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Of Saint Simeon’s Prophecy.

In this valley of tears every man is born to weep, and all must suffer, by enduring the evils which are of daily occurrence. But how much greater would the misery of life be, did we also know the future evils which await us! ‘Unfortunate, indeed, would his lot be,’ says Seneca, ‘who, knowing the future, would have to suffer all by anticipation.'{footnote} Calamitosus esset animus futuri praescius, et ante miserias miser.-Ep. xcviii.{/footnote} Our Lord shows us this mercy. He conceals the trials which await us, that, whatever they may be, we may endure them but once. He did not show Mary this compassion; for she, whom God willed to be the Queen of Sorrows, and in all things like His Son, had to see always before her eyes and continually to suffer all the torments that awaited her; and these were the sufferings of the Passion and death of her beloved Jesus; for in the temple Saint Simeon, having received the Divine Child in his arms, foretold to her that that Son would be a mark for all the persecutions and oppositions of men. “Behold, this Child is set… for a sign which shall be contradicted.” And therefore, that a sword of sorrow should pierce her soul: “And thy own soul a sword shall pierce.”{footnote} Ecce positus est hie . .. in signum cni contradicetor: Et tnam ipsius pertransibit gladius.-Luc. ii. 34,35.{/footnote}  

The Blessed Virgin herself told Saint Matilda, that, on this announcement of Saint Simeon, ‘all her joy was changed into sorrow.'{footnote}Omnis Isetitia mea, ad verba Simeonis, versa est mihi in mcerorem.- Spir.Grat.1.i.c.16.{/footnote} For, as it was revealed to Saint Teresa,{footnote}Vita, addit.{/footnote} though the Blessed Mother already knew that the life of her Son would be sacrificed for the salvation of the world, yet she then learnt more distinctly and in greater detail the sufferings and cruel death that awaited her poor Son. She knew that He would be contradicted, and this in everything : contradicted in His doctrines; for, instead of being believed, He would be esteemed a blasphemer for teaching that He was the Son of God; this He was declared to be by the impious Caiphas, saying, “He hath blasphemed, He is guilty of death.”{footnote}Blaspkemavit… reus est mortis.-Matt. xxvi. 65, 66.{/footnote} Contradicted in His reputation; for He was of noble, even of royal descent, and was despised as a peasant: “Is not this the carpenter’s son?”{footnote}Nonne hio est fabri fllius f-Ib. xiii. 55.{/footnote} “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary?”{footnote}Nonne hio est faber, fllius Maria; ?-Marc, vi. 3.{/footnote} He was wisdom itself, and was treated as ignorant: “How doth this man know letters, having never learned?”{footnote}Quomodo hio litteras scit, cum non didioerit ?-Joan. vii. 15.{/footnote} As a false prophet: “And they blindfolded Him, and smote His face . . . saying: Prophesy, who is it that struck Thee?”{footnote}Et velaverunt eum, et percutiebant faciem ejus… dicentes: Prophetiza, quis est, qui te percussit ?-Luc. rxii. 64.{/footnote} He was treated as a madman: “He is mad, why hear you Him?”{footnote}Insauit: quid enm auditis ?-Joan. x. 20.{/footnote} As a drunkard, a glutton, and a friend of sinners: “Behold a man that is a glutton, and a drinker of wine, a friend of publicans and sinners.”{footnote}Ecce homo devorator, et bibens vinnm, amious publicanopim et peceatorum.-Luc. vii. 34.{/footnote} As a sorcerer: “By the prince of devils He casteth out devils.”{footnote}In principe dsemoniorum ejicit dsemones.-Matt. ix. 34.{/footnote} As a heretic, and possessed by the evil spirit: “Do we not say well of Thee that Thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?”{footnote}Nonne bene dicimus nos, quia Samarltanus es tn, et dtemonlum babes ? -Joan. viii. 48.{/footnote} In a word, Jesus was considered so notoriously wicked, that, as the Jews said to Pilate, no trial was necessary to condemn Him. “If He were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered Him up to thee.”{footnote} Si non esset hie malefactor, non tibi tradidissemus eum.-Ib. xviii. 30.{/footnote)14 He was contradicted in His very soul; for even His Eternal Father, to give place to Divine Justice, contradicted Him, by refusing to hear His prayer, when He said. “Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from Me;”{footnote}Pater mi, si possibile est, transeat a me calix iste.-Matt. xxvi. 39.(/footnote} and abandoned Him to fear, weariness, and sadness; so that our afflicted Lord exclaimed, “My soul is sorrowful unto death!”{footnote}Tristis est anima mea usque ad mortem.-Ib. 38.{/footnote} and His interior sufferings even caused Him to sweat blood. Contradicted and persecuted, in fine, in His body and in His life; for He was tortured in all His sacred members, in His hands, His feet, His face, His head, and in His whole body; so that, drained of His blood, and an object of scorn, He died of torments on an ignominious cross.

