Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tuesday in Passion Week

Jesus on the Cross.

I.

The inhuman persecutors of Jesus renewed his sufferings by stripping him roughly of his garments which adhered to his sacred wounds, after which they laid him on the cross. They handled him with taunts and jeers, extended his limbs with cruel violence, and nailed his hands and feet to the wood. Then, raising him on high, he was exposed to view, a spectacle for angels and men. He rested only on his wounds from which issued forth those precious streams which enrich the Church that he came to establish and efface the sins of mankind.

He desired the cruel and ignominious death of the cross to encourage you, by his example, to die for him; to repair the sin of the first man, who ate the fruit of the forbidden tree; to raise our hearts to heaven according to his word that he would draw all hearts to himself when he should be lifted up from the earth; to signify by the four extremities of the cross the four quarters of the world whose inhabitants he came to save; to show his goodness and mercy by extending his arms to receive all sinners; and make known to us the height and depth, the length and breadth, of divine charity. Finally, he died on it to accomplish the design which he had prefigured when he said that the world should be saved by the wood of the cross as it had been before saved by the ark of Noah and the rod of Moses. How shall those who have a horror of the cross and evade it whenever they can be saved?

II.

They gave him vinegar mixed with gall to drink, and he accepted the bitter drought that nothing might be wanting that could augment his grief or lend weight to his sufferings. His enemies insulted his miseries, railed at him, assailed him with curses and blasphemies, and in derision invited him to come down from the cross. It is a difficult and painful thing for one who is innocent to remain silent and patient tinder injury when it is in his power to be revenged on the enemies who triumph over his misfortune and take advantage of his weakness. But we must imitate Jesus in the ignominies he suffered, if we desire to be partakers of his glory in the world to come. Alas, how is it that we can seek only sweetness and consolation when Jesus has drained the chalice of bitterness and grief?

Resolution: I will diligently examine my conscience each night to root out all mortal sin, and indeed all sin, that I may never again crucify my loving Jesus.

Prayer: Oh, Savior of the world, I adore thee on this thy throne of sorrow and ignominy. I cast myself into thine arms which thou hast opened to receive me. I throw myself at thy feet that I may be washed in the saving fountain that flows from them! Oh sacred Victim, consumed by suffering! Oh High Priest of the New Law! Why dost thou remain on this altar? Why dost thou not descend from the cross? If thou wouldst descend, all men, seeing thy power, would believe in thee.

Do not descend from the cross, O divine Wisdom. If thou art the Son of God, thou wilt die thereon! If thou shouldst come down and save thyself they will not follow thee. They will also fly the cross. They will refuse to carry it or die on it.

My Jesus, I see thee hanging on the cross. My sins have nailed thee there! Thou wast crucified once on Calvary, but how often I have crucified thee in my heart! With every mortal sin I have crucified thee. But no longer will I crucify thee, my Jesus, but my passions.

Oh, sweet Jesus, destroy my life for fear I may be so miserable as to destroy thine in my soul by mortal sin. Crucify my body for fear I may crucify thy spirit. Fasten me to thy cross with the nails of fear, hope, and love that I may never again be separated from thee.

O Queen of Martyrs, who stood by the cross and was given by thy Son to be my Mother, never let me crucify thy Son again, but let me crucify my passions that I may live with him and thee in paradise.

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

Monday, March 30, 2009

Monday in Passion Week

Jesus Carries His Cross.

I.

The enemies of Jesus placed the cross on his wounded and bleeding shoulders. Jesus carried it towards Golgotha, but overcome by the heavy burden, he fell fainting beneath it. They inflicted heavy blows on him with their hands. They struck him with a knotted stick and kicked him with violence to make him rise. But his strength was gone and he could no longer obey them. They then laid hands on a stranger from the country, one Simon of Cyrene, lifted the cross to his shoulders, and compelled him to follow Jesus with it.

Why did Jesus permit them to relieve him by taking from him the cross he loved so much? Could he not have repaired his strength by a miracle and continued to carry it? It was done to teach us that we deserve the cross; that he bore it through love of us; that we aid him in carrying the cross when we bear ours with patience; that to be his disciple it is necessary for us to carry the cross and follow him where he goes; that he assists us in carrying our cross; and that we ought to rejoice when we have an opportunity to carry his.

II.

Happy Simon (happy through obedience), who had the honor to bear the cross of Jesus! Christian, the same privilege is yours. All your crosses are fragments of his. They have either touched his soul or body. He drank of our chalice and, draining it of all its bitterness, left us the sweetness thereof. He suffered all that we suffer and felt all that we feel. He espoused our griefs. There is not one that has not pierced and afflicted his Sacred Heart.

Resolution: I will make the Stations of the Cross in reparation for the times I have rejected the Cross. If I cannot do this in church or some other place I will pray the prayers at home.

Prayer: Oh, Jesus my Lord! I will follow thee wheresoever thou goest, and, as thou hast carried thy cross, I will take up mine and follow thy steps even unto death. It is the trophy of my salvation, the standard of my faith, and the seal of my predestination. Oh, how miserable are those who trample it under foot, betray or abandon it! Save me from this, dear Jesus, and give me grace to carry it even to Calvary. Oh holy cross, consecrated by the blood of Jesus! Receive me in thy arms and let me repose on thy bosom. Give thyself all to me, and I will abandon myself entirely to thee! I espoused thee in baptism: the vow is made, the union is indissoluble, and death alone can separate us.

O Mother of Sorrows, thou who suffered along with thy Son, pray for me that I may have the strength to follow after Jesus in thy company.
By a Member of the Society of Jesus, edited and amended by J. Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R.
© ASG

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Passion Sunday


The Gospel: John 8:46-59.

At that time, Jesus said to the multitude of the Jews: Which of you shall convince me of sin? If I say the truth to you, why do you not believe me? He that is of God, hears the words of God. Therefore, you hear them not, because you are not of God. The Jews, therefore, answered and said to him; Do we not say well that you are a Samaritan, and have a devil? Jesus answered: I have not a devil; but I honor my Father, and you have dishonored me. But I seek not my own glory: there is one that seeks and judges. Amen, amen, I say to you, if any man keep my word he shall not see death for ever. The Jews, therefore, said: Now we know that you have a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets: and you say: If any man keep my word, he shall not taste death for ever. Are you greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? and the prophets are dead? Whom do you make yourself? Jesus answered: If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing: it is my Father that glorifies me, of whom you say that he is your God. And you have not known him; but I know him; and if I should say that I know him not, I should be like you, a liar. But I do know him, and do keep his word. Abraham, your father, rejoiced that he might see my day: he saw it, and was glad. The Jews then said to him: You are not yet fifty years old; and have you seen Abraham? Jesus said to them: Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham was made, I am. They took up stones, therefore, to cast at him; but Jesus bid himself, and went out of the temple.


Meditation:
On the Gospel of the Day.

I.

A Christian’s whole life should be a season of abstinence and trial; abstinence by separating himself from all worldly pleasures, and trial by humble resignation to suffering and grief. After death, if such has been our life, we will celebrate a perpetual Easter in heaven, and know a day of consolation and rejoicing without end. Oh, then you will be satisfied with having fasted in Lent and mortified your passions; with having borne your cross with patience, and suffered many griefs for the love of Jesus.

II.

