Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
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.
Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
“After the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they carried Jesus to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord.”–St. Luke ii. 22.
According to the prescriptions of the Mosaic law, forty days after the birth of a son the mother must present herself in the temple, there to be purified, and to consecrate her child to the Lord. On these occasions the wealthy sacrifice a lamb, whilst the poor usually offer two turtle doves. Forty days have come and gone since that blessed Christmas night, and Mary, bearing in her arms the divine Infant, journeys to Jerusalem to present herself in the temple and submit to the law of purification. Joseph follows her, carrying the two doves for Mary’s offering. This is all that their poverty will allow them to offer for the sacrifice. Mary, having been exempt from the original stain, was not subject to the law of purification. She had not contracted the slightest stain, neither in her conception nor in the birth of Christ the Saviour. However, we must admire her obedience, her humility, and her charity.
I. Her obedience.–The Blessed Virgin, in complying with this law, gives us an example of perfect obedience to the authority of God in all things. Although this law was not obligatory on her, still she obeys it, just to teach us we should omit nothing which is commanded us. How many pretexts, excuses, or reasons, more or less specious, are often alleged to dispense us from the duties which religion imposes! On each Sunday or festival day, to assist at the Holy Sacrifice is an imperative obligation. But a visit must be made or some duty must be performed. Perhaps we have a slight indisposition, or we are obliged to walk some distance to the church. To the eyes of faith and to ordinary piety these obstacles present nothing serious. It is only a half-hearted Christian who will consider these difficulties for a moment. The law of the purification of conscience by the reception of the Sacrament of Penance obliges all, at least once a year. And yet, because we can say we have done no wrong to our neighbor or committed no grievous sins, the law is not obeyed, and the Church vainly threatens with the menace of her anathemas. Mary is wholly innocent and pure. He to Whom she has given birth is sanctity itself; however, she tells us, as her divine Son, “it is becoming for us to fulfil all justice.” During forty days she does not appear in public, as if she had contracted the legal stain, as other women. This time has passed, and she presents herself in the temple to obey all that the law prescribes for her purification. Let us resolve to imitate her obedience and fidelity to the law of God.
2. Her humility.–In the mystery of the purification Mary gives us an example of the most perfect humility. Although she enjoyed the singular privilege of being conceived without sin, although the holiest and purest of creatures, and exalted to the incomparable dignity of Mother of God, still, she does not hesitate to humble herself to the rank of ordinary women and to mingle with mothers who, according to the prophet, have conceived their children in iniquity. Well does she know the miracle which God has accomplished in her by uniting virginity and maternity. But she and her holy spouse, St. Joseph, are alone in the possession of the divine secret. In the eyes of the Jews, and even in the estimation of the priests who see her presenting herself in the temple, she is only regarded as the wife of a poor workman. They believe that she has come to the temple as other women, in obedience to the laws and to observe the sacred rites. Her humility is also apparent to us in her offering of two doves, the ordinary gift of the poor. Could she not have spoken a word to unveil the mystery? Could she not say that the prophecies were fulfilled, and that the little Child she had just presented in the temple was the long-promised and expected Messias? The sure proofs were not wanting. But no; not a single word escapes her lips. St. Paul in his Epistle to the Philippians tells us Jesus humbled Himself even to annihilation to lift us up even to Himself. Mary, also, wished to annihilate herself, to teach us that humility is the first trait of resemblance which we should have with Our Lord and Saviour.
3. Her charity.–In submitting to the law of purification, Mary at the same time offered Jesus to God, His Father. From the time when the Lord had put to death the first-born of the Egyptians, to save the children of Israel, He had commanded that all the eldest sons of His people should be offered and consecrated to Him, as well as the first fruits of the harvest, and even the animals. It is to comply with this prescription that Mary presents her Son in the temple. What a splendid proof she gives us of her charity and of her tenderness by offering the very victim which will one day redeem us, and by devoting her well-beloved Son to death! What a sacrifice for the heart of a mother! But Mary knows the designs of God; she knows that the world cannot be redeemed except by the blood of her adorable Son. There remains but one more act, and that is to immolate herself with her Saviour God. This also she is prepared to do. Listen to the holy old Simeon. Inspired by Heaven, he predicts that “a sword of sorrow shall pierce her soul.” According to St. Jerome, Mary was the first martyr, because of the great and incomprehensible sorrow which she had to suffer in her heart–by sharing the persecutions, the sufferings, the passion, and death of her divine Son. Let us show our gratitude to our tender Mother, and, since she did not hesitate to offer her only Jesus for our salvation, on our part we should place no limits to our generosity to make known her devotion and her glory.
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.
Of following Christ, and despising all the vanities of the world.
III. What doth it avail thee to discourse profoundly of the Trinity, if thou be void of humility, and consequently displeasing to the Trinity ?
In truth, sublime words make not a man holy and just; but a virtuous life maketh him dear to God.
I had rather feel compunction, than know its definition.
If thou didst know the whole Bible by heart, and the sayings of all the philosophers, what would it all profit thee, without the love of God and his grace?
Vanity of vanities, and all is vanity, besides loving God and serving him alone.
This is the highest wisdom: by despising the world to tend to heavenly kingdoms.. – Thomas à Kempis – Imitation of Christ Bk I, Ch I pt III.
February Devotion: The Holy Trinity
(also the Holy Family)
Virtue to practice: Humility
I vow and consecrate to God all that is in me: my memory and my actions to God the Father; my understanding and my words to God the Son; my will and my thoughts to God the Holy Ghost; my heart, my body, my tongue my senses and all my sorrows to the sacred Humanity of Jesus Christ, ‘who was contented to be betrayed into the hands of wicked men and to suffer the torment of the Cross.’
(St. Francis de Sales)
An indulgence of 3 years.
A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, if this act of oblation is devoutly repeated every day for a monh (S.P.Ap., Sept. 22, 1922 and May 12, 1934).
The faithful who devoutly offer any prayers in honor of the Most Holy Trinity with the intention of continuing them for nine successive days, may gain:
An indulgence of 7 years once each day:
A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions at the end of the novena (S.C. Ind., Aug. 8 1847; S.P. Ap., Mar. 18, 1932).
(taken from The Raccolta (c)1957)
Novena in Honor of Our Lady of Lourdes
O ever Immaculate Virgin, Mother of Mercy, Health of the Sick, Comforter of the Afflicted, thou knowest my wants, my troubles, my sufferings; deign to cast upon me a look of mercy. By appearing in the grotto of Lourdes thou wert pleased to make it a privileged sanctuary from where thou dost dispense thy favors, and already many sufferers have obtained the cure of their infirmities, both spiritual and corporal. I come, therefore, with the most unbounded confidence, to implore thy maternal intercession. Obtain, O loving Mother, the granting of my requests. Through gratitude for thy favors, I will endeavor to imitate thy virtues, that I may one day share in thy glory. R. Amen.
V. O Mary, conceived without sin,
R. Pray for us who have recourse to thee.
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