- Marian Consecration –More readings to give all to Jesus through Mary (at very end of e-weekly)
- Pope Francis Declares an Italian Teen Who Died in 2009, Venerable; 8 Beautiful Ways to Honor Mary Throughout the Month of May (Diocesan News and Beyond)
-A Doctor's Wisdom--A MUST READ! (Helpful Hints of Life)
Receiving the Gospel, Serving God and Neighbor
Month of Mary—Marian Consecration
"You are all-beautiful, my beloved, and there is no blemish in you." Song of Songs 4:7
A May Altar is one more way to help to honor Mary and let her help us fully receive Jesus. In lieu of my words this week, I will put a Question and Answer piece from this past week's bulletin in the parishes I am blessed to serve.
What is the Origins of the May Altar?
To the specific characteristics of the May devotion is to be counted the specially set up May altar–be it as an addition to or specially decorated altar in the church or as a "house altar" in the family circle. Like the May devotions themselves, the custom to highlight this type of May altar stems from southern European countries. A report from France in 1842 speaks of Our Lady's altar in May showing off in rich splendor, while the families also erected and decorated small home altars.
All of nature awakened to new life in springtime is presented to honor Mary, who is herself "a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys" (Song of Songs 2,1). This form of devotion was influence and furthered, for example, in Treatise on True Devotion to Mary by Louis de Montfort, who, among other things, counted the decoration of Marian altars a chief exercise of Marian devotion.
May Altar--Specially Decorated Altar in Churches
When erecting a May altar in a church, one distinguishes between the special decoration of an existing Marian altar, the erection of an altar set up specifically to serve this May devotion, or the transformation of the main altar into a May altar. The Handbook of Church Rituals (Regensburg 1846) notes under May altar that these devotions be held at an altar dedicated to the Blessed Virgin and decorated "to the full." If there isn't any [altar dedicated to Mary], another altar is to be set up and furnished with a picture or a statue of Mary.
A side altar of this type was drawn into the celebration in that the blessing frequently was given from this altar. By carrying the Blessed Sacrament from the main altar, the precedence of the main altar was clearly visible. …
Little May Altar--For the Home
With the development of May altars in churches, the custom spread to set up this type of "altar" also in the home. Both authors of private publications as well as official publications refer to this practice, encourage them, or assume that there are such. While some devotional books encourage the user to decorate an image of Mary found there and to pray there--a custom "that belongs anyway in every good Catholic home"--others depict the "prayer room" as "a shrine dedicated to Mary." Author: Professor Kurt Küppers, Augsburg. Marienlexikon, Vol 4, p. 243-244
Maybe a May Altar is what your home or church has been needing!
Peace and prayers in Jesus through Mary, loved by Saint Joseph,
P.S. This coming Sunday is Sixth Sunday of Easter. >> Readings
P.S.S. Sunday Reading with Reflection questions at end of e-weekly.
Sixth Sunday of Easter
Ascension of the Lord
May Altar (Anglo-French mai, Latin Maius "May" + Latin altare "refuge; to offer")
- special place or structure that holds offerings to Mary during the month of May often in front of an image or statue
"Let the Little Children come to me and forbid them not"
A worried woman went to her gynecologist and said:
'Doctor, I have a serious problem and desperately need your help! My baby is not even 1 yr. old and I'm pregnant again. I don't want kids so close together.'
So the doctor said: 'Ok, and what do you want me to do?'
She said: 'I want you to end my pregnancy, and I'm counting on your help with this.'
The doctor thought for a little, and after some silence he said to the lady: 'I think I have a better solution for your problem. It's less dangerous for you too.'
She smiled, thinking that the doctor was going to accept her request.
Then he continued: 'You see, in order for you not to have to take care of 2 babies at the same time, let's kill the one in your arms. This way, you could rest some before the other one is born. If we're going to kill one of them, it doesn't matter which one it is. There would be no risk for your body if you chose the one in your arms.
The lady was horrified and said: 'No doctor! How terrible! It's a crime to kill a child!
'I agree', the doctor replied. 'But you seemed to be ok with it, so I thought maybe that was the best solution. The doctor smiled, realizing that he had made his point.
He convinced the mom that there is no difference in killing a child that's already been born and one that's still in the womb. The crime is the same!
If you agree, please pass on. Together we can help save precious lives!
"Jesus Christ, after having given us all he could give, that is to say, the merit of his toils, his sufferings, and bitter death; after having given us his adorable Body and Blood to be the food of our souls, willed also to give us the most precious thing he had let, which was his holy Mother,"
- St. John Vianney
John Salza Apologetics (Scripture Catholic)
During March of 2013, the 266th pope of the Roman Catholic Church was elected. Jorge Mario Bergoglio, known as 'Pope Francis' became the first pope from Americas.
Go here for all things Catholics, extraordinary links, great history articles, etc. Great explanations of the tenets of the Catholic Faith, and references for the main teachings of the Catholic Faith from Sacred Scripture.
[For those traveling this summer and needing to get to the Holy Mass.]
MASS TIMES AND CATHOLIC CHURCHES throughout the US
Simply type in the town you will be in.
Diocesan News AND BEYOND
by ChurchPOP Editor - May 21, 2019
Farina grew up in a strong Christian family in the southern Italian town of Brindisi. He was very close to his sister, Erika.
The parish where he received the sacraments was under the care of Capuchin friars, from whom he gained a devotion to St. Francis and St. Padre Pio.
The postulator of Farina’s cause for sainthood said that from a young age Farina had the desire to learn new things, always undertaking his activities with diligence, whether it was school or sports or his passion for music.
Starting at eight years old, he would receive the sacrament of reconciliation often. He was also devoted to the Word of God. At nine years old, he read the entire Gospel of St. Matthew as a Lenten practice. Farina also prayed the rosary every day.
When he was nine years old, he had a dream in which he heard St. Padre Pio tell him that if he understood that “who is without sin is happy,” he must help others to understand this, “so that we can all go together, happy, to the kingdom of heaven.”
From that point onward, Farina felt a strong desire to evangelize, especially among his peers, which he did politely and without presumption.
He once wrote about this desire, saying “I hope to succeed in my mission to ‘infiltrate’ among young people, speaking to them about God (illuminated by God himself); I observe those around me, to enter among them as silent as a virus and infect them with an incurable disease, Love!”
In September 2003, a month before his 13th birthday, Farina began to have symptoms of what would later be diagnosed as a brain tumor. As he was undergoing medical tests, he began to keep a journal. He called the experience of the bad headaches and pain “one of those adventures that change your life and that of others. It helps you to be stronger and to grow, above all in faith.”
Over the next six years, Farina would experience several brain operations and undergo chemotherapy and other treatments for the tumor.
His love for Mary strengthened during this time and he consecrated himself to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
In between hospitalizations, he continued to live the ordinary life of a teenager: he attended school, hung out with his friends, formed a band, and fell in love with a girl.
He later called the chaste relationship he had with Serena during his last two years of life “the most beautiful gift" the Lord could give him.
When he was 15, he reflected on friendship, saying “I would like to be able to integrate with my peers without being forced to imitate them in mistakes. I would like to feel more involved in the group, without having to renounce my Christian principles. It’s difficult. Difficult but not impossible.”
Eventually, the teenager’s condition worsened and after a third surgery he became paralyzed in his left arm and leg. He would often repeat that “we must live every day as if it were the last, but not in the sadness of death, but rather in the joy of being ready to meet the Lord!”
Farina died surrounded by his friends and family on April 24, 2009.
Francesca Consolini, the postulator of Farina’s cause, wrote on a website dedicated to the young venerable that in him emerged “a deep inner commitment oriented toward purifying his heart from every sin” and he experienced this spirituality “not with heaviness, effort or pessimism; indeed, from his words there emerges constant trust in God, a tenacious, determined and serene gaze turned to the future...”
Farina often thought about the faith and the “difficulty of going against the current.” Concerned about a lack of good faith education for young people, he undertook this task among his own peers.
He once wrote in his journal: “When you feel that you can’t do it, when the world falls on you, when every choice is a critical decision, when every action is a failure ... and you would like to throw everything away, when intense work reduces you to the limit of strength ... take time to take care of your soul, love God with your whole being and reflect his love for others.”
While the month is coming to a close, there is still time to celebrate and honor Our Lady!
Catholic Link and ACI Prensa offer some great tips for honoring Mary this month. However, keep in mind that these are also great tips for any time of the year!
Here’s 8 beautiful ways to honor Mary throughout the month of May:
The infographic below suggests that you can “decorate your home, office or workplace with an altar, a statue, a painting or any image of the Virgin Mary.”
Below, the infographic suggests reading bible passages, such as as “the annunciation, the birth of Jesus, the presentation of Jesus in the temple, and Mary at the foot of the Cross.”
The image below suggests that “praying the rosary is one of the main prayers of the Church. The Virgin Mary herself taught St. Dominic how to do it.”
Click here to learn how to pray the Rosary.
The infographic below suggests participating in a Marian procession. “Marian processions is a tradition still alive in some countries. It involves walking with an image of Mary and saying Marian prayers and songs.”
“Make sure you receive the sacraments, especially confession and the Eucharist, where Jesus waits for us with open arms.”
“It is important to remind others how much the Virgin Mary loves them, and to teach them to pray to the Mother of God.”
Let us honor Mary with all of our hearts!
“You can help a pregnant mother in need, or visit a nursing home, where you may find older women who feel lonely or abandoned.”
“It is recommended to give someone a Marian medal, or the Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, blessed by a priest.”
Note: A priest must enroll a person into the Brown Scapular Confraternity in order for the Scapular wearer to receive the scapular’s blessings. Once enrolled, the Scapular-wearer already receives the blessings attached to the Scapular.
Britain’s Got Talent tough-to-please judge Simon Cowell said he didn’t know what to expect when Fr. Ray Kelly stepped out on stage.
But when the Irish priest was done (you can watch his performance below), Simon gave him two thumbs up and one of the best compliments a contestant can get: “Let me tell you something. This is one of my favorite ever auditions. I really mean that.”
Fr. Kelly first became semi-famous when a video of him singing Leonard Cohen’s song Hallelujah at a wedding went viral on YouTube in 2014 (you can watch the video here). Soon after, he was signed by Universal Music and released two albums, but then had his contract abruptly canceled in 2015. And he went back to his normal life as the parish priest of St. Brigid′s & St. Mary′s parish in Oldcastle.
Until a few weeks ago, that is, when he appeared on Britain’s Got Talent. He performed “Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M., got a standing ovation, high praise from Simon Cowell, and “yes” votes from all four judges! Which means we should expect to see him again later on in the show.
“I don't know if in the 400 years of the history of Santiago, there has been another occasion when contemplative sisters from several monasteries joined together to celebrate the Eucharist with a group of women who are incarcerated, but who are sisters in the faith,” said Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati, who celebrated the Mass.
The nuns made the trip to the facility on May 23 to mark the Jubilee of Consecrated Life as part of Pope Francis' Year of Mercy.
Cardinal Ezzati said that the nuns made the request to visit with the inmates “so the sisters who contemplate the face of God every day in prayer could contemplate him in the face of people who are suffering, going through a hard time in their lives.”
“The dear cloistered nuns are the city's uplifted arms to intercede before God for all of us, especially those who are suffering the most,” he said.
After the Mass, the religious sang a traditional Chilean song to honor the Virgin Mary, and to everyone's surprise, four of them got up to dance. They then went to the prison courtyard where they continued visiting with the inmates.
For Sister Maria Rosa of the Discalced Carmelites from the San José monastery, the day was “a grace to share with them, to really feel like a sister with them, to feel their sorrow, their joy and to become one with them.”
“It strikes me that this encounter would be on the feast of the Holy Trinity. That means that God dwells in every soul,” she told the archdiocesan communications office.
Railín, one of the inmates, said that “it was good that they came and prayed for us. The sisters and bishops coming helped support us, we need a lot of people to come and see us.”
