Mary in the Temple – Prayer. (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.

Mary in the Temple – Prayer.

Sursum corda!—Lift up your hearts!

St. Elizabeth interrupted her to ask, “Most sweet Lady, wert thou not already full of graces and of virtues?” But the Blessed Virgin answered her, “Be sure that I thought myself as poor and miserable as you think yourself. Hence it was that I asked of God to grant me His grace.’’ And afterwards, as the Blessed Virgin initiated her servant more and more in the mysteries of her prayer, and of her sublime intercourse with God and the angels, she added this record of her deep humility: “I wished to be the servant of all the holy women who dwelt in the temple; I wished to be subject to all creatures for love of the Father of all!”

St. Elizabeth then put this question to the Blessed Virgin: “Tell me, my sweet Lady, why thou hadst so intense a desire to see the Virgin who was to bring forth the Son of God.” Then Mary related to her how the reading of the prophecies had led her to this idea; how she had resolved to consecrate to God her virginity in order to be worthy to serve this predestined Virgin.[1]

How touching is this testimony to the humility of Mary which St. Elizabeth has preserved for us; she who was herself so meek and humble, in spite of the weight and splendour of her crown.

The great mystery on which depended the salvation of men was about to be accomplished; the Son of God was about to come down upon earth, and she who was chosen to become His Mother humbled herself before God, and before her companions; and all her dreams, all the hopes of her heart, were limited to seeing the predestined Virgin, and serving her as the most humble of handmaidens. What lessons are contained in Mary’s prayer! In her prayer, so humble, so fervent, so full of love and of gratitude! Let us think often of it. Let us often contemplate the Blessed Virgin praying in the temple, or in her humble cell, and then let us kneel down by her side, and, casting a salutary glance upon our own souls, let us ask ourselves if we ever think of prayer, and if we know what it is to pray. To pray is to adore God: it is to thank Him for graces received, to ask Him for more; and for us poor sinners it is to implore His pardon. What is more just than to render homage to Him who is our Creator and our Sovereign Master, to thank Him who has been for us the source of all good! What is more consoling than to speak to Him of our miseries, to ask from Him patience to endure them, and above all, strength to resist discouragement and temptation! And when our weakness has given way, what is sweeter than to come as a repentant child, to weep over our faults in the arms of the Father whom we have offended, and who will mingle so many caresses with His reproaches and His lessons! What more powerful cordial to revive our languor! Where shall we find a more life-giving food for our soul than in God from whom comes all strength, all courage, all understanding! We all work, we all suffer, on this earth, which David called a vale of tears. By prayer we draw from the source of life itself, new vigour, which gives us more patience in suffering, more heart for work, more power for good. In order to ascend from the depths of this sad valley to the heaven which is our country, we must not only raise ourselves by patience above suffering, but also by virtue above sin. To do this we need steps, like the steps of a ladder, on which, one after another, our foot rests. Those who know how to pray mount this, from step to step, for, after having spoken to God, like children full of trust, they offer Him each one of their actions, and so go on from prayer to prayer. It is thus that they build up in their souls the steps which mount from earth to heaven. God, who has imposed on them the law of prayer only to draw them to Himself, will bless them: they shall go from virtue to virtue; they shall see God in His holy city.[2]

Whence comes it that so few have recourse to so wonderful a means of salvation? We are all creatures of God, laden with His graces; we have all need of help and of pardon: whence comes it, then, that we do not all worship, return thanks, pray, and humble ourselves? Is prayer so difficult that only a small number of minds and of hearts are capable of it? That were but blasphemy. The needs and sufferings of life, though under different forms, are the same to all men, and would God have put help within the reach of the few alone?

[1] History of St. Elizabeth, by M. de Montalembert.

[2] “Beatus vir cujus est auxilium abs te, ascensiones in corde suo disposuit in valle lacrymarum . . . . . . Etenim benedictionem dabit legislator, ibunt de virtute in virtutem: videbitur Deus Deorum in Sion.” (Ps. lxxxiii. 6, 7, 8, 9.)

 

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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