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During the thousand years that the Temple of Jerusalem had been built there had been kept within its walls many very solemn feasts, but there never had been one so holy and solemn as was that whereon the most precious Virgin offered herself to God, and was presented by her parents to the Divine Majesty.

The principal subject of this solemnity, the mystery of Mary’s Presentation, is very great and marvelous.

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It is not so much the length of a prayer, but the fervor with which it is said which pleases Almighty God and touches His Heart. One single Hail Mary that is said properly is worth more than one hundred and fifty that are badly said. Most Catholics say the Rosary, the whole fifteen mysteries or five of them anyway or, at least a few decades. So why is it then that so few of them give up their sins and go forward in the spiritual life? It must be because they are not saying them as they should. It is a good thing to think over how we should pray if we really want to please God and become more holy.

To say the Holy Rosary to advantage one must be in a state of grace or at the very least be fully determined to give up mortal sin. This we know because all our theology teaches us that good works and prayers are only dead works if they are they are done in a state of mortal sin. Therefore they can neither be pleasing to God nor help us gain eternal life. This is why Ecclesiastes says: “Praise is not seemly in the mouth of a sinner” (Eccl. 15:9). Praise of God and the salutation of the angel and the very Prayer of Jesus Christ are not pleasing to God when they are said by unrepentant sinners. Our Lord said: “This people honoreth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me” (Mark 7:6). It is as though He was saying: “Those who join My Confraternity and say their Rosary every day (even perhaps the fifteen decades), but without being sorry for their sins offer Me Up service only and their hearts are far from Me.”

I have just said that to say the Rosary to advantage one must be in a state of grace “or at least be fully determined to give up mortal sin;” first of all, because, if it were true that God only heard the prayers of those in a state of grace it would follow that people in a state of mortal sin should not pray at all. This is an erroneous teaching which has been condemned by Holy Mother Church, because of course sinners need to pray far more than good people do. Were this horrible doctrine true it would then be useless and futile to tell a sinner to say all, or even part of his Rosary, because it would never help him.

Secondly, because if they join one of Our Lady’s confraternities and recite the Rosary or some other prayer, but without having the slightest intention of giving up sin, they join the ranks of her false devotees. These presumptuous and impenitent devotees, hiding under her mantle, wearing the scapular and with rosary in hand, cry out: “Blessed Virgin, good Mother—Hail, Mary!…” And yet at the same time, by their sins, they are crucifying Our Lord Jesus Christ and tearing His flesh anew. It is a great tragedy, but from the very ranks of Our Lady’s most holy Confraternities souls are falling into the fires of hell

We earnestly beg everyone to say the Holy Rosary: the just that they may persevere and grow in God’s grace; the sinners that they may rise from their sins. But God forbid that we should ever encourage a sinner to think that Our Lady will protect him with Her mantle if he continues to love sin, for then it will only turn into a mantle of damnation which will hide his sins from the public eye. The Rosary, which is a cure for all our ills, would then be turned into deadly poison. “A corruption of what is best is worst.”

The learned Cardinal Hugues says: “One should really be as pure as an angel to approach the Blessed Virgin and to say the Angelic Salutation.” One day Our Lady appeared to an immoral man who used to always say his Rosary every day. She showed him a bowl of beautiful fruit, but the bowl itself was covered with filth. The man was horrified to see this, and Our Lady said: “This is the way you are honoring me! You are giving me beautiful roses in a filthy bowl. Do you think I can accept presents of this kind?”

With Attention

In order to pray well, it is not enough to give expression to our petitions by means of that most excellent of all prayers, the Rosary, but we must also pray with real concentration for God listens more to the voice of the heart than that of the mouth. To be guilty of willful distractions during prayer would show a great lack of respect and reverence; it would make our Rosaries fruitless and would make us guilty of sin.

How can we expect God to listen to us if we ourselves do not pay attention to what we are saying? How can we expect Him to be pleased if, while in the presence of His tremendous Majesty, we give in to distractions just as children run after butterflies? People who do this forfeit Almighty God’s blessings which are then changed into curses because they have been praying disrespectfully. “Cursed be he that doth the work of the Lord deceitfully” (Jeremias 28:10).

Of course, you cannot possibly say your Rosary without having a few involuntary distractions and it is hard to say even one Hail Mary without your imagination troubling you a little (for our imagination is, alas, never still). The one thing you can do, however, is to say your Rosary without giving in to distractions deliberately and you can take all sorts of precautions to lessen involuntary distractions and to control your imagination.

With this in mind put yourself in the presence of God and imagine that Almighty God and His Blessed Mother are watching you and that your guardian Angel is standing at your right hand, taking your Hail Marys, if they are well said, and using them like roses to make crowns for Jesus and Mary. But remember that at your left hand lurks the devil ready to pounce upon every Hail Mary that comes his way and to write it down in his deadly notebook. And be sure that he will snatch every single one of your Hail Marys that you have not said attentively, devoutly and with reverence.

Above all, do not forget to offer up each decade in honor of one of the mysteries and while you are saying it try to form a picture in your mind of Jesus and Mary in connection with this mystery.

The life of Blessed Hermann (of the Premonstratensian Fathers) tells us that at one time when he used to say the Rosary attentively and devoutly while meditating upon the mysteries Our Lady used to appear to him resplendent in breathtaking majesty and beauty. But as time went on his fervor cooled and he fell into the way of saying his Rosary hurriedly and without giving it his full attention. Then one day Our Lady appeared to him again—only this time she was far from beautiful and her face was furrowed and drawn with sadness. Blessed Hermann was appalled at the change in her, and then Our Lady explained:

“This is how I look to you, Hermann, because in your soul this is how you are treating me; as a woman to be despised and of no importance. Why do you no longer greet me with respect and attention meditating on my mysteries and praising my privileges.”

Fighting Distractions

When the rosary is well said it gives Jesus and Mary more glory and it is more meritorious for the soul than any other prayer. But it is also the hardest prayer to say well and to persevere in, owing especially to the distractions which almost inevitably attend the constant repetition of the same words.

When we say the Little Office of Our Lady, or the Seven Penitential Psalms, or any prayers other than the Rosary, the variety of words and expressions keeps us alert, prevents our imagination from wandering, and so makes it easier for us to say them well. On the contrary, because of the constant repetition of the same Our Father and Hail Mary in the same unvarying form, it is difficult, while saying the Rosary, not to become wearied and inclined to sleep or to turn to other prayers that are more refreshing and less tedious. This goes to show that one needs much greater devotion to persevere in saying the Holy Rosary than in saying any other prayer, even the Psalms of David

Our imagination, which is hardly still a minute, makes our task harder and then of course there is the devil who never tires of trying to distract us and keep us from praying. To what ends does not the evil one go against us while we are engaged in saying our Rosary against him.

Being human, we easily become tired and slipshod—but the devil makes these difficulties worse when we are saying the Rosary. Before we even begin he makes us feel bored, distracted or exhausted—and when we have started praying he oppresses us from all sides. And when, after much difficulty and many distractions, we have finished, he whispers to us: “What you have just said is worthless. It’s useless for you to say the Rosary. You had better get on with other things. It’s only a waste of time to pray without paying attention to what you’re saying; half an hour’s meditation or some spiritual reading would be much better. Tomorrow when you’re not feeling so sluggish you’ll pray better, don’t finish your Rosary until tomorrow.” By tricks of this kind the devil gets us to give up the Rosary altogether or else hardly say it at all, and we keep putting it off or else change to some other devotion.

Dear Rosary Confraternity members, do not listen to the devil, but be of good heart even if your imagination has been bothering you throughout your Rosary, filling your mind with all kinds of distracting thoughts—as long as you really tried hard to get rid of them as soon as they came. Always remember that the best Rosary is the one with the most merit, and there is more merit in praying when it is hard than when it is easy. Prayer is all the harder when it is (naturally speaking) distasteful to the soul and is filled with those annoying little ants and flies running about in your imagination, against your will, and scarcely allowing you the time to enjoy a little peace and appreciate the beauty of what you are saying.

Even if you have to fight distractions all through your whole Rosary be sure to fight well, arms in hand: that is to say, do not stop saying your Rosary even if it is hard to say and you have absolutely no sensible devotion. It is a terrible battle, I know, but one that is profitable to the faithful soul. If you put down your arms, that is, if you give up the Rosary, you will be admitting defeat and then, having won, the devil will leave you alone.

But at the Day of Judgment he will taunt you because of your faithlessness and lack of courage. “He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in that which is greater” (1 Luke 16:10). He who fights even the smallest distractions faithfully when he says even the very smallest prayer he will also be faithful in great things. We can be absolutely certain of this because the Holy Spirit has told us so.

So all of you, servants and handmaids of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary, who have made up your minds to say the Rosary every day, be of good heart. Do not let the flies (it is thus that I call the distractions that make war on you during prayer) make you cowardly abandon the company of Jesus and Mary, in whose holy presence you always are when saying the Rosary. In what follows I shall give you suggestions for getting rid of distractions.

A Good Method

When you have asked the Holy Spirit to help you pray well, put yourself for a moment in the presence of God…

Before beginning a decade, pause for a moment or two—depending upon how much time you have—and contemplate the mystery that you are about to honor in that decade. Always be sure to ask of Almighty God, by this mystery and through the intercession of the Blessed Mother, one of the virtues that shines forth most in this mystery or one of which you stand in particular need.

Take great care to avoid the two pitfalls that most people fall into during the Rosary. The first is the danger of not asking for any graces at all, so that if some people were asked their Rosary intention they would not know what to say. So, whenever you say your Rosary, be sure to ask for some special grace. Ask God’s help in cultivating one of the great Christian virtues or in overcoming one of your sins.

The second big fault a lot of people make when saying the Holy Rosary is to have no intention other than that of getting it over as quickly as possible! This is because so many of us look upon the Rosary as a burden which is always heavier when we have not said it—especially if it is weighing on our conscience because we have promised to say it regularly or have been told to say it as a penance more or less against our will. It is really pathetic to see how most people say the Holy Rosary—they say it astonishingly fast and mumble so that the words are not properly pronounced at all. We could not possibly expect anyone, even the most unimportant person, to think that a slipshod address of this kind was a compliment and yet we expect Jesus and Mary to be pleased with it! Small wonder then that the most sacred prayers of our holy religion seem to bear no fruit, and that, after saying thousands of Rosaries, we are still no better than we were before! Dear Confraternity members, I beg of you to temper the speed which comes all too easily to you and pause briefly several times as you say the Our Father and Hail Mary. I have placed a cross at each pause, as you will see:

Our Father Who art in Heaven, + hallowed be Thy name, + Thy kingdom come, + Thy will be done + on earth as it is in Heaven. + Give us this day + our daily bread + and forgive us our trespasses + as we forgive those who trespass against us, + and lead us not into temptation + but deliver us from evil. Amen.

Hail Mary, full of grace, + the Lord is with Thee, + blessed art thou among women + and blessed is the Fruit of Thy womb, Jesus. +

Holy Mary, Mother of God, + pray for us sinners, now + and at the hour of our death. Amen.

At first, you may find it difficult to make these pauses because of your bad habit of saying prayers in a hurry; but a decade that you say recollectedly in this way will be worth more than thousands of Rosaries said all in a rush—without any pauses or reflection.


 

Blessed Alan de la Roche and other writers (including Saint Robert Bellarmine) tell the story of how a good confessor advised three of his penitents, who happened to be sisters, to say the Rosary every day without fail for a whole year. This was so that they might make beautiful robes of glory for Our Lady out of their Rosaries. This was a secret that the priest had received from Heaven.

So the three sisters said the Rosary faithfully for a year and on the Feast of the Purification the Blessed Virgin appeared to them at night when they had retired. Saint Catherine and Saint Agnes were with her and she was wearing beautiful robes that shone and all over them “Hail Mary, full of grace” was blazoned in letters of gold. The Blessed Mother came to the eldest sister and said “I salute you, my daughter, because you saluted me so often and beautifully. I want to thank you for the beautiful robes that you have made me.” The two virgin saints who were with Our Lady thanked her too and then all three of them vanished

An hour later Our Lady and the same two saints appeared to them again, but this time she was wearing green which had no gold lettering and did not gleam. She went up to the second sister and thanked her for the robes she had made Her by saying her Rosary. Since this sister had seen Our Lady appear to the eldest much more magnificently dressed she asked Her the reason for the change. The Blessed Mother answered: “Your sister made Me more beautiful clothes because she has been saying her Rosary better than you.”

About an hour after this she appeared to the youngest of the sisters wearing tattered and dirty rags. “My daughter” she said “I want to thank you for these clothes that you have made Me.” The young girl was covered with shame and she called out: “Oh, my Queen, how could I have dressed you so badly! I beg you to forgive me. Please grant me a little more time to make you beautiful robes by saying my Rosary better.” Our Lady and the two saints vanished, leaving the girl heartbroken. She told her confessor everything that had happened and he urged her to say her Rosary for another year and to say it more devoutly than ever.

At the end of this second year on the very same day of the Purification, Our Lady, clothed in a magnificent robe and attended by Saint Catherine and Saint Agnes, wearing crowns, appeared to them again in the evening. She said to them: “My daughters, I have come to tell you that you have earned heaven at last—and you will all have the great joy of going there tomorrow.” The three of them cried: “Our hearts are all ready, dearest Queen; our hearts are all ready.” Then the vision faded. That same night they became ill and so sent for their confessor who brought them the Last Sacraments and they thanked him for the holy practice that he had taught them. After Compline Our Lady appeared with a multitude of virgins and had the three sisters clothed in white gowns. While angels were singing “Come, spouses of Jesus Christ, receive the crowns which have been prepared for you for all eternity,” they departed from this life.

Some very deep truths can be learned from this story:

1. How important it is to have a good director who will counsel holy practices, especially that of the Most Holy Rosary;

2. How important it is to say the Rosary attentively and devoutly;

3. How kind and merciful the Blessed Mother is to those who are sorry for the past and are firmly resolved to do it better;

4. And finally, how generous she is in rewarding us in life, death and eternity, for the little services that we render Her faithfully.

With Reverence

I would like to add that the Rosary ought to be said reverently —that is to say it ought to be said, as far as possible, kneeling, with the hands joined and clasping the Rosary. However, if people are ill they can of course say it in bed or if they are traveling it can be said on foot—and if infirmity prevents people kneeling it can be said seated or standing. The Rosary can even be said at work, if people’s daily duties keep them at their jobs, because the work of one’s hands is not by any means always incompatible with vocal prayer. Of course, since the soul has its limitations and can only do so much, when we are concentrating on manual work we cannot give our undivided attention to things of the spirit, such as prayer. But when we cannot do otherwise this kind of prayer is not without value in Our Lady’s eyes and she rewards our good will more than our external actions.

I advise you to divide up your Rosary into three parts and say each group of mysteries (five decades) at a different time of day. This is much better than saying the whole fifteen all at once.

If you cannot find the time to say a third part of the Rosary all at one time, say it gradually, a decade here and there. I am sure you can manage this; so that, in spite of your work and the calls upon your time, you will have said the whole before going to bed.

Saint Francis de Sales sets us a very good example of faith in this respect: once when he was quite exhausted from the visits of the day and remembered, towards midnight, that he had left a few decades of his Rosary unsaid, he would not go to bed until he had finished them on his knees, not-withstanding all the efforts of his secretary who saw he was tired and begged him to let the rest of his prayers go until the next day.

And do let me remind you just once more to copy the faithfulness, reverence and devotion of the holy friar who is mentioned in the Chronicles of Saint Francis and who always said his Rosary very devoutly and reverently before dinner.

This article was excerpted from St. Louis Marie de Montfort’s Secret of the Rosary, Montfort Publications, 1991, Part II.

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Dear ministers of the Most High, you my fellow priests who preach the truth of God and who teach the gospel to all nations… I beg of you to beware of thinking of the Rosary as something of little importance—as do ignorant people and even several great but proud scholars. Far from being insignificant, the Rosary is a priceless treasure which is inspired by God.

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Ever since Saint Dominic established the devotion to the Holy Rosary up until the time when Blessed Alan de la Roche re-established it in 1460 it has always been called the Psalter of Jesus and Mary. This is because it has the same number of Angelic Salutations as there are psalms in the Book of the Psalms of David. Since simple and uneducated people are not able to say the Psalms of David the Rosary is held to be just as fruitful for them as David’s Psalter is for others.

But the Rosary can be considered to be even more valuable than the latter for three reasons:

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We come to this prerogative of this holy heart: It is the altar upon which a great and perpetual sacrifice, most agreeable to God, is constantly offered. On it are immolated all the natural passions which reside in the human heart. There are found at once the concupiscible and the irascible appetites of the soul, given by God to man that they may be led to hate, fear, avoid, combat and destroy the things that hurt them, and to love, desire, hope for and seek that which will benefit them. These two principal passions comprise eleven others, which are like soldiers fighting under two captains, or like weapons and instruments used to attain the two ends mentioned above.

The irascible appetite possesses five passions, namely hope, despair, daring, fear and anger. The concupiscible appetite includes six: love, hatred, desire, abhorrence, delight and sadness.

Man’s revolt against the commandments of God caused all these passions to revolt against self and to fall into such disorder that instead of being completely subject to the will, which is the queen of all the soul’s faculties, they often make it their slave. Instead of being the guardians of the heart in which they reside, preserving it in peace and tranquility, the passions usually become as many executioners who torment the heart and fill it with conflict and war.

Such was not the case with the passions that reside in the corporeal heart of the Queen of Angels, for they were always entirely subject to her reason and to the Divine Will that held sovereign sway over every part of her soul and body.

