from the annals of history unto our current day
Meditations by Rev. John Wyse
from the book
'Devout Exercises: Compromising Meditations and Visits to the Sanctuaries of the Blessed Virgin for Every Day in the Month of May'
On the Fruit to be Drawn from the Previous Meditations
We have now pretty well understood the terrible fate that awaits a soul, which, instead of keeping its last end in view, has lost it through sin. All this working of the understanding, however, and the pictures by which our memory and imagination have assisted us, are of no use whatever, unless the Will also is made to do its part. We must consequently make up our minds to set to work in such a manner as to preclude all chance of our falling into eternal misery, and thus losing, the only end and aim of our life on earth. In other words, we must endeavour to draw practical fruit from our meditations.
The first fruit to be drawn from these meditations, is to endeavour to produce in our souls as perfect an act of contrition as possible for sin. Let every one therefore, search strictly his conscience, and say to himself - "How would it stand with me, if in one hour hence I were to appear before the judgment-seat of Jesus Christ? Am I quite ready? Have my confessions been made so sincerely and well, that I may trust my sins have been forgiven me? Is there nothing concealed in my heart, nothing about which I might well feel anxious? In short, am I ready to die this moment? Am I perfectly prepared to meet the face of my Judge?" Let us ever bear in mind that the first step which brings us nearer to God, the first approach to holiness, the first means towards interior peace, is to place our hearts, by contrition, in such a state as to feel ready to stand at a moment's warning before the tribunal of Almighty God. And whoever does not feel so, should lose no time in making a thoroughly good confession, with such exact a searching of the conscience, such a real and heartfelt sorrow, such candid and humble acknowledgments of sin, that when it is over he can safely say to himself, "now I have done what God requires of me, for the pardon of my sins; and with the dispositions I am now in, I may appear fearlessly before Christ to be judged." What sweet comfort - what balm to the wounded soul, is such a confession: and what sure hope does it not give us of life eternal!
The second fruit to be obtained from our meditations, is to make satisfaction to God, as far as we are able, for our past sins. In order to move our wills to perform this, let us turn once again to the scenes we have witnessed before; - suppose that Almighty God were to send a ray of His heavenly light down into hell, and thus to address the unhappy Judas , "Behold, for more than eighteen hundred years hast thou burned in hell; I am now satisfied, and will extend mercy to thee; but upon this condition, that immediately thou returnest to the world, and that there for a hundred years thou bearest in silence, and cheerfully, every sickness and infirmity, every pain and sorrow of mind and body, every insult and affront that has ever been heard of, or borne by any man on earth; do this for the love of me, and I will forgive thee and will allow thee to enter heaven." Oh, who can describe the joy that would light up the heart of Judas, as he heard this news! "O infinite goodness of God," would he say in return; "boundless mercy to me, gladly do I accept this condition, and will suffer cheerfully all the troubles of earth, which ever mortal endured - not for a hundred years, but - for - double and treble that time, if only I can obtain forgiveness, and see at last Thy face in heaven." But that hour of grace shall never come for Judas. And now it is come for us. Is not the time, which God at present lends us, as great a gift - as infinite a mercy, as though he had actually drawn us back out of hell? Truly is it: and with these thoughts upon us, let us resolve for the future to bear every cross and trial manfully and with joy, to endure all the troubles of our various positions in life with cheerfulness, and to undergo every pain and sorrow sent us, without murmur, for the love of God. One mortal sin deserves an eternal punishment: and the small sufferings of this world, what are they, compared to the everlasting flames of hell?
