The Espousals of the Blessed Virgin — Nazareth.

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 Espousals of the Blessed Virgin — Nazareth.

Joseph, her husband, a just man.” — St. Matt. i. 19.

The Blessed Virgin remained in the temple until the age at which the young maidens brought up under the shadow of the sanctuary returned to their families, to be affianced to a righteous man, and devoted thenceforward to the holy duties of wives and mothers, for which a religious youth had excellently prepared them. What woman, indeed, would better know how to devote herself to these laborious duties, to be good and faithful in her affections, moderate in joy, calm in sorrow, self-sacrificing in all circumstances of life, than she who, from her earliest youth, has had God for her end, her witness, and her teacher? But it was reserved for the holy maiden who was about to leave the temple in obedience to the Jewish law, to set us the example of virtues which the Gospel would soon cause to be so highly honoured on earth. Already she had consecrated to the Lord not only her early youth, but the whole of her life; and without thinking of herself, casting the care of her future upon that God to whom she had offered herself without reserve, she accepted beforehand solitude and humiliation on earth, that she might preserve that spotless purity which had been celebrated in the prophecy of Holy Scripture, in the wonderful language of which she was called the lily among thorns, the mystical rose, the tower of ivory, dazzling with whiteness.

However, the wicked world in the midst of which she was to live and suffer, was not worthy to know the sublimity of Mary’s vocation, and it entered into the designs of the Divine Wisdom to conceal under the humble appearance of an ordinary Jewish wife, the Virgin announced by the prophets, who was to give to the world the long-promised Emanuel.

God therefore chose a just man out of the whole human race, to whom He entrusted the Mother of His Son, and later His Son Himself; and now let your minds be full of solemn reverence while we learn to know and love the first man whom our Divine Saviour loved, and whom, during thirty years He called His father.

This man, raised to the highest dignity to which a son of Adam can ever attain, that of guardian, protector, and adopted father of the Saviour of the world, was a poor carpenter of Nazareth. Like Mary herself, he sprang from the race of David, and from the Kings of Juda. But the glory of this royal house had long since been destroyed, and Joseph, its obscure descendant, living by the work of his hands, in a village, the name of which was scarcely known, had preserved of the inheritance of David only faith in the promises of God and courage in adversity. Kinsman of St. Joachim and St. Anna, no doubt their neighbour and their friend, he perhaps had seen Mary while still quite a child; perhaps he had consoled the solitude of her aged parents. Be that as it may, ancient authors relate that when the time came that the Blessed Virgin was to leave the temple, several young Hebrews presented themselves at the same time as St. Joseph, to the high priest, who was to act as father to the orphan daughter of the race of David, and asked her of him in marriage. Amongst them Joseph was the humblest and most venerable for age and virtues, and the poorest. To guide the choice of the high priest each one laid before the altar of the Lord a staff, one of which was to blossom by a miracle. Aaron, the brother of Moses, had formerly been chosen high priest because his staff was found in blossom amongst those of his rivals. Those who here renewed the same trial little knew with what a wonderful priesthood the spouse of Mary was to be invested. Meanwhile, Mary was praying to the Lord. The next morning the staff belonging to the humble Joseph had become green, and a beautiful lily of a spotless whiteness was blooming on its summit. The priests saw in this miracle an evident sign of the choice of God. The humble Virgin received with confidence the spouse whom she knew was to protect her innocence with a father’s care. She left the sanctuary which had sheltered the years of her youth, took leave of her companions, and returned to Nazareth with Joseph.

When, after a wearisome journey of several days, the pilgrim who has left Jerusalem and walked towards the north, has climbed a last height, steepest of the Galilean mountains, his heart beats as he pauses to look down upon a narrow valley, and a village, the houses of which, half built and half cut out of the side of the mountain, rise one above the other, interspersed with terraces and gardens. An old convent with blackened walls overlooks the irregular buildings of the village. It is towards this that the eyes of the traveller are directed; for, whatever may be his country, if he is a Christian, he is going to visit brothers who will receive him with touching hospitality, and besides, in the enclosure of this old church he will find the remains of that venerable house to which Joseph brought Mary, and in which the hidden life of Jesus was passed.

It is, then, on this mountain, and over a hamlet yet poorer than the modern village, since its name was never mentioned in the history of Judea, that we can imagine Mary and Joseph arriving, like the pilgrims of the present day, towards sunset. The strong donkey, the ordinary means of conveyance for eastern women, and which has carried the Virgin, still almost a child, through this long journey, hangs its wearied head towards the earth. Mary dismounts, and looks with tearful eyes upon the house in which she is no longer to find her father and mother, and in which her new life is to begin.

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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