St. Alphonsus Liguori: Daily Meditations for the Third Week after Epiphany
#1
Monday--Third Week after Epiphany

Morning Meditation

[Image: LmpwZw]

LET US HASTEN TO GIVE OURSELVES TO GOD.

To secure a happy death the Saints abandoned all things. They left their country; they renounced the delights and the hopes the world held out to them and embraced a life of Poverty and Contempt. O ye sons of men, how long will you be dull of heart? Why do you love vanity and seek after lying?

I.

David calls the happiness of this life the dream of them that awake (Ps. lxxii. 20). In explaining these words, a certain author says: The goods of this world appear great, but they are nothing: like a dream that lasts but a little and afterwards vanishes, they are enjoyed but a short time. The thought that with death all ends, made St. Francis Borgia resolve to give himself entirely to God. The Saint was obliged to accompany the dead body of the Empress Isabella to Grenada. When the coffin was opened her appearance was so horrible and the smell so intolerable that all had to retire. St. Francis remained to contemplate in the dead body of his sovereign the vanity of the world; and looking at it he exclaimed: "Are you, then, my empress? Are you the queen before whom so many bent their knee in reverential awe? O Isabella, where is your majesty, your beauty gone?" "Thus, then," he said within himself, "end the greatness and the crowns of this world! I will henceforth serve a Master Who can never die!" From that moment he consecrated himself to the love of Jesus crucified; and he made a vow to become a Religious, should his wife die before him. This vow he afterwards fulfilled by entering the Society of Jesus.

Justly, then, has a person who was undeceived written on a skull these words: Cogitanti vilescunt omnia. To him who reflects on death, everything in this world appears contemptible. He cannot love the earth. And why are there so many unhappy lovers of this world? It is because they do not think of death. O ye sons of men, how long will you be dull of heart? Why do you love vanity, and seek after lying? (Ps. iv. 3). Miserable children of Adam, says the Holy Ghost, why do you not chase away from your heart so many earthly affections which make you love vanity and lies? What has happened to your forefathers must befall you. They dwelt in the same palace which you inhabit, and slept in your very bed; but now they are no more. Such, too, will be your lot.

My dear Redeemer, I thank Thee for having waited for me. What should have become of me had I died when I was at a distance from Thee? May Thy mercy and patience, which I have experienced for so many years, be forever blessed! I thank Thee for the light and grace with which Thou dost now assist me. I did not then love Thee, and I cared but little to be loved by Thee. I now love Thee with my whole heart, and nothing grieves me so much as the thought of having displeased so good a God. This sorrow tortures my soul; but it is a sweet torment, because it gives me confidence that Thou hast already pardoned me.


II.

Give yourself, then, to God before death comes upon you. Whatsoever thy hand is able to do, do it earnestly (Eccles. ix. 10). What you can do today, defer not till tomorrow; for a day once passed never returns, and tomorrow death may come, and prevent you from ever more being able to do good. Detach yourself instantly from everything which removes, or can remove, you from God. Let us instantly renounce in affection the goods of this earth, before death strips us of them by force. Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord (Apoc. xiv. 13). Happy they who at death are already dead to all attachment to this world. They fear not, but desire death, and embrace it with joy; for, instead of separating them from the Good they love it unites them to the Supreme Good, Who is the sole object of their affections, and Who will render them happy for eternity.

O my sweet Saviour, would that I had died a thousand times before I sinned against Thee! I tremble lest I should hereafter offend Thee again. Ah! make me die the most painful of all deaths rather than permit me evermore to lose Thy grace. I was once the slave of hell; but now I am Thy servant, O God of my soul! Thou hast said that Thou lovest those that love thee (Prov. viii. 17). I love Thee. Therefore I am Thine and Thou art mine. I may lose Thee at some future time; but the grace which I ask of Thee is, to take me out of life rather than suffer me ever to lose Thee again. Unasked, Thou hast bestowed upon me so many graces; I cannot now fear that Thou wilt not hear my prayer for the grace which I now implore. Do not permit me ever to lose Thee. Give me Thy love, and I desire nothing more. Mary, my hope, intercede for me.


Spiritual Reading

THE MARTYRS TEACH US TO ACCEPT DEATH ACCORDING TO THE GOOD PLEASURE OF GOD.

PRAYING TO THE HOLY MARTYRS

Death, which is the tribute that everyone must pay, is the greatest of all our tribulations and makes not only sinners but the just tremble. Our Saviour Himself as Man wished to show the fear that He felt in the face of death, so that He began to pray to His Father to free Him from it. But at the same time He teaches us to accept death according to the good pleasure of God, by saying: Nevertheless, not my will but thine be done (Matt. xxvi. 39). We can all acquire the glory of Martyrdom by accepting death to please God and conform ourselves to His will. For, as we have remarked with St. Augustine, it is not the pain, but the cause or the end for which one submits to death that makes Martyrs. It follows that he who in dying courageously accepts death and all the pains that accompany it, in order to accomplish the Divine will, though he does not receive death at the hands of the executioner, dies, however, with the merit of Martyrdom, or at least with merit very similar. It also follows that as often as any one offers himself to undergo Martyrdom for the love of God, so often does he gain the merit of Martyrdom. We have seen how St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi, when she inclined the head at the Glory be to the Father, imagined at the same moment she was receiving the stroke of the executioner. Hence we shall see in Heaven a great number of Saints crowned with the merit of Martyrdom without having been martyred.

Finally we should be moved to recommend ourselves every day with great confidence to the intercession of the holy Martyrs whose prayers are most efficacious with God. When we suffer some grievous pain, or when we desire a special favour, let us make a Novena or a Triduum in honour of the holy Martyrs, and we shall easily obtain the grace we ask. Let us not fail to honour them, says St. Ambrose, for they are our Princes in the Faith and our powerful intercessors. If the Lord promises a reward to him who gives a drink of water to a poor man, what will He not do for those who for His sake sacrificed their lives in the midst of torments! Let us here observe that the Martyrs before receiving the mortal blow, without doubt prepared themselves many times for those many tortures and for death, so that when they closed their earthly career they died with the merit of not only one Martyrdom, but with the merit of all those Martyrdoms that they had already accepted and offered sincerely to God. Hence we may imagine with what abundance of merits they entered Heaven, and how valuable is their mediation with God.

A Prayer to the Holy Martyrs to Obtain their Protection

O ye blessed Princes of the Heavenly Kingdom! Ye who sacrificed to Almighty God the honours, the riches, and possessions of this life, and have received in return the unfading glory and never-ending joys of Heaven! Ye who are secure in the everlasting possession of the brilliant crown of glory which your sufferings have obtained! -- look with compassion upon our wretched state in this valley of tears where we groan in the uncertainty of what may be our eternal destiny. And from that Divine Saviour for Whom you suffered so many torments, and Who now repays you with such unspeakable glory, obtain for us that we may love Him with all our heart, and receive in return the grace of perfect resignation under the trials of this life, fortitude under the temptations of the enemy, and perseverance to the end. May your powerful intercession obtain for us that we may one day in your blessed company sing the praises of the Eternal God and, even as you now do, face to face, enjoy the Beatitude of His vision!


Evening Meditation

"GOD HIMSELF WILL COME AND SAVE YOU" (Is. xxxv. 1).

I.

God is that strong One Who alone can be called strong, because He is Strength itself; and whoever is strong derives strength from Him: Strength is mine, and by me kings reign (Prov. viii. 14), says the Lord. God is that mighty One Who can do whatsoever He will; and He can do this with ease; He has merely to wish it: Behold, thou hast made heaven and earth by thy great power, and no word shall be hard to thee (Jer. xxxii. 17). By a nod He created the Heavens and earth out of nothing: He spoke, and they were made (Ps. cxlviii. 5). And did He choose to do so, He could destroy the immense machinery of the universe by a nod, as He created it: At a beck he can utterly destroy the whole world (2 Mach. viii. 18). We know already how when he pleased, He burnt five entire cities with a deluge of fire. We know how, previously to that, He inundated the whole earth with a Deluge of waters, to the destruction of all mankind, with the sole exception of eight persons. O Lord, says the Wise Man: who shall resist the strength of thy arm? (Wis. xi. 22).

Hence we may see the rashness of the sinner who wrestles against God, and carries his audacity so far as even to lift up his hand against the Almighty: He hath stretched out his hand against God, and hath strengthened himself against the Almighty (Job. xv. 25). Suppose we should see an ant make an assault upon a soldier, would we not think it rashness? But how much more rash is it for a man to make an assault on the Creator Himself, and scorn His Precepts, disregard His threats, despise His grace, and declare himself God's enemy!

