Friday after the Ninth Sunday after Pentecost.
On Magdalen’s Tears and the Harsh Judgments of the Pharisees.
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.
Friday after the Ninth Sunday after Pentecost.
On Magdalen’s Tears and the Harsh Judgments of the Pharisees.
On this day, the weekly commemoration of our Lord’s death, thousands, nay, millions of Christians turn their eyes to the cross, the hearts of some filled with love and compunction, of others with compassion and grief; and as they gaze on the cross of the Redeemer, beneath that cross they behold St. Mary Magdalen. She alone of all the women of Israel, she the sinner, whom the Pharisees despise and judge so rigorously, is privileged to associate herself with the Blessed Virgin and Mary of Cleophas, to stand by the cross, to embrace it, and testify her compassion with her dying Lord. The tears of compunction which she shed at His feet when He sat at meat earned for her the right to shed tears of love at His feet when He hung upon the cross.
1st. Consider the words of the Evangelist: “Standing behind at His feet she began to wash His feet with tears.” (St. Luke vii. 38.) Observe each word of this narrative. She stands behind our Lord because, recognizing her great sinfulness, she considers herself unworthy to appear before His divine countenance. Thus the humble and contrite come to the celestial Physician and cast themselves at His feet; those feet, the feet of the Good Shepherd who in His search after the lost sheep has endured weariness and pain; the same feet which bore the Saviour to Jacob’s well, in order to give living water to the Samaritan; the same which have now carried Him to the Pharisee’s house, for the purpose of “forgiving much” to her of whom it is said that she loved much. Scarcely has Magdalen placed herself at Jesus’ feet than tears of contrition flow so freely, so copiously from her eyes that they stream like water upon those sacred feet. “Behold,” exclaims St. Ambrose, “this new, this ingenious means of obtaining mercy! Not in words, but by her tears does she make confession of her sin. The usual order of things is reversed; rain comes down from heaven to fertilize the earth, but now the earth, hitherto accursed, whence Magdalen’s sinful body was formed, brings forth an overflowing supply of water to fructify the heavens; nay more, what is far above the heavens; to produce the fruits of compassion in Him who is the Lord of all, the Creator of the heavens and the earth.” O happy Magdalen, to be able to shed such tears! Who can look upon thee, a weeping, repentant sinner, without exclaiming in the words of the Prophet: “Feed me, Lord, with the bread of tears, and give me to drink tears in measure.”
2d. Consider how necessary it is for us all to shed tears of contrition, how indispensable is sorrow for sin, that holy compunction which, as we are told in the Imitation, opens the way to so much good. “Blessed are ye that weep now,” the Scripture says (St. Luke vi. 21), and again: “Blessed are they that mourn” (St. Matt. v. 5), those, that is, who mourn over their transgressions. “Of all manner of losses”—we quote the words of St. Chrysostom—“there is only one which can be made good by grief and sorrow, and that is the loss which a man suffers through sin. Consequently in the case of all else sorrow profits us nothing, in fact it tends rather to aggravate than alleviate our loss. But the loss caused by sin is completely repaired by sorrow for the sin we have committed.” Ask yourself, my soul, how it is with you in regard to this salutary sorrow, this profitable grief, particularly when you go to confession. You often lament over the small measure of good you derive from your frequent confessions. You should rather lament over the small measure of contrition you bring to the sacred tribunal, for that is the cause of it. As the rain in the springtide of the year produces no real good until the soil whereon it falls is no longer hard and frost-bound, so that the moisture can permeate the ground thoroughly, so the dew of Heaven, divine grace, which is distilled upon your heart in the Sacrament of Penance, cannot exercise its fertilizing influence unless the soul is softened and melted by the tears of penitence, by that holy compunction of which the author of the Imitation says: “Give thyself to compunction of heart and thou shalt find devotion; since the reason why we have not divine consolations, or seldom experience them, is our own fault, because we do not seek compunction of heart.” (B. i. ch. 21.)