When David, in the midst of all his pleasures and regal grandeur, heard, from the Prophet Nathan, that his son should die-“The child that is born to thee shall surely die,”{footnote}Filius, qni natus est tibi, morte morietur.-2 Reg. xii. 14.{/footnote} he could find no peace, but wept, fasted, and slept on the ground. Mary with the greatest calmness received the announcement that her Son should die, and always peacefully submitted to it; but what grief must she continually have suffered, seeing this amiable Son always near her, hearing from Him words of eternal life, and witnessing His holy demeanour! Abraham suffered much during the three days he passed with his beloved Isaac, after knowing that he was to lose him. O God, not for three days, but for three and thirty years had Mary to endure a like sorrow! But do I say a like sorrow? It was as much greater as the Son of Mary was more lovely than the son of Abraham. The Blessed Virgin herself revealed to Saint Bridget, that, while on earth, there was not an hour in which this grief did not pierce her soul: ‘As often,’ she continued, ‘as I looked at my Son, as often as I wrapped Him in His swaddling-clothes, as often as I saw His hands and feet, so often was my soul absorbed, so to say, in fresh grief; for I thought how He would be crucified.'{footnote} Quoties aapiciebam Mlium meum, quoties involvebam pannis, qnoties Tidebam ejus maims et pedes, toties animus meus quasi novo dolore absorptus est, quia cogitabam quomodo crucifigeretur.-Rev. lib. vi. cap. 57.{/footnote} The Abbot Rupert contemplates Mary suckling her Son, and thus addressing Him: “A bundle of myrrh is my Beloved to me; He shall abide between my breasts.”{footnote}Fasciculus myrrh.se dilectus meus mibi; inter ubera mea commorabitur.-Cant. i. 12.{/footnote} Ah, Son, I clasp Thee in my arms, because Thou art so dear to me; but the dearer Thou art to me, the more dost Thou become a bundle of myrrh and sorrow to me when I think of Thy sufferings. ‘Mary,’ says Saint Bernardine of Sienna, ‘reflected that the strength of the Saints was to be reduced to agony; the beauty of Paradise to be disfigured; the Lord of the world to be bound as a criminal; the Creator of all things to be made livid with blows; the Judge of all to be condemned; the Glory of heaven despised; the King of kings to be crowned with thorns, and treated as a mock king.'{footnote} Serm. ii. de Glor. Nora. B.M.V. art. 3, cap. 1.{/footnote}