O great Son of God, Thou hast become Man in order to make Thyself loved by men; but where, then, is the love that men bear to Thee? Thou hast given Thy Blood and Thy life to save our souls, and why are we so ungrateful to Thee, that, instead of loving Thee, we despise Thee with such ingratitude? Alas! I myself, Lord, have been one of those who more than others have thus ill-treated Thee. But Thy Passion is my hope. Oh, for the sake of the love that induced Thee to assume human flesh, and to die for me upon the Cross, forgive me all the offences I have committed against Thee. I love Thee, O Incarnate Word. I love Thee, O my God.


II.

But these rash and ungrateful ones are the very men whom the Son of God has come to save, by making Himself Man and by taking on Himself the chastisement deserved by them in order to obtain pardon for them. And then, seeing that man from the wounds inflicted by sin continued very weak and powerless to resist the strength of his enemies, what did God do? The Strong and Almighty One became weak and assumed to Himself the bodily infirmities of man, in order to procure for man by His merits the strength of soul requisite to subdue the attacks of the flesh and of hell. And so, behold Him made a little Child in need of milk to sustain His life, and so feeble that He cannot feed Himself or move Himself.

The Eternal Word, in becoming Man, wished to conceal His strength: God will come from the south; there is his strength hid (Hab. iii. 3, 4). We find, says St. Augustine, Jesus Christ strong and feeble -- strong, since He created all things; feeble, since we behold Him made Man like us: "We find Jesus strong and weak; strong, by Whom all things were made without labour. Would you see Him weak? The Word was made flesh." Now this strong One has chosen to become weak, says the Saint, to repair our infirmity by His weakness, and so to obtain our salvation: He hath built us up by his strength, he hath sought us by his infirmity. For this reason He likens Himself to the hen, when He speaks to Jerusalem: How often would I have gathered together thy children, as the hen doth gather her chickens under her wings! And thou wouldst not (Matt. xxiii. 37). St. Augustine remarks that the hen in rearing her chickens grows weak, and by this mark is known to be a mother; so was it with our loving Redeemer, by becoming infirm and weak, He showed Himself the Father and Mother of us poor weak creatures.

I love Thee, O Infinite Goodness, and I repent of all the injuries I have done Thee. Would that I could, for Thy sake, die of sorrow! O my Jesus, grant me the gift of Thy love; let me not live any longer ungrateful for the affection Thou hast borne me. I am determined to love Thee always. Give me holy perseverance. O Mary, Mother of God, and my Mother, obtain for me from thy Son the grace to love Him always even unto death.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Reply
#2
Tuesday--Third Week after Epiphany

Morning Meditation

ST. FRANCIS DE SALES (January 29th)

HIS FAITH, HOPE, AND CHARITY

They who love God never doubt in matters of Faith. It is only those who do not live according to the dictates of their Faith who doubt its Truths. O my God, cries out St. Francis, the beauty of our holy Faith appears to me so delightful that I could die of love for it!

I.

Great was the Faith of St. Francis de Sales. Such was his delight when he thought of the beauty and excellence of Faith, that he was heard to exclaim, "O my God, the beauty of our holy Faith appears to be so delightful that I could die of love for it, and it seems to me that I ought to enclose this precious gift which God has bestowed upon me, in a heart full of the sweetest perfumes of devotion." Hence he was never satisfied with giving God thanks for having blessed him with the favour of being born a child of the true Church: "O bountiful God," said he, "great indeed are the favours by which Thou hast bound me to Thee; but how shall I ever sufficiently thank Thee for having enlightened me with the true Faith?" And he declared that, although he had constantly had so much to do with heretics, he had never once doubted in the least of the truth of his Faith. They who love God never doubt in matters of Faith: it is only those who do not live according to the dictates of their Faith who doubt of its Truths.

Great also was the Hope of St. Francis. He was always firmly convinced that God continually watches over our welfare, and hence he was always calm and intrepid in the midst of the greatest dangers. In the very dangers which threatened his designs for the glory of God, he never lost confidence. And this he always endeavoured to instil into others. On one occasion he is related to have said to a timid soul: "Do you desire to belong entirely to God? Why, then, do you fear on account of your weakness? Do you hope in God? And shall he who hopes in God be ever confounded? Be not afraid of your fears." He who loves God much, confides much in Him. Love always cuts out fear.

II.

Great likewise was his love for God. The very fear which he experienced in the early part of his life, that he might not be worthy to love God for all eternity, ruined his health and nearly deprived him of life. It was his great Charity which inspired him to expose himself on so many occasions to death for God's sake. He was so careful to expel from his heart every affection which was not directed towards God, that he said, "If I knew that there existed in my heart a single fibre of affection that is not from God and for God, I would immediately pluck it out." He always aspired to the purest love of God. He said: "I would rather not exist than not be entirely devoted to God." In one of his letters he writes: "My heart is filled with an unbounded desire of being forever sacrificed to the pure love of my Saviour." And he tells us how tender his love was, especially for Jesus Christ, when he says: "Let us contemplate our Divine Redeemer nailed to the Cross and dying upon it for the love of us. Ah! why do we not cast ourselves upon the same Cross to die on it with Him, for His having been pleased through love for us to die Himself upon it? I will embrace Him and will never leave Him. I will die with Him and will burn in the flames of His love. The same flame shall consume the Divine Creator and His creature. I will live and die upon His bosom. Neither life nor death shall ever separate me from Him."

Holy Saint, since thou art now in Heaven loving Jesus face to face, obtain for me the grace to love Him, as thou didst love Him in thy lifetime.


Spiritual Reading

THE VARIOUS TORTURES TO WHICH THE MARTYRS WERE SUBJECTED

The Rev. Father Mamachi, in his erudite work entitled Manners and Customs of the First Christians, gives an account of all those tortures suffered by the Martyrs, from the works of ancient writers who were their contemporaries, as St. Justin, Tertullian, Athenagoras, Origen, Eusebius of Caesarea, Clement of Alexandria, and others. This author describes at much length the various species of torture employed against the servants of Jesus Christ during the Ten Persecutions of the Roman Emperors. We shall be more brief, as our intention is merely to show how rich in merit were those sainted heroes when they closed their earthly career.

I. THE MARTYRDOM OF THE CROSS

Some were crucified in an erect posture, the same as Our Lord Jesus Christ; others with the head downwards, as St. Peter, according to Eusebius, who relates this on the authority of Origen; others in the manner in which the Martyrdom of St. Andrew is represented. Many were made to pass their arms under the transverse beam of the Cross, and had their hands nailed upon the upper part. Some were suspended from a tree by the hands, their arms having been first tied behind their backs, and heavy weights attached to their feet. Women were hung up by the hair, the agony of which torture was sufficient to cause death; others were hung by one or both feet, with the head downwards, and in many cases a large stone tied round the neck; finally, many had their hands nailed to a beam, with enormous weights at their feet.

II. THE MARTYRDOM OF FIRE

Some were placed upon gridirons, others plunged into caldrons of boiling oil or pitch. Many were suffocated with smoke, or dressed in a garment smeared with some combustible matter, and so burned at a stake. Some were cast into fiery furnaces; others were crowded into a ship which was set on fire at sea; others were inclosed in a brazen bull and roasted alive; others again were tortured by red-hot plates of iron applied to their sides; and in fine, were thrown upon the earth, and molten lead poured over them, or were impaled upon a spit and roasted before a slow fire.

III. THE TORTURE OF THE SCOURGE

Scourges were of various kinds -- of leather, of cane, of the tendons of oxen, of iron links, and sometimes of rods of iron, shaped like thorns, which were called scorpions. The Martyrs were generally tied to a post, or between four posts, to increase their punishment; but some were placed in a kind of stock. This stock consisted of two large pieces of wood, one above the other, between which the feet of the sufferers were confined, and in this torture they were sometimes scourged; and others were thrown with their backs on a table filled with large nails, and then scourged with sticks or rods.

IV. THE TORTURE OF IRONS

These were iron hooks on which the Christians were suspended, and iron claws that served to tear them to the bone and to their very entrails. Other instruments were destined to pull out all their teeth, one after the other. Their flesh was lacerated with iron combs, or they were flayed. They were tied to the ground and were cut with blows of the hatchet, or their members were gradually cut to pieces, from the toes to their thighs, and from the fingers to the breasts, so that nothing was left but the trunk. They were stretched with their backs against a wheel that dragged them over sharp irons fixed in the ground; or they were tied upon a table, then disembowelled and their intestines taken out.

V. OTHER TORTURES

The Martyrs were also tortured on the rack and with other torments. Sometimes they were exposed to the sun, their bodies being rubbed with honey that they might be stung by the flies and wasps. They were stoned, beheaded, strangled, drowned. There were some who were tied to two trees that had been bent by main force, which when released would tear them asunder. Others tied in a bag were thrown into the sea, or thrown to the dogs or wild beasts. Some were made to die under the press; others perished from hunger.

In some of our narrations the reader may find himself at a loss to account for such barbarity and fierceness as the tyrants practised upon the Martyrs, whose innocence and meekness might be expected to save them from persecution. Let us consider whence this fury came.

It at first originated in the hatred which the pagans bore towards Christians whose virtues were the strongest censure upon their infamous lives.

