And when there also they began to be famished, the people cried to Pharao, for food. And he said to them: Go to Joseph: and do all that he shall say to you. (Gn:41:55)
Joseph, the son of the Patriarch Jacob, was the figure of St. Joseph, the son of another Jacob: “Jacob begot Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called the Christ. (Mt:1:16)
What was truly said of the first Joseph, as to his future, and as to his goodness, his chastity, his patience, his wisdom, his influence with the king, his power over the people, and his love for his brethren, is verified much more perfectly, even to this day, in the second Joseph.
Of old it was said to the needy and suffering people in the kingdom of Egypt: “Go to Joseph, and do all that he shall say to you.”
The same is now said by the Sovereign Pontiff to all needy and suffering people in the kingdom of the Church—” Go To Joseph.”
If you labor for your bread ; if you have a family to support; if you endure privation and suffering; if your heart is searched by trials at home; if you are assailed by some importunate temptation; if your faith is sorely tested, and your hope seems lost in darkness and disappointment; if you have yet to learn to love and serve Jesus and Mary as you ought, Joseph—the Head of the House, the Husband of Mary, the nursing Father of Jesus—Joseph is your model, your teacher, and your father. Truly, in all things, St. Joseph is the people’s friend.
But who is St. Joseph?
He is the adopted father of the God-man: St. Luke
He is the most faithful coadjutor of the incarnation: St. Bernard
He is one whose office belongs to the order of the hypostatic Union: Suarez
He is the Lord and Master of the Holy Family: St. Bernardine
He is the only one found worthy among men to be the spouse of Mary: St. Gregory
He is the consoler of Mary in her sorrows and trials: St. Bernard
He is the Saviour of the life of the Infant Jesus: .St. Matthew
He is the Saviour of the honor of His Mother: St. Jerome.
He is the man who lived 30 years with Jesus and Mary;
He is the man more beloved by Jesus and Mary than all other creatures: St. Isidore
He is third person of the earthly Trinity: Gerson
He is the model and image of apostolic men: St. Hilary
He is more an angel than a man in conduct: Cornelius Cornelii a Lapide
He is the model of priests and superiors: Albertus Magnus
He is the master of prayer and of the interior life: St. Teresa Lallemant
He is the guardian of chastity, and honor of virginity: St. Augustine
He is the leader in the great procession of the afflicted: Avila
He is the patron of the married state: Paul de Pal
He is the procurator of the Church of God: In parv. off. St. Joseph
He is the patron of a happy death: St. Alphonsus
He is the patron of the Catholic Church: Decree S.C.R
“I took for my Patron and Lord the glorious S. Joseph, and recommended myself earnestly to him. I saw clearly that my Father and Lord delivered me out of this, and other troubles of greater importance, touching my honor and my soul. He rendered me greater services than I knew how to ask for. I cannot call to mind that I have at any time asked him for anything which he has not granted; and I am filled with amazement when I consider the great favors God has granted me through this blessed Saint, and the dangers from which he has delivered me, both of body and soul.
“To other Saints Our Lord seems to have given grace to succor men in some special necessity; but to this glorious Saint, I know it by experience, He has given the grace to help us in all things. Our Lord would have us to understand that as He was subject to Joseph on earth (St. Joseph bearing the title of His father, and being His guardian, could command Him), so now Our Lord in heaven grants all his petitions.
“I have asked others to recommend themselves to S. Joseph* and they too know the same thing by experience.
“I used to keep his feast with all the solemnity I could.
“Would that I could persuade all men to be devout to this glorious Saint; for I know by long experience what blessings he can obtain for us from God. I have never known anyone who was really devout to him, and who honored him by particular services who did not visibly grow more and more in virtue: for he helps in a special way those souls who commend themselves to him. It is now some years since I have always on his feast asked him for something, and I always have it. If the petition be in any way amiss, he directs it aright for my greater good.
“If I were a person who had authority to write, it would be a pleasure to me to be diffusive in speaking most minutely of the graces which this glorious Saint has obtained for me and for others. But I ask for the love of God that he who does not believe me will make the trial for himself—when he will find out by experience the great good that results from commending oneself to this glorious Patriarch and in being devout to him.
