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.
Mirror of Justice, pray for us.
There is no better way of sanctifying this beautiful month, and of gathering all its holy lessons, than to fix our eyes constantly and faithfully on our mother during these days of mercy. She it is who is to speak to us, her prayers will obtain for us the grace to understand her. By studying what was her life on earth, we shall understand what ours ought to be.
Let us not fear to follow an example so far above us. Let us not measure with alarm, the distance between our nothingness and her glory. Let us not say to ourselves, “How can I, a poor creature, imitate her who was so perfect as to merit to become the Mother of God?” This spotless life, which has been for so many centuries the subject of the meditations of the Saints and the admiration of Heaven and of earth, is, at the same time, the most humble and hidden of lives, the poorest and most suffering, the simplest and the one most like our own. It is super-human and heroic, only because it is perfect in each detail. Though her life is more exalted than that of any Saint, it is not, with the exception of the prodigy of her divine maternity, that it contains more extraordinary actions, or more striking miracles. We do not even see in it, the wonders that are seen in the lives of many Saints, so completely is it veiled by humility. But what raises her’s above all other human lives, is the fact, that it is uniformly wonderful and holy from birth until death, whereas, in the Lives of the Saints, so long as they are on earth, we see striking virtues mingled with imperfections and faults.
Is there one of us who can render this testimony to himself, that his life is uniformly consistent? One corner of a field is sometimes luxuriant, while the rest is thin and bare. This is our own history; good parts and many bare places. We shall never find this in the Life of the Blessed Virgin. Her life is as simple and humble as that of the simplest and meanest amongst us, but it is perfect; and, whereas in the life of the best of us, there is not a day in which a close observer might not find more than one fault, the more we contemplate the Life of our holy Mother, the greater are the treasures of grace and virtue which we there discover.
Ought we then to be discouraged at the sight of her perfection, and because we cannot possess the whole treasure, shall we give up gaining even a small part of it? This would indeed be foolish. Let us look closely at the Life of our Mother. If we fix our eyes upon any one of those virtues which shine forth so gloriously in her, does it not seem to be within the reach of each one of us? Love of God, obedience, deep humility, labour, generous and contented poverty, such was her life, and such should be ours also. Our poor human nature will doubtless often fail; where this privileged creature never even faltered, for, although our original sin has been cleansed by baptism, we are still like convalescents, cured by the grace of God of a terrible disease, but left weak and liable to fall. Exempt from this infirmity, and always faithful to grace, the Blessed Virgin pressed on towards God with an untiring strength, which we can never know. But we can follow her at a distance; we can love and obey God, humble ourselves, keep up our courage in labour, and preserve our peace in suffering if not like her, at least, strengthening ourselves by her example; and if we fall, where she never faltered, we can rise quickly, and quicken our pace in order to regain lost ground. It was by the superhuman and perfect practice of virtues, humble in the eyes of the world, that she attained to so high a pitch of glory. As she tells us, in her beautiful canticle, it was the humility of His handmaid which the Lord regarded, and on account of which, all generations shall call her blessed. And we also, by practising these same virtues, to the utmost of our power, can attain to everlasting happiness and glory. We shall find rest after our labour in the kingdom of God, far below our mother, but at the foot of her throne, and we shall rejoice for ever in her presence, and in that of her Son.
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.
August Devotion: The Most Pure Heart of Mary
Virtues to practice: The sanctification of our actions, diligence, edification, fidelity in little things
O Heart of Mary, Mother of God, and our Mother; Heart most worthy of love, in which the adorable Trinity is ever well pleased, worthy of the veneration and love of all the angels and of all men; Heart most like to the Heart of Jesus, of which thou art the perfect image; Heart full of goodness, ever compassionate toward our miseries; deign to melt our icy hearts and grant that they may be wholly changed into the likeness of the Heart of Jesus, our divine Saviour. Pour into them the love of thy virtues, and kindle in them that divine fire with which thou thyself dost ever burn. In thee let Holy Church find a safe shelter; protect her and be her dearest refuge, her tower of strength, impregnable against every assault of her enemies. Be thou the way which leads to Jesus, and the channel, through which we receive all graces needful for our salvation. Be our refuge in time of trouble, our solace in the midst of trial, our strength against temptation, our haven in persecution, our present help in every danger, and especially at the hour of death, when all hell shall let loose against us its legions to snatch away our souls, at that dread moment, that hour so full of fear, whereon our eternity depends. Ah, then most tender virgin, make us to feel the sweetness of thy motherly heart, and the might of thy intercession with Jesus, and open to us a safe refuge in that very fountain of mercy whence we may come to praise Him with thee in paradise, world without end. Amen.
An indulgence of 7 years once on any day of the month; A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, if this act of devotion is repeated daily for entire month (Apostolic Brief Dec. 21, 1901)
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