The Feast of St. Ignatius Loyola. (July 31.)
On False and True Ambition.
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 Feast of St. Ignatius Loyola. (July 31.)
On False and True Ambition.
Imagine the great Founder of the Society of Jesus in his solitude at Manresa. At that time he stood on the boundary line between the world and God. A terrible conflict went on within his breast. All consolation departed from him; neither prayer nor the Sacraments, neither penance nor mortification imparted relief to his troubled soul. It was a season of severe suffering, but it was the last ordeal, the fire that was to effect the perfect refinement of the gold. From the heat of this conflict the saint came forth as his book of Spiritual Exercises, the fruit of his sojourn at Manresa, shows him to us: a perfect ascetic, imbued with a thorough, a lofty contempt of the world. In order to appreciate the magnitude of the change, the completeness of the revolution that had taken place in his soul, you have only to meditate upon the character of the saint previous to his conversion.
1st. Consider how strong false, worldly ambition was within his breast before his conversion. The scion of a noble family, brought up in the highest circles of society and endowed by nature with the most coveted gifts and graces of mind and body, when a young man Ignatius conceived an insatiable thirst for fame and glory and distinction. Whenever an opportunity presented itself of distinguishing himself, he invariably availed himself of it; nothing was too bold for him to venture upon, nothing too arduous for him to undertake if only honor and glory would accrue to him from it; to acquire military renown he feared neither wounds nor death itself. O Ignatius, how thou art to be pitied! What trouble thou didst take in the pursuit of a bubble, of a shadow that vanishes in an instant! For what else is earthly renown, earthly honor? Those who to-day speak loudly in thy praise, who to-morrow approve and applaud thee, will abuse and decry thee the day after. Think of all the illustrious names of men who in times that are past enjoyed a world-wide reputation. They are never spoken of now, other idols have taken their place; and even if they should be remembered and praised, what would it benefit them now? Their bodies have moldered in the grave, and their soul has long since received her eternal reward. This it is which is so fatal about false ambition, it robs our actions of all their merit, for he who, as St. Gregory says, seeks the favor of man as the recompense of virtue parts with what is really meritorious for a sorry price; he barters the treasures wherewith he might purchase Heaven for the transitory enjoyment of a few flattering words. Abandon this folly, my soul, as St. Ignatius abandoned it.
2d. Consider the true ambition that animated him after his conversion. The desire, good in itself, the craving of a noble nature to attain honor and merit praise was not extinguished in his breast when he became a new man, but he was animated by a higher, a nobler aspiration than before, he craved for honor and glory as much as ever, not now for himself however, but for God. The glory of God was now the object for which he strove; the motto of his life was the well-known adage: “All for the greater glory of God.” That was the goal of all his exertions, of his struggles, of his sufferings. He proposed to himself as his highest aim to carry out the Apostle’s words: “To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever.” (I. Tim. i. 17.) Every work he undertook, however insignificant, he commenced with God and for God, and to God he invariably offered the result, whether joyous or grievous. This being the single aim of all his actions, he frequently was heard to exclaim: What do I desire, what ought I to desire, but Thee alone, O my God! And the more strongly this true ambition, this thirst for the glory of God grew and increased within him, the more completely was his former, false ambition annihilated, so that he declined all posts of honor that were offered him, and fled from praise as from a pestilence, signing himself in his letters: Ignatius, poor in all that is good. Study attentively the glorious example of this great saint; pray him to cast one spark of his all-consuming zeal for God’s glory into your heart with its miserable ambitions; resolve that from henceforth you will before and after your every action repeat the beautiful aspiration: Praise be to God, praise be to Him for evermore: Laus Deo, semper sit laus Deo. And with this intention let your prayer also be that of the saint: “Accept, O Lord, my freedom, my understanding, my memory and my will. All that I have and all that I am Thou hast given me, I give all back to Thee; I leave it to Thy will to do with me as Thou wilt. Give me Thy love and Thy grace; this is enough for me, I desire nothing else.”
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
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. Amen.
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.
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