“Those who give themselves to prayer should in a special manner always have great devotion to St. Joseph; for I know not how any man can think of the Queen of Angels, during the time that she suffered so much with the Infant Jesus, without giving thanks to Joseph for the services he rendered them then. He who cannot find anyone to teach him how to pray, let him take this glorious Saint for his master, and he will not wander out of the way.”— St. Teresa’s Life, by herself, c. VI.
“Go, then to Joseph, and do all that he shall say to you:”
Go to Joseph, and obey him as Jesus and Mary obeyed him;
Go to Joseph, and speak to him as They spoke to him;
Go to Joseph, and consult him as They consulted him;
Go to Joseph, and honor him as They honored him;
Go to Joseph, and be grateful to him as They were grateful to him;
Go to Joseph, and love him as They loved him, and as They love him still.
However much you love Joseph, your love will always fall short of the extraordinary love which Jesus and Mary bore to him. On the other hand, the love of Joseph necessarily leads us to Jesus and Mary. He was the first Christian to whom it was said, “Take the Child and His Mother.” This led a Father of the Church to say, “You will always find Jesus with Mary and Joseph.”
THE FRANCISCAN ANNALS,
Bishop of Salford.
1. Blessed are you, my children, who have time to do good.
2. Now is not the time for sleep; for Paradise was not made for cowards.
3. Children, keep up a cheerful temper. I will have no scruples or melancholy: only avoid sin.
4. Avoid inordinate mirth, because this roots up the little good which has been acquired.
5. You must not leave your devout exercises; but if you wish to recreate yourselves with a walk, let these be fulfilled, and then go.
6. Do not care to attempt too many devotions; but undertake a few, and persevere in them.
7. You must not look to becoming saints in four days, because perfection is acquired with great labor, and by degrees.
8. Do not have a fancy to be masters of spiritual matters and convert others, but attend to regulating yourself.
9. Children, mortify yourselves in small things, that you may afterwards be able the more easily to mortify yourselves in great things.
10. To choose your vocation, time is required, advice, and prayer.
11. To preserve chastity, it is an excellent prescription to discover your thoughts immediately to your confessor.
12. Do not nourish your body delicately; fly bad companions and evil communication.
13. Avoid idleness, especially during the hours after dinner; because it is at that time that the devil commonly makes his fiercest attacks.
14. Do not touch each other familiarly, not even in jest nor have private conversations with each other.
15. Have no familiarity with women, although they may be allied to you by relationship.
16. Do not trust yourselves whatever may be your experience, but fly every occasion.
17. Go often to confession, at least every eight days; and go to communion according to the advice of your confessor.
18. Be devout to Mary, because this is the best means of obtaining the grace of God.
19. Before choosing a confessor, recommend yourselves in prayer to God; but having once chosen, do not readily change without just cause.
20. When at confession, tell your worst sins first, that the devil may not tempt you to end by hiding them.
21. Take counsel always of your spiritual father, and recommend yourselves to the prayers of all.
22. Give yourselves always, and in all things, into the hands of your superiors; because obedience is a compendious way to acquire perfection.
23. Pray continually to the Lord, that He may grant you the gift of perseverance.
24. Endeavor to have God always before your eyes.
25. Never excuse yourselves when corrected; and keep yourselves from saying any thing in your own praise, even in jest.
26. Read, O my children, the lives of the Saints; hear sermons; and do not fail to practice the prayers and other exercises of the congregation; because they are very pleasing to the Divine majesty.
Children, in order not to fall into sin, keep profoundly engraved in your memories the three warnings given by a holy hermit to certain youths, and act according to them faithfully.
1st Warning. Fly the occasions of sin
2nd Warning. Fly the occasions of sin.
3rd Warning. Fly the occasions of sin.
Fly quickly, fly far, fly always.
Children, do you really desire to be saved! Then ever keep,
First, eternity in mind;
Secondly, God in your heart;
Thirdly, the world under your lee.
“This do and thou shalt live.” ( Lk:10:28)
Gate Of Heaven: Way Of The Child Of Mary
A Manual Of Prayers And Instructions,
Compiled From Approved Sources
For The Use Of Young Persons
If mosaics, priceless paintings and imposing statues are conspicuous in grand cathedrals, equally precious in God’s sight are humble wayside shrines. The tradition began in the earliest decades of the Catholic Church with the establishment of markers and small chapels to commemorate Christ. the Blessed Virgin Mary and the martyrs, often at the location of their faithful martyrdom.