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The Virginal Heart of the Blessed Mother of Jesus has more love for her Dear Son than all the angels and saints together; thus the Sacred Heart of the Only Son of Mary is so full of love for His most loving Mother that He is more to her than all created things together.

Let us offer to Jesus the Heart and love of His Blessed Mother in reparation for all our want of love and service towards Him. Let us offer to His most worthy Mother, who is also our Mother, the Heart and love of her Son in satisfaction for our ingratitude and infidelity towards her.

Not only is the Blessed Virgin the first object, after God, of the ardent love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, but the Sacred Heart is really the Heart of Mary for five principal reasons.

The first three reasons are: 1. because the Eternal Father has given her the Heart of His Only-begotten Son as a father gives the heart of a son to his mother; 2. because the Son has given His most loving Heart to the most admirable of mothers; 3. because the Holy Spirit has given Mary the very spirit of love which unites the Blessed Trinity in the Sacred Heart of her Son. These Three Divine Persons continually and eternally give Mary the adorable Heart of the God-Man, so that she may give us her most precious gift, the Sacred Heart of her Divine Son.

Incessant and everlasting praise be to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit for this infinitely precious gift that They have given to our Blessed Mother and through her to us. O Most Holy Trinity, I offer Thee the most adorable Heart of Jesus and the most loving Heart of His Mother in thanksgiving for Thy infinite goodness in my regard. I also offer Thee, in union with those two most amiable Hearts, my own unworthy heart, with the hearts of all my brethren, humbly beseeching Thee to take full possession of them forever.

The fourth reason why the Sacred Heart is truly the Heart of Mary is that the Eternal Father, having considered the Blessed Virgin from the very instant of her conception as the one chosen to be the Mother of God, gave her from the first moment of her life a love similar to His love for His Divine Son. According to many theologians, Mary had more love for Jesus at that moment than all the Seraphim will ever have. Therefore, Mary’s incomparable love for Jesus drew Him into her sacred womb and into her Heart to rest there eternally as the Heart of her Heart and as a Divine Sun that sheds its celestial light into her soul and inflames it with divine fire.

The fifth reason why the Sacred Heart of Jesus is the heart of Mary is that, at the moment of the Incarnation, she cooperated with the Blessed Trinity to form the human Heart of Jesus, which was formed of her virginal blood. The blood of her holy Heart passed into the Heart of Jesus and received the perfection that was needed to form the Heart of the God-Man. This divinely human and humanly divine Heart dwelt in the sacred womb of Mary as a furnace of divine love, a furnace which transformed the Heart of Mary into the Heart of Jesus and made these two Hearts but one and the same Heart in a unity of spirit, affection and will.

The holy Heart of Mary was, therefore, always closely united to the Sacred Heart of her Divine Son. She always willed what He willed and also consented to act and to suffer so that the work of our salvation might be accomplished. Hence, the Fathers of the Church plainly assert that the Mother of the Savior cooperated with Him in a very special way in the redemption of mankind. That is why our holy Redeemer told St. Bridget of Sweden, whose revelations have been approved by the Church, that He and His holy Mother worked in perfect harmony, uno corde, for our salvation.

Thus the Sacred Heart of Jesus is the Heart of Mary. These two Hearts are but one Heart, which was given to us by the Blessed Trinity and by our Blessed Mother, so that we, the children of Jesus and Mary, might have but one Heart with our Heavenly Father and our holy Mother and that we might love and glorify God with the same Heart, a Heart worthy of the infinite grandeur of His divine majesty.

The preceding excerpt is taken from St. John Eudes, The Sacred Heart of Jesus, P. J. Kenedy and Sons, 1946, and edited by the Order of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary, at www.heartsofjesusandmary.org. The Order of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary is a contemplative community of lay and religious dedicated to serving the Hearts of Jesus and Mary through Eucharistic Adoration, contemplation, and corporal works of mercy.

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The Immaculata has left this earth, but her life has only grown the richer; and it develops and flourishes more and more in the lives of Christians. If all the souls that have lived on this earth, and all those that still struggle here could make known the all-powerful influence the Immaculata has exercised on them, and her maternal solicitude for these souls redeemed by the precious Blood of her divine Son, what an incalculable number of volumes would be required! All these people would recount only what they had been able to discover as special graces received through Mary. But in fact every grace that comes to a soul comes from her hands, for she is the Mediatrix of all graces; and at every moment new graces penetrate into the souls of men. There are graces which enlighten the intellect, which strengthen the will, which draw us towards what is good. There are ordinary and extraordinary graces; some directly concern our natural life, while others have to do with the sanctification of our souls. Only at the Last Judgment, only in Heaven will we discover with what loving attention our heavenly mother watched over each one of us without ceasing, over every soul individually, because all are her children. She strives to shape them after the model of Jesus, her First-born, the archetype of all sanctity, the Man-God.



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Among all the virtues which shine as so many stars, or rather as so many suns in the heaven of the holy childhood of our thrice-hallowed Mary, I shall mention here twelve of the most remarkable.

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Never will anyone really be able to understand the marvelous riches of sanctification which are contained in the prayers and mysteries of the Holy Rosary. This meditation on the mysteries of the life and death of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the source of the most wonderful fruits for those who use it.

Today people want things that strike and move and that leave deep impressions on the soul. Nor has there ever been anything in the whole history of the world more moving than the wonderful story of the life, death and glory of Our Savior which is contained in the Holy Rosary. In the fifteen tableaux the chief scenes or mysteries of His life unfold before our eyes. How could there ever be any prayers more wonderful and sublime than the Lord’s Prayer and the Salutation of the angel? All our desires and all our needs are found expressed in these two prayers.

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I see this joyful assembly of holy bishops who, at the invitation of the blessed Mother of God, Mary ever Virgin, have gathered here with enthusiasm. And although I am sad, the presence of these holy Fathers fills me with joy. Among us is fulfilled the sweet words of the psalmist David: “Behold how good and sweet it is, brethren, to dwell together in unity.”

 

Hail Mary Theotókos, venerable treasure of the whole world, star who never sets, crown of virginity, scepter of the orthodox law, indestructible Mother and Virgin, for the sake of the one who is called “blessed” in the holy Gospels, the one who “comes in the name of the Lord.”

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The following selection is taken from The Admirable Heart of Mary written by Saint John Eudes. – Asst. Ed.

What is Calvary? It is a mountain, the most important and notable mountain of the Holy Land. What is the Heart of the Mother of God? Is it not also a mountain, the most illustrious mountain of that blessed land referred to in these words of Sacred Scripture: “Lord, thou has blessed the land” (Ps 84:2). This land is the Blessed Virgin Mary, and her Heart is the noblest and highest peak of her body and of her soul.



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The first foundation and the primary source of the devotion to the most holy Heart of Mary is the adorable Heart of the Eternal Father and His unfathomable love for the Blessed Mother of His Only-begotten Son. This infinite love induced our Heavenly Father to give us many beautiful images and figures of the most worthy Heart of His holy Mother.

God the Father, to whom we assign by appropriation the creation of the world, together with the establishment and fulfillment of the Old Law, was pleased to foreshadow, in every part of the universe and in all the mysteries, sacrifices and ceremonies of the Old Testament, His only Son through whom He created and willed to renew all things. Likewise, the Eternal Father lovingly prefigured, both in the visible world and in the rites of the Mosaic Law, Mary, the woman chosen from all eternity to be the Mother of the adorable Redeemer. “It was she whom the Prophets foretold long before her birth,” says St. Jerome. “It was she whom the Patriarchs described in many figures; it was she who was announced by the Evangelists.” (1) “Toward her converge all the predictions of the Prophets, all the mysteries of Scripture,” says St. Ildephonsus. (2) Elsewhere he writes: “The Holy Spirit foretold her through the Prophets, announced her by the divine oracles, manifested her in figures, promised her by means of the things which preceded her birth, and fulfilled in her the things which followed it.” (3)



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Mary’s pure Heart is truly a heaven of which the sky over our heads is a mere shadow and image. It is a heaven exalted above all others, of which the Holy Spirit speaks when He says that the Savior of the World went out from a heaven surpassing all others in excellence, when He came on earth to redeem mankind: A summo caelo egressio ejus (Ps 18:7). As Our Admirable Mother had formed her Divine Son in her Heart before conceiving Him in her womb, we can truly say that, having remained hidden in her Heart for a little while even as He had been in the Heart of His Heavenly Father from all eternity, Our Blessed Savior emerged from it to manifest Himself to men. But just as He went forth from heaven and His Father’s bosom, without however relinquishing them: Excessit, non recessit, (1) so also is His Mother’s Heart a heaven whence He came forth in such a manner that He nevertheless remained and will remain forever in it: “For ever, O Lord, thy word standeth firm in heaven” (Ps. 118:89).



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The following  is the third in a series from Mary, Mediatrix of Grace, Mary’s Universal Mediation of Grace in the Theological and Pastoral Works of Cardinal Mercier, “one of the greatest Church figures of the 20th century” by  Father Manfred Hauke. – Asst. Ed.

The Belgian request for a definition of Mary’s universal mediation of grace received, so it seems, no answer. The Pontificate of Pope Benedict XV was totally taken up with the problems of World War I. His efforts in behalf of peace were stamped by the mark of Mary: he placed the peoples under the special protection of the Mother of God and added to the Litany of Loreto the invocation “Queen of peace”. He promoted, like Cardinal Mercier, devotion to Mary according to the model of (the 1888 beatified) Louis Maria Grignion de Montfort. In a decree looking to the canonization of Joan of Arc, 6 April, 1919, Pope Benedict mentioned the remarkable fact that one of the miraculous healings needed for the canonization, had occurred in Lourdes, the great Marian sanctuary. Through Mary, the Pope insisted, “every grace and every blessing comes to us”. Together with the intercession of the saints “one must include the influence of her whom the Holy Fathers (!) greeted with the title, Mediatrix omnium gratiarum”. After this allocution of the Pope Mother Magdalen forwarded to the Holy Father the aforementioned letter (31 May, 1919), asking for a dogmatic definition of Mary’s universal mediation of grace.

Read more: Mary Mediatrix of Grace, Part III

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This article, authored by St. Peter Julian Eymard in July, 1864, resumes our series of reflections on the Real Presence in the Eucharist in his writings. – Asst. Ed. 

We can rightly call the 19th Century the great century of the Holy Eucharist, just as it has been styled the century of Mary. 

Never in all the past ages has the cult of the Blessed Sacrament flourished so conspicuously. 

Solemn Exposition was rare, even in the ages of Faith. Perhaps there was some sort of misapprehension for the respect and majesty of the Sacrament of love, were it to be exposed too often to the piety of the faithful. 

There was, then, no special need of this excellent means of salvation, the last, perhaps, which is now offered to Christian society. But today, Solemn Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament is the grace and need of our times. 

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The following is the sixth in a series of sermons on the Eucharist to be published on motherofallpeoples.com  from The Real Presence by Saint Peter Julian Eymard.

– Asst Ed.                   

                       THE EUCHARIST AND THE DEATH OF OUR SAVIOR

Quotiescumque manducabitis panem hunc, et calicem bibetis; mortem Domini annuntiabitis.
As often as you shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, you shall show the death of the Lord.
(1 Cor. xi. 26.)

                                                                      I
FROM whatever angle the Eucharist is viewed, it reminds us in a striking manner of the death of our Lord, He instituted it on the eve of His death, “the same night in which He was betrayed,” Pridie quam pateretur . . . in qua nocte tradebatur.
He called it the New Testament instituted in His Blood. Novum testamentum in sanguine meo.
The state of Jesus is one of death. At Brussels and at Paris, in 1290 and in 1369 respectively, He appeared with His wounds, like a Divine Victim.
He is without power of self-motion, without a will of His own; like a corpse that has to be carried around.



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You have heard, O Virgin, that you will conceive and bear a son; you have heard that it will not be by man but by the Holy Spirit. The angel awaits an answer; it is time for him to return to God who sent him. We too are waiting, O Lady, for your word of compassion; the sentence of condemnation weighs heavily upon us.

The price of our salvation is offered to you. We shall be set free at once if you consent. In the eternal Word of God we all came to be, and behold, we die. In your brief response we are to be remade in order to be recalled to life.

Tearful Adam with his sorrowing family begs this of you, O loving Virgin, in their exile from Paradise. Abraham begs it, David begs it. All the other holy patriarchs, your ancestors, ask it of you, as they dwell in the country of the shadow of death. This is what the whole earth waits for, prostrate at your feet. It is right in doing so, for on your word depends comfort for the wretched, ransom for the captive, freedom for the condemned, indeed, salvation for all the sons of Adam, the whole of your race.

Answer quickly, O Virgin. Reply in haste to the angel, or rather through the angel to the Lord. Answer with a word, receive the Word of God. Speak your own word, conceive the divine Word. Breathe a passing word, embrace the eternal Word.

Why do you delay, why are you afraid? Believe, give praise, and receive. Let humility be bold, let modesty be confident. This is no time for virginal simplicity to forget prudence. In this matter alone, O prudent Virgin, do not fear to be presumptuous. Though modest silence is pleasing, dutiful speech is now more necessary. Open your heart to faith, O blessed Virgin, your lips to praise, your womb to the Creator. See, the desired of all nations is at your door, knocking to enter. If he should pass by because of your delay, in sorrow you would begin to seek him afresh, the One whom your soul loves. Arise, hasten, open. Arise in faith, hasten in devotion, open in praise and thanksgiving. Behold, the handmaid of the Lord, she says, be it done to me according to your word.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Homily, In Praise of the Virgin Mother (Hom. 4, 8-9: Opera omnia, Edit. Cisterc. 4, 1966, 53-54).

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Qui credit in Me, habet vitam aeternam. 
He that believeth in Me, hath everlasting life. (John vi. 47.) 


HOW happy we would be if we had a lively faith in the Most Blessed Sacrament! 
For the Eucharist is the royal truth of faith; it is the virtue and sovereign act of love, the whole of religion in action. Si scires donum Dei! Oh! if we but knew the gift of God! 
But belief in the Eucharist is a treasure we must seek by submissiveness, preserve by piety, and defend at any cost. 

Not to believe in the Blessed Sacrament is the greatest of misfortunes. 

                                                                     I 
FIRST of all, is it possible for one who formerly believed and received Communion to lose all faith in the Blessed Sacrament? No, I do not think so. A child may despise his father and insult his mother, but it is impossible for him not to recognize them. In the same way, a Christian cannot deny that he has communicated; he cannot forget that he was happy at least once. 
Unbelief in the Eucharist is never a result of the evidence of the reasons advanced against this mystery. 
Suppose that a man, immersed in temporal affairs, has allowed his faith to grow torpid, to lie dormant. He has forgotten; but let the grace of God arouse him, the ordinary grace of conversion, and he will instinctively come back to the Eucharist first of all. 
Passions that dominate the heart are another source of unbelief. A passion that wants to have its own way knows no mercy. When fully gratified, it scorns the object of its pleasure; when attacked, it denies. “How long is it,” we may ask, “since you have ceased believing in the Eucharist?” And by tracing this loss of faith to its source, we find a weakness, an evil impulse which he did not have the courage to resist. 
A faith that has gone on weakening and doubting over a long period of time is another source of unbelief. The sight of so many who are indifferent and live like unbelievers scandalizes us. The crafty arguments and sophisms drummed into our ears by a false science are also an object of scandal. Why does our Lord let these things go unpunished? Why does He allow Himself to be insulted if He is there? So many unbelievers are honest people! 
That is the kind of wavering faith that leads one to a loss of belief in the Eucharist. 
An untold misfortune indeed! For then, like the Capharnaumites, we separate ourselves from Him Who has the words of truth and life. 

                                                                    II 
WHAT are the consequences of unbelief in the Eucharist? It is a denial of the power of God. What! God is present under this mean appearance? It is impossible, and who can believe it? 
The unbeliever accuses Jesus Christ of falsehood, for our Savior said: “This is My Body. This is My Blood.” 
He despises our Lord’s goodness, like the disciples who, on hearing the Eucharistic promise, “went back and walked no more with” their Divine Master. 
Moreover, his faith in the other mysteries will soon be shaken and destroyed. If he does not believe in this living Mystery, the truth of which is confirmed by an actual fact, in what mystery will he believe? 
His virtue will soon become sterile; it is deprived of its natural food; it no longer associates with Jesus Christ from Whom it drew all its vigor; it loses sight of Jesus, its living Model, and forgets Him. 
His piety dries up almost immediately; it has lost its center of life and affection.
Consequently, he is without consolation in the trials of life, and if his tribulations become too great, he falls into despair. A sorrow that cannot find an outlet into the heart of a friend soon becomes overwhelming. 

                                                                    III 
LET us then believe in the Eucharist. “I believe, Lord,” we should often say. “Help my tottering faith!” There is nothing that gives greater glory to our Lord than this act of faith in His Eucharistic presence. 
It honors His Divine truthfulness in a supereminent fashion; the greatest honor that can be offered any man is to believe him on his word, just as the greatest insult would be to suspect him of lying, to doubt his word, and to demand a proof or a guarantee. Now, if a child believes his father on his word, a servant his master, a subject his king, why not believe Jesus Christ on His word when He declares with an oath that He is present in the Most Blessed Sacrament? 
This simple and absolute act of faith in the word of Jesus Christ gives Him glory because it pays Him the homage of recognition and adoration in His hidden state. The honor paid to a friend in disguise, or to a king without his royal insignia, is greater than any other, because it is really the person who is then honored and not his trappings. 
So it goes with Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament; to honor Him, to believe in His Divinity in spite of the veil of weakness thrown over Him is to honor His Divine Person and to respect the mystery which envelops Him. 
Such an act of faith adds to our merit. Like Peter confessing the Divinity of the Son of man, like the Good Thief declaring the innocence of the Crucified, we proclaim Jesus Christ to be what He really is in spite of what He seems to be. Still more, we believe the opposite of what our senses tell us, relying solely on the truth of His infallible word. 
Let us believe, and believe firmly in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist! Jesus Christ is there! When we enter a church, a feeling of respect should come upon us, a respect of faith and love on meeting Jesus Christ in person; for it is indeed He Whom we are meeting. 
Let that be our apostolate, our preaching; it is the most eloquent for the unbelievers and the impious. 