3d. Consider the behavior of the Pharisees on the occasion of Magdalen’s conversion. The proud Pharisee was unable to appreciate the mission of the Saviour, who came not to condemn, but to save. As St. Gregory remarks: “he reviled the patient for his sickness and the physician for the cure.” If this woman had cast herself at the feet of the Pharisee, he would have repulsed her, for, having no real justice of his own, he would have thought that he would contract defilement from the sin of another. In this manner, the holy Pope proceeds to say, Priests, if they happen to have performed even the slightest act of virtue, are apt to despise those who are placed under them and will not associate with the ordinary Christian, regarding him in the light of a sinner. God grant that you may not be deserving of this reproach, my soul. See how the Pharisee forms the only dark shadow in the otherwise bright picture of Magdalen’s conversion. Do not imitate him, but imitate St. Ambrose, who in his work upon penance implores of God no gift more earnestly than the grace to have a tender and loving compassion for sinners. You are perhaps a Priest. Oh forget not that, “A Priest clad in his sacred vestments holds the place of Christ, to pray to God for himself and for all the people in a humble and suppliant manner. He wears the cross before him that he may bewail his own sins, and behind him that he may through compassion lament the sins of others; and know that he is appointed to stand between God and the sinner.” (Imit. B. iv. ch. 5.) If you are a Religious, then remember that besides tears and penitential exercises on account of his own sins, nothing is more becoming to the monk than to weep and do penance for the sins of the world. This it is that renders the convent pleasing to God and a blessing to the world, which makes it a hallowed temple whence the cry for mercy ascends in like measure as the cry for vengeance goes up to Heaven from the dwellings of the ungodly.
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.
July Devotion: The Precious Blood of Jesus
Virtue to practice: Simplicity, Faith, Liberty of Spirit, Cheerfulness
Prayers in honor of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus.
Most merciful Jesus, lover of souls! I pray Thee, by the agony of Thy most Sacred Heart, and by the sorrows of Thy Immaculate Mother, wash in Thy Blood the sinners of the whole world who are now in their agony, and who are to die this day. Amen.
Heart of Jesus, once in agony, pity the dying.
100 days indul.—Pius IX., Feb. 1850.
“May Thy Blood, shed for us, O Lord Jesus Christ, obtain for me the remission of all my sins, my negligences, my ignorance; may It strengthen, increase and preserve within me, Faith, Hope, Charity, Grace, and every virtue, may It bring me to everlasting life; may It deliver the souls of my parents and of all those for whom I am bound to pray.” —St. Catharine of Sienna.
Almighty, and everlasting God, who hast appointed Thine only-begotten Son to be the Redeemer of the world, and hast been pleased to be reconciled unto us by His Blood, grant us, we beseech Thee, so to venerate with solemn worship the price of our salvation, that the power thereof may here on earth keep us from all things hurtful, and the fruit of the same may gladden us forever hereafter in heaven. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
Prayers to St. Philomena
Novena to St. Philomena (from July 1st through August 10th)
Illustrious Virgin and Martyr, St. Philomena, behold me kneeling in spirit before the throne on which it has pleased the Most Holy Trinity to place thee. Full of confidence in thy protection, I beseech thee to intercede for me with God. From the height of thy heavenly country, deign to cast a look upon thy humble servant. Spouse of Jesus Christ, console me in my troubles, strengthen me in temptations, protect me in the dangers which surround me on every side; obtain all the graces necessary for me, especially (here mention your particular intention), and, above all, assist me at my death. Amen.
For Victory over Temptations.
O God, who dost sustain us by the merits and example of the blessed Philomena, Virgin and Martyr, mercifully grant that, strengthened in faith and charity, we may never be separated from Thee by any temptation. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
For Growth in Virtues.
O glorious Virgin! whose glory God has been pleased to make known by singular miracles, we address ourselves to thee with entire confidence. Obtain for us that, following thy example, we may fight courageously against whatever is opposed to the reign of Jesus Christ in our heart; that we may adorn our souls with virtues like thine, particularly with that angelic purity of which thou art the perfect model; and that inflamed with the love of Jesus, we may continually walk in the way which He has marked out, to the end that we may one day partake of thy everlasting happiness. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, who with the Father and the Holy Ghost, lives and reigns one God in perfect Trinity, for ever and ever. Amen.
Prayer for Purity.
O glorious Saint Philomena, who, animated by a burning love for Jesus our Savior, didst shine in Holy Church by the splendor of perfect virginity and the practice of the most heroic virtues, obtain for us of thy Divine Spouse the grace to keep ever unsullied the precious treasure of chastity and to practice with generosity the virtues of our state, that having, after thy example, walked in His footsteps during our life on earth, we may, with thee, rejoice in His glory eternally.
Saint Philomena, happy virgin, adorned with all the charm of innocence, and beautified, besides, with the purple of martyrdom, obtain for us the grace to know how to suffer all, and to sacrifice all in order to be faithful to God till death, and possess Him eternally in paradise.
For Detachment from Earthly Goods.
O Saint Philomena, faithful virgin and glorious martyr, who so courageously preferred to the visible goods of this world the invisible goods of a holy eternity, obtain for us a lively faith, an ardent charity, and a piety always increasing, in order that, faithfully serving our Lord Jesus Christ during our life, we may merit after our death the happiness of contemplating Him face to face in life eternal. Amen.
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.
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