On the Motives for a Change of Life.
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 Motives for a Change of Life.
This is the will of God, your sanctification. . . . 1 Thess. iv. 3.
God, whose mercies seem to be more abundant in proportion as our iniquities increase, commissions me again to declare to you, that in the dispensations of His justice He has your sanctification alone in view.
In the old law, when His people had abandoned the ways of virtue, He sent His prophets to announce that His avenging arm was extended; and, the terror of His threats, He stemmed the course of their crying enormities. – Then Jerusalem cloathed herself in sackcloth and ashes: her priests wept between the porch and the altar: her elders assembled in the temple, and with their enfeebled voices invoked the God of Israel: the bride neglected the ornaments of her state: the desolate virgins made the air resound with their sighs and lamentations: and the Lord, moved by their tears and repentance, restrained His arm, and looked down with pity and compassion on that unfaithful city.
Our ministry, in these days of salvation, is the same. As all flesh hath corrupted its ways, He sends us, as He formerly sent the prophets, not to announce future calamities, but to excite you to repentance by the view of the chastisements which He has already inflicted on the Christian world. He endeavours to draw you to himself, not by threats, but by the evils which He has scattered with profusion around you. – We are not, however, sent by an implacable Judge, but by a God, who pities your blindness, who wills your sanctification, and who opens to you the bosom of His eternal mercies.
Attend, therefore, beloved Christians, to the voice of the Lord. Behold now is the acceptable time; harden not your hearts. Be converted to me, saith the Lord, in fasting, and weeping, and supplications: rend your hearts, and not your garments; and be converted to the Lord your God, because He is compassionate, and rich in mercies, and because He is ready, on your repentance, to suspend the calamities which His justice has begun to inflict upon you.
This is the day of salvation. The gates of heaven are thrown open: the blood of Jesus pleads powerfully in your behalf: the cross is displayed before you. Resist not, my beloved friends, these graces of your God: He invites you to return to Him by every motive: He strikes terror into your souls when you look back on your past sins; He encourages you by the example of Jesus, and of all His elect throughout the world; He assists you by the prayers of the whole Church; and He terrifies you by the public calamities which His justice has begun to inflict on the earth.
These are the motives which I am commissioned to lay before you, in order to hasten your return to God by a sincere and perfect conversion.
1. Were you to call to mind the history of your past life, you would there alone discover sufficient inducements to determine you to put your house in order without delay against the great day of the Lord. Consider for a moment, what your life has hitherto been. Beginning from the moment that you received your existence from God, what use have you made of your reason, of the powers of your body, and of the faculties of your soul? How did you employ your youthful years? What profit have you reaped from your talents and acquirements? How have you spent the time which ought to have been employed for heaven? How have you endured afflictions, losses, and sicknesses? What use have you made of the mysteries of religion, of its solemnities and sacraments, of the instructions, and of all the other aids with which Christianity has supplied you – aids, which inspired the saints with an increased ardour in their spiritual warfare, and by the means of which they were enabled to complete the edifice of a truly Christian life? Take, then, I say, a retrospective view, and you will behold, with astonishment, that your whole life has been a continued tissue of excesses, of crimes, of tepidity and sloth. If at any time the thread has been broken; or in other words, if, from time to time, you have listened to the inspirations of heaven, and have felt the glow of divine love in your breasts, you have steeled your hearts against it; you have quickly returned to your former ways, and have added to your other crimes the guilt of turning your backs on the gracious invitations of your Redeemer.
How indispensably necessary for your eternal welfare, my beloved, is a change of life! And have you as yet fixed the time for your conversion? Reflect that your days flow rapidly on; years roll away in quick succession; youth is vanishing; and life itself is on the wing. Your friends, your relations, your companions are daily dropping into the grave. You yourselves, perhaps, are only a few paces distant from the same term. The days which have already flown over your head are like a dream, a vapour which has disappeared, and left no trace behind. The days you have yet to live will disappear in the same manner, and leave your hands as empty as the former have done. – Why not, then, take advantage of the present moment? You have numberless crimes to expiate; why not accept the mercies of the Lord, now that they are offered to you? Time is now at your disposal: delay not, for, ere long, time will be no more. Your experience of the vanity of the world, and of all its fleeting pleasures, has long since convinced you that happiness was not to be found in its embraces: you have discovered that sin, although decked in the most alluring charms, is invariably accompanied by anxiety, remorse, and misery. – On what pretexts, therefore, do you defer the reformation of your lives? Have they not been sufficiently criminal to induce the necessity of an immediate change? Do you expect that your chains, will break asunder of themselves? Do you wait for an opportunity of doing penance without any labour or expence? Do you intend to delay this great work till you are stretched on the bed of death, on the supposition that the sentiments of fear, which will then agitate your souls, will expiate the sins of your whole lives? Or, have you renounced the hopes of salvation, like the impious who know not God? Ah! beloved Christians, if you had only once been so unfortunate as to fall into mortal sin, a whole life would not have been too much to have devoted to tears and repentance. Defiled as you are with numberless transgressions, can you refuse to consecrate to God the small portion that remains? To-morrow your soul will be demanded of you; and will you dispute with God the small space that intervenes? Too happy ought you to esteem yourselves, that the Lord in His mercy will condescend to accept this small remnant; that He deigns to stretch out His fatherly hand to you after so long, so dismal a shipwreck; and that He is ready to embrace and receive you into favour, although so disfigured, and defiled by sin?