It was also caused by the instigation of the devils who vehemently abhorred these pious athletes, the more their example served to propagate the Faith and induce others to imitate them.

The principal reason of the persecution was the hatred that those tyrants conceived against the Martyrs at seeing themselves overcome by children, by tender virgins, by simple and ignorant men, who upbraided them with their insanity in following a false religion which authorized every vice and called upon them to worship as gods men who, during their lives, had given the most horrid examples of turpitude and crime that ever disgraced human nature.

Their rage was yet more increased at the sight of the very many miracles wrought through the servants of the true God. They saw wild beasts cast themselves at the feet of the Martyrs; they perceived that red-hot coals, molten lead, did not burn them, and witnessed other similar prodigies. In vain did they cry out: "This is magic; these are incantations." The people were converted in the presence of these miracles, and thousands of them embraced the Faith, and this redoubled the irritation of the judges.

They believed that they were frightening the Christians by inventing new tortures, and flattered themselves that they were extinguishing the Faith by putting all the Christians to death. But the more they multiplied tortures, and immolated victims, the more did the number of the faithful increase. Tertullian relates that a certain governor in Asia, named Arrius, was putting to death those who confessed the Name of the Lord Jesus, when such a multitude presented themselves before his tribunal as caused him to shudder at the thought of shedding so much blood; he therefore contented himself with putting a few of them to death, and to the rest he said: "If your desire of death be so irresistible, there are precipices enough from which to fling yourselves. Begone!"


Evening Meditation

JESUS EMBRACED AFFLICTIONS FOR OUR SAKE.

I.

The Apostle, St. Paul, speaking of the Divine Beatitude, calls God the only happy, the only powerful One: The blessed and only mighty (1 Tim. vi. 15). And with reason, because all the happiness which can be enjoyed by us, His creatures, is nothing more than the smallest participation in the infinite happiness of God.

God in creating man at the beginning did not place him on earth to suffer, but put him in the paradise of pleasure (Gen. ii. 15). He put man in a place of delights in order that he might pass thence to Heaven where he should enjoy for all eternity the glory of the Blessed. But by sin unhappy man made himself unworthy of the earthly, and closed against himself the gates of the heavenly, Paradise, wilfully condemning himself to death and everlasting misery. But in order to rescue man from such a state of ruin, what did the Son of God do? From being blessed and happy as He was He chose to become afflicted and tormented. He made a choice on earth of a life of toil and ignominies. Our Lord revealed to St. Margaret of Cortona that in His whole life He never experienced the smallest degree of sensible consolation: Great as the sea is thy destruction (Lam. ii. 13). The life of Jesus Christ was bitter as the sea, which is thoroughly bitter and salt, and contains not one drop of sweet water. And therefore Isaias rightly calls Jesus Christ a Man of sorrows (Is. liii. 3), as though He had been capable on this earth of nothing but anguish and sorrow. St. Thomas says that the Redeemer did not simply take sorrow on Himself, but that "He endured sorrow in its highest degree"; whereby He would signify that He chose to be the most afflicted Man that had ever been upon earth, or should ever be hereafter.

He comes forth, then, from the prison of His Mother's womb, but for what? Is it perhaps to enjoy Himself? He comes forth to fresh suffering, for He chose to be born in the depth of Winter in a cavern where beasts find stabling, and at the hour of midnight. And He is born in such poverty that He has no fire to warm Him, nor clothes enough to screen Him from the cold. "A grand pulpit is that manger," says St. Thomas of Villanova. Oh, how well does Jesus teach us the love of suffering in the grotto of Bethlehem!


II.

"In the stable," adds Salmeron, "all is vile to the sight, unpleasant to the hearing, offensive to the smell, hard and revolting to the touch." - Everything in the stable is painful: everything is painful to the sight, for one sees nothing but rugged and dark rocks; everything is painful to the hearing, for He hears only the cries of brute beasts; everything is painful to the smell, from the stench of the litter that is scattered around; and everything is painful to the touch, for His cradle is only a narrow manger, and His bed only a handful of straw. Look on this Infant God, how He lies bound up in swaddling clothes, so that He cannot stir. "God endures," said St. Zeno, "to be bound in swaddling-clothes, because He had come to pay the debts of the whole world." And hereupon St. Augustine remarks, "O Blessed rags, with which we wipe away the uncleanness of sins!" Observe Him how He trembles with cold; how He weeps, to let us know that He suffers, and offers to the Eternal Father those first tears to release us from that endless wailing which we had deserved! "Blessed tears," says St. Thomas of Villanova, "which blot out our iniquities!" O tears for us most blessed, since they obtain for us the pardon of our sins!

And thus did the life of Jesus Christ continue always in affliction and sorrow. But a short time after He was born He was obliged to fly as an exile into Egypt to escape death at the hands of Herod. Then, in that barbarous country He passed many years of His childhood poor and unknown. Nor was the life which He led on His return from Egypt, dwelling at Nazareth, very different up to the time when He suffered death at the hands of the executioners on the Cross in a sea of sorrows and infamy.

O Jesus, my Saviour, I praise Thee, I thank Thee and I love Thee. I love Thee above all things; I love Thee more than myself; I love Thee with all my soul and I give myself all to Thee. Most holy Mary, my refuge and my consolation, recommend me to thy Son.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Reply
#3
Wednesday–Third Week after Epiphany

Morning Meditation

SAD STATE OF THE WORLDLING AT DEATH

What will be the feelings of the worldling when he is told that death is at hand? What pain will he feel in hearing these words: Your illness is mortal. It is necessary to receive the Last Sacraments, to unite yourself to God, to prepare to bid farewell to the world. What! exclaims the sick man, must I leave all? Yes, you must leave all! Thou shalt die and not live!

I.

Imagine yourself at the bedside of a negligent Christian who is overpowered by sickness, and has but a few hours to live. Behold him oppressed by pains, by swoons, by suffocation, want of breath and cold perspirations; his reason so impaired that he feels but little, understands little, and can speak but little. The greatest of all his miseries is, that though at the point of death, instead of thinking of his soul and of preparing accounts for eternity, he fixes all his thoughts on physicians, on the remedies by which he may be rescued from the sickness and the pains which will soon put an end to life. “They are unable to have any other thought than of themselves,” says St. Laurence Justinian, speaking of the condition of negligent Christians at the hour of death. Surely his relatives and friends will admonish the dying Christian of his danger? No; there is not one among all his relatives and friends who has the courage to announce to him the news of death, and to advise him to receive the Last Sacraments. Through fear of offending him, they all refuse to inform him of his danger. O my God! from this moment I thank Thee, that at death I shall, through Thy grace, be assisted by my beloved brothers of my Congregation, who will then have no other interest than that of my eternal salvation, and will all help me to die well.

But though he is not admonished of his approaching end, the poor sick man, seeing the family in disorder, the medical consultations repeated, the remedies multiplied, and frequent and violent, is filled with confusion and terror. Assaulted by fears, remorse and distrust, he says within himself: Perhaps the end of my days has arrived! But what will be his feelings when at last he is told that death is at hand? Take order with thy house; for thou shalt die and shalt not live (Is. xxxviii. 1). What pain will he feel in hearing these words: Your illness is mortal. It is necessary to receive the Last Sacraments, to unite yourself to God, and to prepare to bid farewell to this world. What! exclaims the sick man; must I take leave of all — of my house, my villa, my relatives, friends, conversations, games and amusements? Yes, you must take leave of all. The lawyer is already come, and writes this last farewell: “I bequeath.” And what does he take away with him? Nothing but a miserable rag, which will soon rot with him in the grave.

If it were at this moment announced to me, O Lord, that my death was at hand, such would be the painful sentiments that would torture my soul. I thank Thee for giving me this light, and for giving me time to enter into myself. O my God, I will no longer fly from Thee. Thou hast sought after me long enough. I have just reason to fear that Thou wilt abandon me, if I now refuse to give myself to Thee, and continue to resist Thy calls. Thou hast given me a heart to love Thee, and I have made so bad a use of it. I have loved creatures and have not loved Thee, my Creator and Redeemer Who hast given Thy life for the love of me. Instead of loving Thee, how often have I offended, how often have I despised Thee, and turned my back upon Thee? I knew that by such a sin I insulted Thee, and still I committed it. My Jesus, I am sorry for all my sins.


II.

