With Seven Thanksgivings for the
Seven Effusions of our Lord’s Blood
Pride was the first sin ever committed and so it is at the heart of all sin. It was the cause of the fall of Lucifer, the bright angel, who was the first to resist God’s will, and rebelling against God’s plan brought, we are told by the Scriptures, a great portion of the Lights of Heaven with him, the other angels. In fact, we are told in the Book of the Apocalypse, that he swept with him a third of the stars from the sky. Does that mean that he brought as many as one third of all the angels? Once when Padre Pio was looking out a window with a friend, he remarked as he saw so many gathered for Mass at the monastery, “If all the demons that are present over the people could be visible to the human eye then the light of the sun would be blotted out.” He could see so many demons over the congregation. Satan through his pride, set up his own kingdom. It is a massive kingdom populated by all the dark spirits of fallen angels and they are attacking the spiritual life of each one of us. It could be said that the sin of the world consists of this, that it is living without God. In other words, we are living at a time of rebellion against God, a denial of God, and a resistance to God’s will. God has been pushed aside. The world is arrogantly striding forward as if it no longer needs its maker. God has been pushed aside as a troublesome distraction. Today’s advances in technology have caused people to feel independent of God and even to reject his supreme authority. This surely is a path of self-destruction if we do not turn back in time. We ask God then to have patience with such miserable specimens as we have become. We have openly denied him and rejected his law. This is the pride of our world. We pray for the true peace that comes from surrendering to God’s will for us and accepting him humbly.
O Lord Jesus Christ, pattern of humility, who emptied yourself of your glory, and took upon the form of a servant: root out of us all pride and conceit of heart, that, owing ourselves miserable and guilty sinners, we may willingly bear contempt and reproaches for your sake, and glorying in nothing but you, may esteem ourselves lowly in your sight. Not unto us, O Lord, but to your name be the praise, for your loving mercy and for your truth’s sake.
Greed is the restlessness for more and more material possessions. To set our hearts on acquiring more and more material things is actually to end up worshipping false gods. We know of people who have been converted from the pursuit of wealth, people forced to let go of this false Earthly security and began to look for the security that is everlasting, God himself. An Italian actress who had risen to the height of her career and profession came to a shrine of Our Lady and left there valuable jewelry as an offering because she said, “I have found here such peace that the world could never give me.” We are reminded of the works of Jesus himself when he asks, “What does it profit anyone to gain the whole world and ruin his very self?” Satan is very powerful whenever we are materially successful. He has so many more opportunities for luring us away from God. Let us pray that we will be freed in our hearts. God is trying to lead us forward, but our hearts are set on material things and we are occupied by them. Let us ask today to be released from this so that we may pursue true peace in God, that we may overcome the insinuations of this demon covetousness in our lives.
O Lord Jesus Christ, though you were rich yet for our sakes did become poor, grant that all over-eagerness and covetousness of Earthly goods may die in us, and the desire of Heavenly things may live and grow in us. Keep us from all idle and vain expenditures, that we may always have to give to him that needs, and that giving not grudgingly nor of necessity, but cheerfully, we may be loved by you, and be made through your merits partakers of the riches of your Heavenly treasure.
The demon of lust is pervading the world. Torrentially washing across the world today is a deluge of pornography in magazines, videotapes, and television. Chastity, purity, self-control, all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, these find no value in the world today. Have a good time, “Live it up!” This life of fashionable pleasure is proposed from all angles. We are besieged by it. We pray now for those who are tempted to unfaithfulness in marriage. We pray for those who try to find fulfillment through a life of pleasure. We pray that like Saint Augustine, who said that they will come to understand, that our hearts are made with a restlessness for God,and that we will find our thirst for what is infinite and what only God can fill. We pray for the innocent who are scandalized, who are led into temptations of impurity, and who are lost to God because of scandal in this area. We pray for all those whose sexuality is commercially abused through prostitution, and for all the young people who are sexually abused, even in their own homes, and are helpless to secure any refuge. We pray for all those who engage in the unnatural use of their sexual gifts and so degrade and abuse themselves, and for all those whose sexuality is used for the purpose of advertising. We offer reparation and praise to God, and we beg the purity and innocence of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, for ourselves, our families, our homes, and our world.
O Lord Jesus Christ, guardian of chaste souls and lover of purity, who was pleased to take our nature and to be born of an immaculate virgin, mercifully look upon my infirmity. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Help me to drive away all evil thoughts, to conquer every sinful desire, and so pierce my flesh with the fear of you that, this worst enemy being overcome, I may serve you with a chaste body and please you with a pure heart.
The demon of anger disturbs peace by causing friction and tension. This leads to angry remarks – even blows, violence, and destruction. It can progress to war. Let us pray for patience, tolerance. and forgiveness. These are the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Jesus was not provoked to anger during his passion, but even prayed for his persecutors. We strive to overcome all attackers on our patience with love. Saint John of the Cross once said, “Where there is no love, put love, and there love will be.”
