Monday, 31 March 2014

Fourth Week of Lent: Monday - Traditional Lenten Meditation

Practical Meditations For Every Day in the Year on the Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ composed chiefly for the Use of Religious by a Father of the Society of Jesus. First translated from the French, 1868. Though primarily intended for Religious, the devout layman will find the Practical Meditations a most serviceable and bracing form of Spiritual Exercise amounting in fact to something like the daily practice of a Retreat.

Motives for Penance inspired by the Thought of Death

1st Prelude. Imagine you see a religious on his deathbed.

2nd Prelude. Ask for grace to live the life of a penitent, that so you may die the death of a saint.

POINT I. Penance will strengthen the dying religious.

CONSIDERATION. Our truest consolation at the hour of death will be our having passed a life of penance. If we were to say to a dying religious, "Your last moment, my brother, is drawing near; all is ending for you in this world; but take comfort -- you have borne an important part; you have held, one after another, the highest posts in your order; you have won a great name among learned men and among orators; your works and your writings will keep your name alive": -- do you think it would give him much comfort? No, indeed; he would answer you, "What will all this avail me in eternity?" "I have been," said a celebrated religious when dying -- "I have been superior in the largest houses of my order; I have been a popular and applauded preacher; and all of it is nothing to me now. I have faithfully kept my rule, and that is something; it is the only thing that consoles me in this awful moment".

APPLICATION. The greatest comfort, then, we shall have on our deathbeds is the knowledge that we have been true religious; that we have been crucified with Jesus to the world and to ourselves by continual mortification. "Yes", says the author of the Imitation, "he shall be full of comfort and hope in his death, who in his life lived under the yoke of religious discipline and self-abnegation." If I were to die now, should I find comfort in looking back on the past?


POINT II. Penance will encourage the dying religious.

CONSIDERATION. When a good man is dying, he is not in fear and sorrow at the thought of leaving the fair things of this world, but only on account of his past sins, and of those words of the Holy Ghost: "Be not without fear about sin forgiven"; and again, "Man knoweth not whether he is worthy of love or hatred." But what reassurance and what peace we can find in those other words of the Holy Spirit: "Thou overlookest the sins of men for the sake of repentance"! The memory of having expiated by mortification the insult which sin is to God, of having paid off many debts owing to Divine Justice by means of penance, will also comfort us. St. Hilarion was thus preserved from the fear of death. "What, my soul," said he, "thou hast carried the cross for seventy years, and now dost thou fear to leave the world to appear before God?"

APPLICATION. If we desire, when death is drawing near, to share the calm trust felt by the saints, even those whose lives had not always been spotless, we should imitate their penance, and especially during this precious time of Lent, of which more than half has already passed. Let us be in earnest about it, and defer it not to the hour of sickness or the time of old age. "While you are in health," says Thomas a Kempis, "you can perform many works of satisfaction; but you know not what you will be able to do when sickness overtakes you."


POINT III. Penance will be the joy of the dying religious.

CONSIDERATION. When the labourer joyfully gathers in a rich harvest, all his past labour seems as nothing; the joy and satisfaction of the result far outweighs his former trouble and privation.

APPLICATION. This is an emblem of the joy and happiness which the penitent and mortified religious will feel when he is about to reap the fruits of all the austerities of the religious life, when he is on the point of receiving the reward promised by our Lord to those who renounce all worldly pleasures to bear the cross after Him. And what will be his bliss when he shall have entered into the joy of his reward? What memory of the past will then be a joy to him? St. Peter of Alcantara gave us some idea of it when he appeared in glory to St. Theresa, and said, "O blissful penance, which has purchased for me so great a reward!" In thoughts like these we shall find courage and strength to live and persevere unto the end in the practice of holy penance.

COLLOQUY with our Blessed Lord.

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