Today's contemplation


14th Mar

Thursday, First week in Lent
On the sins which we are to inquire into
Consider first, that in order to know the true state of our souls, we must also examine how we discharge ourselves of all our duties and not only of all such duties as are common to all Christians, but also of all such as are particularly incumbent on us in our station of life. Alas! how many take notice of their sins of commission, but not of their sins of omission! How many make some account of such duties as relate to the regulating themselves, but are not concerned to see that others under their charge serve the Lord! How many examine themselves upon the commandments of God, and the precepts of the Church, as far as they appertain to all Christians in general; but pass over the particular duties and obligations annexed to their calling or state of life, to which, nevertheless, they are strictly bound either by law, or by covenant, or by oath, or by the very nature of the calling. Reflect thou my soul, on all these things. The grand duty of man, the great end for which he came into the world, his whole business in life, is to dedicate and consecrate his very being and his whole life to the love and service of his Maker. All thy days, O man, are given thee for this end. The omission of this great duty is highly criminal; it is usually the first sin that man falls into. And yet how few sufficiently reflect on it! Alas, how many millions of souls are lost by this omission, who, though they are neither guilty of blasphemy, nor murder, nor adultery, nor theft, &c., are justly condemned for the omission of dedicating themselves in earnest to the love and service of God!

Consider 2ndly, Christian soul, what care thou takest of thy children, of thy servants, and of all under thy charge. The regularity of thy own life will never bring thee to heaven, if through thy negligence of them their lives be irregular. Reflect ever on this, and see if thou art not guilty of many criminal omissions in this kind. Again, reflect on the particular obligations annexed to thy calling, and how far thou performest what the law of God or man requires of thee in thy station; for example, that of a pastor, a teacher, a lawyer, a physician, a tradesman, a servant, &c. See whether thou makest good thy covenants. And if an oath were required at thy first admission, or afterwards, see what care thou hast taken to discharge thyself of the obligations of it. Alas! how many, in entering upon their respective callings, take certain oaths, and afterwards perhaps think no more of them! And can this be the way to heaven! See then how necessary it is that a Christian, who has a mind to secure his soul, should look well into himself.

Consider 3rdly, whether thou hast nothing to apprehend with regard to thy salvation, from the sins of other men. And this not only from thy omissions or thy neglect of restraining those under thy charge from sin, or of keeping away from them the occasions of sin; but because of thy commissions too, in promoting or encouraging sin by word or work; in enticing or provoking to sin; in flattering or applauding people in their sins; and in contributing to keep up the pernicious maxims of the world, in point of honour, interest, and pleasure, by which numbers of poor souls are enslaved to sin, and dragged into hell. Reflect withal how little guard thou generally hast upon thy words in thy ordinary conversation, and whether thy carelessness therein may not frequently be attended with very bad consequences to the souls of thy neighbours, by giving them some occasion or other of sin, either in thought, word, or deed? Alas! how many sins will be brought to light in the great day, which careless souls, in the time of this life, but little apprehend, and so continue till death in the guilt of them.

Conclude to make such good use of the spiritual exercises of this time; and especially to study so well what passes within thee, as to be no longer blind to thy own sins. O my God! do thou give me grace now at least, perfectly to know myself. O grant that I may renounce, and do penance for all my past sins, and henceforward settle my soul upon a foundation that may stand for eternity.



15th Mar

Friday, First week in Lent
On exercising works of mercy

Consider first, that in order to find mercy we must show mercy. 'Blessed are the merciful,' said our Lord, 'for they shall obtain mercy,' Matt. v. 7. And on the other hand 'judgment without mercy,' saith St. James, 'to him that hath not done mercy,' ch. ii. 13. God expressly rejects the fast of them that refuse to show mercy to their neighbour, Isai. lviii. He declares he will neither give ear to their prayers, nor accept of their sacrifices. Prov. xxi. 13. Isai. i. 11, 15, 16, 17, 18. If then, my soul, thou desirest at this time effectually to sue for the divine mercy in the forgiveness of thy sins, see that thy fasting and prayer be accompanied with alms-deeds, 'If thou have much, give abundantly; if thou have little, take care even so to be willing to bestow a little,' Tob. iv: 9. This mercy and charity exercised by thee, will recommend thy fasting and prayer to that God who is all charity, and whose tender mercies are above all his works.

Consider 2ndly, how many ways, and upon how many occasions, the word of God recommends almsdeeds to us. It promises an eternal kingdom in heaven to all those who are diligent in this exercise, and threatens with eternal damnation all those who are negligent, Matt. xxv. It shows that the definite sentence which is to decide our eternal doom, is to pass upon each one of us according to his behaviour in this respect. Ibid. It encourages even the greatest sinners 'to redeem their sins by alms, and their iniquities with works of mercy to the poor.' Dan. iv. 24. It assures them that by the means of alms 'all things shall be made clean to them,' Luke xi. 41; that 'alms deliver from all sin and from death, and will not suffer the soul to go into darkness,' Tob. iv. 11; that Christ considers what is done for the poor, as done for himself; and will reward it accordingly, Matt. xxv.; that 'he that hath mercy on the poor, lendeth to the Lord, and he will repay him,' Prov. xix. 17. We pass over many other texts, promising all kind of good, both for this world and the next, to works of mercy; and threatening the hard-hearted and unmerciful, with the worst of God's judgments. O! my soul, attend to these heavenly oracles; embrace with all the affection of the heart this lovely virtue of mercy, the favourite daughter of the great King. It was mercy brought him down from heaven to thee; and mercy must carry thee up to him thither.

Consider 3rdly, the conditions that must accompany our alms, that they may be capable of producing these great effects. 1st. They must be liberal, and proportionable to our ability; 'He that soweth sparely shall reap but sparingly.' What then can the worldling expect, who for every penny he gives to God, in the person of the poor, gives a pound to the devil, and to his own passions and lusts? 2ndly. Our alms must be given with a pure intention; that is, not out of ostentation or vain-glory, or for an other human motive, but for God's sake; otherwise they will have no reward from God. 3rdly. Our alms can never effectually procure for us the remission of our sins except we join with them a sincere repentance for our sins, together with an effectual resolution of loving and serving God for the future. Christians, take good notice of these three articles; and particularly remember, that neither alms nor any thing else can give any manner of security to any man that wilfully persists in mortal sin.

Conclude to esteem, love, and practise, upon every occasion, this blessed virtue of mercy. But see that thy intention be pure, and beware of losing the benefit of it by an impenitent heart.



16th Mar

Saturday, First week in Lent
On the spiritual works of mercy

Consider first, that the spiritual works of mercy, by which we relieve our neighbours in the necessities of their souls, are of far greater value in the sight of God, than such as merely relate to their bodies. If, then, he is pleased to promise such ample rewards to the feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and such like good works, which relate only to those corruptible carcasses, and to the short time of our mortal pilgrimage; how much more will he esteem and reward those works of mercy and charity, by which immortal souls, made after God's own image, and redeemed by the blood of Christ, are drawn out of darkness and sin, rescued from Satan and hell, and brought to God and a happy eternity 'He that causeth a sinner to be converted from the error of his way,' saith the Scripture, 'shall save his soul from death, and shall cover a multitude of sins,’ James v. 20. 'And they that instruct many to justice, shall shine as stars for all eternity.' Dan. xii. 3.

Consider 2ndly, that the spiritual works of mercy are principally exercised by reclaiming sinners from their evil ways, even the ways of death and hell, by admonitions, remonstrances, fraternal corrections, &c.; by enlightening and instructing such as, through ignorance, are in danger of losing their precious souls, or by procuring them this light and instruction from other proper persons; by comforting the afflicted, encouraging the pusillanimous, upholding and assisting them that are under temptations, reconciling such as are at variance, bearing with all, forgiving all, overcoming evil with good, and praying for all. O how happy, how precious in the sight of God, is a life spent in such works of mercy and charity as these are! And how happy will that death be that shall conclude such a life! O my soul, that we may lead such a life! O that we may die such a death!

