Visitation. (continued)

PRAYER BEFORE MEDITATION.

My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.

Visitation. (continued)

Thus we see that those souls who are most united to God through sanctity, are also most united to men through charity. Those who love God above all things, love their neighbour as themselves for the love of God. All the holy affections of earth come from heaven. They are reflected in a pure soul as we see the stars which shine in the skies reflected in a transparent piece of water by our side; and as these bright stars have but one. Creator, so all these pure affections which shine in our souls have but one centre, God, Who is pure love, Who is Charity. In Him are united holy family affections, pious friendships, generous sacrifices, brotherly feelings towards all men, as being, like ourselves, God’s children, compassion for their sufferings, and sympathy with their joys. Mary is the most holy of creatures. How easy it is to shew that she was also the most charitable! How often in her holy life do we see charity in every shape! Let us first seek it in this painful journey undertaken to visit her cousin St. Elizabeth.

Sometimes we make to ourselves a stem and gloomy picture of our holy religion, we fear God more than we love Him, and, like little children who call upon their mother when they suffer, we stretch out our hands, with tears in our eyes, to our Mother who is in heaven. But why should we consecrate to her our sorrowful days alone? Has she no smiles for our joys as well as comfort for our griefs? See how she leaves her beloved solitude: she rose up and went with haste. Her cousin is happy. The Lord has delivered her from the reproach she had suffered among men. Mary, the child given to St. Anne in her old age understands the joy of Elizabeth: she hastens to her aged kinswoman; she comes to rejoice with her, to offer her services, to add to her joy the blessing of her own friendship.

Some pious authors have thought that gratitude was joined to Mary’s love for her friend, and that Zachary was one of the priests who had taught her as a child in the temple, had protected her youth, and had chosen her spouse. Gratitude is one of the forms of charity, for charity means affection, and what is more just than to love those who have done us good? See how prompt and devoted is the gratitude of Mary’s generous heart, the sanctuary of all love!

“The Blessed Virgin left Nazareth,” says St. Bonaventure; “the difficulty and length of the road did not delay her. She hastens because she does not wish to expose herself too long to notice. Consider how the Queen of Heaven travels: on foot, alone with her spouse, without means of conveyance. She is not surrounded by a retinue of courtiers and guards, she is not accompanied by a number of ladies of honour, or servants. She is escorted by poverty, by humility, and by the honourable assemblage of all virtues. Her Lord is also with her, attended by a numerous escort of honour, very different from the vain pomp of this world.”

What a wonderful train attends this lowly maiden, walking over the rough mountain path, leaning on the arm of the humble Joseph! O wonderful train, which God has put within the reach of each one of His children! There are times in life when we feel ourselves to be very poor, very unhappy, and very much abandoned. Let us then think of the train that waited on Mary. Is holy poverty of spirit and heart our companion? Are our steps followed by humility, purity, and the noble company of all virtues? If our conscience can render us this testimony, let us raise our heads and take courage. Listen once more to what St. Bonaventure says: “The Lord is with her, bringing with Him all graces and all blessings.” Courage, then, and if we can say with truth that we seek them, we may be sure that God Himself is with us, and may continue to walk on with confidence.

Let us remember, above all, that this train of honour accompanies us every time that, following Mary’s footsteps, we go to perform a mission of charity. I have just said that we find this virtue in many different shapes in the life of our holy Mother. In ours also it ought to be found under the most different forms; what is necessary is, that in one way or another it should be everywhere. Let us practice in our families, let us carry out into the world, this devoted affection, this sympathetic consoling ministering friendship, of which the Blessed Virgin sets us the example, in setting off without delay as soon as St. Elizabeth had need of her; this reverence for age, from which she does not think herself exempted by her dignity of Mother of God, this gratitude for past services which calls her to the side of the protectors of her youth. What blessings would be found at the domestic hearth, what ease in all human relations, what softening of painful jars, if charity was always present, like oil to a wheel, making it turn quickly, noiselessly, and with ease. The reason that it is so often wanting in family life and in society is, that even good people know and understand it not. For instance, it is confounded with alms-deeds, which is, in truth, but one of its forms. People say, “I cannot afford to give in charity.” This is rarely the case, but grant that it is so, does this prevent the practice of charity? Would God, Who has so many times said that poverty is holy, have put the most beautiful of the virtues out of the reach of the poor? It would be a kind of blasphemy to say so. Charity is more in the heart than in the purse. The rich can and ought to be charitable to the poor. The poor also can and ought to be charitable to the rich, like Mary, the spouse of the poor carpenter Joseph, to her cousin, the wife of Zachary. The great secret is to love, whoever we may be, our brethren, whoever they may be. Love your equals, you will make them happier and better, for charity is infectious, and your example will teach them. If they are happy, rejoice with them without inquiring whether their happiness is greater than yours. If they are unhappy, dry their tears as you would wish them to dry yours. If they are poorer than you are, seek in your hearts the means of helping them, and you will find it; if you are the poorest, suffer without bitterness in charity with your brethren, and, above all, with Jesus Christ, Who has suffered so much for you, and you will find a treasure in your misery.

