Thursday, 21 January 2010

A Christian’s Rule of Life - Chapter 2

1. Acts and Different Prayers on rising in the Morning, and during the Day.
On rising make the sign of the cross, and then say:
My God, I adore Thee and love Thee with all, my heart. I thank Thee for all Thy benefits, and especially for having preserved me this night. I offer Thee whatever I may do or suffer this day, in union with the actions and sufferings of Jesus and of Mary, with the intention of gaining all the indulgences I can gain.
I resolve to avoid all sin this day, and especially such a one (it is good to make a resolution, particularly about the fault into which we fall the oftenest); and I beg of Thee to give me perseverance for the love of Jesus Christ. I resolve to conform myself to Thy holy will, and particularly in those things that are contrary to my inclination, saying always: Lord, Thy will be done.
My Jesus! keep Thy hand over me this day. Most Holy Mary! take me beneath thy mantle. And do Thou, Eternal Father, help me, for the love of Jesus and Mary! O my angel guardian and my patron saints, assist me. An Our Father and a Hail Mary and the Creed, with three Hail Marys in honor of the purity of Mary.
When you begin any work or study, say: Lord! I offer Thee this work. When you eat: My God, bless this food and me, that I may commit no fault about it; and may all be for Thy glory. After having eaten: I thank Thee, Lord! for having done good to one who was Thy enemy. When the clock strikes: My Jesus! I love Thee: never permit me to offend Thee again, and let me never be separated from Thee. In adverse circumstances: Lord, since Thou hast so willed it, I will it also. In time of temptation often repeat: Jesus and Mary! When you know or doubt of some fault or sin you have committed, say immediately: My God! I repent of having offended Thee, O Infinite Goodness! I will do so no more. And if it was a grievous sin, confess it at once.
It would be a good thing for parents and masters and mistresses to make the children and those under them learn these acts by heart, that they may use them afterwards throughout life.
2. Method of making Mental Prayer.
Mental prayer consists of three parts; the preparation, the meditation, and the conclusion. The preparation consists of three acts: one of faith in the presence of God; of humility, with a short act of contrition; and of prayer to be enlightened: saying as follows, for the first: My God, I believe that Thou art present with me, and I adore Thee with all the affection of my soul. For the second: O Lord, by my sins I deserve to be now in hell; I repent, O Infinite Goodness! with my whole heart, of having offended Thee. For the third: My God, for the love of Jesus and Mary, give me light in this prayer, that I may profit by it. Then say a Hail Mary to the Most Blessed Virgin, that she may obtain light for us; and a Glory be to the Father, to St. Joseph, to your angel, and to your patron saint, for the same end. These acts should be made with attention, but briefly; and then you go on directly to the meditation.
In the meditation you can always make use of some book,1 at least at the beginning, and stop where you find yourself mostly touched. St. Francis de Sales says that in this we should do as the bees, which settle on a flower as long they find any honey in it, and then pass on to another. It should also be observed, that the fruits to be gained by meditation are three in number: to make affections, to pray, and to make resolutions; and in these consists the profit to be derived from mental prayer. After you have meditated on some eternal truth, and God has spoken to your heart, you must also speak to God; and first, by forming affections, be they acts of faith, of thanksgiving, of humility, or of hope; but above all, repeat the acts of love and contrition. St. Thomas says, that every act of love merits for us the grace of God and paradise: “Every act of love merits eternal life.”2 Each act of contrition obtains the same thing. Acts of love are such as these: My God, I love Thee above all things! I love Thee with all my heart! I desire to do Thy will in all things. I rejoice that Thou art infinitely happy! and the like. For an act of contrition it is enough to say: O Infinite Goodness, I repent of having offended Thee!
In the second place, you must pray; ask God to enlighten you, to give you humility or other virtues, to grant you a good death and eternal salvation; but above all, his love and holy perseverance. And when the soul is in great aridity, it is sufficient to repeat: My God, help me! Lord, have mercy on me! My Jesus, have mercy! and if you do nothing but this, your prayer will succeed exceedingly well.
In the third place, before finishing your prayer, you must form a particular resolution; as, for instance, to avoid some occasion of sin, to bear with an annoyance from some person, to correct some fault, and the like.
