Morning Meditation for Rogation Wednesday ~ St Alphonsus Liguori

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

Morning Meditation

THE LIFE OF POVERTY JESUS LED UPON EARTH

The world teaches its followers that happiness consists in the possession of riches, pleasures, and honours; but this deceitful world was condemned by the Son of God when He became Man. Now is the judgment of the world-(John xii. 31). This condemnation began in the Stable of Bethlehem. Jesus Christ wished to be born there in poverty, that through His poverty we might become rich, and from His Divine example pluck out of our hearts all affections for earthly possessions.

I.

It was ordained by God that at the time when His Son was born on this earth the decree of the Emperor should be promulgated obliging everyone to go and enroll himself in the place of his birth. And thus it happened that Joseph had to go with his spouse to Bethlehem to enroll himself according to the decree of Cresar. And now, the time of her delivery having arrived, Mary having been driven from the other houses, and even from the common asylum of the poor, was obliged to remain that night in a cave, and there brought forth the King of Heaven. It is true that, if Jesus had been born at Nazareth, He would equally have been born in a state of poverty; but then He would at least have had a dry room, a little fire, warm clothes, and a more comfortable cradle. But no, He chose to be born in this cold cavern without a fire to warm Him; He chose to have a manger for a cradle, and a little prickly straw for a bed, in order that He might suffer more.

Let us, then, enter into the cave of Bethlehem; but let us enter there with Faith. If we go there without Faith we shall see nothing but a poor infant who moves us to compassion at beholding one so beautiful, shivering and crying with cold and with the pricking of the straw on which he lies. But if we enter it with Faith, and consider that this Child is the Son of God, Who for the love of us has come down to this earth and suffered so much to pay the penalty of our sins, how can it be possible not to thank Him and love Him?

O my sweet Infant, how is it possible that, knowing how much Thou hast suffered for me, I can have been so ungrateful to Thee, and have offended Thee so often! But these tears which Thou sheddest, this poverty Thou hast chosen for the love of me, make me hope for the pardon of all the offences I have committed against Thee. I repent, my Jesus, of having so often turned my back upon Thee; and I love Thee above all things, my God and my All! My God, from this day forth Thou shalt be my only Treasure and my only Good. I will say to Thee, with St. Ignatius of Loyola, “Give me Thy love, give me Thy grace, and I am rich enough.” I wish for, and desire nothing else. Thou alone art sufficient for me, my Jesus, my Life, my Love.

II.

After the example of our Saviour the Saints sought to despoil themselves of everything, and in poverty to follow Jesus Christ Who was Himself poor. St. Bernard says: “The poverty of Christ is richer than all the world’s treasures.” It animates us in acquiring the riches of Heaven and in despising those of the world. St. Paul wrote: I count all things but as dung, that I may gain Christ-(Phil. iii. 8). Compared with the grace of Jesus Christ the Apostle considered everything else as mere dung and filth. St. Francis Borgia abandons all his wealth for a life of poverty in the Society of Jesus. St. Francis of Assisi gave back even his very shirt to his father that he might live all his life like a poor beggar. He who covets possessions, said St. Philip Neri, will never become a Saint. And so it is; for the heart that is full of this world has no room for Divine love. Dost thou bring an empty heart? was a question the monks of old asked of those who came to join them. They meant to say: If thou dost not bring an empty heart thou canst never belong entirely to God. For where thy treasure is there is thy heart also-(Matt. vi. 21). Each one’s treasure is what he loves and prizes. Once when a certain rich man died St. Anthony of Padua published his damnation from the pulpit; and as a sign of the truth of what he said he told the people to go to the place where he had kept his money, and that there they would find the wretched man’s heart. They did go, and they actually found his heart, still warm, in the midst of his money.

Happy is the man who can say with St. Paulinus: “Let the rich enjoy their riches and kings their kingdoms; Christ is my possession, my kingdom, and my glory.” “Give me Thy love together with Thy grace and I am rich enough,” said St. Ignatius. Let us never fail to have recourse to Mary, the Divine Mother, and love her after God above all things. She enriches with graces all who love her. With me are riches … that I may enrich them that love me-(Prov. viii. 18, 21).

O my infant God, I see Thee trembling with cold on the straw, crying and weeping for my sake–oh, how can I live without loving Thee? 0 my God, how could I have offended Thee so much, knowing, as I did by Faith how much Thou hast suffered for me. But this straw that torments Thee, this vile manger in which Thou art lying, those loving tears Thou shedest, those tender cries Thou dost utter all make me firmly hope for pardon and for the grace to love Thee for the rest of my life. I love Thee, O Divine Child! I give myself all to Thee. O Mary, great Mother of this great Son, and most beloved by Him, pray to Him for me.

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