PRAYER AFTER MEDITATION.

My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.

_______________________________________________

August Devotion: The Most Pure Heart of Mary

Virtues to practice: The sanctification of our actions, diligence, edification, fidelity in little things


O Heart of Mary, Mother of God, and our Mother; Heart most worthy of love, in which the adorable Trinity is ever well pleased, worthy of the veneration and love of all the angels and of all men; Heart most like to the Heart of Jesus, of which thou art the perfect image; Heart full of goodness, ever compassionate toward our miseries; deign to melt our icy hearts and grant that they may be wholly changed into the likeness of the Heart of Jesus, our divine Saviour. Pour into them the love of thy virtues, and kindle in them that divine fire with which thou thyself dost ever burn. In thee let Holy Church find a safe shelter; protect her and be her dearest refuge, her tower of strength, impregnable against every assault of her enemies. Be thou the way which leads to Jesus, and the channel, through which we receive all graces needful for our salvation. Be our refuge in time of trouble, our solace in the midst of trial, our strength against temptation, our haven in persecution, our present help in every danger, and especially at the hour of death, when all hell shall let loose against us its legions to snatch away our souls, at that dread moment, that hour so full of fear, whereon our eternity depends. Ah, then most tender virgin, make us to feel the sweetness of thy motherly heart, and the might of thy intercession with Jesus, and open to us a safe refuge in that very fountain of mercy whence we may come to praise Him with thee in paradise, world without end. Amen.

An indulgence of 7 years once on any day of the month; A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, if this act of devotion is repeated daily for entire month (Apostolic Brief Dec. 21, 1901)

Copyright © 2013 – 2015. Holy Cross Publications. All rights reserved.

Visitation.

PRAYER BEFORE MEDITATION.

My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.

Visitation.

“Let us love one another, for charity is of God.”—I. St. John iv. 7.

“Mary, rising up in those days,” says the Evangelist St. Luke, “went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Judea. And she entered into the house of Zachary and saluted Elizabeth.”

What powerful reason, what important business thus draws Mary from her retirement? The house of Nazareth had become still more dear to her, since God had deigned to come down to it. Possessing in herself Him who was at once her God and her Son, her mind and heart _absorbed in the contemplation of so great a mystery, she loved better than ever to remain in solitude, thanking with all the powers of her soul the God upon whom she had so often called in her youth, and who had vouchsafed to choose her to bring salvation to the world. How comes it, then, that she goes forth to-day?

When the angel announced to Mary the mystery which was about to be accomplished in her, he spoke these words to her, “And behold thy cousin Elizabeth, she also has conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren.” Mary remembered these words, and her generous heart, so humble amid her own joy, rejoiced at the blessing accorded by the Lord to her kinswoman. She rose up, therefore, and went with haste into the hill country, where Elizabeth lived.

Who, then, was this Elizabeth, and who was Zachary, whose house was deemed pure enough to receive the Mother of the thrice holy God? Let us again open the Gospel of St. Luke. (i. 5-25.) “There was, in the days of Herod the King of Judea, a certain priest named Zachary, of the course of Abia, and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name Elizabeth. And they were both just before God, walking in all the commandments and justifications of the Lord without blame. And they had no son, for that Elizabeth was barren, and they both were well advanced in years. And it came to pass, when he executed the priestly function in the order of his course before God, according to the custom of the priestly office, it was his lot to offer incense, going into the temple of the Lord, and all the multitude of the people was praying without at the hour of incense. And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And Zachary, seeing him, was troubled, and fear fell upon him; but the angel said to him: Fear not, Zachary, for thy prayer is heard, and thy wife Elizabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John; and thou shalt have joy and gladness, and many shall rejoice in his nativity. For he shall be great before the Lord; and shall drink no wine nor strong drink: and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb. And he shall convert many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. And he shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elias; that he may turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the incredulous to the wisdom of the just, to prepare unto the Lord a perfect people. And Zachary said to the angel: Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years. And the angel, answering, said to him: I am Gabriel, who stand before God; and am sent to speak to thee, and to bring thee these good tidings. And behold, thou shalt be dumb, and shalt not be able to speak until the day wherein these things shall come to pass, because thou hast not believed my words, which shall be fulfilled in their time. And the people was waiting for Zachary; and they wondered that he tarried so long in the temple. And when he came out he could not speak to them, and they understood that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he made signs to them, and remained dumb. And it came to pass after the days of his office were accomplished, he departed to his own house. And after those days Elizabeth his wife conceived, and hid herself five months, saying: Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein He hath had regard to take away my reproach among men.’’

