VIRGIN MOST PRUDENT, PRAY FOR US.
1. Wisdom does not consist in a scientific education, in great knowledge, or in varied accomplishments, for all these things are in a greater or less degree natural, and unless one makes good use of them, they are of no benefit, but rather detrimental to their possessor. Therefore, we read in the following of Christ: “Indeed an humble husbandman that serveth God is better than a proud philosopher, who neglecting himself, considers the course of the heavens.”—(i Book c. 2.) Wisdom consists in the fear of God. “Behold the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom.”—(Job. 18. 28.) “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”— (Ps. 110: 10.) “To fear God is the fulness of wisdom.”— (Ecclus. I: 20.) He who always has God before his eyes and fears nothing more than to offend him is truly wise. This wisdom Mary possessed in the most eminent degree. She loved God above all things, with her whole heart, and for this reason she feared nothing so much as to displease him even in the least regard. If her conscience had reproached her even with the most insignificant fault, she would have died of sorrow. She manifested this tender fear of God upon every occasion, as we read in the Gospel. Behold how she trembled when the angel entered and saluted her as full of grace, blessed among women! In her humility she feared to be deluded by Satan, as was our first mother Eve, and to offend God, nor were her fears quieted until she was perfectly convinced that it was indeed an angel that addressed her, and that there was no danger of acting contrary to the divine will. She visited her cousin in great haste, because she feared that she might, in converse with the world, sully her conscience and displease God. When an angel appeared to Joseph in sleep and ordered him to flee into Egypt with the Child and His mother, she did not delay a moment in obeying this divine command; the thought God wills it, caused her to forget all the dangers and hardships of so long a journey. Yes. Mary stands under the holy rood, she stands erect in the superabundance of her sorrow, not a murmur, not a moan issues from her quivering lips. She does not abandon herself to her grief, lest she would thereby offend God, Whose will she knew it to be that His Son should die for the salvation of the world. Thus in every circumstance of life Mary willingly did what she recognized to be right and good, because a childlike fear of God animated her heart. We, therefore, justly salute her as the wisest and most prudent of virgins.
My dear Christian, aspire to this wisdom and preserve the fear of God in your heart. If you suffer interior or exterior temptation, say with Joseph of Egypt: “How can I do this wicked thing and sin against my God?”— (Gen. 39: 9). If you find it difficult to fulfill your religious duties or the duties of your state of life, say: How can I hesitate to comply with this duty when I know it to be the will of God? If a sinful inclination or desire arises in your heart, suppress it immediately, and say: To this inclination, this desire, I must not give consent, because I would thereby displease God. If you have committed a fault through inadvertence or surprise, repent of it immediately, and say O my God, I am sincerely sorry for having offended thee, but with thy grace I will never more commit this fault. May the fear of the Lord accompany you in all your ways; day and night may it be in your eyes, in your ears, on your tongue, in your hands and feet, and in your heart, that it may make you prudent and preserve you from every sin “Fear God, and keep his commandments, for this is all man,” (that is the whole business and duty of man).—(Eccles. 12 13.)
2. He who possesses true wisdom does not attach his heart to the things of this earth, for he knows that all things under the sun are vain, frail, fleeting, and perishable. He lives and labors in the world, it is true, he pursues his avocation, acquires riches, and enjoys sometimes an innocent pleasure, but he has no inordinate love for these things, he looks upon temporal possessions only as the means whereby to obtain his eternal destiny. With the Apostle he says: “I esteem all things to be but loss, for the excellent knowledge of Jesus Christ my Lord; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but as dung, that I may gain Christ.”— (Phil. 3: 8.) Herein, too, Mary showed that she was a virgin most prudent. There never has been a human being upon earth whose heart was detached so thoroughly from the goods of this world as hers. Though of royal extraction, she was free from every feeling of ambition, she disdained honors and dignities, and loved above all, a life of poverty and contempt. We do not read that Mary was present in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday when the populace received her Son with every mark of honor, bearing palm branches in their hands. On the other hand, she did not fail to make her appearance on Mount Calvary at the crucifixion of her Son, where she was exposed to the contumely and ignominy of being looked upon as the mother of a malefactor, condemned to die the disgraceful death of the cross. She was contented in her poverty and had no desire for the wealth of the world, for she was well aware “that they who would become rich, fall into temptation, and into the snares of the devil, and into many unprofitable and hurtful desires, which drown men in destruction and perdition.”— (I Tim. 6: 9.) She gladly relinquished the joys and pleasures of life and considered it the greatest happiness to follow her poor, despised Jesus on the Way of the Cross. God alone was the object of her love and desires.
