Opening Exercise for the Month of May.
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.
Opening Exercise for the Month of May.
“Come, children, hearken to me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord.” – Ps. xxxiii. 12.
THIS sweet and maternal invitation the Blessed Virgin extends to all her children at the opening exercises of the month of May. Need I remind you that Catholic piety has linked to this month the sweet name of Mary, and the Church has especially consecrated this time to Mary’s honor and praise? Now it is that our blessed Mother bids her children come to her with joy and fullest confidence. “It is I who call you, I who am your queen, your sovereign, your advocate – the Mother of your God, your own Mother. For every child my heart is full of love, my hands are filled with blessings.” Who is there that can coldly listen to this invitation, who is there that will not respond to this appeal? Since we are the children of God, brethren of Jesus Christ, we are also the children of Mary. Now she invites us to her sanctuary, now she calls us to her altars. She wishes to speak to us, to instruct us, to teach us by her own example the fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of all wisdom and all perfection.
During this blessed month of May Mary calls us; we will respond to the invitation joyfully, we will hear her with docility, and we will imitate the example she has given us.
I. We will respond joyfully. – When I behold so many of the devout children of Mary present at the opening exercise of the month of May I am consoled, nay, more, I am encouraged. Your prompt attendance and respectful attention induce me to think that there is no need to employ arguments to bring you to Mary’s shrine. [What a sorry state the Church is in when this can no longer be said. Let us pray the daily Rosary this month for our Blessed Mother’s intercession that once again the churches may be filled with the faithful and the true faith!] The very name of Mary has for Catholic souls a charm sufficiently attractive. It recalls to us a perfection greater far than human creature ever attained. It is the symbol of love, of tenderness, and of mercy. It inspires respect, confidence, gratitude, and devotion; and when these sentiments fill our hearts we cannot but gather near the altars of Mary and give fullest expression to our devotion. If the Queen of Saba so earnestly desired to contemplate Solomon’s glory and magnificence, if she wished to give expression to her admiration for his incomparable wisdom, how much more ardently should we desire to render our homage to the Mother of Him of Whom Solomon was only a weak and imperfect figure! Moreover, Mary is called by the Church the very seat of wisdom, and is, therefore, more worthy of admiration than the great King Solomon arrayed in all the splendor of his Eastern magnificence.
Mary is the all-powerful queen of heaven and earth. Is it not, then, most just and suitable that her faithful subjects should assemble and testify their respect and veneration for her – to thank her for the countless blessings which they owe to her inexhaustible munificence, and to give her again and again renewed proofs of their entire devotion? She is also the advocate and the refuge of sinners. What is more natural than to see unfortunate children hastening to cast themselves at her feet, to confide the care of their eternal salvation to her hands, to shield themselves under the mantle of her protection, that they may escape the chastisement which justice demands? These are some of the many motives which must prompt us to respond joyfully to the sweet invitation which is now given us.
2. We will hear her with docility. – If Mary calls her children to her sanctuary, she wishes that they should be instructed. The exercises of the month of May will consist principally in readings or instructions on the life, the mysteries, the virtues for which the Blessed Virgin was remarkable. Prayer and pious songs will also form part of these exercises. Let us regard the instructions which we will hear during this month as falling from her own virgin lips. We cannot forget that our blessed Saviour when on earth told us that He had no other doctrine to preach to men than the doctrine of His Heavenly Father (St. John vii. 1 6). Nor has Mary any other teaching to give us now than that which she heard from the mouth of her own Divine Son. To-day she gives the same command she gave at the wedding feast of Cana: “Do whatsoever He will tell you.” Throughout her life on earth her only aim had been to do God’s will, to observe what He commanded. Hence, our blessed Saviour publicly eulogized His Mother for her faithful observance of God’s law. “Blessed is the womb that bore Thee,” cried a woman among the multitudes who followed Christ. Immediately He answered and said: “Yea, rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it” (St. Luke xi. 27, 28). By these words Our Saviour wished the people to understand that the especial merit of Mary, His Mother, was that she heard the word of God with docility and made this word the guide of her daily life. This will be our disposition, also, while assisting at the pious exercises of the month of May. After the example of Mary, we, too, will hear the instructions given us with docility, and strive to make them the conduct of our lives each succeeding day, till God shall call us from this vale of tears.