O most meek Jesus, Prince of Peace, who, when you were reviled, reviled not, and on the cross prayed for your murderers: implant in our hearts the virtues of gentleness and patience, that, restraining the fierceness of anger, impatience, and resentment, we may overcome evil with good, and, for your sake, love our enemies, and, as children of our Heavenly Father, seek your peace and evermore rejoice in your love.
Gluttony, or selfishness, self-indulgence, is a frightening sin. Someone once said that if the whole world were represented as a village of 100 people, the scale of abuse of the world’s goods would be represented like this: 93 would look on while the other seven spent half the money; and had ten times as many doctors looking after them. In this hemisphere, we throw out enough food to feed all who are starving in third-world countries. The Heavenly Father looks down upon this and to him we are all one little family. I heard of someone who watched as an African mother clutched her dying infant. Both were starving. She wanted a bit of bread for her child but she could not get It. Then she looked for a drink of water and she couldn’t even find that either. A moment later the baby died in her arms, and the mother exclaimed “Is all the world like this?” With so many famines raging in our world we even hear people ask why God allows so many people to die of starvation. in Ethiopia, Somalia and such places. Of course it is the cruelty of the world not of God. In other words, the resources of the world are there, we abuse them selfishly, we tie them up through economic structures, and we refuse to distribute our abundance with those who are in desperate need of it. It is not God who is to be blamed, but our mishandling of the trust he has given us. Injustice destroys peace. Let us pray that the hardness of our hearts will melt.
O Lord Jesus Christ, mirror of abstinence, who, to teach us the virtue of abstinence, did fast for forty days and forty nights, grant that, serving you and not our own appetites, we may live soberly and piously with contentment, without greediness, gluttony, or drunkenness, and that your will will be our meat and drink so that we may hunger and thirst after justice and finally obtain from you that food which endures until life eternal.
Envy disturbs our inner peace. When I envy other people, I resent the way God made me. I want to be different. I want to be anybody but myself. I fail to accept and to come to terms with my own uniqueness and the special call that God has issued to me personally. No two fingerprints are alike. Everyone is unique. I may feel that everyone else is better than I am. I close my eyes to the good things God is offering me and so fail to develop and exploit them to their fullness. The chief ways to express envy are escapes, trying to be someone else. This is done today through drugs, alcohol, and sex. This is an abuse of the personality. It Is a sign of inner disease. We ask for Inner peace, for forgiveness for our failure to trust in God’s love whenever we are dissatisfied with ourselves and our circumstances. Just being ourselves, blooming where we are planted, gives honor and praise to God. To love God by an acceptance of his holy will. To practice resignation, especially in sickness and suffering, is the first way that we can glorify God and show gratitude to him. If God has willed that I am as I am, he must need me that way. As a God of love, God wouldn’t ask me to suffer if it were not ultimately to contribute to his glory. Satan tempts us to imagine that if we were someone else we would be happier. We can never be happy except when we surrender completely to God in love. We pray for healing of the times we have resented the way God made us, the things he allowed to happen to us, and the circumstances in which we have had to live out our lives. We ask God for the grace to glorify him for all the gifts.
O most loving Jesus, pattern of charity, who makes all the commandments of law consistent with the love of God towards man, grant to us so to love you with all our hearts, with all our minds, and all our souls, and to love our neighbor for your sake, that the grace of charity and brotherly love may dwell in us. We pray that all envy, harshness, and ill-will may die in us. Fill our hearts with feelings of love, kindness, and compassion so that by constantly rejoicing in the happiness and success of others, by sympathizing with them in their sorrows, and putting away all harsh judgments and envious thoughts, we may follow you, who are yourself the true and perfect love.
Sloth is laziness. It is holding back. It is a delaying tactic. It keeps us from grasping the wonder of God’s plan for each of us in the salvation of the world. What a pity if we fail to fulfill our part. We think of how there are people in the world who will be touched only by our personal efforts. There are people in God’s design whom I must affect. I do this, not only directly by the way I live, but also by the example I give, the leadership I show, the influence I exert. I do it indirectly, through my private sacrifices and prayers. these can be used to convert hearts the world over. We must have confidence in the spiritual impact that our prayers and sacrifices make. We mustn’t give into despondency and laziness.
So often we see people wringing their hands in despair at the state of the world and sighing, “Oh, what can we do?” as though the war were already lost. Jesus has given us the weaponry: prayer and fasting. Satan is the one who would wish to make us downhearted. Jesus said to Sister Faustina, when he revealed The Divine Mercy Devotion, that, if he had enough willing souls he could touch the whole world. One drop of love offered to God can undo hundreds and thousands of blasphemies. The power for good that each one of us can be is startlingly enormous. Do not wait. Be decisive. The directive of Jesus that we cannot serve two masters challenges us to choose whether we are prepared to abandon everything to God or to go on living for our own selfish desires.
O Lord Jesus Christ, Eternal Love, who in the garden prayed so long and so fervently that your sweat became like great drops of blood falling to the ground: put away from us, we beseech you, all sloth and inactivity both of body and mind; and kindle within us the fire of your love. Strengthen our weaknesses, that whatsoever our hand is able to do we may do it earnestly, and that, striving heartily to please you in this life, we may have you hereafter as our reward.