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.
“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.
The grace of God is a treasure above all price: there is nothing so desirable. The Holy Ghost calls it an infinite treasure, because it is by the grace of God we are elevated to the dignity of friends of God, so that Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, hesitates not to address, by the title of friends, those who are in grace. Accursed sin destroys this precious friendship, and renders the soul an object of hatred instead of love. What should the person do, then, who by sin has lost this precious gift?
He should seek a mediator who will procure his pardon, and put him in possession of the forfeited blessing. “Console yourselves, then, sinners,” says St. Bernard, “since God has given you His Son as mediator. But what! you imagine that this merciful Saviour is harsh and rigorous; you obstinately figure to yourselves as terrible, amiability itself. Ah, people of little faith, learn that Jesus has nailed your sins to His cross, and redeemed you in His blood. Well, if the majesty of Jesus terrifies you, because He is God as well as man, remember that Mary, a pure creature, is your advocate with Him; recur to her—she is, my dear children, the ladder of sinners, by which they ascend again to the height of grace. Mary is all my confidence—Mary is the foundation of my hope.”
Hear how the Holy Ghost makes Mary speak in the Canticles: “I am the defense of those who recur to me—my mercy is to them an impregnable tower, and hence the Lord has established me a mediatrix of peace between Him and sinners.” “This powerful mediatrix,” says Cardinal Hugo, “procures peace for those who are at war; by her, pardon is granted to the guilty, salvation to the lost, and mercy to those who are in despair. Mary is also compared to the pavilions of Solomon, where they only spoke of peace, in preference to the tents of David, where there was only question of war, that we may learn she never treats of vengeance against sinners, but of reconciliation and pardon.”
The dove which returned to the ark with the green olive branch (Gn:8:8-11) was a figure of Mary. “O blessed Virgin,” says St. Bonaventure to her, “you are that faithful dove, who, after the sad shipwreck of the universe, have borne our Lord Jesus Christ, the sacred olive branch, the sign of mercy; and as peace was given to earth by you, it is through you that sinners continue to be reconciled with God.”
The rainbow which St. John saw encompass the throne of the Eternal (Rv:4:3) was also an emblem of the holy Virgin, as she is always present to mitigate the sentences pronounced against sinners. It was Mary God had in view when he said to Noah, “I shall place in heaven a sign of peace, and in beholding it, I shall remember the perpetual alliance I have made with men.”
The principal office given to Mary, when she appeared on earth, was to raise man from sin, and to reconcile him with God. “Pascc hoedos tuos” (Feed your goats) said the Lord in creating her. (Song of Solomon:1:8) We know that sinners are designated by the goats, as the just are by the sheep. “The goats,” says William of Paris, “are confided to you, O Mary, that you may transform them into sheep,” thus, while they deserved to be sent to the left hand, they shall, through your intercession, be placed at the right. Here we may observe that God does not command Mary to feed all the goats indiscriminately, but her own goats (Pasce hoedos tuos), for she does not save all sinners, but those who serve and honor her; as to those who are not devout to her, who never beg her aid to arise from their sins, she will not recognize them as her flock, and the left hand will be their station on the great day of the Lord.
A gentleman whose sins were so enormous that he despaired of their remission, was advised by a good religious man to recur to the blessed Virgin. In compliance with this advice he went to a celebrated oratory in the city, consecrated to our Lady, and had no sooner cast his eyes on the image of the holy Virgin than he felt a great sentiment of confidence. He prostrated himself, then, to kiss the feet of the image, when lo! the hand was moved toward him, and on it he saw these words, “I shall save thee from those who afflict thee.” The heart of the poor sinner was so filled with contrition for his sins, and love for Jesus and Mary, that he died on the spot.
“I am the loadstone of hearts,” says Mary to St. Bridget; “as the loadstone has the property of attracting iron, thus I attract hearts hardened as adamant, to give them to God.” This prodigy we daily witness: we often see in our missions that many sinners, who remained insensible at other sermons, become moved at that on the clemency of the holy Virgin.
“Mary,” says St. Chrysostom, “has been elected from all eternity as Mother of God, that she may save by her mercy those to whom her Son’s injustice cannot grant pardon.” “Yes,” adds St. Anselm, “Mary has been raised to her eminent dignity, rather for sinners than for the just, and since she is indebted to the guilty for her glorious maternity, how can I despair of pardon, however enormous my crimes may be?”