 


 

                                           THE WONDERFUL WORK OF GOD

Memoriam fecit mirabilium suorum.  . . .

He hath made a remembrance of His wonderful works. (Psalm cxi. 4.)

THE Eucharist is the work of a measureless love that had at its service an infinite power, the omnipotence of God.

Saint Thomas calls the Eucharist the wonder of wonders, the greatest of miracles, maximum miraculorum.

To be convinced of this we need but meditate on what the faith of the Church teaches us concerning this mystery.

                                                                        I

THE first of the wonders wrought in the Eucharist is Transubstantiation. Jesus, and after Him His priests,—–by His command and institution,—–take bread and wine, pronounce the words of the consecration over them, and immediately all the substance of the bread and all the substance of the wine disappear; they are changed into the Sacred Body and the adorable Blood of Jesus Christ.

Under the appearances of the bread as also under the appearances of the wine the glorified Body of our Savior is truly, really, and substantially present.

Nothing remains of the bread and wine except the appearances: color, taste, and weight. The senses tell us it is bread and wine: faith tells us it is the Body and Blood of Jesus, concealed beneath the appearances which subsist only by a miracle. This is a miracle which the Almighty alone can perform, for it is contrary to the ordinary laws of nature for the qualities of a body to exist without the body itself which sustains them. That is the work of God. Their existence depends on His will just as our own existence does. God can do everything He wills to do. One thing is as easy for Him as another.

That is the first wonder of the Eucharist.

                                                                      II

A SECOND wonder, included in the first, is that this miracle is renewed at the mere word of a man, the priest, and as often as he wants. For such is the power which God has imparted to him. He commands that God be on the altar, and on the instant, God is there. The priest works absolutely the same wonder that Jesus Christ worked at the Eucharistic Supper. He holds his power from Jesus Christ and acts in His name.

Our Lord has never disobeyed His priest, a miracle of the power of God! A weak, mortal creature gives birth to our sacramental Jesus!

                                                                      III

IN THE desert Jesus took five loaves of bread. He blessed them, and the Apostles had enough to feed five thousand men. This was but a faint idea of the third wonder of the Eucharist, the miracle of its multiplication. 

Jesus loves all men. He wishes to give Himself personally and in His entirety to everyone of them. Everyone will have his share of the manna of life. He must therefore multiply Himself as many times as there are communicants desirous of receiving Him, and as often as they shall so desire it. The Eucharistic Table must, so to speak, cover the world. Through His power this marvel becomes a reality. All receive Him whole and entire, with all that He is. Every consecrated Host contains Him. Divide a Sacred Host into as many fragments as you like; Jesus is present whole and entire in each fragment. Instead of dividing Him, the breaking of the Host multiplies Him.

Who can tell the number of Hosts which Jesus has placed at the disposal of His children since the Cenacle!

                                                                      IV

NOT only is Jesus multiplied with the Sacred Particles, but by a wonder that follows from that of the multiplication, He is present at one and the same time in an infinite number of places.

During the days of His mortal life Jesus was present in one place only; He dwelt in one house only. Few persons were privileged enough to enjoy His presence and listen to His words. But today in the Most Blessed Sacrament, He is, so to speak, present everywhere at one and the same time. In a way His humanity shares the prerogative of His Divine immensity which fills all things. Jesus is present in His entirety in an infinite number of temples and in each one of them; Since all the Catholics scattered throughout the world are members of His Mystical Body, it does seem necessary that He, as the soul of it, should be everywhere, present throughout the whole body, giving it life, and sustaining it in each one of His members.

Lord Jesus, we adore Thy power which has multiplied “wonderful works,” thereby enabling Thee to dwell in the midst of Thy children, to come down to their level, and to be all their own.

 


 

                                THE SACRIFICES OF JESUS IN THE EUCHARIST

Dilexit me, et tradidit Semetipsum pro me. 
He loved me, and delivered Himself for me. (Galatians ii. 20.) 


WHAT are the proofs of a genuine love? There is only one, its sacrifices: the sacrifices it prompts us to do and. those it accepts with joy. 
Love without sacrifice is but an empty name, a self-love in disguise. 
If we would therefore know the greatness of the love Jesus in the Eucharist has for man, if we would estimate the value of this love, we should look into the sacrifices called for by the Eucharist. 
They are the same as those of the Passion of the God-Man. Now as then, Jesus Christ sacrifices His civil life, His natural life, and His Divine life. 

                                                                      I 
IN HIS Passion, to which His great love for us led Him, Jesus Christ was outlawed. His people disowned Him and calumniated Him; He did not say a word in self-defense. He was delivered into the hands of His enemies without any protection whatsoever. He did not demand for Himself what is the right of the most common defendant. Out of love for His people and for their salvation He sacrificed His rights as a citizen and an honest man. 
In the Eucharist Jesus Christ accepts again this immolation of His civil life. 
He is there without any rights whatsoever. The law does not give Him recognition. He, God made man, the Savior of the human race, has scarcely a word in the code of the nations He has redeemed. Although He lives in our midst, we do not know Him: Medius vestrum stetit, quem vos nescitis. “There hath stood One in the midst of you, Whom you know not.” 
He has no social standing. In many countries the Feast of Corpus Christi has been suppressed. Jesus Christ cannot come out or show Himself in public. He must hide Himself; men are ashamed of Him. Non no vi hominem. “I know not the man!” 
But who are they that are ashamed of Jesus Christ? Mohammedans? Jews? No, they are Christians! 
The Eucharist is without defense, without protection. Provided you do not publicly disturb Divine worship, you may abuse the Eucharist and commit sacrileges with impunity; that is no one’s business but your own. 
Jesus Christ is then without any protection from man. 
Perhaps Heaven will take up His defense? No! Jesus is delivered up by His Father to the caprice of sinners just as He was to Caiphas and Pilate. Tradidit Jesum vero voluntati eorum! “But Jesus he delivered up to their will!” 
What! Jesus knew all this when He instituted the Eucharist, and He freely chose this state? Yes, in order to be our Model, our consolation in our sorrows and in the persecutions of the world. 
And He will remain in this state even to the end of the world as an example and grace for everyone of His children. He loves us. 

                                                                     II
DURING His Passion, Jesus Christ added to the sacrifice of His civil rights the immolation of everything that was human in Him: the immolation of His will and of the beatitude of His soul, which He allowed to be overwhelmed with sadness unto death; the immolation of His life on the Cross. 
It was not enough for His love to have done this once; in the Eucharist He perpetuates this natural death. 
In order to immolate His will He, a God, obeys His creature; He, a King, obeys His subject; He, a Liberator, obeys His slave! He obeys priest and people, Saint and sinner. He obeys without making any resistance, without our having to force His obedience. He obeys even His enemies. He obeys everybody with the same promptness. 
He obeys not only at Mass when the priest pronounces the words of the consecration, but at every moment of the day and night, whenever the faithful need Him. His permanent state is one of genuine and simple obedience. Is all this really possible? 
Oh! If man but understood the love of the Eucharist! 
During His Passion Jesus was bound; He lost His liberty. In the Eucharist He is the One that binds Himself. He has chained Himself with the unconditional and perpetual chains of His promises. 
He has chained Himself to the Sacred Species to which the sacramental words bind Him inseparably. In the Eucharist as on the Cross or in the Tomb He has no movement, no action of His own, although He possesses within Himself the fullness of the risen life. 
He is fully dependent on man like a Prisoner of love. He cannot break His bonds, or leave His Eucharistic prison; He is our Prisoner to the end of time. He pledged Himself to this; His contract of love goes as far as that. 
As to His soul’s beatitude, Jesus is no longer able, as at Gethsemane, to suspend its raptures and its joys, for He is risen and in glory. But He loses it in man, in the Christian, who is an unworthy member. How often Jesus has to suffer ingratitude and insult! How often Christians imitate the Jews! Jesus wept once over guilty Jerusalem. He loves us much more than He did the Jews, and He is much more afflicted by our sins, by our perdition than by the perdition of the Jews. If Jesus could weep in the Blessed Sacrament, what tears would He not shed! 
Lastly, Jesus, Who in the Host is no longer subject to a real death, assumes at least an apparent state of death. The Sacred Species are consecrated separately in order to recall the loss of His Blood which by escaping from His Body brought about His painful death. 
He gives Himself in Communion. The Sacred Species are consumed, destroyed in us. 
Jesus is also exposed to the loss of His sacramental existence through the profanations of the impious who do away with the Sacred Species. 
Sinners who receive Him unworthily crucify Him in their souls, bind Him to the devil, their sovereign master! Rursum crucifigentes sibimetipsis Filium Dei. “Crucifying again to themselves the Son of God.” 

                                                                    III 
THUS, inasmuch as it is possible for Him in His risen state, Jesus immolates His natural life in the Eucharist. In the Passion He had not spared His Divine life; neither does He spare it in the Eucharist. 
In the Passion He revealed nothing of His glory, majesty, and power, but only the man of sorrows, the accursed of God and man. Isaias could not recognize Him on account of the spittle and wounds that defiled His august face! 
In the Passion Jesus allowed only His love to appear. Woe to those who did not want to recognize Him! The adoration of His Divinity and the proclamation of His innocence had to come from a robber, a thief; and nature was the only one to mourn its Creator. 
In the Blessed Sacrament Jesus continues with a still greater love this immolation of His Divine attributes. 
Of all the power and glory of Jesus Christ we see nothing but a patience that would give cause for scandal did we not know that His love for us is infinite, that His love is a folly! Insanis! He is foolish. 
This gentle Savior seems to say to us: “Well, am I not doing enough for you? Do I not deserve your love? What more can I do? Try to find what sacrifice there is still for Me to make.” 
Woe to those that despise so much love! One readily understands that Hell is not too much for them.  . . . But let us not think of that. …The Eucharist is the supreme proof of Jesus’ love for us because it is the supreme sacrifice. 

 

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This is the fourth in a series of sermons by Saint Peter Julian Eymard from The Real Presence. – Asst. Ed.

Si scires donum Dei! 
If thou didst know the gift of God. (John iv. 10.) 

JESUS had reached the end of His mortal life. Heaven called back its King. He had battled enough; it was time for Him to triumph. Nevertheless Jesus did not want to abandon His new family, the children He had just redeemed. I go away, and I come unto you, He said to His Apostles. 
“Thou comest back to us, Thou both remainest and goest away, Lord? But by what miracle of Thy power wilt Thou do this?” 
That was the secret and the work of His Heart. 
Jesus would have two thrones, one of glory in Heaven, the other of meekness and goodness on earth; two courts, the triumphant and heavenly court, and the court of the redeemed here below. 
And, you may be sure, if Jesus could not remain simultaneously in Heaven and on earth, He would prefer to remain with us rather than return to Heaven without us. He has assuredly given abundant proof that He prefers the least of His poor ransomed creatures to all His glory, and that His “delights are to be with the children of men.” 
In what state was Jesus to remain with us? 
In a transitory state, from time to time? No; He would remain with us in a continuous state, and always. But at this point a wonderful struggle took place in the soul of Jesus. 
Divine justice protested. Was not the Redemption over and the Church founded? Was not man given possession of grace and of the Gospel, of the Divine law and of the help to keep it? 
The Heart of Jesus answered that what was enough to effect the Redemption was not enough to satisfy His love; that a mother is not content with giving birth to her child but that she feeds it, brings it up, and follows it everywhere. 

[…]

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This is the third in a series of sermons by Saint Peter Julian Eymard from The Real Presence. – Asst. Ed.

The Our Father 

Quodcumque petieritis Pat rem in nomine meo, hoc faciam, et glorificetur Pater in Filio.

Whatsoever you shall ask the Father in my name, that will I do: that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (John xiv. 13.)

 

I.—–Our Father Who art in Heaven, in the heaven of the Eucharist, to Thee, Who art seated on the throne of grace and love, be benediction, and honor, and glory, and power, for ever and ever!

II.—–Hallowed be Thy Name, first in ourselves, through the spirit of Thy humility, obedience, and charity. May we in all humility and zeal make Thee known, adored, and loved by all men in the Eucharist! 

III.—–Thy Kingdom come, Thy Eucharistic Kingdom. Rule Thou alone forever over us for Thy greater glory through the power of Thy love, the triumph of Thy virtues, and the grace of a Eucharistic vocation. Grant us the grace and mission of Thy holy love so that we may be able effectively to preach, extend, and spread Thy Eucharistic Kingdom everywhere, and thus realize the desire Thou didst express: “I am come to cast fire on the earth; and what will I but that it be kindled?” Oh! That we also might be the incendiaries of this heavenly fire!

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The following is the conclusion  of a three-part series on the Magnificat from The Admirable Heart of Mary by Saint John Eudes.-Asst. Ed.

Chapter Nine

“He hath showed might in His arm”

Of the preceding verse the Blessed Virgin Mary praised and glorified the effects of divine mercy originating in the Incarnation of the Saviour and extending from one generation to another to all who fear God. In this verse she magnifies and exalts the prodigies of divine might which shine forth so admirably in this same mystery.

The great God, she says, hath put down the mighty with His arm. What arm is this? Saint Augustine, Saint Fulgentius and Saint Bonaventure all maintain that it is the Word Incarnate, according to the prophet Isaias, “And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?” which text Saint John applies to the Son of God. Since it is with his arms that man performs his actions, it is similarly through His divine Son that God accomplishes all things. “Just as man’s arms,” says Saint Albert the Great, “extend from his body, and his hands from both the arms and body, so also does the Son of God extend from the almighty Father, while the Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son.”

Read more: Exposition of the Magnificat by Saint John Eudes – Part III

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The following is part two of a three-part series on the Magnificat from The Admirable Heart of Mary by Saint John Eudes.-Asst. Ed.

Chapter Six

“From henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.”

This brings us to the second part of this verse, namely, “From henceforth all generations shall call me Blessed.” We need not be astonished if the most holy Virgin says something here about herself which is highly favorable, and refers to her own glory and praise, for it is the Holy Spirit Who speaks through her lips. Here is one of the greatest, most celebrated and most important prophecies that was ever made or ever will be made, announcing to mankind the infinity of admirable things that God will accomplish everywhere on earth in every age and everlastingly in Heaven on behalf of the Mother of the Redeemer, in order to make her known, loved, served and honored throughout the world.

This great prophecy, informing us that all generations are to acknowledge and acclaim the Mother of the Blessed Saviour, applies to the whole universe, from the highest Heaven to the lowest depths of Hell. For not only has the Most Blessed Trinity sent the Archangel Gabriel, one of the first princes of Its empire, as ambassador, to announce to Mary that she was full of grace, and that the Lord was with her in order to accomplish in her the greatest wonder of all time, and that she is blessed forever among all women; this same Trinity also exalts Mary above all the angels on the highest throne of glory.

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The following is the first in a series of sermons on the Eucharist to be published on motherofallpeoples.com  from The Real Presence  by Saint Peter Julian Eymard. Asst Ed.

The object of Eucharistic adoration is the Divine Person of our Lord Jesus Christ present in the Most Blessed Sacrament.

He is living there. He wants us to speak to Him, and He will speak to us. Anybody may speak to our Lord. Is He not there for everybody? Does He not tell us, “Come ye all to Me”?

This conversation between the soul and our Lord is the true Eucharistic meditation, i. e., adoration.

The grace of it is given to everybody. In order, however, to succeed in it and avoid routine or dryness of mind and heart, adorers must seek inspiration in the grace of their vocation, in the various mysteries of the life of our Lord and of the Blessed Virgin, or in the virtues of the Saints. In this way they will honor and glorify the God of the Eucharist through the virtues of His mortal life as through those of all the Saints, of whose holiness He was the grace and end as He is now its crown of glory. 

Look upon the hour of adoration assigned to you as an hour in Paradise. Go to your adoration as one would to Heaven, to the Divine banquet. You will then long for that hour and hail it with joy. Take delight in fostering a longing for it in your heart. Tell yourself, “In four hours, in two hours, in one hour, our Lord will give me an audience of grace and love. He has invited me; He is waiting! for me; He is longing for me.”

Read more: Adoration in Spirit and Truth

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God the Father gave his only Son to the world only through Mary. Whatever desires the patriarchs may have cherished, whatever entreaties the prophets and saints of the Old Law may have made for four thousand years to obtain that treasure, it was Mary alone who merited it and found grace before God by the power of her prayers and the perfection of her virtues. “The world being unworthy,” said St. Augustine, “to receive the Son of God directly from the hands of the Father, he gave his Son to Mary for the world to receive him from her.”

The Son of God became man for our salvation but only in Mary and through Mary.

God the Holy Spirit formed Jesus Christ in Mary but only after having asked her consent through one of the chief ministers of his court.

God the Father imparted to Mary his fruitfulness as far as a mere creature was capable of receiving it, to enable her to bring forth his Son and all the members of his mystical body.

God the Son came down into her virginal womb as a new Adam into his earthly paradise, to take his delight there and produce hidden wonders of grace.