Consider 3rdly, that these spiritual works of mercy, are not only the most acceptable of all, and the most meritorious in the sight of God, but also are of strict obligation, and this not only to pastors, but to all other Christians, according to their circumstances and abilities. Charity is a virtue of universal obligation, and the principal object of that love, which charity obliges us to have for our neighbours, is the eternal welfare of their immortal souls. If then we can unconcernedly see numbers of souls crowding into hell, without affording them all the help that lies in our power, in order to rescue them from that extremity of endless misery, is it not evident that we have no charity for them; and if not, may not our case be one day as bad as theirs? What then must we do? We must gladly lay hold of every opportunity of contributing what lies in us to the conversion and salvation of any one of these poor unhappy souls, and we shall quickly find that opportunities of this nature will not be wanting, if we take the matter to heart. At least there are two ways, and those the most effectual of all, of reclaiming sinners and bringing them to God, which are certainly in the power of every one, and from which no one can be excused, and these are the example of a holy life, and the efficacy of fervent prayer poured out to God in behalf of poor sinners.

Conclude ever to make use of these two, the most effectual ways of bringing sinners to God; yet, so as not to neglect any other means that lie in thy power. What a comfort will it be to thee; what an honour, what a happiness, to be the instrument of God in the salvation of souls in that same great work, which brought the Son of God from heaven. But what dreadful punishments mayest thou not justly apprehend if for want of this charity, any of these souls should perish, because thou wouldst not lend them a helping hand to withdraw them from the precipice to which they were running! Ah! will not their blood one day cry to heaven for vengeance against thee.



17th Mar

Second Sunday in Lent
On Prayer

Consider first, that the time of Lent is not only a time for fasting and giving alms, but is also in a particular manner a time of devotion and prayer. Fasting, alms, and prayer, are three sisters, which ought to go hand in hand, and with united forces, to offer a holy violence to heaven, which is not to be taken but by violence. If, then, prayer be at all times necessary, if it be the very life of a Christian soul, it is certainly a most indispensable fact of our duty at this holy time. But what is prayer? It is a conversation with God; it is a raising up of the mind and of the heart to God; it is an address of the soul to God, in which we present him with our homage, our adoration, praise, and thanksgiving: we exercise ourselves in his presence in acts of faith, hope, and love, and we lay before him all our necessities, and those of the whole world, begging mercy, grace, and salvation at his hands. O my soul, how happy it is! how glorious, how pleasant to entertain oneself thus with thy God! Is it not in some measure anticipating the joys of heaven? For what is heaven but to be with God?

Consider 2ndly, more in particular the most excellent advantages the soul enjoys by the means of prayer. It gives her a free access whensoever she pleases to come before the throne of his divine majesty, and to make her addresses to him - any hour of the day or night - with a positive assurance from him of meeting with a favourable audience; it admits her as often as she pleases into his private closet, where she may find him all alone, and treat with him with all freedom as long as she will; and she may be assured he will never be wearied with her importunity, nor shut the door against her. Will any prince of the earth allow any thing like this even to his greatest favourite? O Christian soul, what an honour is this! And why art not thou more ambitious of it?

Consider 3rdly, how delightful prayer is to the soul that truly loveth God. The true lover finds the greatest pleasure in thinking of and speaking with the object of his love. If then, the soul truly love God, nothing will be more sweet to her than this heavenly intercourse and conversation with her sovereign good. The Saints have found it so when they have passed whole nights in prayer, and thought the time very short through the delight they found in the company of their beloved. O my soul, if thou find no such delight in prayer, see if it be not for want of love.

Conclude to embrace this heavenly exercise of prayer at all opportunities. Here is to be found thy greatest honour, interest, and pleasure, and, in a word, thy whole happiness both for time and eternity.



On St. Patrick, Apostle of Ireland

Consider first, how much we owe to God for having called this nation, by the ministry of St. Patrick, from darkness and the shadow of death that is, from infidelity, idolatry, and vice, into his admirable light; and from being the seat of the reign of Satan, where he for so many ages had exercised his tyranny without control, to become an island of Saints! O! what ought to be then the devotion of this day! how ought we to glorify God for this inestimable benefit of our vocation, and for all those other unspeakable gifts and graces which have been derived from this source! What veneration do we not owe to this our blessed Apostle, whom our Lord has chosen to be his instrument in this great work; who by his labours, by his preaching, and by his prayers, first brought Christ amongst us, and who first opened to us, through Christ, the fountains of mercy, grace, and salvation, which flow to this day! O! let us praise the Lord in his Saints.

Consider 2ndly, in what manner God prepared St. Patrick for this admirable work, and by what steps he brought him on from virtue to virtue, till he was perfectly qualified for the Apostleship. His Providence ordained that in his tender years he should be carried captive into that very land which he was afterwards to deliver from the slavery of Satan. Here he not only became acquainted with the language and manners of the people, but what was of infinitely more advantage to him, learned to spend his whole time, night and day, whilst he tended his master’s cattle, in the exercises of prayer and penance; by which he laid a solid foundation for an apostolic life. After he was released from his slavery, and received amongst the clergy, he employed many years abroad, under the discipline of the most eminent servants of God, in order to dispose and qualify himself to answer that divine call, by which he had been invited to the conversion of the Irish, which he then took in hand, when after this long preparation, he received both his episcopal consecration and mission from the Vicar of Jesus Christ, St. Celestine, Bishop of Rome. Thus the Spirit of God, by a long course of spiritual exercises, fitted our Saint for the great work for which he designed him; thus he gradually took full possession of that soul, by which he was to bring so many thousand souls to be his eternal temples. See, Christians, by what kind of exercises, of retirement, penance, and long-continued prayer, you ought also to be prepared, if you hope the Spirit of God should do great things by you or for you.

Consider 3rdly, the admirable ways and means by which St. Patrick was enabled to bring over a whole nation from their errors and vices to the faith and light of the Gospel, in spite of all the opposition of the world, the flesh, and the devil. These were, principally, his ardent zeal for the glory of God, and the salvation of souls; his profound humility; his prayer which was most fervent and continual; and the Spirit with which he delivered the word of God. This word of God in his mouth was like a fire, which breaking forth from the great furnace of divine love which possessed his own breast, communicated its bright flames to the hearts of all that heard him, and won them over to Christ; his word was mighty to break in pieces even the hardest rocks, and to bring into captivity every understanding, and every will, to the obedience of Christ. See, ye ministers of God, by this example, by what kind of arms you are to bring souls to God; see by what kind of arms you are to overcome all opposition of the enemy, and effectually to establish the reign of Christ in those souls he has committed to our charge. True zeal, profound humility, a spirit of prayer, and a heart burning with ardent charity, will more effectually enable you to convert sinners, than if you were even to raise the dead to life. See, all ye Christians in general, in this great example of our Saint, what are the principal ingredients of true sanctity, and what are the virtues and exercises that will bring you also to be Saints. The zeal, or desire of pleasing God in all things, a sincere humility, fervent prayer, and true charity in both its branches, are necessary for all: these will surely make us Saints, and nothing less than these can secure the salvation of any one.

Conclude to offer up to God, on this day, a heart full of love and gratitude for the innumerable graces and blessings bestowed upon this island through the ministry of St. Patrick, and of that long train of Saints who have descended from him. Let us never degenerate from these our parents in Christ, or forget the glorious examples of their heroic virtues. O! who shall give us to see Ireland once more an island of Saints!

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18th Mar


Monday, second week in Lent
On the necessity of prayer

Consider first, that all Christians are indispensably obliged to pray, because it is an homage and worship we owe to God. He is our first beginning and our last end; he is the inexhaustible source of all our good; therefore he justly expects we should daily worship him, and daily acknowledge our total dependence on him, by a diligent application to him by prayer. We are all bound by our creation and redemption frequently to present ourselves before the throne of God with acts of adoration, praise, and thanksgiving; we are all bound to honour him by frequent acts of faith, hope, and love; and it is in prayer, and by prayer, we perform these duties: they are all neglected if prayer be neglected. It was appointed in the divine law that twice every day, viz., morning and evening, an unspotted lamb should be offered in sacrifice, in the temple of God, as a daily worship he expected from his people; and shall not the children of the new law be equally obliged, twice a day at least, to offer up their homage of prayer in the temple of their hearts? Daniel chose rather to be cast into the den of the lions than not worship his God by prayer three times a-day. And shall not this convince Christians of the strict necessity of this exercise?

