed, since the fallen angels took a malicious pleasure in seeing Adam eat, should not the good angels take delight in seeing the sons of Adam fast? Wherefore, my soul, fast in such a manner as to cause annoyance to the devil, to give refreshment to your soul and joy to your holy angel; and thus you will obediently follow the teaching of the Fathers and of the Gospel for to-day.
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.
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).
GRANT unto us O Lord Jesus ever to imitate the example of Thy Holy Family that in the hour of our death being met by Thy Glorious Virgin Mother, with Blessed Joseph, we may be found worthy to be received by Thee into everlasting dwellings, Who livest and reignest world without end. Amen.
(Roman Missal.) 3 years each time; PLENARY ONCE A MONTH (usual conditions)
O Lord Jesus Christ, Who being made subject to Mary and Joseph, didst hallow domestic life by Thy ineffable virtues, do Thou grant that with the assistance of both of them, we may be taught by the example of Thy Holy Family, and attain to everlasting fellowship therewith: Who livest and reignest world without end. Amen.
(Roman Missal.) 5 years each time; PLENARY ONCE A MONTH (usual conditions)
Prayer for One’s Family.
Defend we beseech Thee, O Lord, through the intercession of Blessed Mary ever Virgin, this family from all adversity; and as in all humility we bow before Thee, with all our hearts, do Thou graciously defend us from all the snares of the enemy. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
3 years each time; PLENARY ONCE A MONTH (usual conditions)
Sweetest Jesus Who being subject as a child to Mary and Joseph at Nazareth, didst leave to children an excellent example of affection and obedience to parents, and of wondrous reverence for all men, grant, I most earnestly beg Thee, that I may strive to see Thee always and in everything, so that as I grow older in years, I may increase in Thy grace and love: Who livest and reignest world without end. Amen. 300 days
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