May 24th.–Instruction XXIV. Death of the Blessed Virgin.

May 24th.–Instruction 24. Death of the Blessed Virgin.

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 24th.–Instruction 24. Death of the Blessed Virgin.

I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that you tell my beloved that I languish with love.”–Cant. v. 8.

Can it be that the Blessed Virgin, whose grandeur, perfections, and immaculate beauty we have loved to contemplate, has been subject to death, the common lot of the children of Adam? St. Paul calls death the wages of sin. Why should the Mother of God be compelled to pay a debt which she never contracted, or undergo the penalty of sin, the slightest stain of which she never knew? Christ Our Saviour, the God of all sanctity, has submitted to death, and His blessed Mother, who must resemble Him in all things, must also submit. The death of Mary, however, is not the frightful picture which is usually presented to us of death. The last agony which terminates the life of men on earth is a consequence of sin. But the Mother of Jesus, by the privilege of her immaculate conception, has been separated from the mass of corruption in which the human race is enveloped. She could not share the ordinary lot of sinners. Mary’s death was supremely happy because of her love for her divine Son, her detachment from the things of the earth, and the superabundance of her merits.

1. Her love for her divine Son.–The Blessed Virgin remained on earth after the ascension of her adorable Son that she might be the guide, the model, and the consolation of the first Christians. These children of her adoption were so dear to her that she consented to live long years far from the sight of Jesus glorious and triumphant in heaven. But her exile must at length terminate. She sighs after the moment when she will be allowed to quit this sojourn of tears and tribulations to be united to her God forever. Death, which men fear and which they can never contemplate without terror because of the circumstances and the inevitable judgment which follows it, had nothing terrifying for Mary. She regarded it as the necessary instrument to break the bonds which detained her in this valley of sorrows and to conduct her to the contemplation of the unspeakable beauty of her divine Son. If the apostle St. Paul cried out with so much ardor, “I desire to be dissolved and to be with Christ,” how much did Mary sigh for the day of her deliverance? O my Lord and my God, she could often repeat, deliver my soul from its mortal prison, that I may freely confess and praise Thy thrice holy name. This moment, so ardently desired, at length arrived. Mary, extended on her deathbed as a victim consumed by flames of unspeakable love, beheld her soul sweetly separate from her virginal body, without pain or sorrow or agony, and take its flight toward heaven to enter into possession of the incomparable throne due to her merits and her dignity.

2. Her detachment from the things of earth.–Mary’s death was also happy because she was wholly detached from earthly things. Like the dove of Noe, whose flight over the waters was never arrested, Mary never placed in any creature the pure affection of her heart. Honor, glory, reputation had no charm for her; consequently she had none of these to leave mournfully behind. She had always been the humblest of creatures; and Mother of God as she was, she had never known another title except the “handmaid of the Lord.” What goods, what riches, what state or fortune could she regret? This virgin, so humble, was also so poor she had not even a stone to offer her divine Son on which to rest His sacred head. There were no pleasures or earthly joys to bind her to life, since she had known only tears and sorrows. Throughout her life she had always felt in her soul the sharp point of that sword which Simeon had predicted for her. Would she leave behind relatives and friends who would feel the bitter separation? Joseph, her cherished spouse, had long since preceded her to the tomb. With her own eyes she had seen her Son Jesus expire on the cross. There was, therefore, nothing in the world to bind her to it, and her pure heart, free from every earthly bond, took its flight in the eternal regions, to find there with her God all those whom she loved most on earth. Death, which strips the children of men of all things, now gives to Mary the complete possession of everything.

3. The superabundance of her merits.–How happy must have been the death of Mary, when she considered that heaven was the recompense of her meritorious life! If the eternal glory of the elect is in proportion to the virtues which they have practised during life, with what splendor is the immaculate Virgin surrounded whose sanctity was only second to the sanctity of God Himself! Was not her life on earth a continual exercise of the sublimest virtues and the most meritorious works? According to tradition, Mary lived seventy-two years; and during these years, filled with heroic actions, there was not a sigh, not a pulsation of her heart, not a single word spoken by her which was not for her a subject of merit. She prayed, meditated, labored, and suffered with greater perfection than was found in any other creature. Her constant fidelity to God, her perfect correspondence to grace, her acts of mercy and charity toward her neighbors–in a word, all that she did, filled her soul with a holy joy and made her look upon death as the radiant dawning of eternal recompense. Do we wish that, not-withstanding the infirmities and miseries of life, our death should have some resemblance to Mary’s death? Then we must imitate her love for Our Lord and Saviour. We must imitate her in her detachment from earthly things. We must imitate her in our desire to multiply our good works each day of our lives, and thereby increase our merits for 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.

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Of the Doctrine of Truth.

I. Hayppy is he whom truth teacheth by itself, not by figures and words that pass, but as it is in itself.
Our opinion and our sense often deceive us, and discover but little.
What signifies making a great dispute about abstruse and obscure matters, for the ignorance of which we shall not be questioned at the day of judgment.
It is a great folly for us to neglect things profitable and necessary, and willingly to busy ourselves about those which are curious and hurtful. We have eyes, and see not..–Thomas à Kempis–Imitation of Christ Bk I, Ch III pt I.

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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).

O Queen of Lovely Blooming May.

O Queen of lovely blooming May,
O hear our joyful greeting,
And bless this month, its ev’ry day,
And at thy feet our meeting.
O bless this month, its ev’ry day,
And at thy feet our meeting.

To thee, O Mary, we commit
Of souls the garden vernal,
O shelter them and make them fit
To bloom in spring eternal.
O shelter them and make them fit
To bloom in spring eternal.

O keep for us with tender care,
Thou loving Queen and Mother,
The lily flow’r, so pure and fair,
And lovely like no other.
The lily flow’r, so pure and fair,
And lovely like no other.

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