Such, then, were the righteous people whom Mary went to visit. The angel Gabriel had solemnly announced to her the miracle by which God had bestowed a son upon their old age, and had even given this to her as a sign and proof of the miracle of the Incarnation. And now, as soon as the Divine Word had become Incarnate in her womb, she hastened towards the dwelling of Elizabeth, that the Mother of Jesus might visit the mother of St. John the Baptist. The birth of this child was to come before the birth of the Infant God, because it was he who was one day to bear the glorious name of the Forerunner of Christ; it was he of whom the prophet said, “A voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight His paths.” He was to be the first to believe in Jesus Christ, the first to suffer and to die for Him. These mysteries, however, were as yet hidden from the Blessed Virgin Mary, and to fulfil the Divine purposes she had only to follow that generous instinct, so powerful in her soul, so powerful still in all holy souls, the instinct of charity. Do we well understand all that this word means? It gathers into one all holy affections, all sacrifices. It is that most excellent of all virtues, without which, St. Paul says, even one who should have all other virtues would become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal, making the sound of virtue without having the foundation. “Dearly beloved,” says the great Evangelist St. John to his disciples, “let us love one another, for charity is of God. And every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God: for God is charity . . . God is charity: and he that abideth in charity, abideth in God, and God in him.”[1]

[1] I St. John iv. 7, 8, 16.

PRAYER AFTER MEDITATION.

My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.

_______________________________________________

August Devotion: The Most Pure Heart of Mary

Virtues to practice: The sanctification of our actions, diligence, edification, fidelity in little things


O Heart of Mary, Mother of God, and our Mother; Heart most worthy of love, in which the adorable Trinity is ever well pleased, worthy of the veneration and love of all the angels and of all men; Heart most like to the Heart of Jesus, of which thou art the perfect image; Heart full of goodness, ever compassionate toward our miseries; deign to melt our icy hearts and grant that they may be wholly changed into the likeness of the Heart of Jesus, our divine Saviour. Pour into them the love of thy virtues, and kindle in them that divine fire with which thou thyself dost ever burn. In thee let Holy Church find a safe shelter; protect her and be her dearest refuge, her tower of strength, impregnable against every assault of her enemies. Be thou the way which leads to Jesus, and the channel, through which we receive all graces needful for our salvation. Be our refuge in time of trouble, our solace in the midst of trial, our strength against temptation, our haven in persecution, our present help in every danger, and especially at the hour of death, when all hell shall let loose against us its legions to snatch away our souls, at that dread moment, that hour so full of fear, whereon our eternity depends. Ah, then most tender virgin, make us to feel the sweetness of thy motherly heart, and the might of thy intercession with Jesus, and open to us a safe refuge in that very fountain of mercy whence we may come to praise Him with thee in paradise, world without end. Amen.

An indulgence of 7 years once on any day of the month; A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, if this act of devotion is repeated daily for entire month (Apostolic Brief Dec. 21, 1901)

Copyright © 2013 – 2015. Holy Cross Publications. All rights reserved.

The Annunciation. (continued)

PRAYER BEFORE MEDITATION.

My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.