My dear Christian, take Mary for your model and imitate her virtues. God has not created you for this world, but for heaven; you would act contrary to your destiny, if you should be solicitous only for the things of earth and not for those which are eternal. The world has nothing that could make you truly happy. Moreover, the goods of this earth are frail and fleeting, you can possess and enjoy them only until your death, which every moment draws nearer and which after a short time will call you from the land of the living. Act prudently and employ your temporal possessions as a means of doing good and of obtaining your eternal salvation. Examine your conscience and see if you nourish in your heart an inordinate love for any person or thing. If such should be the case, amend your life, and give your entire, undivided love to God.
3. He who is truly wise and prudent is solicitous to practice virtue and good works, for faith teaches that God will love and reward us the more, in proportion as we are zealous in doing good and aiming after perfection. Mary indeed bears this mark of wisdom. The love of God which animated her heart urged her unceasingly on in the practice of every virtue and good work for which she had an opportunity, and impelled her ever to renew her efforts towards progress in the path of perfection. The Gospel records that the Child Jesus increased in wisdom, and age, and grace with God and men (Luke 2: 52,) which words are also applicable to Mary, for the more she advanced in years, the more she increased in virtue and holiness, until finally, she attained so high a degree of perfection as to surpass all the Angels and Saints. Let us turn our eyes to Mary that we may learn from her prudence and wisdom, if we have a good intention and devoutly venerate her, she will certainly not fail to conduct us in the way of wisdom. Blessed Margaret Mary Alacocque, who from her earliest infancy cherished a tender love for the Blessed Virgin, and venerated her daily, may serve us as an example. The glorious Mother of God, wished to show her the same favor, which she had formerly manifested to St. Anthony of Padua. She appeared to Margaret with the divine Infant and allowed her to caress him and to take him in her arms. “The Holy Virgin,” said the blessed Margaret, “on one occasion gave me to understand that we must detach our heart from all worldly things, if we wish to have intercourse with heaven.” The Blessed Virgin also disclosed to her under another figure the sanctity of the true religious; she showed her the Sacred Heart of Jesus as a fountain, the salutary waters of which flow into the hearts of all his friends. Jesus himself conformed Sister Margaret according to the heart of His most holy Mother. Among other things he once prescribed for her three exercises, which should enable her to become more and more conformable to the Blessed Virgin.
- The first exercise was to hear Mass with sentiments similar to those with which Mary stood beneath the cross on Calvary, and offered up the Passion and death of her Son to the heavenly Father, in order to implore of Him the conversion of all hardened and unbelieving hearts.
- The second exercise was to receive holy Communion in that spirit of humility, gratitude, and love with which Mary conceived the Son of God.
- The third exercise was to pray with that attention and devotion with which Mary prayed as a child, when she was brought into the temple by her parents and presented to the Lord.
Thus Sister Margaret, instructed by Jesus and Mary attained a high degree of sanctity and died a holy death.
Consider the words of St. James: “The wisdom that is from above, first indeed is chaste, then peaceable, modest, easy to be persuaded, consenting to the good, full of mercy, and good fruits.” — (3: 17.) Here St. James teaches you how, according to the example of Mary, you must conduct yourself, in order to live according to the rules of Christian wisdom and prudence. Fear God, preserve a pure heart, and lead a blameless life; live in peace, and be friendly and affable with all; yield where you can yield without sin; approve and love what is true and good, but disapprove, condemn, and detest what is sinful and contrary to truth; be compassionate and merciful to the needy and do good to them as much as is in your power; be zealous in the service of God, practice those virtues and good works for the exercise of which you have an opportunity, and labor daily at your amendment and perfection. If you observe these rules, you will possess true prudence and wisdom, which will insure your happiness for time and eternity.
– The New May Devotions