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.
“Let us love one another, for charity is of God.”—I. St. John iv. 7.
“Mary, rising up in those days,” says the Evangelist St. Luke, “went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Judea. And she entered into the house of Zachary and saluted Elizabeth.”
What powerful reason, what important business thus draws Mary from her retirement? The house of Nazareth had become still more dear to her, since God had deigned to come down to it. Possessing in herself Him who was at once her God and her Son, her mind and heart _absorbed in the contemplation of so great a mystery, she loved better than ever to remain in solitude, thanking with all the powers of her soul the God upon whom she had so often called in her youth, and who had vouchsafed to choose her to bring salvation to the world. How comes it, then, that she goes forth to-day?
When the angel announced to Mary the mystery which was about to be accomplished in her, he spoke these words to her, “And behold thy cousin Elizabeth, she also has conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren.” Mary remembered these words, and her generous heart, so humble amid her own joy, rejoiced at the blessing accorded by the Lord to her kinswoman. She rose up, therefore, and went with haste into the hill country, where Elizabeth lived.
Who, then, was this Elizabeth, and who was Zachary, whose house was deemed pure enough to receive the Mother of the thrice holy God? Let us again open the Gospel of St. Luke. (i. 5-25.) “There was, in the days of Herod the King of Judea, a certain priest named Zachary, of the course of Abia, and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name Elizabeth. And they were both just before God, walking in all the commandments and justifications of the Lord without blame. And they had no son, for that Elizabeth was barren, and they both were well advanced in years. And it came to pass, when he executed the priestly function in the order of his course before God, according to the custom of the priestly office, it was his lot to offer incense, going into the temple of the Lord, and all the multitude of the people was praying without at the hour of incense. And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And Zachary, seeing him, was troubled, and fear fell upon him; but the angel said to him: Fear not, Zachary, for thy prayer is heard, and thy wife Elizabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John; and thou shalt have joy and gladness, and many shall rejoice in his nativity. For he shall be great before the Lord; and shall drink no wine nor strong drink: and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb. And he shall convert many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. And he shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elias; that he may turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the incredulous to the wisdom of the just, to prepare unto the Lord a perfect people. And Zachary said to the angel: Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years. And the angel, answering, said to him: I am Gabriel, who stand before God; and am sent to speak to thee, and to bring thee these good tidings. And behold, thou shalt be dumb, and shalt not be able to speak until the day wherein these things shall come to pass, because thou hast not believed my words, which shall be fulfilled in their time. And the people was waiting for Zachary; and they wondered that he tarried so long in the temple. And when he came out he could not speak to them, and they understood that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he made signs to them, and remained dumb. And it came to pass after the days of his office were accomplished, he departed to his own house. And after those days Elizabeth his wife conceived, and hid herself five months, saying: Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein He hath had regard to take away my reproach among men.’’
Such, then, were the righteous people whom Mary went to visit. The angel Gabriel had solemnly announced to her the miracle by which God had bestowed a son upon their old age, and had even given this to her as a sign and proof of the miracle of the Incarnation. And now, as soon as the Divine Word had become Incarnate in her womb, she hastened towards the dwelling of Elizabeth, that the Mother of Jesus might visit the mother of St. John the Baptist. The birth of this child was to come before the birth of the Infant God, because it was he who was one day to bear the glorious name of the Forerunner of Christ; it was he of whom the prophet said, “A voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight His paths.” He was to be the first to believe in Jesus Christ, the first to suffer and to die for Him. These mysteries, however, were as yet hidden from the Blessed Virgin Mary, and to fulfil the Divine purposes she had only to follow that generous instinct, so powerful in her soul, so powerful still in all holy souls, the instinct of charity. Do we well understand all that this word means? It gathers into one all holy affections, all sacrifices. It is that most excellent of all virtues, without which, St. Paul says, even one who should have all other virtues would become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal, making the sound of virtue without having the foundation. “Dearly beloved,” says the great Evangelist St. John to his disciples, “let us love one another, for charity is of God. And every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God: for God is charity . . . God is charity: and he that abideth in charity, abideth in God, and God in him.”
 I St. John iv. 7, 8, 16.
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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