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III. THE DISPOSAL OF OUR INDULGENCES.
We may apply our Indulgences to ourselves, or we may in many cases apply them to the relief of the holy souls in purgatory. Those who embrace "The Heroic Act of Charity," by which they renounce for themselves and apply to the relief of the holy souls the merits of all their good works, have the privilege of likewise being able to apply to them all the Indulgences they gain. Even if our devotion does not lead us to follow this, we must be most careful never to forget the holy suffering souls.
Devotions for the Sick.
IF you are attacked by any serious illness, let your first care be to send for your spiritual physician, and settle the state of your soul. This is much better done in the beginning of sickness than afterwards, when the strength of fever, or the nature of the remedies, may render a person absolutely unfit for so great a work. Sickness is often sent for a punishment of sin, and therefore a sincere repentance and confession of sin are often a more effectual means of recovery than any other.
2. If you have not already made your will, as in prudence you ought, let this also be done in the beginning of your sickness; that so, having settled your temporal affairs, you may apply your soul without disturbance to the spiritual.
3. Engage your best friends to give you timely notice if your illness be dangerous; and not to flatter you with hopes of life, when there are little or no grounds for hope. Make the best you can of that time which, perhaps, is to be your last, Admit but of few visits, nor of any discourse but such as may be for your soul's profit.
4. Take proper care for the discharge of your debts, and all other obligations incumbent upon you; and this as much as may be in the begining also of your sickness. Forgive all those who have in any way injured you, and ask pardon of those whom you have injured.
5. Receive your sickness from the hand of God, with a perfect resignation to his holy will, as a just punishment of your offences; frequently offer yourself up to him, and beg that he will give you patience, and sanctify your sufferings, and that he will accept of all your pains and uneasiness, in union with the sufferings of your Saviour Jesus Christ, in reduction of the punishment due to your sins.'
6. Often procure some friends to read to you such prayers as are most affecting and proper for your present condition, especially the Penitential Psalms, the Litanies, Acts of the Love of God, of Patience and Resignation, &c.
7. Have the crucifix, or a picture of Christ crucified, always before your eyes: think often upon his Passion, hide yourself in spirit in his wounds, and embrace his feet with all the affection of your soul.
8. Aim, as much as you can, at a penitential spirit during your sickness; often cry to God for
mercy, and make frequent Acts of Contrition for your sins. St. Augustine used to say, that no Christian, however innocent his life might have been, ought to venture to die in any other state than that of a penitent.
A Prayer proper to be daily repeated in time of Sickness.
LORD Jesus Christ, behold I receive this sickness, with which thou art pleased to visit me, as coming from thy fatherly hand. It is thy will it should be thus with me, and therefore I submit : thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. May this sickness be to the honour of thy holy name, and for the good of my soul. For this end, I here offer myself with an entire submission to all thine appointments, to suffer whatever thou pleasest, as long as thou pleasest, and in what manner thou pleasest; for I am thy creature, O Lord, who have most ungratefully offended thee; and since my sins have a long time cried aloud to heaven for justice, why should I now complain if I feel thy hand upon me?
But rebuke me not, O Lord, in thy fury, nor chastise me in thy wrath; but have regard to my weakness. Thou knowest
how frail I am; that I am nothing but dust and ashes. Deal not with me, therefore, according to my sins, neither punish me according to mine iniquities; but, according to the multitude of thy most tender mercies, have compassion on me. Oh, let thy justice be tempered with mercy, and let thy heavenly grace come to my assistance, to support me under this my illness! Confirm my soul with strength from above, that I may bear with a true Christian patience all the uneasiness, pains, disquiets, and difficulties of my sickness, and that I may cheerfully accept them as the just punishment of my offences. Preserve me from all temptations, and be thou my defence against all the assaults of the enemy, that in this illness I may in no way offend thee; and if this is to be my last, I beseech thee so to direct me by thy grace, that I may not neglect nor be deprived of those helps which, in thy mercy, thou hast ordained for the good of my soul, to prepare it for its passage into eternity; that, being perfectly cleansed from all my sins, I may believe in thee, put my whole trust in thee, love thee above all things, and,
through the merits of thy death and passion, be admitted into the company of the blessed, where I may praise thee for ever. Amen.
Short Acts of the most necessary Virtues proper to be inculcated in the time of Sickness.
LORD, I accept this sickness from thy hands, and entirely resign myself to thy blessed will, whether it be for life or
death. Not my will, but thine be done : thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Lord, I submit to all the pains and uneasiness of this my illness; my sins have deserved infinitely more. Thou art just, O Lord, and thy judgment is right.
Lord, I offer up to thee all that I now suffer, or may have yet to suffer, to be united to the sufferings of my Redeemer, and sanctified by his Passion.
I adore thee, O my God and my All, as my first beginning and last end; and I desire to pay thee the best homage I am able, and to bow down all the powers of my soul to thee.
Lord, I desire to praise thee for ever,