The First Years of the Blessed Virgin’s Life. (continued)

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.

The First Years of the Blessed Virgin’s Life. (continued)

Who is she that cometh forth as the morning rising?”—Cant. vi. 9.

There is not any mother who does not love her child, who would not give her life for it; but in spite of this are they all faithful to the holy mission they have received from God? It is not a virtue to love one’s child; it is an almost involuntary instinct of the heart; it is an instinct which God has planted in every creature. Do we not see, even among animals, that the mother loves her young, and gives it the food of which she deprives herself? Do not even the most timid become fierce in defence of their young? The poor frightened hen gathers her chickens under her wings, bristles up her feathers, and with open beak and eye gleaming with anger, threatens from afar the enemy who approaches her brood. We love our children by an irresistible instinct, but to love them for God is a real virtue. To bring them up for God is the wonderful and fruitful work in which we recognize the intelligent being, the Christian father and mother, faithful to their holy mission. No one, unless he be a Christian, can consider his child as a sacred trust received from God, and keeping this thought constantly before his eyes, banish from his love all selfishness and weakness.

We were speaking just now of the reverence of St. Anne for the child whose high destiny she foresaw. But is there any Christian mother who ought not to feel for her child a reverence almost as great? She knows that this child, who sleeps in her arms, this frail creature who lives only by her care and love, can one day gain a seat in the glorious assembly of the saints. The brow on which her lips are pressed may be encircled with the glory of the elect! And to whom, next to God, will he owe such glory and happiness? To his mother, who nourished and educated in him the life of the soul, as well as giving him the life of the body. Yes, it is for her, a poor creature, suffering and weeping, in this miserable life, as her son will one day suffer and weep, it is for her to place her son on the road to heaven. It is from her mouth that he will receive those early lessons which he will never forget. No words can express all a mother can do for the eternal happiness or misery of her children. The first lessons they receive on her knee will have the greatest influence over their whole lives. God has placed in her arms a child cleansed from original sin by baptism; he is innocent and pure as an angel. She must take heed to preserve without stain the child whom God has given her. The first words which strike his ear, even before he can understand them, must be good words. The first actions which strike his eyes, as soon as his understanding awakens, must be good actions. She must reverence him as the holy Anne reverenced the infant Mary. It is told in the life of a celebrated doctor of the Church, that his father knelt at night by the cradle in which his son was sleeping, looked long upon him with holy emotion, and then, uncovering the breast of the child, he kissed it with reverence, as the temple in which God loved to dwell, because of the purity of infancy. We must reverence our children! We ourselves shall gain by it, and whilst our love will preserve them from all contact with evil, their innocence will preserve us from the evil which we avoid for their sakes, and which, perhaps, we should not have avoided for our own! Then, seeing in their parents the pattern of the good which has been taught them, the children will reverence them also, and good parents will leave behind them christian sons to close their eyes, and to continue their good works.

Prayer.

O Mary! so gentle, so obedient to thy holy mother; O Saint Anne! so tender, so wise with thy holy child, pray for us. Teach all children to love and reverence their parents; teach all parents to bring up, for God, the children He has entrusted to them, to reverence their innocence, to place them in the path which leads to heaven. Bless us, dear mother, bless us all, high and low, and may thy sweet prayers obtain for each of us the knowledge of our duty, and the grace to accomplish it.

Practice.

To have a great reverence for little children.

To endeavour to prepare them for a Christian life, by moulding them to good.

To strive to become better ourselves, in order the better to educate them.

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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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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