God-made-man found freedom in imprisoning himself in her womb. He displayed power in allowing himself to be borne by this young maiden. He found his glory and that of his Father in hiding his splendors from all creatures here below and revealing them only to Mary. He glorified his independence and his majesty in depending upon this lovable virgin in his conception, his birth, his presentation in the temple, and in the thirty years of his hidden life. Even at his death she had to be present so that he might be united with her in one sacrifice and be immolated with her consent to the eternal Father, just as formerly Isaac was offered in sacrifice by Abraham when he accepted the will of God. It was Mary who nursed him, fed him, cared for him, reared him, and sacrificed him for us.

 


St. Louis Marie de Montfort,
True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, nn. 16-18.

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Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you. What joy could surpass this, O Virgin Mother? What grace can excel that which God has granted to you alone? What could be imagined more dazzling or more delightful? Before the miracle we witness in you, all else pales; all else is inferior when compared with the grace you have been given. All else, even what is most desirable, must take second place and enjoy a lesser importance.

The Lord is with you. Who would dare challenge you? You are God’s mother; who would not immediately defer to you and be glad to accord you a greater primacy and honor? For this reason, when I look upon the privilege you have above all creatures, I extol you with the highest praise: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you. On your account joy has not only graced men, but is also granted to the powers of heaven.

[…]

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The following is part one of a three-part series on the Magnificat from The Admirable Heart of Mary by Saint John Eudes.-Asst. Ed.

 

Excellence of the Sublime Canticle

Sacred Scripture includes a number of inspired canticles that were composed by saintly women, for example, the canticles of Mary, sister of Moses and Aaron, of Deborah, of Judith, of Anna, mother of the prophet Samuel, all of which give thanks to God for outstanding favors received from His divine bounty. But the holiest and worthiest of all canticles is the Magnificat of the Mother of God, which stands unsurpassed because of the dignity and holiness of its author, as well as because of the great and admirable mysteries it contains. This is to say nothing of the miracles that God has performed by means of this canticle. While there is no record of any miracles having been performed through other canticles, Saint Thomas of Villanova,  the Archbishop of Valencia, points out that upon the recitation of this canticle the Holy Spirit wrought a number of wonders on behalf of Saint John the Baptist, the holy precursor of the Son of God, as well as in the person of his parents. Experience also has shown on more than one occasion that the Magnificat is an excellent means of expelling evil spirits from the bodies of those who are possessed by the devil. Several other esteemed writers report various miracles which have taken place through the recitation of this canticle.

Read more: Exposition of the Magnificat, Treating its Significance Verse by Verse

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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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Blessed! Who is this blessed one
  Whom every age shall praise? 
And who spoke this prophetic word
  Of all the coming days?
Mary, the Mother of our God,
  With soul inspired by grace; So in our hearts and on our lips
Let her sweet praise have place.
  O Virgin pure! O blessed one!
We hail thee lovingly; Rejoicing while our lips fulfil
  Thy words of prophecy.
And most we love in thy fair month
  To sing thy purity, And how the Mighty One hath done
Such wonderous things to thee.
  And while we praise, and while we bless,
Our hearts call out to thee, O Mary, Mother, for His sake
  Do thou our Mother be!
.
Virgin full of goodness, Mother of Mercy, I recommend
to thee my body and my soul, my thoughts, my actions,
my life, and my death. O my Queen! help me, and deliver
me from all the snares of the devil; obtain for me the grace 
of loving my Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son, with a true and 
perfect love, and after Him, O Mary, to love thee with
all my heart and above all things. Amen.
                                                     St. Thomas Aquinas

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If I wanted to, I would show you that in all walks of life there have been great servants of the Blessed Virgin. I would find for you, among them, those who begged their bread from door to door. I would find for you, among them, those who lived in much the same sort of state in life as many of you. I would find them for you among the wealthy, and in great number, too. We read in the Gospel that our Lord always treated people with great tenderness, except for one type of people whom he treated with severity; these were the Pharisees, and they were so treated because they were proud and hardened in sin. They would willingly have hindered, if they could, the accomplishment of the will of the Father. What is more, our Lord called them “whited sepulchers, hypocrites, brood of vipers, offspring of vipers, who devour the breasts of their mothers.”

We can say the same thing on the subject of devotion to the Blessed Virgin. All Christians have a great devotion to Mary except those old and hardened sinners who, for a very long time, having lost the faith, wallow in the slime of their brute passions.

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This eternal predestination is the first thing to which the Holy Ghost would draw our attention. He does so by the opening words read in the Epistle of the Mass for the day of her Nativity: “Ab aeterno ordinata sum.” (Prov 8:23)

So, it is true to say that this amiable Infant, who is called Mary, daughter of Joachim and Ann, has been predestined and chosen by God from all eternity, that in her and by her, He may perform most marvelous things suitable to His eternal designs.

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Before expounding the prodigious virtues and the incomparable marvels of the admirable Heart of Mary, according to the lights which He Who is the Source of all light will be pleased to give me, I shall point out the various meanings of the word “heart” in Sacred Scripture.

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In this chapter St. John Eudes lists twelve mysteries of Mary’s childhood.
Asst. Ed.

The first mystery of Mary’s Childhood is her eternal predestination.

The second contains the promises which Divine Mercy has made to us concerning her, together with the oracles of Holy Scripture which have announced her coming.

The third comprises the types and figures which the Holy Ghost has placed before us in the Old Law.

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The only Son of God was not content to become man for our salvation, but He willed to come into this world not like Adam, in the fullness of manhood, but by way of generation, having only a Mother upon earth as He had only a Father in heaven. Now He could have created this Virgin of whom He was to be born, in the fullness of perfect age, as He did the first woman. But the excess of His bounty towards us obliged Him to use another measure, and, by passing through the state of infancy, to honor all the posterity of Adam with three marvelous advantages and three very singular privileges.

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The Obligation of All Mankind to Have a Special Devotion
to the Different States and Mysteries of the Life of the Most Sacred Virgin

There are reasons infinite in number why we should show ardent zeal in honoring the various states and mysteries in the life of our most amiable Savior, but I shall confine myself to the five principal ones.

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First Part – Containing the Reasons for the Title of This Book, Our Obligations to Honor This Amiable Infant, and 12 Wonderful Mysteries that Pertain to Her Holy Childhood

The Reasons for the Title of This Book

Be not astonished, dear reader, that I have chosen as title for this book, The Wondrous Childhood of the Most Holy Mother of God, for, in truth, this holy Childhood is replete with marvels.

This incomparable Virgin is admirable not alone for the grandeur of the divine maternity, and in the glorious accessories of this most sublime dignity, her sovereign power, eminent holiness, and unspeakable glory, but she is admirable in the lowliness and feebleness of her Childhood. She is not only admirable in her surpassing qualities of eldest Daughter of the Eternal Father, Mother of the Son, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, Temple of the most Holy Trinity, Queen of men and Angels, Empress of heaven and earth; but also in quality of daughter of Joachim and Ann. Not only is she admirable in the conception and birth of the Eternal Word, but her own conception and birth are subjects of marvelous grandeur.

I behold the angels all in transports. Seeing her mount glorious and triumphant into heaven they exclaim: “Who is this that cometh up from the desert of the earth, winging her way with such magnificence towards heaven, flowing with delights and leaning upon her beloved?” (Song 8:5){footnote}Quae est ista quae ascendit de deserto, deliciis affluens, innixa super dilectum suum?{/footnote} But these same angels, perceiving that from her birth Mary appeared as a glorious orb of day commencing to shine, and little by little becoming fair as the moon, bright as the sun, cry out in ravishing accents: “Who is this that cometh as the morning (quasi aurora consurgens), fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army in battle array?” (Song 6:9){footnote}Quae est ista quae progreditur quasi aurora consurgens, pulchra ut luna, electa ut solt terribilis ut castrorum acies ordinata?{/footnote}

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22. The conduct which the Three Persons of the Most Holy Trinity have deigned to pursue in the Incarnation and the first coming of Jesus Christ, They still pursue daily, in an invisible manner, throughout the whole Church; and They will still pursue it even to the consummation of ages in the last coming of Jesus Christ.

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Testimony of the Fathers and Ascetical Writers (1)

Having listened to the Holy Spirit, whose divine Heart is the third foundation of the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of the Mother of God, revealing to us through Sacred Scripture many marvelous truths which should inspire us to render fitting honor and praise to Mary’s admirable Heart, we must next hearken to the Spirit of God promulgating this devotion through the writings of the Fathers and authoritative writers of the Church.

First, there are twelve Fathers and ascetical writers: St. Augustine, St. Leo the Great, St. John Chrysostom, St. Anselm, St. Peter Chrysologus, St. John Damascene, St. Bernard (who with other members of the Cistercian Order received most signal favors from our Lady) St. Bonaventure and St. Bernard, two illustrious sons of St. Francis, St. Lawrence Justinian, Richard of St. Lawrence, and venerable Louis of Grenada, (son in religion of the great St. Dominic, who preached so extensively the devotion to the Holy Rosary.)

Our first quotation is from the pen of St. Augustine. In a sermon on the Annunciation he brings out our great obligation to the loving Heart of Mary in return for her admirable consent to the Angel’s request.

O most happy Mary, who can render thee adequate thanks for the help thou hast given to a lost world by thy consent (2) to Gabriel’s demand? What praise can be presented by our fallen nature, which found the beginning of the deliverance through thee? Accept, we beseech thee, our thanks, humble and weak though they be; accept our resolutions and excuse our sins by thy prayers. Receive what we offer thee, give us what we ask thee, pardon what we fear, thou who art the sole hope of our happiness (3).

Another testimony of the ardent devotion of St. Augustine to the Admirable Heart of Mary is found in his book on the Mother of God: Materna propinquitas nihil Mariae profuisset, nisi felicius Christum Corde, quam carne gestasset. “The divine maternity would not have profited Mary if she had not first borne Jesus Christ in Her Heart more happily and advantageously than in her womb” (4).

St. Leo the Great, who lived in the same century as St. Augustine, also speaks of the Holy Heart of Mary. He preached the glory of Mary’s virginal Heart in the city of Rome, as is proved from the following words from his sermon on the Birth of Christ: “A royal virgin, of the race of David, is chosen to be the Mother of the Infant-God and to conceive Him in her Heart before bearing Him in her womb” (5).

St. Anselm, the illustrious Archbishop of Canterbury and worthy son of St. Benedict, clearly reveals his love and devotion to the Mother of God in his writings, especially in a book called: The Excellence of the Blessed Virgin Mary. One passage in this work makes a special mention of the loving Heart of Mary. After the saintly Archbishop has pronounced a beautiful eulogy on the glorious Assumption of Our Lady, he speaks thus: “What praise and thanksgiving do men and all other creatures owe the Blessed Virgin Mary! The most pure holiness and the most holy purity of her pious Heart, which surpasses incomparably the holiness and purity of all other creatures, merited that God choose her to be the restorer of the world which was lost” (6).

St. Anselm is right in attributing the resurrection and restoration of man and of all things to the most pure and holy Heart of the Mother of the Sovereign Restorer. It was by the purity and holiness of Mary’s Heart that she drew God the Son into her holy womb so that we might have a redeemer.

St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop of Ravenna, to console and strengthen his flock in the midst of the many disasters and calamities of war, strove to imprint in their hearts the devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, exhorting them to have recourse to her mercy and to supplicate her to be their shelter and refuge in the misery that encompassed them. Those who followed the saint’s advice felt the effects of the inconceivable goodness of Mary, of whom this holy bishop speaks beautifully in a sermon on the Incarnation. Here are his very words:

He who is not surprised and amazed in considering the perfections of Mary’s soul, ignores the greatness and wonder of God. Heaven is filled with awe at the sight of the majesty of God, the angels tremble with respect, all nature is overwhelmed at the brilliance of this power. Yet a virgin receives this God of infinite grandeur in her heart, where she gives Him a holy and worthy dwelling-place. And in return for so pleasing a lodging He wills that she exact from His goodness peace for the earth, glory for heaven, life for the dead and salvation for all who are lost (7).

Can anything more glorious be said of the Heart of the august Mother of God? The Heart of Mary is the sacred palace of the Sovereign Monarch of the universe. It is the holy house of the Eternal Wisdom which the Holy Spirit expresses in these words:

Wisdom hath built herself a house, she hath hewn her out seven pillars. She hath slain her victims, mingled her wine, and set forth her table. She hath sent her maids to invite to the tower, and to the walls of the city. Whosoever is a little one, let him come to me. And to the unwise she said: Come, eat my bread, and drink the wine which I have mingled for you (Prov 9:1-5).

What is this house that Eternal Wisdom, the Son of God, has built to dwell in? It is the Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary. What are the seven columns? They are the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, which support and sustain this heart and render it unshakeable to all the assaults of the devil. The victims are Mary’s thoughts, affections, desires, which she sacrificed to His divine Majesty. The wine that Divine Wisdom mingled with water is the divinity of the Son of God and His humanity, united in the womb of Mary by the holiness of her Heart, which drew Him from the eternal bosom of the Father.

St. John Damascene, the great defender of holy images against the impious Emperor Leo and the iconoclasts, wrote several excellent essays on the devotion to the Mother of God from which the following lines are taken:

… Thy lips were fashioned only to praise Jesus Christ and to be pressed against His. Thy mouth and thy tongue cannot taste anything but the heavenly bread and wine of the words of God, whose sweetness can fill and inebriate thee. Thy pure and immaculate Heart is always turned towards thy beloved, and is applied only to contemplate Him, to desire Him, to seek Him and to aspire after Him … (8).

St. Bernard, the glory and ornament of the Cistercian Order, expresses his ardent love for Mary’s maternal Heart in these beautiful words:

Open, O Mother of Mercy, open the door of thy merciful Heart to the prayers that we offer to thee with sighs and tears. Thou dost not reject the sinner even when he is corrupt with sin, if he comes to thee and begs thine intercession with a contrite and humble heart. It is no wonder that thy heart is filled with the greatest compassion, since the incomparable work of mercy ordained by God was accomplished in thy sacred womb in which God hath been pleased to dwell. He hath built a house of the immaculate substance of thy virginal flesh, a house supported by seven silver columns, a house in which He placed a golden bed, thy Holy Heart, on which He took His peaceful rest. The seven columns are the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, and thou art the unique and holy woman in whom the Savior of the World finds perfect and pleasing repose. In thy pure womb and in thy loving Heart He pours all the treasures of his power and love. Hence the Holy Spirit derives unfeigned pleasure from thee, O admirable Mary, when He wills to consecrate thy womb by the fulfillment of His divine mysteries. This adorable Spirit is a consuming fire, which inflames thy most holy soul, and consequently the loving Heart, which is filled with the splendor of His Divine Majesty (9).

The virginal Heart of His heavenly Mother so charmed his soul that St. Bernard expresses a loving complaint in one of his works: “O Ravisher of Hearts, thou hast ravished my heart; when wilt thou give it back to me?” (10)

The Order of St. Francis has always counted sons outstanding for their writings and sermons on the doctrine of Mary’s Immaculate Conception. Among these sons St. Bonaventure was most prominent for the fervor of his devotion to the Queen of Heaven. His special love for Mary is shown in the psalter composed in her honor, containing 150 psalms modeled on the psalms of David, in one of which he calls the Heart of Mary the source of salvation. Omnis salus de Corde Mariae scaturizat (11).

St. Bonaventure in other treatises on the devotion to Mary portrays the symbolic pictures of her august Heart. In his commentary on the second chapter of St. Luke he calls Mary’s Heart the Ark of the Covenant. As the Ark contained a portion of manna which God sent down from heaven so the Heart of the Savior’s Mother kept all the mysteries of her divine Son, all the words of life and the sacred truths that He brought down from heaven to be the sweet and precious manna of our souls (12).

St. Bernardine of Siena was another son of the Seraphic St. Francis. So ardent and tender was St. Bernardine’s devotion to the Mother of God and to her amiable Heart that it is difficult to find his equal.

In a sermon on Mary’s Immaculate Conception St. Bernardine shows the wonders of Our Lady’s admirable Heart which will be an object of rapture for all the denizens of heaven. One marvel of the Heart of Mary is that it is the focus of a mirror towards which all the rays of the sun converge. In this mirror he sees a fire so ardent that it inflames everything placed in front of it. “Similarly,” says the saint, “all the vehement desires of all the hearts of Patriarchs, Prophets, and the other saints of the Old Testament concerning the coming of the Redeemer, united in the Holy Heart of Mary as in their center, kindle therein such ardent desires that no mind can conceive them and no words express them” (13).

St. Lawrence Justinian, Patriarch of Venice, gave manifest marks of his very special devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. His book, De triumphanto agone Christi, “The Triumphant Agony of Christ,” represents Mary’s sorrowful Heart as a clear mirror of Our Lord’s Passion and as a perfect image of His Death: Clarissimum passionis Christi speculum et perfecta mortis ejus imago. This implies that he who could see the maternal Heart of the sorrowful Mother, as the angels see it, would also see the cords, the thorns, the nails, the spear, the wounds, the pain and all the torments that the beloved Son suffered in His soul and body.

Richard of St. Lawrence, zealous penitentiary of Rouen, 400 years ago, wrote a work in 12 parts called The Praises of the Glorious Virgin, in which he mentions six things concerning Mary’s Heart.