Ana Chacón, another inmate, said that the religious “ give us the spirit of the Lord, it's a blessing to have them here. Seeing the dear cloistered nuns doing the traditional dance and swinging the kerchiefs was something new.”
Pope Francis' Year of Mercy runs from December 2015 to November of 2016, with the aim of encouraging Catholics to experience God's mercy – both in the Sacrament of Confession and being concrete signs of this mercy in charitable work.
"What does Jesus Christ do in the Eucharist? It is God who, as our Savior, offers himself each day for us to his Father's justice. If you are in difficulties and sorrows, he will comfort and relieve you. If you are sick, he will either cure you or give you strength to suffer so as to merit Heaven. If the devil, the world, and the flesh are making war upon you, he will give you the weapons with which to fight, to resist, and to win victory. If you are poor, he will enrich you with all sorts of riches for time and eternity. Let us open the door of his sacred and adorable Heart, and be wrapped about for an instant by the flames of his love, and we shall see what a God who loves us can do. O my God, who shall be able to comprehend?" - St. John Vianney
SOME THOUGHTS SOME HAVE
'That awkward moment when you leave a store without buying anything and all you can think is "act natural, you're innocent".'
"When I call a family meeting I turn off the house wifi and wait for them all to come running."
"Money talks ...but all mine ever says is good-bye."
'I changed my password to "incorrect". So whenever I forget what it is the computer will say "Your password is incorrect".'
From Dust to Dust
After church, Robbie tells his parents he has to go and talk to the minister right away. They agree and the pastor greets the family.
"Pastor," Robbie says, "I heard you say today that our bodies came from the dust."
"That's right, Johnny, I did.""And I heard you say that when we die, our bodies go back to dust."
"Yes, I'm glad you were listening. Why do you ask?"
"Well you better come over to our house right away and look under my bed 'cause there's someone either comin' or goin'!"
After church on Sunday morning, a young boy suddenly announced to his mother, "Mom, I've decided I'm going to be a minister when I grow up."
"That's okay with us," the mother said, "But what made you decide to be a minister?"
"Well," the boy replied, "I'll have to go to church on Sunday anyway, and I figure it will be more fun to stand up and yell than to sit still and listen."
Two boys were walking home from Sunday school
after hearing a strong preaching on the devil. One
said to the other, 'What do you think about all
this Satan stuff?'
The other boy replied, 'Well, you know how Santa
Claus turned out. It's probably just your Dad.'
Help me to draw out from silence all that is admirable, supernatural and divine. Give me the grace to transform what I found there into a perfect prayer, laced in faith, confidence and love. Grant me the grace to pray in a vibrant, active and fruitful way so that I may glorify God and save souls!
SUNDAY MASS READINGS AND QUESTIONS
for Self-Reflection, Couples or Family Discussion
Fifth Sunday of Easter – May 10, 2020
The First Reading - Acts 6:1-7
As the number of disciples continued to grow, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. So the Twelve called together the community of the disciples and said, “It is not right for us to neglect the word of God to serve at table. Brothers, select from among you seven reputable men, filled with the Spirit and wisdom, whom we shall appoint to this task, whereas we shall devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” The proposal was acceptable to the whole community, so they chose Stephen, a man filled with faith and the Holy Spirit, also Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicholas of Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the apostles who prayed and laid hands on them. The word of God continued to spread, and the number of the disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly; even a large group of priests were becoming obedient to the faith.
We tend to idealize the early Church, as if everything were perfect and “smooth sailing” for the first generation of Christians. “Oh, if only the apostles were still around, performing miracles and preaching the Gospel, we wouldn’t be having all the problems were faced with today!” Yet the Book of Acts is quite honest about the crises the early Church faced, even though she enjoyed the charismatic leadership of the Twelve. This First Reading is a good example of such a crisis: dissent breaks out in the Church along ethnic lines. The “Hellenists” complain against the “Hebrews” because their widows were not being fed in the daily distribution. These categories refer to the spoken language of the two Jewish groups. “Hellenists” spoke Greek; “Hebrews” spoke Aramaic, a language closely related to Hebrew (thus sometimes called “Hebrew”) and the common tongue of Israel in the first century.
Adults - What parallels do you see between the early Church and the Church today?
Teens - How can the Church work to bring unity across ethnic lines?
Kids - Do you think things were easier for the early Christians than for us?
Responsorial- Psalm 33: 1-2, 4-5, 18-19
R.Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.
Exult, you just, in the LORD;
praise from the upright is fitting.
Give thanks to the LORD on the harp;
with the ten-stringed lyre chant his praises.
R. Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.
Upright is the word of the LORD,
and all his works are trustworthy.
He loves justice and right;
of the kindness of the LORD the earth is full.
R. Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.
See, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him,
upon those who hope for his kindness,
To deliver them from death
and preserve them in spite of famine.
R. Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.
Like so many others, Psalm 33 is a song of praise to God that presumes the existence of a covenant relationship marked by hesed, “covenant fidelity,” translated “mercy” in the refrain and “kindness” in the second line of the third stanza. God has shown his faithfulness to his covenant promises by establishing the Church upon the earth. Give praise to the Lord this week for being worthy of our trust.
The Second Reading- 1 Peter 2:4-9
Beloved: Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God, and, like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it says in Scripture: Behold, I am laying a stone in Zion, a cornerstone, chosen and precious, and whoever believes in it shall not be put to shame. Therefore, its value is for you who have faith, but for those without faith: The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone, and A stone that will make people stumble, and a rock that will make them fall. They stumble by disobeying the word, as is their destiny. You are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may announce the praises” of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
Reflection - We are taking a tour of St. Peter’s First Epistle in the Second Reading this Easter Season. This selection is full of Easter themes. For most of this passage, St. Peter develops the theme of the rejected stone that becomes the cornerstone, spoken of in Psalm 118:22-23. We know how important Psalm 118 is to the Triduum and the Easter Season in general. Psalm 118 is a todah (thanksgiving) psalm, the last of the set of todah psalms (113-118) sung during the Passover Seder as the Hallel hymn. We recall that it would have been the last psalm sung by Jesus before he left the upper room to begin his Passion. This is the Psalm that we sang on Easter Sunday and on Divine Mercy Sunday. Now, St. Peter exegetes these key verses of the Psalm: vv. 22-23. What is the building for which the “stone rejected” has become “the head of the corner”? It is a Temple, built of “living stones,” that is, human beings. This idea of a Temple of humanity rather than stone has a long history in Scripture and Israelite tradition.
-What does it mean to be a Temple of the Holy Spirit?
The Holy Gospel according to John 14:1-12
Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. Where I am going you know the way.” Thomas said to him, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said to him, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father.”
Reflection Several temple terms are used here. “My father’s house” is used as a designation for the Temple in other parts of the Gospels (Luke 2:49; John 2:16). The Temple was the largest building in Israel, and was full of storerooms, antechambers, and other spaces roundabout, thus: in it there are “many dwelling places” (NAB) or “many rooms” (RSV). Finally, in Judaism the word “place” (Gk topos, Heb maqôm) had a special connotation. It often meant “the holy place,” that is, the “sanctuary” (see John 12:48 Gk; cf. Gen 28:17). All this means that Jesus is departing to prepare a Temple for the Apostles to live in. What is this Temple that Jesus prepares? In one sense it is the Church, elsewhere identified as the Temple of God. The disciples will live and abide within the Church, the Body of Christ, and there they will experience communion with the Father, the Son, and each other. Jesus’ words also have an application to heaven, which is nothing other than the Church triumphant.
Adults – Do you believe Jesus is preparing a place for your specifically?
Teens – Do you think God wants you to help get many people to His Father’s House?
Kids – Do you think God can fit all the people in the world in heaven?
LIVING THE WORD OF GOD THIS WEEK! - Knowing the story of the Incarnation therefore, we know of the love and kindness of God toward us. We need not ask, with Philip, "show us the Father," we have seen Him in His riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! "How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable are His ways!" (Rom. 11 :33). "What return can I make to the Lord?" All the mortifications and good works of all the holy men and women that ever lived, or will live, would not be adequate a return to God for the miracle of love He has shown toward us. But He accepts the widow's mite, the little acts of love, the little proofs of gratitude, the willing acceptance of the crosses He sends us, to purify us. In one word, all He asks in return is that we try to live our Christian life day after day, ever thanking Him for the gift of Christ and the Christian faith. -Excerpted from The Sunday Readings by Fr. Kevin O'Sullivan, O.F.M.
This week one should learn about Jesus Christ, desire Him with all your heart, and then next week, know and beg Mary to bring you to Him fully and Him to you fully.
" The whole world is indebted to Jesus for His Passion. Similarly, all of us are indebted to our Lady for her compassion." - Saint Albert the Great (1206 - 1280)
"It is the nature of Jesus Christ to lead us to the Father. In the same way, it is the nature of the Blessed Virgin to lead us surely to Jesus."- Saint Louis Grignion de Montfort. (1673- 1716)
" Let all hearts give themselves to Mary so that she will fill them with her Heart and the Heart of Jesus ! " - Saint John Eudes (1601 - 1680)
Below, St. Louis de Monfort tells more about being truly devoted to Mary to be perfectly conformed to Jesus Christ, thus love God and neighbor in this life and coming to heaven in the life to come.
True Devotion to Mary by St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort
[Both of the above will be given below in their entirety in the next 5 weeks.]
Third part of True Devotion to Mary
CHAPTER FIVE - BIBLICAL FIGURE OF THIS PERFECT DEVOTION:REBECCA AND JACOB
183. The Holy Spirit gives us in Sacred Scripture, a striking allegorical figure of all the truths I have been explaining concerning the Blessed Virgin and her children and servants. It is the story of Jacob who received the blessing of his father Isaac through the care and ingenuity of his mother Rebecca.
Here is the story as the Holy Spirit tells it. I shall expound it further later on.
The Story of Jacob
184. Several years after Esau had sold his birthright to Jacob, Rebecca, their mother, who loved Jacob tenderly, secured this blessing for him by a holy stratagem full of mystery for us.
Isaac, realising that he was getting old, wished to bless his children before he died. He summoned Esau, who was his favourite son, and told him to go hunting and bring him something to eat, in order that he might then give him his blessing. Rebecca immediately told Jacob what was happening and sent him to fetch two small goats from the flock. When Jacob gave them to his mother, she cooked them in the way Isaac liked them. Then she dressed Jacob in Esau's clothes which she had in her keeping, and covered his hands and neck with the goat-skin. The father, who was blind, although hearing the voice of Jacob, would think that it was Esau when he touched the skin on his hands.
Isaac was of course surprised at the voice which he thought was Jacob's and told him to come closer. Isaac felt the hair on the skin covering Jacob's hands and said that the voice was really like Jacob's but the hands were Esau's. After he had eaten, Isaac kissed Jacob and smelt the fragrance of his scented clothes. He blessed him and called down on him the dew of heaven and the fruitfulness of earth. He made him master of all his brothers and concluded his blessing with these words, "Cursed be those who curse you and blessed be those who bless you."
Isaac had scarcely finished speaking when Esau came in, bringing what he had caught while out hunting. He wanted his father to bless him after he had eaten. The holy patriarch was shocked when he realised what had happened. But far from retracting what he had done, he confirmed it because he clearly saw the finger of God in it all. Then, as Holy Scripture relates, Esau began to protest loudly against the treachery of his brother. He then asked his father if he had only one blessing to give. In so doing, as the early Fathers point out, Esau was the symbol of those who are too ready to imagine that there is an alliance between God and the world, because they themselves are eager to enjoy, at one and the same time, the blessings of heaven and the blessings of the earth. Isaac was touched by Esau's cries and finally blessed him only with a blessing of the earth, and he subjected him to his brother. Because of this, Esau conceived such a venomous hatred for Jacob that he could hardly wait for his father's death to kill him. And Jacob would not have escaped death if his dear mother Rebecca had not saved him by her ingenuity and her good advice.