The Annunciation. (continued)

Who can express how much these simple words of Mary contain! That humble acceptance of the Divine Will, that faith which believes in such a mystery, that obedience which consents to become its instrument, as soon as the angel promises her that her spotless virginity shall be preserved? Mary’s humble modesty is troubled at the salutation of the angel. When he bows down before her, as before a superior being, and calls her full of grace, she is at a loss to conceive what manner of salutation this may be. He announces to her her high destiny, but she only abases herself the more in the presence of God, the higher she is exalted above all creatures by the promise brought to her by the angel. Then, when the magnificent hope is given her of becoming the woman blessed amongst all others, so long promised to the earth, the liberator of the human race, the mother of the Redeemer, she bows her pure face to the earth, and says, “ Behold the handmaid of the Lord.” The time is come for us to learn all that we owe to Mary, to feel how far she has shared with God Himself the great work of our redemption, how much she deserves the wonderful names of Mother of Mercy and Second Eve which the Church has given her. The first woman, through her sin, had caused the ruin of the whole human race; but it was after her fall, when our first parents, leaving happiness behind them, were just entering a land of exile, that Adam, casting a look of grief and hope upon his sorrowful companion, called her Eve, which signifies, the holy Scripture tells us, that she was to be the mother of all the living. What a mystery is this! How could she, who was to be the mother of so many miserable beings, condemned beforehand and through her own fault, to suffering and death, how could she deserve the name of mother of all the living? This name was given to her by the promise of God, which supported our first father in this terrible hour, and shewed him, in the unhappy woman at his side, bowed down with the weight of humiliation and repentance, the mother of a race hostile to the serpent, from which would one day spring the victorious woman who would bruise under her heel the head of this cursed one, and bring back salvation to the earth. “What does this mean?” says St. Epiphanius, one of the most illustrious doctors of the Church; “she had not this beautiful name while she was still in paradise: she is first called the mother of the living after she has been condemned to be for the future the mother of the dead. Hence this great bishop says that she is called thus as a type and figure of the Blessed Virgin, who is the true Mother of all the living, to whom she has given life by the birth of her child.”[1]

Yes, Mary is the true mother of all the living, the second Eve, who has brought salvation and life into the world, to which the first Eve had brought only sorrow and death. “By a woman came death,” says St. Augustine, “by a woman came life: by Eve ruin, by Mary salvation.”

And do not doubt that Mary acted freely in this great work of our salvation. Just as Eve had brought ruin on us all by a free act of her will, when she listened to the words of the serpent, when she suffered that sacrilegious promise of pride, “you shall be as gods,” to enter into her heart, when she stretched forth her hand, gathered the fatal apple, ate of it herself, and gave of it to Adam; so did Mary accept the command of God by a free act of her will when she replied to the angel, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to thy word.” Eve, through pride, had believed in the deceiving words of the devil, and this faith in the promises of the tempter had brought ruin on us. Mary in humility believes in the words of the angel, and this faith in the promises of God has saved us. A sin of rash credulity, says a doctor of the Church, is effaced by a holy faith.[2]

How can our hearts remain cold at contemplating this wonderful mystery? How can we fail to feel in the depths of our souls, gratitude and love for the God Who lowers Himself to us, “Who takes the humble form of a servant,” Who clothes Himself in our misery and poverty in order to enrich us with His graces, and, together with this, deep devotion and tender gratitude towards that august creature whose purity made her meet to be the Mother of our Saviour, and whose humility, faith, and obedience, were the sources of our salvation? This is the time to feel that inexpressible happiness and peace of which we spoke just now, and the joy of all nature at her awakening, the hymn of gratitude and of love which she sends up to her Creator at the first rays of daylight, is only a feeble type of what our feelings should be when we hear the words of the angel: “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee,” and then that humble acceptance of God’s will with which the gentle Virgin answers: “ Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to thy word.” Let us all rejoice, for the words on which our salvation depends are pronounced. A pure and brilliant dawn breaks, and the east is lighted up by the first rays of the Eternal Sun. Break out, then, into singing, ye who for so many centuries have sat in darkness. The long night is at last come to an end, and the day is breaking. Its gladsome light shines at length over the horizon of our life, hitherto so sorrowful; and every scene and labour of our pilgrimage is lighted up and transfigured by hope.

For our prayer, let us say to-night, with more fixed attention, deeper reverence, and more tender love, that most beautiful prayer of the Angelic Salutation. For a resolution, let us promise Mary never to pass a day without saying to her, while pondering on the mystery of the Incarnation, the source of all our hopes: “Hail Mary, full of grace;” for, according to the great Bishop Bossuet, Mary’s graces include, not only those which God gave her when He raised so humble a creature to the wonderful dignity of Mother of God, but every grace which we receive through her belongs to her, is part of her glory, and was included in the angel’s words. With him let us hail this pure creature of God, at once virgin and mother; and let us also bless her in the words of the pious woman in the Gospel, who, seeing Jesus, cried out from the midst of the crowd: “Blessed is the womb that bore Thee, and the breasts that gave Thee suck!” Ave Maria!