Oh, with what melancholy and agitation will the dying man be seized at the sight of the tears of servants, at the silence of his friends, who have not courage to speak in his presence. But his greatest anguish will arise from the remorse of his conscience, which in that tempest will be rendered more terrible by the remembrance of the disorderly life he has until then led, in spite of so many calls and lights from God, of so many admonitions from Spiritual Fathers, and of so many resolutions, made, but never executed, or afterwards neglected. He will then say: O unhappy me! I have had so many lights from God, so much time to settle my conscience, and have not done so. Behold, I have now arrived at the gate of death. What would it have cost me to have avoided such an occasion of sin, to have broken off such a friendship, to have frequented the Tribunal of Penance? Ah, so very little! But, though it should have cost me much pain and labour, I aught to have submitted to every inconvenience to save my soul, which is of more importance to me than all the goods of this world. Oh, if I had put into execution the good resolutions I made on such an occasion! If I had continued the good works which I began at such a time, how happy I should now feel! But these things I have not done, and now there is no more time to do them. The sentiments of dying sinners who have neglected the care of their souls during life, are like those of the damned who mourn in hell over their sins as the cause of their sufferings, but mourn without fruit and without remedy.

O my Jesus, I wish to change my life. I renounce all the pleasures of the world in order to love and please Thee, O God of my soul. Thou hast given me strong proofs of Thy love. I too would wish before death to give Thee some proofs of my love. From this moment I accept all the infirmities, crosses, insults, and offences which I shall receive from men. Give me strength to submit to them with peace. I wish to bear them all for the love of Thee. I love Thee, O infinite Goodness! I love Thee above every good. Increase my love, give me holy perseverance. Mary my hope, pray to Jesus for me.


Spiritual Reading

SENTIMENTS OF A LIVELY FAITH

O ye atheists who believe not in God, fools that you are! If you do not believe that there is a God, tell me who created you? How can you imagine that there are creatures existing, without a previous Power having created them? This world which you admire, governed as it is in so beautiful and constant an order, — could chance, which has neither order nor mind, ever have made it?

Poor wretches! you try to persuade yourselves that the soul dies like the body; but, O God, what will you say, when in the next world you find that your souls are immortal, and that throughout eternity you will be unable to repair the ruin you have brought upon yourselves?

But if you believe that there is a God, you must also believe that there is a True Religion. And if you do not believe that the Religion of the Roman Catholic Church is the true one, tell me which is the true one? Perhaps that of the Pagans who admit many gods, and so destroy and deny all of them? Perhaps that of the Mahometans, which is a mixture of fables and follies and contradictions — a religion invented by an infamous impostor, and framed rather for beasts than for men? Perhaps that of the Jews? They, indeed, had at one time the true Faith, but because they rejected their Redeemer Who taught the New Law of grace, they lost their Faith, their country, and all. Perhaps of those heretics who, separating themselves from our Church (which was founded by Jesus Christ, and to which He promised that it should never fail) have confused all revealed dogmas in such a way that the belief of each contradicts that of his neighbour.

Ah! it is most evident that our Faith is the only true one. Either there is Faith, and, then, there can be no other true Religion but ours; or, there is no true Faith, and then all religions are false. But this cannot be; for as there is a God, there must be a true Faith and a true Religion.

But what much greater fools are those Christians who hold the true Faith and live as if they did not believe it! They believe that there is a God, a just Judge, that there is a Paradise and an eternal hell; and yet they live as if there were no Judgment, no Heaven, no hell, no Eternity, no God!

O God, how can Christians believe in Jesus Christ, believe in a God born in a stable; a God living in obscurity in a shop for thirty years and working for His livelihood every day as a simple servant; in fine, how can they believe in a God nailed on a Cross, and dying, consumed with grief; and not only not love Him, but even make a mockery of Him by their sins!

O holy Faith, enlighten all those poor blind creatures who run to eternal perdition! But this light does ever shine forth and enlighten all men, both the faithful and unbelievers: True light, which enlighteneth every man (Jo. i. 9). How is it, then, that so many are lost? O cursed sin, thou dost blind the minds of so many poor souls, who open their eyes only when they enter eternity! But then they can no more remedy their error!

How is it, my Jesus, that so many of Thy servants have shut themselves up in caves and deserts, to attend only to their salvation; so many nobles and even princes have retired to the cloister, in order to live in poverty and unknown to the world, to make sure of their eternal salvation; so many Martyrs have left all; so many tender virgins have renounced marriage with the highest nobles of the earth, and have embraced such torments as the rack; have braved the axe, the coat of fiery mail, the red-hot gridirons, and the most cruel deaths, rather than lose Thy grace, while so many others live in sin and far from Thee for months and years!

I thank Thee, my Jesus, for the light Thou givest me, by which Thou makest me know that the goods of this world are but smoke, filth, vanity and deceit, and that Thou art the true and only Good.

My God, I thank Thee that Thou hast given me this Faith, and that Thou hast made it so clear to us by the fulfilment of Prophecies, by the truth of miracles, by the constancy of Martyrs, by the sanctity of the doctrine, and by the wonderful propagation of the same throughout the world; so that if it were not true, it would be impossible not to say that Thou hast deceived us, in proving it to us by the numerous testimonies that Thou hast given us of it.

I believe all that the Church teaches me to believe, because Thou hast revealed it. Nor do I pretend to comprehend intellectually those Mysteries which are above my mind; it is enough that Thou hast said so. I pray Thee to increase Thy Faith in me. Adauge nobis fidem! (Luke xvii. 5).



Evening Meditation

THE INGRATITUDE OF MEN MADE JESUS SUFFER MOST

I.

We must also well understand here that the pains which Jesus Christ endured in His Passion, in the scourging and the crowning with thorns, in the Crucifixion, His agony and death, and in all the other torments and ignominies which He suffered at the end of His life, He also suffered from the beginning. From the beginning of His life He had always before His eyes the sad vision of all the torments He would have to suffer when about to leave this earth, as He predicted by the mouth of David: My sorrow is continually before me (Ps. xxxvii. 18). We hide from the sick man the knife or the fire with which he is to be cut or cauterized in order to regain his health; but Jesus would not have the Instruments of His Passion, by which He was to lose His life that He might gain for us eternal life, hidden from His sight. He desired always to have before His eyes the scourge, the thorns, the nails, the Cross, which were to drain all the Blood from His veins, till He died of pure grief, deprived of all consolation.

One day Jesus Christ crucified appeared to Sister Magdalen Orisini who had been suffering a heavy affliction for a long time, to comfort her by the remembrance of His Passion, and to animate her to bear her cross with patience. She said to Him: “But Thou, my Lord, wast only Three Hours on the Cross, while I have suffered this pain for many years.” Then our Lord from the Cross replied: “Ignorant creature that thou art! from the first moment that I was in the womb of Mary I suffered all that I had afterwards to suffer in my death.” “Christ,” says Novarinus, “even in the womb of His Mother, had the impression of the Cross on His mind; so that no sooner was He born than He might be said to have the principality on his shoulders (Is. ix. 6).” So, then, my Redeemer, throughout Thy whole life I shall find Thee nowhere but on the Cross. Lord, I find Thee nowhere but on the Cross! Yes, for the Cross on which Jesus Christ died was ever in His mind to torment Him. Even while sleeping, says Bellarmine, the sight of the Cross was present to the Heart of Jesus: “Christ had His Cross always before His eyes. When He slept, His Heart watched; nor was it ever free from the vision of the Cross.”


II.

It was, however, not so much the sorrows of His Passion that saddened and embittered the life of our Redeemer, as the sight of all the sins men would commit after His death. These were the cruel executioners which made Him live in continual agony, oppressed by such an overwhelming grief that it alone would have been enough to make Him die of pure sorrow. Father Lessius says that the sight alone of the ingratitude of mankind would have been sufficient to make Jesus Christ die of grief a thousand times.

The scourges, the Cross, death itself, were not hateful objects to Him, but most dear, chosen and desired by Himself. He had offered Himself spontaneously to suffer them: He was offered because it was his own will (Is. liii. 7). He did not give His life against His will, but by His own election, as He tells us by St. John: I lay down my life for my sheep (Jo. x. 15). This was indeed the chief desire of His whole life, that the time of His Passion should arrive, so that the Redemption of mankind might be completed. For this reason He said on the night preceding His death: With desire I have desired to eat this Pasch with you before I suffer (Luke xxii. 15). And before this time arrived He seemed to console Himself by saying, I have a baptism, wherewith I am to be baptised; and how am I straitened until it be accomplished! (Luke xii. 50). I must be baptized with the Baptism of My own Blood, not indeed to wash My own soul, but those of my sheep, from the stains of their sin; and how ardently do I desire the arrival of the hour when I shall be bleeding and dead on the Cross! St. Ambrose says that the Redeemer was not affected “by the fear of death, but by the delay of our Redemption.” St. Zeno tells us Jesus Christ chose for Himself the trade of a carpenter in this world: Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary? (Mark vi. 3), because as carpenters are always handling wood and nails, it would seem that Jesus exercising this trade took pleasure in such things, seeing that they represented to Him better than anything else the Nails and the Cross by which He willed to suffer.