3. We will follow her example. – Mary invites us to hear her teachings and strengthens us in the fear of the Lord. Here there is no question of servile fear, but of love, which forbids everything which can be displeasing to God, obedience to His law, and entire submission in all things to His adorable will. It is by the example of her own life that Mary will teach us the fear of the Lord. In the course of our meditations during this month we will find in Mary’s life the perfect model of all the Christian virtues. In the temple she will teach young people the practice of recollection and flight from the world. In her marriage with St. Joseph you will learn to follow God’s will in the choice of vocation. From her life at Nazareth mothers of families will learn the manner of fulfilling their duties, submission, solicitude, and domestic obligations. Following the footsteps of Jesus, and on the hill of Calvary, she will teach all Christians fidelity, generosity, a spirit of devotion and sacrifice – in a word, all those virtues which must characterize the true disciples of a crucified God. With these dispositions we will ask of our good Mother to begin, continue, and terminate the exercises of this month consecrated to her. If we come to Mary now with confidence, we may reasonably expect that she will one day conduct us to the presence of Jesus, her Son, to share His glory in life eternal.
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.
That Temporal Miseries Are to Be Borne with Patience after the Example of Jesus Christ.
The life of man on earth is full of grief, of misery, and of sufferings. Who is there that does not know this? We are visibly punished, and as the Justice which chastises us is all-powetful, there are no means of escape from the chastisement, Now, in this condition, human wisdom has seen but the choice between two alternatives, either to shut its eyes to the nature of things and deny that it was punishment, or to seek a distraction from it in the indulgence of the passions. It has demanded happiness from pride and from the senses, and, deceived in its hopes, it has veiled its head, saying: There is no remedy. The world was in this condition, when suddenly a voice was heard: Blessed are they that mourn! (Matt. v. 5)· The nations listen and are astonished: something new is stirred up within them; they understand, they taste the joy of tears, and from the height of the cross, on which the man of sorrows (Is. liii. 3) is suspended an inexhaustible river of unknown consolations flows over the entire human race. Life has lost its sadness, since Jesus, bathed in a sweat of blood, and in the midst of his agony, cried out: My soul is sorrowful even unto death (Mark, :r.iv. 34).. – Thomas à Kempis – Imitation of Christ Bk III, Ch XVIII reflection.
May Devotion: The Blessed Virgin Mary
Virtues to practice: Meekness, purity, the spirit of poverty
O holy Mary, my Mistress, into thy blessed trust and special keeping, into the bosom of thy tender mercy, this day, every day of my life and at the hour of my death, I commend my soul and body; to thee I entrust all my hopes and consolations, all my trials and miseries, my life and the end of my life, that through thy most holy intercession and thy merits, all my actions may be ordered and disposed according to thy will and that of thy divine Son. Amen (St. Aloysius Gonzaga)
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that any one who fled to thy protection, implored thy help or sought thy intercession, was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins and Mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful; O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.
(For either of the above prayers: An indulgence of 3 years.
A plenary indulgence once a month on the usual conditions for the daily recitation of this prayer.)
The faithful who during the month of May take part in public exercises in honor of the B.V.M. may gain: An indulgence of 7 years on any day of the month; a plenary indulgence if they assist at the exercises on at least 10 days, and moreover, go to confession, receive Holy Communion, and pray for the Holy Father’s intentions.
Those who perform their devotions privately during the aforesaid month are granted: an indulgence of 5 years once on any day of the month; a plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, if they perform these devotions every day during the month; but where public exercises are held, this indulgence is granted only to those who are lawfully hindered from taking part in the same. (Raccolta).
‘Tis the Month of Our Mother
‘Tis the month of our Mother,
The blessed and beautiful days,
When our lips and our spirits
Are glowing with love
and with praise.
Refrain: All hail to dear Mary,
The Guardian of our way.
To the fairest of all Queens
Be the fairest of seasons, sweet May.
Oh what peace to Her children
‘Mid sorrows and trials to know,
That the love of their Mother
Hath ever a solace for woe.
And, what joy to the erring,
The sinful and sorrowful soul;
That a trust in her guidance,
will lead to a glorious goal.
Let us sing then, rejoicing,
that God hath so honored our race,
as to clothe with our nature,
Sweet Mary, the Mother of Grace.
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