Finally, in the conclusion, three acts are to be made: in the 1st, we must thank God for the inspirations we have received; in the 2d, we must make a determination to observe the resolutions we have made; in the 3d, we must ask God, for the love of Jesus and Mary, to help us to keep our resolution. The prayer concludes by the recommendation of the souls in purgatory, the prelates of the Church, sinners, and all our relatives and friends, for which we may say an Our Father and a Hail Mary. St. Francis of Sales exhorts us to choose some thought which may have struck us more especially in our prayer, that we may remember it during the rest of the day.
3. Acts to be made by Way of Preparation and Thanksgiving both for Confession and Communion.
Before confessing, the penitent should beg for light from God to enable him to know what sins he has committed, and to obtain the grace of a true sorrow and purpose of amendment. He should also particularly recommend himself to Our Lady of Sorrows, that she may obtain contrition for him. Then he may make the following acts:
Act before Confession.
O God of infinite majesty, behold at Thy feet a traitor, who has offended Thee over and over again, but who now humbly seeks forgiveness. O Lord, reject me not; Thou dost not despise a heart that humbles itself: A contrite and humbled heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.3 I thank Thee that Thou hast waited for me till now, and hast not let me die in sin, casting me into hell, as I deserved. Since Thou hast waited for me, my God, I hope that, by the merits of Jesus Christ, Thou wilt pardon me in this confession for all the offences I have committed against Thee; I repent, and am sorry for them, because by them I have merited hell and lost paradise. But above all, it is not so much on account of hell which I have merited, but because I have offended Thee, O Infinite Goodness! that I am sorry from the bottom of my heart. I love Thee, O Sovereign Good! and because I love Thee, I repent of all the insults I have offered Thee. I have turned my back upon Thee; I have not respected Thee; I have despised Thy grace and Thy friendship. O Lord! I have lost Thee by my own free-will; forgive me all my sins for the love of Jesus Christ, now that I repent with all my heart; I hate, detest, and abominate them above every evil. And I repent not only of mortal sins, but also of venial sins, because these are also displeasing to Thee. I resolve for the future, by Thy grace, never more wilfully to offend Thee. Yes, my God, I will rather die than ever sin again.
And if a person confesses a sin into which he has often relapsed, it is a good thing to resolve particularly not to fall into it again, by promising to avoid the occasion of it; and to take the means pointed out by the confessor, or such as he may himself judge to be most efficacious for correcting himself of it.
Act after Confession.
My dear Jesus! how much do I not owe Thee. By the merits of Thy blood I hope that I have this day been pardoned. I thank Thee above all things. I hope to reach heaven, where I shall praise Thy mercies forever. My God, if I have hitherto lost Thee so often, I now desire to lose Thee no more. From this day forward I will change my life in earnest. Thou dost merit all my love; I will love Thee truly; I will no longer see myself separated from Thee. I have promised Thee this already; now I repeat my promise of being ready to die rather than offend Thee again. I promise also to avoid all occasions of sin, and to use such means as will prevent me from falling again. My Jesus, Thou knowest my weakness: give me grace to be faithful to Thee till death, and to have recourse to Thee when I am tempted. Most holy Mary, help me! Thou art the mother of perseverance; I place my hope in thee.
Preparation for Communion.
There is no means more efficacious in freeing us from our sins, and in enabling us to advance in the love of God, than Holy Communion. Why is it, then, that some souls find themselves always in the same tepidity, and committing the same faults, notwithstanding the many Communions they make? This happens through the want of a proper disposition and preparation. Two things are requisite for this preparation. The first is to disengage our heart from all affections which are an impediment to the divine love. The second is to have a great desire to love God. And this, says St. Francis de Sales, should be our chief intention when we communicate, namely, to increase in divine love. Out of love alone, says the saint, ought our God to be received, who out of love alone gives himself to us. For this end let us make the following acts.
Acts before Communion.
My beloved Jesus, true Son of God, who didst die for me on the cross in a sea of sorrow and ignominy, I firmly believe that Thou art present in the Most Holy Sacrament; and for this faith I am ready to give my life.