The admirable Heart of the Mother of God is the source of salvation (14). It is the first of all hearts, which was worthy to receive in itself the Son of God, who came out of the bosom of the Father into this world (15). In the meek and humble Heart of Mary mercy and justice gave each other the kiss of peace (16). The amiable Heart of Mary received the same wounds as our loving Redeemer suffered in His body (17). The Heart of our Mother was the armory and treasury of Sacred Scripture for the Old and New Testaments (18). Lastly, Mary’s admirable Heart is the book of life in which the life of Jesus Christ was written in gold letters by the Holy Spirit, the finger of God (19).

The white habit of the sons of St. Dominic shows that they belong in a special way to Mary, the Queen of Angels. After the principal aim of the Order, the glory of God, St. Dominic founded it to teach by word and example the devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary as a powerful means of salvation.

From among the writings of St. Dominic’s spiritual sons I have chosen a few excerpts from the Venerable Louis of Grenada on the loving Heart of the Savior’s Mother.

The holy Gospel ends the account of the sweet birth of the Redeemer by a very expressive sentence in which it mentions the Heart of Mary thus: “Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart.” The story of this Gospel is truly a royal banquet and a table which God has set for the elect and has covered with thousands of kinds of delicious food. The Child, the Mother, the birth, the crib, the angels and the shepherds, all details are filled with miracles distilling drops of honey. Everyone may take what pleases him and eat what he likes. As for myself I confess that the last dessert, I mean the last sentence in that gospel story, which pictures the Heart of Mary, is a dish of unspeakable deliciousness …

O Queen of Heaven, O Gate of Paradise, Lady of the World, Sanctuary of the Holy Spirit, Throne of Wisdom, Temple of the Living God, Guardian of the secrets of Jesus Christ, and Witness of all His works, what didst thy Heart feel in all these mysteries. … Who can understand what was in thy Heart? She was astonished to behold the Word of God, a babe without speech, to see the Almighty wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a crib. She was enraptured by the goodness of God, His generosity, His humility and His extraordinary devotion. She was astonished to see how greatly He loved man, how much He cherished them, did them honor, longed for their salvation, ennobled and lifted them up to such a height by the mystery of His sacred humanity (20).

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Further testimony is found in the writings of four learned writers, who are almost like four Evangelists in teaching us the devotion to the admirable Heart of Mary. I cite Joseph de la Cerda, Benedictine monk and professor of theology at the University of Salamanca; John Gerson, Chancellor of the University of Paris and French delegate to the Ecumenical Council of Constance; Nicolas Salicet, Abbot of the Cistercian Order; and Bartholomew de los Rios, of the Order of St. Augustine, whose works are entitled Hierarchia Mariana, “Hierarchy of Mary.”

Listen to the Salutation to the Most Holy Heart of Mary, taken from the Antidotarium animae, “Antidotarium of the Soul” (21), of Abbot Nicolas, whose assurance that he garnered the prayers and salutation from the writings of the Fathers demonstrates the antiquity of the devotion to the admirable Heart of the Mother of God.

I shall speak to thy Heart, O Mary, mirror of angelic beauty. I shall speak to thy most pure Heart, O Mistress of the World, I shall prostrate myself before thy holy temple and thank it with all the powers of my soul. I shall salute thy immaculate Heart from the inmost recesses of my soul, thy Heart which was found worthy to receive the Only-begotten Son of God coming out of the bosom of His Eternal Father.

Hail, unique sanctuary, which God consecrated by the unction of the Holy Spirit. Hail, Holy of Holies, which the Supreme Pontiff dedicated for his admirable and ineffable entrance on the day of His Incarnation. Hail Ark of Sanctity, which kept within itself the Sacred Scripture engraved by the finger of God.

Hail, Golden Urn, filled with celestial manna. In thee is found a delicious banquet, in thee are all delights, in thee are the remedies and sources of grace.

Hail, Virginal Heart, inviolable sanctuary and noble dwelling-place of the Blessed Trinity, in which divinity met humanity in a kiss of love. Rejoice with an eternal joy.

O Emerald Cup, whose brilliance will never fade, thou hast offered to our King, thirsting for our salvation, the delicious nectar of refreshing faith, at the blessed moment when thou didst answer the salutation of the Archangel: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it done unto me according to thy word.” May Thy soul exalt, O Mary, Mother of sweetness, and may every creature praise the happiness of thy most holy Heart from which comes the source of our salvation.

O Furnace in which the Seraphim are inflamed! O Paradise of Delights! Oh, what pulsations of love, O Blessed Virgin Mary, did thrill thy Heart, when the vivifying Spirit of God, like a burning wind, breathed on thee and drew thee to Him with thy whole soul.

May thy most noble Heart be forever blessed, O Mary, thy Heart adorned with the gifts of celestial wisdom and inflamed with the ardor of charity. May thy Heart be blessed, in which thou didst meditate and cherish the sacred mysteries of our redemption, keeping them to reveal to us the opportune time. Praise and love to thee, O most loving Heart; honor and glory from all creatures forever and ever. Amen.

Among the Religious Orders existing in Holy Church, none has shown more zeal and ardor in the veneration and service of Our Lady than the illustrious Society of Jesus, whose constant work in this regard falls into three classes.

First are the Sodalities of Our Lady, established in all Jesuit colleges, which are schools of Christian virtue as well as learning, blessed schools teaching the science of eternal salvation, which can never be wanting to those who cherish heartfelt devotion to the Mother of God.

Secondly, by their apostolic preaching the Sons of St. Ignatius have spread the knowledge and exaltation of the Admirable Mother of God throughout the world.

Thirdly, many of the members, who number over three hundred authors of note in this one Society, have devoted their pens to proclaiming the glorious perfections of the Admirable Heart of Mary.

I have no intention of setting forth here all that these writers have penned concerning the august Heart of the Queen of Heaven, for it would make this work too long. I shall merely mention twelve whom I consider to be as twelve apostles of the perfections of Mary’s incomparable, Heart. Here are their names: Francis Suarez; Osorius, one of the first disciples of St. Ignatius; St. Peter Canisius; Sebastian Baradius; Father John Eusebius of Nieremberg; Father John Baptist St. Jure; Father Stephen Binet; Father Francis Poire; Father Paul Barry; Christopher de Vega; Cornelius a Lapide; and Father Honorat Nicquet.

If you ask me where these remarkable writers learned the science of the saving devotion to the Heart of Mary, I can only reply that it sprang from the zealous heart of their illustrious Father, St. Ignatius, who bore constantly from the day of his conversion to the end of his life the image of the Admirable Heart of the Mother of our Savior, which is preserved as a precious relic in the Jesuit College at Saragossa.

May Almighty God vouchsafe that the example of this great saint inspire the hearts of the readers of this book to imitate his devotion to the most Holy Heart of the Glorious Virgin Mary!

This article was excerpted from St. John Eudes, The Admirable Heart of Mary, part seven, chapter I. St. John Eudes is a spiritual father of the Order of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary, a contemplative community of lay and religious dedicated to serving the Hearts of Jesus and Mary through Eucharistic Adoration, contemplation, and corporal works of mercy. For more information on the order, visit heartsofjesusandmary.org.

Notes

(1) Part seven is an abridged translation of parts seven and eight of the original French work.

(2) The significance of these words of St. Augustine may be inferred from the words of Richard of St. Lawrence: Ex Corde beatae Virginis processerunt fides et consensus per quae duo initiata est salus mundi. “From the Heart of the Blessed Virgin came the two things that marked the beginning of the salvation of mankind, namely faith, and consent which Mary gave to the mystery of the incarnation.” De laud. B.M. lib 41. partit. 2.

(3) Serm. 2 de Annunt.

(4) Cap. 3.

(5) Serm. de Nativ. Domini.

(6) De Excell. Mariae, cap. 9.

(7) Serm. 140 de Annunt.

(8) Orat. I de Nativ. B. Virg.

(9) Serm. panegyric.

(10) In medit. sup. Salve.

(11) Psal. B.V. ps. 79.

(12) Virginis fuit arca continens divinorum eloquiorum arcana. Et ideo per arcam Moysis designator, de qua dicitur quod continebat tabulas legis divinae. In cap. 2 Luc. Unde Cor.

(13) Serm. 4 de Concept B.V. art. 3, cap. I.

(14) De Laud, B.V. lib. 2, partit. 2, p. 104.

(15) Ibid.

(16) Ibid.

(17) Ibid.

(18) Ibid., lib. 10, p. 593.

(19) Ibid., lib. 4, p. 309.

(20) This excerpt is taken from the Addition to the Memorial.

(21) This salutation is in Latin in the original edition of the Admirable Heart. Cf. Oeuvres Completes, v. 7, p. 295 ff.

 

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Everyone is interested in a marriage. If the human heart does not have enough love in its heart, it seeks out those who are in love. The most famous marriage in history was at Cana, because Our Blessed Lord was present there.

A marriage in the East was always a time of great rejoicing. The bridegroom went to the home of the bride, and in those days it was never the bride who kept the bridegroom waiting but rather the bridegroom, as in the parable, who kept the bride waiting. The bride was veiled, from head to foot, to symbolize her subjection as a wife. Both partners fasted the whole day before the marriage and confessed their sins in prayer as on the Day of Atonement. Ceremonies began at twilight, for it was a custom in Palestine, no less than in Greece:

To bear away
The bride from home at blushing shut of day.



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Devotion to the admirable Heart of Mary is by no means new, for it springs from the adorable Heart of the most Holy Trinity, and it is as old as the Christian religion and the Gospel itself. St. Luke the Evangelist bears witness to this in one chapter of his gospel by making twice a particular mention of her most holy Heart. In the 19th verse of chapter 2 he says: "But Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart," and in the 51st verse: "And his mother kept all these words in her heart."

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Christ gave all Christians this command: "Put me as a seal upon thy heart, as a seal upon thy arm" (Song 8:6), that is, impress upon yourself inwardly and outwardly the image of my interior and exterior life. "For love is as strong as death, jealousy as hard as hell," which means, as I have died a most cruel death to turn your love back to me, so if you love me, you must likewise die to sin, to yourselves, to the world and to all things, in order to live only in me and for me. As my infinite love for you would have made me suffer even greater torments if such had been necessary to save you from hell, so also, if you love me, you must be ready to suffer the pangs of hell rather than offend me!

Such is the command of the Son of God to every faithful soul, but no one has ever kept it perfectly except the Blessed Virgin Mary.

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"My beloved to me, and I to him" (Song 2:16). "I to my beloved, and my beloved me" (Song 6:2). "I to my beloved, and his turning is towards me" (Song 7:10), with His mind, His heart, His affection and His whole being.

It is not without mystery that the Blessed Virgin Mary repeats the three foregoing verses under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, speaking in the sacred Canticle (Song of Songs), which is so mysterious and full of eternal verities. The preceding three verses admit of nine explanations, each revealing to us the incomprehensible love of the Almighty for the peerless Virgin and the ardent love of her virginal Heart for God, Her Creator.

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"I sleep, and my heart watcheth" (Song 5:2). It is the glorious Virgin Mary who speaks, or rather the Holy Spirit who utters these words through her virginal lips and reveals to us five mysteries most gloriously perfected in her blessed Heart.

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The rosary is made up of two things: mental prayer and vocal prayer. In the Holy Rosary mental prayer is none other than meditation of the chief mysteries of the life, death and glory of Jesus Christ and of His Blessed Mother. Vocal prayer consists in saying fifteen decades of the Hail Mary, each decade headed by an Our Father, while at the same time meditating on and contemplating the fifteen principal virtues which Jesus and Mary practiced in the fifteen mysteries of the Holy Rosary.

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Only mental blindness or prodigious ignorance of the things of God could lead us to doubt that the devotion of the Rosary of the Most Blessed Virgin came from heaven and was inspired by God. It is approved and practiced by the universal Church; it contains the holiest prayers anyone could possibly say, the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Creed, and it is a most excellent means of honoring the first mystery of the life of Jesus, the greatest wonder God ever accomplished on earth, the miracle of the Incarnation of the Son of God in the most holy Virgin Mary. This incomparable wonder and admirable mystery, which perpetually enraptures all heaven and there adored without interruption, should be adored just as incessantly on earth, because it transpired on earth for the benefit of the dwellers of the earth, and because the Church Militant is bound to follow and imitate the Church Triumphant in heaven….

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"All the Glory of the King’s Daughter is Within"

Infinite goodness compels God the Holy Spirit to disclose to us the inestimable treasures hidden in the marvelous Heart of Mary and to proclaim them through Sacred Scripture, the inspired word of God. The first significant text that I shall point out is taken from the 44th Psalm: "All the glory of the king’s daughter is within" (Ps. 44:14), where the Holy Spirit reveals that the admirable Heart of Mary is a source of benefactions without number and of every kind.

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Life and vision, in a Christian soul, constitute the same principle. According to God’s Word, Christian life and vision are one and the same thing, since faith, which is the light and vision of the just man, is also his life, as it is written: "The just man lives by faith" (Rom. 1:17). Eternal life consists in knowing God, as His Son Jesus Christ teaches us when He addresses His Heavenly Father, saying: "Now this is eternal life: That they may know thee, the only true God" (Jn. 17:3). Since the life of God abides in His knowledge and love of Himself and of His divine perfections, so the life of the children of God consists in knowing and loving the Eternal Father. Those who know God by the light of faith and love Him with a supernatural love are alive with God’s own life, and God is living within them. He is the life of their hearts and of their souls.

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The glory of God is a perfection consisting in his most clear knowledge of his divine perfections, the sum of which, being perfectly understood by his divine intelligence, constitutes the essential glory of his adorable Majesty.

Felicity is another divine perfection, consisting partly in God’s knowledge, partly in his love of himself. The union of these two spiritual activities constitutes the incomprehensible and ineffable bliss of his divine Majesty. The divine Eternity of God maintains him at every moment in full possession of all the grandeurs, glories, joys and felicities. He has ever enjoyed or ever will enjoy while the ages course along.

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The peace of God is another divine perfection completely realizing its faithful image in the admirable Heart of the most holy Mother of God. But before studying the reflection, let us gaze at the original and consider this adorable perfection of the peace of God Himself.

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Among the several names given to God in Sacred Scripture, none occurs more frequently than that of Lord. It is the name his Divine Majesty constantly assumes when speaking to men. "I am the Lord" (Exod 29:46; Lev 19:32). He wishes to impress upon our minds and in our hearts a most high esteem, a profound respect and a complete submission towards the supreme authority of his adorable Sovereignty.

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Everything in nature, grace and glory, all the effects of power, wisdom, goodness, mercy and justice of God, all the mysteries, actions and sufferings of the God-Man, all the sacrifices, sacraments and functions of God’s Church, in a word, all things in heaven, on earth and even in hell, are like so many voices proclaiming God’s ardent zeal for His own glory and for the salvation of souls.

In the first place, God does everything for Himself and for the glory of His divine Majesty: “The Lord hath made all things for himself” (Prov. 16:4). Being the first principle and the last end of all things, it were impossible for Him to act otherwise. This zeal for His own glory fills Him with an infinite hatred of everything that is contrary to it, that is, every kind of sin, especially vanity, presumption and pride. Whereas the humble render honor and glory to God in all things, the pride are like thieves who would take for themselves the honor and glory which belong to God alone. This same zeal for His honor leads God to derive His glory from all created things, even from the greatest evils. He would never permit such evils to exist if He did not have the power to turn them to His greater glory. As St. Augustine expresses it: “He has deemed it preferable to derive good from evil, than to prevent evil altogether” (1). Finally, the zeal of the Son of God for His Father’s honor induced Him to assume human nature, to be born in a stable, to live thirty-four years on earth amidst tribulations and sufferings, and to die on the Cross, that He might atone for the insults offered by sinners to God the Father and to glorify Him in a manner worthy of His infinite Majesty.

In the second place, God’s ineffable goodness and immense love for all the souls created to His image and likeness enkindles in His Heart a most ardent zeal for their salvation. It is this zeal that induces Him to avail Himself, in order to save souls, of His Divine Essence, His power, wisdom, goodness, love, charity, mercy, justice and all His other perfections. The three Divine Persons, their thoughts, words and actions, the life, passion, precious blood and death of the Son of God, the angels, the saints, the entire Church with the sacraments she administers, all God’s works, all He is, everything He has, everything is employed to procure the salvation of souls. […]

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“And the virgin’s name was Mary” (Lk 1:27). Let us also say a few words about this name, which means “star of the sea” and is most suitably fitting for a virgin mother. For she is most appropriately compared to a star, because, just as a star emits its rays without being corrupted, so the Virgin gave birth to her Son without any injury to her virginity. When the star emits its rays, this does not make it less bright, and neither does the Son diminish his Mother’s virginal integrity. She, therefore, is that noble star risen from Jacob, whose ray gives light to the whole world, whose brightness both shines forth in the heavens and penetrates the depths. It lights up the earth and warms the spirit more than the body; it fosters virtues and dries up vices. Mary, I say, is the distinguished and bright shining star, necessarily lifted up above this great broad sea, gleaming with merits, giving light by her example.

Oh, if any of you recognizes that he is caught between storms and tempests, tossed about in the flood of this world, instead of walking on dry land, keep your eyes fixed on the glow of this star, unless you want to perish, overwhelmed by the tempest!

If the winds of temptations surge, if you run aground on the shoals of troubles, look to this star, call upon Mary!

If you are tossed by the winds of pride or ambition or detraction or jealousy, look to this star, call upon Mary!

If anger or greed or the allurements of the flesh dash against the boat of your mind, look to Mary!

And if you are troubled by the enormity of your sins, confused by the foulness of your conscience, terrified by the horror of the Judgment, so that you begin to be swallowed up by the pit of sadness, the abyss of despair, think of Mary!

In dangers, in straits, in perplexity, think of Mary, call upon Mary. Let her name be always in your mouth and in your heart, and, if you would ask for and obtain the help of her prayers, do not forget the example of how she lived.

