May 8th. – Instruction 8. The 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.
May 8th. – Instruction 8. The Visitation.
“Mary went unto the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda.” – St. Luke i. 39.
The Blessed Virgin, on hearing from the angel that her cousin, St. Elizabeth, had conceived, hastened to the mountains of Judea to visit her. The Gospel tells us that she departed instantly, without delay, to congratulate her relative on her happiness. The journey between Nazareth and Hebron, the home of Elizabeth, will take at least five days to accomplish. Furthermore, this journey must be made on foot. Neither the length of the journey, nor the difficulty in traversing the wild mountain places, nor the weakness of her sex, hinders her for an instant. She departs, as the Gospel tells us, in haste for the home of her cousin, situated in the mountains of Judea. Her holy spouse Joseph accompanies her, as her protector and guardian. At last the journey is ended; she enters the house of Zachary, and salutes her happy cousin. The infant which Elizabeth carries in her womb leaps with joy at the sound of Mary’s voice. Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, exclaims: “Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence this happiness, that the Mother of my Lord should come to visit me?” Limiting ourselves to this short historical account, we can learn from the example of Mary three characteristics of charity toward our neighbor – zeal, humility, and generosity.
1. Zeal. – Hardly had the Blessed Virgin learned from the mouth of the angel the signal favor accorded to her cousin Elizabeth than she hastens to offer her congratulations. She longs to exchange sentiments of mutual joy, and to speak with her relative of the goodness and mercy of God, the source of all their happiness. What an admirable charity is here manifested, and how worthy of imitation! In our ordinary relations of life, even in the visits which we make, Christian charity should be evident. It is by this standard we can distinguish the motives of men. Only too often there is found jealousy, hypocrisy, and falsehood. Not infrequently men congratulate each other on the success of some temporal advantage, on some exaltation to rank, or the possession of a lucrative position. Yet, behind all these flattering words sentiments of jealousy are easily discernible. The most affectionate and cordial demonstrations are only mere ceremony, and are quickly changed to unjust censure and cruel criticism. They never dream of considering the fortunate circumstances of their neighbor as so many blessings of Heaven. Grace and supernatural favors are counted as nothing. Mary’s prompt visit to her cousin should teach Christians the motives which should inspire charity toward their brethren. Nor can we forget this truth: what we should admire above all, what should be most worthy of our congratulations, are the graces and the supernatural favors which it pleases God to bestow on our brethren.
2. Humility. – The charity of the Blessed Virgin in the mystery of the visitation was as humble as it was zealous. When Elizabeth beheld Mary she exclaimed in admiration and astonishment: “Whence have I this honor, that the Mother of my God deigns to visit me?” Mary, by her incomparable dignity of Mother of God, was more exalted than Elizabeth; however, by her marvellous condescension she makes the first advances. The mountainous journey is long and difficult, but no obstacle can arrest her charity. She is only too happy to offer to her cousin her heartfelt congratulations. Mary is the first to salute Elizabeth and to compliment her on the favor God has given her. Mark well, not one word escapes her lips which will proclaim her own exaltation. Not a word of the marvel which is wrought in herself by the visit of the angel, the miraculous incarnation of the Messias, of all that had been predicted of her Son’s royalty. It is Elizabeth, inspired by the Holy Spirit, who praises and congratulates Mary, in her turn, for having believed all the angel had announced to her on the part of God. What an admirable example of humble charity Mary and Elizabeth here give us! Mary is unmindful of her eminent dignity, and is first in her congratulations to Elizabeth; whilst Elizabeth thinks only of proclaiming the glory of Mary. Thus both demonstrate the truth that humility is the inseparable companion of true charity.
3. Generosity. God is charity, the Holy Scripture tells us, because He loves to give Himself to us. Mary, saluted full of grace, thereby participates in the divine nature more than any other creature, and brings with her the superabundance of heavenly gifts to enrich us. In fact, see the blessings she carries with her to the mountains of Judea! Hardly has she opened her lips to salute Elizabeth than John the Baptist leaps with joy in the womb of his mother, as a sign of his own innocence, which later on will be fully established. Elizabeth herself is filled with the Holy Spirit, and enlightened on the great mystery of the salvation and redemption of men. “And Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit. With a loud voice she exclaims, Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb!” From her mouth falls for the first time this eulogy of Mary, which the Church has only borrowed to repeat again and again. Before Mary returns to Nazareth, after the birth of the Holy Precursor, Zachary regains his speech of which the angel had deprived him in punishment of his incredulity. Thus it is from the visitation the Blessed Virgin appears to us as the dispensatrix of spiritual and corporal blessings which we may hope to receive through the mercy of God. By her example she teaches us, also, to place no limit to our charity for our neighbor, by assisting him as far as we can in the needs of his soul and body. As Mary did, we should refer all glory to God for the good He is pleased to accomplish in us and in others. We should reflect on the words of her admirable canticle, “My soul doth magnify the Lord,” in time and in eternity.
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.
Of supporting Injuries, and who is proved to be truly patient.
If we have often to suffer from our neighbour, he has not the less to suffer from us. But you say: there are many things hard to bear. Well then, your merit will be the greater on that account. Grace is given to you only for the purpose of doing by its means what would be totally impossible to unaided human nature. Besides, what is there that happens to you, which God has not foreseen, which God has not willed. Patience then is only a sweet and calm submission to what He ordains, and without it we live in perpt:tual trouble; for who hath resisted God, and hath had peace? (Job. ix. 4). Who after that will dare to murmur, to be passionate, or to return evil for evil? – Thomas à Kempis – Imitation of Christ Bk III, Ch XIX 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).
O Mary, My Mother
O Mary my Mother, to thee do I flee,
In all my afflictions I hasten to thee.
Thy heart is so gentle, so loving, so mild,
Thou canst not reject me, Thy suppliant child.
O Mary my Mother, I’m longing to see
The glory thy Son has bestowed upon thee;
That heaven of glory so purely thine own,
Reward which thy virtues, thy purity won.
O Mary my Mother, so loving, so mild,
Remember how Jesus bequeathed me thy child.
In life let me ever thy child truly be,
That death may but lead me to Jesus and thee.
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