Consider 2ndly, the necessity of prayer, inasmuch as it is by divine appointment the channel through which the graces and blessings of God are to flow into our souls. We can do nothing towards our salvation without the grace of God; but with his grace we can do all things. Now, prayer is the great means of procuring and obtaining this all-necessary grace; 'Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you.' O how often is this repeated and inculcated in holy writ! How much are we there pressed to be earnest and fervent in prayer! Does our God then stand in need of us or our prayers? No, certainly. He stands not in need of us, but we continually stand in need of him; and therefore out of love to us, he is so often pressing us to pray, because he sees that without frequent and fervent prayer we must be for ever miserable. Blessed be his name for this his infinite charity.

Consider 3rdly, the necessity of prayer, from the warfare in which we are engaged the whole time of our mortal pilgrimage, with three most desperate enemies, the world, the flesh, and the devil. We are surrounded with dangers on all sides, and with dangers that threaten us with nothing less than the loss of God, and a miserable eternity. We walk in the midst of snares; our way is beset with robbers and murderers; we breathe a pestilential air; we live in a world that is very wicked; in the midst of worldlings, a deluded people who are strangers to the Gospel, who by word and work encourage sin, and seek to drag us along with them into the broad road of perdition. We carry about with us a load of flesh, which weighs down the poor soul, and tyrannizes over her with its passions and lusts; these hold a correspondence with the third enemy the devil, and are ever ready to betray us to him, to make us his companions in never-ending woe. We have whole legions of his wicked angels to fight against, crafty and malicious spirits, bent upon sparing no pains to destroy us. And what shall we do? Or what can we do to escape all these dangers, and overcome all these enemies? We must watch arid pray; and God will watch over us, and give us the victory over them all. Prayer will engage God on our side, and all our enemies shall fall before us; for if God is with us, it is no matter who is against us.

Conclude to have recourse to prayer in all dangers and temptations; and since our whole life is full of dangers and temptations, let us make our whole life, as much as possible, a life of prayer.



19th Mar
St. Joseph, Defender of Holy Church - Pray for us

On St. Joseph

Consider first, the testimony that the Holy Ghost has given to the virtue and sanctity of St. Joseph, in telling us in the gospel that he was a just man. And doubtless the Almighty would never have made choice of any man to be the chaste bridegroom of the purest of virgins, and the foster-father and guardian of his own divine Son, that was not consummate in purity and sanctity. Learn from hence, Christian Souls, what kind of qualifications will make you also agreeable to Jesus and Mary. You will certainly drive them far away from you by criminal impurity. Admire the command St. Joseph had of his passions, in his joining perfect continency with the state of marriage; and in the evenness of soul, which he preserved under all events, how adverse soever; and learn of him to keep thy passions under subjection, and cheerfully to submit thy will on all occasions, to the appointments of heaven.

Consider 2ndly, the great examples St. Joseph has given us of all other virtues; his lively faith in a ready submission of his soul to the belief of the most difficult mysteries, relating to the incarnation of the Son of God; his ardent love of his dearest Jesus; his concern and tender care for him in his infancy and childhood; and his wonderful diligence in all that belonged to his charge; his meekness and charity to the blessed Virgin, when to his unspeakable surprise, he found her with child; his ready obedience, without demur or reply, to every intimation of the will of heaven, whatsoever hardships or labours it might put him to, as in the case of his flight into Egypt; his patience under afflictions and persecutions; his humble submission, notwithstanding his royal extraction, to the toil and labour of a handicraft, to gain a poor livelihood for himself and for Jesus and Mary, by the sweat of his brow; together with amiable simplicity in his whole comportment, and perpetual attention to God, by divine contemplation. Christians, let us imitate his virtues, whatsoever our station of life may be; we see by his example, that perfect sanctity may be found even in the midst of the distractions of a worldly calling, and that if we are not Saints, it is not the fault of our calling, but of our not corresponding with divine grace. St. Joseph found a great advantage to his soul from his having Jesus always in his company, and working with him. O let us also take care to have Jesus always with us, (wherever we are, or whatever we are doing,) by a spirit of recollection, and a constant attention to him, and never to drive him away by any sinful conversation, by entertaining his enemies in our interior, and we shall quickly be sensible of the fruits his presence will bring to our souls.

Consider 3rdly, and learn from the example of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, how great an error the world lies under, when it flies with so much eagerness from poverty and labour, as conceiving them to be great evils, which the wisdom of God made choice of for himself, for his blessed Mother, and his reputed father, and which they have consecrated by their life and practice. And for thy part, my soul, have another way of thinking; and if thy condition be that of the rich, be not puffed up with it, but rather humble thyself to see thou art so unlike to that blessed family, and fear the many dangers that riches are exposed to; despise not the poor, but ever honour and succour them, as the relations of Christ, or as Christ himself: thou hast his authority for doing so. If thou art poor, remember thou wearest the livery of Christ, and of his family; comfort thyself in the resemblance thou bearest to them; and take care lest, by thy murmuring or impatience, thou lose any of the advantages which thy state entitles thee to. If thou followest any trade or handicraft take St. Joseph for thy patron and for thy pattern. Thou seest, by his example, that sanctity is not inconsistent with thy business. But then take heed, lest by any fraud or injustice, or by any excessive solicitude for the things of this world, to the neglect of thy soul, thou banish Jesus from thy shop or house. Be sure to make him the companion of all thy labours, offer up all thou dost to him, and often entertain thyself with him. If God has blessed thee with children, take care, by an early diligence, to form Christ in them, by constantly instilling into their minds the fear and love of God, and the horror of sin; thus thou mayest, like St. Joseph, bring up Jesus in these little ones.

Conclude to honour St. Joseph, by an imitation of his virtues, and in order to this, implore the assistance of his prayers. His interest is great with our Lord, as St. Teresa declares she frequently experienced. Beg in particular his intercession for the obtaining of a happy death - St. Joseph was happy in death, by having our Lord and the blessed Virgin to attend and assist him. Let us, like him, keep ever close to them in life, and they will be with us in death.



19th Mar (ii)

Tuesday, Second week in Lent
On attention in prayer

Consider first, that the most essential condition to make our prayer either acceptable to God, or beneficial to ourselves, is a serious attention; it deserves not the name of prayer without it. To pray with wilful distraction is a mockery; it is affronting the divine majesty.'This people,' saith he, 'honoureth me with their lips but their hearts are far from me,' Isais. xxix. 13. See, my soul, if this he not too often thy case? And if so, seek a speedy remedy for so great an evil. There needs no greater to sink thee into the very depth of all misery for time and eternity. For as he cannot fail to live well, who has found the way to pray well; so he that prays ill must not expect to live well, or die well.

Consider 2ndly, that in order to pray well, our heart and mind must go always along with what we are about, or, which is the best attention of all, and most conducing to bring us to the love of God, our thoughts must then he fixed in God; not considered as abroad, but as within our own souls; not as represented by corporeal images, but as the being of all beings, the eternal, incomprehensible, infinite truth. But that we may be better able to keep this attention in the time of prayer, we must hearken to the admonition of the wise man. 'Before prayer prepare thy soul, and be not like a man that tempteth God.' This preparing the soul for prayer consists in discharging beforehand, as much as possible, all foreign thoughts; restraining even at other times all the rovings of the imagination, and vain amusements; untying the heart from its disorderly affections, and beginning by a serious recollection of the soul in the presence of God, and an earnest address to him, to teach us and help us to pray as we ought.

Consider 3rdly, that if, after taking these precautions, we still find ourselves hurried away with a multitude of distractions in the time of prayer, we must not be discouraged. For as long as our will has no share in these distractions, they will not be imputed to us; nor hinder the fruit of our prayers. ‘Tis the heart, ‘tis the will that God regards; our care must be to keep this right; to set out at first with a good heart, and a will to seek our heavenly Father, and not to retract this by any wilful turning aside from him, and we may be assured that he that seeks and sees the heart, will not be offended at the involuntary wanderings of the imagination, which can never separate the soul from him.

Conclude upon ever keeping a close guard upon thy mind and upon thy heart, if thou desire to pray well, and this not only at the time of prayer, but at all times. For if thou live in a constant dissipation of thought at other times, and with a heart set upon irregular affections and cheating vanities, how canst thou expect but that both thy mind and heart, in the time of prayer, will be still running after those things they are accustomed to, and which they have unhappily made their treasure instead of God.