If you follow her, you will not go astray. If you pray to her, you will not despair. If you think of her, you will not be lost. If you cling to her, you will not fall. If she protects you, you will not fear; if she is your guide, you will not tire; if she is favorable to you, you will reach your goal. Thus you will experience personally how rightly it was spoken: “And the Virgin’s name was Mary.”

—Bernard of Clairvaux, Super missus est 2, 17; PL 183, 70-71

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God’s meekness, patience and clemency are three divine perfections which are joined with mercy to form one and the same perfection, although their effects are different.

Mercy regards the misery of creatures in general, to relieve and to deliver them from its fetters. The first and greatest of miseries, the source of all wretchedness is sin. When man is so unhappy as to offend God mortally, he at once becomes the object of God’s wrath which would crush him the very instant he consents to sin, as he infinitely deserves to be. But divine meekness prevents the destruction and arrests the torrent of God’s just anger, ready to pour upon the sinner. If man perseveres in his crime, he deserves to be cast upon divine vengeance, but divine patience interposes and persuades God to suffer the sinner and await his repentance with admirable goodness.

These are the effects of divine meekness and patience. God’s clemency is manifested by remitting entirely or in part the punishment due to sin.

Whoever is in mortal sin deserves the eternal punishment of hell, but divine clemency often sends temporal affliction to those who are in that miserable state, to oblige them to struggle out of it, and thus become delivered from eternal suffering. If they will be converted at the very instant they feel sentiments of true remorse, divine mercy effaces the guilt of sin from their souls. […]

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Divine Mercy is a perfection directed towards the miseries of creatures, tending to alleviate them and even to free them from created things when such a liberation enters into the designs of Divine Providence, which does all things with measure, number and weight (Wis 11:21).

This adorable mercy extends, like goodness itself, to all God’s works: “His tender mercies are over all his works” (Ps 144:9). God’s mercy overshadows the works of nature, the works of grace and the works of glory.

Mercy supervises the works of nature, because God has created out of nothing all things contained in the natural order. It overshadows the works of grace, because man had fallen into the horrible abyss, and Divine Mercy not only drew him from its depths but reestablished man in a state of grace so Godlike and noble that from being a member of Satan (as he was by his crime) he became a member of Jesus Christ.

God’s mercy permeates the works of glory, because God was not content simply to raise man to the supernatural and sublime state of Christian grace, making him thus partaker of the divine nature. The Creator further designed to withdraw man from the baseness, miseries, imperfections and perils which surround him here below, and to elevate him to heaven, even to the throne of God, to grant participation in his everlasting glory and the enjoyment of his eternal happiness. God has willed to share all his possessions with man, his creature. […]

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Sacred theology distinguishes in God three kinds of goodness, which are fundamentally one and the same: natural goodness, moral goodness and goodness of benevolence or bounty, which is sometimes called benignity. Natural goodness is none other than the perfection and beauty of divine nature, containing the infinite excellences of the Godhead. Moral goodness comprises all the moral virtues that God possesses so eminently and in so high a degree that they are infinitely beyond what a created spirit can think or express.

The goodness of benevolence or bounty is God’s infinite inclination to communicate himself and it proceeds from his natural goodness. As a vessel brimming with a precious liquor tends to overflow, so a being filled with perfection has a natural inclination to communicate its fullness. God is an immense ocean, filled to overflowing with infinite good and divine perfections, and he possesses an unutterable and incomprehensible propensity to communicate them. […]

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It is an indubitable maxim, in which all theologians concur with the Angelic Doctor, that God gives us His graces in a manner conformable and proportionate to the quality and dignity of the state and condition to which He calls us. And so Divine Bounty having chosen St. Joachim and St. Ann to be father and mother of her who was to be Queen of all the Saints, Mother of the Saint of Saints, and Spouse of the Holy Spirit, filled them with all His gifts and graces so that they were possessed of extraordinary sanctity. And since the Father of mercies and God of all consolation willed through them to give her to us who, after her Son, is the most excellent model of all perfection, the most high throne of all the virtues, and the most rich treasure of all sanctity, who can doubt that He showered upon them, who were to be the source and origin of this immense sea of graces, all imaginable virtues and perfections, and these in a very high degree?

We may behold in them, then, the most lively faith, most firm hope and most ardent love for God and very perfect charity for their neighbor, unparalleled piety, and devotion, profound humility, extraordinary abstinence, and marvelous purity.

Behold the vigor of their faith and the firmness of their hope. The consideration of their sterility ought to have debarred them from all hope of having descendants; but it may be said of them as of their father Abraham, they believed and hoped even against hope: “In spem contra spent” (Rom. 4:18). This rendered them worthy to be the father and mother of the Mother of God and of all the children of God. […]

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The Month of Mary is the month of blessings and of grace, for, as St Bernard, in company with all the Saints, assures us, all grace comes to us through Mary. The month of Mary is a continuous festival in honor of the Mother of God, which prepares us well for the beautiful month of the Blessed Sacrament which follows it.

I. Because our vocation calls us to give special honor to the Holy Eucharist, we must not for that reason give any the less devotion to the Blessed Virgin. Far from it! He would be guilty of blasphemy who would say, “The Most Blessed Sacrament suffices for me; I have no need of Mary.” Where, then, shall we find Jesus on earth if not in Mary’s arms? Was it not she who gave us the Eucharist! It was her consent to the Incarnation of the Word in her womb that inaugurated the great mystery of reparation to God and union with us which Jesus accomplished during His mortal life, and that He continues in the Eucharist. […]

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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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He it is, who came from heaven to earth
for the sake of suffering man;
he clothed himself in man’s flesh
in the womb of a Virgin from whom he came forth as man
and took upon himself the sufferings of him who suffered,
by means of a body capable of suffering,
and destroyed the sufferings of the flesh
and slew death-dealing death
by his spirit which cannot die…. […]

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How did Mary become the Rosa Mystica, the choice, delicate, perfect flower of God’s spiritual creation? It was by being born, nurtured, and sheltered in the mystical garden or Paradise of God. Scripture makes use of the figure of a garden when it would speak of heaven and its blessed inhabitants. A garden is a spot of ground set apart for trees and plants, all good, all various, for things that are sweet to the taste, or fragrant in scent, or beautiful to look upon, or useful for nourishment. Accordingly in its spiritual sense it means the home of blessed spirits and holy souls dwelling there together, souls with both the flowers and the fruits upon them, which by the careful husbandry of God they have come to bear, flowers and fruits of grace, flowers more beautiful and more fragrant than those of any garden, fruits more delicious and exquisite than can be matured by earthly husbandman.

All that God has made speaks of its Maker; the mountains speak of his eternity, the sun of his immensity, and the winds of his almightiness. In like manner flowers and fruits speak of his sanctity, his love, and his providence; and such as are flowers and fruits, such must be the place where they are found. That is to say, since they are found in a garden, therefore a garden has also excellences which speak of God, because it is their home. For instance, it would be out of place if we found beautiful flowers on the mountain crag, or rich fruit in the sandy desert. As then by flowers and fruits are meant, in a mystical sense, the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit, so by a garden is meant mystically a place of spiritual repose, stillness, peace, refreshment, and delight. […]

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Divine wisdom and truth are communicated to the holy Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary in no lesser degree than Divine power and strength.

If the Holy Spirit assures us that the soul of the just man is the seat of Divine Wisdom, we can well say that the Heart of Mary, Mother of Jesus, is the throne of this same Wisdom, the highest and most magnificent throne that it ever had or shall have on earth and in heaven.

The Heart of Mary is not merely the throne of Wisdom, but its living image, for it is the Heart of the Mother of Him whom Sacred Scripture calls “the wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 1:21-24). In Christ are all the treasures of the wisdom and knowledge of God, and He certainly dispensed them in an incomparably higher manner to His Mother than to King Solomon and all the sages and wise men of the universe.

Mundane prudence and the wisdom of the flesh never found admittance into her wise Heart, which was and still is an inexhaustible treasure and bottomless abyss of angelic prudence, holy science, heavenly light and wisdom divine, because her luminous Heart always was and ever shall be the abode of the Eternal Sun and of Uncreated Wisdom, Who has always dwelt therein. It is the city mentioned by the Prophet Isaias: “One shall be called the city of the Sun” (Isa. 19:18). […]

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In this chapter I shall show how Mary’s Heart bears a striking resemblance to divine purity and sanctity. The most pure and holy Heart of Our Lady is a living image of those two adorable perfections, which are one and the same, for St. Dionysius tells us that sanctity is perfect purity, (1) purity meaning freedom from the slightest imperfection.

The most holy Heart of Mary is indeed an excellent image of divine purity and holiness. Not only was her most pure and holy Heart always far removed from every kind of sin, but it was entirely free from attachment to created things, and intimately united to God by its pure and holy love for Him together with the eminent practice of all the other virtues which Mary’s Heart possessed in so high a degree. The Queen of Virtues is called by St. John Damascene “the abode and the sanctuary of all virtues.” (2) Even though Our Lady dwelt for years in this world full of filth and abomination, poisoned by the venom of sin, her most holy Heart never contracted the least stain or blemish, was never attached by an inordinate affection to any creature nor even to God’s gifts and graces. The Blessed Virgin remained always intimately united to God, as though nothing else existed save God and herself. Thus were the divine words most perfectly fulfilled in her divine Heart: “Let my heart be undefiled in thy justifications,” (Ps. 118:80) that is, let my heart be immaculate by its union and adherence to Thy divine Will, which justifies, sanctifies and even deifies the hearts that love it and perfectly follow it. […]

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It is in the heart, that is, in the very depth and substance of the Christian soul, that sanctifying grace resides and exercises its powerful influence. There grace establishes the throne of its power, extending to the memory, the intellect and the will, affecting all the higher and lower faculties, and all the internal and external senses.

Granting this, I say that the admirable Heart of Mary is an ocean of grace. Yet it is not I who make this statement, it is the Archangel Gabriel, sent by God from Heaven to announce to the Queen of Angels that the divine Majesty had chosen her to be the Mother of His Divine Son. The Archangel greets Mary by telling her first of all that she is “full of grace” (Lk 1:28). Notice that he does not say she will be, but that she is full of grace.

Would you know how it is that Mary was full of grace even before the Son of God became Incarnate in her womb? You must consider two truths taught by several distinguished theologians. […]

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There are several ways of saying the Holy Rosary, but that which gives Almighty God the greatest glory, does the most for our souls and which the devil fears more than any other, is that of saying or chanting the Rosary publicly in two groups.

Almighty God is very pleased to have people gathered together in prayer; the angels and the blessed unite to praise Him unceasingly. The just on earth in several communities join in communal prayer night and day. Our Blessed Lord expressly recommended common prayer to His apostles and disciples and promised that whenever two or three were gathered together in His name He would be there in the midst of them (Cf. Mt. 18:20).

What a wonderful thing to have Jesus Christ in our midst! And the only thing we have to do to get Him to come is to say the Rosary in a group. This is why the early Christians often gathered together to pray in spite of all the Roman Emperor’s persecutions and the fact that assemblies were forbidden. They preferred to risk the danger of death rather than to miss their gatherings, at which Our Lord was present.

This way of praying is of the greatest benefit to our souls because: […]

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Among His countless words in praise of the most Blessed Virgin Mary, the Holy Spirit honors His spotless Bride with the glorious tribute of proclaiming that she is clothed with the Sun: “A woman clothed with the Sun” (Apoc. 12:1). What is this Sun? It is the Sun of Divinity and of the divine perfections, according to the explanation of several holy Fathers. Our Lady is not merely clothed with and surrounded by this Sun; she is completely filled and penetrated by it. St. Andrew of Crete praises the incomparable Virgin Mary with appropriate dignity when he calls her “the compendium of God’s incomprehensible perfections.” (1)

Now if this is true of the Blessed Virgin’s sacred person, it is still more true of her holy Heart, the noblest part of her being, the source and sanctuary of the virtues of humility, obedience and charity which elevate her to the sublime and divine state that she personally revealed to St. Brigid. (2) Her glowing Heart is the perfect expression and marvellous compendium of all the attributes of the Divine Essence. It is the beautiful mirror in which the ardent love of Jesus Christ for His most amiable Mother reflects so excellently all the perfections of His divinity and His humanity. […]

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“Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you” (Lk 1:28). This is she who was prefigured by Eve and who symbolically received the title of mother of the living (cf. Gen 3:20). For Eve was called mother of the living after she had heard the words, “You are dust and to dust you shall return” (Gen 3:19), in other words, after the fall. It seems odd that she should receive such a grand title after having sinned. Looking at the matter from the outside, one notices that Eve is the one from whom the entire human race took its origin on this earth. Mary, on the contrary, truly introduced life itself into the world by giving birth to the Living One, so that Mary has become the Mother of the living.

[…]

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Saint Augustine says quite emphatically that there is no spiritual exercise more fruitful or more useful to our salvation than continually turning our thoughts to the sufferings of Our Savior.

Blessed Albert the Great, who had Saint Thomas Aquinas as his disciple, learned in a revelation that by simply thinking of or meditating on the passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, a Christian gains more merit than if he had fasted on bread and water every Friday for a whole year, or had beaten himself with his discipline once a week until the blood flowed, or had recited the whole Book of Psalms every day. If this is so, then how great must be the merit that we can gain by the Holy Rosary which commemorates the whole life and passion of Our Savior! […]

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Even though there is nothing so great as the majesty of God and nothing so low as man insofar as he is a sinner, Almighty God does not despise our poor prayers. On the contrary, He is pleased when we sing His praises.

Saint Gabriel’s greeting to Our Lady is one of the most beautiful hymns which we can possibly sing to the glory of the Most High. “I will sing a new song to you” (Ps. 143:9).

This new hymn which David foretold was to be sung at the coming of the Messiah is none other than the Angelic Salutation. […]

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It is an undoubted fact that if man and woman had continued in the state of original innocence wherein God had created them, woman would not have had to endure the pangs of childbirth, since it was in punishment of her sin that Divine Justice pronounced against her this decree: “In dolore paries“: (1) “Thou shalt bring forth in sorrow.”

Now the birth of our admirable Virgin not being sullied with the guilt of original sin, ought not to have carried with it the effects of this condemnation. The Holy Spirit compares her birth to the birth of a star, dissipating darkness and diffusing joy: “a star shall come forth out of Jacob” (2) And St. Ildephonsus declares emphatically that our incomparable Mary was not born as the other children of Adam: “Maria non sic est nata, sicut solent pueri et puellae nasci.” (3) […]

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On this Feast of St. John Eudes, Apostle of the Two Hearts, we provide the following excerpt from St. John Eudes on Our Lord’s desire that his Mother’s Heart be venerated. – Ed.

If we… lend our ears to Jesus, the great teacher of the devotion to Mary’s august Heart, He will impart to us many… edifying and consoling truths. Let us listen.

I alone, Our Lord tells us, can worthily proclaim the devotion which the hearts of all who love me shall cultivate towards the Heart of my holy Mother, for I am the source and principle of all the great and marvelous qualities to be found in this abyss of wonders, and I alone have a perfect knowledge of the eminent perfections of her Heart. […]

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Divine Mercy is a perfection directed towards the miseries of creatures, tending to alleviate them and even to free them from created things when such a liberation enters into the designs of Divine Providence, which does all things with measure, number and weight (Wis 2:21).

This adorable mercy extends, like goodness itself, to all God’s works: “His tender mercies are over all His works” (Ps 144:9). God’s mercy overshadows the works of nature, the works of grace and the works of glory.

Mercy supervises the works of nature, because God has created out of nothing all things contained in the natural order. It overshadows the works of grace, because man had fallen into the horrible abyss, and divine mercy not only drew him from its depths but reestablished man in a state of grace so Godlike and noble that from being a member of Satan (as he was by his crime) he became a member of Jesus Christ. […]

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O noble Virgin, truly you are greater than any other greatness. For who is your equal in greatness, O dwelling place of God the Word? To whom among all creatures shall I compare you, O Virgin? You are greater than them all. O Covenant, clothed with purity instead of gold! You are the Ark in which is found the golden vessel containing the true manna, that is, the flesh in which divinity resides. Should I compare you to the fertile earth and its fruits? You surpass them, for it is written: “The earth is my footstool” (Is 66:1). But you carry within you the feet, the head, and the entire body of the perfect God.
[…]

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The entire earthly life of our adorable Savior was a continual exercise of charity and goodness towards us. But it was at the time of His Passion that He gave us the most remarkable proofs of His love. Then it was that out of the abundance of his charity, He suffered frightful torments to deliver us from the terrible punishments of hell and to win for us the everlasting joys of heaven. It was then that His adorable body was covered with wounds and bathed in His blood. His sacred head was pierced with sharp thorns, His hands and feet were transfixed with huge nails, His ears filled with blasphemies and curses, His lips moistened with gall and vinegar, and his soul forcibly and painfully wrenched from His body by the cruel Jews. At that time particularly His divine Heart was rent by countless painful, bleeding wounds. Indeed, one can count the wounds in the adorable Heart of Jesus. There are two kinds of wounds, resulting from two different causes. […]

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Before expounding the prodigious virtues and the incomparable marvels of the admirable Heart of Mary, according to the lights which He Who is the Source of all light will be pleased to give me, I shall point out the various meanings of the word “heart” in Sacred Scripture.