[1] Bossuet, Elevations sur les Mysteries.

[2] “Quod illa credendo deliquit, hæc credendo delevit.” (Tertullian, quoted by Bossuet.)

PRAYER AFTER MEDITATION.

My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.

_______________________________________________

August Devotion: The Most Pure Heart of Mary

Virtues to practice: The sanctification of our actions, diligence, edification, fidelity in little things


O Heart of Mary, Mother of God, and our Mother; Heart most worthy of love, in which the adorable Trinity is ever well pleased, worthy of the veneration and love of all the angels and of all men; Heart most like to the Heart of Jesus, of which thou art the perfect image; Heart full of goodness, ever compassionate toward our miseries; deign to melt our icy hearts and grant that they may be wholly changed into the likeness of the Heart of Jesus, our divine Saviour. Pour into them the love of thy virtues, and kindle in them that divine fire with which thou thyself dost ever burn. In thee let Holy Church find a safe shelter; protect her and be her dearest refuge, her tower of strength, impregnable against every assault of her enemies. Be thou the way which leads to Jesus, and the channel, through which we receive all graces needful for our salvation. Be our refuge in time of trouble, our solace in the midst of trial, our strength against temptation, our haven in persecution, our present help in every danger, and especially at the hour of death, when all hell shall let loose against us its legions to snatch away our souls, at that dread moment, that hour so full of fear, whereon our eternity depends. Ah, then most tender virgin, make us to feel the sweetness of thy motherly heart, and the might of thy intercession with Jesus, and open to us a safe refuge in that very fountain of mercy whence we may come to praise Him with thee in paradise, world without end. Amen.

An indulgence of 7 years once on any day of the month; A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, if this act of devotion is repeated daily for entire month (Apostolic Brief Dec. 21, 1901)

Copyright © 2013 – 2015. Holy Cross Publications. All rights reserved.

The Annunciation.

PRAYER BEFORE MEDITATION.

My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.

The Annunciation.

Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou amongst women.”—St. Luke i. 28.

We have now made acquaintance with this poor house of Nazareth, which Mary’s prayer and Joseph’s holiness had turned into the most wonderful sanctuary in which God was worshipped on earth. Here it is that the oracles of the prophets are about to be fulfilled, and that the thrice holy majesty of God is about to humble Itself. Here it is that the expected Saviour, after whose coming all mankind has so long been sighing, was about to come down from heaven, to take a body and soul like ours, in the womb of the most pure of all creatures. Is there one of us who does not feel annihilated at the grandeur of such a mystery? The intellect is stupified; faith alone enlightens us, and were it not for the text of the Gospel, so beautiful and so simple, no tongue of man could enter upon this august narrative. Let us humble ourselves, and instead of attempting to grasp with our intellect a blessing so inconceivable, let us be content to pour forth our hearts in grateful love towards our Incarnate Lord. O that our souls may be set on fire by this wonderful mystery of the love of God. O Jesus, Eternal Word, who hast come down from heaven to clothe Thyself with the weakness of a child in the pure womb of Mary, source of our hope, teach us the immensity of Thy self-sacrifice; teach us to love Thee as much as our hearts are able. Alas! how weak and miserable still will be our gratitude when compared with Thy sacrifice.

When we are awake before daylight, and, after our morning prayers, have gone out into the country in the first light of the dawn, have we not noticed the deep silence of all nature, the calm expectation with which every living thing awaits in silence the appearance of the sun? The mists roll away and rise up in the valleys, the sky reddens more and more, at length a point of light arises, sets the whole horizon on fire, bathes the fields and mountains in light, and shews us our homes, and the surrounding country as if through a golden haze. Then what a concert, what a hymn of joy breaks forth! How all things sing and bless God, and if only our conscience is at peace, how do we ourselves break our silence and burst forth in blessings to God! Such ought to be the feeling of each one of us when we open the Gospel to read the history of the Annunciation. Let silence reign in our inmost souls, while we think of the birth and holy childhood of Mary, which we have already described, when all was still wrapped in shade. Now the eternal dawn begins to kindle the horizon; the Sun of Righteousness is about to appear. Let us then recollect ourselves, that we may be ready to rejoice when we have greeted the first glow of light which announces to the earth the Desire of all nations.