The third fruit which these meditations should bear us, is the earnest endeavour, on our part, to avoid all venial sins, especially those, the commission of which leads to mortal sin. It is not enough to determine rather to die, than to commit a mortal sin: a similar resolution should be made, with respect to venial sins: otherwise no man can be sure of himself. Nothing can indicate more to a certainty the salvation of individual souls, than a great watchfulness about venial sins, joined with a great zeal in spiritual things. To insure our eternal safety, we must become zealous in prayer, zealous in humility, zealous in» the bearing of injuries, zealous in self-denial and mortification, zealous in the love of God, and the love of our neighbour; and whosoever would procure for himself this zeal and fervour, must take notice of the following: - 1. He must try never to allow any rash judgment, unjust suspicion, or contempt of his neighbour to remain an instant in his mind. 2. He must fight with groat perseverance against all temptations to anger and impatience, returning again and again to the struggle, if unsuccessful at first. 3. He must never allow himself to entertain for a moment any feeling of hatred or undue dislike to any person, no matter how much they may have injured him, always being ready to forgive and forget. 4. He must not permit any inordinate love to usurp his soul, shunning, with fear and trembling, the smallest approach to unclean thoughts. 5. He must be very careful never to go to the Sacraments without due preparation, or lazily to omit his thanksgiving after holy Communion. 6. He must endeavour to support all troubles and misfortunes with the utmost resignation, and a spirit of perfect submission to the will of God, never grumbling or murmuring, but taking all with equal joy from His holy hand. All this, and much more we might mention, is only to avoid venial sin. And now the question comes hard upon us - can we make up our minds to strain every nerve to do this or not? if not, the preceding meditations are of little use to us, we shall never advance one single step in the interior life, we shall never obtain true peace of mind, above all, we shall never attain to that state, in which we might readily meet with death at a moment's notice. We may hope, however, to be able to arrive at this determination. Let us turn, then, to Jesus, and say: "O Lord Our God, Who wast crucified for us, Thou hast now given us light enough to see what it is to lose Thee eternally. We acknowledge that we can never be sure of enjoying Thy presence in heaven, as long as we do not give ourselves entirely to Thee, so as to be willing to die rather than commit the least sin. Thou art our only end and aim in this life, and should it cost us every suffering this world has heard of, even death itself a thousand times, we are resolved to gain Thee and possess Thee in the life to come. O Jesus teach us to do Thy will."
The great St. Bernard was wont to remind himself of his last end by constantly repeating to himself these words - "O Bernard, Bernard, wherefore camest thou here?" and St. Bernard was the faithful servant of Mary. Who can doubt that his great devotion to the Mother of God procured him countless graces, amongst others that of keeping always before him that man was created for the sole purpose of loving and serving God, and by such means of saving his soul? Let us pray then fervently to Mary. "Mother of Him Who created us, look down upon us from thy bright throne above. Thou didst always keep thy great end before thee, and therefore art thou now in glory. We have sinned, and lost sight of our great end; but now we have found it again. Rejoice with us at so happy a recovery; but pray, pray likewise that we may ever avoid all -sin, mortal and venial, and that our souls may be so reduced to the service and love of God, as to be quite ready and prepared should sudden death surprise us. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen."
VISIT TO A SANCTUARY OP THE BLESSED VIRGIN
One of the most celebrated of the Sanctuaries, which Catholic France has erected to the honour of the Mother of God, is without doubt that known as Notre Dame de la Garde at Marseilles. The Sanctuary stands in the suburbs of that city, upon a hill which slopes down into the sea. Nothing can be more beautiful or truly grand than the position it occupies, and the view from the summit of the mountain which holds it, is magnificent. The rich town of Marseilles, with its port and immense population on the one side, farther on a noble tract of country, and on the other the full expanse of the deep blue Mediterranean. Of a truth, the people of Marseilles have known how to honour Mary. It was in the year 1214 that this Sanctuary was founded, in a modest way at first, but with the lapse of time, offerings and devotions increased. By degrees, Our Lady de la Garde became one of the richest Sanctuaries known, and continued so till the epoch of the old French Revolution, when, amid the other spoils of the Church, the great silver image of Our Lady, adorned with many ornaments, was taken away and destroyed. But the piety of Marseilles has not decayed, and, with times of peace, have returned the votive offerings of the faithful. A superb statue of silver has again been placed there, and sumptuous gifts are never wanting. How the people of Marseilles love and reverence Our Lady de la Garde I and well they may, for she sits there like a queen upon her hill, protecting them from troubles by land, and dangers by sea. The sailors, as they return from their voyages, may be seen on the decks of their vessels saluting their Mother as they pass into port; and not unfrequently do they repair, on landing, to return thanks at Notre Dame de la Garde. So again with every one in that city. Mothers instruct their children, and all learn to love Our Lady. Let us go there likewise, and learn to love her. We may be strangers in Marseilles; but Catholics are at home wherever there is a Catholic church, the Blessed Sacrament, and Mary. Let us pray together, spiritually, in that sweet and goodly Sanctuary.
PRAYER OF ST. EPHREM
O immaculate and entirely pure Virgin Mary, Mother of God, Queen of the universe, our own good Lady! thou art above all the saints, the only hope of the patriarchs, and the joy of the blessed. Through thee have we been reconciled to Our God; thou art the only advocate of sinners, and the secure haven of those who are sailing on the sea of this life; thou art the consolation of the world, the ransom of captives, the joy of the sick, the comfort of the afflicted, the refuge, the salvation of the whole world. . . We beseech thee to prevent thy Son, irritated by our sins, from abandoning us to the power of the devil. Amen.
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