On the Fourth Station of the Cross.
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 Fourth Station of the Cross.
To-day, my soul, contemplate the Mother of Jesus, the Mother of Dolors, on the day on which her Son is to be put to death. Think what is the anguish she suffers when the concourse of the populace, the blast of the trumpet, the cavalcade of soldiers announce to her that He has entered upon the blood-stained way of the cross. Imagine as far as you can the painful perplexity of her soul, as she debates within herself whether she shall retire to a solitary spot to indulge her grief and weep unrestrainedly, or whether she shall nerve herself to follow her Son on the way of the cross. Love urges her to take the latter course, and love triumphs over grief.
1st. Consider that Mary, accompanied by John, follows Jesus on the way to Calvary. Oh behold that tender Mother, behold her traversing with trembling, tottering steps the streets that lead to the via dolorosa, the sorrowful way of the cross! How great the anguish, the horror that she felt! She already hears the uproar, the clamorous cries of the approaching multitude, already the notes of the trumpet fall on her ear and pierce her heart. Ought she really to go onward? Will she be able to bear it? Will she not be overcome with grief at the sight of her Son, bruised and bleeding? Will it not be too much for her to endure the contempt and mockery, the insolent stare of the executioners, of the jealous Pharisees, who consider themselves at liberty to be as rude as they please to the mother of a condemned criminal? Such are the painful thoughts that crowd into Mary’s mind; but love, the affection that stimulates her, proves more powerful than these sad anticipations, and she follows her divine Son on the way of the cross. If, my soul, you have hitherto followed your Lord on His sorrowful way rarely, reluctantly, the reason of this is to be found in your want of love; you have loved yourself too much and Him too little, therefore you could not bring yourself to encounter the shame, the scorn, the bitterness which await all who walk with Mary in the dolorous way of the cross.
2d. Consider how Mary met Jesus on the way to Calvary. Look attentively at the affecting picture this meeting presents: Mary, broken down with grief, leans against one of the posts of the gate through which the oncoming crowd will pass. Pale as a corpse, her hands tightly clasped together, she looks anxiously in the direction in which our Lord is coming, eager to catch sight of Him. He is approaching now, her divine Son, staggering under the weight of the cross, wearing the terrible crown of thorns, His countenance covered with sweat and blood, bearing evident traces of deadly exhaustion. His blessed Mother no longer sees the soldiers, she no longer sees the executioners; in her all-absorbing sorrow, her intense affection, she is blind to all except one form only that of her afflicted, tortured Son. Wringing her hands in anguish, she presses through the guard who surround the divine Victim, she sinks down before Him, dissolved in sorrow, love and adoration. Their eyes meet, they exchange a look of mutual love and compassion. Some of the soldiers are touched by this sight; but the others, abusing both the Mother and the Son, drive our Lord forwards, roughly thrusting His Mother aside. You act thus cruelly towards our blessed Lady when you are wilfully indifferent to the Saviour’s Passion, when you add to His sufferings by your sins. Oh do not be one of His brutal tormentors, but rather cast yourself down before Him as Mary did when you behold Him carrying the cross; bewail your misdeeds with heartfelt contrition, and make a firm resolution of amendment.
3d. Consider that the anguish Mary experienced at this meeting was unexampled in its intensity. When Abraham was commanded to sacrifice his dearly loved son Isaac, he took care to prevent Sara, the boy’s mother, from knowing anything about it; he said not a word and thus spared his wife the terrible affliction, the heartrending grief that would have overwhelmed her. When Jacob in profound sorrow rent his garments and cried aloud in his woe, so as to melt a very heart of stone, because Joseph, his son, had, as he imagined, been torn in pieces by a beast of prey, Rachel, the doting mother, had already been taken out of this world, God having thus spared her that terrible trial. Mary, however, the Mother of the Son of God, was not destined to be exempted from the greatest, the most poignant anguish which a mother’s heart is capable of feeling; she had to behold her divine Son dragged to execution before her eyes, condemned to death, to the death of a malefactor, to the death of the cross. Who can help pitying this unhappy Mother? What a severe trial is laid on her, and alas! she has to bear this cruel martyrdom alone, quite alone! At the sight of the fortitude displayed by this weak woman, blush with shame, my soul, at your want of courage, your complaints and lamentations, when you encounter something in the duties of your calling which is painful and distressing.
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 courageous, 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.
Prayers in Time of Calamity
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