Sixth Sunday in Honor of St. Thomas of Aquinas.

CONSIDERATION FOR THE SIXTH SUNDAY.

St. Thomas’s Love for Mary.

st-thomas-aquinas-by-francisco-de-zurbaran-sm“Felix doctor, cujus solatio
Angelorum servit attentio;
Petrus, Paulus favent obsequio,
Del mater mulcet alloquio.”
“O blessed Doctor,
thou whom the angels served,
to whom Peter and Paul brought light in doubt,
and whom the Mother of God sweetly comforted!”
(Dominican Breviary for the Feast of St. Thomas.)

FIRST POINT.—Consider the love of the Angelic Doctor for Mary. His biographers find signs of it even in his childhood. (See Trait, end of the present consideration.) It is not at all to be wondered at that the Queen of Angels should have taken possession of the Angel of the Schools even in his earliest days. The greatest minds have always been powerfully attracted to Mary, who is justly saluted as the Seat of Wisdom. As Jesus gathered around Him virginal souls; viz., Mary, Joseph, John, so too does Mary draw after her the innocent, the virginal, the pure. It would have been strange, indeed, if St. Thomas who, as we know, always carried about him a relic of St. Agnes, such was his admiration for the spotlessness of the saint, had not most tenderly loved and devoutly honored the Immaculate Virgin of virgins. The holy Doctor has given us sufficient points in his own life and writings, to indicate clearly his love for the Queen of Heaven. In this he imitates St. Bernard, that ardent lover of the Mother of God; and the fact of his having given up his soul to God in a Cistercian monastery which, like almost all the churches of this Order, was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, was certainly not due to what we call chance. The great Angel of the Schools maintained what at that time in the Church was the clearly and openly expressed opinion, and spoke of Mary as only the most zealous servant of the glorious Virgin could speak. He taught of her in his explanation of the Angelical Salutation: “She is called full of grace,” because she had in her soul the fulness of grace, no sins but all virtues. From her soul the blessings of grace flowed out upon her body and prepared her to be the dwelling-place of the Son of God. Yes, even upon all mankind, upon all their needs and dangers, flow streams from her plenitude of grace. Help and strength are given by her to every virtue, for to her is applied this verse of the Canticles: “A thousand bucklers” hang upon this tower of David against all the snares of the enemy; and this word of Ecclesiasticus finds in her its fulfilment : “In me is all hope of life and of virtue.”—She far excels the angels, as well in grace and riches as in nearness to God; for to the angels, God stands in the relation of Lord, but to Mary in that of Son. Yes, she is higher than the angels themselves in purity; for she is not only pure in herself, but she helps others on to purity. No guilt, no malediction of sin ever weighed upon her. She brought forth without labor, lived without the pressure of a sense of guilt, and died without decay; for Mary’s body and soul are in heaven.

Esteem is the foundation and preliminary condition of love. How great must the love of St. Thomas have been for Mary of whom he draws such a picture for himself and for the whole Church, of whom he is so fond of speaking! A secular witness in the Process of Canonization, John Blasius, a Neapolitan judge, and courtier of the Queen of Sicily, relates that he once heard St. Thomas preach a whole Lent upon the words: “Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee,” and noticed that whilst speaking he kept his eyes shut, or raised in contemplation to heaven.

Truly would it be a privilege to hear an angel in human form discourse upon the grandeur of Mary, upon the mysteries that were wrought by her co-operation. That would, indeed, be an impressive sermon.

But dost thou not hear St. Thomas preach when thou sayest the holy Rosary? Is it not a greater privilege to be allowed to speak so familiarly, so confidently, like a little child, to Mary whom St. Thomas so magnified, whom he so dearly loved, than even to hear him sound her praises?—Hast thou hitherto rightly estimated this happiness? Hast thou ever reflected upon the honor thou enjoyest of being able to commune lovingly and heart to heart with the Queen of heaven as often as thou desirest? Such a privilege as this thou canst not enjoy with thy equals. Hast thou ever considered that it is a bad sign not to be on terms of intimacy with her without whom no grace can be received, since all graces flow through her hands? Dost thou understand that sermon of St. Thomas wherein he explains how Mary is full of grace? If she has the fulness of grace, it cannot be thought that any one can obtain a share in those treasures, excepting through the intercession of her to whom they are all intrusted.

