On the Eulogium Pronounced by the Woman in its Relation to Our Lady.
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.
On the Eulogium Pronounced by the Woman in its Relation to Our Lady.
Imagine that it is given to you to see the Blessed Virgin, standing on the threshold of Elizabeth’s house in heavenly rapture, her countenance beaming with a radiance which is not of earth, while she utters the prophecy wherewith we are all so familiar: “From henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.” (St. Luke i. 48.) This prediction meets with its primary fulfilment on the occasion which forms the subject of the present meditation.
1st. Consider that now for the first time that praise which Mary’s prophetic spirit foresaw would be her portion is loudly and publicly proclaimed. “Happy is the Mother who gave Thee birth,” the woman in the Gospel exclaimed, and this ejaculation has been re-echoed in all times, in all climes, throughout the whole Church, with the same rapturous delight for nineteen centuries. “Blessed is the womb of the Virgin Mary that bore the Son of the Eternal Father; blessed are the breasts that gave suck to Christ our Lord.” Thus Mary’s prediction is fulfilled. All generations of mankind extol her. All ages, all lands, all nations proclaim her praise. There is not a single Father of the Church, not a single theologian whose writings, whose discourses do not speak of Mary with fervent affection; we meet with no church, no cathedral, no chapel where there is not an image of Mary exposed for veneration. St. Ephrem, in his delight at this vast, this universal tribute of adoration paid to the Mother of God, exclaims: “immaculate Virgin, consummate in virtue, rich in renown! Thou art encircled by an aureola brighter than the sun, thou art crowned with greater glory than the cherubim, higher sanctity than the seraphim, thou art exalted above all the blessed denizens of heaven.” Meditate attentively, my soul, on the great, the universal, the unceasing veneration paid to Mary, inaugurated by the eulogium of this woman and continued up to the present time.
2d. Consider your own love and veneration for the Blessed Virgin. You call her your Mother, your Queen, your Consoler and Protector, and indeed she is all this to you. But observe that these names require you to offer her the whole love and devotion of your heart. Do you render her what is due to her? In what manner do you recite the Hours? Are the wreaths the rosaries which you lay at her feet, fresh and fragrant or faded and withered? Remember how a voice once spoke from the cross, a voice that still speaks to you, saying: “Behold thy Mother,” “Ecce Mater tua.” The dying Redeemer had, in the excess of His divine charity, already given all to us; He had given His grace, His light, the Bread of Heaven to those who believed in Him; He had offered up His own life for His friends, and at last, to crown all the blessings His love had bestowed on us, He gave us His Mother. And in very truth she is our Mother. “He who follows Mary,” says St. Bernard, “will not go astray and will not fall into despair. Give her thy hand, and she will hold thee up; she will protect thee and thy footsteps shall not falter. Under her maternal guidance fear no trouble; under her guardianship thy bark will not be wrecked.” Wherefore “behold thy Mother,” and from henceforth display more love, deeper veneration for her than heretofore; and if you are a son, a daughter of our Seraphic Father, forget not the ardent, the tender love of that saint for Mary; remember how he placed his Order under her patronage, how he chose her for his intercessor, how after Christ, he reposed in her his greatest trust. If your Father acted thus do you imitate him. “If you be the children of Abraham, do the works of Abraham,” our Lord once said to those who boasted that they were the descendants of that great patriarch.
3d. Consider the answer our Lord made to the woman’s tribute of praise: “Yea, rather blessed are they who hear the Word of God and keep it.” (St. Luke xi. 28.) In saying this He does not declare the laudatory exclamation of the woman to be unjust or ill-timed; on the contrary He emphasizes it, for in these words He gives the principal reason why Mary is to be called blessed. She is blessed, as Albertus Magnus says, because of her obedience, because of her faithful adherence to and fulfilment of the word of God. “Mary is more blessed,” writes St. Augustine, “through receiving the faith of Christ than through conceiving the humanity of Christ; her divine maternity of itself would have profited her nothing had she not borne Christ in her heart as well as in her womb.” “Had she not,” we quote the words of St. Chrysostom, “been eminent in virtue and in faith, it would have been of little avail to her to have given birth to our Lord.” You, my soul, frequently invoke the aid of Mary, you implore her to support you on the path of salvation. From this time forth do not omit to pray her to obtain for you the grace to keep and to fulfil the Word of God which you hear daily; make a resolution to give this practical proof of your devotion to Mary, your desire to imitate her, for only by doing thus will you deserve to be called blessed.
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.
– Meditations on the Life, Teaching, and Passion of Jesus Christ
(Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur: New York, December 31, 1900)
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