"AND LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION" (St. Cyprian Explains)

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Saint Cyprian is a Doctor of Holy Mother Church. He was Bishop of Hippo. The following is from a sermon on the words of the Our Father prayer, written in 252 A.D.

The following excerpt is taken from an explanation on the prayer which Christ taught us, the “Our Father”. Written and preached as a sermon by St. Cyprian, this excerpt deals specifically with the words “And lead us not into temptation.”

“In the next part of the prayer, Our Lord reminds us that it is necessary for us to say: ‘And suffer us not to be led into temptation.’ By these words, we are indoctrinated with the fact that our adversary the devil can do nothing against us unless God gives him permission beforehand. From this it follows that all our fears, our supplications and our devotions should be centred on God, since in all temptations with which the devil assails us, he has no more strength than that precise degree which God permits to him.

“This is a truth which Scripture proves, when we read: ‘Nabuchodonosor, king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem and besieged it.’ And the Lord delivered it into his hands (cf Dan. 1:1-2). Power is given to the devil according to the measure of the sins we have committed, as it is written: ‘Who hath given Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to robbers? Hath not the Lord Himself, against whom we have sinned? And they would not walk in His ways, and they have not hearkened to His law. And He hath poured out upon him the indignation of His fury’ (Isa. 42: 24-25). And in the same connection, we read of Solomon, when he was going from sin to sin and withdrawing his obedience from God’s commandments and from the ordinances of the Creator: ‘And the Lord raised up an adversary to Solomon’ (3 Kings 11:14).

“Power is allowed our adversary in his battle against us for a twofold reason: first as a penalty when we sin; and second as an augmentation of our glory when we remain steadfast. We observe this fact in the case of Job, of whom God spoke quite plainly saying: ‘Behold, all that he hath is in thy hand; only put not forth thy hand upon his person (Job 1:12). And in His Gospel, during the ordeal of His Passion, our Lord says: ‘Thou wouldst have no power at all over Me were it not given thee from above’ (Jn 19:11).

“However, when we petition that we be spared temptation, we are reminded by such a plea of our frailty and instability. This knowledge prevents anyone from insolently praising himself in the battle with temptation; it keeps him from proudly and arrogantly claiming success as being his due; for it forewarns him against lapsing into the belief that the glory of his trials and sufferings for the faith are his own. The Lord Himself emphasized the need of humility [truthfulness] when He taught us: ‘Watch and pray, that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak’ (Mt. 26:41). Provided a humble and submissive confession is our first care, and the success of the whole matter is referred to God, then whatever we suppliantly ask, in a spirit of reverential fear and honor towards Him, will be given us out of the abundance of His goodness.”

[Source:  pages 71-74, St. Cyprian's Explanation of the Our Father, translated by Fr. W. Patrick Donnelly, S.J., Imprimatur: January 29, 1953, published by Refuge of Sinners Publishing].

The Heroic Act of Charity

The holy souls in Purgatory intercede for us, but cannot help themselves!

The following explanation and prayer (in bold type) is taken from the book, Purgatory Explained (citation at end):

“Thus far we have spoken of the different kinds of good works which we may offer to God as suffrages for the dead. It remains for us to make known an act which comprises all works and means, whereby we can most effectually assist the poor souls; it is the heroic vow, or, as others call it, the Heroic Act of Charity towards the souls in Purgatory.

“This act consists in ceding [giving] to them all our works of satisfaction, that is to say, the satisfactory value of all the works of our life and of all the suffrages which shall be given to us after our death, without reserving anything wherewith to discharge our own debts. We deposit them in the hands of the Blessed Virgin, that she may distribute them, according to her good pleasure, to those souls which she desires to deliver from Purgatory.

“It is an absolute donation in favor of the souls of all that we can give them; we offer to God in their behalf all the good that we do, of what kind soever, either in thought, words or works, all that we suffer meritoriously during this life, without excepting anything that we may reasonably give them, and adding even those suffrages which we may receive for ourselves after death.

“It must be well understood that the matter of this holy donation is the satisfactory value of our works (see Chap. 9), and in no way the merit which has a corresponding degree of glory in Heaven; for merit is strictly personal, and cannot be transferred to another.

Formula of the Heroic Act: 

‘O Holy and Adorable Trinity, desiring to cooperate in the deliverance of the souls in Purgatory, and to testify my devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, I cede and renounce in behalf of those holy souls all of the satisfactory part of my works, and all the suffrages which may be given to me after my death, consigning them entirely into the hands of the most Blessed Virgin, that she may apply them according to her good pleasure to those souls of the faithful departed whom she desires to deliver from their sufferings. Deign, O my God, to accept and bless this offering which I make to Thee at this moment. Amen.’

“The Sovereign Pontiffs, Benedict XIII, Pius VI, and Pius IX have approved this heroic act, and have enriched it with indulgences and privileges, of which the principal are the following:  1. To priests who have made this act the indult of a privileged altar every day in the year.  2. The simple faithful can gain a plenary indulgence, applicable to the holy souls in Purgatory only.  3. They may apply to the holy souls all those indulgences which are not otherwise applicable by virtue of concession, and which have been granted up to the present time, or which shall be granted in the future. (Pius IX, Decr. 30 Sept. 1852).

