The Blessed Virgin Mother

The Immaculate Conception – A Lily Among Thorns

As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters. (Sg:2:2:)

How mighty are God’s works! The word went forth that the human race should be redeemed by the Son of God made man. He was to come unto His own, and His own were to be made ready for His coming. And great was the preparation: the whole world was in peace; the whole Roman world was enrolled, Mary was conceived Immaculate. And this last was the greatest wonder of all!

Adam’s sin betrayed as it were the whole human race to Satan. It handed over to him the vast dominion of this world. Every child of Adam came under Satan’s ban. So much his was every soul, that to belong again to God it had to be repurchased at an infinite price.

Every child but one — Mary, daughter of Joachim and Anna: Mary who was to be Mother of God. She was, through the merits of her Son, without stain from the first moment of her existence. God by a meek maid conquered the rebellious spirit who thought to be as the Most High, and crushed with Mary’s heel the serpent’s head. She was the sole triumph of the four thousand years before her birth and of the two thousand years that followed. Never again shall we see an Immaculate One upon the earth.

If we could only understand what sin is, how we should rejoice in our Lady’s Immaculate Conception. Immaculate, without stain, or spot, or blemish. We are so dull and have grown so callous to sin and its horrors that we almost take it as a matter of course. But indeed sin is not a matter of course, even for the weakest of us. It is one of the devil’s lies to make men believe that sinning is necessary, unavoidable, a part of the present system. Sin is terrible, horrible; disfiguring the soul in this world and torturing it in the next. It is the whole evil of the world, the source of all suffering and misery. And it can be resisted, can be overcome. As a powerful engine makes its way over a rough sea and against a strong wind, so can our will, fortified with grace, overcome the world, the devil, and the flesh. That there are shipwrecks, partial or total, and millions of them, does not take away the possibility of a safe transit.

But why talk of sin today, of all days in the year, when we are celebrating Mary’s spotlessness? Let us rather turn our weary eyes away from that evil to which we are akin and lift them up to rest on Mary. And it is a rest. If there were a spot on earth where we could truly say, “Here no sorrow can come!” how would people flock to that spot.

But there is no such place. Still there is Mary! Hers is a soul where perfect peace and holy joy dwell undisturbed. She was foreshadowed in the Old Testament under the most beautiful types: the dove that could find no spot clean enough for a resting-place; the many-colored rainbow, reaching from heaven to earth and ratifying God’s promise to man; the fiery bush, burning but unconsumed; the majestic cloud of flame that led the Israelites into the Promised Land; Aaron’s rod with its pure white blossom; the Ark of the Covenant, God’s home on earth; Gideon’s fleece, exempt from the common lot; “the garden enclosed” of the Canticle — these and many more were faint symbols of Mary’s soul.

And this beautiful one, God’s Mother, is my Mother too, given to me to be my own. What shall I do to please her? How shall I make much of her? The sight of her radiant beauty turns my thoughts to my own soul, and a sense of shame comes over me. I see there blemishes, imperfections, evil tendencies. Well! let me take them to my Mother and say with the humble saints: “Behold the fruits of my garden.” And Mary will look down with love, and with the tender hand of a Mother will help me to uproot the evil, overcome the bad, and strengthen the good. But perhaps her awful purity keeps me back; I shudder to present before her sinless eyes the sight of my wounded soul. That must not be. Purity never makes the heart hard: the most innocent are the most compassionate. She has never repulsed a sinner because of his frailty.

“Coming to Mary” perhaps sounds vague. It means turning the eyes of one’s soul towards Mary, the Mother of God, and saying to her in the depth of one’s heart some vocal prayer, or, better still, some half-uttered, half-thought-out petition. It means babbling out to the vision in one’s mind one’s troubles, one’s cares, one’s sins, and asking with a firm, strong faith for relief and help. We shall see no beautiful face, no doubt, hear no sweet voice, nor feel a healing touch. But we shall rise from our prayer purified, strengthened, and consoled.

The Manual of the Holy Catholic Church
James J. McGovern
1906

On the 8th of December, 1854, the Vicar of Jesus Christ, our own Pius IX., in the presence of the vast concourse of Catholic Bishops who thronged the Basilica of St. Peter, solemnly defined the Immaculate Conception of Mary to be an article of faith:

“In honor of the most Holy and Undivided Trinity, for the glory and ornament of the Virgin Mother of God, for the exaltation of the Catholic Faith and the spread of the Christian religion, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own, we pronounce and define, that the doctrine, which maintains that the most blessed Virgin Mary, in the first moment of her conception, was, by a singular grace and privilege of Almighty God, in regard of the merits of Christ Jesus, the Saviour of the human race, preserved free from the stain of original sin, has been revealed by God, and is, therefore, to be firmly and constantly believed by all the faithful.”

