May 22nd.–Instruction XXII. Mary in the Cenacle.

May 22nd.–Instruction 22. Mary in the Cenacle.

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 22nd.–Instruction 22. Mary in the Cenacle.

They were persevering with one mind in prayer, with Mary the Mother of Jesus.”–Acts i. 14.

The Gospel tells us nothing more of Mary after she had been given to us as a mother in the person of St. John. By this silence it would seem that we were invited to meditate on the incomprehensible sorrow which this tender Mother experiences at the death of her beloved Son on the cross. The consolations and the joys which are reserved for her on the day of the Resurrection are in proportion to the sadness and suffering she endured on Calvary, but the Holy Spirit has not judged it suitable to reveal these mysteries to us. The Gospel is silent on all this.

Having been intrusted to the love and care of the beloved disciple, Mary remains in the company of the apostles and the holy women. Thus, after the ascension of our blessed Lord, we see her united with them in the cenacle, awaiting the coming of the Holy Spirit, Who had been so frequently and so feelingly promised them. “They were persevering with one mind, in prayer, with Mary the Mother of Jesus.” This was, indeed, for the apostles and disciples, who were saddened by separation from their Master, a sweet consolation. The presence of Mary, His Mother, in their midst served not a little to light up the darkness of their desolation, since she instructed them, encouraged them, and edified them.

1. She instructed them.–Mary, by entering the cenacle with the apostles and the disciples, fulfilled her duty as Mother. Was it not by this title that our blessed Lord before His death had given her to St. John and to all Christian people? When we read in the Acts of the Apostles that they were persevering in prayer, we do not understand they were constantly engaged in prayer and meditation. They had also their time for conversations and pious conferences on the memorable events of which they had been witnesses. Their mission was to make known to the whole world Christ crucified. Therefore they must be instructed in detail concerning the mysteries of His birth, His infancy, and His life until He commenced His public mission. No one was better calculated than Mary to impart this information, since she had not only been a witness of His life, but was intimately associated with Him. St. Ambrose, speaking on this subject, says: “The presence and the life of Mary among the apostles after the ascension of Our Lord was necessary for our faith. Although they were instructed by the Holy Spirit, Mary, by the same Spirit, had a more profound knowledge of everything. She could reveal to them the facts concerning her divine Son, not only because she possessed this knowledge, but because she co-operated with Him in His work, in her character of Mother and co-redeemer.” St. Bernard affirms that we should believe that Jesus revealed and made known to Mary all the facts relating to the Church–her combats, her victories, her humiliations, and her triumphs. And now while the apostles were preparing in prayer to receive the strength from Heaven which was necessary for the accomplishment of their sublime mission, the Blessed Virgin instructed them in the designs of God for the salvation of the world, and disposed them for the preaching of the Gospel.

2. She encouraged them.–Well did Mary know the destiny of God’s Church on earth, and that its establishment in the world would cost the blood of millions of martyrs. The apostles, like their divine Master, suffered contempt, persecution, and death. They, too, drank of the bitter chalice of sufferings. In the retreat of the cenacle the principal subject of meditation for that holy assembly was the passion and death of the Saviour. But Jesus had not only suffered on Calvary; even from His birth in Bethlehem He had been the object of hatred and persecution by His enemies. Mary, who had been the inseparable companion of her Son, could tell the story of His life–the indifference of the Bethlehemites, the fury of Herod, the hurried flight and exile in Egypt, the poverty, the privation, and the fatigues of that obscure and laborious life at Nazareth. It was only after so many trials, finally crowned by an ignominious death on the cross, that Jesus entered into His glory. By recalling these mysteries to the apostles Mary encouraged them to suffer with patience, with resignation, and with joy all the trials which awaited them on their departure from the cenacle. If they will drink of this chalice with their Master, so, too, they will one day participate in His glory. Before leaving them did He not speak these words of encouragement: “I go to prepare a place for you”?

3. She edified them.–The presence of Mary in the cenacle was for the apostles a subject of edification. “They were persevering with one mind in prayer, with Mary the Mother of Jesus.” If our blessed Saviour has said in the Gospel that when two or three will be gathered together in His name He shall be in the midst of them, it was to make us understand how agreeable it is to Him that the faithful should unite in prayer. What, we can conclude, must have been the perfection and the merit of the prayer of the apostles in union with Mary in the cenacle? Where shall we find a more edifying model of humility, recollection, and fervor? We may say of Mary and the apostles what is recorded of the first Christians: “They had but one heart and one soul.” All the conditions which are necessary for fervent prayer they found in Mary, and after her example they formed themselves to the practice of prayer, which must henceforth be the principal exercise of their life. Like the apostles, we are in need of being instructed, encouraged, and edified. Like them, we should enter into the cenacle of retreat and interior recollection. There we will find the lessons, exhortations, and instructions of our blessed Mother. Let us ask of her the light to know our blessed Lord more and more. In our trials and tribulations let us have recourse to her. She has known what sorrow is and will encourage us to patience. If we persevere in prayer, in union with her, our petitions will be heard. If we fulfil all our duties with Mary the Mother of Jesus, we will have the happiness one day to reign with her.

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.

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Of having an humble Sentiment of one’s self.

Man has been lost by pride; humility raises him up and re-establishes him in grace with God. His merit consists not in what he knows, but in what he does. Knowledge in worldly matters will not justify him before the supreme tribunal; it will rather make his sentence more severe. Knowledge certainly has its advantages, since it comes from God; but it conceals a great pit-fall and a great temptation. It puffeth up (I Cor. viii. I), says the apostle; it nourishes pride; it inspires a secret preference of one’s self, a preference criminal and foolish at the same time, for the most extended knowledge is but another kind of ignorance, and true perfection consists solely in the dispositions of the heart. Let us always remember that we are nothing, that we possess nothing of ourselves but sin, that justice wishes that we should humble ourselves beneath all creatures, and that, in the kingdom of Jesus Christ, many that are first shall be last, and the last shall be first (Matt. xix. 30).Thomas à Kempis–Imitation of Christ Bk I, Ch II reflection.

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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).

I’ll Sing a Hymn to Mary

I’ll sing a hymn to Mary,
The Mother of my God,
The Virgin of all virgins,
Of David’s Royal blood.
O teach me, Holy Mary,
A loving song to frame,
When wicked men blaspheme thee,
To love and bless thy name.

O Lily of the Valley,
O mystic Rose what tree
Or flower, e’en the fairest,
Is half so fair as thee?
O let me, tho’ so lowly,
Recite my Mother’s fame;
When wicked men blaspheme thee,
I’ll love and bless thy name.

When troubles dark afflict me,
In sorrow and in care,
Thy light doth ever guide me,
O beauteous Morning Star.
So I’ll be ever ready,
Thy goodly help to claim
When wicked men blaspheme thee,
To love and bless thy name.

But in the crown of Mary
There lies a wondrous gem,
As Queen of all the Angels,
Which Mary shares with them.
“No sin hath e’er defiled thee,”
So doth our faith proclaim;
When wicked men blaspheme thee,
I’ll love and bless thy name.

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