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.
“Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou amongst women.”—St. Luke i. 28.
We have now made acquaintance with this poor house of Nazareth, which Mary’s prayer and Joseph’s holiness had turned into the most wonderful sanctuary in which God was worshipped on earth. Here it is that the oracles of the prophets are about to be fulfilled, and that the thrice holy majesty of God is about to humble Itself. Here it is that the expected Saviour, after whose coming all mankind has so long been sighing, was about to come down from heaven, to take a body and soul like ours, in the womb of the most pure of all creatures. Is there one of us who does not feel annihilated at the grandeur of such a mystery? The intellect is stupified; faith alone enlightens us, and were it not for the text of the Gospel, so beautiful and so simple, no tongue of man could enter upon this august narrative. Let us humble ourselves, and instead of attempting to grasp with our intellect a blessing so inconceivable, let us be content to pour forth our hearts in grateful love towards our Incarnate Lord. O that our souls may be set on fire by this wonderful mystery of the love of God. O Jesus, Eternal Word, who hast come down from heaven to clothe Thyself with the weakness of a child in the pure womb of Mary, source of our hope, teach us the immensity of Thy self-sacrifice; teach us to love Thee as much as our hearts are able. Alas! how weak and miserable still will be our gratitude when compared with Thy sacrifice.
When we are awake before daylight, and, after our morning prayers, have gone out into the country in the first light of the dawn, have we not noticed the deep silence of all nature, the calm expectation with which every living thing awaits in silence the appearance of the sun? The mists roll away and rise up in the valleys, the sky reddens more and more, at length a point of light arises, sets the whole horizon on fire, bathes the fields and mountains in light, and shews us our homes, and the surrounding country as if through a golden haze. Then what a concert, what a hymn of joy breaks forth! How all things sing and bless God, and if only our conscience is at peace, how do we ourselves break our silence and burst forth in blessings to God! Such ought to be the feeling of each one of us when we open the Gospel to read the history of the Annunciation. Let silence reign in our inmost souls, while we think of the birth and holy childhood of Mary, which we have already described, when all was still wrapped in shade. Now the eternal dawn begins to kindle the horizon; the Sun of Righteousness is about to appear. Let us then recollect ourselves, that we may be ready to rejoice when we have greeted the first glow of light which announces to the earth the Desire of all nations.
One morning, says a devout historian of the Blessed Virgin, at this same hour of recollection and silence, Mary was alone in the part of the house which was her sanctuary: her prayer was rising towards heaven with a fervour ever new. She was beseeching God “to permit her to see with her eyes, and to receive into her arms, the Infant Saviour promised to the world. Grant, O Lord, she repeated, that I may hold this little Infant in my arms, and load Him with caresses. Suddenly a shining light dazzled the eyes of the praying Virgin, and in the midst of this light stood a heavenly figure, bending low before Mary, in an attitude of reverence.
“The Angel Gabriel,” says the Evangelist St. Luke, “was sent from God into a city of Galilee called Nazareth, to a Virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the House of David: and the Virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women. And when she heard it she was troubled at his saying, and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. Behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of David His father; and He shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever, and of His kingdom there shall be no end. And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man? And the angel, answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee, and therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren; because no word shall be impossible with God. And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.”
 St. Bonaventure, Meditations on the Life of Jesus Christ.
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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