May 10th. – Instruction 10. Journey of Mary to Bethlehem.
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 10th. – Instruction 10. Journey of Mary to Bethlehem.
“There was no room for them in the inn.” – St. Luke ii. 7.
The evangelist St. Luke vividly recounts the circumstances which immediately preceded the birth of Christ. He says: “In those days there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled. And all went to be enrolled, every one into his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled, with Mary his espoused wife, who was with child. And it came to pass that when they were there her days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her first born Son, wrapped Him up in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inns of Bethlehem.” Here, related in a few simple words, is the account of the most important event in the whole history of the world. Every circumstance of interest to the world is closely linked to that journey of Mary to Bethlehem; in fact, whatever we possess dates from the birth of Our Lord and Saviour. The public acts of the entire universe, as well as the most trivial document, are commenced by the statement, “in the year of Our Lord, 1800,” etc. The journals which have been most hostile to religion have not been able to adopt another date than the birth of Him Whose holy name they blaspheme. Let us follow Mary in her journey, at Bethlehem, and in the humble stable.
I. In her journey. – The prophet Micheas had predicted that the Chief promised to the people of Israel would come from Bethlehem. To accomplish this prophecy God will employ the powerful masters of the earth. “Princes of the world,” says Bossuet, “behold what you do! The world is disturbed by your desire to make an enrollment of your subjects. You wish to know your strength, the tributes which must be paid, the number of your future soldiers. This is doubtless your wish, but God has other designs; and these designs you will execute, thinking only of your own conceits, which are purely human. His Son must be born in Bethlehem. He had predicted this by His prophet more than seven hundred years ago, and now the world is stirred to accomplish this prophecy.” Mary obeys the order of Caesar. In him she respects the authority of God Himself. Without pretext or excuse she departs from Nazareth. Neither the rigor of the season, nor the length of the journey, nor the fatigue, will hinder her. With Joseph, her holy spouse and guardian, she begins the toilsome journey to Bethlehem, the birthplace of their family, which was of the royal race of David. What an admirable example of obedience and submission to the legitimate powers of the world! For the present generation Mary’s obedience is especially worthy of admiration. It is evident on all sides that the fierce fever of independence and unbridled liberty has gained ascendance and is carried so far as to throw off the yoke of all authority, even the most legitimate. From the womb of His Mother, Jesus would teach us the maxim which later on He will repeat, and which will be the safeguard of society: “Render to Caesar the things which are Caesar’s and to God the things which are God’s.”
2. At Bethlehem. – After a long and difficult voyage, Mary and Joseph arrive in the city of David. But here new trials await them. It is vain that they seek admission. The inhospitable doors are closed against them. In the words of the evangelist “there is no place for them.” Mark well, he does not say there is no room vacant. Yes, there are plenty of vacant places, but there are none for Mary and Joseph. The appearance of Joseph gives evidence that he is fatigued and worn by the long journey. There is nothing in the appearance of Mary to attract the attention or curiosity of the people about them. The poverty of both is apparent, and they are therefore despised, rejected, destitute. But the time for the birth of her Son has come. The Incarnate Word is about to appear in the world. Does it not seem that all the inhabitants of Bethlehem should vie with one another in offering an asylum to the Virgin who will give to the world the Messias expected for so many ages? But no; the people of Bethlehem are occupied with their own affairs, their pleasures, and the events occasioned by the edict of the Emperor Augustus. They have forgotten the words of the prophets and the promises of God, and have no anxiety for all that regards their salvation. Mary sees with sorrow the utter disregard for her Son Jesus, and even then realizes the words of the beloved disciple spoken later on: “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not” (St. John i, ii), Although it is He Who has created the vast world, yet He cannot have for Himself the smallest place in a little village.
3. In the humble stable. – What must now become of Mary and Joseph? They are rejected by the rich, who occupy the accommodations of Bethlehem, and are strangers in the city of their ancestors. Whither will they go, where seek a refuge? In what lodging will they find a crib for the Infant God? In the suburbs of the city they find a sort of grotto, or abandoned ruin, which served as a stable for animals. This is the only resting-place which is offered to the Blessed Virgin after the fatigues of a long and painful journey. The night will be long and cold, and the 25th of December is midwinter. Ordinary travellers would have reason to complain of the poor, miserable hut, open to the winds on every side. But the young Virgin Mother is now in the hour of childbirth. He who accompanies her is her holy spouse, her protector, and her guide. But He Whom she will now give to the world is the Son of God, the sovereign Lord of heaven and earth. At the sight of this poor stable, in which Mary is obliged to seek a refuge, who is there that does not feel the blush of shame and indignation arise? The grandest and most consoling mystery of Christianity will soon be accomplished! The angels are prepared to make it known to the world! And yet Mary and her divine Son must suffer all the rigor of a winter night in their rude and unprotected dwelling! Let us enter with Mary into this palace of poverty; let us prostrate ourselves with her before the divine Infant. Instead of the worldly goods which He despised, we will offer Him that which He desires – the sincere and irrevocable homage of our hearts.
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 following Christ, and despising all the vanities of the world.
I. He that followeth me,walketh not in darkness, saith our Lord, (John viii. 12.) These are the words of Christ, by which we are admonished that we must imitate his life and manners, if we would be truly enlightened and delivered from all blindness of heart.
Let it then be our chief study to meditate on the life of Jesus Christ. – Thomas à Kempis – Imitation of Christ Bk I, Ch I pt. I.
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).
This is the Image of the Queen
This is the image of the Queen
Who reigns in bliss above;
Of her who is the hope of men,
Whom men and angels love!
Most holy Mary!
This homage offered at the feet
Of Mary’s image here
To Mary’s self at once ascends
Above the starry sphere.
Most holy Mary!
How fair soever be the form
Which here your eyes behold,
Its beauty is by Mary’s self
Excell’d a thousandfold.
Most holy Mary!
Sweet are the flow’rets we have culled
This image to adorn;
But sweeter far is Mary’s self,
That rose without a thorn!
Most holy Mary!
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