20th Mar

Wednesday, second week in lent
On other conditions of prayer
Consider first, those words of St. James iv. 3. 'You ask and you receive not because you ask amiss.' Great promises are made in holy writ in favour of prayer; but these are to be understood, provided we ask for what we ought, and in the manner we ought. But if we are more concerned for the temporal goods of this transitory life than for the eternal welfare of our souls, and make such things as those the principal subjects of our prayers, we must not be surprised if God does not hear us. For in these cases we often know not what we ask, or we know not at least what is expedient for us, and it is a mercy of God not to grant us those things, which, if he were to grant them, might be the occasion of the loss of our souls. In our prayers we must seek first the kingdom of God and his justice, and as to those other things, God will give us them as far as he sees expedient for us. And if at any time we pray for such things, or pray to be delivered from sufferings and crosses, we must ever pray with submission and conformity to the will of God; if it be his will, and if he sees it expedient, and not otherwise. 'Not my will, but thy will be done.'

Consider 2ndly, that we must not only pray for such things as are truly good, as being agreeable to God’s holy will, and conducing to our true and everlasting welfare, but we must also pray in a proper manner, that is, with a pure intention, and with a lively faith and confidence in God. Great promises are made in Scripture to prayer, but it is to prayer made with faith and confidence in God. The honour of his divine majesty is engaged to stand by those that pray with a strong belief; and trust in him. But as for him that prayeth 'wavering in faith, let him not think that he shall receive anything from the Lord,' James i. 6. If, then, we would pray to the purpose, we must come before God with a lively sense of his boundless power, goodness, and mercy; with a conviction of his being ever faithful to his promises, and that his divine truth cannot fail. And we must not trust in the least in ourselves, nor ground ourselves upon any merits of our own, but put an entire confidence in God, who is more desirous to give us his grace than we are to ask it, and we shall quickly experience how ready he will be to show us mercy, and to hear our prayers. So true it is that no one ever trusted in him and was confounded.

Consider 3rdly, that in order to obtain our requests, we must take care to present them in the name of Jesus Christ, and through the merit of his death and passion. What we ask of God is mercy, grace, and salvation; now, our faith assures us there is no means of coming at mercy, grace, or salvation, but through Jesus Christ. 'No one can come to the Father but by him,' St. John xiv. 6. 'Whatsoever we shall ask the Father in his name, shall be given to us,' chap. xvi. 23, 24. But 'there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved.' Acts iv. 12. Here then is the great ground of that faith and confidence with which we draw near to God, and address our prayers to him. The Son of God has died for us; he has made over to us the merits of his death and passion; he has purchased for us those graces which we pray for; his blood continually pleads in our behalf. Through him, then, 'let us go with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace in seasonable aid.' Heb. iv. 16.

Conclude to take the blood of Christ along with you, as often as you desire to go by prayer within the veil, into the sanctuary of God; this will open to you the way to all mercy, grace, and salvation.

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21st day of Mar

Thursday, second week in Lent
On fervour in prayer

Consider first, the necessity of fervour in prayer, that is to say, that we should be quite in earnest in our addresses to God. For how can we expect that God should hear or regard our supplications when we present them with so much indolence and indifference, as if we told the Almighty we did not care whether he heard us or not? Such lukewarm prayer as this, instead of drawing down his blessing upon us, will rather move him to indignation. It is doing the work of God negligently, which is a thing of the worst consequences to a Christian soul. Fervour and eagerness in prayer is recommended to us by the great example of the Son of God, 'who in the days of his flesh, with a strong cry and tears, offered up his prayers and supplications;' Heb. v. 7. It is recommended by the doctrine and example of all the Saints. Not a fervour of the imagination, but of the will; not expressed by the motion of the head, or any outward gestures of the body, but consisting in the strong desires of the soul, suing with all her power for the mercy and grace of God.

Consider 2ndly,
how our Lord recommends to us, St: Luke xviii. 1, 'That we should always pray, and not faint;' that is, not to be discouraged, or to give over, if we don’t immediately find the effect of our prayers; but by the example of the poor widow, whose importunity prevailed even upon a wicked judge, still continue to knock at the gate of heaven, till God is pleased to open to us, according to his merciful promise. Perseverance in prayer, and a holy importunity, were the means by which the Saints obtained such great things of God. It is well if the want of these be not the true reason why we are not favoured in the like manner. The hand of God is certainly not shortened. But alas we have not that faith, that fervour, that perseverance, which they had, who, like their Lord, sometimes passed even whole nights in prayer.

Consider 3rdly,
that nothing contributes more to render our prayers effectual with God than a profound humility. A contrite and humble heart God never despises. ‘The prayer of him that humbles himself,’ saith the wise man, Ecclus. xxxv. 21, 'shall pierce the clouds - and not depart till the Most High behold.' Humility always finds admittance with God, who ever resists the proud, and gives his grace to the humble. If then, my soul, thou desire that thy prayers should find admittance, see they be ever accompanied with humility. 'I will speak to my Lord,' said holy Abraham, Gen. xviii. 27, 'whereas I am but dust and ashes.' Alas! poor soul of mine, thy whole being is a mere nothing in the sight of that great God, before whom thou presentest thyself in prayer. His majesty fills heaven and earth and both heaven and earth dwindle away just to nothing at all in his presence. But what a figure, then, do thy crimes and abominations make in his eyes and how wretched an object do they make of thee! See, then, what pressing motives thou hast to humble thyself in prayer, in consideration of thy sins, and of what thou hast deserved by them. Nothing but humble prayer can remedy all thy evils, and this will effectually do it.

ever to pray with fervour and humility, and, in order thereto, begin always thy prayer by placing thyself in the presence of God, and humbly imploring the assistance of his divine Spirit. None but he can teach thee to pray well.



22nd Mar

Friday, second week in Lent
On Mental Prayer

Consider first, that the great advantages and excellence of prayer are chiefly found in mental prayer, that is to say, in such kind of prayer as is not confined to any form of words, but is made in the secret closet of the heart, where the soul, all alone, finds her God, and entertains herself with him. The advantages of this kind of prayer beyond that which is only vocal are that it brings us nearer to God and to his heavenly light; it employs all the powers of the soul, viz., the memory, the understanding, and the will, about him; it opens the eyes of the soul to the knowledge of God, and of ourselves; and is the true school in which we learn to despise the world and its cheating vanities, and to love God with our whole hearts. O my soul, see thou daily frequent this school of divine love.

Consider 2ndly, that the Saints, and other masters of a spiritual life, have prescribed certain rules and methods of mental prayer, with a variety of subjects, to make the practice easy. According to these rules and methods, the soul begins by placing herself in the presence of her God, and by humbly imploring his divine assistance. Then the memory represents the subject of the prayer, and the understanding is employed in considering the heavenly truths discovered therein, till the will is properly affected therewith, and stirred up to the fear and love of God, to an humble confidence in his goodness, to a sense of gratitude for his benefits, to a horror of sin, to a sincere repentance for past offences, and such like affections, which ought to be followed by good and firm resolutions of avoiding evil and doing good, and in particular, of the immediate amending such failings as one is most subject to. Such is the method of mental prayer, by way of meditation, recommended by St. Ignatius, St. Francis de Sales, and other Saints, and both very easy and beneficial to Christian souls, by its serving greatly to enlighten their understanding and to inflame their will. Give thanks, my soul, to thy God, for the lights he has communicated to his Saints to direct thee in this sovereign exercise of mental prayer; and particularly practise what they recommend, with regard to the insisting principally in thy prayer upon affections and resolutions, lest otherwise thy meditations fall short of answering the chiefest end of prayer, which is the love of God, and the amendment of thy life.

Consider 3rdly, that although this method of mental prayer be excellent, and such as ought to be followed where the soul does not find herself invited and attracted another way; yet as 'the Spirit breatheth where he will,' John iii. 8, and as we must not pretend to set bounds or give rules to him who expects to be ever acknowledged as sovereign Lord and King within our souls, and to establish his reign there by mental player, if he should be pleased to advance the soul to the more perfect prayer of contemplation, (in which she finds herself drawn nearer to God, quite alone with him, and absorbed in his love,) she must not be restrained by any of these usual forms or methods, from following that happy call, and thankfully yielding herself up a captive to divine love. For it must ever be the rule of the soul which desires to have the kingdom of God established in her interior, by way of mental prayer, to follow God in his divine attractions yet so as to take a guide along with her for fear of being imposed. upon by taking the suggestions of Satan, or of her own pride and self-love, for the motions of the Spirit of God.