Interpretation of the story
185. Before explaining this beautiful story, let me remind you that, according to the early Fathers and the interpreters of Holy Scripture, Jacob is the type of our Lord and of souls who are saved, and Esau is the type of souls who are condemned. We have only to examine the actions and conduct of both in order to judge each one.
(1) Esau, the elder brother, was strong and robust, clever, and skillful with the bow and very successful at hunting.
(2) He seldom stayed at home and, relying only on his own strength and skill, worked out of doors.
(3) He never went out of his way to please his mother Rebecca, and did little or nothing for her. (4) He was such a glutton and so fond of eating that he sold his birthright for a dish of lentils.
(5) Like Cain, he was extremely jealous of his brother and persecuted him relentlessly.
186. This is the usual conduct of sinners:
(1) They rely upon their own strength and skill in temporal affairs. They are very energetic, clever and well-informed about things of this world but very dull and ignorant about things of heaven.
187. (2) And they are never or very seldom at home, in their own house, that is, in their own interior, the inner, essential abode that God has given to every man to dwell in, after his own example, for God always abides within himself. Sinners have no liking for solitude or the spiritual life or interior devotion. They consider those who live an interior life, secluded from the world, and who work more interiorly than exteriorly, as narrow-minded, bigoted and uncivilized.
188. (3) Sinners care little or nothing about devotion to Mary, the Mother of the elect. It is true that they do not
really hate her. Indeed they even speak well of her sometimes. They say they love her and they practise some devotion in her honour. Nevertheless, they cannot bear to see anyone love her tenderly, for they do not have for her any of the affection of Jacob; they find fault with the honour which her good children and servants faithfully pay her to win her affection. They think this kind of devotion is not necessary for salvation, and as long as they do not go as far as hating her or openly ridiculing devotion to her they believe they have done all they need to win her good graces. Because they recite or mumble a few prayers to her without any affection and without even thinking of amending their lives, they consider they are our Lady's servants.
189. (4) Sinners sell their birthright, that is, the joys of paradise, for a dish of lentils, that is, the pleasures of this world. They laugh, they drink, they eat, they have a good time, they gamble, they dance and so forth, without taking any more trouble than Esau to make themselves worthy of their heavenly Father's blessing. Briefly, they think only of this world, love only the world, speak and act only for the world and its pleasures. For a passing moment of pleasure, for a fleeting wisp of honour, for a piece of hard earth, yellow or white, they barter away their baptismal grace, their robe of innocence and their heavenly inheritance.
190. (5) Finally, sinners continually hate and persecute the elect, openly and secretly. The elect are a burden to them. They despise them, criticise them, ridicule them, insult them, rob them, deceive them, impoverish them, hunt them down and
trample them into the dust; while they themselves are making fortunes, enjoying themselves, getting good positions for themselves, enriching themselves, rising to power and living in comfort.
191. Jacob, the younger son, was of a frail constitution, gentle and peaceable and usually stayed at home to please his mother, whom he loved so much. If he did go out it was not through any personal desire of his, nor from any confidence in his own ability, but simply out of obedience to his mother.
192. He loved and honoured his mother. That is why he remained at home close to her. He was never happier than when he was in her presence. He avoided everything that might displease her, and did everything he thought would please her. This made Rebecca love him all the more.
193. He was submissive to his mother in all things. He obeyed her entirely in everything, promptly without delay and lovingly without complaint. At the least indication of her will, young Jacob hastened to comply with it. He accepted whatever she told him without questioning. For instance, when she told him to get two small goats and bring them to her so that she might prepare something for his father Isaac to eat, Jacob did not reply that one would be enough for one man, but without arguing he did exactly what she told him to do.
194. He had the utmost confidence in his mother. He did not rely on his own ability; he relied solely on his mother's care and protection. He went to her in all his needs and consulted her in all his doubts. For instance, when he asked her if his father, instead of blessing him, would curse him, he believed her and trusted her when she said she would take the curse upon herself.
195. Finally, he adopted, as much as he could, the virtues he saw in his mother. It seems that one of the reasons why he spent so much time at home was to imitate his dear mother, who was so virtuous, and to keep away from evil companions - who might lead him into sin. In this way, he made himself worthy to receive the double blessing of his beloved father.
196. It is in a similar manner that God's chosen ones usually act. They stay at home with their mother - that is, they have an esteem for quietness, love the interior life, and are assiduous in prayer. They always remain in the company of the Blessed Virgin, their Mother and Model, whose glory is wholly interior and who during her whole life dearly loved seclusion and prayer. It is true, at times they do venture out into the world, but only to fulfil the duties of their state of life, in obedience to the will of God and the will of their Mother.
No matter how great their accomplishments may appear to others, they attach far more importance to what they do within themselves in their interior life, in the company of the Blessed Virgin. For there they work at the great task of perfection, compared to which all other work is mere child's play. At times their brothers and sisters are working outside with great energy, skill and success, and win the praise and approbation of the world. But they know by the light of the Holy Spirit that there is far more good, more glory and more joy in remaining hidden and recollected with our Lord, in complete and perfect submission to Mary than there is in performing by themselves marvellous works of nature and grace in the world, like so many Esaus and sinners. Glory for God and riches for men are in her house.
Lord Jesus, how lovely is your dwelling-place! The sparrow has found a house to dwell in, and the turtle-dove a nest for her little ones! How happy is the man who dwells in the house of Mary, where you were the first to dwell! Here in this home of the elect, he draws from you alone the help he needs to climb the stairway of virtue he has built in his heart to the highest possible points of perfection while in this vale of tears. "How lovely is your dwelling-place, Lord, God of hosts!"
197. The elect have a great love for our Lady and honour her truly as their Mother and Queen. They love her mot merely in word but in deed. They honour her not just outwardly, but from the depths of their heart. Like Jacob, they avoid the least thing that might displease her, and eagerly do whatever they think might win her favour. Jacob brought Rebecca two young goats. They bring Mary their body and their soul, with all their faculties, symbolised by Jacob's two young goats, 1) so that she may accept them as her own; 2) that she may make them die to sin and self by divesting them of self-love, in order to please Jesus her Son, who wishes to have as friends and disciples only those who are dead to sin and self; 3) that she may clothe them according to their heavenly Father's taste and for his greater glory, which she knows better than any other creature; 4) that through her care and intercession, this body and soul of theirs, thoroughly cleansed from every stain, thoroughly dead to self, thoroughly stripped and well-prepared, may be pleasing to the heavenly Father and deserving of his blessing.
Is this not what those chosen souls do who, to prove to Jesus and Mary how effective and courageous is their love, live and esteem the perfect consecration to Jesus through Mary which we are now teaching them?
Sinners may say that they love Jesus, that they love and honour Mary, but they do not do so with their whole heart and soul. Unlike the elect, they do not love Jesus and Mary enough to consecrate them their body with its senses and their soul with its passions.
198. They are subject and obedient to our Lady, their good Mother, and here they are simply following the example set by our Lord himself, who spent thirty of the thirty-three years he lived on earth glorifying God his Father in perfect and entire submission to his holy Mother. They obey her, following her advice to the letter, just as Jacob followed that of Rebecca, when she said to him, "My son, follow my advice"; or like the stewards at the wedding in Cana, to whom our Lady said, "Do whatever he tells you."
Through obedience to his mother, Jacob received the blessing almost by a miracle, because in the natural course of events he should not have received it. As a reward for following the advice of our Lady, the stewards at the wedding in Cana were honoured with the first of our Lord's miracles when, at her request he changed water into wine. In the same way, until the end of time, all who are to receive the blessing of our heavenly Father and who are to be honoured with his wondrous graces will receive them only as a result of their perfect obedience to Mary. On the other hand, the "Esaus" will lose their blessing because of their lack of submission to the Blessed Virgin.
199. They have great confidence in the goodness and power of the Blessed Virgin, their dear Mother, and incessantly implore her help. They take her for their pole-star to lead them safely into harbour. They open their hearts to her and tell her their troubles and their needs. They rely on her mercy and kindness to obtain forgiveness for their sins through her intercession and to experience her motherly comfort in their troubles and anxieties. They even cast themselves into her virginal bosom, hide and lose themselves there in a wonderful manner. There they are filled with pure love, they are purified from the least stain of sin, and they find Jesus in all his fullness. For he reigns in Mary as if on the most glorious of thrones. What incomparable happiness! Abbot Guerric says, "Do not imagine there is more joy in dwelling in Abraham's bosom than in Mary's, for it is in her that our Lord placed his throne."
Sinners, on the other hand, put all their confidence in themselves. Like the prodigal son, they eat with the swine. Like toads they feed on earth. Like all worldlings, they love only visible and external things. They do not know the sweetness of Mary's bosom. They do not have that reliance and confidence which the elect have for the Blessed Virgin, their Mother. Deplorably they choose to satisfy their hunger elsewhere, as St. Gregory says, because they do not want to taste the sweetness already prepared within themselves and within Jesus and Mary.
200. Finally, chosen souls keep to the ways of the Blessed Virgin, their loving Mother - that is, they imitate her and so are sincerely happy and devout and bear the infallible sign of God's chosen ones. This loving Mother says to them "Happy are those who keep my ways", which means, happy are those who practise my virtues and who, with the help of God's grace, follow the path of my life. They are happy in this world because of the abundance of grace and sweetness I impart to them out of my fullness, and which they receive more abundantly than others who do not imitate me so closely. They are happy at the hour of death, which is sweet and peaceful for I am usually there myself to lead them home to everlasting joy. Finally, they will be happy for all eternity, because no servant of mine who imitated my virtues during life has ever been lost.
On the other hand, sinners are unhappy during their life, at their death, and throughout eternity, because they do not imitate the virtues of our Lady. They are satisfied with going no further than joining her confraternities, reciting a few prayers in her honour, or performing other exterior devotional exercises.
O Blessed Virgin, my dear Mother, how happy are those who faithfully keep your ways, your counsels and your commands; who never allow themselves to be led astray by a false devotion to you! But how unhappy and accursed are those who abuse devotion to you by not keeping the commandments of your Son! "They are accursed who stray from your commandments."
Services of our Lady to her faithful servants
201. Here now are the services which the Virgin Mary, as the best of all mothers, lovingly renders to those loyal servants who have given themselves entirely to her in the manner I have described and following the figurative meaning of the story of Jacob and Rebecca.
1. She loves them. "I love those who love me." She loves them:
a) Because she is truly their Mother. What mother does not love her child, the fruit of her womb?
b) She loves them in gratitude for the active love they show to her, their beloved Mother.
c) She loves them because they are loved by God and destined for heaven. "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."
d) She loves them because they have consecrated themselves entirely to her and belong to her portion, her inheritance. "In Israel receive your inheritance."
202. She loves them tenderly, more tenderly than all the mothers in the world together. Take the maternal love of all the mothers of the world for their children. Pour all that love into the heart of one mother for an only child. That mother's love would certainly be immense. Yet Mary's love for each of her children has more tenderness than the love of that mother for her child.
She loves them not only affectively but effectively, that is, her love is active and productive of good like Rebecca's love for Jacob -and even more so, for Rebecca was, after all, only a symbolic figure of Mary. Here is what this loving Mother does for her children to obtain for them the blessings of their heavenly Father:
203. 1) Like Rebecca she looks out for favourable opportunities to promote their interests, to ennoble and enrich them. She sees clearly in God all that is good and all that is evil; fortunate and unfortunate events; the blessings and condemnations of God. She arranges things in advance so as to divert evils from her servants and put them in the way of abundant blessings. If there is any special benefit to be gained in God's sight by the faithful discharge of an important work, Mary will certainly obtain this opportunity for a beloved child and servant and at the same time, give him the grace to persevere in it to the end. "She personally manages our affairs," says a saintly man.
