The Feast of the Nativity of Our Lady. —(September 8.)
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 Nativity of Our Lady. —(September 8.)
On the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin as the Morning Star of Mankind in a Spiritual Sense.
Imagine a benighted traveller, who having lost his bearings and missed his way in the darkness wanders about until at last he comes to a standstill, afraid to take another step lest he only stray further and further from the right road, or should fall headlong into a yawning pit without hope of rescue. What words can depict the delight of this unfortunate traveller, the glad sigh of relief that escapes his lips when at length the gray light of dawn, the rosy tints of morning break through the darkness of night, announcing to him the joyful tidings that day is at hand, when he will be once more in safety? This traveller represents the world, and the bright hues that herald the coming day, the day that brings hope and salvation to man, are typical of the birth of our blessed Lady.
1st. Consider that as the aurora precedes the sunrise, so Mary’s birth precedes that of Christ. For thousands of years the world lay shrouded in deep gloom and nocturnal darkness. It was the darkness of unbelief and superstition, it was the night of idolatry and the worship of devils, the deep gloom of moral depravity and pagan corruption. In this obscurity mankind wandered to and fro without light, without a path, without a guide. Thousands were precipitated into the bottomless pit, and none reached the true goal of their pilgrimage. And to complete the horror of the situation, the wrath of God, which all had incurred, brooded over them like a black, threatening storm-cloud. Picture to yourself the misery of that dreadful night, and then try to realize what must have been the gladness; the joy that mankind experienced when at length the aurora appeared piercing the thick darkness, the birth of Mary which proclaimed the near approach of sunrise, the rising of the mystic sun, Christ Jesus, and the dawn of a new day that should bring light to the benighted, unhappy world. Consequently the Church joyously exclaims: Thy nativity, O Mother of God, brought gladness to the whole world, because out of thee the sun of justice has come forth, Christ our God. St. Peter Damien declares the birth of our Lady to be, as it were, the commencement of man’s redemption; and whilst meditating upon this great event St. Thomas of Villanova cries out in rapture: “O happy day, O welcome day, whereon so glorious an Advocate is given to the world! O day deserving of solemn celebration, on which so great a gift was bestowed upon us!” And as in regard to the redemption of the human race Mary at her nativity was the aurora preceding the dawn of a new spiritual day, so in regard to the individual soul she is also an aurora, since it is generally to her intercession, who is the Refuge of sinners, that each one of us owes his redemption. And not unfrequently it may be observed that the invocation of the name of Mary, devotion to Mary, having recourse to Mary, has been to the sinner an aurora, a bright gleam in the night of his misery, the precursor of the dawn of a new day for him, of reconciliation with God through Christ.
2d. Consider that Mary in her mystic beauty resembles the aurora. The rosy light that precedes the sunrise is not only fair and pleasant to behold because it is the forerunner and herald of the glorious sun, but it is in itself a sight of no ordinary beauty and attractiveness. The golden hues of early morn that gradually overspread the sky, the tender tints of purple and crimson that color the fleeting clouds, whilst trees and mountains and plants are bathed in a flood of translucent light, and the drops of dew sparkle and glisten, form a lovely sight for the eye to rest upon. So the birth of Mary is in itself a fair dawn of day, for by this happy event it was given to mankind to boast one member, one child of Adam who could in very truth be called a child of God, one born into the world without spot or stain of sin, one on whom rested not the curse of God, but the fulness of His grace. And in this fulness of grace Mary appears as a beauteous spiritual aurora, which if not so brilliant and glorious as the sun which comes after, Jesus Christ, yet shines with the light of virtues brighter than the world had ever seen, or than the world will ever see, Christ only excepted. Thus with her bright example of virtue Mary illumined the dark world as the aurora lights up the sky. Consider this, and ask yourself whether you are also—as it is your duty, your vocation to be—by your virtues a reflection of the beams of the sun of justice, Christ Jesus? Does His image shine forth in you like the rosy light of dawn, or do the dark shades of night still hang about your soul? If the latter be the case, go to Mary; earnestly beseech her that the day may break in your soul, and that this day of her nativity may be the day of your birth in the spiritual order.
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.