Conclude to exercise thyself daily in mental prayer as the great means to bring thee to God. Let no pretext of business call thee off from this exercise; nothing can be of half so much importance to thy true welfare; ‘tis the very way to heaven. The morning is the best time for it, and half an hour at least ought to be dedicated to it.




23rd Mar


Saturday, second week in Lent
On the practice of mental prayer

Consider first, the great error of many Christians, who imagine the practice of mental prayer to be very difficult, and, therefore, are discouraged from undertaking this exercise by the vain apprehension of not being able to succeed in it; an error which the devil endeavours to propagate with all his power, because he fears nothing more than mental prayer, as being the direct ruin of his usurpation, and the establishment of the kingdom of God in the soul. To confute this error, and to take away this prejudice against so necessary an exercise, reflect that there is no such mystery in mental prayer as people vainly imagine; that it consists in considerations and affections, that is, in thinking and loving and this in thinking on subjects generally the most easy, and the most copious that can be, and at the same time, of the utmost importance to the soul; and in loving him whom by thinking we find to be every day the most worthy of our love. We can easily think of our other affairs, and even of every trifle that comes in our way; nay, thinking is so natural to us that we cannot help thinking of something whenever we are awake. And shall thinking be then only difficult when we are to think of matters of the utmost consequence to our everlasting welfare? Or shall loving be difficult to a soul that was made to love, and that never can find rest but in her love; and whom God by his grace is continually inviting and pressing to love him.

Consider 2ndly, that the subjects for mental prayer, which are the most necessary, are withal the most easy, such as those that are recommended by St. Teresa in her writings, and by her own practice viz., 'the true knowledge of ourselves, and what we are, both as mortals and as sinners: how much we owe to God; how much we have offended him; and how ungrateful we still are to him: what he is, and how much he loveth us, and what he hath done for us; the great humiliations and sufferings of the Son of God for our redemption from sin and Satan; the sudden vanishing of all present things, and the eternal punishments and rewards to come.' Such meditations as these are no way difficult or curious but easy for every capacity, and withal open a wide field for the soul to expatiate in; and from these it will be easy for her to pass on to a variety of pious affections, suitable to the subject of the meditation. But more especially such considerations as these serve very much for enkindling in the soul the love of God, and a desire of being grateful to him, and of never more offending him, when we reflect what he, the Lord of Glory, infinite in majesty, has done and suffered for us - such poor wretches as we are - to deliver us from such torments, which we had deserved, and to purchase for us such glory, of his own pure mercy and goodness.

Consider 3rdly, that it is also easy for the soul to practise mental prayer, and the way of familiar colloquies or entertainments with our Lord; conversing and discoursing with him, as we would do if we had him visibly present with us, as when he was here among men in this mortal life; treating with him as with a parent, a friend, a benefactor; as with our high priest, our advocate, our physician, our director, our brother, our spouse, our head, our Redeemer, &c.; sometimes humbling ourselves before him, confessing and begging pardon for our many disloyalties; at other times representing to him our many infirmities; reminding him of his promises, thanking him for his great patience towards us; condoling with him in his sufferings, and the daily affronts he receives from obstinate sinners promising a new life for the future; offering all that we have, and our whole being to him; petitioning him for our many spiritual wants and necessities, &c. for, 'since we never want words,' said St. Teresa, 'to talk with other persons, why should we to speak with God?' And surely none can want matter to converse and discourse about with him, but such as think they owe nothing to him, and neither here nor hereafter desire or expect any thing from him.

Conclude to let no apprehensions of difficulties discourage thee from the daily practice of mental prayer. The grace of God will make it easy to thee, if thou continue resolute in using thy best endeavours. Be not frightened if thou meet with nothing at first but dryness and distractions; let thy will be good and these will not hurt thee - God, in his good time, will let the light of his countenance shine upon thee. By perseverance in this exercise, thou wilt at length dig out a treasure, which will abundantly recompense whatever labour thou hast taken in digging.



24th Mar

Third Sunday in Lent
On devotion to the Passion of Christ

Consider first,
that meditating on the sufferings and death of our Redeemer ought to be a principal part of the Christian’s devotion during the time of Lent. For the season approaches in which we celebrate the yearly memory of our Lord’s passion, and therefore the Church, which at no time can forget the sufferings and death of her heavenly Spouse, at this time particularly recommends to her children to set before their eyes their crucified Saviour, and to make him the great object of their devotion. His passion is the ever-flowing source of all mercy, grace, and salvation to us; all our good must be derived from his cross; therefore, the more we approach to him in his sufferings, and station ourselves near the cross, by pious meditations on his passion, the more plentifully shall we partake of the mercy and grace which flow continually from those fountains of life, his precious wounds. The great design of Lent is that the sinner should now return to God, and sue for pardon and mercy; and what better means can he have for this, than by taking along with him to the throne of mercy the blood of Christ, by daily meditating on his passion.

Consider 2ndly, that the passion of Christ has been always from the beginning of the world, the great object of the devotion of the children of God: in all their bloody sacrifices of old, of oxen and sheep, they celebrated beforehand the death of the Lamb of God, slain in figure from the beginning of the world. And as, from the time of the fall of Adam, no grace could ever be derived to any man, but through the channel of the merits of the death and passion of our Redeemer, whose future coming was revealed to man immediately after his fall; so no sacrifices could ever be acceptable to God, but such as had relation to him, and through faith in him. Much more now under the new law, are all the faithful obliged to make the passion of Christ the great object of their devotion, since he has instituted the eucharistical sacrifice and sacrament, and left us therein the sacred mysteries of his body and blood; for this very end, that in our most solemn worship, we should have always before our eyes his passion and death. See, my soul, how much thy God desires thou shouldest remember what he has suffered for thee! And why? Doubtless that by this means thou mightest be confirmed in his love. O blessed be his goodness for ever!

Consider 3rdly, how ungrateful all such Christians are, as forget the suffering and death of their Redeemer; may they not all be reckoned in the number of those of whom he complained of old, by the Royal Prophet, that they left him alone in his passion, and took no notice of him. 'I looked on my right hand, and beheld, and there was no one that would know me,' Ps. cxli. 5. Had the meanest man upon earth suffered but the tenth part of what our Lord has suffered for the love of one of us, we should be basely ungrateful if we ever forgot his sufferings and his love. What then must we think of ourselves, if we forget the unspeakable sufferings and infinite love of the Son of God himself, nailed to a cross, to deliver us by his death from the eternal torments of hell? Ah, Christians, let us never be so ungrateful.

Conclude, O my soul, at this holy time at least, daily to accompany thy crucified Jesus by meditations on his sufferings. 'With Christ I am nailed to the cross,' said St. Paul, Gal. ii. 12. 'My love is nailed to the cross,’ said St. Ignatius, the martyr. O that like these generous lovers, we could always adhere to our crucified God.



25th Mar

Monday, third week in Lent
On the great advantages of devotion to the Passion of Christ

Consider first, that the consideration of the passion of Christ is the sovereign means of all good to Christian souls. 'As Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of man be lifted up,' saith our Lord to Nicodemus, John iii. 14, 15, 'that whosoever believeth in him may not perish, but may have everlasting life.' As then the looking at the brazen serpent, (which was a figure of the death of Christ,) was the means of divine appointment to heal the Israelites, who were bitten by the fiery serpents sent among them for their sins, and to rescue them from temporal death; so the contemplation of the passion of Christ, is the great means to heal Christian souls from the bites of the infernal serpent, and to deliver them from everlasting death. Every sinner that looks for mercy, must return to God with his whole heart, and that by faith, hope, love, and repentance. Now it is in meditating on the passion of Christ we contemplate the great object of our faith the chiefest ground of our hope; the most pressing motive of divine love; and the strongest and most effectual inducement to repentance for our sins. O! let us embrace then this great means of bringing us to God, and to all good.

Consider 2ndly, that as the belief of Christ crucified is the most fundamental article of the Christian’s faith, so it has the greatest influence of all other articles on our justification; according to that of the Apostle, Rom. iii. 23, 24, 25, 'that we all have sinned and need the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God had proposed to be A PROPITIATION THROUGH FAITH IN HIS BLOOD,' &c. ‘Tis then through faith in his blood we are to be introduced to the divine mercy and ‘tis by meditation on his passion we are to be introduced to a lively faith in his blood. So that the devotion to the passion of Christ is the shortest way to come at justifying faith. It has no less influence on our hope, by setting before our eyes how much God has loved us in giving his only Son, and the great grounds we have to look for all good through him. For as the Apostle writes, Rom. viii. 32, 'He that spared not even his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, hath he not also with him given us all things.' O what an earnest indeed has God given us of all mercy, grace, and salvation in the blood of his Son! O what may not poor sinners hope for from such and so great a Redeemer, if they apply to this sacred passion by daily meditations, and offer up their humble supplications to his Father, through him, and his infinite merits.

