Spiritual Exercises For Every Day In The Week, For Those Who Communicate Often: Monday + Consider Jesus Christ As Thy Father
Communion of the Apostles
Consider Jesus Christ as thy Father, and propose at walking to return to hm, though thou hast so basely deserted him, say with the prodigal son and in the like penitential disposition: I will arise and go to my Father.
Oh! to what a wretched condition do I find myself reduced? I am poor, naked, famished and destitute of help. Why should I tarry longer in so miserable a condition, whilst even the hired servants in my father's house live in plenty? I will go then to my father, I will cast myself at his feet and will implore him to treat me like one of them.
Awake, O fatherly heart! and listen to what thy tender compassion shall speak to thee in favour of this thy unhappy child, who hath so basely abandoned thee: let the sight of his misery move thee to compassion, and to receive him again into thy house.
Be of good courage, O my soul! for how base soever thou hast been, such is thy Father's goodness and mercy that thou hast reason to hope that this day will put an end to all thy miseries; and that forgetting thy past disorders, he will restore thee to favour, and fill thee with the good things with which his house if known to bound.
O the most tender and the most loving of all fathers! thou art then willing to receive this prodigal child who hath so highly displeased thee; to change his afflictions into joy, his poverty into wealth, his misery into happiness, who can sufficiently admire such an excess of bounty?
O how I desire to return to my heavenly Father! All my thoughts, affections, desires and actions shall serve this day as so many steps towards my return to him by means of the zeal and love wherewith I purpose to discharge them.
Not satisfied with receiving me, O merciful Father! thou dst also slay the fatted calf for feasting me. A signal mark this of thy goodness! But clothe me first, I beseech thee, as the prodigal child, with the robe of charity, give me the ring of faith and the shoes of hope, that I may partake worthily of this heavenly food, no other than thy precious body here exhibited in the state of mystical death.
But since thou art, O my soul to partake of this delicious aliment, cast from thee the husks of swine, renounce all sensual pleasures, and maintain the glorious dignity of a child of God by a life led in conformity to thy high rank.
This divine aliment is the bread of children; to be qualified for a participation of it, it is necessary to be a child of the heavenly Father and to lead a pure and holy life. This holy bread is not designed for dogs, nir for slaves, that is, for unclean souls, such as live under the law of sin. Clothe thyself therefore with the spirit and the virtues of the children of God, before thou dost presume t partake of it.
Behold, loving Father! behold here that prodigal child who hath treated thee so unworthily, who left thee against thy will, who squandered away they substance in rioting and debauchery, dishonoured thy holy name by a course of life unworthy of his birth, and who hath given thee so much vexation and uneasiness. He returns to thee covered with confusion and loaded with mifery. He ingenuously confesses that he deserves no more to be called thy child, since he has not obeyed thee as his Father, and since by his fins he has defaced the features whereby he resembled thee. He cast himself notwithstanding at thy feet, in hopes that thy paternal bowels will yearn upon him at the fight of his misery, and that thou wilt at least receive him amongst thy hired servants. His forrowfor having displeased thee. O loving Father, is exceeding great; the affliction his conduct has given thee, grieves him beyond measure; and he has a much quicker sense of the trouble he has given thee, than of the misfortune he has brought upon himself by his follies and disorders.
Reflect, O my foul! on thy infinite obligations to this Father. Confider well his goodness towards thee in given thee a being and preserving it when given ; bearing with thee, when thou did ft depart from thy duty, and receiving thee when thou didst return to him. He is on a threefold consideration thy Father, having given thee life three different ways. Firft, by bestowing on thee natural life on thy coming into the world: Secondly, by giving thee the life of grace in the sacrament of baptism: Thirdly, by having restored thee to this same life of grace in the sacrament of penance, after thou hadst forfeited it by thy sins. And indeed, he is thy Father in infinite number of times over, having given thee an infinite number of times, nay every moment, both the life of nature and grace which flow continually from him as the rivulet from its source. By the life of nature which he has given thee, he hath raised thee above all sensitive creatures, and rendered thee like unto the angels; and by the life of grace he has made thee his child, and heir of his kingdom and of all his possessions. Behold the excess of his love and goodness towards thee, by railing thee to so exalted a dignity!
But what deferveth thy particular notice is, that this loving Father did not give thee this life of grace but by suffering death himself, even the death of the cross. Thou art the child of his forrows, whereas the angels are the children of his joys: because he begot thee amid ft the griefs of his passion, whereas he gave being to the angels amidft the joys of his felicity. He still fullers continually a kind of death on our altars, to preserve unto thee that life which he gave thee on the cross. Could his love extend farther? Ponder well with thyself, how great thy glory and happiness is to have for Father, the creator of the universe, the sovereign Lord of all things, the God of majefty whofe glory, power and riches have no bounds : and what an excess of goodness it was in him to have made thee his child by adoption, and to have suffered so many torments to merit for thee that quality!