Thus we see it was not so much the thought of His Passion that afflicted the Heart of our Redeemer, as the ingratitude with which mankind would repay His love. It was this ingratitude which made Him weep in the Stable of Bethlehem; which caused Him to sweat Blood in His deadly agony in the Garden of Gethsemane; which filled Him with such sorrow that He says even that it alone was sufficient to make Him die: My soul is sorrowful even to death (Matt. xxvi. 38), and, finally, this ingratitude it was which caused Him to die in desolation on the Cross.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Reply
#4
Thursday--Third Week after Epiphany

Morning Meditation

"THE DESIRE OF THE WICKED SHALL PERISH."


How ardently shall we desire at death the time we have squandered away! This being true, our folly and misfortune will be all the greater, if after knowing these things during life, we neglect to apply a remedy in time.

I.

Oh, how clearly are the Truths of Faith seen at the hour of death! But then they only serve to increase the anguish of the dying Christian who has led a bad life, particularly if he has been consecrated to God, and has had greater facilities for serving Him, more time for exercises of piety, more good example and more inspirations. O God, what torture will he feel in thinking: I have admonished others, and my life has been worse than theirs! I have left the world, and yet have cherished attachment to worldly pleasures and vanities! What remorse will he feel in thinking that with the lights he had received from God a very pagan would become a Saint! With what pain will his soul be racked when he remembers that he ridiculed in others certain practices of piety, as if they were weaknesses of mind; and that he praised certain worldly maxims of self-esteem, or of self-love, such as: We should seek our own advancement; We ought to avoid suffering, and indulge in the amusements within our reach.

The desire of the wicked shall perish (Ps. cxi. 10). How ardently shall we desire at death the time we now squander away! In his Dialogues, St. Gregory relates that a certain rich man called Crisorius who had led a wicked life, seeing at death the devils come to carry him off, exclaimed: Give me time! Give me time until tomorrow! They replied: O fool! Do you now ask for time? You have had so much time, but you wasted it and spent it in committing sin! And now you seek for time! Time is now no more! The unhappy man continued to cry out and call for assistance. To his son Maximus, a monk, who was present, he said: O my son, assist me! O Maximus, come to my aid! With his face all on fire he flung himself furiously from side to side in his bed, and in that state of agitation and screaming aloud, like one in despair, he breathed forth his unhappy soul.

O my God, I will no longer abuse Thy mercy. I thank Thee for the light Thou now givest me, and I promise to change my life. I see that Thou canst not bear with me any longer. I will not wait till Thou send me to hell or abandon me to a wicked life, which would be a greater punishment than death itself. Behold, I cast myself at Thy feet; receive me into Thy favour. I do not deserve Thy grace; but Thou hast said: The wickedness of the wicked shall not hurt him, in whatsoever day he shall turn from his wickedness (Ezech. xxxiii. 12). If, then, O my Jesus, I have hitherto offended Thy infinite goodness, I now repent with my whole heart and hope for pardon. I will say with St. Anselm: Ah, since Thou hast redeemed me by Thy Blood, do not permit me to be lost on account of my sins. Look not on my ingratitude, but have regard to the love which made Thee die for me. If I have lost Thy grace, Thou hast not lost the power of restoring it to me.


II.

Alas! during life, these fools love their folly; but at death they open their eyes, and confess that they have been fools. But this only serves to increase their fear of repairing past evils; and dying in this state, they leave their salvation very uncertain. You who are now reading this -- I imagine that you say: This is indeed true. But if this is true, then your folly and misfortune will be still greater, if after knowing these truths during life, you neglect to apply a remedy in time. This very point which you have read will be at death a sword of sorrow for you.

Since, therefore, you now have time to avoid a death so full of terror, begin instantly to repair the past. Do not wait for the time in which you can make little preparation for Judgment. Do not wait for another month, nor for another week. Perhaps this light which God in His mercy gives you now may be the last light and the last call for you. It is folly to be unwilling to think of death, which is certain, and on which eternity depends; but it would be still greater folly to reflect on it, and not prepare for Judgment. Make now the reflections and resolutions which you would then make. They may be made now with profit -- then without fruit: now with confidence that you will save your soul -- then, with diffidence of your salvation. A genteman who was about to take leave of the court of Charles the Fifth, to live only for God, was asked by the emperor why he thought of quitting the court. The gentleman answered: To secure salvation it is necessary that some time in penitential works should intervene between a disorderly life and a happy death.

Have mercy on me, then, O my Redeemer. Pardon me, and give me grace to love Thee, for I purpose henceforth to love nothing but Thee. Among so many possible creatures Thou hast chosen me to love Thee. I make choice of Thee, O Sovereign Good, to love Thee above every good. Thou goest before me with Thy Cross; I am willing to follow Thee with the cross Thou wilt give me to carry. I embrace every mortification and every pain which shall come from Thee. Do not deprive me of Thy grace and I am content. Mary, my hope, obtain for me from God perseverance and the grace to love Him, and I ask for nothing more.


Spiritual Reading

HEROES AND HEROINES OF THE FAITH

1. ST. GORDIUS, CENTURION (January 3).


St. Gordius who was born in the Third Century, followed the military profession, and obtained the rank of centurion, or captain. St. Basil the Great, who wrote a homily in praise of this Saint, relates that at the time of his Martyrdom there was a great persecution of the Christians at Caesarea. In the public squares idols of wood and stone were exposed, and those who refused to sacrifice to them were tortured and put to death. The consternation of the faithful was very great, for their houses were, with impunity, sacked by the idolaters, the prisons filled with Christians, and while the churches were deserted, the woods and mountains were peopled with the fugitives.

Hereupon St. Gordius renounced his profession, laid aside the military insignia, and retired to the desert to unite himself to God by holy prayer and penitential practices. He casually heard that on a certain day public games were about to be celebrated at Caesarea in honour of Mars. He accordingly proceeded to the city, and beheld there a great concourse, not only of Gentiles, but of Christians, who, weak in Faith, were not ashamed to assist in these diabolical festivities. The Saint, inspired by the Holy Ghost, proceeded to glorify the Christian Religion, and to reprobate that of the pagans who adored and sacrificed to false gods.

The Gentiles, at this interruption of the games, shouted that the Saint should be put to death for his temerity. They seized upon him, therefore, and led him to the governor, accusing him of all that he had said. The governor, knowing that he had retired to the mountains, asked him why he had fled and afterwards returned. St. Gordius replied: "I have returned, because I am anxious to die for Jesus Christ; and knowing thee to be the most cruel of men, I thought that this afforded me the best opportunity of satisfying my desire."

The tyrant hearing him speak thus, ordered the executioners to prepare their tortures. The Saint, nothing daunted, fervently offered himself to Jesus Christ, and implored strength to suffer for His sake. Scourges, the rack, and fire were used to shake the constancy of the holy Martyr, but he said: "Torture me as much as thou pleasest; the more excruciating my agony the greater my reward in Heaven; for the wounds which now cover my body, I shall there be covered with a garment of glory; and by the pains which now afflict me, I shall earn everlasting joy.

The governor, perceiving that he could not conquer him by these cruel tortures, endeavoured to gain him over by promises of riches and honours; but the Saint answered: Thou art deceived if thou thinkest that I will barter the joys of Heaven for the miserable advantages this world can afford." Finally, the judge perceiving that promises were as ineffectual as threats, pronounced upon him the sentence of death.

While the Saint was proceeding to the place of execution, his friends exhorted him to yield, for the present, to the wishes of the governor, and not perish thus miserably in his youth. The Saint replied "Weep not for me but for those who persecute the faithful, since for them eternal fire is prepared; for my part, I am prepared to die, not once, but a thousand times, for Jesus Christ." They urged that, to avoid death, he might deny Jesus Christ with his tongue though he continued to adore Him in his heart. The Saint said: "Far be it from me to deny my God with that tongue which He Himself hath given me."

He then armed himself with the Sign of the Cross and went boldly to encounter death which, according to St. Bazil, was that by fire, in which he gloriously consummated his Martyrdom.


Evening Meditation

CARRYING OUR CROSS FOR CHRIST WILL MAKE UP FOR ALL.

I.

By our sins we also contributed to embitter with affliction the whole life of our Saviour. But let us thank His goodness in giving us time to remedy the evil which has been done.

How, then, are we to remedy it? By bearing patiently all the crosses which He sends us for our good. And He Himself tells us how we can bear these troubles with patience: Put me as a seal upon thy heart (Cant. viii. 6). Put upon thy heart the image of Christ crucified. That is to say: Consider My example and the pains which I have suffered for thee; and so shalt thou bear all crosses in peace. St. Augustine says that this heavenly Physician made Himself weak, that He might heal our weakness by His own infirmity. "Wondrous medicine! The Physician deigns to become sick, to heal His patient by His own infirmity," according to that which Isaias spoke: By his bruises we are healed (Is. liii. 5). To heal our souls, which are weakened by sin, the medicine of suffering is the one necessary remedy, and Jesus Christ desired to be the first to taste it, that we who are the true sinners should not refuse to take it also: "The Physician drinks first, that the sick man also may not hesitate to drink."