Consider 3rdly, that as nothing contributes so effectually to our justification and sanctification as the love of God; so nothing contributes more effectually to excite this heavenly love in our souls than the devotion to the passion of Christ. For there he must clearly discover the incomprehensible goodness of God, and the inexhaustible treasures of his divine love for us. This excites in us a desire of returning love for love; life for life. This attracts us, like Magdalene, to the feet of our crucified Saviour, with an earnest desire to wash them with penitential tears, flowing from, and enlivened by, divine love. This makes us grieve for our past ingratitude, in having had hitherto so little sense of his goodness and love; this makes us lament the share our sins have had in nailing him to the cross; this teaches us to offer our whole hearts to him, in order to make him the best amends we are capable of by loving him henceforward, both in time and eternity. Thus the devotion to the passion of Christ introduces that penitential love to which our Lord attributes the remission of sins, when he says of Magdalene, Luke vii. 47, 'Many sins are forgiven her, because she hath loved much.'

Conclude to station thyself at the foot of the cross, and by the daily contemplation of the sufferings of thy Redeemer, so to exercise thy soul in faith, hope, love, and repentance, as to secure to thyself mercy, grace, and salvation.



26th Mar


Tuesday, third week in Lent
On the lessons Christ teaches in His Passion

Consider first,
that the devotion to the passion of our Lord brings with it other great advantages to the soul, inasmuch as it teaches us many excellent lessons for the regulating our lives according to his blessed example. The Son of God came down from heaven, not only to shed his blood for us to pay our ransom, but also to give himself to us as a perfect pattern of all virtues for us to follow in the practice of our lives; that so the image of God in man, which had been disfigured by sin, might be repaired and reformed according to this great original. Now, although the whole life of Christ was full of admirable examples of all Christian virtues, yet they nowhere shine forth more brightly than in his passion, in which he has drawn, as it were, under one view, all the great lessons of virtue he had taught in his life, both by his words and his works. So that the passion of Christ is the great school that the Christian must frequent by devout meditations, if he desire to learn the virtues of his Redeemer. He must look on by contemplation, and execute in work what he sees in this devout pattern, which his Lord here shows him, on Mount Calvary, if he desire to make his soul a living tabernacle for the living God. And it was said to Moses when he was to make the tabernacle of the covenant:- 'See that thou make all things according to the pattern which was shown thee on the Mount,' Heb. viii. 5.

Consider 2ndly, what the lessons are that Christ more particularly desires to teach us in his passion. The Apostle informs us, Phil. ii. 5, 8, that they are principally his obedience and his humility. 'He humbled himself, become obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross;' and this, that we might learn to be of the like mind. O let us study well these great lessons. Adam fell from God by disobedience; to gratify himself, he transgressed the holy law of God; and so entailed both sin and death upon all his offspring. By the obedience of the second Adam, Jesus Christ, we are delivered from sin and death, but upon articles of learning and practising his obedience, and that also unto death; by a constant and perpetual will of sticking close to the commandments of God at all events, and of rather dying than transgressing his holy law. This is the obedience that Christ expects we should learn from his cross, so as to be ever willing to part even with our dearest affections, rather than offend our God; and to submit to any sufferings whatsoever rather than to disobey. This is true Christian obedience, and nothing less will bring us to God. My soul, thou must learn this lesson at the foot of the cross.

Consider 3rdly, what a lesson of humility Christ has given us in the whole course of his passion; becoming therein, 'as a worm and no man; the reproach of men and the outcast of the people,' Ps. xxi. 7. See how he humbled himself, under the malediction of our sins, in his prayer in the garden. How he humbled himself, in suffering with silence, all manner of calumnies, affronts, and disgraces. How he humbled himself under those ignominious and infamous torments of scourging at the pillar, crowning with thorns, and his carriage of the cross. In fine, how he humbled himself, in his being crucified between two thieves, and in dying that most disgraceful death of the cross. But who is this, my soul, that thus humbles himself, and makes himself thus mean and contemptible for thee? Why it is the Lord of Glory; it is the Most High; it is the great King of heaven and earth. And why does he thus debase himself? It is to teach thee his humility; a lesson so necessary, that without learning it thou canst never please God, nor have any part with him.

Conclude to study well these necessary lessons, by a daily attendance upon our Lord in his passion. He came down from heaven to be our teacher; and his cross is the pulpit from which he most feelingly and effectually preaches to our souls.



27th Mar


Wednesday, third week in Lent
On other lessons to be learned from Christ in His Passion

Consider first, that in the passion of Christ his meekness is no less admirable than his humility. These two he jointly recommended in life to be learned of him, Matt. xi. 29. And these two he jointly taught in death by his great example. 'He was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer he opened not his mouth.' Isai liii. 7. 'The Lord God hath opened my ear,' saith he, Isai l. 5, 6, 'and I do not resist - I have given my body to the strikers, and my cheeks to them that plucked them; I have turned not away my face from them that rebuke me, and spit upon me.' And why all this? But 'to leave us an example that we should follow his steps,' 1 Pet. ii. 21, 23. 'Who when he was reviled did not revile; when he suffered he threatened not; but delivered himself to them that judged him unjustly.' O let us learn from the consideration of the behaviour of our Lord in his sufferings to suppress all the risings of our passion and pride, and to imitate his meekness and silence; who in the midst of affronts and injuries of all kinds, 'became as a man that heareth not, and as a dumb man not opening his mouth.'

Consider 2ndly, that the devotion to the passion of Christ is the great means to teach a Christian patience under all the crosses and sufferings we are exposed to during our mortal pilgrimage. We cannot live without crosses and sufferings; and 'in our patience' under them, 'we are to possess our souls.' Luke xxi. 19. Patience both sweetens and sanctifies all our sufferings; 'patience is necessary for us, that doing the will of God, we may receive the promise.' Heb. x. 36. 'Patience hath a perfect work; that we may be perfect and entire, failing in nothing.' James i. 4. As none hath ever gone to heaven but by the way of the cross, so none can ever come thither without patience. Now, this all-necessary virtue of patience is best learned in the school of the passion of Christ by the consideration of the multitude and variety of his sufferings; and the manner in which he endures all for the love of us. How shall a sinner (who has deserved hell for his crimes) pretend to complain, or think much of any sufferings in life or death, when by a serious meditation he sets before his eyes the far greater sufferings of the innocent Lamb of God, endured with an unwearied patience, for his sins?

Consider 3rdly, what further lessons are to be learned from the contemplation of the passion of Christ. 1. Of charity for our enemies; by considering the Son of God, praying for them that crucified him, and dying for his enemies. 2. Of perfect resignation, and conformity in all things to the holy will of God; by the great example of the prayer of our Lord in his agony, 'not my will but thine be done;' and the consideration of the great sacrifice that he made of himself to his Father upon the cross, without the least reserve. 3. Of the spirit of voluntary mortification and self-denial; by seeing how the Son of God allows himself no ease or comfort in his sufferings; but both in life and death makes choice of what is most disagreeable to natural inclination. O my soul, these are necessary lessons indeed. See thou study them well at the foot of the cross, sitting under the shadow of thy beloved. O dear Jesus, do thou, by thy eternal grace, teach me effectually these virtues, by that mercy and love that nailed thee to the cross.

Conclude by loving and blessing thy God for having sent thee so excellent a master from heaven to teach thee the way thither by his sufferings and death. Let these be always before thy eyes, and thou shalt never miss thy way.



28th Mar
'Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends.'