My dear Redeemer, I hope by Thy goodness, and through the merits of Thy blood, that when Thou dost come to me this morning, Thou wilt inflame me with Thy holy love, and wilt give me all those graces which I need to keep me obedient and faithful to Thee till death.
Ah, my God! true and only lover of my soul, what couldst Thou do more to oblige me to love Thee? Thou wert not satisfied, my love, with dying for me, but Thou wouldst also institute the Most Holy Sacrament, making Thyself my food, and giving Thyself all to me; thus uniting Thyself most closely to such a miserable and ungrateful creature. Thou dost Thyself invite me to receive Thee, and dost greatly desire that I should receive Thee. O infinite Love! A God gives himself all to me! O my God, O infinite love, worthy of infinite love, I love Thee above all things; I love Thee with all my heart; I love Thee more than myself, more than my life; I love Thee because Thou art worthy of being loved; and I love Thee also to please Thee, since Thou dost desire my love! Depart from my soul, all ye earthly affections; to Thee alone, my Jesus, my treasure, my all, will I give all my love. This morning Thou dost give Thyself all to me, and I give myself all to Thee. Permit me to love Thee; for I desire none but Thee, and nothing but what is pleasing to Thee. I love Thee, O my Saviour, and I unite my poor love to the love of all the angels and saints, and of Thy Mother Mary, and the love of Thy Eternal Father! Oh, that I could see Thee loved by all! Oh, that I could make Thee loved by all men, and loved as much as Thou dost deserve!
Behold, O my Jesus, I am now about to draw near to feed on Thy most sacred Flesh! Ah, my God, who am I? and who art Thou? Thou art a Lord of infinite goodness, and I am a loathsome worm, defiled by so many sins, and who have driven Thee out of my soul so often.
Domine, non sum dignus. Lord, I am not worthy to remain in Thy presence; I ought to be in hell forever, far away, and abandoned by Thee. But out of Thy goodness Thou callest me to receive Thee: behold, I come, I come humbled and in confusion for the great displeasure I have given Thee, but trusting entirely to Thy mercy and to the love Thou hast for me. I am exceedingly sorry, O my loving Redeemer. for having so often offended Thee in time past! Thou didst even give Thy life for me; and I have so often despised Thy grace and Thy love, and have exchanged Thee for nothing. I repent, and am sorry with all my heart for every offence which I have offered Thee, whether grievous or light, because it was an offence against Thee, who art infinite goodness. I hope Thou hast already pardoned me; but if Thou hast not yet forgiven me, pardon me, my Jesus, before I receive Thee. Ah, receive me quickly into Thy grace, since it is Thy will soon to come and dwell within me.
Come, then, my Jesus, come into my soul, that sighs after Thee. My only and infinite good, my life, my love, my all, I would desire to receive Thee this morning with the same love with which those souls who love Thee most have received Thee, and with the same fervor with which Thy Most Holy Mother received Thee; to her Communions I wish to unite this one of mine. O Blessed Virgin, and my Mother Mary, give me Thy Son; I intend to receive him from thy hands! Tell him that I am thy servant, and thus will he press me more lovingly to his heart now that he is coming to me.
Acts after Communion.
The time after Communion is a precious time for gaining treasures of grace, because the acts and prayers made whilst the soul is thus united with Jesus Christ have more merit: and are of more value, than when they are made at any other time. St. Teresa says that our Lord then dwells in the soul enthroned as on a mercy-seat, and speaks to it in these words: My child, ask of me what you will; for this end am I come to you to do you good. Oh, what great favors do those receive who converse with Jesus Christ after Communion! The Ven. F. Avila never omitted to remain two hours in prayer after Communion; and St. Aloysius Gonzaga continued his thanksgiving for three days. Let the communicant, then, make the following acts, and try during the rest of the day to go on making acts of love and prayer, in order to keep himself united with Jesus Christ, whom he has received in the morning.