2. Recollect, moreover, that by deferring your conversion at this time, you renounce all the merit arising from the due observance of Lent. You fast; but what will your fast avail you, if you forsake not your evil ways? What fruit will you gather from your abstinence, from our instructions, and from the penitential exercises of this time, if you break not your chains asunder, if you arise not from the deep abyss into which you have fallen? The Lord requires in the first instance a change of heart; and if you refuse Him this, neither prayer, nor fasting, nor alms will be entitled to any merit in His sight.
Should there, however, be any in this assembly who refuse to turn to the Lord at this holy time, I would not be understood to advise them to neglect the law of fasting, under the pretence that the observance of the letter is of no avail to the obstinate sinner: for this would be to advise them to take part with the impious at once. No: dearly beloved, far be it from me. My advice is, that since God continues to invite you to holiness and justice; since He still stretches out His hand to raise you like Lazarus from the grave, and perhaps has decreed that this present Lent should witness the reformation of your lives, and a happy termination of all your miseries and crimes: my advice, I say, is, that you enter the lists courageously with the just, and that it be your earnest desire to fight, not as beating the air, to run, not as running in vain. By this means, your observance of the letter will be a step, at least, towards a change of life – a preparation for the grace of God; by this means you will unite yourselves exteriorly with the just; you will testify your fear of disobeying God ; you will express your respect for His laws ; you will pay homage to religion; in a word, you will have some reason; to hope that, ere long, you will enter the gates of mercy. – But we will pass on to the motives arising from the cross of Jesus, and the examples of the saints.
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.
When God shall have wholly occupied our souls in spite of ourselves, since no one can rob us of our Divine Treasure, there is nothing in the daily occurrence of this life which ought to grieve or worry us much, for every affliction, whatsoever may be the cause, only comes from the loss of an object that one loves, or from the fear of losing it. – St. Ignatius of Loyola, Letters.
March Devotion: St. Joseph
Virtue to practice: Mortification
Novena in honor of St. Joseph – Day 7
A nine day novena in honor of St. Joseph may be said anytime but especially from March 10th through March 18th before the Feast of St. Joseph on March 19th. Any of the following prayers are suitable.
Prayer Before the Novena
Great Saint Joseph, prostrate at thy feet, with feelings of unlimited confidence, I beg thee to bless the Novena that I begin in thy honor. I will meditate upon thy virtues; grant that I may learn fully to appreciate them. The knowledge of them will be the source of great confusion for me because of the poverty and destitution of my soul.
Great dispenser of the heavenly treasures, assist me in my poverty, help me to display thy virtues in my own soul. “Thou art never invoked in vain,” says the seraphic Theresa of Jesus; be thou to me what thou hast been to that Spouse of the Sacred Heart of Jesus; graciously hearken to me as thou didst hearken to her. Amen.
Saint Joseph, Model of Prudence
LET US honor in Saint Joseph the faithful and prudent servant to whom Almighty God entrusted the care of His family. Prudence inspired Saint Joseph to adopt as the foundation and rule of his conduct, the great principles of faith; God, the end of man in this world; God, the reward of man in eternity.
Remembering that life is short and uncertain, that upon a moment may depend our eternity, Saint Joseph wisely employs his time. He is careful to make a holy use of his senses and his other faculties in order to give to his Lord and Master a faithful account of the talents entrusted to him; he watches over the world around him, yielding to the world in the measure willed by God, but not giving himself up to it. He makes within himself a retreat accessible to God alone and impenetrable to creatures.
O FAITHFUL and prudent servant, watch over my weakness and my inexperience; obtain for me that prudence which reminds me of my end, which directs my paths and which protects me from every danger. Amen.
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.
Copyright © 2013 – 2014. Holy Cross Publications. All rights reserved.