The Fourth Sunday in Lent.
On the Gospel for 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 Fourth Sunday in Lent.
On the Gospel for the Day.
Contemplate the pleasing picture presented to our view in to-day’s Gospel. In the tranquil eventide, before the last rays of the sun have ceased to illuminate the landscape, thousands of expectant persons may be seen seated on the green grass; they are hungry, and anxiously awaiting the refreshment promised them. Before them our Lord stands, an indescribably majestic and dignified figure; He blesses the loaves and fishes and the apostles distribute them, but the number of loaves is not diminished, the fishes do not come to an end; thousands eat as much as they want, and yet some of the provisions are left over. O wonder of wonders! Yet, my soul, this miracle which appears so amazing does but foreshadow a yet greater miracle, that which our Lord has wrought and which He continually works in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.
1st. In the desert our Lord looked up to Heaven, gave thanks, blessed the bread and broke it, and He did exactly the same at the Last Supper in the cenacle at Jerusalem. And as He fed five thousand in the desert with the bread which He had broken, so now He feeds all the millions of communicants who approach the holy table, with His body that was broken for us, concealed under the appearance of bread; and sustains the spiritual life of all those who are journeying through the wilderness of this mortal life, not for the space of forty years, as was the case with the Israelites who eat the manna, but for all eternity. And as in the desert after the five thousand had fully satisfied their appetites, so little of the bread appeared to have been eaten that enough remained over to fill twelve baskets, so the body of the Lord, given for the spiritual sustenance of the faithful, is neither consumed nor diminished; as the Church sings: Sumit unus, sumunt mille, Quantum isti, tantum ille, Nec sumptus consumitur. And shall you, my soul, show yourself to be less thankful for this supernatural food than the five thousand in the desert were for the material food? In their delighted gratitude they wanted to make their Benefactor their king.
2d. Consider further, to what extent the miracle brought before our notice to-day is a type of the adorable Sacrament of the Altar. As out there in the desert our Lord only employed the apostles to distribute the bread to the people, so He only entrusted the power, the right to consecrate the sacred elements and distribute the bread after transubstantiation to His apostles and the priests their successors. And as in the miraculous multiplication of the loaves the wonder which commenced when the bread was in the Saviour’s hands,—the power of multiplication which He communicated to it by virtue of His blessing—did not cease when it was in the hands of the apostles who distributed it, for they went on dispensing the loaves they received from Christ’s hand until all the vast multitude had eaten as much as they desired, so it is in regard to the Blessed Sacrament. The miracle our Lord initiated at the Last Supper was carried on by His apostles, and even to this day the Bread of Life is dispensed by their successors to the faithful until all have eaten and are satisfied. And if it be asked why our Lord performed the same miracle in the case of the two fishes as in that of the five loaves, let it be remembered that in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar the faithful feed in a mystic manner on Christ, whom the early Christians loved to depict under the symbol of a fish. Moreover the fishes, being two in number, may be taken as indicating the two-fold nature of Christ, whom we receive in Holy Communion, both God and man. Wherefore admire, my soul, the beautiful connection between the material and the spiritual miraculous multiplication of bread, and let it serve for the confirmation of your faith.
3d. Consider how we gather from the narrative of the Evangelists that the multitude who followed our Lord into the wilderness was composed of various classes of persons. Some were sick and desired to receive from Christ not merely bread, but the gift of bodily health; others were concerned for their salvation and craved from our Lord not the bread of the body alone but the food of the soul, His divine truth. Others again came to our Lord merely out of curiosity, they were actuated by purely earthly motives, and as soon as their curiosity was satisfied they went away. Here, also, my soul, you see a type of the Holy Sacrament of the Altar. Some there are who approach the holy table, who draw nigh to Christ, who are sinners, poor but penitent sinners; these are the spiritually sick, who need the Bread of Heaven as a medicine and remedy for the malady of their soul; and there also come others who are earnestly desirous to be saved, whose feet are in the path of perfection, whose heart longs with a pure and fervent longing, unalloyed by any secondary motive, for the Bread of Angels. There are yet others who come, who are entirely immersed in material interests; without any higher aspirations or nobler aims they come simply from habit or compulsion; these go just as they came; nay, they go away in worse plight than they came. In which of these three classes are you to be found? Ask yourself this question seriously, and pray God that all who receive Holy Communion this Easter may leave the Lord’s table with their souls satisfied, strengthened by the food which endures unto life eternal.
 From the hymn Lauda Sion Salvatorum—“Whether one or thousands eat, all receive the selfsame meat, nor the less for others leave.”
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.
March Devotion: St. Joseph
Virtue to practice: Mortification
Litany of St. Joseph
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven, Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost, Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, Have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Illustrious Son of David, pray for us.
Splendour of patriarchs, pray for us.
Spouse of the Mother of God, pray for us.
Chaste Guardian of the Virgin, pray for us.
Foster-father of the Son of God, pray for us.
Watchful Defender of Christ, pray for us.
Head of the Holy Family, pray for us.
Joseph most just, pray for us.
Joseph most pure, pray for us.
Joseph most prudent, pray for us.
Joseph most couragious, pray for us.
Joseph most obedient, pray for us.
Joseph most faithful, pray for us.
Mirror of patience, pray for us.
Lover of poverty, pray for us.
Model of all who labor, pray for us.
Glory of family life, pray for us.
Preserver of virgins, pray for us.
Mainstay of families, pray for us.
Solace of the afflicted, pray for us.
Hope of the sick, pray for us.
Patron of the dying, pray for us.
Terror of demons, pray for us.
Protector of the Holy Church, pray for us.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us.
V. He hath made him master of His house,
R. And ruler of all His possessions.
Let us Pray.
O God, Who in Thine ineffable providence didst vouchsafe to choose Blessed Joseph to be the spouse of Thy most Holy Mother; grant, we beseech Thee, that we may be worthy to have him for our intercessor in heaven whom on earth we venerate as our Protector. Who livest and reignest world without end. Amen.
Ancient Prayer to St. Joseph
(This prayer was said to be founded in the 50 A.D. In the 1500′s it was sent by the Pope to Emperor Charles when he was going into battle. According to oral tradition, whoever reads this prayer, hears it, or carries it, will not fall into the hands of the enemy, nor be burned in any fire, nor will they be defeated in battle.)
O St. Joseph whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in thee all my interests and desires. O St. Joseph, do assist me by thy powerful intercession and obtain for me from thy Divine Son all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord; so that having engaged here below thy heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of fathers. O St. Joseph I never weary contemplating thee and Jesus asleep in thy arms. I dare not approach while He reposes near thy heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine Head for me, and ask Him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, patron of departing souls, pray for me. Amen.
Prayer to St. Joseph by Pope St. Pius X
O Glorious St. Joseph, model of all those who are devoted to labor, obtain for me the grace to work conscientiously, putting the call of duty above my natural inclinations, to work with gratitude and joy, in a spirit of penance for the remission of my sins, considering it an honor to employ and develop by means of labor the gifts received from God, to work with order, peace, moderation, and patience, without ever shrinking from weariness and difficulties, to work above all with purity of intention and detachment from self, having always death before my eyes and the account that I must render of time lost, of talents wasted, of good omitted, of vain complacency in success, so fatal to the work of God. All for Jesus, all through Mary, all after thine example, O Patriarch, St. Joseph. Such shall be my watchword in life and in death. Amen.
Good St. Joseph protect us, protect the holy Church.
O good and kind St. Joseph guide us in the way of perfection.
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