Behold, my Jesus, Thou art come, Thou art now within me, and hast made Thyself all mine. Be Thou welcome, my Beloved Redeemer: I adore Thee, and cast myself at Thy feet; I embrace Thee, I press Thee to my heart, and thank Thee for that Thou hast deigned to enter into my breast.. O Mary, O my patron saints, O my guardian angel, do you all thank him for me! Since then, O my Divine King! Thou art come to visit me with so much love, I give Thee my will, my liberty, and my whole self. Thou hast given Thyself all to me, I will give myself all to Thee; I will no longer belong to myself; from this day forward I will be Thine, and altogether Thine. I desire that my soul, my body, my faculties, my senses, should be all Thine, that they may be employed in serving and pleasing Thee, To Thee I consecrate all my thoughts, my desires, my affections, and all my life. I have offended Thee enough, my Jesus; I desire to spend the remainder of my life in loving Thee who hast loved me so much.
Accept, O God of my soul, the sacrifice which I, a miserable sinner, make to Thee, and who desires only to love and please Thee, Work Thou in me, and dispose of me, and of all things belonging to me, as Thou pleasest. May Thy love destroy in me all those affections which are displeasing to Thee, that I may be all Thine, and may live only to please Thee!
I ask Thee, not for goods of this world, for pleasures, for honors; give me, I pray Thee, by the merits of Thy Passion, O my Jesus, a constant sorrow for my sins! Enlighten me, and make me know the vanity of worldly goods, and how much Thou dost deserve to be loved. Separate me from all attachment to the world, and bind me entirely to Thy love, that from henceforth my will may neither seek nor desire anything but what Thou willest. Give me patience and resignation in infirmities, in poverty, and in all those things which are contrary to my self-love. Make me gentle towards those who despise me. Give me a holy death. Give me Thy holy love. And, above all, I pray Thee to give me perseverance in Thy grace till death; never permit me to separate myself from Thee again: Jesu dulcissime, ne permittas me separari a Te. And I also ask of Thee the grace always to have recourse to Thee, and to invoke Thy aid, O my Jesus, in all my temptations; and the grace to ask Thee always for holy perseverance.
O Eternal Father, Thy Son Jesus Christ has promised me that Thou wilt grant me everything that I shall ask Thee in his name: If you ask the Father anything in My name, He will give it you.4 In the name, therefore, and by the merits of this Son, I ask for Thy love and holy perseverance, that I may one day love Thee in heaven with all my strength, and sing Thy mercies forever, secure of never more being separated from Thee.
O most holy Mary, my mother and try hope, obtain for me these graces which I so desire; as also a great love for thee, my Queen: may I always recommend myself to thee in all my necessities!
4. Method of hearing Mass.
The same action is performed in the Mass as was accomplished on Calvary, except that there the blood of Jesus Christ was really shed, while on the altar it is shed mystically; but in the Mass the merits of the Passion of Jesus are applied to each one in particular. To hear Mass, therefore, with great fruit, we must pay attention to the ends for which it was instituted, namely; 1. To honor God. 2. To thank him for his benefits. 3 To satisfy for our sins. 4. To obtain graces. For this reason you may use the following prayer during Mass.5
Eternal Father, in this Sacrifice I offer to Thee Thy Son Jesus, with all the merits of his Passion: 1. In honor of Thy majesty. 2. In thanksgiving for all the favors Thou hast hitherto shown me, and for all those which I hope to receive for all eternity. 3. In satisfaction for my sins, and for those of all the living and dead. 4. To obtain eternal salvation, and all the graces that are necessary for me to gain it.
At the elevation of the Host: My God, for the love of this Thy Son, pardon me and give me holy perseverance. At the elevation of the Chalice: By the Blood of Jesus, give me Thy love and a holy death. At the Communion of the priest make a spiritual Communion saying: My Jesus, I love Thee, and desire to possess Thee. I embrace Thee, and I will never more separate myself from Thee.