Excerpt from “The Legends of The Blessed Virgin” 1853
They who have never visited the towns and villages of a Catholic country, cannot conceive the feeling of delight with which the pious traveler is affected at the sight of those monuments of piety and religious recollection, which, in the shape of crucifixes, images of the Blessed Virgin, and favorite saints, are placed at the angle of streets, in squares, and public places, on bridges, fountains, and obelisks, or between the stalls of a village market or fair. These works of popular art and devotion, formerly existed in great cities also, recalling to the passenger’s mind thoughts of the object and end of his earthly pilgrimage.
They also served a benevolent purpose, and exercised a civilizing influence over the passions of men. Many a pure spring would have been adulterated but for the presence of its presiding saint. Often has the revengeful spirit of an enemy been appeased, when on the point of immolating his victim, by the sight of a man-god suffering for all mankind. The poor soul of some betrayed girl plunged in deep despair and meditating self destruction passes on her way the figure of our Lady of Sorrows, and falling on her knees, obtains comfort and strength from the Mother of Holy Hope and sweet consolation. Again in ancient times cities were but badly lighted and towns not at all. Piety supplied this deficiency. Each statue or holy image had its little lantern which gave honor to the saint and light to the locality.
Some pretended philosophers may sneer at these objects of popular devotion. But have they ever considered the benefits of which they have been the source, the evils they have remedied, the griefs they have calmed and the crimes they have stayed?
Among the cities nearest our shores, Antwerp is one which has most fully preserved this mediaeval custom and contains innumerable pious souvenirs of the ages of faith. Paris was formerly equally distinguished.
“At the comer of every street,” writes the Abbé Orsini, “a little image of Mary rose from amidst a heap of flowers, which the pious people of the neighborhood renewed each morning as soon as the trumpets from the towers of Chatlet announced the break of day. During the night lamps burnt constantly before them illuminating their little grey niches and on Saturdays their number was greatly increased. This was the first attempt to light the streets. A poor illumination, perhaps, when compared to our modem gaslights, yet had it one great advantage over ours for to it was added a pious object, which excited the people to holy reflection.
The silver lights of the Madonna’s shrines shot forth at intervals like a string of stars from their flowery beds, and seemed to say to those who wandered abroad with ill intent, — “There watches over this city, wrapt in slumber, an eye that never closes, but which sees through all our hearts — the eye of God.”
“O Amor Mei Nomen Matris Dei”
“Oh name of the Mother of God, thou art my love.”-St. Anselm
We always see the more a man is for God, the more he appreciates and loves the Hail Mary. I do not know how it is, nor why, but nevertheless I well know that it is true; nor have I any better secret of knowing whether a person is for God than to examine if he loves to say the Hail Mary and the Rosary. I say, “if he loves”, for it can happen that a person for some reason may be unable to say the Rosary, but this does not prevent him from loving it and inspiring others to say it.
O predestinate souls! Slaves of Jesus in Mary! Learn that the Hail Mary is the most beautiful of all prayers after the Our Father. , It is the most perfect compliment which you can make to Mary, because it is the compliment which the Most High sent her by an archangel, in order to gain her heart; and it was so powerful over her heart by the secret charms of which it is so full, that in spite of her profound humility, she gave her consent to the Incarnation of the Word. It is by this compliment also that you will infallibly gain her heart, if you say it as you ought.
The Hail Mary well said, that is, with attention, devotion, and modesty, is, according to the Saints, the enemy of the devil, which puts him to flight, and the hammer which crushes him. It is the sanctification of the soul, the joy of Angels, the melody of the predestinate, the canticle of the New Testament, the pleasure of Mary, and the glory of the Most Holy Trinity. The Hail Mary is a heavenly dew which fertilizes the soul. It is the chaste and loving kiss which we give to Mary. It is a vermilion rose which we present to her; a precious pearl we offer her; a chalice of divine ambrosial nectar which we hold to her. All these are comparisons of the Saints.
I pray you urgently, by the love I bear you in Jesus and Mary, not to content yourselves with saying the Little Corona of the Blessed Virgin, but a whole Chaplet; or even, if you have time, the whole Rosary every day. At the moment of your death, you will bless the day and hour in which you have followed my advice. Having thus sown in the benedictions of Jesus and Mary, you will reap eternal benedictions in heaven: qui seminat in benedictionibus, de benedictionibus et metet.
THE TRUE DEVOTION THE BLESSED VIRGIN.