September Devotion: The Holy Cross
Virtues to practice: Piety, fervor in the performance of sacred duties, the spirit of prayer
O Mary, most holy Virgin and Queen of Martyrs, accept the sincere homage of my filial affection. Into thy heart, pierced by so many swords, do thou welcome my poor soul. Receive it as the companion of thy sorrows at the foot of the Cross, on which Jesus died for the redemption of the world. With thee, O sorrowful Virgin, I will gladly suffer all the trials, contradictions, and infirmities which it shall please our Lord to send me. I offer them all to thee in memory of thy sorrows, so that every thought of my mind, and every beat of my heart may be an act of compassion and of love for thee. And do thou, sweet Mother, have pity on me, reconcile me to thy divine Son Jesus, keep me in His grace and assist me in my last agony, so that I may be able to meet thee in heaven and sing thy glories. Amen.
An indulgence of 500 days (taken from The Raccolta (c)1957).
Prayer to Saint Joseph Calasanctius, Confessor.
Saint Joseph Calasanctius, protector of youth, great servant of Our Lord, who didst work such marvels in their behalf; thou who, having made thyself a mirror for them of burning charity, of unwearied patience, of deep humility, of angelic purity and of every other heroic virtue, by a holy example, by words full of the Spirit of God, didst inspire them to flee dangerous occasions, to hate sin, to detest vicious courses, and to love piety and devotion, and thus didst guide countless souls to Heaven; thou who didst obtain for them the visible benediction of the Child Jesus and His holy Mother, obtain the like for us, thy humble and devoted servants; obtain for us a lasting hatred for sin, victory in the midst of temptation, and help in time of danger, so that, by living in the perfect observance of the law of God, we may attain to eternal salvation. Amen.
An indulgence of 300 days.
A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, if this prayer is said with devotion every day for a month (Leo XIII, Audience, October 19, 1897; S. P. Ap., April 12, 1932 and June 12, 1949.).
A Mother’s Prayer to St. Augustine for her Children.
O God, Who enlightened St. Augustine by Thy grace, and inflamed him with Thy love in the midst of the darkness and miseries of a life of sin, have mercy likewise on my poor soul and upon those of my children and relatives! Pardon our ingratitude, our disobedience, our want of reverence, our indifference, finally, all the offenses of which we have ever been guilty against Thy Holy Name. We acknowledge that there is in this world no pain or punishment so severe as that which we deserve; therefore, full of dread of what is in store for us, we invoke the intercession of Thy holy servant Augustine, so inflamed with love of Thee!
O holy penitent Augustine, seraph of divine love, unspeakable miracle of Divine Mercy, obtain for us from God a true, perfect, and heartfelt sorrow for our sins, a devout and constant love of God, a love that triumphs over all difficulties, temptations, and tribulations, a wise and unremitting fervor in the observances of the divine Commandments and the fulfillment of our duties! Assist us especially in the training of our children. Behold to how many dangers their virtue and innocence are exposed in the world! See how numerous are the snares and deceits prepared for the ruin of their souls by the flesh, and through the words and example of evil and worldly-minded men! If they do not receive extraordinary help, how can they withstand such allurements? O great St. Augustine, take them under your protection! To our efforts in their behalf, join your intercession for them with God.
Exert all your influence and, with the compassion of your loving heart, intercede with the Most Holy Trinity for them. Permit not that our children, sanctified in the waters of Baptism, should through mortal sin be banished from the presence of God and suffer eternal punishment. Preserve them from the greatest of all evils here below, namely, that of denying the love of Jesus Christ, through affection to some creature or the fear of some misfortune. No, O great St. Augustine! Rather let them and us, their parents, die in the grace of God, than live to offend Him mortally! This favor we implore through your intercession, O holy son of a sainted mother, you who gladly receive and graciously hear the prayers of a mother! I confidently hope that you have already heard my petitions, and that you will obtain for me a favorable answer from God! Amen.
Prayer of Pope St. Pius X
O most sweet Jesus! Who didst come into the world to give to all souls the life of Thy grace, and Who, to preserve and foster it in them, hast willed to become the daily remedy of their infirmity and their food for each day, we humbly beseech Thee through Thy Sacred Heart, burning with love for us, to pour out Thy Divine Spirit upon all souls, in order that those who, unhappily, are in mortal sin may be converted to Thee and recover the life of grace which they have lost, and that those who by Thy help are already living in this Divine life, may, when it is possible for them, approach Thy Holy Table every day; so that daily receiving in Holy Communion the antidote of their daily venial sins, and daily nourishing in themselves the life of Thy grace, thus ever purifying their souls more and more, they may at last arrive at the possession of the life of eternal happiness. Amen.
Written by Pope St. Pius X and indulgenced on the 30th of May, 1905.
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