May 17th.–Instruction 17. The Holy Family at Nazareth.
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 17th.–Instruction 17. The Holy Family at Nazareth.
“He was subject to them.”–St. Luke ii. 51.
All that we know of the life of Jesus from His twelfth until His thirtieth year is contained in these few words, “He was subject to them.” He was found in the temple by His parents, and He returned with them to Nazareth. From this time until He begins the preaching of His Gospel–a space of eighteen years–we have only to contemplate in Him one feature–His perfect submission to Mary and Joseph. The Gospel merely adds that He “advanced in wisdom, and age, and grace with God and men.” The example given by our blessed Saviour, and expressed in such few words, is most salutary for all men, without exception. The child, the youth, and even the man of thirty years have the greatest need of lessons in obedience and submission. They only who have learned to obey are capable of giving commands. We will consider in the life of the Holy Family at Nazareth the conduct of each member in particular–of Joseph, of Mary, of Jesus.
1. Of Joseph.–As the family is the principle and foundation of all human society, therefore God has wished to give us a perfect model in the family of Nazareth. To the father of the family belongs the right to command. He it is who should have authority and vigilance and solicitude for all that pertains to the household. In a word, the spiritual and temporal care of the family devolves upon him. This grand and sublime mission Joseph exercised with regard to Mary and Jesus. Since he was united to Mary by a legitimate marriage, he had for her all the sentiments of a husband animated by the spirit of God. As he was the father of Jesus, by adoption, he fulfilled all those duties which the august title imposed upon him. In all the mysteries relating to the sacred Infancy we always see Joseph and the Virgin Mother inseparable. It is to him that the angel communicates the commands of Heaven: “Arise, and take the Child and His Mother, and fly into Egypt.” “Arise, and take the Child and His Mother, and go into the land of Israel.” Heaven always treats with him as the head of the family. He it is who is warned to fix his dwelling in Nazareth. Once established in the little city, he continues to discharge the august duties of foster-father to Jesus. It is certainly worthy of remark that neither the sublime dignity of Mary nor the divinity of her Son in the least diminishes his authority. Jesus wishes to be submissive to him in His conduct and to receive His orders from him. “He was subject to them.” As an humble workman Joseph labored to gain the daily bread and to provide for the maintenance of the family. His life at Nazareth is an humble one–obscure, laborious, and passed in the accomplishment of the duties of his state. What more perfect model could we find for Christian men on whom devolves the twofold honor of husband and father?
2. Of Mary.–In the family the mother holds the second place. Whilst it is her duty to be submissive to her husband as head of the household, still, she shares with him his authority over the children. It is she who must take special care of the first education of the children. We have seen how St. Joseph at Nazareth is entitled to the honor of being regarded as the perfect model of a father. We will now consider the conduct of Mary. The whole life of Mary may be summed up in these words: entire submission to Joseph and tender solicitude for Jesus. See her complete abandonment to the guidance of Joseph in the journey to Bethlehem, in her flight to Egypt, in her long exile, in her return, and in the choice of a dwelling-place. Joseph receives the message of the angel; Mary humbly and faithfully follows the orders of her guide, in whom she sees the authority of God Himself. At Nazareth she still observes the same dependence, the same submission. Jesus, also, wishes to be constantly submissive to her as His Mother. She surrounds Him with her tenderest care, and fulfils for Him all those duties which her state in life demands. In this perfect household Joseph does not take the second place. When Mary speaks to Jesus she tells Him of the mutual solicitude they have for Him. “Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing.” At Nazareth Mary is engaged in the humble and simple duties of her state. Joseph had the care of the external affairs pertaining to their home, but the Virgin Mother preserved in her heart all that she saw or heard concerning her Son Jesus.
3. Of Jesus.–We have seen at Nazareth Joseph and Mary, the perfect models of parents in the Christian household. Now Jesus gives us a model which children should faithfully follow. We can sum up His life in these words: “He was obedient.” With what sentiments of admiration and humility did Mary and Joseph command this Child, Whom they worshipped as their God and their Saviour! They saw Him not only obedient to His father and Mother, but also submissive to strangers, for whom He did not refuse to labor. The world knew Him as a workman and the son of a poor carpenter. Ah! contemplating this example of a God obedient, we can understand the words of St. Bernard: “O man, learn to obey! A God humbles Himself, and thou art exalted. A God submits to men, while thou desirest to rule men. Man wishes to take precedence over his Creator.”
O Jesus, submissive to Mary and to Joseph, teach us to imitate Thy hidden, humble, and obedient life at Nazareth! Joseph, teach us devotion to the duties of our state of life and love for a life of labor! Mary, be our model in the practice of all virtues, and especially to preserve, as thou didst, the teaching and example of thy divine Son in 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 having an humble Sentiment of one’s self.
I. ALL men naturally desire to know; but what doth knowledge avail without the fear of God?
Indeed an humble husbandman, that serveth God, is better than a proud philosopher, who, neglecting himself, considers the course of the heavens.
He who knows himself well, is mean in his own eyes, and is not delighted with being praised by men.
If I should know all things that are in the world, and should not be in charity, what help would it be to me in the sight of God, who will judge me by my deeds?–Thomas à Kempis–Imitation of Christ Bk 2, 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).
O Queen of the Holy Rosary
O Queen of the Holy Rosary!
Oh! bless us as we pray,
And offer thee our roses
In garlands day by day,
While from our Father’s garden
With loving hearts and bold,
We gather to thine honour,
Buds white and red and gold.
O Queen of the Holy Rosary!
Each myst’ry blends with thine.
The sacred life of Jesus
In ev’ry step divine,
Thy soul was His fair garden,
Thy virgin breast His throne,
Thy tho’ts his faithful mirror,
Reflecting Him above.
Sweet Lady of the rosary,
White roses let us bring,
And lay them round Thy footstool
Before our Infant King.
For nestling in Thy bosom
God’s Son was fain to be,
The child of Thy obedience
And spotless purity.
Dear Lady of the Rosary,
Red roses cast we down,
But let Thy fingers weave them
into a worthy crown.
For how can we poor sinners
Do aught but weep with Thee,
When in Thy train we follow
Our God to Calvary.
O Queen of the Holy Rosary,
We share thy joy and pain,
And long to see the glory
Of Christ’s triumphant reign.
Oh, teach us holy Mary,
To live each mystery,
And gain by patient suff’ring
The glory won by thee.
O Queen of the Holy Rosary!
What radiancy of love,
What splendor and what glory
Surround thy court above!
Oh, in thy tender pity,
Dear source of love untold,
Refuse not this our offering,
Our flowers, white, red and gold.
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