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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : HOLY EXERCISES OF CONTRITION.

Holy Wisdom Or Directions For The Prayer Of Contemplation by Ven. F. Augustine Baker

HOLY EXERCISES OF CONTRITION.

AN ADVICE TO THE READER.

These following Exercises of Contrition are useful and proper first, for such devout souls as, being naturally indisposed for discursive prayer, are consequently obliged to begin an internal course of prayer with such immediate acts or affections. Such, therefore, at the beginning, may do well to make these Exercises of the purgative way the entire subject of their recollections, until they find that, remorse ceasing, they are enabled for the following Exercises of Love, &c.

Secondly, these Exercises may be useful also for souls that have made a greater progress in the prayer of immediate acts; but this is when, by occasion of some sin committed, they judge it fit to raise contrition in their hearts for it. In which case it will not be necessary that their whole recollection should be spent in these acts; but it will suffice to exercise one or two of them at first, and to employ the remainder of the time in their usual former matter of prayer.

The First Exercise.

1. Who will give to mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I may bewail both day and night my sins and ingratitude towards God my Creator?

2. Consider (O my soul) the multitude of the benefits that God hath bestowed upon thee, and be thou confounded and ashamed of thy wickedness and ingratitude.

3. Consider who thy Creator is, and who thou art; how He hath behaved Himself towards thee, and how thou towards Him.

4. Thou hast made me, O Lord, when I was not; and that according to Thine own image.

5. Thou from the very first instant of my being hast been

My God,

My Father,

My Deliverer,

All my Good.

6. Thou, with the benefits of Thy providence, hast preserved my life even till this present. O, let it be spent in Thy service!

7. But because these things, O gracious Lord, cost Thee nothing, to bind me more fast to Thee, Thou wouldst need give me a present bought by Thee most dearly.

8. Thou hast come down from heaven, to seek me in all those ways in which I had lost myself. O, draw up my soul unto Thee!

9. Thou hast exalted and made noble my nature by uniting it in One Person with Thy Divinity.

10. By Thy captivity Thou hast loosed my bonds, and by delivering Thyself into the hands of sinners Thou hast delivered me from the power of the devil; and by taking upon Thee the form of a sinner Thou hast destroyed my sins.

The Second Exercise.

1. These things Thou didst to allure and bind me unto Thee, and to strengthen my hope.

2. To make me detest sin, by beholding what Thou hast done and suffered to overthrow the kingdom of sin.

3. And also that, being overcome and overwhelmed with the multitude of Thy benefits, I should love Him who did so much for me, and loved me so dearly.

4. Behold, O God, Thou hast redeemed me; but what had this availed me if I had not been baptised? Among so many infidels as are in the world Thou hast brought me to Thy Faith and Baptism.

5. There that covenant was made that Thou shouldst be mine, and I Thine; Thou my Lord, and I Thy servant; Thou my Father, and I Thy child; that Thou shouldst behave Thyself as a Father towards me, and I as a child towards Thee.

6. What shall I say of the other Sacraments which Thou hast instituted for remedies of my evils, making a plaster for my sins of Thine own most Precious Blood!

7. Having these helps, yet have I not remained in goodness; but my wickedness hath been so great, that I have lost my first innocency.

8. And Thy mercy on the other side is so great, that Thou hast patiently hitherto expected me.

9. O my hope and Saviour, how can I without tears call to my remembrance how oftentimes Thou mightest justly have bereaved me of my life?

10. To Thee, therefore, be given the glory which is due; and to me shame and confusion of face, as it is this day.

The Third Exercise.

1. How many thousand souls now peradventure burn in hell, who have less sinned than I, and yet I burn not there!

2. What had become of me, if Thou hadst taken me away when Thou tookest them?

3. Who then, O Lord, bound the hands of Thy justice? who held the rod of Thy judgments when I by sinning provoked Thee?

4. What pleased Thee in me that Thou didst deal more mercifully with me than with others?

5. My sins cried unto Thee, and Thou stoppedst Thine ears. My malice every day increased against Thee, and Thy goodness every day increased towards me.