Believing this, says St. Epiphanius, as true followers of Jesus Christ, we ought to thank Him when He sends us crosses: "It is a virtue peculiar to a Christian to give thanks when in adversity." And this is reasonable, because by sending us crosses He makes us like to Himself. St. John Chrysostom makes an observation which is very consoling. He says that when we thank God for His benefits, we do but give Him that which we owe Him; but that when we suffer some pain with patience for His love, then God in a certain way becomes our debtor: "If you thank God for good things you pay a debt; if you thank Him for evil things, you make Him your debtor."


II.

If thou wouldst render love to Jesus Christ, says St. Bernard, learn from Him how thou must love Him: "Learn from Christ how to love Christ." Be happy to suffer something for that God Who has suffered so much for thee. The desire of pleasing Jesus Christ, and of making known to Him the love they bore Him, was that which rendered the Saints hungry and thirsty, not for honours and pleasures but for sufferings and contempt. God forbid that I should glory save in the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ (Gal. vi. 14), said St. Paul. St. Teresa used to say: "Either to suffer or to die!" And St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi: "To suffer and not to die!" And the Venerable Sister Mary of Jesus Crucified, a Sicilian nun, was so enamoured of suffering that she went so far as to say: "Truly Paradise is beautiful, but one thing is wanting -- there is no suffering there."

If we have not the generosity to desire and seek for sufferings, let us at least try to accept with patience those tribulations which God sends us for our good.

And when God sends us crosses, not only let us be resigned, but let us also thank Him, since it is a sign that He means to pardon our sins, and save us from hell which we have deserved. He who has offended God must be punished, and therefore we ought always to beg of Him to chastise us in this world, and not in the next. That sinner is to be pitied who does not receive his chastisement in this life, but, on the contrary, is prosperous. May God preserve us from that mercy of which Isaias speaks: Let us have pity on the wicked (Is. xxvi. 10). "I do not want this mercy," says St. Bernard; "such pity is worse than any anger." O Lord, I do not desire this kind of mercy, for it is more terrible than any chastisement. When God does not punish a sinner in this life, it is a sign that He waits to punish him in eternity, where the punishment will have no end.

From the price thy Redeemer had to pay learn the value of His gifts and the gravity of sin, says St. Laurence Justinian. When we see a God dead on the Cross, we ought to consider the great gift He has made us in giving us His Blood to redeem us from hell, and at the same time to understand the malice of sin, which made the death of a God necessary to obtain pardon for us. O Eternal God, nothing terrifies me more than to see Thy Son punished by so cruel a death on account of sin!
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Reply
#5
Friday--Third Week after Epiphany
(For First Friday of February)

Morning Meditation

"MY SOUL IS SORROWFUL UNTO DEATH."

The grief of the Heart of Jesus came, not on account of the torments He saw He should have to suffer, but from seeing the sins men would commit after His death. It was the sight of my sins that oppressed Thy Heart, O Jesus, and made Thee agonize and sweat Blood. This is the recompense I have made Thee!


I.

My soul is sorrowful even unto death (Matt. xxvi. 38). These were the words that proceeded from the sorrowful Heart of Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemani before He went to die. Alas, whence came this extreme grief of His, which was so great that it was enough to take away His life? Perhaps it was on account of the torments that He saw He would have to suffer? No, for He had foreseen these torments from the time of His Incarnation. He had foreseen them, and had accepted them of His own free will: He was offered because it was his own will (Is. liii. 7). His grief came from seeing the sins men would commit after His death. It was then, according to St. Bernardine of Sienna, that He saw clearly each particular sin of each one of us. He had regard to every individual sin.

It was not, then, my Jesus, the sight of the scourges, of the thorns, and of the Cross which so afflicted Thee in the Garden of Gethsemani, -- it was the sight of my sins! Each one of them so oppressed Thy Heart with grief and sadness that it made Thee agonize and sweat Blood. This is the recompense I have made Thee for the love Thou hast shown me by dying for me. Ah, let me share the grief Thou didst feel in the Garden for my sins, so that the remembrance of it may make me sorrowful all my life. Ah, my sweet Redeemer, if I could but console Thee as much now by my grief and love as I then afflicted Thee! I repent, my Love, with all my heart for having preferred my own miserable satisfaction to Thee. I am sorry and I love Thee above all things. Although I have despised Thee, yet I hear Thee ask for my love. Thou wouldst have me love Thee with all my heart: Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul (Matt. xxii. 37). Yes, my God, I love Thee with all my heart, I love Thee with all my soul. Do Thou give me the love Thou requirest of me. If I have hitherto sought myself, I will now seek none but Thee. And seeing that Thou hast loved me more than others, more than others will I love Thee. Draw me always more and more, my Jesus, to Thy love by the odour of Thine ointments, which are the loving attractions of Thy grace. Finally, give me strength to correspond to so much love which God has borne to an ungrateful worm and traitor. Mary, Mother of Mercy, help me by thy prayers.


II.

Neither by the blood of goats or of calves, but by his own blood, entered once into the Holies, having obtained eternal redemption (Heb. ix. 12).

And of what worth would the blood of all goats or even of all men be, if they were sacrificed to obtain Divine grace for us? It is only the Blood of this Man-God would merit for us pardon and eternal salvation. But if God Himself had not devised this way to redeem us, as He did by dying to save us, who ever would have been able to think of it? His love alone designed it and executed it. Therefore holy Job did well to cry out to this God Who loves man so much: What is man that thou shouldst magnify him? or why dost thou set thy heart upon him? (Job vii. 17). Ah, my Jesus, one heart is but little with which to love Thee. If I loved Thee even with the hearts of all men, it would be too little. What ingratitude, then, would it be if I were to divide my heart between Thee and creatures! No, my Love, Thou wouldst have it all, and well dost Thou deserve it; I will give it all to Thee. If I do not know how to give it Thee as I ought, take it Thyself, and grant that I may be able to say to Thee with truth: Thou art the God of my heart (Ps. lxxii. 26). Ah, my Redeemer, by the merits of the abject and afflicted life that Thou didst will to live for me, give me true humility which will make me love contempt and an obscure life. May I lovingly embrace all infirmities, affronts, persecutions and interior sufferings, and all the crosses which may come to me from Thy hands. Let me love Thee, and then dispose of me as Thou wilt. O loving Heart of my Jesus, make me love Thee by discovering to me the immense Good that Thou art. Make me all Thine before I die. I love Thee, my Jesus, Who art worthy to be loved. I love Thee with all my heart; I love Thee with all my soul.


Spiritual Reading

HEROES AND HEROINES OF THE FAITH

2. ST. ARCADIUS (January 12).

St. Arcadius was a native of Africa, and most probably suffered Martyrdom in Caesarea (at present Cherchell, a small village in the province of Mascara, in Algiers), the capital of Mauritania. A furious persecution was raging -- during which the Christians were cruelly dragged before the idols to sacrifice. Arcadius withdrew to a solitary place, where he employed his time in fasting and prayer. Meanwhile as he did not appear at the public sacrifices, soldiers were despatched to surprise him in his house, but not finding him, they arrested one of his relatives in order to make him discover the retreat of his kinsman.

Arcadius was unwilling that another should suffer on his account, and presented himself to the governor, saying that his relative might be discharged, as he had come to answer for himself. The governor replied that he also might depart unhurt if he would sacrifice to the gods. The Saint courageously answered: "Thou art deceived if thou believest that threats of death can affright the servants of God. They say with St. Paul: To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Philipp i. 21). Invent therefore, what tortures thou canst, we shall never be separated from our God."

Hereupon the tyrant, full of wrath, and thinking the usual tortures too light for Arcadius, ordered that joint after joint should be chopped off the Saint's body, beginning with his toes. The barbarous butchery was instantly executed, during which the holy Martyr ceased not to bless the Lord. After his body had been reduced to a mere trunk, calmly surveying his mangled limbs scattered around him, he exclaimed: "Oh, happy members that have served to manifest the glory of God! Now that I behold you separated from my body, you are dearer to me than ever. I now know that I belong to Jesus Christ, as I have always desired."

Then turning to those present who were idolaters, he said: "Know ye that all these sufferings are easily overcome by those who continually keep before their eyes eternal life which God bestows upon His servants. Adore the true God, Who consoles me in these tortures; and abandon the worship of your false gods who cannot assist you in your need. He who dies for the true God acquires life everlasting. Behold, for having suffered these torments, I go to live with Him eternally, without fear of ever losing Him." Having finished his discourse, he placidly gave his soul to his Redeemer, on the 12th of January.

This Martyrdom filled the idolaters with confusion, and inspired the Christians with a great desire of laying down their lives for Jesus Christ. They afterwards collected the scattered limbs of the Martyr and gave them honourable burial.


Evening Meditation

THE GOODNESS AND KINDNESS OF GOD, OUR SAVIOUR

I.

The goodness and kindness of God our Saviour appeared (Tit. iii. 4).