5. Acts to be made in Visiting the Most Holy Sacrament and the Divine Mother.
My Lord Jesus Christ, who, for the love Thou bearest to mankind, dost remain night and day in this Sacrament, full of pity and love, awaiting, calling, and receiving all who come to visit Thee; I believe that Thou art present in the Sacrament of the Altar; I adore Thee from the depths of my own nothingness; I thank Thee for the many graces Thou hast given me, and especially for having given me Thyself in this Sacrament; for having given me Mary Thy Mother as my advocate, and for having called me to visit Thee in this church. I salute Thy most amiable and most loving heart; and I do so, first, in thanksgiving for this great gift; secondly, to atone for all the insults Thou hast received in this Sacrament from all infidels, heretics, and bad Catholics; thirdly, I intend in this visit to adore Thee in all those places where Thou, thus veiled in the Most Holy Sacrament, art least reverenced and most abandoned. My Jesus, I love Thee with my whole heart. I am sorry that I have hitherto so often offended Thy infinite goodness. With the help of Thy grace, I resolve to displease Thee no more; and, unworthy as I am, I now consecrate myself wholly to Thee; I renounce and give to Thee my will, my affections, my desires, and all that is mine. Henceforward do with me, and all that belongs to me, whatsoever Thou pleasest. I ask for nothing but Thee and Thy holy love, final perseverance, and a perfect fulfilment of Thy will. I recommend to Thee the souls in purgatory, especially those who were most devout,to this Most Holy Sacrament, and to Most Holy Mary. I also recommend to Thee all poor sinners. And lastly, my beloved Saviour, I unite all my affections to those of Thy most loving heart; and thus united, I offer them to Thy Eternal Father; and in Thy name I beseech him to accept and grant them.
While Visiting any Image of the Ever-Blessed Virgin.
Most holy immaculate Virgin Mary, my Mother, I, the most miserable of sinners, have this day recourse to thee, the Mother of my Lord, the Queen of the universe, the advocate, the hope, the refuge of sinners I worship thee, O great Queen, and I thank thee for the many favors thou hast hitherto obtained for me; especially for having delivered me from Hell, which I have so often deserved. I love thee, O most amiable Lady, worthy of all love and for the love I bear thee, I promise to serve thee always, and to do everything in my power to make others serve thee also. In thee do I hope; I place my salvation in thy hands. Accept me for thy servant, receive me under thy mantle, O Mother of Mercy! Thou art all-powerful with God; free me, then, from all temptations, or at least obtain for me strength to conquer them as long as I live. From thee I beg a true love of Jesus Christ; and by thy help I hope for a good death. I beseech thee, Mother, by the love thou bearest to God, that thou wilt always help me, but especially at the last moment of my life. Leave me not till thou shalt see me safe in heaven, blessing thee, and singing thy mercies for all eternity. Amen. This is my hope. So may it be!
6. Christian Acts, to be made in the Evening before going to Bed.
Before going to rest, make your examination of conscience in the following manner: First thank God for all the favors you have received; then cast a glance over all the actions you have done and the words you have spoken during the day, repenting of all the faults you have committed. Afterwards make the Christian acts in the following manner:
Act of Faith.
O my God, who art infallible truth, because Thou hast revealed it to Thy Church, I believe all that she proposes to my belief! I believe that Thou art my God, the Creator of all things; that Thou dost reward the just with an eternal paradise, and dost punish the wicked in hell for all eternity. I believe that Thou art one in essence, and three in persons, namely, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. I believe in the Incarnation and death of Jesus Christ. I believe, in fine, all that the Holy Church believes. I thank Thee for having made me a Christian; and I protest that I will live and die in this holy faith.
Act of Hope.
O my God, confiding in Thy promises, because Thou art powerful, faithful, and merciful. I hope through the merits of Jesus Christ to obtain pardon of my sins, final perseverance, and the glory of paradise.
Act of Love and Contrition.
O my God, because Thou art infinite goodness, worthy of infinite love, I love Thee with all my heart above all things; and for the love of Thee I love my neighbor also. I repent with all my heart, and am sorry above all things for all my sins, because by them I have offended Thy infinite goodness. I resolve, by the help of Thy grace, which I beseech Thee to grant me now and always, rather to die than ever to offend Thee again. I purpose, also, to receive the holy Sacraments during my life, and at the hour of my death.6
Conclude the whole by saying the Rosary and the litany of the Blessed Virgin.
7. Devout Prayers to Jesus and Mary to obtain the Graces necessary for Salvation.
Prayer to Jesus Christ, to obtain His Holy Love.