Imitate thy Master, and make the firm resolution to place in Mary’s hands thy salvation and the care of all things belonging to it. Resolve to remain sincerely devoted to her, and often to salute her with that “Ave” which an angel brought from heaven; upon which the Angel of the Schools so loved to discourse that, for a whole Lent, he found in it abundant matter for his sermons; and. which he still oftener, yes, times innumerable, pronounced in prayer. Hail Mary! Hail Mary! Ah, he that loves the angel’s “Ave,” will himself become angelic! The Angelic Doctor is a living, speaking proof of this. In a manuscript of his renowned work, “Summa contra Gentiles,” written in St. Thomas’s own hand, the margins of every page bear the words: “Ave, Ave, Ave Maria!”

SECOND POINT.—Consider how Mary returns and rewards the love borne her. William of Thoco, one of St. Thomas’s biographers, tells us that the holy Doctor, when on his death-bed, revealed to his friend and companion, Reginald of Piperno, for the honor of God and the consolation of his confrere, that the Blessed Virgin and glorious Mother of God had appeared to him and set his mind at rest with regard to his life and his learning. Whatever he earnestly begged of God through her, especially that he might never be forced to abandon the position of a simple religious, he had always obtained. “The holy Doctor,” continued, the narrator, as all his confessors unhesitatingly declare, preserved his virginal purity; he was white as snow in soul and in body. The most powerful of women, the sweet Mother, does not confine herself to the choirs of the heavenly court; she deigns likewise to impart to the pilgrims of earth the consolation of her presence. Whilst reigning as queen near the throne of her Son, she casts her merciful eyes upon her poor children of earth. “With good reason is it thought that she obtained for her devoted Doctor that learning which made him so famous, as well as the lily of chastity which he sacrificed to God and ever preserved inviolable.

Behold, my soul, the condition necessary for obtaining Mary’s protection, a pure heart!—and this condition is one that she herself can bestow upon her clients, one that she can protect for them. Mary desires it and she, too, can obtain it; and not only that, but all good things and a thousand joys besides. To her is applied what is read in the Epistle on the feast of St. Thomas. It is indeed, said first of all of Divine Wisdom, but may likewise be referred to Mary, the Mother and the Seat of Eternal Wisdom: “Now all good things came to me together with her, and innumerable riches through her hands.”

Certainly, thou art desirous of the blessing which through Mary is to be won. Without hesitation, wilt thou answer that thou wouldst be well pleased if she procured for thee the assurance of thy salvation and all other blessings attached thereto, such as St. Thomas received from the hand and lips of the most pure Virgin. It is in thy power to secure the maternal protection of the Queen of Heaven, of the Mother of God. “I love them that love me,” so run the words of Holy Writ, and they are applied by the Church to the Blessed Virgin, as also these others: “And they that in the morning early watch for me, shall find me.”—Art thou still in the early morning of thy life? O preserve thy innocence, that delicate blossom, thy first love for the Bride of the Holy Ghost! She will never permit that flower to wither and die. No; she will guard it against frost and cold; protect it from hail and thunderstorms; will provide for it dew, and rain, and warm sunshine; until the fruit unfolds from the blossom and gradually matures; until the first love shall have ripened into eternal love; and from a childish, half unconscious, tender, feeble affection, shall have changed into fidelity, valiant, pure, enduring, and firm as a rock. Fidelity to Mary is, at the same time, fidelity to her Divine Son Jesus and fidelity to God. But how often have I proposed all this to myself, and yet have not abided by it! Yes, all the resolutions that I have made during these six Sundays, the lights that I have received in the meditations upon my saintly teacher, the graces that he has obtained for me,—will they have any value, any consequences for eternity?—With joy can I say: Yes, consequences truly great and precious, if I obtain the protection of her to whom St. Thomas owes his lily of purity, as well as his wisdom. She formed of him an angel of purity and of wisdom. “Who ever calls Thomas an angel,” exclaims one of his admirers, “has praised him enough. Nothing more is left for him to say, and anything less would be too little. Yes, is not he an angel, who lives as chastely in the flesh as if he were without a body? And could he not be chaste who had imbibed the Ave Maria with his mother’s milk!”

