Sunday, March 15, 2009

Third Sunday of Lent

The Gospel: Luke 11:14-28.

At that time, Jesus was casting out a devil, and the same was dumb. And when he had cast out the devil, the dumb spoke, and the multitude were in admiration at it. But some of them said: "He casts out devils by Beelzebub, the prince of devils." And others, tempting, asked of him a sign of heaven. But he, seeing their thoughts, said to them: "Every kingdom divided against itself shall be brought to desolation, and house upon house shall fall. And if Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? Because you say that, through Beelzebub, I cast out devils. Now, if I cast out devils by Beelzebub, by whom do your children cast them out? Therefore, they shall be your judges. But if I, by the finger of God, cast out devils; doubtless the kingdom of God is come upon you. When a strong man armed keeps his court, those things are in peace which he possesses. But if a stronger than he come upon him, and overcome him, he will take away all his armor wherein he trusted, and will distribute his spoils. He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathers not with me, scatters. When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walks through places without water, seeking rest; and not finding, he said: ‘I will return into my house, whence I came out.’ And when he is come, he finds it swept and garnished. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and, entering in, they dwell there. And the last state of that man becomes worse than the first." And it came to pass, as he spoke these things, a certain woman from the crowd, lifting up her voice, said to him: Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that gave you suck. But he said: "Rather blessed are they who hear the word of God, and keep it."

Meditation for the Third Sunday of Lent:
On Relapses into Sin.


The oftener a sin is pardoned, the less excusable it becomes. As sins increase in number, so do they increase in malice. The second fall is dangerous: old wounds are incurable. Sins pass into habit, and from being habitual become necessary, after which they grow more frequent and heinous; then habit becomes stronger; grace more feeble; resisting more difficult; the spirit more incapable of seeing; the will more infirm; the passions more rebellious; devils more powerful, and their power more tyrannical.

What ingratitude, to offend God after having received so many blessings! What contempt, to abandon him after he has so often pardoned and received us! What treachery, to betray him after having made so many promises! What malice, to outrage and crucify him in your heart, after he has bestowed so many graces on you!


Is it thus that you mock God? Is it thus that you despise his love, laugh at his patience, and abuse his goodness, presume on his mercy, make war with his sweetness, and waste his graces? Is it thus that you trample under foot the blood of Jesus Christ, and render his passion fruitless, stifle his Spirit, drive him from your heart, and prefer the service of the devil to his?
After abundance comes poverty; after rain, dry weather; after the heat of summer, the ice of winter; after day, night; after consolation, affliction; after grace, chastisement; after love, contempt; after patience, anger; after insults and injuries, vengeance!

Resolution: If I have not done so within the past month, I will diligently prepare myself with a careful examination of conscience and go to confession within the week.

Prayer: Oh my God, my Father, and my King, how can I presume to appear before thee after so many treasons and infidelities, after so much contempt and ingratitude? My sins have, in a manner, changed my nature. Those which, formerly, were my weaknesses, are now a species of contempt, ingratitude, and malice. Those that were formerly but the involuntary result of my evil passions, are now impenitence and hardness of heart. Those that were pardonable faults, are now crimes without excuse, and second falls without remedy.

The number of my sins is infinite; the weight of them insupportable, and their malice without excuse. Oh my God, I am resolved to forsake my evil habits, and the proximate occasions of sin; I will frequent the sacraments, and spend the rest of my life in penance! Oh my God, deprive me of life if I do not desire to be converted! Take me from the world, if I wish not to break the ties that bind me to it. Bestow no more graces on me, if I am so miserable as to abuse them. I ask only grace to weep for my sins, and do penance for them as long as I live.

By a Member of the Society of Jesus, edited and amended by J. Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R.

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