Why the Gospels preserve silence in regard to Saint Ann.
Persons ask with astonishment why the Holy Scriptures speak so little of personages whose destiny is bound up with the work of our redemption. A single page would contain all that is directly related of the Blessed Virgin and scarcely is Saint Joseph mentioned at all, while the lives, the virtues, and even the name of St. Ann and her pious spouse, Saint Joachim, are left in complete oblivion.
At first sight, this guidance of the Holy Ghost appears strange, but reflection makes us soon perceive and acknowledge its wisdom. This mysterious silence is in itself praise, since a nearly similar apportionment is made to St, Ann and St. Joachim as to the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph. Besides, are not all these illustrious personages grouped together in one picture, our Lord Himself occupying the foreground? And do not all the glories of the Man-God redound upon their venerable heads?
Indeed, the faithful soul cannot, in its flights heavenward, separate them from Jesus; it cannot think of Him without in some manner thinking of them; it cannot love Him without loving also and thanking those who were allied to him by family ties, and from whose race and blood He descended. It cannot, in a word, put aside those whose existence was co-ordained with His. Oh, no. Saint Ann and Saint Joachim in the evangelical picture are not placed entirely in the shade, since they participate in the glories of Christ, and since the Lily Immaculate took its root in their hearts, and budded forth from their blood as from a most pure fountain. To have merited such a favor, must not Saint Ann particularly have gone far beyond the limits of ordinary sanctity?
A pious and learned author gives another interpretation to this silence of the gospels which is not less honorable to Saint Ann: “It was not becoming,” said he, “that the Blessed Virgin should be commended through the virtues of her parents, as our Lord could not be made commendable on account of the virtues of His Mother; but on the contrary, from the infinite holiness of our Lord we may infer that of Mary, and from the holiness of Mary that of her parents. Now, the faithful for that same reason should suppose in them the rarest merit and virtues, the Holy Ghost not having permitted the Evangelists to give their history.”
Nevertheless, to conceive an adequate idea of these holy Patriarchs, it will suffice to apply to them an infallible rule—a measure pointed out by Wisdom Itself, who has said: “By their fruits you shall know them.” This saying will serve as a sounding line, to show the immeasurable depths of their virtues. Let us imitate the Hebrews in the desert impatient to verify what was related to them of the delights of the promised land, they, from amongst themselves, chose twelve, whom they sent to visit it and bring back some of its fruits. After a strict survey, the explorers returned to the Children of Israel. Two of them brought upon a pole or hand-barrow a branch of a vine bearing its bunch of grapes, the rest were loaded with divers fruits from the land of Canaan. They showed them to the assemblage, related to them what they had seen, and said: “We have travelled through the land which you have wished us to visit, and which is indeed a land flowing with milk and honey, as you may judge by its fruits.”
Now, St. Ann and St. Joachim are in some sort that Land of Promise, at least this title is given them by the Fathers and by some pious writers. If you would appreciate their worth, see their fruit: on that blessed land, in that terrestrial paradise, sprang up the rod of Jesse, the tree which has given the Fruit of life — Life itself. Joachim was the father and Ann the mother of Mary Immaculate, of whom was born Jesus.
Like the Hebrews wandering through a lonely desert, let us seek a refuge in that land where flow the milk and honey of divine comforts; in afflictions, temptations and in all our wants, let us have recourse to Saint Ann, and implore her maternal kindness.
She is mother of the Mother of grace and mercy.
Canticle to Saint Ann.
The illustrious rod of Jesse produced a glorious branch, and the branch sent forth a flower.
Ann is that rod, the Mother of God is the branch, and Jesus Christ is the flower.
V. Pray for us, blessed Ann.
R. That we may be delivered from all evil.
Let us pray.
O God, who didst heap upon the Blessed Ann so many graces, that she merited to bring forth the Mother of Thy Divine Son, grant us, through the intercession of the Mother and Daughter, the abundance of Thy atonement, that, by the prayers and merits of her whose memory we honor with pious love, we may merit to arrive at the heavenly Jerusalem. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Among the Saints who have borne special affection to Saint Ann and to the glorious Patriarch Joachim, their own Immaculate Daughter and St. Joseph are assuredly the first in rank. What truly filial care has Mary not taken at all times to procure the honor and invocation of her venerable parents! Incomparably superior to Saint Ann and St. Joachim in the hierarchy of grace, raised above them by the divine maternity, the humble Virgin cannot nevertheless forget that she is their daughter; she preserves for them in her heart an abiding gratitude and love. As Jesus takes pleasure in having His Mother honored, and He Himself inspires the numberless honors with which the Church surrounds her, so, in proportion, Mary takes pleasure in having her faithful servants acquit the duty of filial affection which she owes to her august parents. Those who had the greatest intimacy with her, Lazarus, his sisters Martha and Mary, but especially the disciple whom Jesus loved, must have been the first to whom the Virgin blest transmitted her sentiments. This is not an idle conjecture: the privileged apostle became not only the adopted son of Mary in a purely spiritual and mystical point of view, he was, moreover, introduced into her family by his Good Master; he should then, in return, attach himself with respectful affection to all that his adopted mother loved. As to Lazarus, the friend of our Lord, Mary Magdalen and Martha, such was their love for St. Ann, according to the testimony of tradition, that they would not leave the ungrateful country from which they were expelled without carrying with them her blessed remains.
Cast, with other disciples, into an old ship, without sails, without rudder, without provisions, abandoned to the surges of the sea, and thus condemned to a cruel and inevitable death, they believed themselves sufficiently rich, sufficiently provided, in the sole possession of that treasure from which they would not be separated, and under its protection they effected a most speedy and wonderful voyage from Palestine to the coasts of Provence. Saint Ann could then count her devotees in the sacred college of the apostles as well as amongst the first followers of Our Blessed Saviour.
Prayers to Saint Ann.
Hail! glorious St. Ann, blessed among all mothers! Thou hadst for thy daughter the most holy Virgin Mary, and she yielded reverential submission and obedience to thee. I admire the excellence of thy election, and the graces with which the Most High was pleased to adorn thee. I unite with Mary, Mother of God, and ever Virgin, to honor thee, to love thee, and to put myself under thy protection. I consecrate to Jesus, to Mary and to thee my whole life, as an humble tribute of my devotion. Obtain graces I ask for me particularly holiness of life, that I may be worthy of celestial joys. Amen.
(50 days indulgence once a day.—Pius IX., June 4, 1869.)
Glorious and holy Lady! thou art the admiration of Heaven, the honor of the saints, and the reverenced of earth. God the Father cherishes in thee the Mother of His well-beloved Daughter. The Son of God loves thee for having given Him a Mother from whom He was born Man and the Saviour of men. The Holy Ghost loves thee for having bestowed on Him so beautiful, so worthy, and so perfect a Spouse. The angels and the elect honor thee as the Mother of their Sovereign. The just, the penitent and the sinner claim thee for their powerful advocate with God, for through thy intercession, the just hope for an increase of grace, the penitent for justification, and the sinner for the remission of his crimes. Be thou mild and clement towards us, and while we honor and invoke thee here below, plead for us in heaven. Employ there in our favor the credit which belongs to thee, and do not suffer any of thy clients to be lost. Show thyself always the refuge of sinners, the asylum of the guilty, the consolation of the afflicted, and the security of thy faithful servants; defend our cause now and at the hour of our death, we beseech thee, by the love thou hast for Jesus and His Blessed Mother, thy daughter, in order that, assisted by thy prayers, we may one day possess eternal life. Amen.
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