204. 2) She gives them excellent advice, as Rebecca did to Jacob. "My son, follow my counsels." Among other things, she persuades them to bring her the two young goats, that is, their body and soul, and to confide them to her so that she can prepare them as a dish pleasing to God. She inspires them to observe whatever Jesus Christ, her Son, has taught by word and example. When she does not give these counsels herself in person, she gives them through the ministry of angels who are always pleased and honoured to go at her request to assist one of her faithful servants on earth.
205. 3) What does this good Mother do when we have presented and consecrated to her our soul and body and all that pertains to them without excepting anything? Just what Rebecca of old did to the little goats Jacob brought her. (a) She kills them, that is, makes them die to the life of the old Adam. (b) She strips them of their skin, that is, of their natural inclinations, their self-love and self-will and their every attachment to creatures. (c) She cleanses them from all stain, impurity and sin. (d) She prepares them to God's taste and to his greater glory. As she alone knows perfectly what the divine taste is and where the greatest glory of God is to be found, she alone without any fear of mistake can prepare and garnish our body and soul to satisfy that infinitely refined taste and promote that infinitely hidden glory.
206. 4) Once this good Mother has received our complete offering with our merits and satisfactions through the devotion I have been speaking about, and has stripped us of our own garments, she cleanses us and makes us worthy to appear without shame before our heavenly Father.
She clothes us in the clean, new, precious and fragrant garments of Esau, the first born, namely, her Son Jesus Christ. She keeps these garments in her house, that is to say, she has them at her disposal. For she is the treasurer and universal dispenser of the merits and virtues of Jesus her Son. She gives and distributes them to whom she pleases, when she pleases, as she pleases, and as much as she pleases, as we have said above.
She covers the neck and hands of her servants with the skins of the goats that have been killed and flayed, that is, she adorns them with the merits and worth of their own good actions. In truth, she destroys and nullifies all that is impure and imperfect in them. She preserves and enhances this good so that it adorns and strengthens their neck and hands, that is, she gives them the strength to carry the yoke of the Lord and the skill to do great things for the glory of God and the salvation of their poor brothers.
She imparts new perfume and fresh grace to those garments
and adornments by adding to them the garments of her own wardrobe of merits and virtues. She bequeathed these to them before her departure for heaven, as was revealed by a holy nun of the last century, who died a holy death. Thus all her domestics, that is, all her servants and slaves, are clothed with double garments, her own and those of her Son. Now they have nothing to fear from that cold which sinners, naked and stripped as they are of the merits of Jesus and Mary, will be unable to endure.
207. 5) Finally, Mary obtains for them the heavenly Father's blessing. As they are the youngest born and adopted, they are not really entitled to it. Clad in new, precious, and sweet-smelling garments, with body and soul well-prepared and dressed, they confidently approach their heavenly Father. He hears their voice and recognises it as the voice of a sinner. He feels their hands covered with skins, inhales the aroma of their garments. He partakes with joy of what Mary, their Mother, has prepared for him, recognising in it the merits and good odour of his Son and his Blessed Mother.
a) He gives them a twofold blessing, the blessing of the dew of heaven, namely, divine grace, which is the seed of glory. "God has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing," and also the blessing of the fertility of the earth, for as a provident Father, he gives them their daily bread and an ample supply of the goods of the earth.
b) He makes them masters of their other brothers, the reprobate sinners. This domination does not always show in this fleeting world, where sinners often have the upper hand. "How long shall the wicked glory, mouthing insolent reproaches?" "I have seen the wicked triumphant and lifted up like the cedars of Lebanon." But the supremacy of the just is real and will be seen clearly for all eternity in the next world, where the just, as the Holy Spirit tells us, will dominate and command all peoples.
c) The God of all majesty is not satisfied with blessing them in their persons and their possessions, he blesses all who bless them and curses all who curse and persecute them.
2. She provides for all their needs 208. Our Lady's charity towards her faithful servants goes further. She provides them with everything they need for body and soul. We have just seen that she gives them double garments. She also nourishes them with the most delicious food from the banquet table of God. She gives them the Son she has borne, the Bread of Life, to be their food. "Dear children," she says in the words of divine Wisdom, "take your fill of my fruits," that is to say, of the Fruit of Life, Jesus, "whom I brought into the world for you." "Come," she repeats in another passage, "eat the bread which is Jesus. Drink the wine of his love which I have mixed" for you with the milk of my breasts.
As Mary is the treasurer and dispenser of the gifts and graces of the Most High God, she reserves a choice portion, indeed the choicest portion, to nourish and sustain her children and servants. They grow strong on the Bread of Life; they are made joyful with the wine that brings forth virgins. They are carried at her breast. They bear with ease the yoke of Christ scarcely feeling its weight because of the oil of devotion with which she has softened its wood.
3. She leads and guides them 209. A third service which our Lady renders her faithful servants is to lead and direct them according to the will of her Son. Rebecca guided her little son Jacob and gave him good
advice from time to time, which helped him obtain the blessing of his father and saved him from the hatred and persecution of his brother Esau. Mary, Star of the sea, guides all her faithful servants into safe harbour. She shows them the path to eternal life and helps them avoid dangerous pitfalls. She leads them by the hand along the path of holiness, steadies them when they are liable to fall and helps them rise when they have fallen. She chides them like a loving mother when they are remiss and sometimes she even lovingly chastises them. How could a child that follows such a mother and such an enlightened guide as Mary take the wrong path to heaven? Follow her and you cannot go wrong, says St. Bernard. There is no danger of a true child of Mary being led astray by the devil and falling into heresy. Where Mary leads, Satan with his deceptions and heretics with their subtleties are not encountered. "When she upholds you, you will not fall."
4. She defends and protects them 210. The fourth good office our Lady performs for her children and faithful servants is to defend and protect them against their enemies. By her care and ingenuity Rebecca delivered Jacob from all dangers that beset him and particularly from dying at the hands of his brother, as he apparently would have done, since Esau hated and envied him just as Cain hated his brother Abel.
Mary, the beloved Mother of chosen souls, shelters them under her protecting wings as a hen does her chicks. She speaks to them, coming down to their level and accommodating herself to all their weaknesses. To ensure their safety from the hawk and vulture, she becomes their escort, surrounding them as an army in battle array. Could anyone surrounded by a well-ordered army of say a hundred thousand men fear his enemies? No, and still less would a faithful servant of Mary, protected on all sides by her imperial forces, fear his enemy. This powerful Queen of heaven would sooner dispatch millions of angels to help one of her servants than have it said that a single faithful and trusting servant of hers had fallen victim to the malice, number and power of his enemies.
5. She intercedes for them 211. Finally, the fifth and greatest service which this loving Mother renders her faithful followers is to intercede for them with her Son. She appeases him with her prayers, brings her servants into closer union with him and maintains that union.
Rebecca made Jacob approach the bed of his father. His father touched him, embraced him and even joyfully kissed him after having satisfied his hunger with the well-prepared dishes which Jacob had brought him. Then inhaling most
joyfully the exquisite perfume of his garments, he cried: "Behold the fragrance of my son is as the fragrance of a field of plenty which the Lord has blessed." The fragrance of this rich field which so captivated the heart of the father, is none other than the fragrance of the merits and virtues of Mary who is the plentiful field of grace in which God the Father has sown the grain of wheat of the elect, his only Son.
How welcome to Jesus Christ, the Father of the world to come, is a child perfumed with the fragrance of Mary! How readily and how intimately does he unite himself to that child! But this we have already shown at length.
212. Furthermore, once Mary has heaped her favours upon her children and her faithful servants and has secured for themthe blessing of the heavenly Father and union with Jesus
Christ, she keeps them in Jesus and keeps Jesus in them. She guards them, watching over them unceasingly, lest they lose the grace of God and fall into the snares of their enemies. "She keeps the saints in their fullness" (St. Bonaventure), and inspires them to persevere to the end, as we have already said.
Such is the explanation given to this ancient allegory which typifies the mystery of predestination and reprobation.
CHAPTER SIX - WONDERFUL EFFECTS OF THIS DEVOTION
213. My dear friend, be sure that if you remain faithful to the interior and exterior practices of this devotion which I will point out, the following effects will be produced in your soul:
1. Knowledge of our unworthiness By the light which the Holy Spirit will give you through Mary, his faithful spouse, you will perceive the evil inclinations of your fallen nature and how incapable you are of any good apart from that which God produces in you as Author of nature and of grace. As a consequence of this knowledge you will despise yourself and think of yourself only as an object of repugnance. You will consider yourself as a snail that soils everything with its slime, as a toad that poisons everything with its venom, as a malevolent serpent seeking only to deceive. Finally, the humble Virgin Mary will share her humility with you so that, although you regard yourself with distaste and desire to be disregarded by others, you will not look down slightingly upon anyone.
2. A share in Mary's faith 214. Mary will share her faith with you. Her faith on earth was stronger than that of all the patriarchs, prophets, apostles and saints. Now that she is reigning in heaven she no
longer has this faith, since she sees everything clearly in God by the light of glory. However, with the consent of almighty God she did not lose it when entering heaven. She has preserved it for her faithful servants in the Church militant. Therefore the more you gain the friendship of this noble Queen and faithful Virgin the more you will be inspired by faith in your daily life. It will cause you to depend less upon sensible and extraordinary feelings. For it is a lively faith animated by love enabling you to do everything from no other motive than that of pure love. It is a firm faith, unshakable as a rock, prompting you to remain firm and steadfast in the midst of storms and tempests. It is an active and probing faith which like some mysterious pass-key admits you into the mysteries of Jesus Christ and of man's final destiny and into the very heart of God himself. It is a courageous faith which inspires you to undertake and carry out without hesitation great things for God and the salvation of souls. Lastly, this faith will be your flaming torch, your very life with God, your secret fund of divine Wisdom, and an all-powerful weapon for you to enlighten those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death. It inflames those who are lukewarm and need the gold of fervent love. It restores life to those who are dead through sin. It moves and transforms hearts of marble and cedars of Lebanon by gentle and convincing argument. Finally, this faith will strengthen you to resist the devil and the other enemies of salvation.
3. The gift of pure love 215. The Mother of fair love will rid your heart of all scruples and inordinate servile fear. She will open and enlarge it to obey the commandments of her Son with alacrity and with the holy freedom of the children of God. She will fill your heart with pure love of which she is the treasury. You will then cease to act as you did before, out of fear of the God who is love, but rather out of pure love. You will look upon him as a loving Father and endeavour to please him at all times. You will speak trustfully to him as a child does to its father. If you should have the misfortune to offend him you will abase yourself before him and humbly beg his pardon. You will offer your hand to him with simplicity and lovingly rise from your sin. Then, peaceful and relaxed and buoyed up with hope you will continue on your way to him.
4. Great confidence in God and in Mary 216. Our Blessed Lady will fill you with unbounded confidence in God and in herself:
1) Because you will no longer approach Jesus by yourself but always through Mary, your loving Mother.
2) Since you have given her all your merits, graces and satisfactions to dispose of as she pleases, she imparts to you her own virtues and clothes you in her own merits. So you will be able to say confidently to God: "Behold Mary, your handmaid, be it done unto me according to your word."
3) Since you have now given yourself completely to Mary, body and soul, she, who is generous to the generous, and more generous than even the kindest benefactor, will in return give herself to you in a marvellous but real manner. Indeed you may without hesitation say to her, "I am yours, O Blessed Virgin, obtain salvation for me," or with the beloved disciple, St. John, "I have taken you, Blessed Mother, for my all." Or again you may say with St. Bonaventure, "Dear Mother of saving grace, I will do everything with confidence and without fear because you are my strength and my boast in the Lord," or in another place, "I am all yours and all that I have is yours, O glorious Virgin, blessed above all created things. Let me place you as a seal upon my heart, for your love is as strong as death." Or adopting the sentiments of the prophet, "Lord, my heart has no reason to be exalted nor should my looks be proud; I have not sought things of great moment nor wonders beyond my reach; nevertheless, I am still not humble. But I have roused my soul and taken courage. I am as a child, weaned from earthly pleasures and resting on its mother's breast. It is upon this breast that all good things come to me."
