On the Importance of Our Lord’s Baptism in Regard to Our Faith.
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 Importance of Our Lord’s Baptism in Regard to Our Faith.
To-day you are invited once more to place the whole sublime spectacle of our Lord’s baptism before your mental sight. Picture to yourself the tranquilly-flowing river Jordan, on whose banks a figure stands that commands our respect; it is John the Baptist, who has just administered baptism to the Son of God. See how the Holy Spirit descends upon our Lord, at that moment resplendent with celestial glory; listen to the voice of the Eternal Father sounding from on high. How sacred, how grand a picture is this, and how replete it is with meaning of importance for our Faith!
1st. Consider that at His baptism Christ is proved to be the Son of the living God. To this, the principal article of our Faith, we have no less a witness than God the Father Himself, whose voice is heard from Heaven, saying: “This is My Son” (St. Matt. iii. 17), as if He would declare to the whole world: This man, to all appearance nothing but an ordinary man, capable of suffering and subject to death; this man who out of humility is baptized as if He were a sinner is My Son, and that not merely in virtue of His baptism, not merely by adoption, but begotten by Me before all ages. What an all-powerful testimony is this! The testimony not of an erring mortal, but of God who cannot err, the God who is Truth eternal. He bears witness that Christ is the Son of God. Does not this strengthen your faith? But there is more yet to come.
2d. Consider that at our Lord’s baptism the whole work of redemption, the basis on which our faith rests, received a solemn sanction from God. Observe that He did not merely say: “This is My Son;” He said, “This is My beloved Son;” Him whom I love and have ever loved above all creatures; Him in whom I have had pleasure from all eternity, and for whose sake I shall have pleasure in mankind whom He has redeemed. Now if the Father is well pleased in His Son, He is also well pleased in His work, the work of our redemption to which on this day the Father gives His sanction, and not the Father alone but the Holy Ghost also, who, descending upon the Son, imprints His divine seal upon His work. The vast signification of our Lord’s baptism becomes yet more evident if we proceed to consider a third point in this mystery.
3d. At this baptism of our Lord the sublime mystery of the Holy Trinity was openly revealed for the first time since the creation of the world. At the commencement of the work of creation, this truth was revealed, although in a much more obscure manner, since it was the will of the Father that the world should be made; the Son carried out that will of the Father by the word He spoke: Let it be made; and the Holy Spirit, moving over the waters, completed the work of the Father and the Son. And so at the beginning of the spiritual new-creation of the world, at the outset of the work of its redemption, the most Holy Trinity manifest themselves anew, and more clearly than before. The voice of the Father is distinctly heard, in whose counsels the redemption of man was decreed from all eternity; the Son appears in a visible form in the Jordan, on the eve of commencing, in stern reality, the work of that redemption; and the Holy Spirit, to whom it belongs to carry on that redemption until the end of time, hovers over the waters of the river Jordan, as He once moved over the face of the waters when the earth was but just created. Impress deeply upon your mind, my soul, the vast meaning attaching to the fact of Christ’s baptism; it is a strong confirmation of your faith. In conclusion, however, remember that you too have been baptized, that to you also the mystery of the most Holy Trinity was then revealed, that it was given you to believe that mystery, and the same divine voice said of you: “This is My beloved son.” Have you retained that character? Is God still well pleased in you? Ask yourself this question, and according to the answer your heart returns, make your resolutions for the future.
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.
– Meditations on the Life, Teaching, and Passion of Jesus Christ
(Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur: New York, December 31, 1900)
A Week for the Poor Souls:
Prayer for Monday
O Lord, God Almighty, I beseech Thee, by the precious Blood which Thy Divine Son Jesus shed in His cruel scourging, deliver the souls in purgatory, and amongst them all especially that soul which is nearest to its entrance into Thy glory; that so it may soon begin to praise and bless Thee forever. Amen.
Our Father, and Hail Mary.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.
De Profundis for the Faithful Departed (Ps. 129)
Out of the depths I have cried to Thee, O Lord! Lord, hear my voice.
Let Thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication.
If Thou, O Lord, shalt mark our iniquities: O Lord, who shall stand it?
For with Thee there is merciful forgiveness: and by reason of Thy law I have waited for Thee, O Lord.
My soul hath relied on His word: my soul hath hoped in the Lord.
From the morning watch even unto night, let Israel hope in the Lord.
Because with the Lord there is mercy: and with Him plenteous redemption.
And He shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.
V. Eternal rest give unto them, O Lord.
R. And let perpetual light shine upon them.
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