My crucified Jesus, I confess Thee to be the true Son of God and my Saviour. I adore and thank Thee for the death Thou didst suffer for me. My dear Redeemer, if I have hitherto done nothing but offend Thee, I am now sorry for it above all things, and I desire nothing but to love Thee. Thou hast promised to hear those who pray to Thee; by the merits of Thy Passion, I ask Thee to give me Thy holy love. Ah, draw my heart entirely to Thyself, that from this day forward I may love Thee with all my strength, and may love none other but Thee; and so may I one day come to love Thee for all eternity in paradise.
Prayer to obtain Final Perseverance.
O sovereign and eternal God, I thank Thee for having created me; for having redeemed me by means of Jesus Christ; for having made me a Christian by calling me to the true faith, and giving me time to repent after the many sins I have committed. O Infinite Goodness, I love Thee above all things; and I repent with all my heart of all my offences against Thee. I hope Thou hast already pardoned me; but I am continually in danger of again offending Thee. For the love of Jesus Christ, I beg of Thee holy perseverance till death. Thou knowest my weakness; help me, then, and permit me never again to separate myself from Thee. Rather let me die a thousand times, than ever again to lose Thy grace. O Mary, my Mother, obtain for me holy perseverance!
Prayers to the Blessed Virgin Mary for every Day in the Week.
To obtain the Pardon of Sins.
Behold at thy feet, O mother of God! a miserable sinner, who has recourse to thee, and places his confidence in thee. O Mother of mercy, have pity on me. Thou art the refuge, the hope of sinners; thou art, therefore, my refuge and my hope. Thou hast it in thy power to save me by thy holy intercession; succor me for the love of Jesus Christ, stretch forth thy hand to a fallen sinner who commends himself to thee. I know that thou delightest to assist a poor sinner; assist me therefore now that thou hast it. in thy power to assist me. I have forfeited divine grace and lost my soul by my sins; I now put myself into thy hands; tell me what I must do to regain the grace of my Lord, for I am willing to do all that thou shalt direct me. To thee then do I have recourse. Thou prayest for many others, pray also to Jesus for me; ask him to pardon me, and he will pardon me; tell him that thou desirest my salvation and he will save me. Manifest the good which thou art able to accomplish in behalf of those who confide in thee. This is my hope. Amen.
To obtain Holy Perseverance.
O Queen of heaven, I dedicate myself to thee to be thy perpetual servant, and I offer myself to serve thee during my whole life; accept of me, and do not reject me as I have deserved. O mother, in thee do I place all my hopes. I bless and thank God, that, in his mercy, he has given me this confidence in thee, which I hold as a great earnest of my salvation. Ah, how have I hitherto miserably fallen, because I have not had recourse to thee! I now hope, through the merits of Jesus and thy prayers, that I have been pardoned; but I may again fall and forfeit divine grace. Most blessed Lady, protect me, and suffer me not to become any more the slave of the devil; always assist me; I know that thou wilt assist me, and I shall conquer with thy assistance, if I recommend myself to thee; but of this I am not afraid: I am afraid that when in danger of falling I may not call upon thee, and may perish. This favor I ask of thee, that in all the assaults of the devil I may always have recourse to thee, saying, Mary, help me; help me, Mary, most holy mother; do not suffer me to lose God.
To obtain a Happy Death.
O Mary! what will my death be? Considering my sins, and reflecting on that awful moment, when I must breathe my last and be judged, I tremble and am confounded. Most holy Mother, in the blood of Jesus and in thy prayers are placed my hopes. O consolation of the afflicted, do not abandon me then; fail not to console me in that great affliction. If thou assist me not I shall be lost. Ah, blessed Lady! before my death be at hand, obtain for me a great sorrow for my sins, a real amendment of life and fidelity to God, during the remainder of my days. And when I shall arrive at the end of my life, O Mary, my hope, assist me in that distressing moment, and so comfort me that I may not fall into despair at the sight of my sins, which the devil will place before me. Grant that I may invoke thee then more frequently, and that I may expire with thy name on my tongue and the name of thy most holy and divine Son. O blessed Lady, pardon my assurance; but before I die, do thou in person come to console me with thy presence. I am a sinner, it is true, and do not deserve such a favor; but I am devoted to thee, I love thee, and have great confidence in thee. O Mary, I look for thee; let me not remain disconsolate. At least, if I be not then worthy of so great a favor, assist me from heaven, that I may depart from this life loving God and thee, to come to love thee eternally in heaven.