O how happy am I to have discovered this way to wisdom and holiness, to purity and knowledge! St. Thomas has trodden it, in order to show me how one can go to heaven by a path of roses; can join the choirs of angels; yes, can even become like to the angels. How sweet to stay near Mary and with her to labor! She is the dwelling-place of virtues, a medicine of life, an abyss of grace. All that is not God is less than Mary. God Himself could not have created a greater Mother than the Mother of God—and that great Mother, as soon as I wish it, will become my Mother, and will remain such as long as I allow her. She who bore in her arms Him who sustains the world, will help me to carry every sorrow. She is the throne of mercy, to which all may have access. No client of Mary will ever be lost. But he that does not piously honor her, is not her client; and he that does not love her, does not truly honor her; and no one that does not imitate her, loves her sincerely. I will, therefore, in future prove my love to Mary, and daily beg St. Thomas to help me to be faithful to her.

Prayer.

O Mary, glorious Mother of Jesus Christ, most pure Virgin, powerful Queen of heaven! Behold I come to thee sorrowful for my past infidelity. As to St. Thomas, so also to me hast thou given rich graces and blessings, yes, long before I could begin to salute thee; and thou didst not cease to love me long after I had grown tepid and negligent in thy service. O do not now abandon me, since my saintly Master has opened my eyes to see again how happy thy children are under thy protecting mantle and near thy pure heart! Now will I remain unshaken in my fidelity to thee, untiring in my efforts to bring others to thee; now will I constantly aim at procuring thee and thy children honor. Forsake me not, O Mother of Mercy! Thou art the Mother and special Patroness of the Order whose brightest ornament St. Thomas, under thy maternal assistance, became. Behold, I too will become a spiritual child of this holy family, whose chief duty it is to preach Jesus Crucified and, by their glowing words, to enkindle in the hearts of the faithful ardent love for thee, His Mother. As far as I can, I will engrave in all hearts, but first of all in my own, thy name in ineffaceable characters.

And do thou, holy, angelic Master, thou the scholar, the lover, the preacher, the sacred Doctor of Mary, do thou teach me to love Mary with that pure, intelligent, faithful and persevering love with which thou, from thy early childhood until thy last hour, didst love her and of which thou didst give her daily and tender proofs! Ah, then, when I go into “the house of my eternity,” I shall, in ecstasy of soul and jubilation of heart, pronounce that “Ave Maria,” that sweet salutation, which produced so great an impression upon thee before thy infant tongue could lisp its accents!

Prayer of the Church for the Feast of St. Thomas of Aquin.

(To be repeated after every Consideration.)

O God, who by the wonderful learning of blessed Thomas, Thy confessor, hast illustrated Thy Church, and by his virtues hast enlarged it: grant, we beseech Thee, that we may understand what he taught and in our lives follow what he practised. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Trait from the Life of St. Thomas of Aquin.