The Church, in the prayers for the vigil of the Assumption, teaches that this glorious Queen has been assumed into heaven, to intercede confidently for us (fiducialiter). Hence she is styled by St. Justin the arbiter of our lot; “As an arbiter decides,” says he, “between two parties, thus Jesus permits His Mother to decide between Him and us.”
“What!” says Abbot Adam, “can he fear to perish who has Mary for his Mother and advocate?” “Will you, holy Virgin,” adds the same saint, “refuse to implore your Son for another son, or to demand of the Redeemer the pardon of the redeemed? No, certainly; for you are not ignorant that the same God who has rendered His Son a mediator between Him and man, has made you advocate between the Judge and criminals.”
The Glories of the Catholic Church – The Catholic Christian Instructed in Defence of His Faith
Rev. Henry Athanasius Brann (1895)
THE Church teaches that twelve years after the Crucifixion, Mary gave up her sorrowful soul to God. We believe that He of whom it has been said that He would not ” let this Holy One see corruption,” did not allow Our Lady’s body to remain in the grave, but admitted her at once into Heaven, where ever since she has pleaded powerfully on our behalf.
Non-Catholic Christians honestly believe that the worship they owe to Christ would be minimized by veneration of His Blessed Mother. In their desire to honor His Godhead, they forget His Manhood. They forget that no human being among the countless millions, who throughout the ages have inhabited this earth, has ever stood in a more intimate relation to their Creator than Mary, the Mother of Our Saviour.
From all eternity the Almighty had singled her out for the greatest honor ever conferred upon a created being. Through her it was that our Blessed Lord was given to us, to her care He was entrusted in childhood, she never ceased in her pure and selfless worship of Him, she kept all His sayings in her heart.
For thirty three years she was His daily companion; she, unlike the disciples, never betrayed Him, but remained with Him until the end at the foot of the Cross. Can we for one moment imagine that she can have been anything but most pure, most chaste, most patient, most lovable, most admirable?
We often judge the moral worth of men and women by their devotion to their mothers. If human children are capable of the most intense love and devotion to their mothers, what must not the love and devotion of Jesus have been for His? Can we believe Him to have been less loving, less obedient, less devoted, than the most perfect son on earth?
We take it for granted that nothing could have exceeded Our Lord’s love and respect for His mother. Almost His last thought on the Cross was to provide for her, in leaving her in the care of His beloved disciple, St. John. In the person of “the disciple whom Jesus loved” He gave her to us all as a mother. Hear Mary herself: “All generations shall call me blessed.” Hear the Archangel from heaven, God’s own messenger, ” Thou art highly favored, thou hast found favor with God.” Hear St. Elizabeth: “Blessed art thou among women!”
From the earliest times the Church has always given to Mary the most wholehearted devotion, the most profound respect, the most filial love. We believe her to be very powerful with God, and therefore have recourse to her in our troubles. She is our intercessor with God, our “Mother of good Counsel,” the” Comforter of the afflicted, and “the” Refuge of sinners.”
We should therefore strive to acquire a very special devotion for Our Lady, for the Church bids us to go to her, and if we do so, she will in time become most dear to us, and in very truth a Mother.
“Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners that we may learn to love and venerate thee as we should, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.”
THE CONVERT’S ROSARY
ALICE M. GARDINER
“Consecration to the Mother of God,” says Pope Pius XII, “is a total gift of self, for the whole of life and for all eternity; and a gift which is not a mere formality or sentimentality, but effectual, comprising the full intensity of the Christian life – Marian life.” This consecration, the Pope explained, “tends essentially to union with Jesus, under the guidance of Mary.”
By our consecration we promise to become dependent on Mary in all things: to offer all our prayers and oblations to God through Mary, and to seek every gift from God through Mary. And we do this with the greatest confidence. Since she is our mother, she knows our needs better than we; and since she is Queen of Heaven, she has immediate access to the infinite treasury of graces in the Kingdom of her Divine Son.
Mary is not only the Mother of Jesus, Son of the Eternal Father; she is also Mother of all the Father’s adopted children. As their Mother, she has been given the role of molding them into the likeness of Jesus.
Every work of grace, every increase of grace, is a work of the Holy Spirit; but as in the Incarnation of the Divine Word God used human instruments, so does He in the sanctification of each individual soul. As He chose Mary as the instrument through whom He would come to us, so He chose Mary as the instrument through whom we should go to Him. And both the mystery of God coming to us through Mary, and our being led to God through Mary, is a work of the Holy Spirit. So when we speak of Mary’s unique role in our sanctification, she is but the instrument the Holy Spirit uses in sharing with us the divine life of grace. It is in this sense that Mary fashions us into the likeness of Christ.