One morning, says a devout historian of the Blessed Virgin, at this same hour of recollection and silence, Mary was alone in the part of the house which was her sanctuary: her prayer was rising towards heaven with a fervour ever new. She was beseeching God “to permit her to see with her eyes, and to receive into her arms, the Infant Saviour promised to the world. Grant, O Lord, she repeated, that I may hold this little Infant in my arms, and load Him with caresses.[1] Suddenly a shining light dazzled the eyes of the praying Virgin, and in the midst of this light stood a heavenly figure, bending low before Mary, in an attitude of reverence.

“The Angel Gabriel,” says the Evangelist St. Luke, “was sent from God into a city of Galilee called Nazareth, to a Virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the House of David: and the Virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women. And when she heard it she was troubled at his saying, and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. Behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of David His father; and He shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever, and of His kingdom there shall be no end. And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man? And the angel, answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee, and therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren; because no word shall be impossible with God. And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.”

[1] St. Bonaventure, Meditations on the Life of Jesus Christ.

PRAYER AFTER MEDITATION.

My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.

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August Devotion: The Most Pure Heart of Mary

Virtues to practice: The sanctification of our actions, diligence, edification, fidelity in little things


O Heart of Mary, Mother of God, and our Mother; Heart most worthy of love, in which the adorable Trinity is ever well pleased, worthy of the veneration and love of all the angels and of all men; Heart most like to the Heart of Jesus, of which thou art the perfect image; Heart full of goodness, ever compassionate toward our miseries; deign to melt our icy hearts and grant that they may be wholly changed into the likeness of the Heart of Jesus, our divine Saviour. Pour into them the love of thy virtues, and kindle in them that divine fire with which thou thyself dost ever burn. In thee let Holy Church find a safe shelter; protect her and be her dearest refuge, her tower of strength, impregnable against every assault of her enemies. Be thou the way which leads to Jesus, and the channel, through which we receive all graces needful for our salvation. Be our refuge in time of trouble, our solace in the midst of trial, our strength against temptation, our haven in persecution, our present help in every danger, and especially at the hour of death, when all hell shall let loose against us its legions to snatch away our souls, at that dread moment, that hour so full of fear, whereon our eternity depends. Ah, then most tender virgin, make us to feel the sweetness of thy motherly heart, and the might of thy intercession with Jesus, and open to us a safe refuge in that very fountain of mercy whence we may come to praise Him with thee in paradise, world without end. Amen.

An indulgence of 7 years once on any day of the month; A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, if this act of devotion is repeated daily for entire month (Apostolic Brief Dec. 21, 1901)

Copyright © 2013 – 2015. Holy Cross Publications. All rights reserved.

The Espousals of the Blessed Virgin — Nazareth. (continued)

PRAYER BEFORE MEDITATION.

My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.

The Espousals of the Blessed Virgin — Nazareth. (continued)

Joseph, her husband, a just man.” — St. Matt. i. 19.

Let us kneel before this humble house, like the pilgrims to the Holy Land and to our Lady of Loretto; let us love it as Joseph and Mary loved it, happy in their poverty, and living in prayer and labour under the eye of God. If God has given us a home as poor as theirs, let us think that holiness can make a sanctuary of any dwelling, where happiness can find place even in this world, through resignation, pious affections, and peace. If he has given to our hearths the riches refused to so many others, let us always think of the House of Nazareth, and imagine that we give to Joseph and to Mary whenever we give work or bread to the poor whom the Lord loves. This is the grace which we should ask for ourselves and each other, through the intercession of Mary, and also through the intercession of that great saint whose memory we should endeavour to bear away in our hearts to-night, never again to let it depart. Let us take St. Joseph for our patron and our friend. His virtues, before which the greatest intellects humble themselves, have nothing in them to alarm us. Labourers, who support your family by the labour of your hands, pray to this holy labourer, who supports by the labour of his hands both the Blessed Virgin and the Infant Jesus. You love people who are easy to speak to; love him then. You can certainly have no difficulty in speaking to him who, sprung from kings as he was, was poor as you are, and your equal in all but holiness. Become holy; love Jesus and Mary as much as he loved them, and you will become quite like St. Joseph. In the meantime tell him all your troubles, simply, as to a friend; he knows them all, and he has the power to remove them, if you deserve it, or to comfort you by teaching you to understand all that your soul will gain by them. Do you think if he was to pray for you that our Saviour would refuse anything to him whom for thirty years He called His father? Listen to what the great St. Teresa says on this subject: “I took for my advocate and my master the glorious St. Joseph, and specially recommended myself to him. I saw clearly afterwards that he whom I had called my master and my father, had delivered me more completely even than I had dared to ask him, in great risks, where the salvation of my soul was endangered. I never remember to this day having asked him a single thing which he has not done for me. To other saints, it appears to me, have been given particular graces, to succour men in one of their necessities, but I know by experience that the glorious St. Joseph succours them in everything; and it is the will of our Blessed Saviour that we should understand that as He submitted upon earth to everything he might order Him to do, since, being only foster-father, he bore the name of father, so he grants him all his requests in heaven, and this has been experienced also by some people whom I have advised to recommend themselves to him. I should wish to persuade all my brethren to become devout servants of this great saint. I never knew a person who had a sincere devotion to him, and who rendered him a special honour, who did not visibly make great advances in virtue; for his intercession does great things for those who recommend themselves to him . . . I ask, then, for the love of God, those who will not believe me to make the trial themselves; they will then learn by experience how greatly the soul benefits by commending itself to this glorious patriarch, having a sincere devotion to him . . . I do not know how we can think of the Queen of Angels, and of the time when she suffered such hardships with the Infant Jesus, without thanking St. Joseph for having done us all such good service by serving them.”

