The Forerunner’s Message.
1. The refrain of St. John’s teaching was a very simple and constant one: “Do penance, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” It seems strange advice. The coming of the King of heaven might be a reason for joy on the part of those who looked for Him, and of dread on the part of His enemies. But why for doing penance? Yet the teaching of St. John is true now, as it was at the time his words were first spoken. Penance is the means of preparation for the advent of our King. This explains the saint’s love of penance. What penance do I practice with this object?
2. Yet after all it is the natural and most suitable means of preparation. It helps us to bring into subjection that lower nature, which rebels against the sovereignty of our King. It detaches us from finding our satisfaction in earthly things. It is in itself an act of obedience to our King. It renders us humble, and teaches us to put our necks under the yoke. It saves us from being separated from the kingdom we are to share by the long prison of purgatory. Learn from all this to love penance.
3. Penance is a necessary preparation for receiving our King when He comes to us in humble form in Holy Communion. This is why confession is the preliminary of that sacred feast, and why contrition is necessary. We must purge our souls by prayer and penance and sorrow for sins, if we are to rejoice exceedingly in the Bridegroom’s presence, and to hear His voice sweetly whispering in our ears. Do I prepare thus for Holy Communion?
The Models to be imitated.
They are before the throne of God
and they serve Him day and night in His temple. (Apoc. vii. 15.)
Example is better than precept; and we shall often learn more from watching those who do perfectly what we are trying to acquire than by any set of rules. Let us watch the saints in heaven, that we may learn from them.
1. Their continual occupation is the praise of God, the tranquil delight of basking in the light of God. This satisfies every longing of their heart, this fills them with perfect and unfading joy. This is the highest praise they can render to God. How can I imitate them? By a continual remembrance of God, by visiting the Blessed Sacrament, by a frequent raising of my heart to heaven.
2. The saints also find a constant joy in showing reverence to God, in falling down in prostrate homage before the throne, in recognizing their dependence upon Him, and their indebtedness to Him for all their joy. This, too, I can copy by great reverence both of body and soul; reverence before the altar, reverence in my prayers, reverence and resignation to the will of God in my thoughts.
3. The saints and angels also serve God by doing His bidding, whether by their homage in heaven, or by carrying His graces and messages to men. Their joy is to do the will of God and finish His work. I, too, in my feeble way can serve God, I can really be of service to Him by every act of love and especially by every act of kindness to others.
Pray that your life may prepare you for the company of the saints in heaven.
This article, Day 11 (Dec 7) The Forerunner’s Message & The Models to be imitated is a post from The Bellarmine Forum.
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