BY THE VENERABLE SERVANT OF GOD,
ST. LOUIS-MARIE DE MONTFORT
In danger, in difficulty, or in doubt, think on Mary, call on Mary. Let her not be away from thy mouth or from thine heart, and that thou mayest not lack the succor of her prayers, turn not aside from the example of her conversation.
If thou follow her, thou wilt never go astray. If thou pray to her, thou wilt never have need to despair. If thou keep her in mind, thou wilt never wander. If she hold thee, thou wilt never fall. If she lead thee, thou wilt never be weary. If she help thee, thou wilt reach home safe at the last—and so thou wilt prove in thyself how meetly it is said: “And the virgin’s name was Mary.” (St Bernard)
Excerpt from The Roman Breviary for the Feast of the Holy Name of The Blessed Virgin Mary
The sin of our first parents not only deprived man of original justice and of all the gifts consequent thereon; it reduced him furthermore to a state of great weakness, so that it is impossible for us to accomplish works of supernatural value, without a special grace. Fallen man is like one sick, who has no relish for any nourishment whatever. He is deficient in vital energy, and his actions are wanting in that vigor which naturally belongs to a healthy person. He is strongly inclined to vice, and finds the practice of virtue tedious and difficult.
This natural incapacity regarding the performance of good works is further increased by actual sin, whether mortal or venial. The former, by depriving the soul of divine grace, which is the principle of spiritual life, hinders man from doing anything pleasing to God, so as to merit eternal happiness. The latter, by diminishing the fervor of charity, makes the practice of virtue laborious, since charity has for its effect precisely to facilitate the performance of what is good. Sin is therefore a great evil, because, if mortal, it saps altogether the spiritual energy of the soul, and if venial, it notably weakens it. If from individuals we pass on to nations, we perceive that sin, like a subtle poison, eats into the heart of them, weakening and preparing their ruin.
Divine bounty, which for bodily ailments, has procured us efficacious remedies, is not less industrious in providing the means to heal our spiritual maladies. With the sacraments instituted by Jesus Christ to restore our souls to grace or to augment it within us, God has also been pleased to grant us, in Mary’s aid, a potent remedy for our spiritual infirmities. In fact, Mary has not only given us Jesus Christ, the Pastor and Physician of our souls, but furthermore, she watches over us as a tender mother does by the cradle of an ailing child.
Besides this, Mary’s example encourages us in our conflict with the devil. For she is the Immaculate Virgin, who never was defiled by sin. Her sweet soul was always filled with the perfume of the noblest virtues.
Mary never ceases also to hearken to the voice of our supplications and to present them before the throne of God, often anticipating our requests, and obtaining for us, through her own merits and those of Jesus Christ, all the helps necessary to us in our spiritual needs.
And what Mary does for individuals, she also does for whole nations. As a pitiful Queen, she succors them in their distress; she raises them from their bed of sickness, and is for them a bulwark of defense. (Sg:8:10)
Mary’s power and motherly care not only embrace spiritual miseries: they also extend to the ills of the body. How often do we see Mary restoring health to the sick, who have recourse to her with filial confidence!
In Mary’s readiness to alleviate bodily ailments, shines forth most splendidly God’s love for her. It seems as if the Most High had placed no limit to the efficacy of His Mother’s intercession. While other saints are invoked only in particular cases of corporal infirmity, Mary’s power, on the other hand, is exercised over every kind of malady. Hence we may say that, at her word, as once at the word of Jesus, the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear. (Mt:11:5) The sole difference is that Jesus Christ, being God, wrought these miracles of his own personal authority, while Mary obtains for us, of the Divine Clemency, the graces she asks, by virtue of the efficacy of her intercession with God.
However, though Mary is so powerful in healing all bodily ailments, yet she does not always deliver her clients from every such trial, because God sees best to exercise them in patience, that they may thereby win the reward prepared for them in heaven. But when Mary does not restore bodily health, yet, for all that, she never ceases to act the part of a tender Mother toward us, watching over us, and obtaining for us, in place of bodily strength, resignation to the divine will and interior peace: two sovereign means of sanctification and salvation.
O Mary, Immaculate Virgin, our salvation lies in thy hands. Cleanse our souls, we beseech thee, from the leprosy of sin, and assist us in our corporal infirmities. And if it be the will of God that we must be acquainted with sickness and suffering, obtain for us, at least, perfect patience and resignation in whatsoever God may dispose. Amen.
