Sunday, 23 March 2014

Third 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 derived from the Thought of the loss which the Sinner incurs

1st Prelude. Imagine you see St. John the Evangelist writing to the Church of Laodicea: "Be zealous therefore, and do penance."

2nd Prelude. Beg grace to enable you to make reparation for the past by abundant penance.

POINT I. Loss of God's friendship

CONSIDERATION. By mortal sin we lose God's friendship, sanctifying grace, the inheritance of the Beatific Vision, and all the privileges given to us in holy Baptism. In a state of mortal sin we are God's enemies, children and slaves of the devil; and we are under a curse. Perhaps we have spent days in this miserable state; perhaps even a great part of our lives. The thought of this is a bitter one, and caused such deep grief to St. Augustine, that his only consolation was to immolate himself daily, by constant penance, on the altar of the love of God.

APPLICATION. During these days of universal penance, let us imitate the saint; and if God's mercy has preserved us from frequent mortal sin, let us think of those countless venial sins which give us sufficient cause for penance; for if venial sin does not deprive us of God's friendship, it certainly diminishes it. Every venial sin deprives us of a measure of God's love, and of a corresponding degree of glory in Heaven. If we try to number our venial sins, we shall see how large a measure of grace we have lost, and what a loss it has been. Let us hasten, as far as lies in our power, to make reparation for it by fervent penance.


POINT II. Loss of supernatural life.

CONSIDERATION. Mortal sin, in the second place, deprives our soul of supernatural life. That life consists in our union with God by the bonds of love. Mortal sin breaks this tie, interrupts this union; and, while separated from God, the soul is like a dead body -- incapable of a meritorious action. Our best works are dead; every day, every month, passed in this state, is lost for all eternity.

APPLICATION. Would that our eyes were enlightened by the bright beams of faith, so that we could really understand and calculate the amount we have already lost! For we should then most earnestly try by penance to regain at least a portion of it. Venial sin does not destroy this supernatural life, but it weakens it; the soul is less fruitful in good works; and these works are less pleasing to God, less meritorious. Moreover, our human imperfection is so great that our best works are always marred by it, and lose somewhat of their merit. The saints tried to compensate for all this by great penance, and by constant mortification. Ought we not to imitate them, we who have sinned so much, and repented so little?


POINT III. Loss of sanctity

CONSIDERATION. Mortal sin, in the third place, robs the soul of its beauty, and renders it odious in the eyes of God and his holy angels; as says the Scriptures, "They are become abominable." One mortal sin changed an angel into a demon, and cast him down from Heaven to Hell. How, then, must a soul, defiled by numerous mortal sins, appear in the eyes of God? What will be its destiny in eternity, when the punishment will be in proportion to the sins committed?

APPLICATION. Perhaps you have incurred this penalty; and if so, you have a strong motive to induce you to embrace hardship and penance, and persevere therein unto the end. For, after all, although it may be certain that you have sinned grievously, yet it is not at all equally certain that your penance has been sufficient. The Church also tells us that the slightest venial fault leaves a stain upon the soul; and that "nothing defiled can enter Heaven" are the words of the Holy Ghost. We have daily stained our souls, and made few efforts to cleanse them; therefore our purgatory and our exclusion from Heaven will last much longer. Ponder deeply upon this; if we could but understand what it is to endure the pain of purgatory for one moment, what it is for one moment to be deprived of the Beatific Vision, the utmost rigour of penance would seem light to us.

COLLOQUY with our Blessed Lady.

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