Helps which enable us to keep God’s Presence always before our minds.
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.
Helps which enable us to keep God’s Presence always before our minds.
To dwell continually in the presence of God, with the mind ever fixed upon Him, is a happiness reserved for our heavenly home and to which we may not aspire in this life. The divers affairs which necessarily claim our attention withdraw our minds from God; the objects presented to us by our senses entice, bewitch, and estrange us from Him; our natural bent or turn of character, by inclining us to the things of sense, withdraws our thoughts and affections from the Supreme Good. So that it is morally impossible for us to keep God’s presence always in our minds. What can be done, and what it behoves everyone aspiring to perfection to aim at in all earnestness, is to render this presence as continual as our natural powers, and those bestowed upon us by grace, can make it. But as this is to be done gently and peacefully without any anxiety or trouble of mind, and without any undue effort of the brain, we will now set forth some helps which may render easy so devout and profitable an exercise.
The first help towards remaining always in the presence of God with great ease to ourselves, is frequently to raise our hearts to Him by fervent ejaculatory prayers. As is well known, these prayers are nothing more than short but fervent acts of devout affection, shot forth like arrows in order to strike at once the heart of God and inflame the heart of him who produces them. St. Augustine in a letter to a devout lady, Proba by name, exhorting her to the frequent practice of these ejaculations, alleges the example of the Egyptian solitaries, who were accustomed during their manual works to lift up their hearts to God by fervent aspirations of this nature (St. Aug. Epist. cxxi, Ad. Probam, Cap. 10). Now, it is plain that these acts may be practised with the greatest ease at all times and in all places, by all who are really concerned for their perfection; whether they be walking in the public streets or dealing with their neighbours, or occupied with any kind of handiwork, or taking their meals, or rising in the morning, in every petty detail, in fact, of their daily round of duty. And why should not the devout Christian in every possible circumstance of life lift up his mind to God and implore His help, with that beautiful prayer of holy David which the early monks had ever in their mouths: “O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me”? (Ps. lxix, 2); or again, to ask for cleanliness of heart, “Create a clean heart in me, O God, and renew a right spirit within my bowels”? (Ps. 1, 12); or to manifest to God his desire of possessing Him, “As the hart panteth after the fountain of water, so my soul panteth after Thee, O God”? (Ps, xli,i), or to make Him an unreserved offering of Himself, “My Beloved to me, and I to Him”? (Cant, ii, 16), or to return Him grateful thanks for the manifold blessings which He bestows upon him at every moment, “What shall I render to the Lord, for all the things that He hath rendered to me”? (Ps. cxv, 12), or to crave forgiveness for all the offences by which he daily displeases Him, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to Thy great mercy”? (Ps. 1, i), or to declare the conformity of his will with that of God’s, in whatever may befall him, “Teach me to do Thy Will, for Thou art my God”; “Not my will but Thine be done”? (Luke xxii, 42). All this may be done by each and everyone who wishes in any way to advance in holiness, and to lift himself above himself, that he may live with God.
The same saint sets forth, by a very apt and fitting comparison the advantages accruing to devout persons from these fervent ejaculations. As it is not sufficient, if we would keep water warm, to put it on the fire once only, but it needs to be kept there, else little by little it loses its heat and becomes cold again; so neither does it suffice in order to become fervent and spiritual that we enkindle holy affections within us early in the morning by an attentive and prolonged meditation, but we must frequently during the course of the day, by these ejaculations, draw nigh to the fire of divine love, that is to God Himself, if we would wish to keep up the heat of the fervour which was kindled in the morning; otherwise we should soon relapse into our natural coldness and torpor. This way of keeping in the presence of God throughout the day is equally safe and advantageous. It is safe and prudent, since it enables those who are spiritually inclined, to keep in God’s presence without strain on the mind or injury to the bodily organs, by the use of such passing acts, frequently renewed. It is profitable, for the necessary result of such acts is to foster within us the fervour of that devotion which renders us quick to do good, but slow to do evil and quick to shun it. But what is more than all besides (as St. John Chrysostom observes) it shuts the door against the devil, who, on seeing a man in close company with God and far beyond all danger of consenting to sin, does not venture on an attempt to effect an entry into his heart by means of his wicked suggestions (Hom. 4. De Fide Annæ).
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.
Not only the heavens, but the sight of a blade of grass, or of the most insignificant thing, suffices to inflame with love of God the heart that knows Him.. – St. Ignatius of Loyola, Maffœi, Book iii, ch. 1.
April Devotion: The Holy Ghost (The Passion for Lent)
Virtue to practice: Patience
Vexilla Regis prodeunt
The royal banners forward go;
The Cross shines forth in mystic glow,
Where Life for sinners death endured,
And life by death for man procured.
Where deep for us the spear was dyed,
Life’s torrent rushing from His side,
To wash us in that precious flood
Where mingled, Water flowed, and Blood,
Fulfilled is all that David told
In true prophetic song of old;
‘Amidst the nations, God,’ saith he,
‘Hath reigned and triumphed from the Tree.’
O Tree of beauty! Tree of light!
O Tree with royal purple dight!
Elect on whose triumphal breast
Those holy Limbs should find their rest.
On whose dear arms, so widely flung,
The weight of this world’s ransom hung:
The price of human kind to pay
And spoil the spoiler of his prey.
O Cross, our one reliance, hail,
Thou glory of the saved, avail*
To give fresh merit to the Saint,
And pardon to the penitent.
To Thee, Eternal Three in One,
Let homage meet by all be done;
Whom by the Cross Thou dost restore,
Preserve and govern evermore. Amen.
Vexilla Regis pródeunt,
Fulget Crucis mystérium,
Qua vita mortem pértulit,
Et morte vitam prótulit.
Quæ vulneráta lánceæ
Mucróne diro, críminum
Ut nos laváret sórdibus,
Manávit unda et sánguine.
Impléta sunt quæ cóncinit
David fidéli cármine,
Regnávit a ligno Deus.
Arbor decóra et fúlgida,
Ornáta regis púrpura,
Elécta digno stípite
Tam sancta membra tángere.
Beáta, cuius bráchiis
Prétium pepéndit sæculi,
Statéra facta córporis,
Tulítque prædam tártari.
O Crux, ave, spes única,
Gentis redémptæ glória!*
Piis adáuge grátiam,
Reísque dele crímina.
Te, fons salútis, Trínitas,
Colláudet omnis spíritus:
Quibus Cricis victóriam
Largíris, adde præmium. Amen.
(ex. Breviario Romano)
*Instead of: ‘Thou Glory of the saved,’ during Passiontide, say: ‘This Holy Passiontide‘, during the Paschal Season: ‘Thou joy of Eastertide‘, on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross: ‘On this triumphant day.‘
An indulgence of 5 years.
A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions for the daily recitation of this hymn throughout an entire month (S.C. Ind., Jan. 16, 1886; S.P.Ap., April 29, 1934).
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