Why did not the Jews believe the words of Jesus, for a master is worthy of belief, whose doctrines are pure and whose life is irreproachable? The doctrine of the Son of God was holy; he preached the truth to them, and confirmed it by wonderful miracles, and nothing could be found more holy than his life. Why, then, did they not believe his word and reject his doctrines? Because they were, like Satan and the rebellious angels, haughty and desired not to learn anything from a man whom they looked on as an inferior. They hated him because he reproved their vices and chided their hypocrisy and were filled with envy on seeing the people listen with attention to his discourses and applaud his miracles. Behold the causes of their incredulity! We do not desire to submit our spirits to the mysteries of truth, and our judgment to the direction of God, because one is incomprehensible to human reason and the other displeasing to nature. We have wicked heart, which corrupt the understanding and turn us away from the contemplation of eternal truths. We have passions which render the spirit blind and delude our minds. These are the causes which prevent our believing the Word of God, and being converted to him!

III.

"He that is of God hears the words of God." Who are you? Where did you come from? Where are you going? What will become of you? Are you one of the saved or are you a reprobate? Judge yourself by the sentiments with which you receive the Word of God, by the pleasure you take in hearing it, by the care you take to preserve it, by the obedience you show it, by your fidelity in putting it into practice. You are not of God if you take no pleasure in hearing his Word.

IV.

"I honor my Father, and you have dishonored me," said our Lord to the Jews. Don’t you also deserve this reproach? Don’t you dishonor Jesus and betray his interests? Might he not address himself to you in the words of the Prophet: "I have brought up children and exalted them, and they have despised me?" You dishonour God by your sinful life and actions, your scandalous words, and your unfaithfulness to a profession or vocation which should make your life more regular and holy. Why, oh Christian soul, will you dishonour so good a Master? When will you begin to honor him?

Resolution: I will thoroughly examine my conscience to determine where I stand in the sight of God and I will prepare myself for a thorough Easter Confession. Moreover, I will do this even if I have no mortal sins to confess so that I may obtain the graces of the sacrament without which I cannot grow in grace. If I have not confessed in a long time I will take special care in my examination.

Prayer: My beloved and merciful Jesus, in the past I have not loved thy Word and have not lived it. Have mercy on me and forgive me for I am truly sorry and heartily repent of having offended thee. Nevermore will I offend thee for the time to come. Grant that I may love thee always who art all good and worthy of all my love. Mary, Mother of mercy and refuge of sinners, help me fulfill my resolution.

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

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Saturday of the Fourth Week in Lent

Jesus Is Abandoned to the Power of His Enemies.

I.

He was abandoned by Pilate who should have defended his innocence and who ought to have died rather than commit so great an act of injustice. He was abandoned by his disciples who had declared they would go with him even unto death. He was abandoned by God his Father who could have delivered him from the power of his enemies, but who permitted them to exercise over him all the cruelties and ignominies that their wicked malice could devise. Oh, how often have you not abandoned him, base Christian, when you beheld him condemned and outraged by the impious!

II.

God the Father abandoned his divine Son to the power of his enemies and do you learn from this to abandon yourself to the will of God who is the best of all fathers? Why should you mistrust him? Do you doubt his power or his love? What can you refuse him who has given his only Son and delivered him up to death for your salvation? Can your honor, goods, health, life, soul, and salvation be in better keeping than his? Why do you not abandon yourself entirely to him? Why so many cares, so much trouble and inquietude, when there is so good a Father who cares for you?

III.

Jesus is abandoned by his Father, but not by our Blessed Lady who had followed him thus far, step by step, through the bitter way of his passion and was present at his condemnation. Who can conceive of her grief when she beheld his sacred flesh so frightfully torn that his bones were exposed to sight, when she saw him bathed in his blood wearing on his shoulders a purple rag and holding in his hand the reed which his enemies had placed there in derision and crowned with thorns? Who can comprehend her affliction when she heard the Jews crying out with tumultuous fury: "Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him! Crucify him! His blood be upon us and upon our children!" Consider the grief and agony that pierced her soul, when she saw Pilate wash his hands and heard him pronounce sentence of death against her divine. Son, and then abandon him to his enemies who, with renewed imprecations and insults, seize him and prepare to nail him to the cross?

Resolution: I will abandon myself to the will of God who is all good, even when I feel tried and afflicted. In this way I will be assured of my salvation.

Prayer: Oh, most afflicted Mother, God has also abandoned thee and thou feelest in thy sacred heart all that thy dear Son does in his body. Oh, who is there so insensible as not to be touched with tender compassion at thy wondrous grief? Since God has abandoned thee and thy Son, the two persons most dear to him in heaven or earth, I fear that he will abandon me to the power of the devil to be tempted, tormented, and afflicted in my body and soul, and in all that belongs to me. Oh, my God, my Father. I abandon myself to thee; but do not thou, I beseech thee, abandon me to the power of my enemies.

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

Friday, March 27, 2009

Prayer Request

I ask your prayers for my father, Harold "Bill" Bailey, who will be undergoing exploratory surgery Friday, March 27. The doctors aren't sure what the issue is and hope to both find the problem and take care of it. I ask that you especially recommend him to our Mother of Perpetual Help and her Immaculate Heart.



Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death.

Friday of the Fourth Week in Lent

On the Sentence of Death Pronounced Against Jesus.

I.

The Jews clamoured for the death of Jesus. Pilate, who was convinced of his innocence, wished to evade the demand. The Jews declared: "We have a law, and according to the law he ought to die because he made himself the Son of God." "Take him yourselves and crucify him," answered Pilate, "for I find no cause in him." The law of the world condemns the Son of God to death! All worldlings cry through the mouths of the Jews, "Crucify him! Crucify him!" If you are a slave to the maxims of the world you conspire, with the Jews against Jesus. Christians have also a law which condemns to the eternal death of hell a sensual and voluptuous life.

II.

Pilate questioned Jesus, and Jesus replied not because he had been guilty of an act of great injustice. Even while he believed Jesus to be innocent, Pilate inflicted cruel injuries on him. Why? Because he did not profit by what Jesus had already said to him or desire to learn the truth. Jesus had spoken with an air of authority and Pilate was proud and unjust in saying to him that he could deliver or condemn him, for if he could have delivered the innocent he should have done it since he was invested with power only that he might acquit himself of his duty. Behold how dangerous it is not to profit by the Word of God! Jesus keeps silence and speaks no more.

You complain that God no longer responds to you in prayer and ask the cause of his silence. Perhaps you have offended him and excited his anger by mortal sin. Perhaps your continual and dissipated intercourse with the world is displeasing to him. Perhaps your heart is too much set on some earthly object. All of these render the soul deaf to God’s voice. It may be that you are too curious in spiritual things, or desire to learn without toil, or think, in your presumption, that he may unite himself to your soul without the intervention of the senses, either corporal or spiritual. If thus tempted, it is necessary to humiliate, but not trouble yourself.

III.