However, that this transformation – through Mary’s help – be accomplished in a notable degree, there must be an awareness of her role in our sanctification, a confidence in her maternal concern and in her power under God, a surrender of oneself into her hands, and a fervent, frequent and confident seeking of her aid. This usually comes through some form of consecration to the Mother of God.
At Fatima Our Lady asked for consecration to her Immaculate Heart, a consecration which, among other things, calls for the devotion of the Five First Saturdays, which includes the Rosary, meditation and Communions of reparation – all done in reparation to her Immaculate Heart. It involves a striving to fulfill her requests for prayer and sacrifices for the conversion of sinners and in reparation for offenses against the Divine Majesty. In a word, it involves a striving to fulfill all that she asked for at Fatima, and trying to bring others to heed her requests.
Living that consecration means becoming an apostle of Mary, striving to imitate her virtues, and to place in her hands the flowers of little sacrifices of reparation for the salvation of souls, so that we might strengthen her hand against the attacks of the Evil One, and hasten the day of the triumph of her Immaculate Heart. To everyone who makes that consecration and sincerely tries to live it, the words of Our Lady to the child Lucia at Fatima would also apply: “I will never leave you; my Immaculate Heart will be your refuge, and the way that will lead you to God.”
If consecration to Mary “tends essentially to union with Jesus, under the guidance of Mary,” as Pope Pius XII pointed out, we must remember that any gradual transformation into Christ requires a gradual loving acceptance of a greater share in His redeeming Cross.
So when we offer ourselves to Mary to lead us, to form us into the likeness of her Son, we are offering to let her lead us along the way of the Cross.
Our Blessed Mother’s great concern is the salvation of the souls of her children, many of whom are being lost. She looks for generous souls among her children, who are willing to let her lead them close behind her Son, sharing more fully in His redemptive mission, filling up what is wanting in other members of the Body of Christ. Little by little they are transformed to see as Christ sees, and to desire what He desires. God wants to draw us closer to Himself, sharing more fully His Divine life; but we must understand what the fulfillment of this requires.
In our Rosary, we contemplate Mary in Heaven in the Glorious Mysteries, because she had so unique a role on earth in the Sorrowful Mysteries. This is the pattern that is offered to each of us, and of which we are reminded each time we pray the Rosary.
Consecration to Mary, then, requires a childlike simplicity and confidence, letting her lead one by the hand, trusting – regardless of what lies ahead – that she knows better than we what contributes most to God’s glory, our sanctification and the salvation of souls.
FATIMA – A TRUE PERSPECTIVE
While many decades have passed since Our Lady gave to the world her message at Fatima in 1917, there are comparatively few who have taken that message seriously, and of those who have, some have interpreted it erroneously. It is true that the fulfillment or nonfulfillment of her requests would have great consequences for the world situation, for world peace, for the very survival of nations. Nevertheless, her message is essentially a spiritual one, a call for prayer and penance – a conversion of life, and a dire warning of what would happen if her requests were not fulfilled. Her words were truly prophetic, for much of what she predicted has come to pass.
Fr. Thomas McGlynn, O.P. is the artist who carved the large marble statue of Our Lady above the main entrance to the basilica in Fatima. In the course of his work at Fatima, Fr. McGlynn had several long interviews with Sr. Lucia, the last living witness of the apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima in 1917. Sr. Lucia knew that Father McGlynn was going to write a book on Fatima as soon as he completed his work on the statue.
“In your writing,” Sr. Lucia said to Father, “please stress the spiritual meaning of things, in order to raise minds which today have become so materialistic to regions of the supernatural; so that they may understand the true meaning and purpose of the coming of Our Lady to earth, which is to bring souls to Heaven, to draw them to God.”
Unfortunately, however, there are some who stress predominantly the political aspects of the Fatima message, i.e., the worldwide political consequences, if Our Lady’s requests are not heeded. We all are aware of the terrible realities and consequences of war, and especially of nuclear war, or of persecution of the Church; and it is natural to think of Our Lady’s message in terms of avoiding these calamities. Yet, we must not let this perspective cloud our minds as to our own personal obligations. As Msgr. William McGrath has pointed out:
“When all is said and done, our primary responsibility is not the conversion of Russia or the prevention of world wars, but the salvation of that little world within ourselves over which, with God’s help, we must exercise control, and for which we shall one day have to render an account to God in judgment. What will it profit us, even if Russia is converted and an era of peace be granted to humanity, if we have failed in the great task for which we were created, the salvation of our own immortal souls.”
