The Lesser Litanies
On the Place to which our Lord Ascended.
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 Place to which our Lord Ascended.
In order that you may enter more fully into the joy and triumph of the festival we celebrate to-morrow, during your meditation to-day cast your eyes upward to the place whither our Lord is about to ascend, to the Heavens above. Rise up therefore from earth, soar aloft in spirit to the realms of bliss, refresh your soul with the sight of their beauty and splendor. And that you may do this the better:
1st. Consider the beauty of earth. Picture to yourself the face of nature on a fair summer morning when the sun, rising in its majesty, gilds the summits of the mountains; when the dewdrops on every blade of grass in the meadows sparkle like so many bright pearls; when the brooklets gleam like molten silver; when the birds of the air sing so sweetly, so joyously, as if they were messengers from heaven, and over all this natural beauty the church bells ring out their deep, melodious, touching music, almost, one might fancy, as if they were an echo of the celestial hosannas. Is it possible to gaze upon this lovely sight without being struck with amazement at the beauty of God’s creation? And what you see is but a corner, a tiny portion of the great wide world with its different lands and cities, its rivers and oceans, its mighty mountains, over all of which stretches the great vault of heaven glittering with a thousand bright orbs. Now ask yourself, my soul, if the abode of sinful mortals, this curse-laden earth, is so beautiful, so grand, so wonderful, who can hope to describe the loveliness, the sublimity, the splendor, the felicity of the dwelling of God on high, the abode of the angels and saints? “My brethren,” St. Augustine exclaims in one of his eloquent discourses, “ let us picture to ourselves a palatial residence. However superb the property it contains, however richly it is furnished, how great soever the profusion of golden vessels to be found in it, how numerous soever the household attached to it, howsoever superbly it may be decorated with paintings, marbles, sculptures, with pillars and lofty rooms, yet in comparison with the house of God in the Heavens it is only a Babylon, wherein we are held captive.” But you, my soul, are content to dwell in this prison; you like it so well that you have no wish to leave it in order to enter into that abode of the Most High which is the dwelling-place of eternal joy.
2d. Consider how St. Peter tasted upon Mount Thabor one single drop of celestial bliss, and in consequence of it forgot all the world around him. Although the apostle had not seen Heaven itself, but only our Lord in His glorified form, he was so enraptured by this sight that, inebriated with delight, he would fain have remained for ever upon Thabor. If a single drop produces such ecstatic happiness, what will be the effect of the whole ocean of celestial joys? If the mere reflection of the light of Heaven is so dazzling, what must its full brilliance, its undimmed glory be? “Run,” St. Augustine says, “on the straight road that leads to the heavenly country, of which the angels are the citizens, of which God is the temple, of which the Son of God is the light, and the Holy Ghost is the all-pervading spirit of charity.” Have you hitherto obeyed this admonition? Have you run, with holy eagerness, to win the kingdom of Heaven, or have you advanced but slowly, in miserable tepidity and sloth, crawling like a snail along that path?
3d. Consider that the two apostles who were privileged actually to behold and have a foretaste of Heaven appear to search for expressions of which to make use, and to exhaust all images in the effort to describe even in a faint manner what they had seen, to give us a conception in some degree approximating to it. St. Paul is obliged to content himself with saying: “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man.” (I. Cor. ii. 9.) And St. John evidently is at great pains to portray the image of the glorious heavenly Jerusalem which he beheld, the city adorned as a bride, the walls of which shone as jasper-stone, and her gates with the brilliance of an emerald. But let this suffice us. All that we mortals can feel, can think or speak, is, in comparison with the reality only as a drop to the ocean, as an expiring spark to the hot rays of the sun. Endeavor to comprehend this truth, my soul, and then reflect that it only rests with you to win this heavenly prize, and that you can only succeed in winning it if you lay to heart what St. Augustine says: “The price wherewith the kingdom of Heaven is to be purchased is thyself; this alone is required. It is of the same value to thee as thine own soul. Surrender thyself and thou shalt have it for thine own.”
