The Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. (March 25.) —On the Humble Answer which Mary Gave to the Angel.

The Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
On the Humble Answer which Mary Gave to the Angel.

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.

The Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
On the Humble Answer which Mary Gave to the Angel.

Visit to-day in spirit the tranquil chamber at Nazareth, and contemplate the hallowed scene it presents; Mary is on her knees before God absorbed in fervent prayer. Suddenly a celestial brightness fills the secluded room, the Archangel Gabriel stands before her and salutes her with the words: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women.” (St. Luke i. 28.) Now consider the conduct of the holy Virgin, and the answer she makes to the heavenly visitant.

1st. The Evangelist tells us: “Who having heard, was troubled at his saying, and thought within herself what manner of salutation this should be.” (v. 29,) Mary was troubled, not so much by the coming of the angel, for she, the Queen of Angels, she, the sinless, the Virgin full of grace, had no reason to fear any of the celestial spirits; no, it was her humility alone that occasioned her alarm. The lowly Virgin was troubled at hearing the high encomium passed upon her by the angel, and her humility made her silent at first, for she knew not what reply to make to his salutation. “The humble Virgin,” says St. Bernard, “would rather make no response at all than speak rashly concerning a matter which she did not fully comprehend; not until the angel has delivered the whole of his message, and announced to her that she is destined to be the Mother of the Son of God, does she break silence and open her lips to inquire: ‘How shall this be done, because I know not man?’ (v. 34.)” Here again it is Mary’s humility which asks the question. In the course of nature it cannot be done, that she knows full well who is perpetually a Virgin; is it possible that God is going to work in her a miracle as yet unheard of? And how can it be supposed that she, the lowly handmaid of the Lord, an obscure Jewish maiden, the betrothed bride of a carpenter, should be found worthy of such a distinction, worthy of an exertion of miraculous power on the part of the Eternal God? Mary does not doubt the word of the angel, she accepts as true all that he announces, although her humility will hardly permit her to believe such great things concerning herself. Let this, my soul, be the theme of your meditation. It is a characteristic of eminent saints to think little of themselves, never to consider themselves deserving of any special marks of divine favor. And if these favors are bestowed on them, if God calls them to high dignities, to fill positions of extraordinary importance, then they are troubled. They do not mistrust the word of God, they mistrust their own talents and capabilities. How shall this be done? they ask in their humility. Thus Moses acted, when the Lord sent him to Pharao; St. Augustine and St. Chrysostom did the same, when it was proposed to raise them to the priesthood. How is it with you, weak, sinful mortal that you are?

2d. Consider that when the angel had returned a satisfactory answer to Mary’s humble question, she thought of making no other reply than the beautiful, ever-memorable words: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word.” The desire, the will of God takes precedence of the desire, the will of her humble heart. If it is God’s good pleasure to raise the lowly Virgin to such an exalted dignity, she is ready to acquiesce in His will; it rests with Him to make of her a vessel to honor or to dishonor; she is His handmaid, let it be done unto her according to His word. Do you not perceive, my soul, that in this second answer that comes from Mary’s lips her humility reaches its climax; does not her answer indicate most admirably the limit that ought to be fixed—a limit most important for Priests and Religious to observe—the point at which the humility that prompts flight from and refusal of high dignities, positions of influence, undertakings to promote the welfare of others, ought to stop. “Most excellent,” says St. Jerome, “is the virtue of humility, and the knowledge that of oneself one is good for nothing; but most excellent is also prompt readiness to engage in the service of one’s neighbor.” When once the divine will is made known to you, if you have received a definite order from the Superior whom God has placed over you, then, however strongly your humility may shrink from accepting the office, the employment to which you are appointed, give up your own will, for continued opposition on your part though it may appear to spring from humility, in reality has its source in pride. The proud man only thinks of himself; his reason may perhaps suggest to him that he is not equal to the task, and by undertaking it, he would expose himself to be put to shame in the eyes of others; whereas the humble soul only looks to God and relies on His assistance, and is fain to answer in Mary’s words: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done unto me according to thy word.”

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.

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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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