The Fruits of a bad 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.
The Fruits of a bad life.
Be not deceived, God is not mocked; for what things a man shall sow, those also shall he reap. EPISTLE OF THE DAY.
One would think, my dear friends, that the Apostle would hardly have needed to remind any one having common sense, or even a little experience, of such an obvious truth as this. Surely no one expects, when he plants some kind of seed, to have some other kind of crop come from it. “Do men,” says our Divine Lord, “gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? ” No, we are all well aware that if we want to grow any kind of grain or fruit we must sow the seed or plant the tree which produces it.
And yet, strange to say, though we all do acknowledge this law of nature in everything outside of ourselves, we fail to apply it to ourselves, and especially to our souls. In matters simply pertaining to the body we do indeed know that the cause will produce its effect. If we sow the seed of some fatal disease in ourselves we expect it to break out and run its course; we do not believe that, as a rule, tears or even prayers are going to stop it.
But when it comes to the soul, many Christians seem to think that everything regarding it may be shifted at their own will; that they may go on for years sowing the seeds of all kinds of abominable vices in their souls, and that, later on, whenever they may desire, all this work can be undone in a moment, and those souls, which sin has rotted through and through, can be put right back where they were as they came from the baptismal font, or even set on a perfect level with those in which the seed of every virtue has been implanted and carefully nurtured from childhood.
Ah! my dear brethren, this is a great and a terrible mistake. Hear the words in which St. Paul continues: “He that soweth in his flesh, of the flesh also shall reap corruption; but he that soweth in the spirit, of the spirit shall reap life everlasting.”
“He that soweth in his flesh, of the flesh also shall reap corruption.” Here is the great evil of sin, which repentance, however sincere, cannot utterly undo. True contrition will, no doubt, especially if accompanied by the Sacrament of Penance, take away the guilt of sin; but unless it be very intense, and accompanied by an extraordinary love of God, like that of the great saints, it will not, in releasing from guilt, remedy all the deformity which long-continued habits of vice have worked in the soul. Yes, sorrow may come in such an overflowing torrent as to break down and sweep away all obstacles in its path; but how often does it come so? To have such sorrow for sin is a rare and remarkable grace from God which the sinner has no right to expect.
All this is specially true, as the words of the Apostle teach us, of the sins of the flesh, such as drunkenness and impurity. The body will hang on to sin after the soul has given it up, and will drag the soul again down with it. Oh! that those who are addicted to these horrible sensual habits would realize their danger, and feel the net which the flesh has been weaving round their spirit. But no; they go on from week to week, from month to month, making, it may be, now and then a feeble effort to escape; but too often it can be seen after each confession, though they are indeed on their feet again, that the odds against them are greater than ever, and that their weapons are dropping out of their hands.
Brethren, grace is powerful, surely; but you are much mistaken if you think it is going to destroy and make of no effect the law of nature. Rouse yourselves to the combat which is before you while there is yet time; for the time may come, and perhaps sooner than you think, when the corruption of the flesh will quench the feeble spark of contrition which God has hitherto given you, and in which lies your only hope.
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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