 Father Engelgrave says, that it was revealed to the same Saint Bridget, that the afflicted Mother, already knowing what her Son was to suffer, ‘when suckling Him, thought of the gall and vinegar; when swathing Him, of the cords with which He was to be bound; when bearing Him in her arms, of the cross to which He was to be nailed; when sleeping, of His death.'{footnote} Eum lactans, cogitabat de die et aceto ; quando fasciis inyolvebat, f nnes cogitabat quibus ligandus erat; qnando gestabat, cogitabat in cruce con-fixnm; quando dormiebat, cogitabat mortuum.-Lux Ev. s. infra Oct. Nat.{/footnote} As often as she put Him on His garment, she reflected that it would one day be torn from Him, that He might be crucified; and when she beheld His sacred hands and feet, she thought of the nails which would one day pierce them; and then, as Mary said to Saint Bridget, ‘my eyes filled with tears, and my heart was tortured with grief.'{footnote} Oculi mei replebantor lacrymis. et oo/ menm quasi scindebatnr prse tristitia.-Rev. lib. i. cap. x.{/footnote}

The Evangelist says, that as Jesus Christ advanced in years, so also did “He advance in wisdom and in grace with God and men.”{footnote} Et Jesus profloiebat sapientia et astate, et gratia apud Deum et ho¬mines.-Luc.ii.52.{/footnote} This is to be understood as Saint Thomas{footnote} 3 p. q. vii. art. 12.{/footnote} explains it, that He advanced in wisdom and grace in the estimation of men and before God, inasmuch as all His works would continually have availed to increase His merit, had not grace been conferred upon Him from the beginning, in its complete fullness, in virtue of the hypostatic union. But since Jesus advanced in the love and esteem of others, how much more must He have advanced in that of Mary! But, O God, as love increased in her, so much the more did her grief increase at the thought of having to lose Him by so cruel a death; and the nearer the time of the Passion of her Son approached, so much the deeper did that sword of sorrow, foretold by Saint Simeon, pierce the heart of His Mother. This was precisely revealed by the angel to Saint Bridget, saying: ‘That sword of sorrow was every hour approaching nearer to the Blessed Virgin, as the time for the Passion of her Son drew near.'{footnote}Ille doloris gladius oordi Virginia pmni bora, tanto se propins approxi-mabat, quanto suns dilectus Filius paasionis tempori magis appropinquabat. -Strm. Ang. cap. xvii.{/footnote}

Since, then, Jesus, our King, and His most holy Mother, did not refuse, for love of us, to suffer such cruel pains throughout their lives, it is reasonable that we, at least, should not complain if we have to suffer something. Jesus, crucified, once appeared to Sister Magdalen Orsini, a Dominicaness, who had been long suffering under a great trial, and encouraged her to remain, by means of that affliction, with Him on the cross. Sister Magdalen complainingly answered: ‘O Lord, Thou wast tortured on the cross only for three hours, and I have endured my pain for many years.’ The Redeemer then replied: ‘Ah, ignorant soul, what dost thou say? from the first moment of My conception I suffered in heart all that I afterwards endured dying on the cross.’ If, then, we also suffer and complain, let us imagine Jesus, and His Mother Mary, addressing the same words to ourselves.

EXAMPLE.

Father Roviglione, of the Society of Jesus,{footnote} Fasc. di Rose, p. 2, c. 3. t{/footnote} relates, that a young man had the devotion of every day visiting a statue of our Lady of Sorrows, in which she was represented with seven swords piercing her heart. The unfortunate youth one night committed a mortal sin. The next morning, going as usual to visit the image, he perceived that there were no longer only seven, but eight swords in the heart of Mary. Wondering at this, he heard a voice telling him that his crime had added the eighth. This moved his heart; and, penetrated with sorrow, he immediately went to confession, and by the intercession of his advocate recovered divine grace.

PRAYER.

Ah, my Blessed Mother, it is not one sword only with which I have pierced thy heart, but I have done so with as many as are the sins which I have committed. Ah, Lady, it is not to thee, who art innocent, that sufferings are due, but to me, who am guilty of so many crimes. But since thou hast been pleased to suffer so much for me, ah, by thy merits, obtain me great sorrow for my sins, and patience under the trials of this life, which will always be light in comparison with my demerits; for I have often deserved hell. Amen.

