May 11th. – Instruction 11. The Divine Maternity of Mary.
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 11th. – Instruction 11. The Divine Maternity of Mary.
“She brought forth her first-born Son.” – St. Luke ii. 7.
A sentiment of profound compassion takes possession of our hearts when we consider the cold reception and the contempt which the inhabitants of Bethlehem manifest for the ever-blessed Virgin. However humble and poor she may appear, her sex, her youth, and her condition should win for her the kindness and attention of even the most indifferent. But our blessed Saviour on His entrance into the world did not wish to have even a stone whereon to rest His sacred head. It is He Who permits men to reject His blessed Mother and to refuse her hospitality, precisely that she may be compelled to take refuge in the miserable hovel which He has chosen from all eternity for the place of His birth. The illustrious Bossuet says: “At midnight He comes from the womb of His Mother, as a ray of light comes from the midday sun. Mary is astonished. This childbirth is exempted from sorrow and pain. He has been miraculously conceived. He is still more miraculously born.” If Mary has experienced the contempt of the people at Bethlehem, in her august maternity she receives all glory from God, from the angels, and from men.
1. From God. – Mary is a virgin and remains a virgin before, during, and after the birth of Christ. This is the grand mystery, this is the miracle announced by the prophet Isaias (vii. 14): “Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and His name shall be called Emmanuel,” that is, God with us. Mary herself did not understand how this could be, and she asks the angel for an explanation. She was assured that her virginity would be inviolate, and the vow she had made from childhood would be sacred. However difficult to understand, she recognizes that “nothing is impossible to God.” And now she realizes that she is honored with the most august maternity in the world. She contemplates her Child, and adores Him as her God. She has only a miserable stable to offer Him as a shelter from the rude winter blast; she can only fold His delicate limbs in poor clothes. A manger from which the animals eat and a little straw must serve as His cradle. Oh! who can understand this utter destitution of the Man-God? Yet this poverty and this complete privation have been marked by the prophets, and only add still greater lustre to the divine maternity of Mary. Hence the great Bossuet exclaims: “Whoever will come to the crib of the Saviour must have the courage to divest himself of everything, at least in spirit. He must leave everything and become poor, to follow the King of the poor. Instead of being glorified by our rich surroundings, we should blush to be adorned whilst Jesus is naked and abandoned.”
2. On the part of the angels. – The maternity of Mary is not only glorified by God, but also by the angels, in the stable of Bethlehem. Hardly has our blessed Saviour appeared than, the heavenly spirits leave their happy dwellings and come to earth to render their homages to the newly-born Infant. In silence they adore the Son of the Eternal, but at the same time they proclaim the glory of Mary, His Mother. With what veneration, respect, and love do they repeat the salutation of the angel Gabriel! “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee!” It is in your chaste womb He has taken a body and soul, and now He appears in the world, full of grace and perfection.
Whilst the earth is buried in silence and sleep, the angelic choirs, transported with joy, sing their heavenly canticles and proclaim the praises of the divine Infant and the grandeur of Mary’s maternity. One from among the heavenly host speaks to the shepherds who are guarding their flocks in the neighboring country. “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, that shall be to all the people. For this day is born to you a Saviour, Who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David” (St. Luke ii. 10, 11). Immediately the blessed spirits make the heavens resound with those words so often repeated by the Church: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will.” This song of triumph gives a new joy to the divine maternity of Mary.
3. On the part of men. – To repair the outrage and indifference of the people of Bethlehem, men are called upon to render homage to the Virgin Mother. At the voice of the angels the shepherds arise and say: “Let us go over to Bethlehem, and let us see this word which is come to pass, which the Lord hath showed to us. And they came with haste, and they found Mary and Joseph, and the Infant lying in the manger.” At once the shepherds proclaim throughout the country the wonders they have seen. All who heard them were in admiration. Oh, happy shepherds! You are the first adorers of the Saviour on earth; you are the first to celebrate the divine maternity of Mary.
Let us unite with these poor and humble shepherds to do homage to the amiable Virgin. She regards them as the most preferred people of her divine Son. We cannot fail to observe that if we wish to go to Mary and Jesus the pathway of humility, simplicity, and poverty is the surest and the shortest. The shepherds, whilst saluting Mary as the Mother of God, recognized her also as their own Mother, and even as they, we should love to give to Mary this title, which is at once her glory and our happiness.
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.
II. The doctrine of Christ surpasseth all the doctrines of the saints; and whosoever hath the Spirit, will find therein a hidden manna.
But it happeneth that many, by frequent hearing the gospel, are very little affected, because they have not the Spirit of Christ.
But he who would fully and feelingly understand the words of Christ, must study to make his whole life conformable to that of Christ. – Thomas à Kempis – Imitation of Christ Bk I, Ch I pt II.
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 Gloriosa Virginum
O Gloriósa Virginum,
Sublimis inter sidera,
Qui te creávit párvulum
Lacténte nutris úbere.
Quod Eva tristis ábstulit,
Tu reddis almo gérmine;
In trent ut astra flébiles,
Coeli reclúdis cárdines.
Tu regis alti jánua,
Et aula lucis fúlgida:
Vitum datam per Virginem
Gentes redémptae plaúdite.
Jesu tibi sit glória,
Qui natus es de Vírgine
Cum Patre et almo Spíritu,
In sempitérna sáecula. Amen.
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