Reflect at the fame time on the ungrateful returns thou haft made.for fuch extraordinary favours; thy whole life having been nothing better than a complication of disobedience and rebellion, rebellion, of wrongs and injuries which thou hast been guilty of against him: for indeed thou hast scarce used the least endeavour to please him, or to give him any tokens of thy respect on the slighted occasions.
Is it possible for thee not to admire the greatness of his love Which makes him this day overlook all this base usage, to come to feed thee not with fueh food as other parents support their children with, but his own flesh and blood? It was his love that made thee come forth out of the bosom of his power, when he; gave thee a being, and it is the time love which induces him this day to come into thy heart to be united with thee. He does not throw himself about thy neck in embraces to- express his tender regard for thee, as the father did to his prodigal son; he goes farther, penetrating even to die bottom of thy heart to unite himself therewith, and there to repose himself amidst the delights of thy heart. Must not such an excess of goodness make thee ashamed of thy past conduct, and by exciting thee to a detestation of it, engage thee to, answer tire ardours of his love by a due return of the same on thy fide ?
I detest therefore with the greatest abhorrence, O merciful Father! all my past disorders, I beg a thousand pardons for them with a heart pierced with sorrow, and a face covered with confusion, and I am determined rather to die a thousand times than evermore to give thee the least displeasure. I will for the time to come entertain that respect, love, submission, and gratitude towards thee as shall be a means of as much satisfaction to thee, as my past ingratitude and rebellion have been a subject of affliction.
Thou hadst loft this child whom thou did ft love fo tenderly, O Father of mercy, but I hope that thou wilt this day regain him. Come then to him to take him with tbee, come and honour him with thy divine presence: come and repose thyself in his bosom, and make him repose himself in thine. He presents himself before thee quite transported with love, gratitude and tender affection that thou mayest possess him forever. He feels for thee ardours and transports which he cannot find words to express ; but being sensible that these dispositions are not yet sufficiently perfect; to qualify him to appear before tbee in a manner suitable to the excess of thy loving kindness, he offers thee to supply for this deficiency., all the love, obedience, respect and other eminent virtues of the saints and angels in heaven, and of all thy true children. Do not delay then, O loving Father! to visit this thy child, that thou mayest put an end to his misery, to reform in him thy image, to make him resemble thee and remain forever united with thee. Ah! I am thine, and I beg thy grace that I may be so forever. Come therefore unto me, take possession, I beseech thee, of this thy child; his heart melts with love and tenderness when he sees thee coming; to be united to thee, and to live with thee, is the fum of all his desires.
I POSSESS thee then, O amiable Father! in the midst of my heart, in the centre of my being. What an excess of goodness, in having so easily forgotten my past ingratitude and disobedience! What a prodigy of love and forbearance, in taking no other revenge on me for the horrid outrages I have been guilty of against thee, than by granting me the most signal of all favours, that of giving me thyself for food and nourishment ! It is now that I am much more sensible than ever of my guilt in offending fo kind a Father. I ask again thy pardon for it with a heart pierced with grief, and eyes melting into tears.
But what shall be my return of thanks, O my heavenly Father ! for the favour thou haft just now granted me. May my heart and ali that is within me (Ps. 102. 1.) bless thee; may all my bones (Ps. 34. 10.) proclaim thy praises; may all thy creatures of heaven and earth thank thee with, and for me. Since it is my happiness to possess thee within me, O heavenly Father! it is thy will that I Should acquit myself of my obligations to thee. I therefore cast myself at thy feet, to testify my profound respect for thee, and to pay thee the honour that I owe thee. I adore thee with the deepest Sentiments of veneration and submission, and I offer myself unto thee to execute hence forward, with an unreserved and constant obedience. dience, whatever thou shalt require of me I acknowledge no other Father but thee. If , there be a man upon earth whom I call by this name, I consider him in no other light than as the instrument thou hast made use of to give me being. But how great is the difference; between Thee and this father? He begat me without knowing me; but thou didst know me before thou wast pleased to create me, and thou didst not create me but because thou hadst known and loved me before I had a being. This father begat me but once, amd perhaps afterwards left me forlorn; whereas thou producest me incessantly by an uninterrupted conservation, and hast never abandoned me. This I father, in fine, gave me only a human being, but thou, by the means of grace, haft given me a divine (2 Pet. 1. 4.) being, It is thou alone therefore that art truly my Father; and thee alone do I own as properly fuch and whom I will henceforward obey.
His follies and disorders had robbed thee of this thy child, O bountiful Father ! and thy love gave thee an extreme regret for his loss; but behold him now returned to thee, quite ashamed of his ill conduct, and fully resolved to repair it by the most sincere respect for thee, and the strictest obedience to all thy commands. Possess him, keep him always with thee, and hinder his going from thee anymore, or his falling into the hands of thy enemies.
