Consideration on the Salvation of the Soul.
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.
Consideration on the Salvation of the Soul.
I am in the world only to get saved. Do you understand, my soul? You are not in the world to make yourself comfortable, to play the grandee, to dress, to be at ease, and much less to sin; you are in the world only to save yourself. What will it avail you to have in your power the whole world, if, after all, you have to lose yourself. Kings, emperors, philosophers, men of letters, what use to you will your power or your learning then be, if you have not known how to save your soul?
But this business of salvation is most uncertain. The salvation of the soul cannot be bought with gold; it is gained by doing violence to one’s self; it is lost by one single mortal sin, even of thought. To be saved, it is not enough to have been holy and innocent at one time; we must persevere up to death. What security, then, have I that I shall get saved? My past life has sins and relapses sown all over it; my present is an abyss that I know not; my future life, what will it be? No one knows except God alone.
Finally, this is an affair in which there is no making of reparation. If I lose a lawsuit, if I lose my health, I may hope to find some remedy; but if I lose my soul once only, there is no remedy left for all eternity. If they cut off one hand from me, I have another still left; if they amputate a foot, I should have another left; if they drew out an eye, I should have another left. But there is one soul only; either saved alone, or damned alone. And do I think so little about getting saved, or do I hold myself so secure? I live at ease, and yet if I were to die now, I know not whether I should be saved.
That Mary obtains the salvation of her devout servants is no great wonder; but that she should do so for one who never recollects her, this it is that shews the bowels of mercy of a Mother’s love. Let me take as a proof of this the lad (Auriem. pt. ii. p. 253) Esquilio, who, though he was not more than twelve years old, yet led a most wicked and impure life. God, who willed to draw him to Himself, made him fall very ill indeed, so that, despairing of life, the lad expected death every hour; when, having lost his senses, and being thought by the bystanders to have expired already, he was conducted to a place full of fire! and while he tried to escape these flames, he saw a gate, proceeding through which he came to a hall, where he found the Queen of Heaven, with many saints who formed her court. Esquilio flung himself at her feet; but she with severe frown hid herself from him, and bade him be led back again to the fire. The wretch invoked these saints, and they had this answer from Mary, “That he had been exceedingly wicked, and that he never said so much as one ‘Ave Maria.’” The saints interposed again, and said that he would have altered habits. Esquilio, meanwhile, full of great fear, promised to give himself up to things of the Spirit, and to serve her as long as he lived. Then the Blessed Virgin gave him a severe reprimand, exhorted him to correct with penance his past sins, and to keep his promise to her, and revoked the order given for him to be cast into the flames. At this Esquilio came to himself again, and having got well of his malady, became a religious of the Cistercian order, which is dedicated in a particular manner to the Blessed Virgin; and made there such progress in virtue, that he became a saint, and will sing in heaven the glories of this his loving Mother.
ACT OF HOMAGE.
Make a visit to an image of Mary, and recommend your soul fervently to her intercession.
“Salva me, Domina; salva me!”
“Mary! one gift I beg of thee,
My soul from sin and sorrow free.”
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.
May Devotion: The Blessed Virgin Mary
Virtue to practice: Meekness, purity, the spirit of poverty
O holy Mary, my Mistress, into thy blessed trust and special keeping, into the bosom of thy tender mercy, this day, every day of my life and at the hour of my death, I commend my soul and body; to thee I entrust all my hopes and consolations, all my trials and miseries, my life and the end of my life, that through thy most holy intercession and thy merits, all my actions may be ordered and disposed according to thy will and that of thy divine Son. Amen (St. Aloysius Gonzaga)
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that any one who fled to thy protection, implored thy help or sought thy intercession, was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins and Mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful; O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.
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