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. (continued)
Let us, then, study this holy life, which should be our model, and when we see that our Divine Saviour and His holy Mother were pleased to share our hardest labours, and in the midst of troubles and fatigues, far greater than ours, to fulfil all the duties of the humble life they had chosen for themselves, we shall learn to reverence the duties of our life, and shall understand that it depends upon ourselves, to make them the means of our salvation. We shall learn the secret of that virtue, which at once ennobles and lessens suffering; free and willing acceptance of all trials, for God’s sake. Who ever practised it more perfectly than Mary? She, the daughter of kings, united herself to the lowly Joseph, like her, a descendant of David, like her, poor and happy in his poverty. She laboured with him, and like the wives and daughters of the poor, she had her hard share of a hard life. When the time came, that God revealed to her her high destiny, with the same humility she accepted this glory, which raised her above all other women, and made all generations call her blessed. “Behold,” said she, “the handmaid of the Lord; be it done unto me according to Thy word.” She took a sublime part in the work of our redemption, she also participated in all the sufferings by which our Divine Saviour obtained our salvation. Behold her, some hours before the birth of her Divine Son, passing through the streets of Bethlehem with Joseph, overcome by fatigue, asking from door to door a shelter, which is everywhere refused to her. With what meekness she bore her sufferings and this unkind reception!
When a stable became the first sanctuary of the Son of God upon earth, see how she worshipped Him in His poverty; receiving in a like spirit the homage of the shepherds and of the eastern kings! When, according to custom, she went up to the temple to offer her beloved Son to God, the holy and aged Simeon took the Divine Child into his arms and proclaimed Him the salvation of Israel, then cast upon the kneeling mother a look full of reverence and compassion, and announced to her, that her Son would be a sign to be contradicted by men, and that a sword of sorrow would pierce her own soul. This holy daughter of Israel, who daily devoted herself to the meditation of the sacred books of her people, read in the words of the prophets the long list of her own sorrows and of the sufferings of her Son. Was there a sound of murmuring or complaint in her spotless soul? No; she bowed her head as on the day of her Annunciation, and again the Mother of God said in her heart, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to Thy word.”
Throughout the life of Mary in the Gospel, wherever the veil of humility which covers it is raised, we see this willing acceptance, which gave her so large a share in the sufferings of the Passion, and merits for her so much love and gratitude from us, since she has suffered all for us. We see it stronger and more generous than ever at the foot of the Cross, where Mary stood and bore for us that dreadful suffering which every mother’s heart will enter into; where she surpassed in courage all other mothers, in adopting as her children those whose sins had just caused the death of her Son. Lastly, we see her accept, for the love of us and the good of the infant Church, the grief of surviving her Son, until, the measure of her merits being filled up, the heavens opened to receive her, and the Angels bore their Queen to the feet of the Father, whose chosen creature she is, of the Son whose Mother she is, of the Holy Ghost whose Spouse she is.
If Mary accepted all, what is there which we will not accept? We who have deserved every trouble which God in His mercy sends us, have we not justice enough in our hearts to weigh in an even balance our guilty lives and Mary’s spotless life, and to blush to see how far are the sufferings of which we complain, from equalling those accepted by her without a murmur? There are many different paths leading to that beautiful Heaven, which is our true home, some are rough and hard to climb, others there are, easier in appearance, but we cannot see their windings, and they may be beset with many changes and many sufferings. Let us walk boldly in the path in which our heavenly Father, who knows our need and the measure of our grace, has directed our first steps. Let us not turn back to seek an easier path, we shall lose our time and trouble. Above all, let us not stop to cast an envious look on him who ascends by another side of the mountain. Let us learn that no human creature has ever trodden any of these paths without fatigue and peril, and that the steepest is sometimes the shortest and the best. Let us lift our heads and look, not at the rough path, but at the Heaven to which it leads. Mary, the morning star, will comfort and guide us by her pure light. Mary, the gate of Heaven, will help us to reach the goal, where each one of our sufferings will be rewarded a hundred-fold.
Hail! thou our Queen and our model Hail! thou who hast suffered more than we! Hail! thou who rememberest thine own sorrows, only in order to pity those who suffer with an exceeding compassion. Hail, O Mother of Mercy! To thee we poor sons of Eve, exiled so far from Heaven, send up our cries and sighs, weeping and mourning, in this vale of tears. We beseech thee, our advocate, turn on us those merciful eyes of thine, which have known tears only the better to understand those which we shed. Help us as we painfully climb the steep ascent. Help us to reach the heights on which we shall find God. And when we have left far behind us the exile of this world, show us for evermore our sweet Saviour Jesus, the blessed fruit of thy womb.
Often to compare our sufferings with those of the Blessed Virgin; to suffer and accept all patiently, after her example.
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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