 

 

 

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This is part one of an eight part series on the Seven Sorrows of Mary by St. Alphonsus de Liguori taken from the “The Glories of Mary” –  Asst. Ed.

DISCOURSE IX

Mary was the Queen of Martyrs for her martyrdom was longer and greater than that of all the Martyrs.

Who can ever have a heart so hard that it will not melt on hearing the most lamentable event which once occurred in the world? There was a noble and holy Mother who had an only Son. This Son was the most amiable that can be imagined – innocent, virtuous, beautiful, who loved His Mother most tenderly; so much so that He had never caused her the least dis­pleasure, but had ever shown her all respect, obedience, and affection : hence this Mother had placed all her affections on earth in this Son. Hear, then, what hap­pened. This Son, through envy, was falsely accused by His enemies; and though the judge knew, and himself confessed, that He was innocent, yet, that he might not offend His enemies, he condemned Him to the ignominious death that they had demanded. This poor Mother had to suffer the grief of seeing that amiable and beloved Son unjustly snatched from her in the flower of His age by a barbarous death; for, by dint of torments and drained of all His blood, He was made to die on an infamous gibbet in a public place of execution, and this before her own eyes.

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This is the third in a series of three selctions by St. Alphonsus de Liguori on Our Lady as Advocate. -Asst.Ed.

Section III. Mary is the Peace-maker between sinners and God.

The grace of God is the greatest and the most de­sirable of treasures for every soul. It is called by the Holy Ghost an infinite treasure; for by the means of Divine grace we are raised to the honour of being the friends of God. These are the words of the Book of Wisdom: ” For she is an infinite treasure to men; which they that use become the friends of God.” And hence Jesus, our Redeemer and God, did not hesitate to call those His friends who were in grace: ” You are My friends.”  O accursed sin, that dissolves this friendship! ” But your iniquities,” says the prophet Isaias, “have divided between you and your God.”  And putting hatred between the soul and God, it is changed from a friend into an enemy of its Lord, as expressed in the Book of Wisdom : ” But to God the wicked and his wickedness are hateful alike.”  What, then, must a sinner do who has the misfortune to be the enemy of God? He must find a mediator who will obtain pardon for him, and who will enable him to recover the lost friendship of God.

Read More: O, Gracious Advocate

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This is the second in series of three selctions by St. Alphonsus de Liguori on Our Lady as Advocate. -Asst.Ed.

Section II. Mary is so tender an Advocate, that she does not refuse to defend the cause even of the most miserable.

So many are the reasons that we have for loving this our most loving Queen, that if Mary was praised through­out the world; if in every sermon Mary alone was spoken of; if all men gave their lives for Mary; still all would be little in comparison with the homage and gratitude that we owe her in return for the tender love she bears to men, and even to the most miserable sinners, who preserve the slightest spark of devotion for her. Blessed Raymond Jordano, who, out of humility, called himself the Idiot, used to say, “that Mary knows not how to do otherwise than love those who love her; and that even she does not disdain to serve those who serve her; and in favour of such a one, should he be a sinner, she uses all her power in order to obtain his forgiveness from her Blessed Son. And he adds, “that her beg­nignity and mercy are so great, that no one, however enormous his sins may be, should fear to cast himself at her feet; for she never can reject anyone who has recourse to her.” “Mary, as our most loving advocate, herself offers the prayers of her servants to God, and especially those who are placed in her hands; for as the Son intercedes for us with the Father, so does she intercede with the Son, and does not cease to make interest with both for the great affair of our salvation, and to obtain for us the graces we ask.” With good reason, then, does Denis, the Carthusian, call the Blessed Virgin “the singular refuge of the lost, the hope of the most abandoned, and the advocate of all sinners who have recourse to her.”