To escape Hell.
Most dear and blessed Lady, I thank thee for having so often preserved me from falling into hell, which I have deserved by my repeated sins. Alas! there was a time when I must have stood condemned to that dreadful prison; and it may be that on my first committing sin the sentence would have been executed upon me had not thou in thy pity assisted me. Although I did not pray to thee, yet, through thy goodness alone, thou didst restrain divine justice; and conquering the hardness of my heart, induce me to place my confidence in thee. And oh! into how many more sins should I have fallen, to the dangers of which I was exposed, hadst not thou, my most affectionate Mother, preserved me from them by the graces which thou didst obtain for me! O holy Queen, continue, I beseech Thee, to preserve me from hell. If at one time I did not love thee, now, next to God, I love thee above all things. Never suffer me to turn my back upon thee, and upon God, who through thy means hast bestowed so many mercies upon me. Most amiable Lady, suffer me not to have to curse thee for all eternity in hell. Couldst thou endure to see one lost who is thy servant and loves thee? Most Blessed Virgin, since thou hast done so much to save me, accomplish thy work, and continue to assist me. But if thou, when I lived forgetful of thee, didst so favor me, what may I not expect from thee now that I love thee and recommend myself to thee! No, no one can be lost who recommends himself to thee. O my Mother, leave me not to myself, that I may be lost; grant that I may always have recourse to thee. Save me, my hope, by thy powerful intercession; save me from hell; and first save me from sin, which alone can condemn me to hell.
To obtain Heaven.
O Queen of heaven, who sittest above all the choirs of angelic spirits nearest to the throne of God, from this valley of tears I salute thee, miserable sinner as I am, and beseech thee to turn towards me those eyes of mercy which distribute favors whithersoever thou directest them. Behold, O Mary! to how many dangers I am now exposed, and must remain exposed so long as I continue in this world, of losing my soul, heaven, and God. In thee, O blessed Lady! next to God, are placed all my hopes. I love thee, and long to approach and behold and praise thee in heaven. O Mary! when will the day come when I shall see myself saved at thy feet, and shall behold thee the mother of my Lord, and my mother also, who hast taken such pains to save me! O blessed Lady! I have been very ungrateful to thee during my life; but if I gain heaven, I shall not be any more ungrateful to thee: then shall I love thee as much as I am able for all eternity, and shall make amends for my past neglect by blessing thee and, thanking thee forever. I give sovereign thanks to God for having given me so great confidence in the blood of Jesus, and in thee, as to hope that thou wilt deliver me from my sins, and obtain for me light and strength to accomplish the divine will, and finally conduct me to. the gates of paradise. Thy servants have very much hoped in thee, and none have been deceived; nor shall I be deceived. O Mary! thou desirest nothing else in my regard; thou wilt save me. Pray to thy Son Jesus (as I now beseech him through the merits of his bitter Passion) to preserve and to increase in me more and more this my confidence in thee, and I shall be saved.
To obtain Love for Jesus Christ and for Mary.
O Mary! I know that thou art the most noble, the most holy, and the most amiable of all creatures. O blessed Lady! would that all knew thee and loved thee as thou deservest! I am consoled that so many holy souls both in heaven and on earth love thy goodness and beauty. Above all, I rejoice that God himself loves thee more than all men and angels. Most amiable Queen, I, a miserable sinner, also love thee, but I love thee too little; I desire to obtain a greater and more tender love for thee; obtain this for me: for to love thee is a great sign of predestination, and a grace which God does not grant but to those whom he especially wills to be saved.