Pilate is afraid to condemn Jesus Christ, not only because he is convinced of his innocence, but he has also discovered a power of divinity in him which terrifies and makes him tremble. Notwithstanding which, when he heard the people threatening him with the anger of Caesar, he betrayed his conscience, and delivered Jesus to his enemies that they might satisfy their fury by putting him to death. Oh, human respect! Oh, miserable fear of the world! It is this that has condemned and put to death the Son of God! It is this which causes him to die every day in the hearts of men! They are afraid of giving offence to Caesar. Judges condemn the innocent to gratify the vengeance of the great. Christians commit acts of injustice to please their friends. Mercenary souls betray their conscience, and condemn Jesus to death, to preserve their goods, their fortune, and their employment.

Resolution: Never again will I act or speak to obtain human respect or to please others. I will only speak and act in accordance with God’s will, no matter the cost.

Prayer: Oh, sweet Jesus, condemned to an ignominious death! All the world cries out, "Crucify him! Crucify him!" There is no voice heard in thy defense to deliver or give thee life. Thou didst submit to all this through obedience to thy Father in heaven, whose will it was for thee to die, but who desired not the sin of this wicked judge. Thou dost submit to deliver us from eternal death, the sentence of which was issued against all the children of Adam, to show the love thou hast for us, and thy desire to suffer for us. Thou dost submit, in order that we may be submissive to the chastisements of God, and that we may not be troubled as to whether the person who afflicts and injures us is good or wicked, or whether they are guided by reason or passion.

By the injustice thou didst suffer at the hands of Pilate grant that I may never act out of human respect or to please others, but that I may always stand up for what is true and right, no matter what the cost. For if I sell myself to others, I am lost forever to thee. For all the times I have done so in the past I am most heartily sorry and beg forgiveness. O Mary, my Mother, pray for me that I may always act and speak the truth knowing the if I do not, the cost is my eternal salvation.

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

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Thursday of the Fourth Week in Lent

Sentiments of Grief and Compassion for the Sufferings of Jesus.

I.

Daughters of Jerusalem, come forth and see King Solomon with the diadem with which his mother, the Synagogue, has crowned him. Alas! it is not a mother, but a cruel and inhuman tyrant who crowns himself with roses and his God with thorns. Daughters of Jerusalem, Christian souls, observe this Man of Sorrows! Behold the man who has saved you, the man whom you have crucified! Behold the man who loves you infinitely, the man whom you cease not to persecute!

II.

Oh, most holy God, thou hast sought a man to appease thy anger, and one who would submit himself to thy vengeance. Behold him whom we present to thee! Look on the face of thy Christ, the sight of whose sorrows will subdue the hearts of sinners and whose intercession will render thee favourable to their prayers. Behold the Man for whom thou hast created all men and through whom thou lovest all men. Behold the robe of thy Son Joseph torn and bloody. Dost thou not recognize it? Behold the King of martyrs, crowned with grief and ignominy! Behold the High Priest of the New Law, who offers thee his blood for the salvation of men! Will not this blood efface thy anger? Is not this blood sufficient to cancel all our debts?

III.

Daughter of Zion, holy and sorrowful Virgin Mother, come and see the diadem that has been placed upon the head of thy divine Son. Behold the Son whom thou didst conceive by the Holy Ghost, and bring forth without pain or sorrow, whom thou didst watch over with so much anxiety, and sacrifice with so much love! Behold this glorious and magnificent King who ought to sit on the throne of David and reign over all the earth! Behold this High Priest, whose office it is to appease the anger of God! What a Priest! What a King! What a Child! What a Man! What a spectacle of grief for thee, oh most afflicted Mother! How is it that thou didst survive so sorrowful a sight? Ah, it is because it is necessary for thee to accompany him to Calvary and behold him die between two thieves!

Resolution: I will give alms today in honor of the Sorrowful Virgin.

Prayer: Oh, holiest of men, greatest of kings, Christians renounce thee as well as the Jews and desire no other king than Caesar, that is to say, the world. The avaricious desire a rich king, the sensual a voluptuous king, and the ambitious a king who is glorious on earth. But, as for me, I choose for my king this Man of Sorrows who is poor and despised. I desire no other king than Jesus, and no other crown than that of Jesus. O Mary, sorrowful Queen of Martyrs, pray for me!

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

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Wednesday of the Fourth Week in Lent

Jesus Is Crowned with Thorns.

I.

Jesus came into the world to expiate our offences, and bear the pain of them. Man’s head is the source of all sin. It is here that he conceives thoughts of ambition, impurity, injustice, and revenge. It was to make satisfaction for these sins that Jesus desired to be crowned with thorns, that is to say, with ignominies and sufferings.

II.

Jesus is a victim who desires to offer himself a holocaust to the Father, and be consumed in the fire of sufferings. His body is covered with wounds. From the crown of his head to the sole of his foot there is not a sound place in him. He was crowned with thorns that there might remain no part of his body that was not penetrated by severe sufferings and to verify what he had said: That his kingdom was not of this world.

Christian, behold your King! Do you recognize this crown, this sceptre, and this purple robe? The Jews renounced him; do you, also, renounce him? If you are a child of God you must be mocked, torn, and crucified with his divine Son. It is necessary to wear two crowns, one of gold the other of thorns. If you wear the crown of gold in this life in the life to come you will be crowned with thorns. If your crown is of thorns in this world you will be crowned with glory in the world to come.

III.

The crowns of the world produce thorns; the thorns of Jesus produce the flowers of unfading and eternal joys. Who would wish to be crowned with glory and pleasures seeing their King crowned with sorrows and ignominies? How can a member of a thorn-crowned head be exempt from suffering?

There are three sorts of thorns on earth which grieve and afflict souls—thorns of sin, thorns of temptation, and thorns of penance. Sin is a thorn that pierces and kills the soul; temptation is a thorn that troubles and torincuts the spirit; penance is a thorn that afflicts the body. The thorn of sin is cruel, bloody, and mortal; the thorn of temptation is dangerous; the thorn of penance is salutary and produces the flowers of peace and joy at all seasons.

Resolution: Today I will perform some act of penance especially in reparation for the sins of thought I have committed.

Prayer: My Jesus, crowned with thorns and mocked for my sake, I repent of all my sins. Never let me offend thee in the time to come. Grant that I may love thee always and think always on the suffering thou didst bear for my sake. O Mother of Sorrows, let the passion of thy Son be always in my heart.
By a Member of the Society of Jesus, edited and amended by J. Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R.
© ASG

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tuesday of the Fourth Week in Lent

On the Scourges of Our Lord.

I.

Jesus is beaten like a slave. He is bathed in his blood. His body is disfigured by frightful wounds. There is no part of his flesh that is not bruised and torn. Behold the Lamb of God scourged by slaves! Almost immolated, there is nothing left but to fasten him to the cross! Consider, and see if there is grief like his.

II.

Why does he submit to a chastisement so cruel and shameful? It is to show the extent of his love for you. It is to make you understand the enormity of the guilt of sin. It is to expiate, by his sufferings and blood, the infamous pleasures of your flesh. It is to make satisfaction to God his Father for your impurities. It is to show how necessary it is to mortify your body if you wish to become one of his members. It is to show you the impossibility of being saved without sufferings.

III.

Oh, Christian soul, take the scourge into your own hand, and inflict justice on yourself. Say: "It is I who have sinned. It is I who deserve chastisement." Is it just that I should be without wounds, seeing my King covered with them? How can my body enter heaven unless it is at first purified by sufferings? He who will not be chastised with men must be punished with devils.