4) What will still further increase your confidence in her is that, after having given her in trust all that you possess to use or keep as she pleases, you will place less trust in yourself and much more in her whom you have made your treasury. How comforting and how consoling when a person can say, "The treasury of God, where he has placed all that he holds most precious, is also my treasury." "She is," says a saintly man, "the treasury of the Lord."
5. Communication of the spirit of Mary 217. The soul of Mary will be communicated to you to glorify the Lord. Her spirit will take the place of yours to rejoice in God, her Saviour, but only if you are faithful to the practices of this devotion. As St. Ambrose says, "May the soul of Mary be in each one of us to glorify the Lord! May the spirit of Mary be in each one of us to rejoice in God!" "When will that happy day come," asks a saintly man of our own day whose life was completely wrapped up in Mary, "when God's Mother is enthroned in men's hearts as Queen, subjecting them to the dominion of her great and princely Son? When will souls breathe Mary as the body breathes air?" When that time comes wonderful things will happen on earth. The Holy Spirit, finding his dear Spouse present again in souls, will come down into them with great power. He will fill them with his gifts, especially wisdom, by which they will produce wonders of grace. My dear friend, when will that happy time come, that age of Mary, when many souls, chosen by Mary and given her by the most High God, will hide themselves completely in the depths of her soul, becoming living copies of her, loving and glorifying Jesus? That day will dawn only when the devotion I teach is understood and put into practice. Ut adveniat regnum tuum, adveniat regnum Mariae: "Lord, that your kingdom may come, may the reign of Mary come!"
6. Transformation into the likeness of Jesus 218. If Mary, the Tree of Life, is well cultivated in our soul by fidelity to this devotion, she will in due time bring forth her fruit which is none other than Jesus. I have seen many devout souls searching for Jesus in one way or another, and so often when they have worked hard throughout the night, all they can say is, "Despite our having worked all night, we have caught nothing." To them we can say, "You have worked hard and gained little; Jesus can only be recognised faintly in you." But if we follow the immaculate path of Mary, living the devotion that I teach, we will always work in daylight, we will work in a holy place, and we will work but little. There is no darkness in Mary, not even the slightest shadow since there was never any sin in her. She is a holy place, a holy of holies, in which saints are formed and moulded.
219. Please note that I say that saints are molded in Mary. There is a vast difference between carving a statue by blows of hammer and chisel and making a statue by using a mould. Sculptors and statue-makers work hard and need plenty of time
to make statues by the first method. But the second method does not involve much work and takes very little time. St. Augustine speaking to our Blessed Lady says, "You are worthy to be called the mould of God." Mary is a mould capable of forming people into the image of the God-man. Anyone who is cast into this divine mould is quickly shaped and molded into Jesus and Jesus into him. At little cost and in a short time he will become Christ-like since he is cast into the very same mould that fashioned a God-man.
220. I think I can very well compare some spiritual directors and devout persons to sculptors who wish to produce Jesus in themselves and in others by methods other than this. Many of them rely on their own skill, ingenuity and art and chip away endlessly with mallet and chisel at hard stone or badly-prepared wood, in an effort to produce a likeness of our Lord. At times, they do not manage to produce a recognizable likeness either because they lack knowledge and experience of the person of Jesus or because a clumsy stroke has spoiled the whole work. But those who accept this little-known secret of grace which I offer them can rightly be compared to smelters and moulders who have discovered the beautiful mould of Mary where Jesus was so divinely and so naturally formed. They do not rely on their own skill but on the perfection of the mould. They cast and lose themselves in Mary where they become true models of her Son.
221. You may think this a beautiful and convincing comparison. But how many understand it? I would like you, my dear friend, to understand it. But remember that only molten and liquefied substances may be poured into a mould. That means that you must crush and melt down the old Adam in you if you wish to acquire the likeness of the new Adam in Mary.
7. The greater glory of Christ 222. If you live this devotion sincerely, you will give more glory to Jesus in a month than in many years of a more demanding devotion. Here are my reasons for saying this:
(1) Since you do everything through the Blessed Virgin as required by this devotion, you naturally lay aside your own intentions no matter how good they appear to you. You abandon yourself to our Lady's intentions even though you do not know what they are. Thus you share in the high quality of her intentions, which are so pure that she gave more glory to God by the smallest of her actions, say, twirling her distaff, or making a stitch, than did St. Laurence suffering his cruel martyrdom on the grid-iron, and even more than all the saints together in all their most heroic deeds! Mary amassed such a multitude of merits and graces during her sojourn on earth that it would be easier to count the stars in heaven, the drops of water in the ocean or the sands of the sea-shore than count her merits and graces. She thus gave more glory to God than all the angels and saints have given or will ever give him. Mary, wonder of God, when souls abandon themselves to you, you cannot but work wonders in them!
223. (2) In this devotion we set no store on our own thoughts and actions but are content to rely on Mary's dispositions when approaching and even speaking to Jesus. We then act with far greater humility than others who imperceptibly rely on their own dispositions and are self- satisfied about them; and consequently we give greater glory to God, for perfect glory is given to him only by the lowly and humble of heart.
224. (3) Our Blessed Lady, in her immense love for us, is eager to receive into her virginal hands the gift of our actions, imparting to them a marvelous beauty and splendor, and presenting them herself to Jesus most willingly. More glory is given to our Lord in this way than when we make our offering with our own guilty hands.
225. (4) Lastly, you never think of Mary without Mary thinking of God for you. You never praise or honor Mary without Mary joining you in praising and honoring God. Mary is entirely relative to God. Indeed I would say that she was relative only to God, because she exists uniquely in reference to him.
She is an echo of God, speaking and repeating only God. If you say "Mary" she says "God". When St. Elizabeth praised Mary calling her blessed because she had believed, Mary, the faithful echo of God, responded with her canticle, "My soul glorifies the Lord." What Mary did on that day, she does every day. When we praise her, when we love and honour her, when we present anything to her, then God is praised, honoured and loved and receives our gift through Mary and in Mary.
This is the final installment of Marian Consecration. The day of Consecration is Saturday June 16th, the feast of Immaculate Heart of Mary. The below act of Consecration may be made anytime that day. If possible, it should be made at the Holy Mass as will happen at St. Michael at the 5pm. But if not, it quite suffices to recite the Consecration at any convenient time of day, prepared for by prayer.
Please read below for instructions from St. Louis Marie Gringion de Montfort himself:
"231. At the end of these three weeks (we did 5 weeks) they should go to confession and Holy Communion with the intention of consecrating themselves to Jesus through Mary as slaves of love. When receiving Holy Communion they could follow the method given later on. They then recite the act of consecration which is given at the end of this book. If they do not have a printed copy of the act, they should write it out or have it copied and then sign it on the very day they make it.
232. It would be very becoming if on that day they offered some tribute to Jesus and his Mother, either as a penance for past unfaithfulness to the promises made in baptism or as a sign of their submission to the sovereignty of Jesus and Mary. Such a tribute would be in accordance with each one's ability and fervour and may take the form of fasting, an act of self-denial, the gift of an alms or the offering of a votive candle. If they gave only a pin as a token of their homage, provided it were given with a good heart, it would satisfy Jesus who considers only the good intention."
So this week:
1) Try to get to Confession. (Examination at end)
2) Try to receive Holy Communion on Profession Day
3) Totally entrust all that you are and have to Mary!
4) Offer Prayer of Consecration on a feast of Mary (Sat) (you may choose either version at end of this)
5) Daily renew this consecration with the words:
"I am all yours and all I have is yours, O dear Jesus, through Mary, your holy Mother."
"O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee and all who do not have recourse to thee, especially the enemies of the Church and those recommended to thee. Amen."
True Devotion to Mary by St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort
[Both of the above will be given below in their entirety in the next 5 weeks.]
Final part of True Devotion to Mary
CHAPTER SEVEN - PARTICULAR PRACTICES OF THIS DEVOTION
1. Exterior Practices
226. Although this devotion is essentially an interior one, this does not prevent it from having exterior practices which should not be neglected. "These must be done but those not omitted." If properly performed, exterior acts help to foster interior ones. Man is always guided by his senses and such practices remind him of what he has done or should do. Let no worldling or critic intervene to assert that true devotion is essentially in the heart and therefore externals should be avoided as inspiring vanity, or that real devotion should be hidden and private. I answer in the words of our Lord, "Let men see your good works that they may glorify your Father who is in heaven." As St. Gregory says, this does not mean that they should perform external actions to please men or seek praise; that certainly would be vanity. It simply means that we do these things before men only to please and glorify God without worrying about either the contempt or the approval of men.
I shall briefly mention some practices which I call exterior, not because they are performed without inner attention but because they have an exterior element as distinct from those which are purely interior.
1. Preparation and Consecration
227. Those who desire to take up this special devotion, (which has not been erected into a confraternity, although this would be desirable), should spend at least twelve days in emptying themselves of the spirit of the world, which is opposed to the spirit of Jesus, as I have recommended in the first part of this preparation for the reign of Jesus Christ. They should then spend three weeks imbuing themselves with the spirit of Jesus through the most Blessed Virgin. Here is a programme they might follow:
228. During the first week they should offer up all their prayers and acts of devotion to acquire knowledge of themselves and sorrow for their sins.
Let them perform all their actions in a spirit of humility. With this end in view they may, if they wish, meditate on what I have said concerning our corrupted nature, and consider themselves during six days of the week as nothing but sails, slugs, toads, swine, snakes and goats. Or else they may meditate on the following three considerations of St. Bernard: "Remember what you were - corrupted seed; what you are - a body destined for decay; what you will be -food for worms."
They will ask our Lord and the Holy Spirit to enlighten them saying, "Lord, that I may see," or "Lord, let me know myself," or the "Come, Holy Spirit". Every day they should say the Litany of the Holy Spirit, with the prayer that follows, as indicated in the first part of this work. They will turn to our Blessed Lady and beg her to obtain for them that great grace which is the foundation of all others, the grace of self-knowledge. For this intention they will say each day the Ave Maris Stella and the Litany of the Blessed Virgin.
229. Each day of the second week they should endeavour in all their prayers and works to acquire an understanding of the Blessed Virgin and ask the Holy Spirit for this grace. They may read and meditate upon what we have already said about her. They should recite daily the Litany of the Holy Spirit and the Ave Maris Stella as during the first week. In addition they will say at least five decades of the Rosary for greater understanding of Mary.
230. During the third week they should seek to understand Jesus Christ better. They may read and meditate on what we have already said about him. They may say the prayer of St. Augustine which they will find at the beginning of the second part of this book. Again with St. Augustine, they may pray repeatedly, "Lord, that I may know you," or "Lord, that I may see." As during the previous week, they should recite the Litany of the Holy Spirit and the Ave Maris Stella, adding every day the Litany of the Holy Name of Jesus.
231. At the end of these three weeks they should go to confession and Holy Communion with the intention of consecrating themselves to Jesus through Mary as slaves of love. When receiving Holy Communion they could follow the method given later on. They then recite the act of consecration which is given at the end of this book. If they do not have a printed copy of the act, they should write it out or have it copied and then sign it on the very day they make it.
232. It would be very becoming if on that day they offered some tribute to Jesus and his Mother, either as a penance for past unfaithfulness to the promises made in baptism or as a sign of their submission to the sovereignty of Jesus and Mary. Such a tribute would be in accordance with each one's ability and fervour and may take the form of fasting, an act of self-denial, the gift of an alms or the offering of a votive candle. If they gave only a pin as a token of their homage, provided it were given with a good heart, it would satisfy Jesus who considers only the good intention.
233. Every year at least, on the same date, they should renew the consecration following the same exercises for three weeks. They might also renew it every month or even every day by saying this short prayer: "I am all yours and all I have is yours, O dear Jesus, through Mary, your holy Mother."