6. I was wearied in sinning, and Thou wast not wearied in expecting.

7. In the midst of my sins I received from Thee divers good inspirations, which I neglected.

8. What shall I now render, O Lord, unto Thee, for all these benefits which I have received of Thee I because Thou hast given me Thyself, what shall I render to Thee?

9. If all the lives of angels and men were mine, and that I should offer them all unto Thee as a sacrifice, what were this oblation if compared with one drop of Thy Blood, which Thou hast shed for me so abundantly?

10. Who, therefore, will give tears to mine eyes, that I may bewail my ingratitude and wicked retribution or requital of these Thy so many benefits? Help me, O Lord, and give me grace, that I may worthily bewail mine iniquities.

The Fourth Exercise.

1. My God, I am Thy creature, made according to Thy image; take away from me that which I have made, and acknowledge that which Thou hast made.

2. I have bent all my forces to do Thee injury, and have offended Thee by the works of my hands.

3. The things which Thou hast given and created for me, to be employed and used for Thy service and honour, I have wrongfully and most unthankfully converted and employed the same to Thy offence and dishonour.

4. My feet have been swift to evil, and my eyes have been dissolute to vanity, and mine ears have been always open to trifles and toys.

5. My understanding, which should have contemplated Thy beauty and have meditated both day and night on Thy commandments, hath considered transitory toys and meditated day and night how to transgress Thy said commandments.

6. My will was by Thee invited to the love of celestial delights and delicacies; but I preferred the earth before heaven.

7. Alas, what can I, a wretch, answer, if Thou enterest with me into judgment, and wilt say: I have planted thee a chosen vineyard, all true seed; how then, O strange vineyard, art thou turned in My sight into that which is depraved?

8. I have not only been ungrateful for Thy benefits, but used Thy benefits also themselves as weapons against Thee.

9. Thou hast made all creatures for my use, to allure me to love Thee; I have abused them, and of them have divers times taken occasion of sin. I have made choice rather of the gift than the Giver.

10. What shall I say? Wherefore have not all the calamities and miseries which I have known to have fallen upon other men, and touched not me, been a sufficient argument to me that my delivery from every one of them was a peculiar benefit from Thee?

The Fifth Exercise.

1. But if a most strict account shall be demanded for these things which cost Thee so little, what account wilt Thou ask of those which Thou hast bought Thyself with Thy most Precious Blood?

2. My God, how have I perverted all Thy counsels for my salvation!

3. How have I violated the mystery of Thine Incarnation!

4. Thou wert made man to make me partaker of the Divine Nature. I have made myself a beast and the slave of the devil.

5. Thou hast come down to the earth to bring me to heaven; and I have not hearkened to or acknowledged this high vocation, but have persevered in wickedness and in the mire of my baseness.

6. Thou hast made me one body with Thee; and I have joined myself again with the devil.

7. Thou hast humbled Thyself even to the dust of the earth; I puff myself up with pride.

8. Thou wouldst die to kill my sins; and I, presuming in Thy said mercy, goodness, and love, have not feared to sin against Thee. What greater impiety can be imagined?

9. I have taken occasion of Thy goodness to work malice; and by that means which Thou hast used to kill sin, I have taken occasion to raise again sin in myself.

10. Because Thou wert so good, I thought I might without prejudice be evil. Woe to mine ingratitude! And because Thy benefits were so many, I thought I might without punishment render unto Thee as many injuries.

The Sixth Exercise.

1. Thus have I made Thy medicines occasions of sin, and I have turned that sword, which I received of Thee to defend myself from mine enemies, against my own bowels, and with the same murdered mine own soul.

2. Thou diedst, that they that now live may not live to themselves, but unto Thee.

3. O most patient Lord, who for sinners hast suffered buffets, but far more patient in suffering sinners, will this Thy patience endure for ever towards me? What shall I do, my Lord I what shall I do? I confess I am not worthy to appear in Thy sight nor to behold Thee. Whither shall I fly from Thy face?

4. Art not Thou my Father, and in very truth a Father of mercies which have no end or measure?

5. What, then, shall I do, but cast myself down at Thy feet, and humbly crave mercy? Art not Thou

My Creator?

My Preserver?

My Redeemer?

My Deliverer?

My King?