Resolution: My sins have caused Jesus to suffer greatly. In reparation I will patiently endure whatever suffering comes my way and offer it with Jesus’ suffering to the Father.

Prayer: Oh, most holy Lamb, what crime has drawn on thee such pain, and led thee to submit to ignominies so great? Oh, virginal and sacred flesh, to what a miserable state the impurities of men have reduced thee! Alas, thou dost expiate in thy body the criminal pleasures of ours; it is to make satisfaction for the sins of our flesh, that thine is torn and covered with ghastly wounds. Let my body, then, be chastised, since it is that which has caused the evil. I desire to cut off all sinful pleasures, since they have caused thee so much grief. I wish to suffer stripes and wounds, in order to be like thee.

Miserable wretch that I am, I sin and do no penance; I am guilty, and practise no mortification! Oh, my God, I confess my baseness. I have not courage to chastise myself. Take, then, the scourge in thy hand and spare not thy chastisements. I am prepared to suffer all thou mayest be pleased to inflict on me. Chastise me if thou judgest it necessary, but let it be through love and not in anger. Chastise me in time, but not in eternity.
By a Member of the Society of Jesus, edited and amended by J. Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R.
© ASG



Monday, March 23, 2009

Monday of the Fourth Week in Lent

The Jews Prefer Barabbas to Jesus.

I.

The innocent is compared to a criminal, the just to a thief, the king to his slave, the God of sanctity to a sinner. This outrage was less painful to his Sacred Heart than that which you inflict on him when you compare him to a creature and prefer his enemy, the devil, to himself. You are guilty of this as often as you sin. Which do you prefer of the two, Jesus or Satan? The creature or the creator? Heaven or hell?

II.

Oh my soul, how often have you thrown contempt and insult on Jesus! How often preferred some vile interest, or brutal pleasure, to his service! Many times you cried out with the Jewish rabble: "We wish not Jesus, give us Barabbas!" Oh, ye heavens, be astonished! My people have committed two crimes: they have left me, the source of living waters, and gone to drink from a broken and corrupted cistern which cannot quench their thirst.

Resolution: Today I will abstain from doing something I enjoy and instead I will choose to spend the time in prayer and spiritual reading.

Prayer: Oh Jesus, the greatest and most humble of men! Oh, first and last! When I see thee at the feet of Judas, I know not where to place myself. But when I behold thee put lower than Barabbas, I see no place but hell wherein to hide my confusion. Is it just that I should exalt myself above thee? Oh, if I prefer myself to the least of thy disciples, I prefer myself to thee, since, at this stage of thy sacred passion, thou art made the least of all. I repent of ever choosing anyone or anything above thee who art my only good and treasure. Never let me separate myself from thee by choosing another again. O Mary, keep me close to thy Son, for apart from him I am lost.

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

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Fourth Sunday of Lent

The Gospel: John 6:1-15.

At that time, Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is that of Tiberias; and a great multitude followed him because they saw the miracles which he did on them that were diseased. Jesus, therefore, went up into a mountain and there he sat with his disciples. Now the pasch, the festival day of the Jews, was near at hand. When Jesus, therefore, had lifted up his eyes, and seen that a very great multitude cometh to him, he said to Philip: "Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?" And this he said to try him for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him: "Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one may take a little." One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him: "There is a boy here that hath five barley loaves and two fishes, but what are these among so many?" Then Jesus said: "Make the men sit down." Now there was much grass in the place. The men, therefore, sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed to them that were sat down; in like manner also of the fishes, as much as they would. And when they were filled, he said to his disciples: "Gather up the fragments that remain, lest they be lost." They gathered up, therefore, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above to them that had eaten. Now these men, when they had seen what a miracle Jesus had done, said: "This is of a truth the prophet that is to come into the world." Jesus, therefore, when he knew that they would come and take him by force and make him a king, fled again into the mountain himself alone.


Meditation:
On Almsgiving.

I.

Jesus teaches us, by his example, to nourish the poor, and attend to their necessities from which we may draw the following considerations:

The rich depend on the poor and the poor on the rich. The rich take care of the poor and the poor of the rich. The rich give corporal nourishment to the poor and the poor give them spiritual. The poor depend on the rich in time and the rich on the poor in eternity. Without the assistance of the rich the poor would die corporally; without the prayers and blessings of the poor the rich would die spiritually. The rich are the judges of the poor on earth; the poor shall be their judges in heaven. Why, then, do you despise the poor? Why treat them with harshness? Why do you not endeavour to deserve their blessings? Why do you not assist them?

II.

Graces and chastisements are in the hands of the poor. When they demand mercy for him who aids them God grants their prayers. When they demand justice against those who send them empty away God also grants it. A rich man is in danger of losing his soul when he has not the prayers and benedictions of the poor. Those who have not the poor for their advocate shall not find grace with their Judge. He who has the poor to plead for him need not fear, but rejoice.

III.

Be merciful, then, to the poor, since they are human and miserable like yourself. Their misery is only corporal, yours is spiritual. Who do you think it is that asks alms of you? It is Jesus, your King, your God, your Father. It is lie who, under the guise of poverty, implores your assistance. Oh, happy and honored are they who give alms to Jesus Christ. Accursed those who refuse him alms.

Resolution: I will give to those less fortunate than I am by any means I can as often as I can knowing that I give to Jesus himself.

Prayer: My loving Jesus, open my eyes to see thy face when I look at the poor and the suffering. Grant me the grace not to turn away but to reach our to them as I would to thee. To assist them with my talents and abilities, with my goods, with my heart, with compassion, even as I would assist thee, my Jesus. Never let me look upon someone in need and not see thee. O Mother of the poor, open my eyes to the face of thy Son in the poor and suffering and my heart to respond in love.
By a Member of the Society of Jesus, edited and amended by J. Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R.
© ASG

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Saturday of the Third Week in Lent

Jesus Confesses That He Is a King.

I.

"Art you a king?" asked Pilate. Jesus answered: "You say that I am a king. For this was I born, and for this came I into the world; that I should give testimony to the truth." But he adds: "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would certainly strive that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now my kingdom is not from here." Jesus is the King of the universe, but he came not into the world to exercise the functions of an earthly monarch. He came to serve, obey, live in misery, and die in shame. My soul, is your King within? Is this his kingdom? Do you wish to take part in his sufferings and ignominies?

II.

The kingdom of God is not of this proud, ambitious, rich, and sensual world. His kingdom is within us. He reigns over us through the obedience that we show his commandments. He reigns through peace in our hearts, and by the submission we render to his divine providence. He reigns over our spirits by faith, our hearts by charity, our will by hope, our passions by mortification, and our bodies by the cross. He reigns in this life by grace, in the other by glory. Of which kingdom are you—that of Herod, or that of Jesus?

III.

The kingdom of Jesus is not of this world; for his kingdom is the truth, and that of the world is vanity. If the kingdom of Jesus is not of this world, it follows that his disciples are not of it. You are not a disciple of Jesus if you are possessed with the spirit of the world, if you love its grandeur, if you seek its perishable treasures and its fleeting enjoyments; if you live as worldlings live, and follow the wicked maxims and customs thereof. Happy is he who can say with truth, my kingdom is not of this world! I am in the world, but not of it. Neither do I wish for an abiding-place in it. Happy is he who, at the hour of his death, can say with Jesus, I am going to my Father!