1. The word “heart,” first of all, signifies the material and corporeal heart that beats within our breast, the noblest part of the human body. It is the principle of life, the first organ to begin to live and the last to be stilled in death; it is the seat of love, hatred, joy, sadness, fear and every passion of the soul. Of this heart does the Holy Spirit speak when He says: “With all watchfulness keep thy heart, because life issues out from it” (Prov 4:23). […]

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The Sacred Heart of Jesus is a Furnace of Ardent Love for His Most Holy Mother. Nothing is easier than the proof of this truth. The ineffable graces with which our Savior endowed His Blessed Mother clearly manifest that His love for her is a love without measure or limit. She is, after His Divine Father, the first and most worthy object of His love. He loves her incomparably more than all His angels, saints and other creatures together. The extraordinary favors with which He honored her and the wonderful privileges He conferred upon her, far beyond any other creature, are clear proofs of this truth. Let us examine these numerous and impressive privileges.

First of all, the Blessed Virgin is the only human being whom the Son of God chose from all eternity to elevate above all created things, to set on the highest throne of glory and grandeur, and to adorn with the most admirable of all dignities, the Motherhood of God. […]

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It is certainly true that this adorable Heart is a burning furnace of divine love, radiating its fire and flame in all directions, in heaven, on earth, and even in hell: in heaven in the Church Triumphant, on earth in the Church Militant, and in purgatory in the Church Suffering, and to some degree even in the hell of the damned.

If we lift our eyes and hearts to heaven, to the Church Triumphant, what shall we see? We shall behold an innumerable army of saints, patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs, confessors and virgins. What are all these saints? They are so many flames from the immense furnace of the divine Heart of Jesus. Is it not the love of that kind Heart which brought them into the world, enlightened them with the light of faith, and gave them strength to conquer the devil, the world and the flesh? Is it not the goodness of that amiable Heart which adorned them with all virtues, sanctified them in this world and glorified them in the other; which kindled in their hearts the love they bear to God, inspired their lips with His divine praises, which is the source of all that is great and holy and admirable in them? If then one celebrates during the course of the year so many feasts in honor of these same saints, what a solemnity is due to this divine Heart which is the principle of everything that is glorious and noble in all the saints! […]

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Let us consider the wondrous effects of the inconceivable goodness and the unspeakable love of the Sacred Heart towards us. Two of these effects which embody many more are here given.

The first is that of having delivered us from the abyss of evils into which sin had plunged us. By sin we were made enemies of God, the object of His wrath and curse, excommunicated from the Most Holy Trinity, anathematized by the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, separated from the company of angels, banished from the home of our Heavenly Father; by sin we were driven from paradise, cast into hell, plunged into the devouring flames of eternal fire, subjected to the terrible tyranny of Satan, enslaved by demons, given over to their rage and fury, condemned to the rightful punishments of hell, all without hope of succor or relief. […]

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We shall never be able to understand adequately and esteem at its full value the inconceivable grace Our Lord has granted us in giving us His divine Heart. Let us picture a man who was such a favorite of the king that he could truthfully say: “The king’s heart belongs to me.” What happiness and joy to be so favored! But we have infinitely more than the heart of an earthly king. We have the Heart of the King of kings, who loves us so ardently that each one of us can truly say: “The Heart of Jesus belongs to me.”

Yes, this admirable Heart is mine. It is mine because the Eternal Father has given it to me; it is mine because the Blessed Virgin has given it to me; it is mine because He Himself has given it to me, not only to be my refuge and shelter in my needs, to be my oracle and my treasure, but also to be the model and rule of my life and of my actions. I wish to study this rule constantly so as to follow it faithfully. I must consider what the Heart of Jesus hates and what it loves, in order to hate only what it hates and love only what it loves. The only thing it hates or ever shall hate is sin. Did His gentle Heart feel any hatred for the miserable Jews who persecuted Him so unjustly or for the executioners who treated Him so cruelly? No, He never experienced the emotion of hatred. On the contrary, He besought His Eternal Father to pardon His executioners and even excused the most outrageous of all crimes. […]

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As the adorable heart of our Savior was on fire with infinite love for His most holy Mother, the anguish which He bore in seeing her plunged into a sea of sorrow at the time of His Passion was beyond the power of human word or thought. The Blessed Virgin was the Mother of our Redeemer and she ever sustained in her heart an unceasing combat of love. She knew that it was God’s will that her Beloved Son should suffer and die to save souls. Thus her most ardent love for that divine will and for the salvation of souls placed her in utter submission to the commands of God. Her incomparable motherly love for her dear Son, however, caused her unspeakable sorrow, in view of the torments that He was to suffer to redeem the world.

The saints teach that, when the day of His Passion had come, in accordance with the loving obedience with which He always honored His holy Mother, and the goodness He always showed in consoling His friends in their affliction, He took leave of His dear Mother before the beginnings of His sufferings. To do all things out of obedience to the will of His Father and His Mother, since she had not a will different from the Father’s, He asked permission of her to carry out what His Eternal Father had commanded Him. He told her that it was the Will of the Father that she should accompany Him to the foot of the Cross and that, after His death, she should wrap His body in a shroud and place it in the tomb. The saints also teach that He commanded her what to do and where to remain until His resurrection. […]

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For Scripture says, “Jacob loved him (Joseph) because he was the son of his old age” (Gen 37:3). Thus in a world that had become old and was entirely lost, the Son of God, who had been manifested and born of the Virgin, appeared to the eyes of the Father “the son of old age.” Even before all ages, from everlasting, he is with God.

“By the blessing of the breasts and of the womb of your father and your mother” (Gen 49:25-26, Septuagint). Blessing of breasts: or rather, of the two Testaments, from which came forth the preaching that announced the future appearance of the Word in the world; breasts with which he nurses and feeds us, presenting us to God as sons. Or he designates with these words the breasts of Mary, from which he took suck, breasts that were blessed and of which a woman, crying out, said, “Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that you sucked!” (Lk 11:27).

By saying in addition, “And of the blessing of the womb of your father and your mother,” the prophet is foretelling a spiritual mystery. For he could have said, “And of the blessing of the womb of your mother,” to indicate, with this expression, Mary, in whose womb the Word was carried for nine months. Yet he did not say this; instead he says, “and from the blessing of the womb of your father and your mother.” Joining the two ideas in this way, he made them a single reality, so that it would be clearly understood that both that which exists according to the spirit and that which is according to the flesh belong to this one Person. For the Word proceeded from one heart of the Father and from the holy womb (of Mary), being born from one womb of the Father, as he says through the mouth of the prophet, “My heart speaks a good Word” (Ps 45:1).

On the other hand, in the last days, he came forth, according to the flesh, from a virginal womb after having been carried for nine months, so that, after having been born a second time from the womb of his Mother, he might manifest himself visibly. Therefore he says, also through the prophet, “Thus says the Lord who formed me from (my Mother’s) womb to be his servant” (Is 49:5).

—On the Blessings of the Patriarchs 1: PO 27, 108-12, as found in Luigi Gambero’s Mary and the Fathers of the Church: The Blessed Virgin Mary in Patristic Thought, Ignatius, 1999.

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Why is she so called?—she who never had any blow, or wound, or other injury to her consecrated person. How can she be exalted over those whose bodies suffered the most ruthless violence and the keenest torments for our Lord’s sake? She is, indeed, Queen of all Saints, of those who “walk with Christ in white, for they are worthy”; but how of those “who were slain for the Word of God, and for the testimony which they held”?

To answer this question, it must be recollected that the pains of the soul may be as fierce as those of the body. Bad men who are now in hell, and the elect of God who are in purgatory, are suffering only in their souls, for their bodies are still in the dust; yet how severe is that suffering! And perhaps most people who have lived long can bear witness in their own persons to a sharpness of distress which was like a sword cutting them, to a weight and force of sorrow which seemed to throw them down, though bodily pain there was none.

What an overwhelming horror it must have been for the Blessed Mary to witness the Passion and the Crucifixion of her Son! Her anguish was, as holy Simeon had announced to her, at the time of her Son’s presentation in the Temple, a sword piercing her soul. If our Lord himself could not bear the prospect of what was before him, and was covered at the thought of it with a bloody sweat, his soul thus acting upon his body, does not this show how great mental pain can be? And would it have been a thing to wonder at if Mary’s head and heart had given way as she stood under his cross?

Thus is she most truly the Queen of Martyrs.

This article was excerpted from Meditations and Devotions, pp. 47-48, as found in Mystical Rose, ed. Joseph Regina, Scepter, 1996.

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As the adorable heart of our Savior was on fire with infinite love for His most holy Mother, the anguish which He bore in seeing her plunged into a sea of sorrow at the time of His Passion was beyond the power of human word or thought. The Blessed Virgin was the Mother of our Redeemer and she ever sustained in her heart an unceasing combat of love. She knew that it was God’s will that her Beloved Son should suffer and die to save souls. Thus her most ardent love for that divine will and for the salvation of souls placed her in utter submission to the commands of God. Her incomparable motherly love for her dear Son, however, caused her unspeakable sorrow, in view of the torments that He was to suffer to redeem the world.

The saints teach that, when the day of His Passion had come, in accordance with the loving obedience with which He always honored His holy Mother, and the goodness He always showed in consoling His friends in their affliction, He took leave of His dear Mother before the beginnings of His sufferings. To do all things out of obedience to the will of His Father and His Mother, since she had not a will different from the Father’s, He asked permission of her to carry out what His Eternal Father had commanded Him. He told her that it was the will of the Father that she should accompany Him to the foot of the Cross and that, after His death, she should wrap His body in a shroud and place it in the tomb. The saints also teach that He commanded her what to do and where to remain until His resurrection. […]

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Mary has been made more glorious in her person than in her office; her purity is a higher gift than her relationship to God. This is what is implied in Christ’s answer to the woman in the crowd who cried out, when he was preaching, “Blessed is the womb that bore thee, and the breasts which thou hast sucked.” He replied by pointing out to his disciples a higher blessedness; “Yea, rather blessed,” he said, “are they who hear the word of God and keep it…”

Protestants take these words in disparagement of our Lady’s greatness, but they really tell the other way. For consider them; he lays down a principle that it is more blessed to keep his commandments than to be his Mother, but who even of Protestants will say that she did not keep his commandments? She kept them surely, and our Lord does but say that such obedience was in a higher line of privilege than her being his Mother. She was more blessed in her detachment from creatures, in her devotion to God, in her virginal purity, in her fullness of grace, than in her maternity. This is the constant teaching of the holy Fathers: “More blessed was Mary,” says St. Augustine, “in receiving Christ’s faith, than in conceiving Christ’s flesh.” And St. Chrysostom declares that she would not have been blessed, though she had borne him in the body, had she not heard the word of God and kept it.

This of course is an impossible case; for she was made holy that she might be made his Mother, and the two blessednesses cannot be divided. She who was chosen to supply flesh and blood to the Eternal Word was first filled with grace in soul and body. Still, she had a double blessedness, of office and of qualification for it, and the latter was the greater. And it is on this account that the angel calls her blessed. “Full of grace,” he says, “blessed among women”; and St. Elizabeth also, when she cries out, “Blessed thou that has believed.” Nay, she herself bears a like testimony, when the Angel announced to her the favor which was coming on her.

Though all Jewish women in each successive age had been hoping to be mother of the Christ, so that marriage was honorable among them, celibacy a reproach, she alone had put aside the desire and the thought of so great a dignity. She alone, who was to bear the Christ, all but refused to bear him. He stooped to her, she turned from him. And why?—because she had been inspired, the first of womankind, to dedicate her virginity to God, and she did not welcome a privilege which seemed to involve a forfeiture of her vow. “How shall this be,” she asked, “seeing I am separate from man?” Nor, till the angel told her that the conception would be miraculous and from the Holy Ghost, did she put aside her “trouble” of mind, recognize him securely as God’s messenger, and bow her head in awe and thankfulness to God’s condescension.

Mary then is a specimen, and more than a specimen, in the purity of her soul and body, of what man was before his fall and what he would have been, had he risen to his full perfection. It would have been hard, it would have been a victory for the Evil One, if the whole race had passed away, without one instance occurring to show what the Creator had intended it to be in its original state. Adam, you know, was created in the image and after the likeness of God. His frail and imperfect nature, stamped with a divine seal, was supported and exalted by an indwelling of divine grace. Impetuous passion did not exist in him, except as a latent element and a possible evil; ignorance was dissipated by the clear light of the Spirit; and reason, sovereign over every motion of his soul, was simply subjected to the will of God. Nay, even his body was preserved from every wayward appetite and affection and was promised immortality instead of dissolution.

Thus he was in a supernatural state; and, had he not sinned, he would have advanced in merit and grace and in God’s favor year after year, till he passed from Paradise to heaven. But he fell; and his descendants were born in his likeness; and the world grew worse instead of better, and judgment after judgment cut off generations of sinners in vain, and improvement was hopeless, “because man was flesh,” and “the thoughts of his heart were bent upon evil at all times.”

But a remedy had been determined in heaven; a Redeemer was at hand; God was about to do a great work, and he purposed to do it suitably; “where sin abounded, grace was to abound more.” Kings of the earth, when they have sons born to them, forthwith scatter some large bounty, or raise some high memorial; they honor the day, or the place, or the heralds of the auspicious event, with some corresponding mark of favor; nor did the coming of Emmanuel innovate on the world’s established custom. It was a season of grace and prodigy, and these were to be exhibited in a special manner in the person of his Mother. The course of ages was to be reversed; the tradition of evil was to be broken; a gate of light was to be opened amid the darkness, for the coming of the Just; a Virgin conceived and bore him. It was fitting, for his honor and glory, that she who was the instrument of his bodily presence, should first be a miracle of his grace; it was fitting that she should triumph, where Eve had failed, and should “bruise the serpent’s head” by the spotlessness of her sanctity. In some respects, indeed, the curse was not reversed; Mary came into a fallen world and resigned herself to its laws. She, as also the Son she bore, was exposed to pain of soul and body. She was subjected to death, but she was not put under the power of sin.

As grace was infused into Adam from the first moment of his creation, so that he never had experience of his natural poverty till sin reduced him to it; so was grace given from the first in still ampler measure to Mary, and she never incurred, in fact, Adam’s deprivation. She began where others end, whether in knowledge or in love. She was from the first clothed in sanctity, sealed for perseverance, luminous and glorious in God’s sight, and incessantly employed in meritorious acts, which continued till her last breath. Hers was emphatically “the path of the just, which, as the shining light, goeth forward and increaseth even to the perfect day.” And sinlessness in thought, word, and deed, in small things as well as great, in venial matter as well as grievous, is surely but the natural and obvious sequel of such a beginning. If Adam might have kept himself from sin in his first state, much more shall we expect immaculate perfection in Mary.

This article was excerpted from Discourses to Mixed Congregations, pp. 350-54, as found in Mystical Rose, ed. Joseph Regina, Scepter, 1996.

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First of all, we need to show the reason why the Son of God had to be born of a Virgin. The initiator of a new birth had to be born in a new way, and Isaiah had predicted that the Lord would give a sign of this. What is that sign? “Behold, the virgin shall conceive in her womb and bear a Son” (Is 7:14). Therefore the Virgin conceived and bore Emmanuel, God-with-us.

And this is the new birth: that man is born in God when God is born in man, having assumed the flesh of the old seed, but without using this seed, in order to reform the flesh through a new seed, a spiritual seed, and to purify the flesh after having eliminated all its ancient stains. But, as it happened, this whole new manner of birth was prefigured in the ancient wise design that depended upon a virgin. When man was created by God’s action, the earth was still virgin, not yet pressed down by man’s toil, not having been sown. We know that, from this virgin earth, God created man as a living soul.

If, then, the first Adam was introduced in this way, all the more reason that the second Adam, as the apostle said, had to come forth from a virgin earth, that is, from a body not yet violated by generation, by God’s action, so that he might become the spirit who gives life. However, lest my introduction of Adam’s name appear meaningless, why did the apostle call Christ “Adam” (cf. 1 Cor 15:45), if his humanity did not have an earthly origin? But here, too, reason comes to our aid: through a contrary operation, God recovered his image and likeness, which had been stolen by the devil.

For just as the death-creating word of the devil had penetrated Eve, who was still a virgin, analogously the life-building Word of God had to enter into a Virgin, so that he who had fallen into perdition because of a woman might be led back to salvation by means of the same sex. Eve believed the serpent; Mary believed Gabriel. The fault that Eve introduced by believing, Mary, by believing, erased.

—De carne Christi 17, 1-5; PL 2, 827-28, as found in Luigi Gambero’s Mary and the Fathers of the Church: The Blessed Virgin Mary in Patristic Thought, Ignatius, 1999.

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Mary holds, as the Fathers teach us, that office in our restoration which Eve held in our fall. Now, in the first place, what were Eve’s endowments to enable her to enter upon her trial? She could not have stood against the wiles of the devil, though she was innocent and sinless, without the grant of a large grace. And this she had—a heavenly gift, which was over and above and additional to that nature of hers, which she received from Adam; a gift which had been given to Adam also before her, at the very time (as it is commonly held) of his original formation.

This is Anglican doctrine, as well as Catholic; it is the doctrine of Bishop Bull. He has written a dissertation on the point. He speaks of the doctrine which “many of the Schoolmen affirm, that Adam was created in grace that is, received a principle of grace and divine life from his very creation, or in the moment of the infusion of his soul, of which,” he says, “for my own part I have little doubt.” Again, he says, “It is abundantly manifest from the many testimonies alleged, that the ancient doctors of the Church did, with general consent, acknowledge that our first parents, in the state of integrity, had in them something more than nature, that is, were endowed with the divine principle of the Spirit, ordered to a supernatural felicity.”

