May 16th.–Instruction 16. Jesus Is Found in the Temple.
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 16th.–Instruction 16. Jesus Is Found in the Temple.
“Son, behold Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing.”–St. Luke ii. 48.
We have now to record one of those circumstances when the heart of Mary was submitted to the severest trial which can afflict a mother. Let us hear the narrative from the Sacred Word of God. The Holy Family dwelt in the little city of Nazareth ever since their return from Egypt. Mary and Joseph went to Jerusalem every year to attend the feast of the Passover. When about twelve years old Jesus went with them to the city, and after the days of solemnity had passed Joseph and Mary returned, but the Infant Jesus remained in Jerusalem. His parents were not aware of this fact, but thinking He was in their company they continued their journey. Not having found Him amongst their relatives and acquaintances, they return to Jerusalem, seeking Him everywhere. It was only three days afterward that they found Him in the midst of the doctors, hearing them and asking them questions. His Mother said to Him: “Son, why hast Thou done so to us? Behold, Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing.” He answered: “Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?” And He went down with them and came to Nazareth. We will meditate on the sorrow of Mary at the loss of Jesus, the care with which she sought Him, and her happiness at finding Him.
1. Sorrow of Mary at the loss of Jesus.–What a bitter sorrow must have pierced the heart of Mary when the evening came, after a long journey and far from Jerusalem, she discovers that Jesus is not with them! She believed He was in the company of His relatives or friends. But no one had seen Him, no one could say what had become of Him. The darkness of night had come on, and the well-nigh distracted Mother looks in vain for her Son. What fear, what terror, what agony then seizes the heart of this tender Mother! To conceal the divine Infant from the cruelty of Herod they found it necessary to carry Him to Egypt. Joseph, justly fearing Archelaus, the son and successor of Herod, did not dare to fix his residence in Judea. Could it be possible that the enemies of Jesus had at last succeeded in recognizing Him, taken possession of Him to put Him to death? All these thoughts saddened the heart of Mary; and as Jacob had mourned for the loss of Joseph, she, too, believed that her beloved Son had fallen a victim to the cruel beasts that thirsted for His blood.
We also can lose Jesus, in two ways. The first and the saddest is when we separate ourselves from Him by sin, and the second is when Jesus separates Himself from us to test our love and friendship. In both instances we should feel, like Mary, a lively sorrow at the absence of our blessed Saviour.
But, oh! what a reason for bitterest sorrow when we voluntarily abandon Him! And if Jesus conceals Himself from us, for a time, let us imitate the patience and resignation of Mary. He has not wished to spare even her from this great sorrow.
2. The care with which she seeks Him.–Mary can never know repose until she will have found Jesus. Joseph also shares her sorrow and all her solicitude. Not finding the divine Child amongst their relatives and friends, Mary and Joseph return to Jerusalem and seek for Him everywhere. We can see Mary, accompanied by her holy spouse, going through the city and repeating with the spouse in the canticle: “I sought Him Whom my soul loveth; I sought Him and found Him not. I will rise and will go about the city; in the streets and the broad ways I will seek Him Whom my soul loveth.” At length, after three days of unrest and fatigue, they found Jesus.
When we have had the misfortune of losing God by grievous sin, do we seek Him with that earnestness, that care and solicitude which characterized Mary and Joseph? Sin robs us of our greatest consolation. It is in vain that we seek to regain it by mingling with men or engaging in the distracting affairs of life. It is in vain that we seek the city or the country; we can never escape from ourselves. Jesus only can give us the peace and happiness we are longing for. It is He Whom we must seek at every sacrifice, and with the same dispositions which Mary and Joseph manifested in their desire to find the Infant Saviour.
3. Her happiness in finding Jesus.–Mary and Joseph had the supreme happiness to find Jesus in the temple. A pious writer remarks that He was not found at the theatre, or in the public place, or in amusement, but in the sanctuary of prayer, where God assists those who confide in Him. Was it not a consolation for Mary and Joseph to hear the doctors of the law speak of His wisdom and prudence in response to their questions? Mary received Jesus in her arms with joy and tenderness. Although her words seem to convey reproach, yet they are full of love and tenderness. “Son, Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing.” His response manifests His divinity. He returns with Mary and Joseph to Nazareth, and by His sweet presence consoles them for all the agony they experienced at His loss. And what consolation, what happiness for us, also, to find Jesus after having been separated from Him! The more we seek Him in bitterness and sadness, the sweeter it will be for us to find Him. And happy shall we be to live in His adorable company, like to Mary and Joseph in Nazareth.
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.
But who can, O my God, impart unto us such holy dispositions?–a light sufficiently clear to distinguish true happiness from what is but folly and vanity; a docile faith, to reduce our minds to the subjection and obedience of Jesus Christ; an unshaken hope of eternal things, which may induce us to renounce those that are but temporal; an ardent charity, which may cause us to imitate our Leader; an abundant effusion of His spirit which may render our lives entirely spiritual and conformable to His own. These are the gifts of thy liberality, which we expect from thine infinite mercy, and which we beseech Thee to grant to us. Amen.–Thomas à Kempis–Imitation of Christ Bk I, Ch I prayer.
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).
Hail Queen of Heaven
Hail, Queen of heav’n, the ocean star,
Guide of the wand’rer here below,
Thrown on life’s surge, we claim thy care,
Save us from peril and from woe.
Mother of Christ, Star of the sea
Pray for the wand’rer, pray for me.
O gentle, chaste, and spotless Maid,
We sinners make our pray’rs thro’ thee;
Remind thy Son that He has paid
The price of our iniquity.
Virgin most pure, Star of the sea,
Pray for the sinner, pray for me.
Sojourners in this vale of tears,
To thee blest Advocate we cry:
Pity our sorrows, calm our fears,
And soothe with hope our misery.
Refuge in grief, Star of the sea
Pray for the mourner, pray for me.
And while to Him Who reigns above,
In Godhead One, in Persons Three,
The Source of life, of grace, of love,
Homage we pay on bended knee:
Do thou, bright Queen, Star of the sea,
Pray for thy children, pray for me.
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