May 29th.–Instruction XXIX. Devotion to Mary.

Feast of the Ascension of our Lord.
Holy Day of obligation.

May 29th.–Instruction 29. Devotion to Mary.

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 29th.–Instruction 29. Devotion to Mary.

Thou art the glory of Jerusalem; thou art the joy of Israel; thou art the honor of our people.”–Judith xv. 10.

These are the eulogies which the people of Israel addressed to the illustrious Judith after her triumph over the haughty Holofernes. These words of praise may be suitably applied to the Blessed Virgin, of whom Judith was only a figure. Glory of Jerusalem, Mary was the Mother of the Son of David and the rightful heir to the throne of Juda. Glory of the mystic Jerusalem, or the Church, to which she has given a Saviour, full of mercy. Glory of the heavenly Jerusalem, she is now seated on a throne above all others, and very near to her adorable Son. Joy of Israel, has she not given to the children of God the sweetest hopes and the greatest consolations? She is the honor of her people, since God has exalted her above all other creatures and has proclaimed her blessed among women. Thus the devotion to the Blessed Virgin is particularly dear to the children of the Church, and you will not be surprised to learn that devotion to Mary has three characteristics worthy of our consideration, viz., its antiquity, its universality, and its sublimity.

1. Its antiquity.–We must go back to the very days of the apostles to find the origin of devotion to Mary. A very ancient author, St. Denis, the Areopagite, assures us that very many among them, and in particular the apostle St. Peter, returned from the most distant countries to see and admire once more before her death the Virgin Mother of God. They began the devotion to Mary by erecting temples in her honor: St. James at Saragossa, St. John in Asia, and St. Peter at Rome. This devotion was founded and propagated by the ancient liturgies which had been left as the rule and order of sacred rites, and to which the first churches were obliged to conform. The holy fathers and the most ancient writers, who had seen Mary, speak of her so tenderly and with such affectionate veneration that they reveal to us clearly the devotion which was given her in those early days, and the entire confidence which all the faithful had in her. Devotion to Jesus and to Mary His Mother were simultaneously propagated. In the pictures of the old masters we see Jesus and Mary represented together, and the faithful are prostrate at the same time before the Son and His blessed Mother. They pray to Jesus as their God and to Mary as their advocate. Thus it is that the Church has commenced the devotion to Mary; and this devotion has come down through the ages which intervene until our own time.

There is this difference, however, that devotion to Mary has been daily increasing both in strength and extent, even as the torrent which descends the mountain-side, always growing greater and wider and deeper just in proportion to the course which it follows. Devotion to Mary, as all other beliefs and practices of Christianity, has encountered enemies. The hydra of heresy would question the motherhood of the God-Man and dispute her most glorious titles. But the ever-vigilant Church will never permit the least attack on the dignity or privileges of her queen. And thus at the Council of Ephesus she affirms the doctrine of Mary’s divine maternity, as later on she proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

2. Its universality.–Not only is the devotion to the Blessed Virgin invested with the halo of antiquity, but it has at the same time the character of being universal. The people of the whole world are unanimous in their praise of the Mother of God. Just go in thought from one extremity to the other of the Catholic world and see how many people are scattered over the earth, all differing in character, manners, and language; and yet you will not find one who will not cheerfully honor and praise the name of Mary. In the midst of busy cities and on the summits of the mountains, everywhere are found chapels or oratories dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. By actual computation, there are nearly two thousand sanctuaries which bear her name, and these are justly celebrated by the large concourse of pilgrims who visit them. These shrines of Mary are magnificently adorned, enriched by gifts of the faithful, and not infrequently the most signal miracles are wrought in them. In France alone there is Our Lady of Victory at Paris, Our Lady de Fourvière at Lyons, Our Lady de la Garde at Marseilles, Our Lady of France at Puy, Our Lady of Lourdes in the Pyrenées, Our Lady of Praise in the Alps, etc. Catholic piety has multiplied titles in honor of Mary. She is invoked as Our Lady of good help, of peace, of mercy, of grace, of consolation, of hope, of refuge, etc. People of every age and rank and condition mingle at the foot of Mary’s altar.

From the king on his throne to the humble laborer in his cot–all approach the shrine of Mary and offer to her their humble and fervent prayers.

3. Its sublimity.–The devotion which is rendered to Mary at all times and in all places is a devotion which is surpassed in sublimity only by the honor which we render to God Himself. The homage which we give to the Blessed Virgin consists especially of a profound veneration. How can we fail to recognize Mary as our queen and our sovereign when we consider that the Son of God Himself honored her as His Mother and faithfully obeyed her, even at an age when men regard themselves as free from, parental authority? The sublimity of this veneration which Catholic piety has at all times given to Mary is contained in this title, Our Lady, and places her above all the angels and saints. The confidence which all Christian peoples repose in the Blessed Virgin gives to her devotion another character of sublimity. We pray to the saints to obtain this or that particular favor, but from Mary we ask all graces, because we regard her as the depositary of all the heavenly gifts. What is there comparable to the devotion of intercession of which Mary is the object? Hymns, canticles, litanies, offices–in fact, all forms of language have been exhausted to celebrate the praises of Mary and to solicit her merciful protection. We do not fear to exaggerate the honors to which Mary has a just right. The devotion which we give to the ever-blessed Mother adds to the glory of our divine Saviour and attracts His choicest blessings upon us for time and 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.

    VI. Oh! how quickly doth the glory of the world pass away ! Would to God their lives had been answerable to their learning! then would they have studied and read well.
    How many perish in the world through vain learning, who take little care of the service of God!
    And because they choose rather to be great than to be humble, therefore they are lost in their own imaginations.
     He is truly great, who is great in charity.
    He is truly great, who is little in his own eyes, and makes no account of the height of honour.
     He is truly prudent, who looks upon all earthly things as dung, that he may gain Christ.
    And he is very learned indeed, who does the will of God, and renounces his own will..–Thomas à Kempis–Imitation of Christ Bk I, Ch III pt VI.

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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).

Ave Maria.

Ave Maria, gratia plena,
Dominus tecum,
benedicta tu in mulieribus,
et benedictus fructus ventris tui Jesus.
Sancta Maria, Mater Dei,
ora pro nobis peccatoribus,
nunc et in hora mortis nostrae.
Amen.

Hail Mary, full of grace,
the Lord is with thee,
blessed art thou amongst women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners, now, and at
the hour of our death.
Amen.

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