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.
Mary in the Temple – Prayer.
“Sursum corda!—Lift up your hearts!”
Whilst Anne and Joachim returned to their desolate home, Mary was received into the interior courts of the temple, amongst the young maidens consecrated to God, and began her new life, far from all noise of earth, under the shadow of the holy altars. It is there that we shall follow her to-day. Let us ask her to send down on us from heaven the pure light which enlightened the obscurity of her childish days. O Mary, obtain for us grace to catch a glimpse of the sanctuary of God, which was the joy of thy youth. A single day, a single instant, spent with thee in His Temple, is worth more than a thousand years of our useless life.
The holy child grew in the sight of God. It was the work of God alone, to form her soul, to adorn daily with new graces the sanctuary in which His Son was to repose; and it is beautiful to picture to ourselves the ever increasing light which came down from heaven into the heart of the chosen Virgin. Nothing, however, distinguished her from her companions, except that none were so humble and so submissive. The hours were divided between prayer and work. The ancient Christian authors speak of her precocious reason, of the union of gravity with the pure beauty of childhood in her face, and working men of old encouraged themselves in work by picturing to themselves the future Mother of God, spinning with her companions, and weaving the finest veils of the temple. In one of the most beautiful cathedrals of France, at Amiens, a stall of carved wood, offered five hundred years ago, by the weavers of the town, represents Mary, a basket of spindles by her side, with one hand making the shuttle fly through the woof, with the other tightening the threads. Those workmen knew that the work of him who prays is the most blessed upon earth, and that the most skilful hand is that which obeys the holiest heart.
The Gospel teaches us that there were in the temple holy women, such as Anna the prophetess, whom we shall soon see meeting the Infant God. These holy servants of God, in the decline of life, doubtless loved to teach the young maidens, who were consecrating to Him their brightest days: and often, as the spindles turned in their skilful fingers, must they have related the marvels that the Lord had worked for His people in happier times, have unveiled to them the treasures of the prophecies, and have awakened holy hope in their young hearts by announcing to them the speedy coming of the Son of David, the Saviour promised to Israel.
Then, in solitude, Mary meditated, and, above all, she prayed. Prayer was her first occupation, her constant joy. From the first days of her infancy all her thoughts, all her feelings, were used to rise towards heaven as the sweet smell of a blossoming garden rises in a pure air: but as God by degrees developed her mind and enlightened her soul, she offered herself to Him with a more thoughtful love, and made Him the voluntary gift of her whole life. Exempt from original sin, she worked like a simple daughter of Eve. Full of grace from the time of her Immaculate Conception, she prayed as if she had to obtain all graces one by one.
Who can penetrate the mystery of Mary’s prayer, through the veil which the Gospel draws over the years of her childhood? Who can see the transports of this blessed soul towards God, her complete self-sacrifice, her deep humility, her constant obedience! In the touching history of St. Elizabeth, Queen of Hungary, there are some beautiful passages in which the Blessed Virgin throws some light on this time of her childhood, till then known only to God. “My daughter,” she said to her servant, “you think that I had all these graces without much trouble; but it was not so. Truly I say to you that I did not receive one of these graces without great trouble, without continual prayer, an ardent desire, deep devotion, many tears and trials. I wish to teach you,” the Virgin blessed amongst all women went on to say, “I wish to teach you all the prayers that I said while I was in the temple. Above all, I asked from God great love of Him and hatred of my enemy, the devil. There is no perfect virtue without this absolute love of God by which the fulness of grace descends into the soul. But when it has descended into it, it remains not, but flows away like water, if the soul hates not its enemies, that is, sins and vices. He, then, who would know how to preserve this grace from on high, should know how to unite this love and this hate in his soul. I wish you to do all that I did. I rose in the middle of each night, and went to prostrate myself before the altar, where I asked of God grace to observe all the precepts of His law, I besought Him to grant me the graces which I needed in order to be pleasing to Him. Above all, I begged of Him that I might see the time in which that holy Virgin would live who was to bring forth His Son, in order that I might dedicate my whole being to serve and venerate her.”
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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