My Pastor?

My Priest? and

My Sacrifice?

6. If Thou repellest me, who will receive me? If Thou rejectest me, of whom shall I seek succour?

7. Behold, I come full of wounds; Thou canst heal me: I come all blind; Thou canst give me sight: I come all dead; Thou canst raise me: I come all full of leprosy; Thou canst make me clean.

8. Thou shalt sprinkle me, O Lord, with hyssop (with Thy Precious Blood shed for me), and I shall be made clean.

9. Thou, O God, who art able to do all things, convert me unto Thee; renew my spirit, enlighten my understanding, sanctify my will, increase my strength of body and soul, that I may depend only on Thee, fear and love Thee above all things, and serve Thee fervently; and that in all my affections hereafter I may conform myself to Thy blessed will and pleasure.

10. I beseech Thee, finally, to impart unto me Thine abundant effectual grace, by which I may be able to begin to lead a perfect and holy life, and to serve Thee perfectly and thoroughly even to the end. For therefore Thou, O my God, gavest me a being, that I may employ it in Thy service.

The Seventh Exercise.

1. Take pity, O Lord, take pity, O merciful Saviour, of me, most miserable sinner, doing things of blame, and worthily suffering for the same.

2. If I ponder the evil which I daily commit, that which I endure is nothing in comparison of it.

3. Thou, O Lord our God, art just and full of goodness, neither is there in Thee any wickedness.

4. Because when we offend, Thou dost not unjustly and cruelly afflict us; who when we were not, hast powerfully made us; and when for our sins we were guilty of damnation, Thou hast by Thy wonderful mercy and goodness set us in the state of salvation.

5. I know, O Lord God, and am assured that our life is not governed by uncertain chances, but wholly disposed and ordered by Thy awful power and providence.

6. Wherefore I humbly beseech Thee, that Thou wilt not deal with me according to my iniquities, by which I have deserved Thine anger, but according to Thy manifold mercies which surmount the sins of the whole world.

7. Take pity on me, Thy son, whom Thou hast begotten in the great grief of Thy Passion; and do not so attend to my wickedness that Thou forget Thy goodness.

8. Is it possible for a woman to forget the child of her own womb? And though she should forget, O most loving Father, Thou hast promised not to be unmindful.

9. Truly it is better for me not to be at all, than to be without Thee, sweet Jesus.

10. It is better not to live, than to live without Thee, the only true life.

The Eighth Exercise.

1. Woe to me at the Day of Judgment, when the books of our consciences shall be opened (wherein our actions are registered), when of me it shall be openly proclaimed, See here a man and his works!

2. Alas, what shall I say? I will call and cry unto Thee, O Lord my God; why am I consumed being silent?

3. Weep, O my soul, and make lamentation, as a young married woman for the death of her husband.

4. O anger of the Almighty, rush not upon me, for I cannot subsist against Thee.

5. Take pity on me, lest I despair of Thy mercy; that by despairing of myself, I may find comfort in confiding in Thee.

6. And albeit I have done that for which Thou must justly condemn me, yet Thou hast not lost Thy accustomed property of showing mercy and pity.

7. Thou, O Lord, dost not desire the death of sinners, neither dost Thou take pleasure in the perdition of those that die.

8. Nay, rather that those who were dead might live, Thou Thyself hast died; and Thy death hath been the death that was due to sinners; and they by Thy death are come to life.

9. Grant me, I beseech Thee, O Lord, that Thou living I may not die; since that Thy death hath given life, much more let Thy life give life.

10. Let Thy heavenly hand help me, and deliver me from the hands of those that hate me, lest they insult and rejoice over me, saying, We have devoured him.

The Ninth Exercise.

1. How is it possible, O good Jesus, that ever any one can despair of Thy mercy? who, when we were Thine enemies, hast redeemed us with Thy Precious Blood, and hast reconciled us to God.

2. Behold, O Lord, protected by Thy mercy, I run, craving pardon, to the throne of Thy glory, calling and knocking until Thou take pity on me.

3. For if Thou hast called us to pardon, even when we did not seek it, how much more shall we obtain pardon if we ask it!

