May 12th.–Instruction 12. The Purification.
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 12th.–Instruction 12. The Purification.
“After the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they carried Jesus to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord.”–St. Luke ii. 22.
According to the prescriptions of the Mosaic law, forty days after the birth of a son the mother must present herself in the temple, there to be purified, and to consecrate her child to the Lord. On these occasions the wealthy sacrifice a lamb, whilst the poor usually offer two turtle doves. Forty days have come and gone since that blessed Christmas night, and Mary, bearing in her arms the divine Infant, journeys to Jerusalem to present herself in the temple and submit to the law of purification. Joseph follows her, carrying the two doves for Mary’s offering. This is all that their poverty will allow them to offer for the sacrifice. Mary, having been exempt from the original stain, was not subject to the law of purification. She had not contracted the slightest stain, neither in her conception nor in the birth of Christ the Saviour. However, we must admire her obedience, her humility, and her charity.
I. Her obedience.–The Blessed Virgin, in complying with this law, gives us an example of perfect obedience to the authority of God in all things. Although this law was not obligatory on her, still she obeys it, just to teach us we should omit nothing which is commanded us. How many pretexts, excuses, or reasons, more or less specious, are often alleged to dispense us from the duties which religion imposes! On each Sunday or festival day, to assist at the Holy Sacrifice is an imperative obligation. But a visit must be made or some duty must be performed. Perhaps we have a slight indisposition, or we are obliged to walk some distance to the church. To the eyes of faith and to ordinary piety these obstacles present nothing serious. It is only a half-hearted Christian who will consider these difficulties for a moment. The law of the purification of conscience by the reception of the Sacrament of Penance obliges all, at least once a year. And yet, because we can say we have done no wrong to our neighbor or committed no grievous sins, the law is not obeyed, and the Church vainly threatens with the menace of her anathemas. Mary is wholly innocent and pure. He to Whom she has given birth is sanctity itself; however, she tells us, as her divine Son, “it is becoming for us to fulfil all justice.” During forty days she does not appear in public, as if she had contracted the legal stain, as other women. This time has passed, and she presents herself in the temple to obey all that the law prescribes for her purification. Let us resolve to imitate her obedience and fidelity to the law of God.
2. Her humility.–In the mystery of the purification Mary gives us an example of the most perfect humility. Although she enjoyed the singular privilege of being conceived without sin, although the holiest and purest of creatures, and exalted to the incomparable dignity of Mother of God, still, she does not hesitate to humble herself to the rank of ordinary women and to mingle with mothers who, according to the prophet, have conceived their children in iniquity. Well does she know the miracle which God has accomplished in her by uniting virginity and maternity. But she and her holy spouse, St. Joseph, are alone in the possession of the divine secret. In the eyes of the Jews, and even in the estimation of the priests who see her presenting herself in the temple, she is only regarded as the wife of a poor workman. They believe that she has come to the temple as other women, in obedience to the laws and to observe the sacred rites. Her humility is also apparent to us in her offering of two doves, the ordinary gift of the poor. Could she not have spoken a word to unveil the mystery? Could she not say that the prophecies were fulfilled, and that the little Child she had just presented in the temple was the long-promised and expected Messias? The sure proofs were not wanting. But no; not a single word escapes her lips. St. Paul in his Epistle to the Philippians tells us Jesus humbled Himself even to annihilation to lift us up even to Himself. Mary, also, wished to annihilate herself, to teach us that humility is the first trait of resemblance which we should have with Our Lord and Saviour.
3. Her charity.–In submitting to the law of purification, Mary at the same time offered Jesus to God, His Father. From the time when the Lord had put to death the first-born of the Egyptians, to save the children of Israel, He had commanded that all the eldest sons of His people should be offered and consecrated to Him, as well as the first fruits of the harvest, and even the animals. It is to comply with this prescription that Mary presents her Son in the temple. What a splendid proof she gives us of her charity and of her tenderness by offering the very victim which will one day redeem us, and by devoting her well-beloved Son to death! What a sacrifice for the heart of a mother! But Mary knows the designs of God; she knows that the world cannot be redeemed except by the blood of her adorable Son. There remains but one more act, and that is to immolate herself with her Saviour God. This also she is prepared to do. Listen to the holy old Simeon. Inspired by Heaven, he predicts that “a sword of sorrow shall pierce her soul.” According to St. Jerome, Mary was the first martyr, because of the great and incomprehensible sorrow which she had to suffer in her heart–by sharing the persecutions, the sufferings, the passion, and death of her divine Son. Let us show our gratitude to our tender Mother, and, since she did not hesitate to offer her only Jesus for our salvation, on our part we should place no limits to our generosity to make known her devotion and her glory.
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.
III. What doth it avail thee to discourse profoundly of the Trinity, if thou be void of humility, and consequently displeasing to the Trinity ?
In truth, sublime words make not a man holy and just; but a virtuous life maketh him dear to God.
I had rather feel compunction, than know its definition.
If thou didst know the whole Bible by heart, and the sayings of all the philosophers, what would it all profit thee, without the love of God and his grace?
Vanity of vanities, and all is vanity, besides loving God and serving him alone.
This is the highest wisdom: by despising the world to tend to heavenly kingdoms.. – Thomas à Kempis – Imitation of Christ Bk I, Ch I pt III.
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).
Daily, Daily Sing to Mary
Daily, daily sing to Mary,
Sing, my soul, her praises due;
All her glorious actions honor
With the heart’s devotion true.
Lost in wond’ring contemplation,
Be her majesty confessed.
Call her Mother, call her Virgin,
Happy Mother, Virgin blest!
She is mighty to deliver;
Call her, trust her lovingly.
When the tempest rages round thee,
She will calm the troubled sea.
Gifts of heaven she has given,
Noble Lady! to our race:
She, the Queen, who decks her subjects
With the light of God’s own grace.
Sing, my tongue, the Virgin’s trophies,
Who for us her Maker bore;
For the curse of old inflicted,
Peace and blessing to restore.
Sing in songs of peace unending
Sing the world’s majestic Queen.
Weary not nor faint in telling
All the gifts she gives to men.
All my senses, heart, affections,
Strive to sound her glory forth:
Spread abroad the sweet memorials
Of the Virgin’s priceless worth:
Where the voice of music thrilling,
Where the tongue of eloquence,
That can utter hymns beseeming
All her matchless excellence?
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