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.
“My soul doth magnify the Lord.”—St. Luke i. 46.
In five weary days’ travelling on foot the Blessed Virgin crossed the mountains which separated Nazareth from the land of Judea. She arrived at length at the little town in which dwelt Elizabeth and Zachary. “And she entered,” says the holy Gospel, “into the house of Zachary, and saluted Elizabeth. And it came to pass that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost. And she cried out with a loud voice, and said: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the Mother of my Lord should visit me? For behold, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.”
In this simple Gospel narrative, let us admire the miracle worked in this highly favoured woman, the first to whom God revealed the coming of His Son upon earth by the visit of Mary and our Divine Saviour. The moment the humble traveller crosses the threshold of the holy dwelling prodigies succeed one another. At the first accents of that sweet voice which says, “Hail, my sister Elizabeth!” the predestined infant who is to be the forerunner of Mary’s Divine Son, leaps for joy in his mother’s womb, and his mother herself, filled with the Holy Ghost, recognizes in her young cousin the Mother of her God, and proclaims her blessed among all women.
Then Mary, breaking the silence she has kept since the Annunciation, praises God in that wonderful canticle, the most beautiful that has ever been uttered by human lips.
“My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. Because He hath regarded the humility of His handmaid: for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. Because He that is mighty hath done great things to me: and holy is His name. And His mercy is from generation to generation, to them that fear Him. He hath showed might in His arm: He hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart. He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble. He hath filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He hath sent empty away. He hath received Israel His servant, being mindful of His mercy. As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his seed for ever.”
The Church has appointed that every day Mary’s glorious canticle should be sung at Vespers, in order that the faithful may never let a day end without rendering homage to their Mother, by standing to repeat, at the sound of the bell, with all signs of reverence and joy, that which is the song at once of her triumph and of our deliverance. We know it under the name of the Magnificat; its accents are familiar to our ears, would that the sense were as familiar to our hearts. For in it the highest and most consoling: truths of our faith are expressed with such wonderful clearness that if we knew aright how to understand and meditate on the Magnificat we should believe and hope as the saints believe and hope.
Let us, then, meditate on it a moment together, and let us ask our holy mother to be in the midst of us, to enable us to understand it.
Is it a cry of earthly joy and of human pride which breaks from the heart of Mary when Elizabeth bows her venerable head before her, and pays her that homage which no daughter of Eve had ever yet received? “Whence is this to me, that the Mother of my God should come to me?” No; Mary’s heart is as humble since she has known her high destiny as it was in the first years of her youth, when she desired to be the handmaid of the holy women in the temple. But, inspired by a spirit of prophecy, she sees in the future the deliverance of her people, the deliverance of the whole world, accomplished by her divine Son, she sees the powers of evil overthrown, and the reign of the Saviour established in this world, according to His eternal promises. Boundless joy and gratitude flood her soul as she considers that it is through her that He deigns to accomplish so many miracles, that it is she who has been chosen to give life to the Saviour of the world. Then it is that she cries out in those wonderful words in which humility shines forth as much as joy: “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. Because He hath regarded the humility of His handmaid; for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.”
Then the Mother of God goes on to prophecy the deliverance of all nations, a deliverance greatly needed, for idolatry reigned on the earth, and all that was small and weak groaned under the oppression of the strong. The great city of Rome, at that time mistress of the whole world, herself torn by factions and trembling under cruel masters, revenged herself by oppressing the subject nations. Her chief citizens, themselves oppressed, took their revenge by oppressing others in their turn, and slavery, descending step by step, reached from the highest to the lowest, crushing the humblest classes. There was no justice, no law, but the law of the strongest. The only nation to which the law of God was known was groaning under the same yoke, slavery being imposed upon it in punishment for its too long ingratitude. And from the whole earth a sad concert of complaints and groans rose up towards heaven. Suddenly a song of hope resounds. “The mercy of the Lord is from generation unto generations, to them that fear Him. He hath shewed might in His arm; He hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart. He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble. He hath filled the hungry with good things and the rich He hath sent empty away. He hath received His servant Israel, being mindful of His mercy. As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his seed for ever.”
 St. Bonaventure, Meditations.
 St. Luke i.
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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