God has loved man from all eternity: I have loved thee with an everlasting love (Jer. xxxi. 3). St. Bernard says that before the Incarnation of the Word the Divine Power appeared in creating the world, and the Divine Wisdom in governing it, but when the Son of God became Man, then was made manifest the Love which God had for men. And, in fact, after seeing Jesus Christ accept so afflicted a life and so painful a death, we would be offering Him an insult if we doubted the great love which He bears us. Yes, He does surely love us, and because He loves us, He wishes to be loved by us. And Christ died for all, that they also who live may not now live to themselves, but for him who died for them and rose again (2 Cor. v. 15).

Ah, my Saviour, when shall I begin to understand the love Thou hast had for me? Hitherto instead of loving Thee, I have repaid Thee with offences and contempt of Thy graces, but since Thou art infinite in goodness I will not lose confidence. Thou hast promised to pardon him who repents; for Thy mercy's sake fulfil Thy promise to me. I have dishonoured Thee by putting Thee aside to follow my own pleasures; but now I grieve for it from the bottom of my soul, and there is no sorrow that afflicts me more than the remembrance of having offended Thee, my Sovereign Good. Pardon me and unite me entirely to Thee by an eternal bond of love, that I may not leave Thee any more, and that I may live only to love Thee and to obey Thee. Yes, my Jesus, for Thee alone will I live, Thee only will I love. Once I left Thee for creatures, now I leave all to give myself wholly to Thee. I love Thee, O God of my soul, I love Thee more than myself. O Mary, Mother of God, obtain for me the grace to be faithful to God till death.


II.

By this hath the charity of God appeared towards us, because God hath sent his only-begotten Son into the world that we might live by him (1 John iv. 9).

All men were dead by sin, and they would have remained dead if the Eternal Father had not sent His Son to restore them to life by His death. But how? What is this? A God to die for man! A God! And who is this man? "Quid sum ego?" asks St. Bonaventure. "What am I? O Lord, and why hast Thou loved me so much?" But it is in this that the infinite love of God shines forth. By this hath the charity of God appeared. The Holy Church exclaims on Holy Saturday, "O wonderful condescension of Thy mercy toward us! O inestimable affection of charity! That Thou mightest redeem a slave, Thou didst deliver up Thy Son!" O immense compassion! O prodigy! O excess of the love of God! To deliver a servant and a sinner from the death that he deserves, God's innocent Son is condemned to die!

Thou, then, O my God, hast done this that we might live by Jesus Christ: that we might live by him. Yes, indeed, it is but meet that we should live for Him, Who has given all His Blood and His life for us. My dear Redeemer, in the presence of Thy Wounds and of the Cross on which I see Thee dead for me, I consecrate to Thee my life and my whole will. Ah, make me all Thine, for from this day forward I seek and desire none but Thee. I love Thee, infinite Goodness; I love Thee, infinite Love. While I live may I always repeat, My God, I love Thee! I love Thee! Let my last words in death be: My God, I love Thee! I love Thee!
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Reply
#6
[b](Feast of the Purification and Presentation, Feb. 2)[/b]
Morning Meditation

"AND THY OWN SOUL A SWORD SHALL PIERCE."

Mary already knew all the torments that her Son was to endure, but in the words addressed to her by Simeon, And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, all the minute circumstances of the sufferings, internal and external, that were to torment Jesus in His Passion, were made known to her. Mary consented, saying: Eternal Father, since Thou willest that it should be so, not my will, but Thine be done!

I.

Already the most Blessed Virgin was enlightened by the Sacred Scriptures, and knew the sufferings that the Redeemer was to endure in His life, and still more at the time of His death. But in the words of Simeon, And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, all the minute circumstances of the sufferings, internal and external, that were to torment her Jesus in His Passion, were made known to her, as our Lord revealed to St. Teresa. She consented to all with a constancy which filled even the Angels with astonishment; she pronounced the sentence that her Son should die, and die by so ignominious and painful a death, saying: "Eternal Father, since Thou willest that it should be so, not my will, but thine be done (Luke, xxii. 42). I unite my will to Thy most holy will, and I sacrifice this, my Son to Thee. I am satisfied that He should lose His life for Thy glory and the salvation of the world. At the same time I sacrifice my heart to Thee, that it may be transpierced with sorrow, and this as much as Thou pleasest: it suffices me, my God, that Thou art glorified and satisfied with my offering: Not my will, but Thine be done! O charity without measure! O constancy without parallel! O victory which deserves the eternal admiration of Heaven and earth!

Hence it was that Mary was silent during the Passion of Jesus, when He was unjustly accused. She said not a word to Pilate who was somewhat inclined to set her Son at liberty, knowing, as he did, His innocence. She only appeared in public to assist at the great Sacrifice, which was to be accomplished on Calvary; she accompanied her beloved Son to the place of execution; she was with Him from the first moment, when He was nailed on the Cross: There stood by the cross of Jesus his mother (Jo. xix. 25), until she saw Him expire, and the Sacrifice was consummated. And all this she did to complete the offering which she had made of Him to God in the Temple.

O holy Mother of God, and my Mother Mary, thou wast so deeply interested in my salvation as to offer to death the dearest object of thy heart, thy beloved Jesus! Since, then, thou didst so much desire to see me saved, it is right that, after God, I should place all my hopes in thee. O yes, most Blessed Virgin, I do, indeed, entirely confide in thee. Ah, by the merits of the great sacrifice which thou didst offer this day to God, the sacrifice of the life of thy Son, entreat Him to have pity on my poor soul for which this Immaculate Lamb did not refuse to die on the Cross.

II.

To understand the violence Mary had to offer herself in this Sacrifice it would be necessary to understand the love that this Mother bore to Jesus. Generally speaking, the love of mothers is so tender towards their children, that, when these are at the point of death, and there is fear of losing them, it causes them to forget all their faults and defects, and even the injuries that they may have received from them, and makes them suffer an inexpressible grief. And yet the love of these mothers is a love divided amongst other children, or at least amongst other creatures. Mary had an only Son, and He was the most beautiful of all the sons of Adam -- most amiable, for He had everything to make Him so: He was obedient, virtuous, innocent, holy; suffice it to say, He was God! Again, this Mother's love was not divided amongst other objects; she had concentrated all her love in this only Son; nor did she fear to exceed in loving Him; for this Son was God Who merits infinite love. And this Son was the Victim that she of her own free-will had to sacrifice to death!

Let each one, then, consider how much it must have cost Mary, and what strength of mind she had to exercise in this act, by which she sacrificed the life of so amiable a Son to the Cross. Behold, therefore, the most fortunate of mothers, because the Mother of a God, but who was at the same time, of all mothers, the most worthy of compassion, being the most afflicted, inasmuch as she saw her Son destined to die on the Cross from the day on which He was given to her. What mother would accept of a child, knowing that she would afterwards miserably lose him by an ignominious death, and that moreover she herself would be present and see him thus die? Mary willingly accepts this Son on so hard a condition; and not only does she accept Him, but she herself on this day offers Him with her own hand to death, sacrificing Him to divine Justice.

I desire, O my Queen, to offer my poor heart to God on this day, in imitation of thee; but I fear that seeing it so sordid and loathsome, He may refuse it. But if thou offerest it to Him, He will not reject it. He is always pleased with and accepts the offerings presented to Him by thy most pure hands. To thee, then, O Mary, do I this day present myself, miserable as I am; to Thee do I give myself without reserve. Do thou offer me as thy servant, together with Jesus to the Eternal Father, and beseech Him, by the merits of thy Son and for thy sake, to accept me and take me as His own. Ah, my sweetest Mother, for the love of thy sacrificed Son, help me always and at all times, and abandon me not. Never permit me to lose by my sins this most amiable Redeemer, Whom on this day thou didst offer with bitter grief to the cruel death of the Cross. Remind Him that I am thy servant, that in thee I have placed all my hope; say, in fine, that thou willest my salvation, and He will graciously hear thee.


Spiritual Reading

THE PURIFICATION OF MARY


THE GREAT SACRIFICE WHICH MARY MADE ON THIS DAY TO GOD IN OFFERING HIM THE LIFE OF HER SON

In the Old Law there were two precepts concerning the birth of first-born son. One was, that the mother should remain as unclean, retired in her house for forty days; after which she was to go to purify herself in the Temple. The other was, that the parents of the firstborn son should take him to the Temple, and there offer him to God. On this day the most Blessed Virgin obeyed both these precepts. Although Mary was not bound by the law of Purification, since she was always a virgin and always pure, yet her humility and obedience made her wish to go like other mothers to purify herself. She at the same time obeyed the second precept, to present and offer her Son to the Eternal Father. And after the days of her purification, according to the law of Moses, were accomplished, they carried him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (Luke ii. 22). But the Blessed Virgin did not offer Him as other mothers offered their sons. Others, indeed, offered them to God; but they knew that this oblation was simply a legal ceremony, and that by redeeming them they made them their own, without fear of having again to offer them to death. Mary really offered her Son to death, and knew for certain that the sacrifice of the life of Jesus which she then made was one day to be actually consummated on the Altar of the Cross; so that Mary, by offering the life of her Son, came, in consequence of the love she bore this Son, really to sacrifice her own entire self to God.