 Read more: O, Gracious Advocate

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The following is an excerpt from the great Marian classic “The Glories of Mary” by the Marian doctor of the Church, St. Alphonsus de Liguori. Mary, “O, Gracious Advocate” is the first in a three part series dedicated to this important doctrinal role of Our Lady as advocate for all humanity.

-Ed.

Section I.  Mary is an Advocate who is able to save all.

So great is the authority that mothers possess over their sons, that even if they are monarchs, and have absolute dominion over every person in their kingdom, yet never can mothers become the subjects of their sons. It is true that Jesus now in heaven sits at the right hand of the Father, that is, as Saint Thomas explains it, even as man, on account of the hypostatical union with the Person of the Divine Word. He has supreme dominion over all, and also over Mary; it will nevertheless be always true that for a time, when He was living in this world, He was pleased to humble Himself and to be subject to Mary, as we are told by St. Luke: ” And He was subject to them.”  And still more, says Saint Ambrose, Jesus Christ having deigned to make Mary His Mother, inasmuch as He was her Son, He was truly obliged to obey her. And for this reason, says Richard of Saint Lawrence, ‘ of other Saints we say that they are with God; but of Mary alone can it be said that she was so far favoured as to be not only herself submissive to the will of God, but even that God was subject to her will.’  And whereas of all other virgins, remarks the same author, we must say that ” they fol­low the Lamb whithersoever he goeth,”  of the Blessed Virgin Mary we can say that the Lamb followed her, having become subject to her. 

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So great is the authority that mothers possess over their sons, that even if they are monarchs, and have absolute dominion over every person in their kingdom, yet never can mothers become the subjects of their sons. It is true that Jesus now in heaven sits at the right hand of the Father, that is, as Saint Thomas (1) explains it, even as man, on account of the hypostatical union with the Person of the Divine Word. He has supreme dominion over all, and also over Mary; it will nevertheless be always true that for a time, when He was living in this world, He was pleased to humble Himself and to be subject to Mary, as we are told by St. Luke: “And He was subject to them.” (2) And still more, says Saint Ambrose, Jesus Christ having deigned to make Mary His Mother, inasmuch as He was her Son, He was truly obliged to obey her. And for this reason, says Richard of Saint Lawrence, “of other Saints we say that they are with God; but of Mary alone can it be said that she was so far favored as to be not only herself submissive to the will of God, but even that God was subject to her will.” (3) And whereas of all other virgins, remarks the same author, we must say that “they follow the Lamb wherever he goes” (4) of the Blessed Virgin Mary we can say that the Lamb followed her, having become subject to her. (5)

And here we say, that although Mary, now in heaven, can no longer command her Son, nevertheless her prayers are always the prayers of a Mother, and consequently most powerful to obtain whatever she asks. “Mary,” says Saint Bonaventure, ” has this great privilege, that with her Son she above all the Saints is most powerful to obtain whatever she wills.” (6) And why? Precisely for the reason on which we have already touched, and which we shall later on again examine at greater length, because they are the prayers of a mother. And therefore, says Saint Peter Damian, the Blessed Virgin can do whatever she pleases both in heaven and on earth. She is able to raise even those who are in despair to confidence, and he addresses her in these words: “All power is given to you in heaven and on earth, and nothing is impossible to you, who can raise those who are in despair to the hope of salvation.” (7) And then he adds that “when the Mother goes to seek a favor for us from Jesus Christ” (whom the Saint calls the golden altar of mercy, at which sinners obtain pardon), “her Son esteems her prayers so greatly, and is so desirous to satisfy her, that when she prays, it seems as if she rather commanded than prayed, and was rather a queen than a handmaid.” (8) Jesus is pleased thus to honor His beloved Mother, who honored Him so much during her life, by immediately granting all that she asks or desires. This is beautifully confirmed by Saint Germanus, who addressing our Blessed Lady says: “You are the Mother of God, and all-powerful to save sinners, and with God you need no other recommendation; for you are the Mother of true life.” (9) […]

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