4. Forget my pride provoking Thee to displeasure, and weigh my wretchedness imploring Thy favour.

5. O Saviour Jesus, be Thou my succour and protection, and say unto my soul, I am thy Salvation.

6. I do presume very much on Thy bounty, because Thou Thyself dost teach us to ask, seek, and knock at the door of Thy mercy.

7. Thou therefore, O Lord, who willest me to ask, grant that I may receive. Thou dost counsel me to seek; grant me likewise to find. Thou dost teach me to knock; open unto me, knocking at the door of Thy mercy.

8. Behold, besides my heart I have nothing else to give Thee; neither can I give Thee this without Thee. Take me, therefore, and draw me unto Thee, that so I may be Thine by imitation and affection, like as I am by condition and creation, who livest and reignest world without end.

9. O Lord God Almighty, who art Trinity in Unity, who art always in all things, and wert before all things, and wilt be in all things everlastingly, one blessed God for all eternity;

10. To Thee, this and all the days of my life, I commend my soul, my body, my seeing, my hearing, taste, smell, and touching; all my cogitations, affections, words, and actions; all things that I have without and within me; my sense and understanding; my memory, faith, and belief; and my constancy in well-doing; all these I commend into the hands of Thy powerful protection, to the end that all the nights and days, hours and moments of my life, Thou mayest preserve and direct me.

The Tenth Exercise.

1. If Thou, O Lord, examine my righteousness, I shall be found as a dead man, stinking through rottenness.

2. But if Thou behold me with the eye of Thy mercy, Thou wilt thereby raise me (being through sin but a carcase) from the sepulchre of mine iniquity.

3. Whatsoever Thou hatest in me, O Lord, expel and root out of me.

4. Bestow on me, O Lord, Thy fear, compunction of heart, humility, and a conscience free from all sin.

5. Grant me grace, O Lord, that I may be always able to live in charity with my brethren; not forgetting my own sins, or prying into the sins or doings of other men.

6. Visit me weakened;

Cure me diseased;

Refresh me wearied;

Raise me dead.

7. Grant me, O Lord, a heart that may fear Thee, a mind that may love Thee, a sense that may conceive Thee, eyes that may see Thee.

8. Give me, O Lord, discretion to be able to discern betwixt good and evil, and endue me with an understanding ever watchful.

9. O Mary, Mother of God, Mother of Jesus Christ our Lord, thou sacred and unspotted Virgin, vouchsafe to make intercession for me unto Him who made thee a worthy temple for Himself to dwell in.

10. Be pleased to pray for me, a poor sinner, unto our God; that I may be delivered from the furious jaws of the infernal fiend, and from that death which never shall have end.

The Eleventh Exercise.

1. O most mild and merciful Lord and Saviour, Son of the living God, the world's Redeemer, amongst all men and in all things I confess myself to be a miserable sinner.

2. Nevertheless I beseech Thee, most sweet and sovereign Father, that as an abject I may not be cast out of Thy favour.

3. Yea, rather, O Lord, Thou who art King of kings, and hast determined and decreed the length of each man's life, grant me a devout desire to amend mine.

4. Stir up my sluggish soul, to the end that at all times and in all things it may seek, desire, love, and fear Thee, and may put in practice that which is pleasing to Thee.

5. I most humbly and heartily beseech Thee (who art Alpha and Omega, the beginning and ending), that when the time is come I must die, Thou wilt be a mild and merciful Judge, and a perpetual protector to me against the accusations and snares of the devil, mine old adversary.

6. Admit me for ever into the society of the holy Angels and of all Thy Saints in Thy heavenly city, where Thou art blessed and praised for all eternity.

7. O hope of my heart, O strength of my soul, may it please Thy omnipotent goodness to accomplish what my wonderful great weakness doth attempt to perform, seeing Thou art my life and the scope of my intention!

8. And albeit hitherto I have not deserved to love Thee so much as I ought, yet such is my desire that I would most gladly do it.

9. Grant me to accomplish and perform Thy holy inspirations.

10. Transform, most sweet Saviour, my tepidity into a most fervent love of Thee. For the only thing I desire to attain unto by this my prayer is, that I may be able to love Thee with a most ardent affection.

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