FLOWER OF PARADISE
-CONSIDERATIONS ON THE LITANY OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN, ENRICHED WITH EXAMPLES DRAWN
FROM THE LIVES OF THE SAINTS
Very Rev. Alexis M. Lepicier, O.S.M.
When the Seven Holy Founders of the Order of the Servants of Mary were established in the Oratory of Santa Maria di Cafaggio, they decided to have painted a fresco of Our Lady representing her humbly proclaiming herself the handmaid of the Lord when greeted by the Angel. Being desirous that the painting should be worthy of the most holy Mother of God, they entrusted the work to an able and pious artist, named Bartholomew.
The saintly artist, relying on the aid of Heaven more than on his own skill, had recourse to Our Lady, fervently praying her that she would deign to direct his hand, that he might represent her in the most fitting manner. When he had completed the figure of the Angel and most of that of Our Lady, there yet remained to paint the features of the holy Mother of God. But how was he to depict the expression of this heavenly Mother in the act of pronouncing her admirable fiat, by which she became the Mother of God?
In this perplexity of mind the painter fell into a deep sleep. On awaking, how great was his astonishment to find the picture finished by an invisible hand! The faithful then flocked to witness this miracle and fixing their eyes on the Blessed Virgin, they repeatedly exclaimed: “What an angelical face, what heavenly features, what a celestial expression!” So beautiful indeed was the face of the Mother of God, that Michelangelo himself used to say this could not have been depicted by any human hand, but that it was truly a divine work.
‘Quivi non è arte di pennelli,onde sia stato fatto il volto della Vergine, ma è cosa divina veramente”. (Michelangelo)
‘There he is not art brushes,the face of the Virgin, but what is truly divine.’ ‘(Michelangelo)
Many were the graces bestowed by Our Lady on those who came to pray before this picture. Before long it was given the title of “Our Lady Saint Mary, full of grace.” This was the beginning of many further graces which the mercy of God granted, for more than six centuries, to those who came to invoke the Mother of God at this shrine.
Many people eminent for virtue came and knelt before this heavenly picture to implore Our Lady’s aid. It was before this wondrous picture that St. Aloysius Gonzaga made his vow of perpetual virginity. Here, also, both St. Charles Borromeo and in after years, Pope Pius IX, knelt in prayer and shed tears of tender devotion.
Very Rev. Alexis M. Lepicier, O.S.M. 1922.
All Souls’ Day commemorates the faithful departed. The Roman Catholic celebration is based on the doctrine that the souls of the faithful which at death have not been cleansed from the temporal punishment due to venial sins, or have not fully been purged from attachment to mortal sins, cannot attain the beatific vision in heaven yet, and that they may be helped to do so by prayer and by the sacrifice of the Mass.
In other words, when they died, they had not yet attained full sanctification and moral perfection, a requirement for entrance into Heaven. This sanctification is carried out posthumously in Purgatory.
One of the most commonly recited Catholic prayers, Requiem Aeternam (Eternal Rest) has fallen into disuse in the last few decades. Prayer for the dead, however, is one of the greatest acts of charity we can perform, to help poor suffering souls during their time in Purgatory, so that they can enter more quickly into the fullness of heaven.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis. Requiescant in pace. Amen.
And we will not have you ignorant brethren, concerning them that are asleep, that you be not sorrowful, even as others who have no hope.
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again: even so them who have slept through Jesus, will God bring with Him. (1Thes:4:13-14)
One great miracle in the new creation of God is this, that death is changed to sleep; and therefore in the writings of the New Testament we do not read of the ‘death ‘ of the saints.
St. Paul in the text speaks of the saints unseen as of those that ‘sleep in Jesus’; and Christians were wont to call their burial-grounds cemeteries, or sleeping-places, where they laid up their beloved ones to sleep on and take their rest. Let us see why we should thus speak of those whom we call dead.
First, it is because we know that they shall awake up again. What sleep is to waking, death is to the resurrection. It is only a prelude, a transitory state, ushering in a mightier power of life; therefore death is called sleep, to show that it has a fixed end coming
Again, death is changed to sleep, because they whom men call dead do really live unto God. They were dead while they lived this dying life on earth, and dead when they were in the last avenues of death. But after they had once died, death had no more dominion: they escaped as a ‘bird out of the snare of the fowler’; the snare ‘was’ broken, and they were delivered.