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.
May Devotion: The Blessed Virgin Mary
Virtues to practice: Meekness, purity, the spirit of poverty
O holy Mary, my Mistress, into thy blessed trust and special keeping, into the bosom of thy tender mercy, this day, every day of my life and at the hour of my death, I commend my soul and body; to thee I entrust all my hopes and consolations, all my trials and miseries, my life and the end of my life, that through thy most holy intercession and thy merits, all my actions may be ordered and disposed according to thy will and that of thy divine Son. Amen. (St. Aloysius Gonzaga)
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that any one who fled to thy protection, implored thy help or sought thy intercession, was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins and Mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful; O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.
(For either of the above prayers: An indulgence of 3 years.
A plenary indulgence once a month on the usual conditions for the daily recitation of this prayer.)
The faithful who during the month of May take part in public exercises in honor of the B.V.M. may gain: An indulgence of 7 years on any day of the month; a plenary indulgence if they assist at the exercises on at least 10 days, and moreover, go to confession, receive Holy Communion, and pray for the Holy Father’s intentions.
Those who perform their devotions privately during the aforesaid month are granted: an indulgence of 5 years once on any day of the month; a plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, if they perform these devotions every day during the month; but where public exercises are held, this indulgence is granted only to those who are lawfully hindered from taking part in the same.
(from The Raccolta (c)1957).
Vexilla Regis prodeunt
The royal banners forward go;
The Cross shines forth in mystic glow,
Where Life for sinners death endured,
And life by death for man procured.
Where deep for us the spear was dyed,
Life’s torrent rushing from His side,
To wash us in that precious flood
Where mingled, Water flowed, and Blood.
Fulfilled is all that David told
In true prophetic song of old;
‘Amidst the nations, God,’ saith he,
‘Hath reigned and triumphed from the Tree.’
O Tree of beauty! Tree of light!
O Tree with royal purple dight!
Elect on whose triumphal breast
Those holy Limbs should find their rest.
On whose dear arms, so widely flung,
The weight of this world’s ransom hung:
The price of humankind to pay
And spoil the spoiler of his prey.
O Cross, our one reliance, hail,
Thou glory of the saved, avail*
To give fresh merit to the Saint,
And pardon to the penitent.
*Instead of: ‘Thou Glory of the saved,’ during Passiontide, say: ‘This Holy Passiontide’, during the Paschal Season: ‘Thou joy of Eastertide’, on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross: ‘On this triumphant day.‘
To Thee, Eternal Three in One,
Let homage meet by all be done;
Whom by the Cross Thou dost restore,
Preserve and govern evermore. Amen.
Vexilla Regis pródeunt,
Fulget Crucis mystérium,
Qua vita mortem pértulit,
Et morte vitam prótulit.
Quæ vulneráta lánceæ
Mucróne diro, críminum
Ut nos laváret sórdibus,
Manávit unda et sánguine.
Impléta sunt quæ cóncinit
David fidéli cármine,
Regnávit a ligno Deus.
Arbor decóra et fúlgida,
Ornáta regis púrpura,
Elécta digno stípite
Tam sancta membra tángere.
Beáta, cuius bráchiis
Prétium pepéndit sæculi,
Statéra facta córporis,
Tulítque prædam tártari.
O Crux, ave, spes única,
Gentis redémptæ glória!*
Piis adáuge grátiam,
Reísque dele crímina.
Te, fons salútis, Trínitas,
Colláudet omnis spíritus:
Quibus Cricis victóriam
Largíris, adde præmium. Amen.
(ex. Breviario Romano)
An indulgence of 5 years.
A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions for the daily recitation of this hymn throughout an entire month (S.C. Ind., Jan. 16, 1886; S.P.Ap., April 29, 1934).
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.
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.
Prayers in Time of Calamity
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