Let us love St. Joseph; let us love him who loved our Saviour so much, who protected Him, who took care of Him, hid Him, and nourished Him. Let us pray to him in life, that we may learn to serve Jesus as he did; let us pray to him in death, that we may die as he did, in the arms of Jesus and Mary.

Prayer.

O holy spouse of our glorious Mother, the simplest of all men and the greatest of all saints, since, while thou wert called the carpenter of Nazareth, it was given to thee to call by the name of son the eternal Son of God, teach us to love the obscurity of thy life, there to wait for Jesus, and there to serve Him as thou didst, with all the devotion of our souls. Bring often to our memories the humble house at Nazareth, that we may ponder at the same time on its poverty and on its greatness, and that, seeing such poor walls destined to contain the Child-God, we may understand that poverty may hide under its daily trials so great a treasure that no earthly sufferings would suffice to pay for it, and may the poorest of our houses become rich in virtues, like the house of Nazareth, and Jesus will come and dwell in them. Mary our holy Mother, and thou Joseph, who hast drawn from our Saviour’s love charity for all men, pray for us, that we may adorn our souls as an abode for Him, and that one day the divine Guest whom we have invited to remain with us, may give us entrance into His eternal kingdom. Amen.

Practice.

Often to return in spirit to the house at Nazareth—whether rich or poor to make it the model of our life. To call upon St. Joseph with confidence, and to love Jesus and Mary as he did.

PRAYER AFTER MEDITATION.

My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.

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August Devotion: The Most Pure Heart of Mary

Virtues to practice: The sanctification of our actions, diligence, edification, fidelity in little things


O Heart of Mary, Mother of God, and our Mother; Heart most worthy of love, in which the adorable Trinity is ever well pleased, worthy of the veneration and love of all the angels and of all men; Heart most like to the Heart of Jesus, of which thou art the perfect image; Heart full of goodness, ever compassionate toward our miseries; deign to melt our icy hearts and grant that they may be wholly changed into the likeness of the Heart of Jesus, our divine Saviour. Pour into them the love of thy virtues, and kindle in them that divine fire with which thou thyself dost ever burn. In thee let Holy Church find a safe shelter; protect her and be her dearest refuge, her tower of strength, impregnable against every assault of her enemies. Be thou the way which leads to Jesus, and the channel, through which we receive all graces needful for our salvation. Be our refuge in time of trouble, our solace in the midst of trial, our strength against temptation, our haven in persecution, our present help in every danger, and especially at the hour of death, when all hell shall let loose against us its legions to snatch away our souls, at that dread moment, that hour so full of fear, whereon our eternity depends. Ah, then most tender virgin, make us to feel the sweetness of thy motherly heart, and the might of thy intercession with Jesus, and open to us a safe refuge in that very fountain of mercy whence we may come to praise Him with thee in paradise, world without end. Amen.

An indulgence of 7 years once on any day of the month; A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, if this act of devotion is repeated daily for entire month (Apostolic Brief Dec. 21, 1901)

Copyright © 2013 – 2015. Holy Cross Publications. All rights reserved.