RULES FOR LIVING WELL
He who desires to be saved, lives according to rule, and establishes an arrangement of his time with a view to devotional exercises. Dearest reader, if you wish to maintain yourself in the grace of God, never abandon these brief exercises which I now propose to you.
Choose for yourself a good confessor, to whom you may confide the treasure of your soul. Go often to him, to give an account of your conscience, and do not change him by mere caprice or fickleness.
Every morning offer to the Lord all the good works of that day, all its labors and sufferings, and all your actions, in union with the merits of Jesus Christ.
Offer all your actions to the Most Holy Trinity, to Mary, ever Virgin, and to all the blessed of Heaven, in suffrage for the Souls in Purgatory.
Form the intention to gain the Indulgences obtainable by prayer or act during the whole day.
Avoid sloth, bad company, dangerous conversations, and games; remembering that time passes and never returns, that you have a soul, and that if you lose your soul, you lose all.
When as yet scarcely awake, give your very first thought to God; while dressing keep reciting vocal prayers, and recommend yourself to God-----then say upon your knees: "Most Holy Trinity, I believe that Thou art present with me; and I adore Thee. I thank Thee for having preserved me during the past night; I offer to Thee all my actions. My God, my love, Goodness Infinite, and worthy of all love, assist me this day; keep me free from sins and dangers; hold Thy hands above me, and preserve me from betraying Thee.
Then say three Glorias to the Most Holy Trinity, one Pater to Jesus, three Aves to Mary, and beseech her to guard you under her mantle; offer all your senses and faculties to Jesus and Mary.
Act of Faith
O my God, Infallible Truth, I believe all that Holy Church teaches, because Thou hast revealed it. I believe in the Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, three Persons, and one God, Who punishes the wicked, and rewards the good. I believe that the eternal Son of God made Himself man, and died to save my soul; that He rose again from the dead, exists in Heaven, and in the Most Blessed Sacrament; bears the name Jesus Christ; is the Judge of the living and the dead; and that it is He Who instituted the holy Sacraments as means of pardon and sanctification. I thank Thee that Thou hast made me a Catholic. Grant me the grace that I may live and die entirely Thine, and ever exclaiming, O blessed faith of Jesus Christ!
Act of Hope
My God, my hope, my ever faithful God, mighty and compassionate, trusting in Thy promises, I hope to obtain from Thee, through the Blood of Jesus Christ, the pardon of my sins, the virtues of sanctity, and the glories of Paradise.
Act of Charity
My God, my love, Father, and Spouse of my soul, Supreme and Infinite Good, I love Thee with my whole heart, because Thou art worthy of all love. I love Thee more than my life, and for love of Thee I love my neighbor as myself. O God, would that I could love Thee as the seraphs love Thee. Would that I were able at the cost of my blood, to make all the world to know and to love Thee.
Act of Contrition
O God, my beloved, Thou hast created me to love and to serve Thee, and I, ungrateful, have done nothing but offended Thee. I am confounded; I repent. Infinite Goodness, would that I had never offended Thee! Would that I might die of sorrow! Pardon me, my Jesus, by the Blood which Thou hast shed for me! I promise to love Thee forever, and never to repulse Thee by sin again.
Then make a half-hour's mental prayer, or at least during quarter of an hour, upon the Passion of Jesus, and upon the last things, death and judgment.
Never omit to hear holy Mass every morning [It is not always possible, given the modern situation, unknown when the Saint wrote this treatise------the Web Master.]. It is an infinite treasure, and will be infinitely profitable to you.
Afterward you will go to your affairs, often recalling your thoughts to God, Who is ever present beside you.
At table give a thought to God, and act upon the resolution of eating in order to live and serve your God. Practise some little mortification at each meal. Then thank the Lord.
In the Course of each Day
Give a short time to prayer; visit the Most Holy Sacrament and our Blessed Lady. Read some devout book, and do some good to your neighbor. Recite five Paters, Aves, and Glorias to the wounds of Jesus, and beseech Him to pardon your sins, remove your corruptions, and bestow upon you virtues; that He may grant you perseverance, and fit you for Paradise. Repeat also three Paters, Aves, and Glorias to the Most Holy Trinity, with three acts of love, in gratitude for the graces granted to Mary, to the Saints, and to yourself. Recite devoutly the third part of the most holy Rosary, with Litanies. When you meet acquaintances, use for salutation, All praise to Jesus Christ and Mary! and in reply, Forever! You will thus gain many Indulgences.
In the midst of your work or business, lift up your mind from time to time to that God Who is ever present with you. Collect your thoughts, and with some short prayers recommend yourself often to Him.
If you are head of a family, collect your household. Join with them in prayers for a short time, and then say the most holy Rosary with them. Before going to bed, examine your conscience thus:
1. Place yourself in the presence of God, and thank Him for all the benefits received from Him, more especially those of the bygone day.
2. Entreat for light to know your sins, and for graces whereby to amend.
3. Examine yourself as to the sins of the day.
4. Ask pardon of God with all your heart, and promise never more to offend Him, and to fly from all the occasions which have proved themselves most dangerous to you.
5. Pray to the Lord to protect you during the coming night, and offer every breath you draw as an aspiration to Jesus.
6. Repeat three Aves to Mary, and a Pater in honor of your Angel Guardian. Repeat the acts of Faith, Hope, Charity, and Contrition, already given.
Sleep with some holy picture or image near you.
Let no worldly thought enter or remain in your mind. If you wake, pray to Jesus, and invoke Mary.
Receive with all devotion the Most Holy Sacrament. Give a sincere account of your conscience to your spiritual Father. Frequent some devout congregation or confraternity of Mary. Fast or practise some abstinence beyond the law of the Church on Friday or Saturday.
Choose some of the Saints, or some choir of Angels, for special advocates during it. Select some special virtue in which particularly to exercise yourself. Go into retirement during one day, in order particularly to revise and probe your conscience. Undertake to discover your dominant passion, and lay down for yourself particular methods for overcoming it. Prepare during that day for dying well; arrange for the departure of your soul; make a most exact confession, and all those solemn protests of entire submission, devoted resignation, of generous confidence, of ardent desire, of prostrate penitence, of faith, of hope, of charity, and all the supernatural acts of the soul, which befit the dying Catholic.
Go through the spiritual exercises during eight days, attending only to God and your soul. Make a general confession, and determine on the details of a more effective pursuit of a holy course of life during the remainder of your days on earth.
ST. LEONARD, PRAY FOR US.
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