Thursday, third week in Lent

On the love that Christ has shown us in His Passion

Consider first, those words of our Saviour, St. John xxii. 13, 'Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends.' And indeed history scarce furnishes any instances of a friendship so perfect, as that one friend should be willing to lay down his life for another. But, O divine Saviour of our souls, how imperfect is all human friendship compared with thine. What love between man and man could ever bear the least resemblance to that divine charity which burned in thy sacred breast, and which obliged thee to offer up thyself in sacrifice, in the midst of all kinds of ignominies, and the very worst of torments, for thy very enemies; for those very wretches that crucified thee, for us miserable sinners, who were like to make no better return for all thy love, and for all thy sufferings, than sin and ingratitude; and this to such a degree as scarce ever to think of thy sufferings, or thank thee for them; but rather by repeated treasons, to be daily treading under foot thy precious blood. O blessed by all creatures for evermore be this infinite goodness and love of our dearest Redeemer! O my dear Saviour, I beseech thee, by all this love and by all this precious blood which thou hast so lovingly shed for me, that thou wouldst never more suffer me to be thus ungrateful to thee.

Consider 2ndly, what the world would think of a prince, the only son and heir of some great monarch, who should entertain such love and friendship for one of the meanest of his slaves, as to offer himself to die a cruel and ignominious death, to rescue his slave from the just punishment of his crimes. Would not all mankind stand amazed at such an extraordinary love? And much more, if the crime for which this slave was condemned to die, were no less than a treasonable conspiracy against this prince, by whom he was so tenderly beloved. All Christian souls, this is but a faint resemblance, a very imperfect image of that inconceivable and inexpressible love, which our Saviour has shown to us, in laying down his life upon a cross, to rescue us his ungrateful creatures - rebels and traitors to him and his Father - from the eternal torments of hell, which we have a thousand times deserved by our treasons against him. For as there is an infinite distance between the sovereign majesty of God and any of his creatures, how dignified soever; so there is between that love which our God has shown in dying for us worms of the earth and slaves of hell, and that love which would oblige one mortal to die for another. O dear Jesus, never suffer me to forget this love which thou hast shown me! O give me grace to return thee love for love.

Consider 3rdly, how truly sweet our Lord has shown himself to us in his passion, and how rich in mercy. For supposing it was his pleasure to deliver us from sin and hell, he could have brought this about with the same ease with which he created all things out of nothing; only one word, one act of his would have been sufficient; or if he must needs suffer and shed his blood for our redemption, one drop alone of his sacred blood, by reason of the infinite dignity of his divine person, would have been abundantly enough to atone for all the sins of ten thousand worlds. But this infinite love for us, and the desire he had to gain our hearts, and to oblige us to love him, would not be content with this, nor with any thing less than with pouring out the last drop of his most sacred blood by suffering for us the worst of torments, and the worst of deaths. O infinite goodness, how little art thou considered h us here! O how astonishing shalt thou appear to the Saints and Angels for all eternity!

Conclude with astonishment at the ingratitude and insensibility of Christians, who make professions of believing this infinite goodness, mercy, and love, and yet are so little touched with it, or restrained by the consideration of it, from going on, daily crucifying their Lord by their sins. O divine love, let me never be so unhappy! O let me never forget thee! O come and take full possession at least of my soul and let nothing in life or death ever separate me from thee.



29th Mar

Friday, third week in Lent
On other considerations to excite in the soul the
love of our suffering Jesus

Consider first, how affectionate is the love that Christ bears us in his passion. It is stronger than deaths; he loves us more than his own life, since he parts with his life for the love of us. It is more tender than the love of the tenderest mother, since he voluntarily embraces the pangs of death to give us life; he sheds his blood to cleanse our souls from sin; he offers his own body in sacrifice to be our victim, our ransom, and our food. At the very time he is suffering amid dying for us, he has every one of us in his heart; he embraces each with an incomparable affection; weeps over each one, prays for each one, and pours out his blood for each one, no less than if he had suffered for that one alone. O my soul, had we then a place in the heart of our Jesus, when he was hanging upon the cross? and shall we ever refuse him a place in our heart? No, dear Saviour, my heart is thine; it desires nothing better than to be for ever a servant of thy love.

Consider 2ndly, how effectual is the love that Christ shows us in his passion; it contents not itself with words or professions of affection, nor with such passing sentiments of tenderness as we imagine we have for him in certain fits of devotion, at times when nothing occurs for us to suffer for his sake; but it shows itself by its effects, by his taking upon himself all our evils, to procure effectually all good for us. His love has made him divest himself of all his beauty and comeliness, and hide all his glory and majesty, that he might become for us, 'despised and the most abject of men, a man of sorrow and acquainted with infirmity.' Isaia iii. 'He hath borne our infirmities and carried our sorrows' out of pure love. He has made himself for the love of us, 'as it were a leper, and as one struck by God and afflicted. He was wounded for our iniquities, and bruised for our sins. For we like sheep have gone astray, and the Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was offered because it was his own will.' And it was his own will, because he loved us, and desired to transfer to himself the punishment due to us, that he might deliver us from the wrath to come, and open to us the fountains of mercy, grace, and life. This was an effectual love indeed. Does our love for him show itself by the like effects? Are we willing to renounce our own will, to mortify our inclinations and passions, to suffer and to bear our crosses for him? A generous lover is as willing to be with him on mount Calvary, as on mount Thabor. Is this our disposition?

Consider 3rdly, how disinterested is the love that Christ shows us in his passion. He loves us without any merit on our side; we deserved nothing from him but hell. He loves us without any prospect of gain to himself from us, or any return that we can make to him; we can give him nothing but what he must first give us; we can offer him no good thing but what his love has purchased for us; we can have nothing but what is his. He stands in no need at all of us, or our goods. O how truly generous is this love of our Redeemer in his passion! How bountiful is he to us! He makes over to us the infinite treasures of his merits; he wants them not for himself, but bequeaths them all to us. His love for us knows no bounds. It hath possessed his heart from the first instant of his conception: it burned there for every moment of his life; it carried him through all his sufferings, even to death. It is without beginning or end; it endures from eternity to eternity. O bright fire, mayest thou take possession of my soul, for time and eternity!

Conclude, since thou canst make no better return, to offer at least daily thy heart with all its affections to thy loving Saviour. But that it may be worthy of his acceptance, beg that he would cleanse it by his precious blood, and inflame it with his love.

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30th Mar


Saturday, third week in lent
On the sufferings of Our Saviour, before His Passion

Consider first, how truly did the devout author of the 'Following of Christ,' say:- 'The whole life of Christ was a Cross and a Martyrdom. He came into this world to be a victim for our sins; and from the first instant of his conception in his mother’s womb, he offered himself for all the sufferings he was to undergo in life and death.' Hear how he then addresses himself to his Father, Ps. xxxiv. 7, 'sacrifice and oblation thou didst not desire, but thou hast pierced ears for me. Burnt-offering and sin-offering thou didst not require: then said I, behold I come. In the head of the book it is written of me, that I should do thy will. O my God, I have desired it, and thy name is in the midst of my heart.' And what was this will and this law, which from his first conception he embraced in the midst of his heart; but that instead of all other sacrifices he should become himself both our priest and victim, and through his sufferings should mediate our peace, and reconcile us to his Father? Thus he accepted beforehand all that he was afterwards to endure; and by the clear and distinct foresight, which he had all along of his whole passion, suffered in some measure all his lifetime, what afterwards he endured at his death. O how early did my Jesus embrace his cross for the love of me! O how early did I prefer my pleasures before his love!

Consider 2ndly, divers other sufferings which our Lord went through in the course of his mortal life. His nine months confinement in his mother’s womb, most sensible to him, who from his first conception had the perfect use of reason, and who by a violence which he offered to his zeal and love, was kept so long from action. The hardships he endured at his birth, from the rigour of the season and the poverty of his accommodations; his circumcision; his flight into Egypt; the sense that he had of the murder of the Innocents; the austerity of his life; his frequent hunger, thirst, and want of necessaries; his labours and fatigues. But all this was nothing to what his boundless charity and his zeal for the honour of his Father and the salvation of souls, made him continually suffer, from the sight and knowledge of the sins of men. He had all the sins of the world always before his eyes, for the whole time of his life, with all their enormity and opposition to the infinite majesty and sanctity of God, and his divine honour and glory, and the dreadful havoc they did, and would make in the souls of men, with all the dismal consequences of them both in time and eternity; and this sight which was always present to him, was infinitely more grievous to his soul than the very pangs of death. For if St. Paul had such a sense of the evil of sin, as to be quite on fire when he saw any one fall into sin, 2 Cor. xi. 29, how much more did this fire devour our Saviour?

