May 14th.–Instruction 14. The Flight into Egypt.
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 14th.–Instruction 14. The Flight into Egypt.
“Arise, and take the Child and His Mother, and fly into Egypt.”–St. Matt. ii. 13.
When the Wise Men had departed for their own country an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph and said to him: “Arise, take the Child and His Mother, and fly into Egypt. Remain there until I tell you to return, for Herod will seek the Child to destroy Him.”
Immediately Joseph arose and took the Child and His Mother to Egypt. There they remained until the death of Herod. The words of the prophet Osee are realized: “I have recalled my Son from Egypt.” The cruel King Herod soon discovered that the Wise Men had not obeyed him. They had not returned to indicate the birthplace of the Saviour, and being exceedingly angered, he commanded that all the children of two years of age and under who could be found in Bethlehem and the surrounding country should be put to death. The infamous persecutor believed that he included his victim in this wholesale massacre, but at the moment this cruel decree was carried out the Infant Jesus tranquilly slept in the arms of His Mother, whilst in heaven His angel crowned the multitude of these first martyrs whom the Church calls the Holy Innocents. Our eyes are still fixed on the Virgin Mother, and we will follow her in her departure, in her journey, and in her exile.
1. In her departure. –Mary has already felt the point of that sword which Simeon had predicted would pierce her heart. What a blow for this tender Mother when Joseph, warned by the angel, said to her: “Arise, take your Child, and follow me. We must go at once to Egypt, since cruel Herod seeks the Child to destroy Him!” Imagine how this unexpected news, terrifying in itself, becomes still more so on account of the circumstances! It is in the stillness of the night that Joseph receives the warning. Perhaps the persecutor and his satellites are already at their horrible work, and are now prowling in the darkness to surprise their innocent victim. The cruelty of Herod is well known. The time is short. They must start on their journey without preparation. Tradition thus presents the picture: Mary holding the Divine Infant in her arms and Joseph accompanying them in silence. It is in this modest manner that the Holy Family is obliged to go into exile. The angels form their escort, and conduct them safely over the desert plains which lie between Judea and Egypt. Can we reasonably complain of our trials and sorrows when we see that God has not spared even the Infant Jesus and His blessed Mother? What a subject of bitterness for the heart of Mary to see Jesus pursued to be put to death! She cannot save Him, except by concealing Him in a far-off country–unknown, and a stranger to their belief and manners and customs! When, therefore, we are in affliction let us imitate the calm resignation of Mary. Let us abandon ourselves to Providence, as she confided herself and Child to the conduct of Joseph.
2. In her journey.–To conceal the divine Infant from the cruel hands of Herod, Mary and Joseph are obliged to follow a route which is dangerous, deserted, and long. It requires more than two months to complete the journey. How can they procure the necessaries of life in this vast solitude? Where will they find a refuge or a place to rest during the night? Dwellings are rare in these abandoned countries. Oh! you who for the shortest journey anticipate every want and provide every comfort, how can you be unmindful of the privations which Jesus and His blessed Mother endured for you during their flight into Egypt? Whilst the Holy Family continued their journey into exile, the soldiers of Herod, changed into executioners, went through Bethlehem and around about in every direction, cruelly murdering every child who fell under their hands who was two years old or under that age. The prophecy of Jeremias is accomplished to the letter: “A voice is heard on high of lamentation and great mourning, Rachel bewailing her children, and would not be comforted because they are not.”
Although the Gospel does not tell us, we can readily believe that Jesus did not leave His Mother in ignorance of the massacre of the Holy Innocents. We can understand also how the tender heart of Mary had pity for the tears and sorrows of countless young mothers, like herself, who were obliged to witness the immolation of their children by the fury of a cruel man like Herod.
3. In her exile.–At length the Holy Family arrived in Egypt, after the fatigues of a long journey and privations of every kind. It is believed that a city of the Thebaide, called Heliopolis, was the place of their exile. There, in a small and humble dwelling, lived Jesus, Mary, and Joseph during seven long years, as obscure and poor strangers. Pious authors assure us that during this time Mary daily toiled at lace-making and needlework, whilst Joseph, on his part, plied his humble trade, to procure the necessaries of life for themselves and the Infant Jesus. Only to think, the sovereign mistress of heaven and earth a refugee in a strange country, occupied as the poorest of women, earning her livelihood and fulfilling the ordinary duties of a mother of a family! Tradition tells us that at the entrance of Jesus in Egypt the idols and the temples were over thrown. However, it is not related that the Blessed Virgin performed any miracle. But as she is everywhere and always our model, even in Egypt she gives us the example of every virtue. Although the royal blood of Juda flows in her veins, although she is Mother of God and Queen of angels and men, in the eyes of the Egyptians she is regarded as a stranger and treated with indifference and even contempt. Let us imitate this divine Mother. Let us love to remain, as she did, obscure and unknown in the eyes of men. May our whole consolation consist in striving to live with Mary and in the society of her Son Jesus.
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.
V. Often remember that proverb: The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor is the ear filled with hearing.–Eccles. i. 8.
Study, therefore, to withdraw thy heart from the love of visible things, and to turn thyself to things invisible. For they that follow their sensuality, defile their conscience and lose the grace of God. – Thomas à Kempis – Imitation of Christ Bk I, Ch I pt V.
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).
On this Day, O Beautiful Mother
[Refrain] On this day, O beautiful Mother,
On this day we give thee our love.
Near thee, Madonna, fondly we hover,
Trusting thy gentle care to prove.
On this day we ask to share,
Dearest Mother, thy sweet care;
Aid us ere our feet astray
Wander from thy guiding way.
Queen of Angels, deign to hear
Lisping children’s humble pray’r;
Young hearts gain, O Virgin pure,
Sweetly to thyself allure.
Rose of Sharon, lovely flow’r,
Beauteous bud of Eden’s bow’r;
Cherished lily of the vale,
Virgin Mother, Queen we hail.
In vain the flow’rs of love we bring,
In vain sweet music’s note we sing,
If contrite heart and lowly prayer,
Guide not our gifts to thy bright sphere.
Fast our days of life we run,
Soon the night of death will come;
Tower of strength in that dread hour,
Come with all thy gentle power.
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