Fr. McGlynn pointed out in his book VISION OF FATIMA, that Fatima is, first of all, a dreadful warning to the world to stop sinning. The enormity of mankind’s rebellion against God, and God’s infinite aversion to sin, form the foundation of the Fatima message. It is a warning that the time of God’s justice will come to pass, if men do not take advantage of this time of His mercy, this special opportunity of making reparation through the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Our Lady showed the three children a vision of hell. That vision was not for their instruction and warning, but for ours. The Blessed Virgin had assured them that they were going to be saved. Yet, as Fr. McGlynn pointed out, “All the bleeding, dying and despair of a thousand wars cannot equal the disaster of a single soul being damned. We miss the spiritual meaning of things,” he said, “if we think Our Lady came to Fatima to tell us how to keep out of a third world war, or how to convert Russia, or how to achieve tranquility in our earthly existence. She came to tell us how to keep out of hell.”
ACT OF CONSECRATION TO THE IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY
Any formula may be used to consecrate oneself to the Mother of God, as long as it involves a total oblation of oneself. As a suggestion, one of the following consecrations could be renewed each first Saturday with the shorter formula renewed daily.
1. O Virgin Mary, most powerful Mother of Mercy, Queen of Heaven and earth, in accordance with your wish made known at Fatima, I consecrate myself today to your Immaculate Heart. To you I entrust all that I have, all that I am. Reign over me, dearest Mother, that I may be yours in prosperity, in adversity, in joy and in sorrow, in health and in sickness, in life and in death.
Most compassionate Heart of Mary, Queen of Virgins, watch over my mind and heart and preserve me from the deluge of impurity which you lamented so sorrowfully at Fatima. I want to be pure like you. I want to atone for the many crimes committed against Jesus and you. I want to call down upon this country and the whole world the peace of God in justice and charity.
Mindful of this consecration, I now promise to strive to imitate you by the practice of the Christian virtues without regard for human respect. I resolve to receive Holy Communion on the first Saturday of every month when possible, and to offer daily five decades of the Rosary, with all my sacrifices in the spirit of penance and reparation. Amen.
2, I, . . ., a faithless sinner, renew and ratify today in thy Heart, O Immaculate Mother, the vows of my Baptism; I renounce forever Satan, his pomps and works; and I give myself entirely to Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Wisdom, to carry my cross after Him all the days of my life, and to be more faithful to Him than I have ever been before.
Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, in the presence of all the heavenly court, I choose thee this day for my Mother and Mistress. I deliver and consecrate to thee, and to thy Immaculate Heart, as thy child and slave of love, my body and soul, my goods, both interior and exterior, and even the value of all my good actions, past, present and future; leaving to thee the entire and full right of disposing of me, and all that belongs to me, without exception, according to thy good pleasure, for the greater glory of God, in time and in eternity. Amen.
Short Daily Renewal of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, I renew my consecration to you and to your Immaculate Heart. Please accept me, my dear Mother, and use me as you wish to accomplish your designs upon the world. I am all yours, my Mother, my Queen, and all that I have is yours.
TO JESUS THROUGH MARY
Lest there should be any misconception about the place of devotion to Mary in Catholic piety, we honor in a special way the Immaculate Heart of the Mother of Jesus, i.e., the person of Mary in her eminent sanctity and glorification by God, because it is the wish of her Son – as Our Lady revealed in her second apparition at Fatima. Jesus knows well that true devotion to His Mother leads souls to Him. As Pope Paul VI wrote in his encyclical celebrating the centenary of the apparitions at Lourdes:
“Everything in Mary leads us toward her Son, our only Savior, by whose foreseen merits she was preserved immaculate and full of grace; everything in Mary lifts up our hearts to the praise of the Holy Trinity.”
And as Our Lady assured Lucy, June 13, 1917:
“I will never abandon you, my child. My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.”
The Church sees Mary, then, not as the goal, but as the guide, who always leads souls who honor her with true devotion – to her Son, especially to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. When we pray to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for help in time of need, she in turn points to the Tabernacle, to Him who is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” and has a way of conveying to us what she said to the steward at Cana: “Do whatever he tells you.” (Jn.2:5)