Consider 3rdly, how much our Lord suffered from being obliged to live and converse amongst men, whose manners were so widely different from and so infinitely opposite to his; how sensibly he was touched with the crying disorders of the people of the Jews, amongst whom he lived; with their malice, their violences, their injustices, their deceits, their blasphemies, and the licentiousness of their lives; the pride, ambition, covetousness, and hypocrisy of their priests, scribes, and Pharisees; their oppressions of the poor; their contempt of virtue and of truth; and their general forgetfulness of God and their salvation. Add to this, how sensibly he must have been afflicted with the hardness of their hearts, with which they resisted his graces; their obstinacy in their evil ways; their ingratitude; the opposition they made to his heavenly Gospel; their blasphemous judgments of his person and miracles; their slanders and murmurings against him; and their continually laying snares for him, and persecuting him even unto death. O, who can sufficiently apprehend how much our Saviour’s soul was affected by all these evils; with this reception and treatment he met with from his chosen people, and with those dreadful judgments they were thereby drawing down upon their own heads, instead of that mercy, which he came to purchase for them by his blood! Death itself was not so sensible to him.

Conclude, if thou would’st be a true disciple of Jesus Christ, to conform thyself to a life of crosses and sufferings: thus shalt thou wear his livery, and shalt be entitled to a share in his heavenly kingdom.



31st Mar

Fourth Sunday in Lent
On Our Saviour's Prayer in the Garden

Consider first,
that our Saviour's passion began the night before his death; when, after having eaten the paschal lamb with his disciples, humbly washed their feet, instituted the great Passover of the new covenant, and given them, in an admirable sacrament of love, his own most precious body and blood, he went out with them unto Mount Olivet - the place to which he was accustomed to resort after the preaching and labours of the day, to spend the evening, if not the whole night, in prayer. Hither he went on this his last night, to prepare himself for his passion by prayer; not for any need he had of it for himself, but to give us an example, and for our instruction. O learn, my soul, by this great example, how thou art to arm thyself against all trials and temptations! Learn from whence all thy strength is to come, in the time of battle. Give ear to what our Lord said to his disciples upon this occasion, Matt. xxvi. 41, 'Watch ye and pray, that ye enter not into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.' O take heed, lest if thou sleep as Peter did, when thou shouldst pray, thou deny thy Lord when thou comest to the trial.

Consider 2ndly
, how our Saviour began to disclose to his disciples the mortal anguish, fear, and sadness which he then suffered in his soul. 'My soul' (saith he) 'is sorrowful, even unto death;' that is to say with a sadness which is capable of even now taking away my life, if I did not, by miracle, support myself for enduring the other torments of my passion. Sweet Jesus, what can be the meaning of this? Didst thou not from the first instant of life accept of and embrace, in the midst of thy heart, all that thou art now going to suffer - forasmuch as it would be for the glory of thy Father, and the redemption of man? Hast thou not even a longing desire of accomplishing this great sacrifice of our redemption? And how comes it that thou art now thus oppressed with sadness and anguish? Where is that courage and fortitude which thou hast imparted to thy martyrs, which has made even tender maids despise the worst of torments, when they endured them for the love of thee? And shalt thou, who art the strengths of the martyrs, shrink at the fear of death? But O! very well understand that it is at thy own choice thou hast condescended to all this sadness, fear, and anguish; to the end that thou mightest suffer the more for me, and engage me to love thee the more; it is that thou mightest teach me how to behave under all my interior anguishes and afflictions, and how to endure them for the love of thee.

Consider 3rdly, the prayer our Saviour made on this occasion, that if it were agreeable to the will of his Father, the bitter cup might pass away from him. But O with what fervour did he pray? 'With a strong cry and tears.' - Heb. v. 7. With what reverence and humility? - lying prostrate upon the ground, Matt. xxvi. 39. With what earnestness and perseverance? - continuing a long time in prayer, and repeating again and again the same supplication. Learn, my soul, to imitate him under all thy distresses and betake thyself to prayer; but see thou pray, as the Lord did, with fervour, humility, and perseverance; see thou pray with the like resignation! 'Not my will but thine be done.' Remember that in thy prayers thou art not to seek thy own pleasure or comfort, but the holy will of God: O make this holy will thy pleasure and comfort, and thy prayer will be always acceptable. 'Stay thou here and watch with me,' saith our Lord to His disciples; but at every time that he came to them, he found them still asleep; and no help or comfort had he from their company, in this his desolate condition. O my soul, do thou at least pity thy Saviour under all this anguish and desolation; do thou stay and watch with him, by a frequent meditation on his sufferings.

Conclude never to forget what thy Saviour suffered for thee in his soul, during his prayer in the garden. No sufferings can be greater than such as immediately affect the soul. St. Teresa did not let a night pass, from her very childhood, without reflecting, before she fell asleep, on our Saviour’s sufferings in that part of his passion; and, by this means, she gradually arrived at the perfection of mental prayer, and of all holiness. Do thou likewise.



1st April

Monday, fourth week in Lent

On the treason of Judas

Consider first, what pangs, what anguish, what floods of sorrow overwhelmed the soul of our dear Redeemer during his prayer in this his last night. Alas! no tongue can sufficiently express, nor heart conceive them! However, that thou mayest make some sort of judgment of them from their effects, consider how they cast him into a mortal agony; how they forced from his body a wonderful sweat of blood, which not only imbrued all his garments, but also trickled down from his body upon the ground, on which he lay prostrate in prayer. O how inconceivable a torture must he have endured in his interior, when the pangs of his soul had such a strong operation exteriorly, and produced such strange effects in the body! But why all this agony, dear Lord? Why these pangs? Why this prodigious sweat of blood? Was not the death of the cross sufficient for our redemption? Why then these anticipated sorrows? Thy love alone can account for them. O blessed be thy infinite charity!

Consider 2ndly, how bitter were the ingredients of this chalice which our Saviour so much dreaded to drink. Ah! my soul, they were bitter indeed. He had at this time before his eyes a most lively apprehension, a most clear and express representation of all and every particular injury and indignity, stripe and torment, that he was afterward successively to endure in the whole course of his passion, now all at once assaulting his soul, and making him feel beforehand all the sorrows which afterwards only came one by one. But what was more terrible to our Saviour was the clear sight and lively sense he had then of all the sins and abominations of the whole world, from the first to the last, with all their filthiness and horror, all now laid upon him as if they were his own; and himself, like the 'emissary goat,' Levit. xvi. 21, charged with all the maledictions due to them, and with the wrath of his Father justly enkindled by them. Sweet Jesus, any one of these monsters is more odious to thee than hell. And how then must thou be affected, when thou not only hast before thy eyes this infinite number of millions of millions of these odious monsters, mortal enemies of thy Father, mustered up all against thee, but also feelest their enormous weight laid upon thy shoulders? O what a share had my sins in this tragical scene; how did they depress the soul of my Redeemer! How did they force from him this shower of blood, as if all the pores of his body were turned into eyes to weep for my sins. O let thy agony and bloody sweat teach me effectually how heinous my sins are in thy eyes, and in what manner I ought to bewail them.

Consider 3rdly, another bitter ingredient of that cup of thy Redeemer, which was the foresight he then had of the little sense the greatest part even of Christians would have of all his sufferings, of their ingratitude for his infinite charity, of their abuse of all those graces he was going to purchase for them with the last drop of his blood, of their perverseness in taking occasion from his very passion to sin more freely, and to draw down the more dreadful judgments upon their own heads; and in fine, of the eternal loss of innumerable souls, who, notwithstanding all his sufferings, through their obstinacy in sin, and final impenitence, would incur the second and everlasting death. Consider that every one of those poor souls was more dear to Christ than his own life, since he parted with his life to save them. What a cruel anguish then must it have been to his tender and charitable heart to see so many of them blindly and wilfully running into the bottomless pit of endless and irremediable evils, and plunging themselves for ever into the flames of hell! No wonder after this that so many lamentable objects presenting themselves at once before the eyes of his soul, and joined with all those mentioned in the foregoing consideration, should cast him into a mortal agony and bloody sweat.

Conclude to admire and adore the wondrous ways of God in bringing about the redemption of man. Embrace with all the affections of thy heart the infinite charity of thy Redeemer, which shines forth so bright in this mystery. And see thou be no longer one of that unhappy number who repay all his mercy and love with sin and ingratitude.