Resolution: Today I will deny myself some legitimate pleasure that I strongly desire.

Prayer: My beloved Jesus, thou art the true King of my heart. But how often I have displaced thee with the fleeting things of this life that will perish. Open my eyes to see that thou alone are my only treasure. My dearest Mother, give my heart to Jesus.

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

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday of the Third Week in Lent

On Herod’s Contempt for Jesus, and Jesus Silence.

I.

Herod desired to see Jesus, and Jesus would not look at him. Herod questioned Jesus, and Jesus would not answer him. Herod demanded miracles of Jesus, and Jesus would not perform them. Herod despised Jesus, and Jesus cared not for his hatred. It is thus that the wisdom of God passes for folly in the eyes of the world, and the so-called wisdom of the world is but foolishness in the eyes of God.

II.

Jesus does not speak to the proud; he does not manifest himself to the haughty; he replies not to the adulterer; he bestows not his grace on the ungrateful. He, at last, despises those who despise him. After having often spoken, he is silent. Being often driven away, he goes and returns no more. He conceals himself after having sought in vain.

Resolution: I will never again drive Jesus away lest he does not return. As a sign of this I will add an additional penance to my practices today.

Prayer: Oh Lord, my God! thy silence is a terrible thing! It is dangerous to resist thy inspirations and despise thy word. Wilt thou be pleased to speak often to me ? How frequently have I not heard thy voice, and left undone what thou hast commanded! How often have I not, like Herod, caused the death of thy precursor, and slaughtered thy harbingers in my heart; stifled thy inspirations, rejected and despised thy graces! I hear thy word, and obey it not; I read pious and holy lessons, and do not profit by them. Alas! I have reason to fear that thou wilt withdraw thy graces from me, and speak to me no more. But never let this come to pass, for never again will I turn away from thee. I will not reject thy love and grace as I have in the past. I will seek thee, listen to thee, and obey thee. Forgive me my Jesus for having offended thee, forgive me and let me love thee and only thee. O Mary, let me live only for Jesus.

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

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Pray for Pope Benedict XVI

I am asking you to add the following prayer to your daily prayers. Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, is being attacked on all sides. Many of his attackers call themselves Catholic. They also are in need of prayer, for they, by attacking the Holy Father and the teachings of the Church endanger their souls. Speaking against the Pope, indeed speaking against any person, with malice, injustice, or perfidy is at the least a venial sin. But, given the dignity of the papal office, the sin is always of sufficient gravity to be mortal if done with knowledge and deliberation. Pray for the Pope and pray for those who attack him.


Prayer for the Pope

Ant. Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it; and to thee I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven. (Mt 16:18a)

Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Our Father…
V. Let us pray for our most blessed Pope Benedict, that our God and Lord, who chose him for the order of the episcopacy, may preserve him in health and safety for the good of his holy Church, to govern the holy people of God.

R. The Lord preserve him, and give him life, and make him blessed upon the earth, and deliver him not up to the will of his enemies.

V. May thy hand be on the man thou hast chosen.

R. The man thou hast given thy strength.

Let us pray.

O God, the shepherd and ruler of all the faithful, look down favorably upon thy servant Benedict, whom thy hast been pleased to appoint pastor of thy Church; grant, we beseech thee, that he may benefit by word and example those over whom he is set, and thus, together with the flock committed to his care, attain unto life eternal.

Almighty everlasting God, who alone workest great wonders, send down upon thy servant Benedict our Pope, and upon all the congregations committed to his charge, the spirit of thy saving grace; and that they may truly please thee, pour upon them the continual dew of thy blessing.

Almighty, everlasting God, have mercy on thy servant, our Pope Benedict, and guide him according to thy clemency along the path of eternal salvation, so that by thy gift he may desire those things that are pleasing to thee and with all his strength accomplish them. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Thursday of the Third Week in Lent

Jesus Is Accused Before Pilate.

I.

Of what do you complain? You are innocent, and have been calumniated. Was not the Son of God calumniated? He was accused of being a seditious man, but he only preached doctrines of peace and love to his enemies! He was accused of inciting the people to resist paying tribute, but he paid it to Pilate and Csesar, and he taught obedience to the laws in all his counsels! He was accused of assuming the qualities of a king, but he fled from the people when they wished to crown him! Pilate declared him innocent! Why, then, was he crucified? Because he was Jesus! Because he was the Savior of his people and had assumed the burden and penalty of our guilt! This is the cause of his death.

Jesus is innocent, and appeared guilty; I am guilty, and wish to appear innocent! Jesus never sinned, and bore the pain of our sins; but I, who am a sinner, wish to avoid bearing the pain of mine! I am ashamed to appear criminal before men, but fear not to appear so before God. I do much that is worthy of condemnation, yet cannot endure the slightest blame. What injustice and arrogance to be wicked and aspire to those honors which are only due to virtue! If you are guilty why do you complain? If you are innocent why do you grieve? Do you not consider it a great honor to be treated as the Son of God was?

II.

If you are a good man, you cannot avoid the condemnation of the world. They will present you bound, as they did Jesus, before the tribunal of their injustice. They will institute proceedings against you and declare that you are unworthy to live among honest men. What will you do? Compare the judgments of men with those of Christ; the tribunal of Pilate with that of Jesus. He is the truth, whom this wicked ruler and judge did not wish to know. If the truth deliver you, you shall be free indeed. Be satisfied with the testimony of your own conscience with God. It is better to be betrayed by the wicked than loved by them, to be despised by the world than honored by it. Do you desire to please those who are displeasing to God?

III.

My soul, draw near to this tribunal of iniquity. Behold a God judged by a man! A God standing before a man who remains seated! A God, who is judge of the living and the dead, examined and condemned by the most wicked of his creatures! What has he done, this innocent Lamb, that he is bound, and dragged through the city? He has created the heavens and the earth. He has made the lame to walk, the deaf to hear, the dumb to speak, the dead to live, and has gone about doing good to all men; delivering those who were possessed of devils, and making heaven the reward of the good, and hell the punishment of the wicked. Oh Jesus, what hast thou done to be so maltreated by men? What hast thou done to me that I should dare offend and insult thee?

Resolution: I will show a special kindness today to someone who has wronged me in reparation for the times I have wronged Jesus who has done nothing but love me.

Prayer: O my Jesus, thou who art innocence itself, I repent of all my sins for love of thee. Never let me fall into sin again. Help me to grow in thy grace and become more like thee in innocence so that I may one day join the company of the saints in declaring thy praises. O Mary, obtain for me the grace of never sinning again.

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

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wednesday of the Third Week in Lent

On the Cause of the Conversion of St. Peter.

I.

St. Peter was restored to grace because our dear Jesus turned his divine countenance towards him and looked him in the face; called to his recollection the prediction he had uttered, opened his eyes to discern his fault, and touched his heart to weep and do penance. The look that Jesus cast on him was an arrow of divine love, which pierced his soul and drew from his eyes fountains of tears. It was a ray of light and grace which showed to him the love, tenderness, and preference that his Lord had borne for him, the charitable counsel he had given him, the blessings he had received from him, and the solemn protestations he had made of never abandoning him. Then a full sense of his ingratitude, infidelity, treachery, and perfidy, broke up the depths of his repentant heart, and he wept bitterly.

II.