It may sound strange to unbelieving ears to say that we are dead while we live, and alive when we die. But so it is. Life does not hang on matter, nor on organization of matter.
It is not as the harmony which rings out of a cunning instrument; but it is a breath, a spirit, a ray of the eternal being, pure, immaterial, above all grosser compounds, simple and indissoluble. In the body it is allayed and tempered with weakness, shrouded about with obstructions; its faculties pent up by a bounded organization, and its energies repressed by the ‘body of this death.’ It is life subjected to the conditions of mortality. But, once dead, once dissolved, and the unclothed spirit is beyond the affections of decay. There is no weakness, nor weariness, nor wasting away, nor wandering of the burdened spirit; it is disenthralled, and lives its own life, unmingled, and buoyant. When the coil of this body is loosed, death has done all and his power is spent; thenceforth and for ever the sleeping soul lives mightily unto God.
Those whom the world calls dead are sleeping, because they are taking their rest. ‘I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord, from henceforth. Even so saith the Spirit; for they rest from their labours.’ Not as the heretics of old vainly and coldly dreamed, as if they slept without stir of consciousness from the hour of death to the morning of the resurrection. Their rest is not the rest of a stone, cold and lifeless; but of wearied humanity. They rest from their labours; they have no more persecution, nor stoning, nor scourging; no more martyrdoms; they have no more false witness, nor cutting tongues; no more bitterness of heart, nor iron entering into the soul; no more burdens of wrong, nor amazement, nor perplexity. Never again shall they weep for unkindness, and disappointment, and withered hopes, and desolation of heart. All is over now; they have passed under the share. The ploughers ploughed upon their back, and made long furrows; but it is all over, never to begin again.
They rest too from the weight of ‘ the body of our humiliation’ —from its sufferings and pains. Their last sickness is over. . . . Now is their weariness changed into refreshment; their weakness into excellence of strength; their wasting into a spirit ever new; their broken words into the perfection of praise; their weeping into a chant of bliss. And not only so, but they rest also from their warfare against sin, against all its strength, and subtilties, and snares. . . . There is no more inward struggle, no sliding back again, no swerving aside, no danger of falling; they have gained the shore of eternal peace. Above all they rest from the bufferings of evil in themselves. It is not persecution, nor oppression, nor the thronging assaults of temptation, that so afflict a holy man, as the consciousness that evil dwells in his own inmost soul. It is the clinging power of spiritual evil that sullies his whole being: it seems to run through him in every part; it cleaves to every movement of his life; his living powers are burdened and bruised by its grasp.
Evil tempers in sudden flashes, unholy thoughts shooting across the soul and kindling fires in the imagination, thoughts of self in holiest seasons, consciousness of self in holiest acts, in devoutness of spirit, earthliness of heart, dull musing heaviness in the life of God—all these burden even saints with an oppressive weight. They feel always the stretch and tension of their spiritual frame, as a man that is weary and breathless grappling with a foe whom, if he would live, he must hold powerless to the earth. But from all this, too, they rest. The sin that dwelt in them died, when through death they began to live. The unimpeded soul puts forth its new-born life, as a tree in a kindly soil invited by a gentle sky: all that checked it is passed away; all that draws it into ripeness bathes it with fostering power. . . .
Blessed and happy dead! In them the work of the new creation is well-nigh accomplished. What feebly stirs in us, in them is well-nigh full. They have passed within the veil, and there remaineth only one more change for them—a change full of a foreseen, foretasted bliss. How calm, how pure, how sainted, are they now! A few short years ago, and they were almost as weak and poor as we: harassed by temptations, often overcome weeping in bitterness of soul, struggling, with faithful though fearful hearts, towards that dark shadow from which they shrank as we shrink now. . . .
Let us be much in thought with them that are at rest. They await our coming; for without us they shall ‘not be made perfect.’ Let us therefore remember, and love, and follow them; that when our last change is over, we, with them, may ‘ sleep in Jesus.’
Cardinal H. E. Manning (1808-1892)
Mary made it constantly the business of her life to labour for the end for which God had created her. In her parents’ house, in that of Nazareth, in Bethlehem, in Egypt, upon Calvary, always humble, recollected, modest, pious, she had but one view: the glory and love of her divine Son. Child of Mary, walk in the footsteps of your Mother; appreciate as she did according to their just value, all the perfidious joys and the false enjoyments of the world; seek and desire one thing only: to love God, and to serve Him faithfully all your days.
