Self-love Hides from us what we are.
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.
Self-love Hides from us what we are.
We will meditate upon a nineteenth reason for being very humble; it is that self-love is a deceiver which: 1st, hides from us what we are; 2d, hides from us what our neighbor is. We will then make the resolution: 1st, to be on our guard against the deceptions of self-love, and no longer to look upon them as being realities; 2d, never to say or do anything which shall be to the advantage of self-love.
“He who knows himself well is vile in his own eyes, and takes no pleasure in the praises of men” (I. Imit. ii. I).
Let us adore Our Lord Jesus Christ taking, as His share, when He was on earth, an obscure and hidden life, to teach us not to listen to the inspirations of self-love, which push us on to make an appearance in the eyes of others. In vain His relatives say to Him: “Manifest Thyself to the world” (John vii. 4). He does not listen to these counsels of flesh and blood, which seek the glory of men rather than the glory of God (John xii. 43). Let us thank Him for this example and ask of Him grace to profit by it.
It is remarkable to see how self-love deceives us. All the reasons for rendering us contemptible are not sufficient to make us humble, whilst the least advantage which we imagine we possess fills us with vanity. How is that? 1st. It is because we are determined at all costs to have a good opinion of ourselves; we shut our eyes to our miseries, in order that we may see only our good side. We look at ourselves from this point of view with complaisance, we entertain ourselves with it, we entertain others with it; speaking only of ourselves, approving only what we ourselves do, forgetting nothing which is calculated to make others praise us, and taking all the praises we receive as being incontestable truths, all the consideration of which we are the object as debts which are paid to us.
2d. We appropriate to ourselves the small amount of good which God has placed within us, saying: This is your good, your virtue, your merit. Then we increase and exaggerate it; he who is poor in virtue and in talents looks upon himself as being rich both in the one and the other; he who has only mediocre talents believes that he has remarkable talents; and he who has only the appearance of virtue imagines himself to be solidly virtuous. Willingly we constitute ourselves to be innovators, critics, and censors, because we believe ourselves to be more clever than others. Not content with appropriating and exaggerating what is good in us, we dissimulate what is evil to such a point that that which strikes all eyes escapes us, and is for us as the words of a closed and sealed book; or if we cannot hide it, we lessen it, or we clothe it in seductive colors which almost cause it to be loved; we excuse it by human frailty; lastly, we cover it with the good we do, in order to make it forgotten. In this way we reach the point at which we do not know ourselves, and the mind, being duped by the heart, deceives us. Such or such a man believes himself to be humble, patient, detached, and when an opportunity arrives he shows himself to be proud, impatient, filled with attachments. Another man trusts in his virtue, and the most serious kinds of falls are a consequence of the ignorance in which he lives.
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.
September Devotion: The Holy Cross
Virtues to practice: Piety, fervor in the performance of sacred duties, the spirit of prayer
O Mary, most holy Virgin and Queen of Martyrs, accept the sincere homage of my filial affection. Into thy heart, pierced by so many swords, do thou welcome my poor soul. Receive it as the companion of thy sorrows at the foot of the Cross, on which Jesus died for the redemption of the world. With thee, O sorrowful Virgin, I will gladly suffer all the trials, contradictions, and infirmities which it shall please our Lord to send me. I offer them all to thee in memory of thy sorrows, so that every thought of my mind, and every beat of my heart may be an act of compassion and of love for thee. And do thou, sweet Mother, have pity on me, reconcile me to thy divine Son Jesus, keep me in His grace and assist me in my last agony, so that I may be able to meet thee in heaven and sing thy glories. Amen.
An indulgence of 500 days (taken from The Raccolta (c)1957).
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