The Eternal Father had already determined to save man who was lost by sin, and to deliver him from eternal death. But because He willed at the same time that His Divine justice should not be defrauded of a due and worthy satisfaction, He spared not the life of His Son already become Man to redeem man, but willed that He should pay with the utmost rigour the penalty which men had deserved. He that spared not even his own Son, but delivered him up for us all (Rom. viii. 32). He sent Him, therefore, on earth to become Man. He destined Him a Mother and willed that this Mother should be the Blessed Virgin Mary. But as He willed not that His Divine Word should become her Son before she by an express consent had accepted Him, so also He willed not that Jesus should sacrifice His life for the salvation of men without the concurrent assent of Mary; that, together with the sacrifice of the life of the Son, the Mother's heart might also be sacrificed. St. Thomas teaches that the quality of mother gives her a special right over her children; hence, Jesus being in Himself innocent and undeserving of punishment, it seemed fitting that He should not be condemned to the Cross as a Victim for the sins of the world without the consent of His Mother, by which she should willingly offer Him to death.

But although from the moment she became the Mother of Jesus, Mary consented to His death, yet God willed that on this day she should make a solemn sacrifice of herself by offering her Son to Him in the Temple, sacrificing His precious life to Divine justice. Hence St. Epiphanius calls her "a priest." And now we begin to see how much this sacrifice cost her, and what heroic virtues she had to practise when she herself subscribed to the sentence by which her beloved Jesus was condemned to death.

Behold Mary is actually on her road to Jerusalem to offer her Son; she hastens her steps towards the place of sacrifice and she herself bears the beloved Victim in her arms. She enters the Temple, approaches the altar, and there, beaming with modesty, devotion, and humility, presents her Son to the Most High. In the meantime the holy Simeon who had received a promise from God that he should not die without having first seen the expected Messias, takes the Divine Child from the arms of the Blessed Virgin, and, enlightened by the Holy Ghost, announces to her how much the sacrifice she then made of her Son would cost her, and that with Him her own blessed soul would also be sacrificed.

Here St. Thomas of Villanova contemplates the holy old man becoming troubled and silent at the thought of having to give utterance to a Prophecy so fatal to this poor Mother. The Saint then looks on Mary who asks him: "Why, O Simeon, art thou thus troubled in the midst of such great consolations?" "O royal Virgin," he replies, "I would desire not to announce thee tidings so bitter; but since God thus wills it for thy greater merit, listen to what I have to say. This Child, Who is now such a source of joy to thee -- and, O God, with how much reason! -- this Child, I say, will one day be a source of such bitter grief to thee as no creature in the world has ever experienced. And this will be when thou seest Him persecuted by men of every class, and made a butt upon earth for their scoffs and outrages; they will even go so far as to put Him to death as a malefactor before thine own eyes! Thou so greatly rejoicest in this Infant; but, behold, He is placed for a sign that shall be contradicted. Know that after His death there will be many Martyrs, who for the love of this Son of thine will be tormented and put to death; their Martyrdom, however, will be endured in their bodies; but thine, O Divine Mother, will be endured in thy heart. O, how many thousands of men will be torn to pieces and put to death for the love of this Child! And although they will all suffer much in their bodies, thou, O Virgin, wilt suffer much more in thy heart."

Yes, in her heart; for compassion for the sufferings of this most beloved Son was alone the sword of sorrow which was to pierce the heart of the Mother, as St. Simeon exactly foretold: And thy own soul a sword shall pierce (Luke ii. 35). Already the most blessed Virgin, as St. Jerome says, was enlightened by the Sacred Scriptures, and knew the suffering that the Redeemer was to endure in His life, and still more at the time of His death. She fully understood from the Prophets that He was to be betrayed by one of His disciples: For even the man of my peace, in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, hath greatly supplanted me (Ps. xl. 10), as David foretold: that He was to be abandoned by them: Strike the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered (Zach. xiii. 7). She well knew the contempt, the spitting, the blows, the derisions that He was to suffer from the people: I have given my body to the strikers, and my cheeks to them that plucked them: I have not turned away my face from them that rebuked me and that spit upon me (Is. 1. 6). She knew that He was to become the reproach of men, and the outcast and the most degraded of the people, so as to be saturated with insults and injuries: But I am a worm, and no man: the reproach of men, and the outcast of the people (Ps. xxi. 7). He shall be filled with reproaches (Lam. iii. 30). She knew that at the end of His life His most sacred flesh would be torn and mangled by scourges: But he was wounded for our iniquities, he was bruised for our sins (Is. liii. 5). And this to such a degree that His whole body was to be disfigured, and become like that of a leper -- all wounds and the bones appearing. There is no beauty in him nor comeliness ... and we have thought him, as it were, a leper (Is. liii. 2). They have numbered all my bones (Ps. xxi. 18). She knew that He was to be pierced by nails: They have dug my hands and feet (Ps. xxi. 17). To be ranked with malefactors: And was reputed with the wicked (Is. liii. 12). And that finally, hanging on a Cross, He was to die for the salvation of men: And they shall look upon me, whom they have pierced (Zach. xii. 10).


Evening Meditation

MARY'S GENEROSITY IN OFFERING JESUS TO DEATH FOR US


I.

St. Bonaventure says that the Blessed Virgin would have accepted the pains and death of her Son far more willingly for herself; but to obey God she made the great offering of the Divine life of her Beloved Jesus, conquering, but with an excess of grief, the tender love which she bore Him. Hence it is that in this offering Mary had to do herself more violence and showed herself more generous than if she had offered herself to suffer all that her Son was to endure. Therefore she surpassed all the Martyrs in generosity; for the Martyrs offered their own lives, but the Blessed Virgin offered the life of her Son Whom she loved and esteemed infinitely more than her own life. Nor did the sufferings of this painful offering end here; nay, rather they only began; for from that time forward, during the whole life of her Son, Mary had constantly before her eyes the death and all the torments that He was to endure. Hence, the more this Son showed Himself beautiful, gracious, and amiable, the more did the anguish of her heart increase.

Ah, most sorrowful Mother, hadst thou loved thy Son less, or had He been less amiable, or had He loved thee less, thy sufferings in offering him to death would certainly have been diminished. But there never was, and never will be, a mother who loved her son more than thou didst love thine; for there never was, and never will be a son more amiable, or one who loved his mother more than thy Jesus loved thee. O God, had we beheld the beauty, the majesty of the countenance of that Divine Child, could we have ever had the courage to sacrifice His life for our own salvation? And thou, O Mary, who wast His Mother, and a Mother loving Him with so tender a love, thou couldst offer thy innocent Son for the salvation of men, to a death more painful and cruel than ever was endured by the greatest malefactor on earth!


II.

Ah, how sad a scene from that day forward must love have continually placed before the eyes of Mary, -- a scene representing all the outrages and mockeries which her poor Son was to endure! See, love already represents Him agonized with sorrow in the Garden, mangled with scourges, crowned with thorns in the Pretorium, and finally hanging on the ignominious Cross on Calvary! "Behold, O Mother," says love, "what an amiable and innocent Son thou offerest to so many torments and to so horrible a death!" And to what purpose save Him from the hands of Herod, since it is only to reserve Him for a far more sorrowful end?

Thus Mary not only offered her Son to death in the Temple, but she renewed that offering every moment of her life; for she revealed to St. Bridget "that the sorrow announced to her by the holy Simeon never left her heart until her Assumption into Heaven." Hence St. Anselm thus addresses her: "O compassionate Lady, I cannot believe that thou couldst have endured for a moment so excruciating a torment without expiring under it, had not God Himself, the Spirit of Life, sustained thee.

If the sacrifice of Abraham by which he offered his son Isaac to God was so pleasing to the Divine Majesty, that as a reward He promised to multiply his descendants as the stars of Heaven -- Because thou hast done this thing, and hast not spared thy only-begotten son for my sake, I will bless thee, and I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven (Gen. xxii. 16,17) -- we must certainly believe that the more noble sacrifice which Mary made to God of her Jesus, was far more agreeable to Him, and therefore that He has granted that through her prayers the number of the elect should be multiplied, that is to say, increased by the number of her fortunate children; for she considers and protects as such all her devout clients.

St. Simeon received a promise from God that he should not die until he had seen the Messias born: And he had received an answer from the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord (Luke ii. 26). But this grace he only received through Mary, for it was in her arms that he found the Saviour. Hence, he who desires to find Jesus, will not find Him otherwise than by Mary. Let us, then, go to this Divine Mother if we wish to find Jesus, and let us go with great confidence.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Reply


Forum Jump:


Users browsing this thread: 2 Guest(s)