Ave Maria
Gratia Plena


Symbols and Attributes 0f The Virgin Mary

The Star often embroidered on the right shoulder of the Virgin’s mantle or in front of her veil refers to the most expressive of her many titles, Stella Maris, “Star of the Sea,” an interpretation of her Jewish name Miriam. Several pictures are called La Madonna della Stella. She is also Stella Matutina, the “Morning Star”; Stella non Erratica, the “Fixed Star”; and Stella Jacobi, the “Star of Jacob.”

The Sun and the Moon. “Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the morn, clear as the sun” (Solomon’s Song, vi. 10). This text is applied to the Virgin and she is also the woman of the Apocalypse, “A woman clothed with the sun, having the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” Hence she is portrayed with the glory of the sun about her, and the crescent moon beneath her feet.

The Enclosed Garden is a symbol borrowed from the Song of Solomon (Cant. iv. 12) as well as a Fountain Sealed, a Well of Living Waters, the Tower of David, the Temple of Solomon, and the City of David.

The Porta Clausa or Closed Gate is taken from Ezekiel (xliv., 2).

The Lily, the Rose. “I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys” (Cant. ii., i).

The Palm, the Cypress, and the Olive are all emblems of the Virgin. The first signifies victory, the second points to heaven, and the third denotes peace, abundance, and hope.

The Cedar of Lebanon (“exalted as a cedar in Lebanon”), because of its imperishable nature, its perfume, its healing qualities, and its great height, denotes also the virtue, greatness, and beauty of the Virgin.

The Sealed Book, as a symbol in the hands of the Virgin, refers to the text: “In that book were all my members written”; also to the “book that is sealed which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot, for it is sealed: And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned” (Is. xxix., 11-12).

Besides these symbols, which are mystical and sacred and belong only to the Virgin, there are others of a more general nature that appear in pictures of the Madonna and Child.

The Globe, as the symbol of sovereignty, was early placed in the hands of the divine Infant. When it is under the feet of the Madonna with a serpent twining about it, it is the symbol of redemption.

The Apple, in the hands of the Infant Christ, symbolizes the fall of man; in the hands of the Virgin it indicates that she is the second Eve.

The Serpent is the general emblem of Satan and sin, but it is used in reference to the prophecy, “She shall bruise thy head,” when placed under the feet of the Madonna.

The Pomegranate, the ancient symbol of hope, is often placed in the hands of the Child, who is seen presenting it to His mother.

The Book, when the Madonna holds it open, or has a finger between the leaves, or when the Child is turning the pages, is the Book of Wisdom, and is supposed to be open at the seventh chapter. When clasped or sealed, as before explained, it is a mystical emblem of the Virgin herself.

Birds represent the soul. The Dove is the Holy Spirit hovering about the Virgin. The Seven Doves, typifying the gifts of the Spirit, when they surround the Virgin, characterize her as Mater Sapientia, “Mother of Wisdom.” Doves near her when she is working or reading in the Temple express the meekness and tenderness of her nature.

Certain women of the Old Testament are regarded as especial types of the Virgin, viz.: Eve, Rachel, Ruth, Abishag, Bathsheba, Judith, and Esther, and it is because of this that these Jewish heroines so often appear in religious pictures.

The correct and traditional dress of the Virgin is a blue robe or mantle worn over a close red tunic with long sleeves. In early pictures her head is veiled and the colors are pale and delicate. The enthroned Madonna unveiled was introduced about the end of the fifteenth century.

In the historical pictures she is simply dressed, but in the devotional pictures wherein she is portrayed as the Queen of Heaven, she wears a magnificent crown wrought with jewels interwoven with roses and lilies; her blue robe is richly embroidered with gold and gems, and lined with ermine or stuff of gorgeous colors, carrying out the text: “The king’s daughter is all glorious within; her clothing is of wrought gold. She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework” (Ps. xlv., 13-14).

In the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption, the Virgin wears a white tunic, or white strewn with gold stars. In all subjects that relate to the passion and those that follow the crucifixion she should wear violet or grey. This rule is not always followed, however.

Sacred Symbols in Art
Elizabeth E. Goldsmith
1911


Queen of Thy Servants: Royal Dignity of Those Who Serve Mary

 Gentile da Fabriano (c.1420)

I love them that love me: and they that in the morning early watch for me, shall find me. … He that shall find me, shall find life, and shall have salvation from the Lord. (Prv:8:17,35)