2. The Little Crown of the Blessed Virgin
234. If it is not too inconvenient, they should recite every day of their lives the Little Crown of the Blessed Virgin, which is composed of three Our Fathers and twelve Hail Marys in honour of the twelve glorious privileges of Mary. This prayer is very old and is based on Holy Scripture. St. John saw in a vision a woman crowned with twelve stars, clothed with the sun and standing upon the moon. According to biblical commentators, this woman is the Blessed Virgin.
235. There are several ways of saying the Little Crown but it would take too long to explain them here. The Holy Spirit will teach them to those who live this devotion conscientiously. However, here is a simple way to recite it. As an introduction say:" Virgin most holy, accept my praise; give me strength to fight your foes", then say the Creed. Next, say the following sequence of prayers three times: one Our Father, four Hail Marys and one Glory be to the Father. In conclusion say the prayer Sub tuum - "We fly to thy patronage".
3. The Wearing of Little Chains
236. It is very praiseworthy and helpful for those who have become slaves of Jesus in Mary to wear, in token of their slavery of love, a little chain blessed with a special blessing.
It is perfectly true, these external tokens are not essential and may very well be dispensed with by those who have made this consecration. Nevertheless, I cannot help but give the warmest approval to those who wear them. They show they have shaken off the shameful chains of the slavery of the devil, in which original sin and perhaps actual sin had bound them, and have willingly taken upon themselves the glorious slavery of Jesus Christ. Like St. Paul, they glory in the chains they wear for Christ. For though these chains are made only of iron they are far more glorious and precious than all the gold ornaments worn by monarchs.
237. At one time, nothing was considered more contemptible than the Cross. Now this sacred wood has become the most glorious symbol of the
Christian faith. Similarly, nothing was more ignoble in the sight of the ancients, and even today nothing is more degrading among unbelievers than the chains of Jesus Christ. But among Christians nothing is more glorious than these chains, because by them Christians are liberated and kept free from the ignoble shackles of sin and the devil. Thus set free, we are bound to Jesus and Mary not by compulsion and force like galley-slaves, but by charity and love as children are to their parents. "I shall draw them to me by chains of love" said God Most High speaking through the prophet. Consequently, these chains are as strong as death, and in a way stronger than death, for those who wear them faithfully till the end of their life. For though death destroys and corrupts their body, it will not destroy the chains of their slavery, since these, being of metal, will not easily corrupt. It may be that on the day of their resurrection, that momentous day of final judgment, these chains, still clinging to their bones, will contribute to their glorification and be transformed into chains of light and splendour. Happy then, a thousand times happy, are the illustrious slaves of Jesus in Mary who bear their chains even to the grave.
238. Here are the reasons for wearing these chains:
(a) They remind a Christian of the promises of his baptism and the perfect renewal of these commitments made in his consecration. They remind him of his strict obligation to adhere faithfully to them. A man's actions are prompted more frequently by his senses than by pure faith and so he can easily forget his duties towards God if he has no external reminder of them. These little chains are a wonderful aid in recalling the bonds of sin and the slavery of the devil from which baptism has freed him. At the same time, they remind him of the dependence on Jesus promised at baptism and ratified when by consecration he renewed these promises. Why is it that so many Christians do not think of their baptismal vows and behave with as much licence as unbelievers who have promised nothing to God? One explanation is that they do not wear external sign to remind them of these vows.
239. (b) These chains prove they are not ashamed of being the servants and slaves of Jesus and that they reject the deadly bondage of the world, of sin and of the devil.
(c) They are a guarantee and protection against enslavement by sin and the devil. For we must of necessity choose to wear either the chains of sin and damnation or the chains of love and salvation.
240. Dear friend, break the chains of sin and of sinners, of the world and the worldly, of the devil and his satellites. "Cast their yoke of death far from us." To use the words of the Holy Spirit, let us put our feet into his glorious shackles and our neck into his chains. Let us bow down our shoulders in submission to the yoke of Wisdom incarnate, Jesus Christ, and let us not be upset by the burden of his chains. Notice how before saying these words the Holy Spirit prepares us to accept his serious advice, "Hearken, my son," he says, "receive a counsel of understanding and do not spurn this counsel of mine."
241. Allow me here, my dear friend, to join the Holy Spirit in giving you the same counsel, "These chains are the chains of salvation". As our Lord on the cross draws all men to himself, whether they will it or not, he will draw sinners by the fetters of their sins and submit them like galley-slaves and devils to his eternal anger and avenging justice. But he will draw the just, especially in these latter days, by the chains of love.
242. These loving slaves of Christ may wear their chains around the neck, on their arms, round the waist or round the ankles. Fr. Vincent Caraffa, seventh General of the Society of Jesus, who died a holy death in 1643, carried an iron band round his ankles as a symbol of his holy servitude and he used to say that his greatest regret was that he could not drag a chain around in public. Mother Agnes of Jesus, of whom we have already spoken, wore a chain around her waist. Others have worn it round the neck, in atonement for the pearl necklaces they wore in the world. Others have worn chains round their arms to remind them, as they worked with their hands, that they are the slaves of Jesus.
4. Honouring the mystery of the Incarnation
243. Loving slaves of Jesus in Mary should hold in high esteem devotion to Jesus, the Word of God, in the great mystery of the Incarnation, March 25th, which is the mystery proper to this devotion, because it was inspired by the Holy Spirit for the following reasons:
(a) That we might honour and imitate the wondrous dependence which God the Son chose to have on Mary, for the glory of his Father and for the redemption of man. This dependence is revealed especially in this mystery where Jesus becomes a captive and slave in the womb of his Blessed Mother, depending on her for everything.
(b) That we might thank God for the incomparable graces he has conferred upon Mary and especially that of choosing her to be his most worthy Mother. This choice was made in the mystery of the Incarnation. These are the two principal ends of the slavery of Jesus in Mary.
244. Please note that I usually say "slave of Jesus in Mary", "slavery of Jesus in Mary". We might indeed say, as some have already been saying, "slave of Mary", "slavery of Mary". But I think it preferable to say, "slave of Jesus in Mary". This is the opinion of Fr. Tronson, Superior General of the Seminary of Saint-Sulpice, a man renowned for his exceptional prudence and remarkable holiness. He gave this advice when consulted upon this subject by a priest.
Here are the reasons for it:
245. (a) Since we live in an age of pride when a great number of haughty scholars, with proud and critical minds, find fault even with long-established and sound devotions, it is better to speak of "slavery of Jesus in Mary" and to call oneself "slave of Jesus" rather than "slave of Mary". We then avoid giving any pretext for criticism. In this way, we name this devotion after its ultimate end which is Jesus, rather than after the way and the means to arrive there, which is Mary. However, we can very well use either term without any scruple, as I myself do. If a man goes from Orleans to Tours, by way of Amboise, he can quite truthfully say that he is going to Amboise and equally truthfully say that he is going to Tours. The only difference is that Amboise is simply a place on the direct road to Tours, and Tours alone is his final destination.
246. (b) Since the principal mystery celebrated and honoured in this devotion is the mystery of the Incarnation where we find Jesus only in Mary, having become incarnate in her womb, it is appropriate for us to say, "slavery of Jesus in Mary", of Jesus dwelling enthroned in Mary, according to the beautiful, prayer, recited by so many great souls, "O Jesus living in Mary".
247. (c) These expressions show more clearly the intimate union existing between Jesus and Mary. So closely are they united that one is wholly the other. Jesus is all in Mary and Mary is all in Jesus. Or rather, it is no longer she who lives, but Jesus alone who lives in her. It would be easier to separate light from the sun than Mary from Jesus. So united are they that our Lord may be called, "Jesus of Mary", and his Mother "Mary of Jesus".
248. Time does not permit me to linger here and elaborate on the perfections and wonders of the mystery of Jesus living and reigning in Mary, or the Incarnation of the Word. I shall confine myself to the following brief remarks. The Incarnation is the first mystery of Jesus Christ; it is the most hidden; and it is the most exalted and the least known.
It was in this mystery that Jesus, in the womb of Mary and with her co- operation, chose all the elect. For this reason the saints called her womb, the throne-room of God's mysteries.
It was in this mystery that Jesus anticipated all subsequent mysteries of his life by his willing acceptance of them. Consequently, this mystery is a summary of all his mysteries since it contains the intention and the grace of them all.
Lastly, this mystery is the seat of the mercy, the liberality, and the glory of God. It is the seat of his mercy for us, since we can approach and speak to Jesus through Mary. We need her intervention to see or speak to him. Here, ever responsive to the prayer of his Mother, Jesus unfailingly grants grace and mercy to all poor sinners. "Let us come boldly before the throne of grace."
It is the seat of liberality for Mary, because while the new Adam dwelt in this truly earthly paradise God performed there so many hidden marvels beyond the understanding of men and angels. For this reason, the saints call Mary "the magnificence of God", as if God showed his magnificence only in Mary.
It is the seat of glory for his Father, because it was in Mary that Jesus perfectly atoned to his Father on behalf of mankind. It was here that he perfectly restored the glory that sin had taken from his Father. It was here again that our Lord, by the sacrifice of himself and of his will, gave more glory to God than he would have given had he offered all the sacrifices of the Old Law. Finally, in Mary he gave his Father infinite glory, such as his Father had never received from man.
5. Saying the Hail Mary and the Rosary
249. Those who accept this devotion should have a great love for the Hail Mary, or, as it is called, the Angelic Salutation.
Few Christians, however enlightened, understand the value, merit, excellence and necessity of the Hail Mary. Our Blessed Lady herself had to appear on several occasions to men of great holiness and insight, such as St. Dominic, St. John Capistran and Blessed Alan de Rupe, to convince them of the richness of this prayer.
They composed whole books on the wonders it had worked and its efficacy in converting sinners. They earnestly proclaimed and publicly preached that just as the salvation of the world began with the Hail Mary, so the salvation of each individual is bound up with it. This prayer, they said, brought to a dry and barren world the Fruit of Life, and if well said, will cause the Word of God to take root in the soul and bring forth Jesus, the Fruit of Life. They also tell us that the Hail Mary is a heavenly dew which waters the earth of our soul and makes it bear fruit in due season. The soul which is not watered by this heavenly dew bears no fruit but only thorns and briars, and merits only God's condemnation.
250. Here is what our Blessed Lady revealed to Blessed Alan de Rupe as recorded in his book, The Dignity of the Rosary, and as told again by Cartagena: "Know, my son, and make it known to all, that lukewarmness or negligence in saying the Hail Mary, or a distaste for it, is a probable and proximate sign of eternal damnation, for by this prayer the whole world was restored."
These are terrible words but at the same time they are consoling. We should find it hard to believe them, were we not assured of their truth by Blessed Alan and by St. Dominic before him, and by so many great men since his time. The experience of many centuries is there to prove it, for it has always been common knowledge that those who bear the sign of reprobation, as all formal heretics, evil-doers, the proud and the worldly, hate and spurn the Hail Mary and the Rosary. True, heretics learn to say the Our Father but they will not countenance the Hail Mary and the Rosary and they would rather carry a snake around with them than a rosary. And there are even Catholics who, sharing the proud tendencies of their father Lucifer, despise the Hail Mary or look upon it with indifference. The Rosary, they say, is a devotion suitable only for ignorant and illiterate people.
On the other hand, we know from experience that those who show positive signs of being among the elect, appreciate and love the Hail Mary and are always glad to say it. The closer they are to God, the more they love this prayer, as our Blessed Lady went on to tell Blessed Alan.
251. I do not know how this should be, but it is perfectly true; and I know no surer way of discovering whether a person belongs to God than by finding out if he loves 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.
252. Chosen souls, slaves of Jesus in Mary, understand that after the Our Father, the Hail Mary is the most beautiful of all prayers. It is the perfect compliment the most High God paid to Mary through his archangel in order to win her heart. So powerful was the effect of this greeting upon her, on account of its hidden delights, that despite her great humility, she gave her consent to the incarnation of the Word. If you say the Hail Mary properly, this compliment will infallibly earn you Mary's good will.
