Friday, October 05, 2007
Music for contemplation: Lord, for thy tender mercy's sake by Richard Farrant.
From Thomas a Kempis' Prayers and Meditations on the Life of Christ
LORD JESUS CHRIST, Author of our Salvation, most gracious Giver of pardon, most patient in Thy long-suffering of man's wickedness, I bless Thee, and give thanks to Thee for all the pain, and for each several blow and bloody wound, so cruelly inflicted on Thy most precious and most tender Body; so that from the sole of the foot even to the top of the Head there was no soundness in Thee, but either a grievous wale, or an aching wound, or a stream of warm red Blood trickling down Thy whole Body.
I praise and glorify Thee with the worthiest adoration of which I am capable, and with all the powers of my soul laid at Thy Feet, for the generous outpouring of Thy precious Blood from Thy five sacred Wounds, and from all Thy other wounds, great and small, bleeding and sending forth a life-giving stream, more precious than any balm, to be an effectual remedy for all our sins. Ah ! most gentle Jesus, how cruelly wast Thou tortured and wounded by savage men, so that all Thy bodily strength being exhausted, and Thy veins wide-opened, scarcely a drop of Blood remained in Thee; but whatever of that sacred Stream, whether living or dying, Thou hadst in Thee, was all lovingly poured forth for our souls use, and as the price of our Salvation.
O ye five precious Wounds, pre-eminent tokens of surpassing love, full of Divine sweetness, whence the sinner takes good heart, keeping thereby his guilty conscience from driving him to despair ! In you is found the medicine of life, fullness of grace, plentiful forgiveness, boundless mercy, the gate which leads to the glory which is in store for us. Whatever pollution I incur, whatever sins of the flesh I commit, in your five fountains I may wash all away, and may be purified, and made faultless.
I praise and glorify Thee, O Christ, only and beloved Spouse of Holy Church, for that inestimable love, which moved Thee, to redeem my soul, by the covenant of Thy Own Blood, from the chains of Adam s sin, to cleanse it from all its sins, and to endow and adorn it with the merits of Thy Own holiness; that so, made holy by Thy grace, it might be found meet in this life to be joined and united to Thee, and hereafter to be made happy and glorious in the Kingdom of Thy excellent Majesty.
Mark carefully, O faithful soul, and see at what great and notable cost He redeemed Thee, Who, of His own unbought goodness, made thee, at the beginning, to His own image and likeness. For thou wast not redeemed from the guilt of original sin, nor from the many actual sins which, by the exercise of thy own free will, thou hast wickedly added thereto, with contemptible things, as gold or silver, but with the precious Blood of Christ, as of a Lamb unspotted and undefiled. And not only upon the Cross, for thy cleansing, did He shed His Blood; but He also vouchsafed to leave the same in the Chalice for thee to drink with faithful devotion in the Communion of that Sacrament, by which the daily sins of the world are purged and blotted out.
Alas ! of what terrible punishment will he be thought worthy, who shall have accounted the Blood of the Covenant of the Son of God an unholy thing, and shall not have paid the debt of thanksgiving which he owes to the Wounds of the Crucified. Be careful, then, to render thanks to Him Who has so loved thee, to Him Who has wrought for thee this His inestimable benefit, by at least one short prayer, or one devout meditatation, at some time, either of the day, or night. Many faithful soals, burning with love for Him, have rejoiced to shed their blood for Him: and yet more, taking part in His sufferings by using the rough ways of penance, have, for the Chalice of His Blood, humbly offered the waters of a bitter contrition.
Learn thou from their example to crucify thy flesh with its affections and lusts, manfully to resist temptation, and to bear until death the yoke of willing obedience ; to offer to Christ thy Redeemer, upon the altar of thy heart, in place of a martyrdom of blood, the sacrifice of a troubled spirit. Seek by diligent meditation to keep ever before thee the benefits purchased for thee by the Cross, and to find in the deep wounds of Jesus, as in the clefts of a rock, a hiding-place from the face of the enemy and the avenger.
Come to my help, O most gentle Jesus, in my every need, in every crisis of the strife. Stretch forth over me Thy hands, and with Thy right arm ever protect me ; put devotion in my heart, truth in my mouth, energy in my work. Purge me from all the corruption of my sins, heal my wounds with Thy precious Blood. Let no hidden thing of darkness, nothing impure, nothing that defiles, remain in me ; but may Thy sacred Blood, so abundantly shed, thoroughly cleanse me from all that is hurtful, and sanctify me wholly ; that so, when, at the last day, Thou shalt come in Judge ment, my spirit, and my soul, for the deliverance of which Thou didst endure so many and such grievous pains, and didst expend such boundless treasure, may be presented before Thee pure and undefiled.