Alas, St. Peter denied his Lord and Master on only one occasion and never ceased weeping for his offence during his life. How often have you not betrayed him? How often have you not renounced him through fear, human respect, passion, malice, and coldness, knowing all the time what you were doing? How often has he not spoken to you through his priests and revealed to you the enormity of your guilt? And, notwithstanding all, you neither weep nor do penance! He casts a look of tender compassion on you, but instead of weeping bitterly for your sins, you return to his enemies, where you deny him, strike, outrage, and spit upon him more cruelly than the Jews!

Resolution: In reparation for my own sins of denial of Jesus and those of others, I will contribute to the work of spreading the Gospel by giving alms in support of missionaries.

Prayer: Oh, ye heavens! be astonished at this ingratitude and perfidy! Oh, who will give to my eyes fountains of tears, to weep day and night for my sins and unfaithfulness ? Oh, sweet Jesus! cast on me a single look of thy mercy; it is all that I need to convert me. I desire to do penance all the rest of my life. It is the effect of thy grace. Ah ! do not permit me to abuse it as I have hitherto done.
By a Member of the Society of Jesus, edited and amended by J. Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R.
© ASG

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent

On the Repentance of St. Peter, and the Despair of Judas Iscariot.

I.

Judas betrayed his divine Master and Peter denied him. Judas, in despair, destroyed his own life and Peter was converted. From whence comes this difference? Is it because Jesus looked at Peter? But he spoke to Judas. He warned him of his crime. He threatened him with terrible chastisements. He treated him as a friend and assailed his heart with all the inspirations and charms of divine love. Notwithstanding these facts, St. Peter was converted and Judas despaired. Oh, judgments of God! Terrible is the effect of your visitation on men! Oh, malice of the human heart! Oh, admirable results of the mercy and justice of God!

II.

Judas was lost because he did not desire to be saved. He had powerful graces before he sinned. He had the grace of repentance after he had sinned. But these graces were of no avail because he abused them, resisted them, and was hardened in evil; because he had communicated unworthily, and was too much attached to the things of the world; because he sinned through malice, knowing the sanctity of him whom he betrayed; and through ingratitude, delivering up to death him from whom he had received so many graces. Oh, it is a perilous thing to abandon one’s self to evil passions, to resist the grace of God, and sin with knowledge!

III.

St. Peter was raised, because he fell through fear and weakness. He did not renounce his Master in his heart although he denied him with his lips. His apostasy was criminal but excusable, as it was caused by terror, surprise, and unexpected events. He always loved his divine Master, but fear triumphed over love. It was his first fault. The dangers which threatened him of being seized and delivered into the hands of the infuriated Jews prevented his reflecting on his crime, hearing the cock that crowed, or remembering the prediction of Jesus Christ. As soon as he was conscious of his fault he did penance, and did not, like Judas, despair.

Resolution: As soon as I commit a sin I will not despair but immediately repent and do penance, and if the sin is mortal, I will make going to confession my highest priority.

Prayer: O my God, grant me the grace of true repentance for my sins, that with the penitent Peter I may one day join the company of the blessed where thou livest and reignest forever, world without end. Amen.

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

Monday, March 16, 2009

Monday of the Third Week in Lent

On the Fall of St. Peter.

I.

St. Peter denied his divine Master, who had preferred him to the other Apostles, and appointed him chief bishop of his Church. He denied him, after having made the most solemn protestations of love and fidelity. He denied him, as his God and Master, in these words: " I know not the man." He denied him thrice. He denied him with curses and imprecations. Behold the progress of evil! Behold how from slight faults one may fall into great and dreadful sins! Be compassionate towards this Apostle, while you are astonished at his fall, and seek the causes thereof.

II.

St. Peter fell because the love that he bore our Lord was lukewarm, and he followed him afar off. A soul that is lukewarm does not take long to fall into great sins, for lukewarmness is a mixture of charity and concupiscence, grace and nature, devotion and coldness, which, like tepid water, partly cold and partly warm, cannot remain together without one or the other of its contrary qualities being destroyed. Concupiscence, in a measure, increases, and charity diminishes. That which does not advance goes backwards. Besides which, the soul must have consolation, and cannot live without it. And that which is lukewarm, not being of heaven, it is compelled to seek it on earth and of earthly things, and having no fervor, its venial sins lead quickly to those that are mortal. Added to this, these infidelities cause God to withdraw many of his graces, and the devil overcomes with ease an opponent so feeble and languishing. Is not this your state? Is this not the origin of your fall?

III.

St. Peter fell because he depended too much on his own strength. He did not know how necessary was the assistance of divine grace to him. He did not understand his own weakness. He was filled with pride and presumption. He said in his fervor that nothing could move him, and even seemed to exalt himself over the other Apostles when he declared that if all of them should abandon Jesus, yet he would never be wanting in fidelity to him. He was so possessed with a good opinion of himself that when his divine Master told him that he would deny him thrice he did not believe him. He declared that he would not, as if the Son of God could deceive himself. Oh! it is truly a dangerous thing to presume on our own strength and trust only to our good resolutions. Is not this the cause of your fall? Do you not trust too much your heart and mind, your passions and weaknesses? Do you have frequent recourse to God? Do you pray to him continually to guide and defend you?

IV.

St. Peter fell because he threw himself rashly into the occasions of sin. He went into the house of Caiphas, not to defend his Master, but to see all that should happen, and hear all that was said. He fought among the soldiers, and was arrayed against them. He was, apparently, intrepid, until the voice of one servant frightened him, that of another made him tremble, that of a soldier overthrew him and made him deny his Master with curses and imprecations.

Fly from the companionship of the wicked, unless you desire to become like them. What safeguard have you to preserve your chastity among the lewd and immodest? How can you remain sober in the society of drunkards, or humble with those who are haughty? You must surely resemble those with whom you associate; if not, you will soon become like them. You have grace to withdraw from them, but no promise of its continuing with you if you remain with companions who are evil.

Resolution: Knowing that I cannot overcome temptation and sin on my own, I will pray every morning and night for the grace to overcome them. I will also call on the Blessed Virgin whenever I am tempted and whenever I am about to enter an occasion of sin.

Prayer: O my God, without thy help and thy grace I cannot overcome sin and temptation. Relying on my own strength I am lost to the eternal torments of hell. Grant me the grace never again to rely on my own abilities, but only on that grace and strength that comes from thee. Mary, Refuge of Sinners and Mediatrix of grace, obtain for me from thy Son the grace to ever be mindful of thy help, especially when tempted to sin.

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

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.

I.

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!

II.

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.
© ASG

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Saturday of the Second Week in Lent

Again on the Outrages that Our Lord Received in the House of Caiphas

I.

The high priest solemnly entreated Jesus, in the name of God, to say whether he was truly the Son of God. Jesus answered that he was. Caiphas, upon hearing this, rather than prostrating himself in adoration of his God, rent his garments and, turning to the other priests said, "‘What more need have we of witnesses? Behold, you have heard his blasphemy: what is your opinion?’ And they responded, saying, ‘He is guilty of death’" (Matt. 26:65-66).

I proclaim that Jesus is the Son of God and yet, like Caiphas, I do not adore, do not love him as I ought. Rather than adoring my God who gave his life for me on the cross I set up false gods around which I center my life. Whatever is more important to me than my loving Redeemer is an idol that I worship and adore.

