The Catholic Prayer Book and Manual of Meditation/Meditations for Every Day of the Week
Meditations for every Day of the Week.
MEDITATION FOR SUNDAY.
On the End of Man.
CIONSIDER, O my soul, that God has given thee existence, made thee after his own image, without any merit of thine, and adopted thee for his own child in holy baptism. He has loved thee more than a father, and has created thee to love and serve him in this life, that thou mayst eternally enjoy him in paradise. Therefore thou art not created and must not live to be happy here on earth, to enjoy riches and authority, or to eat, drink, and sleep, as do the animals, but only to love thy God and win thy eternal salvation.
And thy Lord has given thee created things for this use, to help thee to reach thy great end. O wretch that I am ! I have thought of anything else rather than of my eternal end. [ For example , of this or that thing. Examine here to see what is your chief vice.]
My Father! for the love of Jesus, grant that I may begin a new life, perfectly holy and conformable to thy divine will. [ Here endeavour to excite the deepest spirit of penance , and make the firmest resolution — especially , never more to think of this or that bad or vain object , but rather on something quite opposite.]
II. Consider what stings of conscience it will give you at the moment of death to remember, that you have not thought of serving God! What sorrow, when, at the end of your days, you see that there is nothing left to you, at that hour, of all your possessions, honours, splendour, and pleasures, but a handful of dust! what consternation then to see that you have lost the favour of God, and your immortal soul, for the sake of vain trifles and things that perish, when it is too late to remedy the evil, too late for you to try the better way! O what despair! O cruel torment! You will then see, but too late, how great is the value of time; you would willingly purchase it then with your blood, but alas! you will not be able. O bitter day for him who has not served and loved God ! [Awaken in your breast the sentiments of contrition, and make a firm resolution .]
III. Consider how men neglect their salvation, that great end of man. They do not forget to amass riches, to eat, to prepare entertainments, and make all things comfortable about them: but they think little of serving God. You have thought so little of saving your soul, and you consider your everlasting end a thing of little consequence. And thus the greater part of Christians, are hurrying, feasting, singing, dancing, and playing, on their way to hell, O if they only knew the meaning of that word Hell! O man! what pains thou takest to be lost, and wilt thou do nothing to be saved?
When once the private secretary of a king was lying on his death-bed, he exclaimed: Miserable man that I am! I have used so much paper in writing letters for my prince, and have not employed a single one to help me to examine my sins and prepare for good confession.
But of what use to him then were those sighs and intentions? They served at best only to increase his despair. But, made wise at the cost of others, O Christian, to live mindful of your eternal salvation, if you would not fall into the same despair, and remember that everything you do, say, or think, that is not for God, is lost. [ Reflect again on your sin .] It is indeed time for you to change your life. What! will you wait for the moment of death to awake you from your delusion — at the door of eternity, on the borders of the abyss? There is yet time, yet opportunity to correct your error. My God ! spare me! I love thee above all things! I sorry for having offended thee more than for any other evil. Mary, my hope, pray to Jesus for me.
[Excite your will to contrition , and make a firm resolution.]
MEDITATION FOR MONDAY.
On the importance of securing our End.
CONSIDER, O man! how much depends upon gaining your great end, that is, your salvation, everything is at stake; for if you reach it, then you saved, then you will be for ever blessed, and will ?y for ever every possible good of soul and body: if you fail, you will lose soul and body, paradise God; you will be for ever miserable; you will be lost eternally. Behold here the greatest of all affairs, the only important, the only necessary business: to love God and save your soul. Then say no longer, Christian: I will live now for my own pleasure, after that I will give myself to God, and hope to be saved after all. O how many has this false hope thrown into hell, who once spoke thus, and who now are lost, for whom there is now no deliverance! What man would ever wish to be damned? Yet he is accursed of God who sins in the hope of mercy. “ Cursed is the man who sins in hope.” You say, I will commit this sin and afterwards confess it. Who. knows if you will have time for that? Who can give you the assurance that you will not die immediately after you have committed this sin? Meanwhile you lose the favour of God; and what will become of you if you do not obtain it again? God is merciful to those who fear him, but not towards those who despise him. “ His mercy is to them that fear him.” ( Luke i. 50.) Do not say, it is all the same whether I have two sins to confess or three — no; for God may pardon you two sins, but not perhaps the third. God suffers long, but he will not suffer always. “ He will punish them in the fullness of their sins.” ( Zach . vi. 14.) When the measure is full, God pardons no more, But punishes sinners suddenly with death, and casts them from him, so that they go on from one sin to another, until they fall into hell — a punishment far worse than death itself. O my brethren, mark well what you now read; cease from sin and give yourself to God. Fear lest this should be the last warning which God will send you. You have gone on in your offences long enough. He has borne with you long enough. Tremble lest the first mortal sin you again commit after this, God will pardon you no more. Consider well: your soul is at stake — all eternity is at stake. How many have been moved by this great thought of eternity to leave the world, and live in cloisters deserts, and caves ! O unhappy sinner that I am ! What have I gained by so many sins? [Reflect on the frequent repetition of your besetting sin.] A guilty conscience, a heavy heart, a burdened soul, hell deserved, and God lost ! Ah, my God and Father, unite me to thee once more and for ever in sacred charity. [Excite the spirit of contrition in your heart, and make a firm resolution.]
