May 21st.–Instruction 21. Mary our Mother.
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 21st.–Instruction 21. Mary our Mother.
“Jesus saith to the disciple: Behold thy mother.”–St. John xix. 27.
We love to give to Mary the sweet name of Mother, yet have we ever understood all that is rigorously just and true in this title? The Gospel narrative will teach us how Mary is really our Mother. “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His Mother and His Mother’s sister, Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus, therefore, had seen His Mother, and the disciple, standing, whom He loved, He saith to His Mother: Woman, behold thy son. After that He saith to the disciple: Behold thy mother. And from that hour the disciple took her to his own.” All the doctors of the Church are unanimous in declaring that in this solemn circumstance Our Lord has given Mary as a mother to men, in the person of St. John. The terms which are employed–“Woman, behold thy son,” “Son, behold thy mother”–clearly prove that He spoke as God. Consequently, by a decree of His omnipotence Mary has been bequeathed to us as a mother and we have become her children. Let us then consider how Mary fulfils for us the duties of mother. We cannot fail to observe that we are born to her in sorrow, that she nourishes us and gives to us all her love.
1. We are born to her in sorrow.–Our mothers, according to nature, give us our corporal life in greatest sorrow. In punishment for her disobedience Eve was condemned, with all other women, to bring forth children in suffering and in tears. Mary, having been preserved from original sin, did not fall under this common malediction. Without sorrow or agony she gave birth to the Saviour of the world. But, says St. John Damascene, the martyrdom she was spared at the birth of her divine Son she must undergo on the day of the passion, when she becomes the mother of men according to grace.
And, in fact, what must it have cost Mary to give us supernatural life! St. Anselm tells us that “all the agony which the martyrs endured physically was not comparable to the sword of sorrow which transpierced Mary’s heart at the foot of the cross.” And St. Augustine adds, “the wounds of her Son are her wounds, His cross is her cross, and His death is her own death. From the hillside of Calvary she can tell us: ‘O all ye that pass by the way, attend, and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow!’” What mother has suffered more than Mary–in her body, in her soul, in her heart–to give life to her children? And yet she has endured these incomparable tortures for each of us. We are the price of her agonies and her tears. For each and every one of us her divine Son Jesus has been sacrificed, and Mary has consented to immolate Him to redeem us from death and to secure for us life eternal.
2. Mary provides our nourishment.–The second duty of a mother is to provide the nourishment of her children. Mary has done this and more, since she has given us the body and blood of Jesus, her Son. Listen to the song of the Church in presence of the Blessed Sacrament, the heavenly food which is provided for faithful souls: “Hail, O true body born of the Virgin Mary!” It is she who has formed in her chaste womb this adorable body, and when we receive it in Holy Communion we can truly say that it is our Blessed Mother who has provided this nourishment for us.
While our mothers according to nature are contented with providing our nourishment for some months only, our mother according to grace secures for us our spiritual sustenance during our whole life. Her love for us is greater still, since in the participation of the Blessed Eucharist we become transformed into the very substance of Jesus, her Son. “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abideth in Me and I in him.” Each time, therefore, that we approach the holy table we render a new homage to Mary our Mother. It is from her that we receive this substantial nourishment which fills our souls with renewed grace and gives to us the pledge of all our future glory.
3. She gives to us all her love.–From the very moment that Mary was proclaimed our Mother, at once she conceived for us a tender love, a compassion without limit. This is also the characteristic of a true mother. So that Mary has not only the name and title of mother, but is indeed a mother by her solicitude, by inclination, and by love. On Calvary Mary generously sacrificed herself with Jesus for our salvation. To testify her love for us she freely sacrificed the life of her Son, Whom she loved a thousand times more than her own life.
In fact, we can say of Mary that she so loved the world that she gave her only Son for its salvation. As long as she lived on earth she was a most tender mother for all the faithful. Now that she is in heaven she continues every day to give us the most signal proofs of her maternal love. Count, if you can, the sick that have been healed, the afflicted that have been consoled, the miserable that have been solaced, the dead that have been restored to life, and the sinners that have been converted by the protection of this incomparable Mother. And now, since she has devoted herself to us so unreservedly and has given to us all that was dearest to her, is there anything that we can refuse her in return? After the example of the well-beloved disciple, let us give to Mary our love and greatest devotion in her service. “And from that hour the disciple received her as his own.”
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.
IV. This is the highest and most profitable lesson, truly to know and to despise ourselves.
To have no opinion of ourselves, and to think always well and commendably of others, is great wisdom and high perfection.
If thou shouldst see another openly sin, or commit some heinous crime, yet thou oughtest not to esteem thyself better; because thou knowest not how long thou mayest remain in a good state.
We are all frail: but see thou think no one more frail than thyself.–Thomas à Kempis–Imitation of Christ Bk I, Ch II pt IV.
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).
Ave Maris Stella
Ave Máris stélla,
Déi Máter alma,
Atque semper Virgo,
Felix cœli porta.
Súmens íllud Ave
Fúnda nos in pace,
Mútans Hévæ nomen.
Sólve víncla réis,
Prófer lúmen cǽcis,
Mála nóstra pélle,
Bóna cúncta pósce.
Mónstra te esse mátrem,
Súmat per te préces,
Qui pro nobis natus,
Túlit ésse túus.
Inter ómnes mitis,
Nos cúlpis solútos,
Mítes fac et castos.
Vítam præsta puram,
Iter para tutum:
Ut vidéntes Jesum,
Sit laus Déo Pátri,
Summo Chrísto decus,
Tribus honor unus. Amen.
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