I am sensible, O holy Mother! that I am under immense obligations to thy Son, and he is deserving of infinite love. Thou desirest nothing else but to see him loved: to do this is the grace which above all others I beseech thee to obtain for me: obtain for me a great love for Jesus Christ. Thou obtainest from God whatever thou pleasest; oh, then, obtain for me the grace of being so united with the divine will that I may never be separated from it. I ask thee not for the goods of this world, nor for honors, nor riches; I ask thee for what thy heart most desires, that I may love my God. Is it possible that thou shouldst not assist me in obtaining this, which is so pleasing to thee? No; thou wilt assuredly help me, and pray for me. Pray, and cease not to pray, until thou seest me in paradise, safe from all danger of again losing my Lord, and secure of ever loving him, together with thee, my most dear mother.
To obtain the Patronage of Mary.
O Most Holy Mother! I am sensible of the graces which thou hast obtained for me, and of the ingratitude with which I have employed them; but notwithstanding this, I will not cease to confide in thy mercy, which is much greater than my ingratitude. O my powerful advocate, have pity on me. Thou art the dispenser of all the graces which God grants to us miserable sinners. For this end has he made thee so powerful. so rich, and so benign, that thou mayest succor us in our miseries. O Mother of mercy, leave me not in my poverty. Thou art the advocate of the most miserable and abandoned sinners when they have recourse to thee; defend me, therefore, who recommend myself to thee. Say not that my cause is difficult to be gained; whilst the most desperate causes, when entrusted to thee, are always successful. In thy hands, therefore, do I place my eternal salvation, and to thee do I consign my soul, which was lost, but which thou wilt save by thy holy intercession. This is my hope. Amen.

1Here it may be well to mention what the Author himself wrote to his religious, in a circular dated February 26, 1771: “I recommend that for the most part the meditation should be made from my books: The Preparation for Death, Meditation on the Passion, Darts of Fire, which are in the Way of Salvation; and Meditations for Advent, up to the Octave of Epiphany. I say this, not in order to put forward my own poor books, but because these meditations are made up of devout affections, and what is of more, importance, are full of holy prayer, of which I do not find many in other books. And hence I beg that the second part of the Meditation, consisting of affections and prayers, be always read.”

We must observe that Saint Alphonsus makes the practice of mental prayer simple, clear, easy, and not less fruitful. Owing to the method which he teaches, this exercise, indispensable to him who wishes to sanctify himself, is really put within the reach of all. He wishes that every one should learn how to meditate. He earnestly recommends that for this purpose special instructions should be given to the people.

Pope Benedict XIV. grants to those who in a church or elsewhere, either in public or private, shall teach the manner of making mental prayer, as well as to those who attend such instruction, a plenary indulgence once a month, on the day on which they confess and communicate and pray to the intention of the Church; likewise an indulgence of seven years and seven times forty days, each time when, having been truly contrite, and having communicated, they teach mental prayer or attend an explanation that is given to learn how to make it. These indulgences are applicable to the souls in purgatory. – ED.
2“Quilibet actus charitatis meretur vitam æternam.” – 1,2, q. 114, a. 7, ad 3.
3“Cor contritum et humiliatum, Deus, non despicies.” – Ps.l. 19.
4“Si quid petieritis Patrem in nomine meo, dabit vobis.” – John, xvi. 23.
5Saint Alphonsus speaks here only of the two essential or principal points. “To satisfy the obligation of hearing Mass,” he elsewhere says, “two things are necessary—an intention and attention. It is certain that those attending Mass offer the Holy Sacrifice with the Priest. Think, therefore, of the great action which you perform. Meditate on the Passion of Jesus Christ, the Last Things, etc. If you Prefer, read some spiritual book, or recite either the Office of the Blessed Virgin, or the Rosary, or other prayers. But at least pay attention to what the priest does.” (Instr. on the Commandments, chap. 3. – Ed.)
6It is well to know, that to those who make these Christian acts with the desire of receiving the holy Sacraments during their life and at their death Benedict XIII. granted seven years’ indulgence; and a plenary indulgence, applicable to the souls in purgatory, when they are said regularly for a month; as also a plenary indulgence in articulo mortis—at the hour of death. Besides, by a concession of Benedict XIV., the indulgence may be gained several times a day by any one who recites the above acts, provided he does so with the intention of gaining the indulgence.

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