II. Consider how this, the only important concern, is the most neglected of all. We think of everything but our salvation. We have time for everything but God. Exhort a man of the world, to receive the sacraments oftener, or to make a meditation of half an hour, and he will answer you: I have children, I have property to take care of, I have business, I have so much to do ! O my God! Have you not a soul too ! Call upon all your possessions, and your children, and relations, to help you at the hour of death; they will give you no relief, neither can they rescue you from hell when you are damned. Flatter yourself not with the hope that you can reconcile God and the world, paradise and sin. The affair of your salvation is not a thing which can be arranged easily; you must make efforts; you must do yourself violence if you would win the crown of eternal life. [ Think of that besetting sin which lies in your way.] Ah! how many Christians, who are now in hell, flattered themselves that at some future time they would serve God and save their souls. What folly ever to think always of what finishes so soon, and to think so little of that which will never end! O Christian ! think of your true home, remember that you will soon quit this earth, and enter into the dwelling of eternity. O horrible misfortune for you, should you be damned! Then, remember it well, then there is no more help for you. [Arouse in yourself the spirit of contrition , and make a firm resolution.]
III. Consider well, O Christian, and say to yourself: I have only one soul; if I lose that I lose all. I have only one immortal soul; if I gain the whole world and ruin that, what does it profit me? If I raise myself to high honour and distinction, and lose my soul, what does it profit me? If I succeed in becoming rich, and enlarge my house, and provide well for my children, and lose my soul, what will it profit me? How much have the splendours, amusements, and vanities of life helped those who once lived in this world, and who have now become dust in the grave, and their souls the prey of hell. Since this soul is mine, and since I have only one, which if once lost is lost for ever, then ought I indeed most seriously to think of my salvation. Something of far greater than common importance depends on it; for eternal happiness or eternal misery is involved. O my God I deeply penetrated with shame, I see that I have hitherto lived like one blind, and that I have wandered far from thee. [Think here once more of your besetting sin.] I have not thought of saving my soul. Save me, O my Father 1 for Jesus Christ’s sake. I am content to lose all things, only if I do not lose thee, O my God ! Mary, my hope! O save me by thy intercession. [Excite your heart to a deep contrition, and make a firm resolution.]
MEDITATION FOR TUESDAY.
On Mortal Sin.
I. Consider that God has created you in order that you may love him; but you have rebelled against him with the blackest ingratitude; you have treated him as an enemy; you have despised his grace and his friendship. You knew that by your sins yon would displease him, and yet you have committed them. What does the man who commits sin? He turns his back on God; he loses respect for him; he lifts his hands, it may be said, to strike him; he grieves the heart of his God (Is. lxiii. 10). He who sins, says in fact to God: Withdraw from me, I will not obey thee, I will »not serve thee, I will not acknowledge thee as my Lord, I will not have thee for my God; this pleasure, that worldly advantage, this gratification of my revenge, must be my God. So do you speak in your heart, whenever you prefer a creature to your God. St. Mary Magdalen of Pazzi could not comprehend how a Christian, with his eyes open, could commit sin. And you, who now are reading this, what do you say? How many mortal sins have you not already committed? [Examine yourself. ] My God! pardon me, and have mercy on me. I have offended thy infinite goodness; I hate my sins, I love thee, and repent of having offended thee, O my God, thou who art infinitely lovely! [Arouse yourself to repentance, and make a firm resolution .]
II. Consider that in the moment when you are committing sin God says to you: “ My son! I am thy God, who have created thee from nothing, who have redeemed thee with my blood. I forbid thee, under pain of my displeasure, to commit these sins.” But when you sin, you answer your God, and say: “ O Lord! I will not obey thee, I will procure for myself this satisfaction; it is of no importance to me whether it displeases thee or not.” Alas! O my God, more than once have I done this ! [ Examine yourself. ] How was it possible for thee to bear with me so long? O that I had died before offending thee! I will never displease thee more; I will love thee, O infinite goodness; give me only the grace of perseverance! give me thy holy love! [Excite your heart to contrition, and make a firm resolution .]
III. Consider that when the number of sins exceeds a certain limit, God abandons the sinner. “The Lord patiently expecteth, that when the day of judgment shall come, he may punish them in the fulness of their sins.” (2 Mach. vi. 14.) When, then, my brethren, you are tempted again to sin, never more say: I will confess my sins afterwards. If God should let you die first, if he should entirely desert you, what would become of you for all eternity? Alas! how many in this way have been lost! They too hoped for pardon, but the hour of death came, and they were lost. O tremble, for fear the same thing should befal you.
He deserves no mercy who takes advantage of the goodness of God to offend him. God has already pardoned you so many sins. You have reason enough to fear that God will not forgive the next mortal sin you commit. Thank him for having waited for you so kindly and so long, and make the firm resolution rather to suffer death than to commit sin again.
From this day forward, always say: O my God! I have often offended thee! I will not employ the remnant of my life in displeasing thee more; no, thou dost not merit such treatment as this. I will employ it only in loving thee, and in sorrow for the sins I have committed against thee I repent of them with my whole heart. My Jesus, I am anxious to love thee; wilt thou give me strength and help me? Amen. [ Excite in your soul a sorrow for sin, and make a firm resolution.]