St. Thomas’s mother once went with some other ladies to the baths at Naples, followed by the nurse carrying the gifted child in her arms. The nurse set the little boy down in the bath-room, when he caught up (whence it came, we know not) a scrap of paper in his baby hand. Providence permitted it to fall in his way, in order to show forth in the child what he would become when grown to man’s estate. The nurse, wishing to undress the little boy for his bath, tried in vain to open the tiny hand that held the paper. The child began to cry so piteously that the nurse desisted from her efforts, and left him in possession of his treasure. The bath over and the child reclothed, he was taken to his mother, his little hand still grasping the paper. The mother, heedless of his cries, forced open the hand, and found upon the paper it so tightly held nothing but the Salutation of the glorious Virgin: “Ave Maria.”—Scarcely had she given it back to the child when he carried it hastily to his little mouth and swallowed it.—“It would seem,” says his early biographer, “that he proclaimed as a child the saving doctrines he was to announce as a saint; for that scrap of paper containing the first words that heralded our salvation, did not fall in his way without the over shadowing guidance of the Holy Ghost.”—And another cries out in astonishment: “The first nourishment of Thomas’s childhood was the name of Mary! His tongue had tasted Mary before it began to praise her; he knew of Mary before he had heard of her; he was Mary’s scholar long before he became the Angelic Doctor. He would not have written well of the Son, had he not spoken well of the Mother. Lend an ear to him when he speaks of Mary, for her Son from the cross testified that he had written well of Him. The cross of the dying Saviour was the pulpit of the Teacher, and from it fell the words that created Thomas a Doctor of the Church: “Thou hast written well of Me.”

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March Devotion: St. Joseph

Virtue to practice: Mortification

Litany of St. Joseph

Lord, have mercy on us.

Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven, Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost, Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, Have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Illustrious Son of David, pray for us.
Splendour of patriarchs, pray for us.
Spouse of the Mother of God, pray for us.
Chaste Guardian of the Virgin, pray for us.
Foster-father of the Son of God, pray for us.
Watchful Defender of Christ, pray for us.
Head of the Holy Family, pray for us.
Joseph most just, pray for us.
Joseph most pure, pray for us.
Joseph most prudent, pray for us.
Joseph most couragious, pray for us.
Joseph most obedient, pray for us.
Joseph most faithful, pray for us.
Mirror of patience, pray for us.
Lover of poverty, pray for us.
Model of all who labor, pray for us.
Glory of family life, pray for us.
Preserver of virgins, pray for us.
Mainstay of families, pray for us.
Solace of the afflicted, pray for us.
Hope of the sick, pray for us.
Patron of the dying, pray for us.
Terror of demons, pray for us.
Protector of the Holy Church, pray for us.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us.
V. He hath made him master of His house,
R. And ruler of all His possessions.

Let us Pray.

O God, Who in Thine ineffable providence didst vouchsafe to choose Blessed Joseph to be the spouse of Thy most Holy Mother; grant, we beseech Thee, that we may be worthy to have him for our intercessor in heaven whom on earth we venerate as our Protector. Who livest and reignest world without end. Amen.

Ancient Prayer to St. Joseph

(This prayer was said to be founded in the 50 A.D. In the 1500′s it was sent by the Pope to Emperor Charles when he was going into battle. According to oral tradition, whoever reads this prayer, hears it, or carries it, will not fall into the hands of the enemy, nor be burned in any fire, nor will they be defeated in battle.)

O St. Joseph whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in thee all my interests and desires. O St. Joseph, do assist me by thy powerful intercession and obtain for me from thy Divine Son all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord; so that having engaged here below thy heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of fathers. O St. Joseph I never weary contemplating thee and Jesus asleep in thy arms. I dare not approach while He reposes near thy heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine Head for me, and ask Him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, patron of departing souls, pray for me. Amen.

Prayer to St. Joseph by Pope St. Pius X

O Glorious St. Joseph, model of all those who are devoted to labor, obtain for me the grace to work conscientiously, putting the call of duty above my natural inclinations, to work with gratitude and joy, in a spirit of penance for the remission of my sins, considering it an honor to employ and develop by means of labor the gifts received from God, to work with order, peace, moderation, and patience, without ever shrinking from weariness and difficulties, to work above all with purity of intention and detachment from self, having always death before my eyes and the account that I must render of time lost, of talents wasted, of good omitted, of vain complacency in success, so fatal to the work of God. All for Jesus, all through Mary, all after thine example, O Patriarch, St. Joseph. Such shall be my watchword in life and in death. Amen.

Good St. Joseph protect us, protect the holy Church.

O good and kind St. Joseph guide us in the way of perfection.

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