253. When the Hail Mary is well said, that is, with attention, devotion and humility, it is, according to the saints, the enemy of Satan, putting him to flight; it is the hammer that crushes him, a source of holiness for souls, a joy to the angels and a sweet melody for the devout. It is the Canticle of the New Testament, a delight for Mary and glory for the most Blessed Trinity. The Hail Mary is dew falling from heaven to make the soul fruitful. It is a pure kiss of love we give to Mary. It is a crimson rose, a precious pearl that we offer to her. It is a cup of ambrosia, a divine nectar that we offer her. These are comparisons made by the saints.
254. I earnestly beg of you, then, by the love I bear you in Jesus and Mary, not to be content with saying the Little Crown of the Blessed Virgin, but say the Rosary too, and if time permits, all its fifteen decades, every day. Then when death draws near, you will bless the day and hour when you took to heart what I told you, for having sown the blessings of Jesus and Mary, you will reap the eternal blessings in heaven.
6. Praying the Magnificat
255. To thank God for the graces he has given to our Lady, her consecrated ones will frequently say the Magnificat, following the example of Blessed Marie d'Oignies and several other saints. The Magnificat is the only prayer we have which was composed by our Lady, or rather, composed by Jesus in her, for it was he who spoke through her lips. It is the greatest offering of praise that God ever received under the law of grace. On the one hand, it is the most humble hymn of thanksgiving and, on the other, it is the most sublime and exalted. Contained in it are mysteries so great and so hidden that even the angels do not understand them.
Gerson, a pious and learned scholar, spent the greater part of his life writing tracts full of erudition and love on the most profound subjects. Even so, it was with apprehension that he undertook towards the end of his life to write a commentary on the Magnificat which was the crowning point of all his works. In a large volume on the subject he says many wonderful things about this beautiful and divine canticle. Among other things he tells us that Mary herself frequently recited it, especially at thanksgiving after Holy Communion. The learned Benzonius, in his commentary on the Magnificat, cites several miracles worked through the power of this prayer. The devils, he declare, take to flight when they hear these words, "He puts forth his arm in strength and scatters the proud-hearted".
7. Contempt of the world
256. Mary's faithful servants despise this corrupted world. They should hate and shun its allurements, and follow the exercises of the contempt of the world which we have given in the first part of this treatise.
8. Special interior practices for those who wish to be perfect
257. The exterior practices of this devotion which I have just dealt with should be observed as far as one's circumstances and state of life permit. They should not be omitted through negligence or deliberate disregard. In addition to them, here are some very sanctifying interior practices for those souls who feel called by the Holy Spirit to a high degree of perfection. They may be expressed in four words, doing everything through Mary, with Mary, in Mary, and for Mary, in order to do it more perfectly through Jesus, with Jesus, in Jesus, and for Jesus.
258. We must do everything through Mary, that is, we must obey her always and be led in all things by her spirit, which is the Holy Spirit of God. "Those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God," saysSt. Paul. Those who are led by the spirit of Mary are children of Mary, and, consequently children of God, as we have already shown. Among the many servants of Mary only those who are truly and faithfully devoted to her are led by her spirit.
I have said that the spirit of Mary is the spirit of God because she was never led by her own spirit,, but always by the spirit of God, who made himself master of her to such an extent that he became her very spirit. That is why St. Ambrose says, "May the soul of Mary be in each one of us to glorify the Lord. May the spirit of Mary be in each one of us to rejoice in God." Happy is the man who follows the example of the good Jesuit Brother Rodriguez, who died a holy death, because he will be completely possessed and governed by the spirit of Mary, a spirit which is gentle yet strong, zealous yet prudent, humble yet courageous, pure yet fruitful.
259. The person who wishes to be led by this spirit of Mary:
1) Should renounce his own spirit, his own views and his own will before doing anything, for example, before making meditation, celebrating or attending Mass, before Communion. For the darkness of our own spirit and the evil tendencies of our own will and actions, good as they may seem to us, would hinder the holy spirit of Mary were we to follow them.
2) We should give ourselves up to the spirit of Mary to be moved and directed as she wishes. We should place and leave ourselves in her virginal hands, like a tool in the hands of a craftsman or a lute in the hands of a good musician. We should cast ourselves into her like a stone thrown into the sea. This is done easily and quickly by a mere thought, a slight movement of the will or just a few words as, "I renounce myself and give myself to you, my dear Mother." And even if we do not experience any emotional fervour in this spiritual encounter it is none the less real. It is just as if a person with equal sincerity were to say - which God forbid! - "I give myself to the devil." Even though this were said without feeling any emotion, he would no less really belong to the devil.
3) From time to time during an action and after it, we should renew this same act of offering and of union. The more we do so, the quicker we shall grow in holiness and the sooner we shall reach union with Christ, which necessarily follows upon union with Mary, since the spirit of Mary is the spirit of Jesus.
260. We must do everything with Mary, that is to say, in all our actions we must look upon Mary, although a simple human being, as the perfect model of every virtue and perfection, fashioned by the Holy Spirit for us to imitate, as far as our limited capacity allows. In every action then we should consider how Mary performed it or how she would perform it if she were in our place. For this reason, we must examine and meditate on the great virtues she practised during her life, especially:
1) Her lively faith, by which she believed the angel's word without the least hesitation, and believed faithfully and constantly even to the foot of the Cross on Calvary.
2) Her deep humility, which made her prefer seclusion, maintain silence, submit to every eventuality and put herself in the last place.
3) Her truly divine purity, which never had and never will have its equal on this side of heaven.
And so on for her other virtues.
Remember what I told you before, that Mary is the great, unique mould of God, designed to make living images of God at little expense and in a short time. Anyone who finds this mould and casts himself into it, is soon transformed into our Lord because it is the true likeness of him.
261. We must do everything in Mary. To understand this we must realise that the Blessed Virgin is the true earthly paradise of the new Adam and that the ancient paradise was only a symbol of her. There are in this earthly paradise untold riches, beauties, rarities and delights, which the new Adam, Jesus Christ, has left there. It is in this paradise that he "took his delights" for nine months, worked his wonders and displayed his riches with the magnificence of God himself. This most holy place consists of only virgin and immaculate soil from which the new Adam was formed with neither spot nor stain by the operation of the Holy Spirit who dwells there. In this earthly paradise grows the real Tree of Life which bore our Lord, the fruit of Life, the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which bore the Light of the world.
In this divine place there are trees planted by the hand of God and watered by his divine unction which have borne and continue to bear fruit that is pleasing to him. There are flower-beds studded with a variety of beautiful flowers of virtue, diffusing a fragrance which delights even the angels. Here there are meadows verdant with hope, impregnable towers of fortitude, enchanting mansions of confidence and many other delights.
Only the Holy Spirit can teach us the truths that these material objects symbolise. In this place the air is perfectly pure. There is no night but only the brilliant day of the sacred humanity, the resplendent, spotless sun of the Divinity, the blazing furnace of love, melting all the base metal thrown into it and changing it into gold. There the river of humility gushes forth from the soil, divides into four branches and irrigates the whole of this enchanted place. These branches are the four cardinal virtues.
262. The Holy Spirit speaking through the Fathers of the Church, also calls our Lady the Eastern Gate, through which the High Priest, Jesus Christ, enters and goes out into the world. Through this gate he entered the world the first time and through this same gate he will come the second time.
The Holy Spirit also calls her the Sanctuary of the Divinity, the Resting-Place of the Holy Spirit, the Throne of God, the City of God, the Altar of God, the Temple of God, the World of God. All these titles and expressions of praise are very real when related to the different wonders the Almighty worked in her and the graces which he bestowed on her. What wealth and what glory! What a joy and a privilege for us to enter and dwell in Mary, in whom almighty God has set up the throne of his supreme glory!
263. But how difficult it is for us to have the freedom, the ability and the light to enter such an exalted and holy place. This place is guarded not by a cherub, like the first earthly paradise, but by the Holy Spirit himself who has become its absolute Master. Referring to her, he says: "You are an enclosed garden, my sister, my bride, an enclosed garden and a sealed fountain." Mary is enclosed. Mary is sealed. The unfortunate children of Adam and Eve driven from the earthly paradise, can enter this new paradise only by a special grace of the Holy Spirit which they have to merit.
264. When we have obtained this remarkable grace by our fidelity, we should be delighted to remain in Mary. We should rest there peacefully, rely on her confidently, hide ourselves there with safety, and abandon ourselves unconditionally to her, so that within her virginal bosom:
1) We may be nourished with the milk of her grace and her motherly compassion.
2) We may be delivered from all anxiety, fear and scruples.
3) We may be safeguarded from all our enemies, the devil, the world and sin which have never gained admittance there. That is why our Lady says that those who work in her will not sin, that is, those who dwell spiritually in our Lady will never commit serious sin.
4) We may be formed in our Lord and our Lord formed in us, because her womb is, as the early Fathers call it, the house of the divine secrets where Jesus and all the elect have been conceived. "This one and that one were born in her."
For Mary 265. Finally, we must do everything for Mary. Since we have given ourselves completely to her service, it is only right that we should do everything for her as if we were her personal servant and slave. This does not mean that we take her for the ultimate end of our service for Jesus alone is our ultimate end. But we take Mary for our proximate end, our mysterious intermediary and the easiest way of reaching him.
Like every good servant and slave we must not remain idle, but, relying on her protection, we should undertake and carry out great things for our noble Queen. We must defend her privileges when they are questioned and uphold her good name when it is under attack. We must attract everyone, if possible, to her service and to this true and sound devotion. We must speak up and denounce those who distort devotion to her by outraging her Son, and at the same time we must apply ourselves to spreading this true devotion. As a reward for these little services, we should expect nothing in return save the honour of belonging to such a lovable Queen and the joy of being united through her to Jesus, her Son, by a bond that is indissoluble in time and in eternity. Glory to Jesus in Mary! Glory to Mary in Jesus! Glory to God alone!
SUPPLEMENT - THIS DEVOTION AT HOLY COMMUNION
Before Holy Communion266. 1) Place yourself humbly in the presence of God.
2) Renounce your corrupt nature and dispositions, no matter how good self-love makes them appear to you.
3) Renew your consecration saying, "I belong entirely to you, dear Mother, and all that I have is yours."
4) Implore Mary to lend you her heart so that you may receive her Son with her dispositions. Remind her that her Son's glory requires that he should not come into a heart so sullied and fickle as your own, which could not fail to diminish his glory and might cause him to leave. Tell her that if she will take up her abode in you to receive her Son - which she can do because of the sovereignty she has over all hearts - he will be received by her in a perfect manner without danger of being affronted or being forced to depart. "God is in the midst of her. She shall not be moved."
Tell her with confidence that all you have given her of your possessions is little enough to honour her, but that in Holy Communion you wish to give her the same gifts as the eternal Father gave her. Thus she will feel more honoured than if you gave her all the wealth in the world. Tell her, finally, that Jesus, whose love for her is unique, still wishes to take his delight and his repose in her even in your soul, even though it is poorer and less clean than the stable which he readily entered because she was there. Beg her to lend you her heart, saying, "O Mary, I take you for my all; give me your heart."
During Holy Communion 267. After the Our Father, when you are about to receive our Lord, say to him three times the prayer, "Lord, I am not worthy." Say it the first time as if you were telling the eternal Father that because of your evil thoughts and your ingratitude to such a good Father, you are unworthy to receive his only-begotten Son, but that here is Mary, his handmaid, who acts for you and whose presence gives you a special confidence and hope in him.
268. Say to God the Son, "Lord, I am not worthy", meaning that you are not worthy to receive him because of your useless and evil words and your carelessness in his service, but nevertheless you ask him to have pity on you because you are going to usher him into the house of his Mother and yours, and you will not let him go until he has made it his home. Implore him to rise and come to the place of his repose and the ark of his sanctification. Tell him that you have no faith in your own merits, strength and preparedness, like Esau, but only in Mary, your Mother, just as Jacob had trust in Rebecca his mother. Tell him that although you are a great sinner you still presume to approach him, supported by his holy Mother and adorned with her merits and virtues.