May Your Immaculate Heart, 0 Mary, be praised, blessed, honored, loved, and imitated, throughout the whole world.
THE CHILD’S MONTH OF MARY
BY AN UNWORTHY CHILD OF MARY.
“Holy Mary, succor the wretched, encourage the faint-hearted, cheer the mournful.” (Antiphon of the “Magnificat” in the First Vespers of the Office of Our Lady.)
Affliction, the inseparable associate of man during his earthly pilgrimage, is the natural consequence of the ills that befall us, either from within or from without. Bereavement, loss of fortune, calumny, malpractices designed against us, are so many causes of exterior affliction. Sickness, temptation, trouble, and, above all, the thought of having offended God by sin, and the danger we run of offending Him again—these and such like things give rise in us to interior sufferings.
Earthly goods are all insufficient to console us in the midst of so many evils. They may assuage our bitterness in part, but when all is said and done, they leave nought but an aching in our hearts, and are powerless to fortify us against fresh miseries.
As an offset against the ills of life, the infinite goodness of God has prepared for us, in the ever present aid of the most Holy Virgin, a copious source of consolation, for which indeed we ought to be grateful. It is enough to have recourse to this Mother of mercy, to be assured of receiving from her a prompt relief in the pains of life, a balm for the wounded heart, a comfort in the woes and calamities which overwhelm us.
Just as Jesus Christ invited us to seek our consolation in Him, when He said: “Come to me, all you that labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you,” (Mt:11:28) thus also Mary holds out to us, in the midst of the sorrows of this life, the most soothing comfort: “Come over to me, all ye that desire me, and be filled with my fruits.” (Eccl:24:26)
Mary’s power to comfort the wretched arises mainly from this, that she above all others has known sorrow. As the inseparable companion of Jesus, during the thirty-three years of His mortal life, Mary partook of all His sufferings. With Him she felt the pinch of poverty, experiencing all manner of privations. The reproaches of them that reproached Jesus fell also upon her; (Ps:69:9) and when the disciples forsook their Divine Master one by one, Mary followed Him faithfully even to Calvary, there to drink with Him to the dregs His bitter chalice.
Even after the Saviour had ended His mortal life of labor and toil, Mary continued to live on and suffer, until it pleased God to call her to Himself.
Mary’s faith and constancy joined with her inviolable attachment to the teachings of her Son are in themselves a source of consolation to us. For, this divine Mother teaches us, by her example, never to despair of divine assistance. She animates us to persevere in our good undertakings, whatever difficulties may oppose us. By obtaining for us, through her mediation, a large share in the virtue of the cross, she changes our sorrows into liveliest joys, as formerly the wood pointed out by God to Moses changed the bitter waters of the desert into sweet. (Ex:15:25)
If we have recourse to Mary in time of affliction, not only shall we receive from her consolation in our pains, but we shall also learn by her example to value at their proper worth the crosses wherewith Our Lord is pleased to visit us.
The time of suffering is by far the most precious time of this life; for it is then that the opportunity comes of practicing the highest virtues. These virtues are: faith in the wise ordering of Divine Providence, trust in the assistance of Heaven, and charity, both toward God, who allows us to be afflicted, and toward our neighbor, who may perhaps be the cause of our sufferings. The time of afflictions is then most precious, though we, alas! oftentimes value it at so low a rate. “If thou also hadst known, and that in this thy day, the things that are to thy peace: but now they are hidden from thy eyes.” (Lk:19:42)
Beware, O my soul, of ever murmuring or losing patience. Bear all things with peace and joy, in company with Jesus Crucified and His sorrowing Mother. Recall to mind these comforting words of Our Saviour: “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Mt:5:5)
O most Holy Virgin, who art fitly called the Consoler of the Afflicted, obtain for me of Jesus Christ thy Son, the grace never to lose heart in the day of trouble, and to seek no comfort but in Jesus and thyself. Grant that I may ever have confidence in thy maternal heart pierced with the sword of sorrow, and that I may find therein my true and only consolation. Amen.
FLOWER OF PARADISE
-CONSIDERATIONS ON THE LITANY OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN, ENRICHED WITH EXAMPLES DRAWN
FROM THE LIVES OF THE SAINTS
Very Rev. Alexis M. Lepicier, O.S.M.