May 23rd.–Instruction 23. Life of the Blessed Virgin after Pentecost.
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 23rd.–Instruction 23. Life of the Blessed Virgin after Pentecost.
“Having loved His own, He loved them unto the end.”–St. John xiii. i.
Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ could not give to His disciples a greater mark of His love than the Blessed Eucharist, in which He left to them His body, His blood, His soul, and His divinity. He had promised to be with them until the end of the world, and He kept His word in a manner which surpassed all the fondest expectations of the apostles. But even this was not enough for those whom Jesus loved. Before consummating His sacrifice and resuming His glorious life He wished to leave them His own blessed Mother, as the last mark of His tenderness for them. The work of redemption was ended. It seemed that after the resurrection and ascension Mary had only to follow her divine Son into eternal glory. She was with Him during His passion, she should be with Him also in His triumph. And, indeed, with what happiness would she quit this world that she might not be separated from Him Whom she loved! But the Saviour had said He would not leave us orphans and He wished that this tender Mother should survive Him on earth for several years. And why? That she might be the counsel, the model, and the assistance of the apostles and the first Christians.
1. The counsel.–The Church, speaking of Mary, declares that she possesses all science and wisdom, and even adds that she is the very seat of wisdom. According to the words of the angel she is full of grace, and on the day of Pentecost she received the fulness of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. But these gifts must be distributed among the children of the Church. Her title of mother is not an empty one. During the time she remained on earth, after Jesus had ascended to heaven, she showed herself really a mother to the first Christians. She instructed them in the mysteries of religion and the truths of faith, while by her counsels she formed them to the practices of all the Christian virtues. They invariably had recourse to Mary to dissipate their doubts. By her advice they wisely regulated their conduct. This admirable Mother could say with the apostle St. John: “Nothing is more agreeable to me than to see my children walk in the way of truth.” That which consoled her during her weary exile in this world was to see the number of her Son’s servants daily augmented, to see them strengthened in the faith and directed in the way of perfection. Very often, perhaps, we have envied our fathers in the faith because they have had the happiness to live with the Blessed Virgin, to enjoy her presence, and to hear the ravishing words which fell from her lips. We should not, however, complain; we have not been disinherited. The Gospel constantly proclaims the happiness of those who believe without having seen. “Blessed are they that have not seen and have believed.” Indeed, we do not see Mary with our corporal eyes, but faith shows her to us everywhere present and always attentive to our needs. Is there a sanctuary, is there an altar dedicated to her name where she is not presented to us as the sweetest, tenderest, and most compassionate of mothers to all who invoke her with confidence? “Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope!”
2. The model.–Our blessed Saviour tells us: “I have given you an example.” At the outset of His public life, before the preaching of His Gospel, He wished to give us Himself as a model for all the virtues. Mary, His blessed Mother, is His most accomplished and most perfect image. He left her to the first Christians that they might have in her a perfect model of Christian life. Her appearance alone was sufficient to elevate the minds of men to heavenly things, more than all the discourses and all the exhortations which could be spoken by human tongues. If the mission of the apostles was to make known all that Christ had taught them, Mary confirmed the truth of their words by being the first to observe the precepts and counsels of the Gospel. She was the living example of humility, of modesty, of piety, of fervor, of poverty, of obedience, and of charity. All men, without exception, found in Mary the model of every virtue, and suited to their age and state and condition and rank. Apostles, confessors, martyrs, and virgins saluted her as their Queen. Parents and children, old and young, rich and poor, learned from the divine Mother to sanctify their respective lives. And even in our own day, if the Church possesses some favored souls whose virtues recall the first ages, is it not to the example of Mary that all credit is due? You will not find one single disciple of Christ, in the cloister or in the world, who does not profess a special devotion for Mary, or who does not propose to imitate her in the interior dispositions of her soul and even in the smallest acts of her earthly life.
3. The assistance.–Our blessed Lord prolonged the sojourn of Mary in this world precisely that the infant Church might have in her greatest support and assistance. On leaving the cenacle the apostles were confronted with multitudes of enemies whose hearts were filled with the malice of Satan. Christ Our Saviour had already warned His disciples. He told them that the disciple was not above the master, and if the master was persecuted the disciple could not claim exemption. But Mary, who had stood at the foot of the cross and had witnessed the agonizing spectacle of the crucifixion, now also stood near these valiant defenders of truth to protect and defend them from their persecutors. Like the mother of the Machabees, Mary was ever near the disciples, to tell them: “My children, look up to heaven.” Your Master is there, after His martyrdom of the cross and the immolation of Calvary. Follow courageously on that pathway which He was the first to walk. You are the children of a Mother who during life had a sword of sorrow plunged constantly in her heart. Mary was there also to combat the rising heresies. The holy fathers attribute the strength which St. John employed in his gospel against those who denied the divinity of Christ to the particular assistance which he received from the Blessed Virgin. Let us place our fullest confidence in the powerful assistance of this good Mother, whom the Church invokes as the Help of Christians. She will obtain for us the completest victory of time and eternity.
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.
These are, O Lord, but instructions and lessons: men in giving them, only strike the ear; thou alone canst convey them to the mind and heart, and make us taste, love, and practise them, by the unction of that holy grace, strong, sweet, and powerful at the same time, which we beseech thee to grant us, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.–Thomas à Kempis–Imitation of Christ Bk I, Ch II 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, Thou Star of Ocean! (Ave Maris Stella.)
Ave Maris Stella,
Dei Mater alma,
Atque semper Virgo,
Felix cœli porta.
Hail, thou Star of ocean!
Portal of the sky!
Ever Virgin Mother
Of the Lord most High!
Oh! by Gabriel’s Ave,
Uttered long ago,
Eva’s name reversing,
‘Stablish peace below.
Break the captive’s fetters;
Light on blindness pour;
All our ills expelling,
Ev’ry bliss implore.
Show thyself a Mother;
Offer Him our sighs,
Who for us Incarnate
Did not thee despise.
Virgin of all virgins!
To thy shelter take us;
Gentlest of the gentle!
Chaste and gentle make us.
Still as on we journey,
Help our weak endeavor;
Till with thee and Jesus,
We rejoice for ever.
Thro’ the highest heaven,
To the Almighty Three,
Father, Son, and Spirit,
One same glory be.
Copyright © 2013 – 2014. Holy Cross Publications. All rights reserved.