Alas! what did this foolish creature promise or warrant to himself by quitting thee? What has he found, out of thy houfe, but affliction, trouble and poverty? O how true it is, O amiable Father ! that there is no happiness, no satisfaction but with thee, Nothing but immediate misery muft be his lot who deserts thee; the moment a man leaves thee he is lost.
Behold, O tender Father! the wretched and forlorn condition to which thy enemies have reduced thy son! how they have disfigured him and effaced every feature of resemblance he bore to thee! how they have tarnish his beauty, enfeebled his strength, covered him with wounds, loaded him with ignominy, and stript him of all his valuable possessions and ornaments! May thy paternal heart be touched with compassion at the sight of his misery. Reinstate him, I pray, in his former condition, retouch his features, restore to him his primitive beauty j heal his wounds, repair his decayed strength, wipe away those marks of ignominy which dishonour him, and clothe him suitably to his birth and condition.
This child, O Father of mercy ! is now tn thy hands, Instruct him, I beseech thee, correct him, conduct him, provide for him and defend him j keep an eye always upon him to prevent his departing from his duty, and to preserve him from whatever may be hurtful to him: give him a true filial disposition towards thee, and make him worthy of fo great and fo holy a Father, by animating him with thy spirit. And do thou, O my foul ! give all due and proper attention to thy Father’s advice and instructions, and make them henceforward the rule of thy conduct.
Thou dost very justly insist, O Father! upon this child’s giving thee his heart, and placing his entire confidence in thee: he does so; for indeed, how should he refuse to comply? Yes, he gives thee all his love, all his esteem,all his respect; he places in thee his whole confidence; he reigns himself entirely into thy hands, he humbly submits to all thy dispensations, and will for the future take everything as from thy paternal hand: Yes, heavenly Father, as often as anything prosperous befalls me, I will fay. This is an effect of my Father’s favour; and as often as any disaster happens to me, I will fay. This is his chastisement. When disturbed with temptations, I will call them trials of my fidelity. In short, I will consider every thing that fhall happen to me as coming from my Father, and as testimonies of his love for me; and in all my actions I will leek nothing but his glory, and the fulfilling of his adorable will.
I will endeavour above all things to copy after thy infinite holiness and thy other divine excellencies; I will strive to be holy and perfect (Matt. 5. 48.) as my heavenly Father is perfect, and to be a subject of glory to thee by a life led in conformity to thine, particularly by the practice of such and such a virtue, and by the amendment of such and such a fault. But it is from the almighty power of thy grace, and not from my own strength which is no better than weakness, that I hope, O divine Father! for all this; grant me then 1 beseech thee, all the succours I stand in need of for accomplishing these good purposes.
I recommend unto thee alfo, O holy Father! thy other children which are dispersed throughout the world. Preserve the good in a punctual discharge of their duties, and make them grow in grace arid advance daily in virtue and sanctity. Bring back from their errors and wanderings those that have deserted thee, give them grace to join the former in paying thee all due honour and obedience. As to myself, I promise thee that I will henceforward endeavour to acquit myself of all my duties in the best manner I am able, and will from this moment lay nothing fo much to heart as the accomplishment of thy adorable will, this shall be my main business and employment; in every action I perform I will say: My food, and my sweetest delight is to do the will of tny Father.
MAY immortal thanks be given to my divine Father for his goodness towards his fugitive and rebellious child, by receiving him this day into favour, by treating him with such magnificence and feasting him on the mod delicious dainties he could set before the angels and blessed spirits in heaven.
My heart breathes for thee alone, O amiable Father! it feels no pleasure but in thinking on thee, in cleaving to thee, in labouring for thy glory: all its desires and inclinations are to please thee. I renounce from this day, O worldlings! all conformity with your corrupt and unwarrantable ways; I loathe the enjoyment of the pleasures you present me with, I no longer live but for the fake and fervice of my Father, I have no other pleasure but. in pleasing him.
O the sweet name of heavenly Father! my heart tastes a sweetness not to be expressed when my tongue pronounces it; it finds nothing so agreeable upon earth as to repeat it frequently, saying, Abba, Pater! Father ! Father! O holy Father! forget not the child of thy adoption; defend him against his enemies who are ever seeking after his destruction and provide for all his wants..
Leave me not alone, O loving Father! but abide always with me as thou hast promised, lest I should lose myself again.
Keep thine eyes constantly fixed upon me to watch over my ways, and lead me by the hand like a little child, lest I fall or lose myself.
Forget not, my soul, thy Father’s greatness live in a manner worthy of thy birth; thou hast God for Father, lead then a life altogether divine, do the works of thy heavenly Father.
Is it possible, O my foul, that after so many protestations of love, reverence and obedience to thy divine Father, thou shouldst ever again break through them, and be guilty of injuring him afresh? Ah! let it never be said that thy ingratitude and perfidioufnefs have rifen to fuch a pitch. Observe therefore with an unshaken fidelity whatever thou had promised him.