May 19th.–Instruction 19. Mary the Disciple of Jesus.
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 19th.–Instruction 19. Mary the Disciple of Jesus.
“Who is My Mother, and who are My brethren?”–ST. MATT. xii. 48.
THE holy Gospel, in recounting the public life of Our Lord, does not speak of Mary, except in one circumstance, from the wedding of Cana until she stands on the hill side of Calvary. St. Matthew tells us that one day as Jesus was speaking to the multitudes His Mother and His brethren were waiting to speak to Him. Some one said to Him, “Thy Mother and Thy brethren stand without, seeking Thee.” And Jesus said, “Who is My Mother and who are My brethren?” And stretching forth His hand toward His disciples He said, “Behold My Mother and My brethren. For whosoever shall do the will of My Father that is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.” If in this circumstance Jesus seems to make no distinction between His Mother and His disciples, it is only because He wishes to present her to us as the model of those who believe in His name and follow in His footsteps. What was the conduct of Mary during the public life of her Son?
She heard His words, reflected upon them, and put them in practice.
1. She heard His words.–There is no doubt but that Mary was the first to hear the words which fell from the sacred lips of her divine Son when He commenced the preaching of His Gospel. Our blessed Lord seems to convey this thought in the text which we have quoted. He says, “Who is My Mother, who are My brethren? Whosoever shall do the will of My Father that is in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.” While speaking these astonishing words He designates the disciples who stand about Him. His words clearly show that if He regards as His brethren and His mother those who believe His words and put them in practice, He considers His blessed Mother as the very first of His disciples. In another circumstance a woman full of admiration for Him exclaimed, “Blessed is the womb that bore Thee and the paps that gave Thee suck.” What is the answer which Jesus gives to this eulogy of His blessed Mother? “Yea, rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it.” The greatest glory of Mary is indeed that she is the Mother of Jesus, but her particular glory is that she has heard His divine words. Hence we can justly conclude that if she obeyed the word of God when spoken by the prophets and the angels, what must have been her joy and her desire to accept the words which fell from the lips of her divine Son! After the example of Mary, we should be most anxious to hear the word of God.
2. She reflected on His words.–His words, which Mary heard with the most pious disposition, she preserved in her heart and made the subject of her fervent meditations. The Gospel does not inform us of those sweet spiritual conversations which Mary had with the shepherds or with the Wise Men prostrate at the feet of Jesus. We are not informed what Mary said to Simeon and Anne in the temple, nor even to Joseph, who was also a witness of the wonders which accompanied the birth of Christ. But St. Luke carefully records, even twice, in his gospel, that Mary piously preserved in her heart all that she had seen and heard, and made these things the subject of her spiritual reflections–conferens in corde sno. She was the constant witness of the miracles and teaching of her divine Son, and her mind and heart were constantly nourished with this heavenly food. She learned from His divine lips that “not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God” (St. Matt. iv. 4). Do we wish that the divine word which we hear so often and in so many different ways should be useful for us also? After having heard this sacred word attentively, we should preserve it in our hearts as a precious gift. We should meditate upon it piously and with greatest recollection. It must be in our hearts, the very germ of serious reflection. In fine, His divine word must be as the seed, which can only bring forth good fruit when it has fallen on the ground which has been well prepared to receive it.
3. She puts His words in practice.–Mary not only found in the words of her divine Son the spiritual food for her soul, but she made His word the rule of her daily conduct. What precept, ay, what counsel has Our Saviour given that Mary has not faithfully practised? What virtue of the Son which has not been faithfully imitated by the Mother, and with as much perfection as a creature can attain? Jesus has wished to be born poor; in fact, the first words which fell from His sacred lips in His public life were, “Blessed are the poor.” Mary has lived in poverty. Jesus has become obedient, even to His death on the cross. Has He not taught us that “His food is to do the will of His Father Who sent Him?” Behold how submissive Mary is to the will of God in all things. Jesus is born of a Virgin Mother, and has taught the merit of virginity. Mary, also, ever docile to the divine word, is the first to raise the standard of virginity in the world and to practise the queen of virtues in her own life. Behold the model which is given us as disciples of Jesus Christ. Therefore, like Mary, we should hear the words of our Master, we should preserve them in our hearts, meditate on them with piety and devotion, and especially should we put His words in practice. Let His divine word be the rule of our thoughts and judgments, of our conversations, of our works, and of our whole conduct. His word will be our sweet consolation in this life, and it will be also the principle of our eternal 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 having an humble Sentiment of one’s self.
III. The more and better thou knowest, the more heavy will be thy judgment, unless thy life be also more holy.
Be not therefore puffed up with any art or science: but rather fear upon account of the knowledge which is given thee.
If it seems to thee that thou knowest many things, and understaodest them well enough, know at the same time that there are many more things of which thou art ignorant.–Thomas à Kempis–Imitation of Christ Bk I, Ch II 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).
O Mary of Graces
O Mary of graces and Mother of God,
May I tread in the paths That the righteous have trod.
And mayest thou save me from evil’s control,
And mayest thou save me in body and soul.
And mayest thou save me By land and by sea,
And mayest thou save me From tortures to be.
May the guard of the Angels above me abide,
May God be before me And God at my side.
O Mary of Graces, oh answer my plea,
Under crosses in trials to thee do I flee;
O teach me sweet Mother to follow His will,
To journey with courage, up Calvary’s hill.
O Mary, my Mother and Mother of all,
Be my guide and protectress, that I may not fall;
And mayest thou lead me to heaven above,
With Saints and Angels I’ll share in thy love.
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