II.

All those present began to spit in Jesus face and to abuse him. They slapped him with their hands and struck him with their fists. Not satisfied with this, they tied a cloth over his adorable face and ridiculed him saying, "Prophesy to us. Who struck you?" And all this Jesus suffered in silence and humility to pay the penalty of the insults that I have offered to God my heavenly Father.

III.

It is my sins and insults that Jesus suffered at the hands of the priests and soldiers. Whenever I have blasphemed or worshiped the false gods of power, money, social position, self-love, or pride I have joined the ranks of Caiphas and his cohort. But despite this, Jesus lovingly waits for me to put aside my idols and adore God alone.

Resolution: I will list those things that are idols in my life so that I can put them in their proper place and make Jesus Christ my one only God.

Prayer: Behold thyself, O my Jesus, become the butt of jokes and mockery. How can men see thee in such humiliation for love of them and not love thee? And how have I been able to go so far as to outrage thee by so many sins knowing that thou hast suffered so much for me? Forgive me, O my love. I will not displease thee again. I love thee above all things who art my supreme Good, and I repent above every other evil of having despised thee and turned away from thee. O Mary, my Mother, beg thy ill-treated Son to pardon me.
Adapted from a meditation of St. Alphonsus Liguori by J. Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R.
© ASG

Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday of the Second Week in Lent


On the Outrages That Our Lord Received in the House of Caiphas.

I.

Consider the outrages and insults our Lord submitted to from his enemies, in the house of Caiphas. He was spit upon, he was blindfolded, he was treated as a false prophet; he was declared a blasphemer, he was judged worthy of death.

You do the same whenever you offend God. You repeat these outrages whenever you offend or scandalize your neighbor. Jesus Christ declares that he suffers whatever evil is done to the least of his disciples, as the head feels whatever injury is inflicted on the smallest member of the body. It is, then, striking Jesus Christ to strike your neighbor; it is hating Jesus Christ to hate your neighbor; it is scoffing at Jesus Christ to scoff at your neighbor.

II.

Suffer, like Jesus, the most injurious words that may be said to you. Suffer, with Jesus, all outrages that are offered to you. Are you greater than he is? Are you more holy and innocent than he is? Jesus suffered, and you would escape suffering! Jesus did not take revenge on his enemies, and you seek revenge on yours!

Resolution: In reparation for the sins I have committed against my neighbor and thus against Jesus I will today show kindness to someone I have wronged in the past.

Prayer: Oh, Jesus my Savior, I deserve to be despised and maltreated by creatures, since I have had the insolence to despise and maltreat thee. I deservedly merit their blows, since I have so often raised my hand against thee! I hear thee declared guilty, and I wish to be thought innocent! I behold thee unjustly condemned to death, and I shrink, with pain, from the thought of dying! Oh, my sweet Savior, I wish to die for thee, since thou hast given thy life for me! I will bear with patience the injurious words and actions of those who hate me, since thou hast suffered the most base and malicious treatment for me.

Oh, dear Jesus! silence me when I complain of the malice of those who desire to harm me; restrain me when angry impulses urge me to speak. When I have offended or injured my neighbor, say to me: "Why do you strike me? Why do you dishonor me? I hold as done to myself, that which is done to the least of my members."
By a Member of the Society of Jesus, edited and amended by J. Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R.
© ASG

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Thursday of the Second Week in Lent

On the Blow That Jesus Received in the Presence of the High Priest.

I.

What greater insult can be offered to a noble or royal personage, than to strike them? Jesus is a person of infinite dignity, and he received a blow from the hand of a poor insolent slave, who had come with the Jews into the garden of Olives, and, being wounded by one of the disciples, was cured by his divine power. He received it in a great assemblage, composed of the priests and princes of the people. He received it in the manner of a correction, as if he had committed some grievous fault, and been wanting in proper respect to the high priest. He received it with extreme patience. He asked why he was struck, lest by his silence he should give them cause to believe that he consented to their accusations, and acknowledged himself guilty.

II.

Jesus desired to be struck: 1st. To repair the insult offered to God by the first man who disobeyed his word and in a manner contradicted him. 2nd. To repair, by his ignominies, the shame and confusion of our nature which was transformed by the sin of Adam into a degraded and sensual one, as he repaired our infirmities by his weakness, and delivered us from the sting of death by dying. 3rd. To afford us an admirable example of sweetness and patience by suffering so great an outrage without uttering a threat against his enemies or drawing vengeance on them as he could have done.

III.

You have enemies. What injury have they done you? Is it comparable to that which was inflicted on the Son of God? Are you of more account, more innocent and holy, than he is? How many sins have you committed? As often as you have sinned, so often have you struck Jesus. And do you presume, after this, to complain of the ill-treatment you received from men who are your equals and superiors? Do you desire to be revenged on your enemies? to return evil for evil? Do you dare to murmur against the providence of God, who has given you a blow on the cheek by the hand of the wicked, in punishment for the outrages you have offered him?

Resolution: I will patiently endure any ill treatment and wrong that is done to me today and in future in reparation for my sins.

Prayer: O Lord, I will say nothing, but keep silence, believing that it is thou who hast struck me by the hands of my enemies. Thou dost neither desire their sin, nor cooperate therein; but it is thy will that I should suffer the pain that I have merited by mine. It is not Satan who has caused me to suffer this loss; it is not men. who have outraged me; it is the hand of God that has chastised me. I will submissively bear the weight of his anger, because my offences deserve it. I will be silent, and not complain, because thou, O Lord, hast afflicted and humiliated me. I turn to thee my other cheek, and beseech thee to spare me not in this life, that I may receive pardon in the life to come.

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

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Wednesday of the Second Week in Lent

Jesus Is Taken By His Enemies.

I.

Jesus, addressing the soldiers, said: "Whom seek you?" They replied, "Jesus of Nazareth!" There are some who, like the Jews, only seek Jesus to take him, outrage, and crucify him. There are others who seek him only to love and serve him, but the number is small. Whom do you seek in your designs, your devotions, and prayers? Is it Jesus or yourself? Is it his honor and glory or your own? If you seek God with a pure heart your happiness and contentment will abound until the measure of your joy is filled to overflowing! All of your troubles, anxieties, and doubts arise from your seeking yourself instead of the will and glory of your heavenly Father.

I have sought him, but I have not found him. Why is this? It is because you do not seek him at the proper time or place. You seek him in the garden of delights, and he is only to be found in the field of conflicts and sorrows where he sweats great drops of blood and water. You seek him in palaces, and he is only to be found in a stable, in the temple, or on the cross. You seek him after he has stood knocking for a long time at the door of your heart, but it is too late; he grew weary of waiting; his locks were heavy with the dews of night, and he has gone away. You seek him coldly and with indifference. He is strong and swift. It is necessary to run that you may overtake him.

II.

Jesus said to the soldiers, "‘I am he,’ and they went backwards and fell to the ground." What a Captain who makes his enemies fall to the earth by a single word! What will be his power when he comes to judge them, if he is so powerful when they come to judge him? Oh, how terrible it will be to the wicked at the hour of death, to hear him say "I am he" whom you have betrayed, outraged, and crucified! But how full of sweetness and consolation he will be to the just, who, having lived piously, are received by him after death with these welcome words: Fear not, "I am he" who redeemed you. "I am he" whom you have served, honored, and obeyed! Fear not, he will say to you in your temptations, ‘I am he" who has proved you, visited you, and sent this or that affliction to try you, and I will deliver you.

