Consideration on the Number of the Reprobate.
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 Number of the Reprobate.
Turn your eyes down, my soul, to hell, count all the damned before the coming of Jesus Christ. That is Cain there; of two brothers, one saved, and one lost! And that great multitude are the souls of those that lived at the time of the flood; except one family, all, or nearly all, damned! And these others are the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrha. And these are idolaters here … oh, how many [souls] there are damned!
Count next those in the time of Jesus Christ. How many Gentiles that were not converted! how many philosophers that were obstinate! how many persecuted Him! how many souls are down there, that conversed with Jesus Christ, that had dealings with Him, that saw His miracles with their own eyes! There is a Pilate, governor of Judea; there a Caiaphas, the high-priest; there a Herod, the king; there a Judas, the disciple of Jesus Christ; and there is a robber, whose lot it was to die at His side!
Then count the damned since His coming. Observe down there the many souls rebel against the Gospel, blind to the miracles, persecutors of the Church; all the Roman emperors, for the first three centuries, the philosophers, and orators, and poets, that made so much to do in the world. Behold there many Catholics, notwithstanding their faith, inspirations, sermons, and sacraments! behold many princes, priests, bishops, and cloistered persons! And now, while I am meditating, how many souls are falling into hell!
And I keep saying within myself, If all sinners must be damned, there will scarcely remain any for Paradise. But consider how many damned there are there! What harm has come to God by their ruin! What loss to Paradise by their absence! Oh, my soul, live with the few, if you would be saved with the few!
How many that would have been among the reprobate, have been saved by devotion to MARY! There were in the year 1714 two youths (Auriem. t. i. p. 47) at their studies in Flanders, with good understanding, but of a very licentious life. They both spent a whole day in drunkenness and jokes, and went at night to a house to offend God. When a good part of the night was passed, one of them wished to retire, the other remained to satiate his unbridled wishes, and drink to the bottom the chalice of Babylon. When the other had got home, he remembered that he had not recited some “Ave Maria’s,” which he used to recite to the Blessed Virgin, and perceived a great repugnance to saying them; yet, though half asleep, and with much weariness, he did recite them. MARY did not leave this homage without its reward, though it came from lips so impure, and in a way worthy of punishment rather than of reward. He was scarce in bed and asleep from being worn out, when he heard a loud knock at the door of his chamber; he awoke, and without getting up to open it, he saw his companion enter in a ghastly shape. Terrified at this visit, and marvelling how he had entered through the locked door, he asked why he had come. The unhappy soul answered him thus: “We ought to have been both sent to hell this night by the just judgment of God; but the Blessed Virgin, to whom you recited the ‘Ave Maria’s,’ has freed you from death; I am now damned. In such a street (and he mentioned which) my body lies killed by the fiends;” and in proof of the truth he uncovered his breast, shewing him the fire and many serpents that tormented him; and this said, he vanished. He speedily got out of bed, and began to weep exceedingly: meanwhile he heard the bell sound for matins in the convent of the Franciscan Friars, and thought that this signal was advice for him too; and that very moment went off thither, and with many tears begged for the habit. The good religious did not credit his words at once, until they had found his unhappy companion dead, and transformed from head to foot. Then they gave the penitent the habit, who changed his life in good earnest, and remained most attached to the Blessed Virgin, for whose intercession he felt deeply grateful; and might say, “Thanks to the Virgin that I am not in the flames.”
ACT OF HOMAGE.
Settle upon the devotion that you mean to do your whole life long, in honour of MARY; and write down a solemn promise to fulfil it, that she may free you from hell.
“Gratias tibi, Virgo, quia non ardeo.”
“If time for penance still be mine,
Mother, the precious gift is thine.*’
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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