“O lord, for I am thy servant; I am thy servant and the son of thy handmaid.” (Ps:116:16)
To reign such is the ambition of great souls, the stimulus of bold enterprises. But there are two ways of reigning. The first is that of tyrants, who govern with the sword and prevail by violence and wrong. Such a reign is of short duration and the memory of the tyrant is speedily buried in oblivion: “There memory hath perished with a noise.” (Ps:9:6) Others, on the contrary, choose charity for their scepter and humility for their throne. Such a scepter cannot be shattered, and a throne thus founded is never cast down; these are the throne and scepter of Jesus Christ, King of kings, Lord of lords, and Prince over the princes of the earth: “Christ reigns, Christ conquers, Christ commands.” The kingdom of Jesus Christ, founded under the shadow of the cross, strengthened by fierce persecutions, is forever extending: it knows neither ruin nor decay: “Thy kingdom is a kingdom of all ages.” (Ps:145:13)

Now, what is the basis of a kingdom so permanent, of a throne so unshaken? Strange to say, it is none other than the condition of a servant, freely chosen by Jesus Christ: “He took the form of a servant.” (Phil:2:7) Indeed, all that may be procured by ambition and pride is frail and perishable: on the other hand, self-abasement leads to an eternal kingdom, for it is written that “humility goeth before glory.” (Prv:15:33)

Mary reigns with her Son Jesus Christ, and her kingdom, like unto His, is a kingdom of imperishable glory, because hers is a throne of clemency, mercy and pardon: “Hail, holy Queen Mother of Mercy.” And what is the secret of this glorious royalty? None other, but the humble condition of a servant of the Lord: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word.” (Lk:1:38)

No sooner had the Blessed Virgin uttered these words, than she commenced her reign, for in that moment she became the Mother of our King: “And the Word was made flesh.” Mary’s sway over the world never diminishes: it ever goes on extending, until it embraces the entire universe.

Happy the servants of the Mother of God! Under the protection of a Queen so kind and powerful, they are not lacking in the necessaries of life; and as for the goods of the soul, they have them over and above, for “all her domestics are clothed with double garments.” (Prv:31:21)

A Christian who is covetous of true and lasting regal splendor, should imitate Mary and faithfully serve the Lord, for He will exalt him to the incomparable dignity of priest and king, according to the words of St. Peter: “You are a chosen generation, a kingly priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people: that you may declare His virtues, who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (1Pt:2:9) But, in order worthily to serve the Lord, we must also learn how to serve Mary: in serving so great a Queen we shall naturally be led to serve God, wherein our greatest dignity consists. To serve Mary is therefore to reign: Servire Maria regnare est.

The reign of one who serves Mary is no tyranny, no reign of oppression and cruelty: it is rather a reign of charity and mercy, directed to alleviating the woes of those who are in affliction. It is a reign of peace, which repays injury by benefit: a reign of humility, which subjects the passions to the yoke of Christ: a splendid and glorious reign, worthy of the ambition of magnanimous minds, the foreshadowing of that eternal kingdom of bliss which is held out to us in heaven.

Oh, if only men knew what a happiness it is to serve Mary, they would contentedly lay aside their wish of ambition and earthly grandeur, and would consecrate themselves, with all the ardor of their souls, to the service of so glorious a Queen.

“Flower Of Paradise”
Considerations On The Litany of The Blessed Virgin Enriched with Examples of the Saints
Very Rev. ALEXIS M.LEPICIER, O.S.M.
1922


In All Adversity -Go to Joseph

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,
VOLUME II.
Bishop of Salford.
1878


Advice of St Philip Neri To His Spiritual Children

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
(1879)


Light Out of Darkness

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 Beauty Ever Ancient

“He is a true and genuine Catholic, who loves the truth of God, his Church, and its members; who to his religion and his faith prefers nothing—not the authority of any man, not wit, not eloquence, not philosophy: but who, looking down upon these things, and firmly fixed in his belief, resolves to admit, and to adhere only to that, which from ancient times, he knows to have been universally received.”

“Never was it allowed, never is it allowed, never will it be allowed, to deliver any doctrine to the Catholic Christian, that has not been received; and it ever has been, is, and ever will be, a duty to anathematize those who introduce any novelty. Who, therefore, shall dare to preach what he has not received? who shall show himself so easy of belief, as to admit what the Church has not delivered? So taught the great Apostle. But I hear some vain men cry, and cry to Catholics: ‘under our authority, our rule, our exposition, condemn what you held, take up that which you condemned, reject your ancient belief, the doctrines of your Fathers, the institutes of your Elders, and embrace—what ?—I shudder to utter it.”

“Reflecting often on these things, I am astonished at the madness, the impiety, the lust of error in some men, who, not content with the Rule of Faith once delivered and received, are ever seeking for something new, and are ever anxious to add to religion, to change, or to take away; as if, what was once revealed, was not a celestial dogma, but a human institution, which, to be brought to perfection, required constant emendation, or rather correction. If novelty must be shunned, antiquity must be held fast: if novelty be profane, antiquity is sacred.”

