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
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.”
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
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.”
“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
“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
“O all ye that pass by the way, attend, and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow. (Lamentations 1:12)
A dutiful child is never unmindful of the sorrows of his mother. Her sighs and labors are ever deeply imprinted on his memory, and he is bent on fulfilling that sacred command of Heaven which venerable Tobias gave to his faithful son: — ” Thou must- be mindful what and how great were the perils which thy mother suffered for thee;” and which Ecclesiasticus, inspired by the Holy Ghost, gives to all mankind, in these words: “Forget not the groanings of thy mother.”
As Christians, we are all children of Mary. She became our Mother amidst unutterable anguish and pain. She was solemnly declared our Mother when standing at the foot of the Cross, whilst the blood flowed in streams from the wounds of her dying Jesus.
For our loving Redeemer, being about to leave this world, and pitying our orphan state, addressed every Christian, in the person of St. John, his beloved disciple — ” Behold thy Mother : ” then, turning his bleeding head towards the Blessed Virgin, He said, as the same Evangelist testifies — “Woman behold thy Son.” We, therefore, are the children of Mary: Jesus has declared us such.
“As Christ has begotten us,” says St. Antonius,” to a spiritual life, in the word of truth, by suffering on the cross, so, likewise, Mary has begotten us, and brought us forth in the midst of most acute pains, by sharing in the sufferings of the crucifixion of her Son.” Ah, then, never let us forget her sighs and groans —her bitter pains and sorrows. Deeply should we fix them in our memory, and day after day call them to mind.
“Forget not the groanings of thy Mother, and be mindful what and how great were the perils which she suffered for thee.” Meditate often on the sorrows of Mary and you will imitate her virtues, share in her merits, and obtain her special protection.
But that you may be still more encouraged to think of the Seven Dolours, be reminded of some other advantages which you will gain from this most beautiful and consoling devotion.
It was revealed to St. Elizabeth, a Benedictine nun, that our Lord will bestow four graces on those who are devout to the sorrows of the Blessed Virgin. First, that whoever invokes her by her Dolours, shall obtain the grace of true repentance. Secondly, that she will console such in all their tribulations, and especially at the hour of death. Thirdly, that the Lord will imprint on their minds a remembrance of his Passion, and inspire them with great devotion to it. Lastly, that He has empowered Mary to obtain for them whatever blessings she pleases.
Of this we are certain, that in proportion as we, the servants of Mary, compassionate her sufferings and meditate on her great sorrows, while thus our love for her grows daily “more and more,” so also will our love for Jesus crucified still more continually increase.
Private devotions will multiply, public offices will be more regularly and more devoutly attended, and, as we confidently believe, Mary will show us a grateful love, and, with her own most marvelous blessing, will bless those who, by compassionating her Sorrows, show themselves the most truly to be her children, and give the sweetest consolation to her afflicted heart.
Prophecy of Simeon
“Tuam ipsius animam pertransibit gladius.” “And thy own soul a sword shall pierce.” —St. Luke ii.
The Flight into Egypt
“Surge, et accipe Puerum, et matrem Ejus; et fuge in Aegyptum.” “Arise, and take the Child and His mother, and fly into Egypt.” —St. Matt. ii.
The Loss of Jesus in the Temple
“Fili, quid fecisti nobis sic? Ecce pater Tuus et ego dolentes qucerebamus Te.” “Son, why hast thou done so to us? Behold, Thy Father and I have sought Thee sorrowing.”— St. Luke ii.
The Meeting with Our Lord on Calvary
“Sequebatur autem Ilium multa turba populi, et mulierum quae plangebant et lamentabantur eum.”
“And there followed Him a great multitude of people and of women who bewailed and lamented Him.”—St. Luke xxiii. .
“Ibi crucifixerunt Eum.” …” Stabat autem juxta Crucem Jesu Mater Ejus.” . . . “Where they crucified Him.”…” Now there stood by the Cross of Jesus, His Mother.”— St. John xix,, 18, 25
Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross
“Et accepto Corpore, Joseph involvit Illud in sindone munda” …” And Joseph, taking the Body, wrapt it up in a clean linen cloth.”—St. Matt, xxvii.
Jesus is Laid in the Sepulchre
“Involvit sindone el posuit Eum in monumento.” ...” And Joseph wrapped him up in the fine linen, and laid Him in a sepulchre.” —St. Mark xv.
“Manual of Devotions in Honour of the Seven Dolours of the 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.
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.