269. Say to the Holy Spirit, "Lord, I am not worthy". Tell him that you are not worthy to receive the masterpiece of his love because of your luke-warmness, wickedness and resistance to his inspirations. But, nonetheless, you put all your confidence in Mary, his faithful Spouse, and say with St. Bernard, "She is my greatest safeguard, the whole foundation of my hope." Beg him to overshadow Mary, his inseparable Spouse, once again. Her womb is as pure and her heart as ardent as ever. Tell him that if he does not enter your soul neither Jesus nor Mary will be formed there nor will it be a worthy dwelling for them.
After Holy Communion 270. After Holy Communion, close your eyes and recollect yourself. Then usher Jesus into the heart of Mary: you are giving him to his Mother who will receive him with great love and give him the place of honour, adore him profoundly, show him perfect love, embrace him intimately in spirit and in truth, and perform many offices for him of which we, in our ignorance, would know nothing.
271. Or, maintain a profoundly humble heart in the presence of Jesus dwelling in Mary. Or be in attendance like a slave at the gate of the royal palace, where the King is speaking with the Queen. While they are talking to each other, with no need of you, go in spirit to heaven and to the whole world, and call upon all creatures to thank, adore and love Jesus and Mary for you. "Come, let us adore."
272. Or, ask Jesus living in Mary that his kingdom may come upon earth through his holy Mother. Ask for divine Wisdom, divine love, the forgiveness of your sins, or any other grace, but always through Mary and in Mary. Cast a look of reproach upon yourself and say, "Lord, do not look at my sins, let your eyes see nothing in me but the virtues and merits of Mary. "Remembering your sins, you may add, "I am my own worst enemy and I am guilty of all these sins." Or, "Deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man." Or again, "Dear Jesus, you must increase in my soul and I must decrease." "Mary, you must increase in me and I must always go on decreasing." "O Jesus and Mary, increase in me and increase in others around me."
273. There are innumerable other thoughts with which the Holy Spirit will inspire you, which he will make yours if you are thoroughly recollected and mortified, and constantly faithful to the great and sublime devotion which I have been teaching you. But remember, the more you let Mary act in your Communion the more Jesus will be glorified. The more you humble yourself and listen to Jesus and Mary in peace and silence - with no desire to see, taste or feel - then the more freedom you will give to Mary to act in Jesus' name and the more Jesus will act in Mary. For the just man lives everywhere by faith, but especially in Holy Communion, which is an action of faith.
Guide for Examination of Conscience for Confession of Sins FOR ADULTS
6 STEPS FOR A GOOD CONFESSION
1) Examine your conscience - what sins have you committed since your last good confession.
2) Be sincerely sorry for your sins.
3) Confess your sins to the priest.
4) Make certain that you confess all your mortal sins and the number of them.
5) After your confession, do the penance the priest gives to you.
6) Pray daily for the strength to avoid the occasion of sin, especially for those sins you were just absolved from.
ACT OF CONTRITION
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended You, and I detest all my sins because I dread the loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell, but most of all because they offend You, my God, Who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life.
"I am the Lord your God. You shall not have strange gods before Me." (Ex 20:2,3)
Did I doubt or deny that God exists?
Did I refuse to believe what God as revealed to us?
Did I believe in fortune telling, horoscopes, dreams, the occult, good-luck charms, tarot cards, palmistry, Ouija boards, seances, reincarnation?
Did I deny that I was Catholic?
Did I leave the Catholic Faith?
Did I give time to God each day in prayer?
Did I love God with my whole heart?
Did I despair of or presume on God's mercy?
Did I have false gods in my life that I gave greater attention to than God, like money, profession, drugs, TV, fame, pleasure, property, etc.?
"You shall not take the Name of the Lord your God in vain." (Ex 20:7)
Did I blaspheme or insult God?
Did I take God's name carelessly or uselessly?
Did I curse, or break an oath or vow?
Did I get angry with God?
"Remember that you keep holy the Sabbath Day." (Ex 20:8)
Did I miss Mass Sunday or a Holy Day of Obligation through my own fault?
Did I come to Mass on time? Leave early?
Did I do work on Sunday that was not necessary?
Did I set aside Sunday as a day of rest and a family day?
Did I show reverence in the presence of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament?
"Honor your father and your mother." (Ex 20:12)
Did I disobey or disrespect my parents or legitimate superiors?
Did I neglect my duties to my husband, wife, children or parents?
Did I neglect to give good religious example to my family?
Did I fail to actively take an interest in the religious education and formation of my children?
Did I fail to educate myself on the true teachings of the Church?
Did I give scandal by what I said or did, especially to the young?
Did I cause anyone to leave the faith?
Did I cause tension and fights in my family?
Did I care for my aged and infirm relatives?
Did I give a full day's work for a full day's pay?
Did I give a fair wage to my employees?
"You shall not kill." (Ex 20:13)
Did I kill or physically injure anyone?
Did I have an abortion, or advise someone else to have an abortion? (One who procures and abortion is automatically excommunicated, as is anyone who is involved in an abortion, Canon 1398. The excommunication will be lifted in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.)
Did I use or cause my spouse to use birth control pills (whether or not realizing that birth control pills do abort the fetus if and when conceived)?
Did I attempt suicide?
Did I take part in or approve of "mercy killing" (euthanasia)?
Did I get angry, impatient, envious, unkind, proud, revengeful, jealous, hateful toward another, lazy?
Did I give bad example by drug abuse, drinking alcohol to excess, fighting, quarreling?
Did I abuse my children?
SIXTH AND NINTH COMMANDMENT
"You shall not commit adultery." (Ex 20:14) "You shall not covet your neighbor's wife." (Ex 20:17)
Note: In the area of deliberate sexual sins listed below, all are mortal sins if there is sufficient reflection and full consent of the will. "No fornicators, idolaters, or adulterers, no sodomites,... will inherit the kingdom of God." (1 Cor 6:9-10) "Anyone who looks lustfully at a woman has already committed adultery with her in his thoughts." (Mt 5:28)
Did I willfully entertain impure thoughts or desires?
Did I use impure or suggestive words? Tell impure stories? Listen to them?
Did I deliberately look at impure TV, videos, plays, pictures or movies? Or deliberately read impure materials?
Did I commit impure acts by myself (masturbation)?
Did I commit impure acts with another - fornication (premarital sex), adultery (sex with a married person)?
Did I practice artificial birth control (by pills, device, withdrawal)?
Did I marry or advise anyone to marry outside the Church?
Did I avoid the occasions of impurity?
Did I try to control my thoughts?
Did I engage in homosexual activity?
Did I respect all members of the opposite sex, or have I thought of other people as objects?
Did I or my spouse have sterilization done?
Did I abuse my marriage rights?
SEVENTH & TENTH COMMANDMENTS
"You shall not steal." (Ex 20:15) "You shall not covet your neighbor's goods." (Ex 20:17)
Did I steal, cheat, help or encourage others to steal or keep stolen goods? Have I made restitution for stolen goods?
Did I fulfill my contracts; give or accept bribes; pay my bills; rashly gamble or speculate; deprive my family of the necessities of life?
Did I waste time at work, school or at home?
Did I envy other people's families or possessions?
Did I make material possessions the purpose of my life?
"You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor." (Ex 20:16)
Did I lie?
Did I deliberately deceive others, or injure others by lies?
Did I commit perjury?
Did I gossip or reveal others' faults or sins?
Did I fail to keep secret what should be confidential?
Did I fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday?
Did I eat meat on the Fridays of Lent or Ash Wednesday?
Did I fail to receive Holy Communion during Eastertime?
Did I go to Holy Communion in a state of mortal sin? Without fasting (water and medicine permitted) for one hour from food and drink?
Did I make a bad confession?
Did I fail to contribute to the support of the Church?
"Whoever eats the bread and drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily sins against the Body and Blood of the Lord. ... He who eats and drinks without recognizing the Body eats and drinks judgement on himself." (1 Cor 11:27-29)
So, to receive Holy Communion while in the state of mortal sin (having committed a mortal sin which has not been confessed and forgiven in the Sacrament of Confession) is itself a mortal sin - a mortal sin of sacrilege.
Act of Consecration to Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Wisdom,
through the Blessed Virgin Mary
O ETERNAL and Incarnate Wisdom! O sweetest and most adorable Jesus! True God and true Man, only Son of the Eternal Father and of Mary ever virgin! I adore You profoundly in the bosom and splendors of Your Father during eternity, and I adore You also in the virginal bosom of Mary, Your most worthy Mother, in the time of Your Incarnation.
I give You thanks for You have annihilated Yourself, taking the form of a slave, in order to rescue me from the cruel slavery of the devil. I praise and glorify You because You have been pleased to submit Yourself to Mary, Your holy Mother, in all things, in order to make me Your faithful slave through her. But, alas! Ungrateful and faithless as I have been, I have not kept the promises which I made so solemnly to You in my Baptism; I have not fulfilled my obligations; I do not deserve to be called Your child, nor yet Your slave; and as there is nothing in me which does not merit Your anger and Your repulse, I dare not come by myself before Your most holy and august Majesty. It is on this account that I have recourse to the intercession of Your most holy Mother, whom You have given me for a mediatrix with You. It is through her that I hope to obtain of You contrition, the pardon of my sins, and the acquisition and preservation of wisdom.
Hail, then, O Immaculate Mary, living tabernacle of the Divinity, where the Eternal Wisdom willed to be hidden and to be adored by Angels and by men! Hail, O Queen of Heaven and earth, to whose empire everything is subject which is under God. Hail, O sure refuge of sinners, whose mercy fails no one. Hear the desires which I have of the Divine Wisdom; and for that end receive the vows and offerings which in my lowliness I present to you.
I, (name), a faithless sinner, renew and ratify today in thy hands 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.
In the presence of all the Heavenly Court, I choose you this day for my Mother and mistress. I deliver and consecrate to you, as thy slave, 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 you the entire and full right of disposing of me and all that belongs to me, without exception, according to your good pleasure, for the greater glory of God, in time and in eternity.
Receive, O benignant Virgin, this little offering of my slavery, in honor of and in union with that subjection which the Eternal Wisdom deigned to have to your maternity, in homage to the power which both of you have over this poor sinner and in thanksgiving for the privileges with which the Holy Trinity has favored you. I declare that I wish hereafter, as your true slave, to seek your honor and to obey you in all things.
O admirable Mother, present me to your dear Son as His eternal slave, so that as He has redeemed me by you, by you He may receive me! O Mother of Mercy, grant me the grace to obtain the true Wisdom of God, arid for that end receive me among those whom you do love and teach, whom you do lead, nourish and protect as your children and your slaves.
O faithful Virgin, make me in all things so perfect a disciple, imitator and slave of the Incarnate Wisdom, Jesus Christ your Son, that I may attain, by your intercession and by your example, to the fullness of His age on earth and of His glory in Heaven. Amen.
Another Consecration Prayer
(Composed by St. Maximilian Kolbe)
O Immaculata, Queen of Heaven and earth, refuge of sinners and our most loving Mother, God has willed to entrust the entire order of mercy to you. I, (name), a repentant sinner, cast myself at your feet, humbly imploring you to take me with all that I am and have, wholly to yourself as your possession and property. Please make of me, of all my powers of soul and body, of my whole life, death and eternity, whatever most pleases you.
If it pleases you, use all that I am and have without reserve, wholly to accomplish what was said of you: "She will crush your head," and "You alone have destroyed all heresies in the whole world. " Let me be a fit instrument in your immaculate and merciful hands for introducing and increasing your glory to the maximum in all the many strayed and indifferent souls, and thus help extend as far as possible the blessed kingdom of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus. For wherever you enter you obtain the grace of conversion and growth in holiness, since it is through your hands that all graces come to us from the most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
V. Allow me to praise you, O sacred Virgin
R. Give me strength against your enemies