  Saint Vincent of Lérins ;”Commonitorium” (434)

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Sacred Sounds -The Angelus Bird

The bells might be silent all over the world,
  The toll of the Angelus never be heard;
Yet nature, the banner of Christ holds unfurl’d,
And her Mother is blessed by the “Angelus Bird.”

When traveling in the forests of Guinea and Paraguay it is not uncommon to meet with a bird whose music greatly resembles that of an Angelus bell when heard from a distance.

The Spaniards call this singular bird a bell ringer, though it may be still more appropriately designated as the Angelus bird, for, like the Angelus bell, it is heard three times a day, morning, noon, and night.

Its song, which defies all description, consists of sounds like the strokes of a bell, succeeding one another every two or three minutes, so clearly and in such a resonant manner, that the listener, if a stranger, imagines himself to be near a chapel or convent.

But it turns out that the forest is the chapel, and the bell a bird. The beauty of the Angelus bird is equal to his talent; he is as large as a jay, and as white as snow, besides being graceful in form and swift in motion. Whenever the Angelus bird begins to discourse his sweet music, the monkeys protest like evil spirits, and rend the air with their shrill chattering as they scamper up the trees to escape from the unwelcome sound.

THE ANGELUS BIRD

In the woods of Guinea there hovers a bird
Whose plumage is gorgeous and notes are sublime;
Thrice daily its carol is distinctly heard,
Like the sweet, solemn toll of the Angelus chime,
At morning it wakens the echoes around
With the ring of it magical, sacred notes;
At noon can be heard its thrice-uttered sound,
And at eve, tho the forest, its soft measure floats.

‘Tis the “Angelus Bird” of Paraguay s coast,
That chants the grand key of the holiest prayer;
Its altars, the forest- the day god, its host-
The heaven, its vault -what temple so fair!

‘Twould seem that when darkness o’ershadow’d the land
And the light of the Christian was yet to be seen,
That the God of Creation created this grand
Living bell, to intone the pure hymn o’er the scene!

From the moment ‘twas said that the Mother should be
“Hailed Blessed,” all over the earth, by the Word;
E’en the savage afar, by that Southern Sea,
Could hear her true praise in the “Angelus Bird.”

While temples were torn by iconoclast hands,
And the Faith of Redemption shone only in blood,
When the praise of the Virgin, in civilized lands,
Was hushed -it was heard in Paraguay s wood.

The bells might be silent all over the world,
The toll of the Angelus never be heard;
Yet nature, the banner of Christ holds unfurl’d,
And her Mother is blessed by the “Angelus Bird.“

Grant, Mother of God, that a lesson we take,
From this creature so strange, so truly sublime;
Let us honor the bird that such music can make,
May silence ne’er muffle its Angelus chime.   Dr. J. K. Foran

THE APPARITIONS AND SHRINES OF HEAVEN S BRIGHT QUEEN
In Legend, Poetry and History
William J. Walsh


Reflections on The Living Rosary

Rosary Madonna “Do you never tire of saying your rosary?”

“Never. It is such a comfort to me. I am always finding some new beauty in it. The thought came to me today that the rosary is very like our lives.”

“It is divided into three parts: Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious mysteries. Do they not correspond to youth, maturity and old age? In youth all things are bright and full of promise: here we have the Annunciation, the Visitation and the Nativity. The first foreboding of sorrow may be found in the Presentation—the prophecy of Simeon—and in losing the Holy Child on the return from Jerusalem; yet when He is found in the temple, the joy far outweighs the pain of loss. So it is in youth; trouble is short lived and is quickly forgotten when the cloud has passed away.”

“The Sorrowful mysteries correspond to the years of maturity, when the cares of life press heavily upon us. Who has not knelt in Gethsemane and cried, with our dear Lord: ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me!’ And how few of us have the grace to add: ‘Nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt.’ And how often are we scourged. First by our passions, which are so hard to conquer; by ill-health, by disagreeable companions or uncongenial surroundings. We have all to wear the thorny crown of adversity, when our best, our most prayerful efforts fail to stem the tide which has set in against us. Do we not all have a daily cross, whether some great sorrow or an accumulation of petty trifles it matters not. We struggle on more or less bravely and many times fall beneath its weight. Ah! If we but fasten our sins to the cross and offer our hearts to our crucified Saviour, we will not have lived through the Sorrowful mysteries in vain.”

“The last of the three are the Glorious mysteries. They correspond to old age. The soul that has lived down its passions, thrown off its sinful garment and risen above its human frailties, experiences the sublime grandeur of the Resurrection. Once free and untrammeled, the soul can ascend high enough to receive worthily the gifts of the Holy Ghost. Then may our souls, like the body of our Blessed Mother, be ‘assumed into heaven’ and then —“our crown.”

Extract from The Living Rosary
The Rosary Magazine, Volume 26
January-June 1905


Ave Maria, Gratia Plena

“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
1712

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
(Sept. 12)