III.

The just fall as well as the wicked, but in a different manner. The just fall into venial sins, the wicked into mortal sins. The just fall through surprise and frailty, and the wicked through premeditation and malice. The just fall forward on their faces as the Apostles did on Mount Thabor, the wicked fall backwards like the Jews in Gethsemani. The just know wherein they fall and quickly raise themselves, but the wicked know not when they fall and fear to rise or think it too difficult and troublesome a task to do so.

Oh, my soul, what do you seek? Is it Jesus of Nazareth? Behold your divine Master in the hands of the soldiers, who bind him with thongs, buffet him, and treat him with violence! Do not abandon him in his desolation as the other disciples did, but remain with him even unto the end. They said, at the Last Supper, that they would never abandon him, but go with him, to prison and to death, notwithstanding which, they basely forsook him when he was seized by his enemies. Do you not often act thus? What pious and tender protestations have you not made to him in holy communion, and yet how frequently have you not betrayed and abandoned him in the hour of temptation!

Resolution: I will seek Jesus where I know he is to be found today and thus I will give of myself to someone who is poor, sick, or suffering, knowing that I am giving of myself to Jesus who said, "As often as you do it for the least of these my brethren, you do it for me."

Prayer: When you were delivered into the hands of thine enemies, O Jesus, thou didst not seek to escape but went willingly, a lamb led to the slaughter. The soldiers sought thee and found thee and, though it was for evil ends, they kept thy company. I too have sought thee and found thee, but unlike those who sought to destroy thee, I have abandoned thee. Let me seek thee always and only thee. Let me seek thee in this transitory life and find thee lest I shall lose thee in the next. Thou alone art worthy of all my love. I give it all the thee and without reserve. Only open my eyes to thy sacred countenance that I may recognize thee in the poor and suffering. For if thou dost not, I shall not recognize thee in thy glory when thou shalt call me out of this life and I shall be eternally lost. O Mary, obtain for me this grace from thy Son, for he refuses nothing if thou shouldst ask it of him.

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

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tuesday of the Second Week in Lent

On the Courage of Jesus after His Prayer in the Garden.

I.

Jesus, desolate and full of extreme anguish, arose from prayer to seek some kind friend who would sympathize with him and console him in his affliction, but there was no one. He approached his disciples, but they were sleeping. He again had recourse to prayer, but received no response from his Father. Restless in his agony, he came once more to his disciples and said: "What! could you not watch one hour with me? Watch and pray, that you enter not into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." Is it not to you, Christian soul, that these complaints and reproaches are addressed? Do you not sleep when you should watch and pray? Are you not afraid that you will fall into temptation?

II.

Jesus prays the third time, and is not heard. Then, falling into extreme agony, the Father sent an angel to strengthen and console him. Learn from this to despise the consolations of men, and have recourse to God in all your afflictions; to pray to him in fears and doubts, and implore his succor and protection in dangers. Prayer is the best remedy for a soul that is sick, a sweet consolation for the afflicted, strength for the weak, courage for the timid, light for the blind, refuge for sinners, the buckler of faith, the life, nourishment, treasure, and salvation of all Christians. Why is it, then, that you pray so little? Why is it that you abandon prayer and pray with so little fervor and so many distractions?

III.

Jesus, strengthened by prayer, came to his disciples, and said to them: "Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man shall be betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us go: behold, he is at hand that will betray me." Whence obtained he this courage? Through prayer. Imitate your Master, accompany your King, follow your Captain. When it is necessary to resist a temptation or vanquish a repugnance of nature, say to your base and sleepy heart: Rise, and let us go to death or to prison, go to be reconciled with those whom we have offended, and assure those who have injured us of forgiveness. Rise, you who sleep, and Jesus Christ will enlighten you, strengthen you, defend you, render you victorious over your enemies, and crown you with glory after death.

Resolution: I will set aside time every morning and evening to pray.

Prayer: My desolate Jesus, it was prayer that gave thee the courage to face thy passion alone and abandoned. Grant me the grace always to pray and never to faint that like thee, I too may be victorious in the fight against eternal death. Help me in my resolve to pray every day, for if I do not, I know I will be lost forever. Mary my Mother, obtain for me this grace.

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

Monday, March 9, 2009

Monday of the Second Week in Lent

On the Treason of Judas.

I.

Judas was an avaricious, ungrateful, deceitful, and impious man. He was instigated by avarice to sell his divine Master. An avaricious man is ready to sell his soul and his God for silver. What ingratitude, to betray and deliver to his enemies, him from whom he had received so many blessings! What treachery, to betray him with a kiss! What impiety and sacrilege, to sell, for vile and filthy lucre, the most holy and sacred being on earth!

II.

An inordinate love of money caused Judas the eternal loss of his soul. This passion stifled his faith, hope, and charity. It obscured bis spirit and debauched his heart. It destroyed all those sentiments of piety which had been imparted to him by the presence of Jesus, by his conversation, examples, miracles, and graces. Who will not tremble, when they remember that an Apostle became an apostate? Who will not fear, when they behold a pillar of the Church overthrown and dashed to pieces? Who will dare assure themselves of salvation, when they reflect that a man chosen by God himself was transformed into a demon, and precipitated into hell?

Presume not on your graces; Judas had received more than you have. Presume not on your inspirations; Judas was more enlightened than you. Presume not on your miracles; Judas wrought more than you have done. Presume not on your strength; Judas possessed a greater and more sensible protection than you do. Presume not on your election; Judas was chosen by God himself. Presume not on the signs of your predestination; those of Judas were more apparent than yours.

III.

Judas was damned. Why? Because he allowed himself to be possessed of an infernal passion that he did not destroy it in its birth. He did not resist its first assaults. In the beginning he was guilty of little frauds and light infidelities which became great because he was envious of the blessings of others. He concealed his avarice with a veil of pretended charity. And finally, he did not conceive a true repentance for his sins, but abandoned himself to despair.

It is a dangerous thing to abandon one’s self to an evil passion! How our little sins should make us tremble! These light infidelities are formidable enemies, and throw us into great disorder! There are many Judases in the world, who every day betray Jesus with a kiss which they give him at the holy table! How often have you betrayed him? How many times have you not sold him to the devil for a little pleasure, a vile interest, an imaginary glory? Do not despair as he did, but reject the offered price. Return to Jesus’ sweet friendship and attach yourself more strongly to your divine Master who would, in his tender compassion, even have given his grace to Judas if he had acknowledged his sin and implored his forgiveness.

Resolution: I will make a good confession of all my sins, mortal and venial, before the end of the week.

Prayer: My Jesus, like Judas I have often sold thee, and for much less than thirty silver coins. I have sold thee for a few moments of pleasure or my own selfish desires. In selling thee I have also sold my own soul, a soul bought at the price of thy life. Thou hast purchased me for a price beyond worth and I have bartered thee for a price of no worth. I am sorry my Jesus. Nevermore will I be like Judas, but rather I will love thee above all things and value nothing more than thy love. Mary, my Mother and my Queen, teach me to love Jesus as thou didst love him.

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