The Lesser Litanies
On the Reasons Why our Lord Ascended into Heaven.
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 Reasons Why our Lord Ascended into Heaven.
Ponder, my soul, on the sublimity of that moment when our Lord was about to ascend into Heaven; to leave the earth to which He had come down three and thirty years previously, the earth which He had illuminated with the light of faith, and which He had redeemed with His precious blood. Now, at the close of His earthly career, how grand, how glorious was that which awaited Him!
1st. Consider that our Lord ascends into Heaven for the purpose of giving an account to His heavenly Father of the great work He had accomplished upon earth. “Father, I have glorified Thee on the earth, I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do. And now glorify Thou Me, Father, with Thyself, with the glory which I had, before the world was, with Thee.” (St. John xvii. 4, 5.) Thus our Lord spoke after the Last Supper, and with the same beautiful words upon His lips He will enter the presence of His Father. How well pleasing may we conclude this to have been to the heavenly Father! how great must have been the satisfaction He manifested in His Son and in the work that Son had accomplished!
On your part, my soul, propose to yourself this question: If now, if this very day you were summoned to appear before your Father in Heaven to give an account of your life on earth, could you also say in our Lord’s words: “Father, I have glorified Thee on the earth; I have finished the work which Thou gavest me to do”?
2d. Consider that our Lord ascends into Heaven for the purpose of receiving, in His character of God-man, the recompense of all He had done and merited upon earth. In Heaven He was to be raised above all because on earth He had abased Himself below all; there, instead of being stretched on the cross of shame, He was to sit down upon the throne of divine majesty; there, instead of being placed between two thieves, He was to be surrounded by countless hosts of angels; there, instead of the scorn and mockery of men, His ears would be greeted by hosannas from the voices of thousands of cherubim and seraphim, and His name, nailed in ignominy to the wood of the cross, was there to be proclaimed as the “name which is above all names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow.” (Phil. ii. 9-10.) Rejoice, my soul, with all your heart at the glory into which your Redeemer enters; but also rejoice at the shame, the abjection, the sufferings and tribulations which you endure here below; for the greater the afflictions you have to bear in this world, the greater the happiness and glory which, like our Lord, you may anticipate as your portion hereafter.
3d. Consider that our Lord ascends into Heaven in order to take His place on the throne at God’s right hand; thus to enter into the possession of the kingdom His Father gives to Him, to exercise supreme dominion in Heaven and on earth. Reflect how He, as King of Heaven, will appoint their various thrones to the souls whom He brought out of Limbo and who will accompany Him into His kingdom; He will apportion to each one his fitting place; to the patriarchs, to the prophets, to John His precursor, to His foster-father Joseph, a seat in Heaven will be assigned. Think moreover how the celestial choirs, the thrones and principalities, the virtues and powers will all come forward to pay homage to their new King, and all will prepare to hold high festival in Heaven with such rejoicings as were never before known since the world was created. And when you have fully impressed on your mind all that you have thus contemplated in imagination, reflect that it lies within your reach, it only rests with you to become yourself a denizen of that celestial kingdom, a happy subject of the heavenly King who sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
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. (Raccolta).
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 joy of Eastertide, avail*
To give fresh merit to the Saint,
And pardon to the penitent.
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)
*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.‘
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).
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