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.
Visitation. (continued 2)
Have charity in your heart, and you will practice charity. Our business is to love: God will take care of the rest, and will never let a sincere good will lie useless. We are the children of a God who is charity itself, and we know in what manner He has proved it to the world. To save the wretches whom His justice had condemned, he became man and died. This is an act of charity worthy of our God. He continues this work of our salvation every day by supporting, directing; and pardoning us; and if, contemplating such miracles, we fall prostrate on the earth, crying out that we should never be able to imitate such high charity, here is the gentle Virgin Mary showing us, as in a spotless mirror, the charity which comes from God, and throwing her humility like a veil over His dazzling light.
She shews us divine charity applied human things which we can imitate, whether it be in this touching history of the visitation, or in her life at Nazareth, poor amongst the poor, or at Cana of Galilee, when her intercession obtains the first miracle from her Son, until this charity, doubling in strength as she pours it out upon all around, at last ascends Mount Calvary, where the Mother of the Saviour of the world unites herself to God in offering her Son for the salvation of man.
All sacrifices, I repeat once more, come from the same source. The charity of God is the inextinguishable flame at which are enkindled all those which have enlightened, warmed, and vivified the world, from the charity of the Blessed Virgin, of the martyrs and heroes of the Gospel, down to that of every holy soul who, in the humility of an obscure life, loves God with all his strength, and his neighbour for the love of Him. The merit of a work consists, not in the splendour it sheds around, nor in the noise it makes, but in the love which inspires it; and there are actions, very humble and mean in the sight of man, which, at the day of judgment we shall see placed by the side of the noblest and most holy, because they will have contributed, by the charity which inspired them, and by the charity which they will have left in a suffering heart, to the great work of God, the salvation of souls.
Let it, therefore, never be said, that charity is only possible to those of our brethren to whom God has given the material means of almsgiving. They would do but little good if they did not give, with their money, their time, their intelligence, their sacrifices, and their affection. This is the vital principle of almsdeeds, and in order to make fruitful any money which is given, it must come from charitable hands. Do we not all, even the poorest amongst us, possess that which constitutes the virtue, and, so to speak, the soul of almsdeeds, namely, intelligence, affection, and self-sacrifice? We may not have much time, but if we never waste it, we shall have enough to comfort the poor, our relations, friends, and brethren. Those who have little, let them give little, so that they give willingly. There are times when a smile, a sympathising word, or a friendly counsel, are better alms than money, which may not be in our power to give. Sometimes, even charity multiplies the loaves, as Jesus did of old. Our meal will not be greatly diminished, because the orphan has shared it with our children.
Mary and Joseph were as poor as the poorest among us, yet no doubt the village of Nazareth was filled with their acts of kindness. Can we imagine anything more pleasant for a poor sick person than to see at his bedside the sympathizing face of Mary, or to hear her sweet voice speaking of heaven? Let us picture to ourselves our Divine Mother nursing the aged and little children, mending their poor garments with her own hands, comforting the sorrowful, having a kind word for each, and making more holy all who look upon her; and St. Joseph, so venerable and gentle, encouraging virtue by his example, and exhorting to the practice of it by his counsel. No one ever approached the house at Nazareth without carrying away a richer alms than if he had visited the palace of a king.
What Joseph and Mary did at Nazareth we can all do. Happy, a thousand times happy is the village in which charity reigns, in which it is practised in different forms by high and low, the same love being in the hearts of all, in which its influence banishes bitter words, jealousies, and angry feelings, where true brotherhood prevails, where evil is put to shame and good encouraged, and of which may be said with truth what was formerly said by the pagans of the first disciples of Jesus Christ: “It is a people of brothers.” We have hitherto spoken of the charity of the Blessed Virgin during her earthly life, but we cannot fail to remember with joy that the reign of charity still lasts. The Mother of our Redeemer, like Himself, is now more full of charity than ever before. Still does she practise among us those ministries of charity to which she was always so much devoted. She visits us as of old, sympathetic in joy and helpful in sorrow or want. When we are abandoned she shews us her love, when we toil she helps us, when we are sick she comes to our bedside, and whispers holy words to our hearts. When we are gathered round her feet in her chapel she is in the midst of us, and offers to her Divine Son every holy motion of our hearts. Mary comes to visit us, let us, therefore, be always ready to receive her. Let there be nothing in our dwellings or in our souls to offend her eyes, and that our holy Mother may be pleased with us, let us love and practise charity, of which, after her Divine Son, she is the most perfect model.
O Mary, whom the Church calls the House of Gold, the sanctuary of charity, obtain for us this holy charity, that it may at once soothe and rouse our souls, that it may make us gentle to our brethren, and may excite us to devote ourselves to serve them for the love of God. Make us feel deeply both their joys and their troubles, that we may go to them as thou didst go to St. Elizabeth, and that we may know, like thee, how to cheer and console them. O Mother of Mercy, bring often to our memory thy holy and generous poverty, that we may know the source of true charity, and may love others as we wish to be loved.
Often to think of the Blessed Virgin comforting the poor at Nazareth, and visiting her cousin, to rejoice with her, and to nurse her in her sufferings. Every time a work of charity presents itself, to ask ourselves, what would Mary have done?
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)
Copyright © 2013 – 2015. Holy Cross Publications. All rights reserved.