“ ‘I advise all true Christians,’ says Father Mumford, ‘to cede [give] with holy disinterestedness all the fruit of their good works which are at our disposal. I do not believe that they can make a better use of them, since they render them more meritorious and more efficacious, as well for obtaining grace from God as for expiating their own sins and shortening the term of their Purgatory, or even of acquiring an entire exemption therefrom.’

These words express the precious advantages of the Heroic Act; and in order to dissipate all subsequent fear which might arise in the mind, we add three remarks:  1. This act leaves us perfect liberty to pray for those souls in whom we are most interested; the application of these prayers is subject to the disposition of the adorable will of God, which is always infinitely perfect and infinitely loving.  2. It does not oblige under pain of mortal sin, and can at any time be revoked. It may be made without using any particular formula; it suffices to have the intention, and to make it from the heart. Nevertheless it is useful to recite the formula of offering from time to time, in order to stimulate our zeal for the relief of the holy souls by prayer, penance, and good works.  3. The Heroic Act does not subject us to the direful consequences of having to undergo a long Purgatory ourselves; on the contrary, it allows us to rely with more assured confidence on the mercy of God in our regard, as is shown by the example of St. Gertrude.

“Venerable Denis, the Carthusian, relates that the Virgin, St. Gertrude, had made a complete donation of all of her works of satisfaction in favor of the faithful departed, without reserving anything wherewith to discharge the debts which she herself might have contracted in the sight of God. Being at the point of death, and, like all the saints, considering with much sorrow the number of her sins on the one hand, and, on the other, remembering that she had employed all her works of satisfaction for the expiation of the sins of others, she was afflicted, lest, having given all to others and reserved nothing for herself, her soul, on its departure from this world, should be condemned to horrible suffering. In the midst of her fears our Lord appeared to her and consoled her, saying: ‘Be reassured, My daughter, your charity towards the departed will be no detriment to you. Know that the generous donation you have made of all your works to the holy souls has been singularly pleasing to Me; and to give you a proof thereof, I declare to you that all the pains you would have had to endure in the other life are now remitted; moreover, in recompense for your generous charity, I will so enhance the value of the merits of your works as to give you a great increase of glory in Heaven.’ “

[Source, pp. 264-268, Second Part, Chapter 31, Purgatory:  Explained by the Lives and Legends of the Saints, by Fr. F. X. Schouppe, S. J., Imprimatur October 11, 1893].

Ejaculations for a Happy Death

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Jesus, Mary, Joseph, I give Thee my heart and my soul.

Jesus, Mary, Joseph, assist me in my last agony.

Jesus, Mary, Joseph, may I breathe forth my soul in peace with Thee.

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[Source:  p. 168, from the 1910 Raccolta;300 days TQ, 100 days indulgence, Pope Pius VII, April 28, 1807 ].

Prayers in Time of Calamity

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Mercy of our God, encompass us, and deliver us from every plague. Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto.  Amen.

Eternal Father, sign us with the Blood of the Immaculate Lamb, as Thou didst sign the dwellings of Thy people. Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto.  Amen.

Most Precious Blood of Jesus our Love, cry for mercy for us from Thy Divine Father, and deliver us.  Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto. Amen.

Wounds of my Jesus, mouths of love and mercy, speak for us in pity to the Eternal Father; hide us within yourselves and deliver us. Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto. Amen.

Eternal Father, Jesus is ours; ours His Blood, ours His infinite merits; to Thee we offer ourselves wholly; then, if Thou lovest Him, and boldest [think] precious this gift we make Thee, Thou oughtest to deliver us:  for this we hope with fullest confidence. Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto. Amen.

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[Source:  p. 172, from the 1910 Raccolta; 40 days indulgence, once a day, Pope Gregory XVI, August 21, 1837].

Prayer in any Plague or Trouble

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Help us, O God of our salvaion, and for the glory of Thy Name deliver us:  be merciful to our sins for Thy Name's sake.

Psalm 53:

Save me, O Lord, in thy name; and judge me in thy strength.

God, hear my prayer; give ear to the words of my mouth;

For strangers have risen up against me, and the mighty have sought after my soul, and they have not set God before their eyes.

For, behold, God is my helper, and the Lord is the protector of my soul.

Turn away evil from me upon my enemies, and scatter them in thy truth.

I will freely sacrifice unto Thee; and will give praise, O God, to thy name, because it is good.

For Thou hast delivered me out of all my trouble, and mine eye hath looked down upon mine enemies.

Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto. Amen.

V.  For the glory of thy name, deliver us.

R. And deal mercifully with our sins for thy name’s sake.

Let us pray.

Lord, we beseech Thee, in thy pity hear the prayers of thy people; that we who suffer justly for our sins may, for the glory of thy name, mercifully be delivered. Through Christ our Lord.  R. Amen.

We beseech Thee, therefore, help thy servants, whom Thou hast redeemed with thy Precious Blood.

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[Source:  p. 173, from the 1910 Raccolta; 100 Days T.Q., Pope Pius IX, November 8, 1849].