Efficacy of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (Continued).
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.
Efficacy of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (Continued).
WE read of innumerable prodigies allowed by God with regard to the offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the departed, among which the following is a very striking example.
In 1849, a Flemish woman died at the age of fifty-five, in a parish in Flanders. She had been pious and charitable and devoted to Our Lady. But she had certain faults, which, as we shall see, had to be atoned for in the next life.
She left behind a devoted servant, Barbara Vennecke by name. About three weeks after her mistress’s death, Barbara was awakened in the middle of the night by hearing her own name distinctly called three times. She awoke with a start, and beheld her mistress, sitting on the side of her bed, clad in a common working dress. But she did not feel alarmed. “Barbara,” said the apparition. “What do you want?” replied the girl. “Take the rake,” replied her mistress, ‘‘and stir the heap of sand in the little room; there you will find some money; have Masses said with it for my soul, for I am still suffering.” Barbara agreed, and the apparition vanished. On awakening in the morning, she thought it must have been a dream. But she was so impressed that she followed the directions given her, found a purse containing five hundred francs, and brought them to the priest, who, after obtaining the husband’s consent, said the Masses. The fee mentioned by the deceased was two francs, which was more than the custom of the place sanctioned, but it had been the habit of this good woman to pay this amount.
Two months after Barbara again saw her mistress during the night hours; but this time the room was filled with light, and her mistress appeared dressed in a robe of dazzling whiteness, and fresh and beautiful as in the days of her youth. “Barbara,” she said, “I thank you; I am delivered.” She then disappeared.
There was once a Polish prince, who had composed a work condemning the doctrine of the immortality of the soul. He had completed his work, but had not yet sent it to the press, when one day while he was walking in the park, a woman, bathed in tears, threw herself at his feet, and said:
“O Prince, my husband has died, and perhaps now his soul is undergoing Purgatory. I am too poor to have Mass said for him. In your kindness I beg you to come to my aid.”
Though the Prince shared not the woman’s faith, he could not refuse, and slipped a gold piece into her hand. She accordingly got a priest to offer some Masses for her husband’s soul.
Five days later, as the Prince sat in his study, retouching and correcting his manuscript, a man stood before him, dressed in the attire of the peasants of those parts. “Prince,” said he, “I come to thank you. I am the husband of the poor woman to whom you gave money to pay for Masses for my soul. Your charity was pleasing to God, and He has allowed me to come and thank you.” He then disappeared like a shadow.
The Prince at once destroyed his manuscript, and, being deeply moved, was soon after converted to the faith.
If Masses are of such great advantage to the departed, what a mistake it is for those who love their friends and relatives to spend money which might thus be so helpfully employed by them for the relief of the departed souls, on meaningless funeral decorations, such as expensive wreaths and flowers, which can be of no possible use to the dead.
We read in the life of St. Teresa, that a benefactor, a nobleman named Don Bernardine de Mendoza, gave her a beautiful house and garden in Madrid for a convent. Two months afterward he fell ill and, losing the power of speech, died without being able to confess, though with every sign of true repentance.
Our Lord told St. Teresa that he had run a great risk, but mercy had been shown him on account of his donation to her, but that his soul would only be freed from Purgatory when the first Mass should have been said in that convent. St. Teresa accordingly hurried the building of the convent as speedily as she could, and made a temporary chapel in which she had Mass said, and at the moment of Communion, she beheld the soul of her benefactor, who came to thank her for his deliverance from Purgatory; she then saw him enter Heaven. She was much surprised, for she had thought Our Lord meant the first Mass after the Blessed Sacrament should be reserved there. If any reader think that so many testimonies from Saints’ revelations are of little weight, let them remember what St. Thomas says, “that in matters concerning Purgatory, which have not been determined by the Church, the sayings and revelations of the Saints are our best guide.”
Practice.—Often make offerings, in union with the Masses said all over the world, of the Precious Blood for the relief of the Holy Souls.
Indulgenced Prayer.—“My God, I offer Thee all the Masses which are being celebrated to-day throughout the whole world, for sinners who are in their agony, and who are to die this day. May the Precious Blood of Jesus, their Redeemer, obtain mercy for them.” (300 days each time; Pius X, 1907.)
St. Malachy, Archbishop of Armagh, was remarkable for his special compassion for the Poor Souls in Purgatory. He had a sister who led a worldly life and was fond of pleasure, vanity, and dress. Often had her brother reproved her for her folly, exhorting her to think seriously of her soul, but to no purpose. At length she died, and for some days St. Malachy offered the Holy Sacrifice and earnest prayers for the repose of her soul, until at length the distraction of his important duties banished the remembrance of her from his mind. Thus a month passed, at the end of which St. Malachy heard a voice saying: “Behold, your sister is waiting in great grief within the church yard, where she has been for thirty days without refreshment.” When the Archbishop awoke, he pondered on the meaning of these words, and remembered that it was now thirty days since he had offered the Holy Sacrifice for her soul. For many days he said Masses for her, and a short time afterward he beheld her standing at the door of the church, clothed in black garments and unable to obtain an entrance. He redoubled his prayers, and a few days later saw her clad in half mourning and admitted within the doors of the Church, though as yet unable to approach the altar. Finally, after many and fervent prayers, he beheld her clad in white garments, in the midst of a glorious company, and admitted into the very sanctuary. Then he knew that the Masses and prayers he had offered for her were answered, and that her soul had found relief.
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.
Come, let us adore the King our Lord, who is to come!
Hymn from the Office of Lauds for Advent
The solemn voice of the Precursor is heard, explaining the obscurity of the ancient figures; let our slumbers cease; Jesus is rising on our horizon.
Let the sluggish soul now rise, and stay no more upon this earth; a new star is shining, which will take all sin away.
Lo! the Lamb is sent to forgive us freely our debt; let us unite in tears and prayers, that we may obtain pardon.
That when He comes the second time, filling the world with fear, He may not have to punish us for our sins, but may protect us in mercy.
Power, honour, praise, and glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Paraclete, for ever and ever. Amen.
Prayers from the Office and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for Advent
V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto Thee.
Almighty Lord and God, who hast brought us to the beginning of this day, let thy powerful grace so conduct us through it, that we may not fall into any sin, but that all our thoughts, words, and actions may be regulated according to the rules of thy heavenly justice, and tend to the observance of thy holy law. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
V. Incline unto my aid, O God.
R. O Lord, make haste to help me.
Lord God, and King of heaven and earth, vouchsafe this day to rule and sanctify, to direct and govern our souls and bodies, our senses, words, and actions in conformity to Thy law, and strict obedience to Thy commands; that by the help of Thy grace, O Saviour of the world! we may be fenced and freed from all evils. Who livest and reignest for ever and ever. Amen.
V. O Lord God of hosts, come and deliver us.
R. Show Thy face, and we shall be saved.
V. Show us, O Lord, thy mercy.
R. And grant us the Saviour, whom we expect from Thee.
V. The Lord shall rise upon thee, O Jerusalem!
R. And His glory shall be seen upon thee.
Bend Thine ear, O Lord, we beseech Thee, to our prayers, and enlighten the darkness of our minds by the grace of Thy visitation; who livest and reignest God, world without end. Amen.
Novena for Advent
Hail and blessed be the hour and the moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour vouchsafe, O my God! To hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ, and of His blessed Mother. Amen.
(It is piously believed that whoever recites the above prayer fifteen times a day from the feast of St. Andrew (Nov. 30th) until Christmas will obtain what is asked.)
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