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 Universal Expectation of the Saviour.
“And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root.”-Is. xi. 1.
All Christians know that God created our first parents, Adam and Eve, innocent and happy; that He gave them that liberty without which their homage and obedience would have had no merit; that the devil, the first creature who revolted against his Creator, envied their happiness and tempted and ruined them; and that, fallen from the sovereignty over the creation which God had given them, they were expelled from the terrestrial paradise, and condemned to labour, suffering, and death. We are all the children of these two exiles, who lived in sorrow upon the earth, which was smitten with a curse. All the millions of men now scattered over the earth are the children of one family, and science as well as faith, tracing its way back through the obscurity of so many centuries, to the very source of this immense family, leads us back to the same origin.
Now, daily experience shows us, that in a family, honour or shame, health or sickness, features, and sometimes the most delicate shades of character are carried down from father to son, from ancestor to descendant. In the world the innocent child bears the stain of the fault which he has not committed; and a father would never consent to give his daughter in marriage to the son of a criminal, for, besides the shame, he would fear that the father’s crime might run, like poison, in the veins of the son. This human law is just, though severe. Do we not experience at the bottom of our hearts, this feeling of partaking both in the honour and shame of any member of our family, village, or country? Have not our hearts beat at the news of a victory, or at the remembrance of one of the glories of our country? When a man has nobly done his duty, and the public voice brings his name to the ears of his countrymen, how proud and happy they are! His family is surrounded by a crowd of friends anxious to partake its joy. Or it a man has disgraced himself, his friends and family share his shame. How grievous is the sorrow of any family if one of its members commits some infamous action: if he comes to the scaffold, what shame for his brothers, sisters, and all his relations; solitude closes round them, the best-intentioned speak low as they pass, and others point the finger at them. In order to regain their reputation, lost through no fault of theirs, they have to spend a life of labour and courage, for man does not easily forgive; and, besides, though the son of a criminal may, through God’s grace, grow up an honest man, yet there is no doubt that the father’s crime is a continual injury to the son.
But if we, sinners as we are, judge so severely those who, after all, are only a little worse than ourselves, if we reject their society, and shudder at the idea of an alliance with them, can we not understand how justly God, who is holiness itself, repulsed a creature, made after His image, to love and serve Him, who had revolted against the end of its existence?
As the victory of Adam over the devil would have been our glory, so his disgraceful defeat is our ignominy; and as children of a great criminal, we have in our veins a secret poison which inclines us to sin, as our father has sinned.
There is, however, a great difference between the justice of God and the justice of man; for with God, pardon and hope are always side by side with punishment. “When Thou art angry, Lord,” says a prophet, “Thou wilt remember mercy.” (Habac. iii.) It is at the very first moment of our condemnation that we find the first proof of this truth. When Eve, bowed down under the weight of Divine anger, accused the devil who had deceived her, God pronounced a curse upon him, saying, “I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.” And behold, the guilty woman, through whom the tempter had just succeeded in bringing sin and death into the world, saw through her tears, in the distant future, which the light of God made clear to her, a woman through whom salvation was to come, triumphing over the serpent. Whilst punishing Eve God promised Mary.
It was with this hope that our first parents went into the land of exile, that they cleared away the thorns and thistles in the sweat of their brow, and that they endured the horrible grief of seeing the consequences of their sin shew themselves in their children; crime in Cain, death in Abel. It was this hope which enabled Adam to endure life during nine hundred years, and which taught the children of Seth, his youngest son, to resign themselves and to wait as he did. Generation succeeded generation, and the children of Seth were mixed up with the children of Cain, the murderer of his brother. But God placed the treasure of His promise in a chosen family, and when His justice covered the earth with the avenging waters of the deluge, Noe saved the human race in the ark, and preserved the hope of the Redeemer.
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.
August Devotion: The Most Pure Heart of Mary
Virtues to practice: The sanctification of our actions, diligence, edification, fidelity in little things
O Heart of Mary, Mother of God, and our Mother; Heart most worthy of love, in which the adorable Trinity is ever well pleased, worthy of the veneration and love of all the angels and of all men; Heart most like to the Heart of Jesus, of which thou art the perfect image; Heart full of goodness, ever compassionate toward our miseries; deign to melt our icy hearts and grant that they may be wholly changed into the likeness of the Heart of Jesus, our divine Saviour. Pour into them the love of thy virtues, and kindle in them that divine fire with which thou thyself dost ever burn. In thee let Holy Church find a safe shelter; protect her and be her dearest refuge, her tower of strength, impregnable against every assault of her enemies. Be thou the way which leads to Jesus, and the channel, through which we receive all graces needful for our salvation. Be our refuge in time of trouble, our solace in the midst of trial, our strength against temptation, our haven in persecution, our present help in every danger, and especially at the hour of death, when all hell shall let loose against us its legions to snatch away our souls, at that dread moment, that hour so full of fear, whereon our eternity depends. Ah, then most tender virgin, make us to feel the sweetness of thy motherly heart, and the might of thy intercession with Jesus, and open to us a safe refuge in that very fountain of mercy whence we may come to praise Him with thee in paradise, world without end. Amen.
An indulgence of 7 years once on any day of the month; A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, if this act of devotion is repeated daily for entire month (Apostolic Brief Dec. 21, 1901)
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