Now, taking this for granted, because I know that you and those who agree with you maintain it as well as we do, have you any intention to deny that Mary was as fully endowed as Eve? Is it any violent inference that she, who was to cooperate in the redemption of the world, was at least not less endowed with power from on high than she who, given as a helpmate to her husband, did in the event but cooperate with him for its ruin?

If Eve was raised above human nature by that indwelling moral gift which we call grace, is it rash to say that Mary had even a greater grace? And this consideration gives significance to the angel’s salutation of her as “full of grace”—an interpretation of the original word which is undoubtedly the right one, as soon as we resist the common Protestant assumption that grace is a mere external approbation or acceptance, answering to the word “favor,” whereas it is, as the Fathers teach, a real inward condition or superadded quality of soul. And if Eve had this supernatural inward gift given her from the first moment of her personal existence, is it possible to deny that Mary too had this gift from the very first moment of her personal existence? I do not know how to resist this inference. Well, this is simply and literally the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. I say the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is in its substance this, and nothing more or less than this (putting aside the question of degrees of grace). And it really does seem to me bound up in the doctrine of the Fathers that Mary is the Second Eve.

It is indeed to me a most strange phenomenon that so many learned and devout men stumble at this doctrine. I can only account for it by supposing that in matter of fact they do not know what we mean by the Immaculate Conception; and your volume (may I say it?) bears out my suspicion. It is a great consolation to have reason for thinking so—reason for believing that in some sort the persons in question are in the position of those great saints of former times, who are said to have hesitated about the doctrine, when they would not have hesitated at all if the word “conception” had been explained in that sense in which now it is universally received.

I do not see how anyone who holds with Bishop Bull the Catholic doctrine of the supernatural endowments of our first parents, has fair reason for doubting our doctrine about the Blessed Virgin. It has no reference whatever to her parents, but simply to her own person. It does but affirm that, together with the nature which she inherited from her parents, that is, her own nature, she had a superadded fullness of grace and that from the first moment of her existence.

Suppose Eve had stood the trial and not lost her first grace, and suppose she had eventually had children. Those children, from the first moment of their existence, would, through divine bounty, have received the same privilege that she had always had since she was taken from Adam’s side; that is, they would have received what may be called an immaculate conception. They would then have been conceived in grace, as in fact they are conceived in sin. What is there difficult in this doctrine? What is there unnatural? Mary may be called, as it were, a daughter of Eve unfallen. You believe with us that St. John the Baptist had grace given to him three months before his birth, at the time that the Blessed Virgin visited his mother. And accordingly he was not immaculately conceived, because he was alive before grace came to him; but our Lady’s case only differs from his in this respect, that to her the grace of God came, not just three months before her birth, but from the first moment of her being, as it had been given to Eve.

But it may be said: How does this enable us to say that she was conceived without original sin? If Anglicans knew what we mean by original sin, they would not ask the question. Our doctrine of original sin is not the same as the Protestant doctrine. “Original sin,” with us, cannot be called sin in the mere ordinary sense of the word “sin.” It is a term denoting Adam’s sin as transferred to us, or the state to which Adam’s sin reduces his children. But by Protestants it seems to be understood as sin, in much the same sense as actual sin. We, with the Fathers, think of it as something negative, Protestants as something positive. Protestants hold that it is a disease, a radical change of nature, an active poison internally corrupting the soul, infecting its primary elements, and disorganizing it. And they fancy that we ascribe a different nature from ours to the Blessed Virgin, different from that of her parents, and from that of fallen Adam. We hold nothing of the kind; we consider that in Adam she died, as all others do; that she was included, together with the whole race, in Adam’s sentence; that she incurred his debt, as we do. But for the sake of him who was to redeem her and us upon the cross, to her the debt was remitted by anticipation. On her the sentence was not carried out, except indeed as regards her natural death, for she died when her time came, as others do.

All this we teach, but we deny that she had original sin. For by original sin we mean, as I have already said, something negative, that is, the deprivation of that supernatural unmerited grace which Adam and Eve had on their first formation—deprivation and the consequences of deprivation. Mary could not merit, any more than they, the restoration of that grace; but it was restored to her by God’s free bounty, from the very first moment of her existence, and thereby, in fact, she never came under the original curse, which consisted in the loss of it. And she had this special privilege in order to fit her to become the Mother of her and our Redeemer, to fit her mentally, spiritually for it. So that, by the aid of the first grace, she might so grow in grace, that, when the angel came and her Lord was at hand, she might be “full of grace,” prepared as far as a creature could be prepared to receive him into her bosom.

I have drawn the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception as an immediate inference, from the primitive doctrine that Mary is the Second Eve. The argument seems to me conclusive, and, if it has not been universally taken as such, this has come to pass because there has not been a clear understanding among Catholics what exactly was meant by the “Immaculate Conception.” To many it seemed to imply that the Blessed Virgin did not die in Adam, that she did not come under the penalty of the fall, that she was not redeemed, that she was conceived in some way inconsistent with the verse in the “Miserere” Psalm.

I cannot believe that the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception would have ever been opposed if controversy had in earlier days so clarified the subject as to make it plain to all that the doctrine meant nothing else than that in fact, in her case, the general sentence on mankind was not carried out; and that (this exemption was granted) by means of the indwelling in her of divine grace from the first moment of her being (and this is all the decree of 1854 has declared). An instinctive sentiment has led Christians jealously to put the Blessed Mary aside when sin comes into discussion. This is expressed in the well-known words of St. Augustine, All have sinned “except the Holy Virgin Mary, concerning whom, for the honor of the Lord, I wish no question to be raised at all, when we are treating of sins.” These words, whatever St. Augustine’s actual occasion of using them, certainly, in the spirit which they breathe, are well adapted to convey the notion that, though her parents had no privilege beyond other parents, she did not personally have any part in sin whatever.

This article was excerpted from “Letter to Rev. E. B. Pusey” in Difficulties of Anglicans, London, 1920, Vol. II, pp. 44-50, as found in Mystical Rose, ed. Joseph Regina, Scepter, 1996.

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The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Galatians, clearly states that “God sent his Son, born of a woman” (Gal 4:4). And in his letter to the Romans, he says, “his Son, born of David’s seed according to the flesh, constituted Son of God in power, according to the Spirit of holiness that raised him from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom 1:3-4).

Had it been otherwise, his descent into Mary would have been superfluous. For why would he have descended within her, if he did not need to take something from her? Furthermore, if he had not taken anything from Mary, he would not have been accustomed to eating earthly food . . . nor, after fasting forty days, like Moses and Elijah, would he have felt hunger pangs (cf. Mt 4:2), and if his body had not felt the need for nourishment, neither would his disciple John have written of him: “Jesus, tired from the journey, sat down” (Jn 4:6). Nor would David have foretold of him: “They have added to the sorrow of my wounds” (Ps 69:27). Nor would (Jesus) have wept over Lazarus (cf. Jn 11:35) or sweated drops of blood (cf. Lk 22:44) or said, “My soul is exceedingly sad” (Mt 26:38), nor would blood and water have flowed from his pierced side (cf. Jn 19:34). These are all signs that he took flesh from the earth, recapitulating this flesh in himself to save his own creation. […]

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We begin a new series dedicated to the Marian writings of Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman, often referred to as the greatest Catholic thinker of the nineteenth century. The series begins with the following commentary on the nature of Catholic belief concerning the Mother of Jesus. – Ed.

I begin by making a distinction which will help to remove some of the difficulty of my undertaking, as it presents itself to ordinary enquirers—the distinction between faith and devotion. I fully grant that devotion towards the Blessed Virgin has increased among Catholics with the progress of the centuries; but I do not agree that the Church’s teaching concerning her has undergone a growth, for I believe that it has been in substance one and the same from the beginning.

By “faith” I mean the Creed and assent to the Creed; by “devotion” I mean such religious honors as belong to the objects of our faith, and the payment of those honors. Faith and devotion are as distinct in fact as they are in idea. We cannot, indeed, be devout without faith, but we may believe without feeling devotion. Of this phenomenon everyone has experience both in himself and in others, and we bear witness to it as often as we speak of realizing a truth or not realizing it. It may be illustrated, with more or less exactness, by matters which come before us in the world. For instance, a great author, or public man, may be acknowledged as such for a period of years; yet there may be an increase, an ebb and flow, in his popularity. And if he takes a lasting place in the minds of his countrymen, he may gradually grow into it, or suddenly be raised to it. […]

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Our best actions are ordinarily stained and corrupted by our corrupt nature. When we put clean, clear water into a vessel which has a foul and evil smell, or wine into a cask the inside of which has been tainted by another wine which has been in it, the clear water and the good wine are spoilt, and readily take on the bad odor. In like manner, when God puts into the vessel of our soul, spoilt by original and actual sin, His graces and heavenly dews, or the delicious wine of His love, His gifts are ordinarily spoilt and corrupted by the bad leaven and the evil which sin has left within us. Our actions, even the most sublime and virtuous, feel the effects of it. It is therefore of great importance in the acquiring of perfection—which, it must be remembered, is only acquired by union with Jesus Christ—to rid ourselves of everything that is bad within us; otherwise Our Lord, who is infinitely pure and hates infinitely the least stain upon our souls, will not unite Himself to us, and will cast us out from His presence.

79. To rid ourselves of self we must: § 1. Thoroughly recognize, by the light of the Holy Spirit, our inward corruption, our incapacity for every good thing useful for salvation, our weakness in all things, our inconstancy at all times, our unworthiness of every grace, and our iniquity in every position. The sin of our first father has spoilt us all, soured us, puffed us up and corrupted us, as the leaven sours, puffs up and corrupts the dough into which it is put. The actual sins which we have committed, whether mortal or venial, pardoned though they may be, have nevertheless increased our concupiscence, our weakness, our inconstancy and our corruption, and have left evil remains in our souls. […]

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In the time of the Mosaic Law one of the greatest wonders of the world was the temple of Jerusalem. Yet this stupendous temple was merely a figure and an image of the multitude of temples to be found in the Christian world. It prefigured particularly the Sacred Humanity of the Son of God, for Christ referring to His own body said to the Jews: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19).

The temple of Jerusalem was a figure of Holy Church and a figure of each Christian. It prefigured our churches and cathedrals, but was also a representation of a temple far more holy and august than any material structure. What then is the true temple? It is the Holy Heart of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. The Church says of her person that Mary is “the temple of the Lord, the sanctuary of the Holy Spirit,” and we can apply these words with still better reason to her admirable Heart (since)… it is the source of all the qualities and excellences with which she is adorned. If, according to the divine Word, the body of each Christian is the temple of God (1 Cor. 6:19), who will dare to deny this characterization to the most worthy Heart of the Mother of all Christians? I affirm, therefore, that the Holy Heart of Mary is the true temple of the Divinity, the sanctuary of the Holy Spirit, the Holy of Holies of the Blessed Trinity. […]

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Mary Our Mother

Published on December 24, 2005 by in Classic Mariological Excerpts

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Let us come to his bride, his mother, his perfect handmaid, for the blessed Mary is all of this.

But what are we to do for her? What kind of gifts shall we offer her? Would that we could at least return what we are in duty bound to do, for we owe her honor and service, we owe her love and praise. We owe her honor, for she is the mother of our Lord. He who fails to honor the mother clearly dishonors the son. Also, Scripture says: Honor your father and your mother.

What then, my brothers, shall we say? Is she not our mother? Yes, my brothers, she is indeed our mother, for through her we have been born, not for the world but for God.

Once we all lay in death, as you know and believe, in sin, in darkness, in misery. In death, because we had lost the Lord; in sin, because of our corruption; in darkness, for we were without the light of wisdom, and thus had perished utterly.

But then we were born, far better than through Eve, through Mary the blessed, because Christ was born of her. We have recovered new life in place of sin, immortality instead of mortality, light in place of darkness.

She is our mother—the mother of our life, the mother of our incarnation, the mother of our light. As the apostle says of our Lord: He became for us by God’s power our wisdom and justice, and holiness and redemption.

She then, as mother of Christ, is the mother of our wisdom and justice, of our holiness and redemption. She is more our mother than the mother of our flesh. Our birth from her is better, for from her is born our holiness, our wisdom, our justice, our sanctification, our redemption

Praise the Lord in his holy ones, say the Scriptures. If our Lord is to be praised in those holy ones through whom he brings to being deeds of power and miracles, how much more is he to be praised in her in whom he fashioned himself, who is wonderful beyond all wonders.

From a sermon by Saint Aelred (Sermo 20, In Nativitate beatae Mariae: PL 195, 322-324).

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The Magnificat

Published on December 24, 2005 by in Classic Mariological Excerpts

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Mary said: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.

The Lord has exalted me by a gift so great, so unheard of, that language is useless to describe it, and the depths of love in my heart can scarcely grasp it. I offer then all the powers of my soul in praise and thanksgiving. As I contemplate his greatness, which knows no limits, I joyfully surrender my whole life, my senses, my judgment, for my spirit rejoices in the eternal Godhead of that Jesus, that Savior, whom I have conceived in this world of time.

The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.

Mary looks back to the beginning of her song, where she said: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord. Only that soul for whom the Lord in his love does great things can proclaim his greatness with fitting praise and encourage those who share her desire and purpose, saying: Join with me in proclaiming the greatness of the Lord; let us extol his name together. […]

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Almighty God fashioned two orders of creatures at the beginning of the world, angels and men; the angels in heaven, men on earth. Both of them were so ungrateful that they revolted against their Creator, the angel through pride and man through disobedience to the commandment of God. The sin of the angel, being a sin of pride, was found to be so enormous in the eyes of God that divine Justice obliged Him to drive the angelic sinner out of paradise and cast him into hell. But His Mercy, seeing that man had fallen into sin through the temptation and seduction of Satan, took pity on him and resolved to withdraw him from the miserable state to which he had been reduced, even making a pledge to that effect. And even the countless and enormous sins committed by the Jews, the Gentiles and all men since that promise were not capable of preventing its fulfillment, but they did delay it for many centuries, during which time the whole race of Adam, condemned and cast out by God, was plunged into an abyss of darkness and a whirlpool of inexplicable evils from which it was impossible for it to emerge unaided. The more humanity went forward, the more deeply mired it became in this gulf, the more it wallowed in the mud and filth for its sins. (1) […]

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The “Age of Mary,” prophesied by the great St. Louis Marie de Montfort over three hundred years ago, is the privileged age in which we presently find ourselves, through no merits of our own. Let us appreciate the sublime description provided by St. Louis Marie of the inseparable union of the Holy Spirit and the Immaculate Heart, who together will form our hearts according to Their desires and for Their purposes if we open our hearts entirely to Them – Ed.

The soul of our Blessed Lady will communicate itself to you, to glorify the Lord. Her spirit will enter into the place of yours, to rejoice in God her salvation, provided only that you are faithful to the practices of this devotion. “Let the soul of Mary be in each of us to glorify the Lord: let the spirit of Mary be in each of us to rejoice in God.” (1) Ah! When will the happy time come, said a holy man of our own days who was all absorbed in Mary—Ah! When will the happy time come when the divine Mary will be established Mistress and Queen of all hearts, in order that she may subject them fully to the empire of her great and holy Jesus? When will souls breathe Mary as the body breathes air? When that time comes, wonderful things will happen in those lowly places where the Holy Spirit, finding His dear spouse, as it were, reproduced, in souls, shall come in with abundance, and fill them to overflowing with His gifts, and particularly with the gift of wisdom, to work miracles of grace. My dear brother, when will that happy time, that age of Mary, come, when many souls, chosen and procured from the Most High by Mary, shall lose themselves in the abyss of her interior, shall become living copies of Mary, to love and glorify Jesus? That time will not come until men shall know and practice this devotion which I am teaching. “That Thy reign may come, let the reign of Mary come.”

218. If Mary, who is the tree of life, is well cultivated in our soul by fidelity to the practices of this devotion, she will bear her fruit in her own time, and her fruit is none other than Jesus Christ. How many devout souls do I see who seek Jesus Christ, some by one way or by one practice, and others by other ways and other practices; and oftentimes, after they have toiled much throughout the night, they say, “We have toiled all night, and have taken nothing!” (Lk. 5:5). We may say to them: “You have labored much and gained little”; (2) Jesus is yet feeble in you. But by that immaculate way of Mary and that divine practice which I am teaching, we toil during the day, we toil in a holy place, we toil but little. There is no night in Mary, because there is no sin nor even the slightest shade. Mary is a holy place, and the holy of holies where saints are formed and molded.

219. Take notice, if you please, that I say the saints are molded in Mary. There is a great difference between making a figure in relief by blows of hammer and chisel, and making a figure by throwing it into a mold. Statuaries and sculptors labor much to make figures in the first manner; but to make them in the second manner, they work little and do their work quickly.

St. Augustine calls our Blessed Lady “the mold of God” (3)—the mold fit to cast and mold gods. He who is cast in this mold is presently formed and molded in Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ in him. At a slight expense and in a short time he will become God, (4) because he has been cast in the same mold which has formed a God.

220. It seems to me that I can very aptly compare directors and devout persons, who wish to form Jesus Christ in themselves or others by practices different from this one, to sculptors who trust in their own professional skill, ingenuity or art, and so give an infinity of hammerings and chiselings to a hard stone or a piece of badly polished wood, to make an image of Jesus Christ out of it. Sometimes they do not succeed in giving anything like the natural expression of Jesus, either from having no knowledge or experience of the Person of Jesus, or from some blow awkwardly given, which has spoiled the work. But those who embrace the secret of grace which I am revealing to them I may rightly compare to founders and casters who have discovered the beautiful mold of Mary, where Jesus was naturally and divinely formed; and without trusting in their own skill, but only in the goodness of the mold, they cast themselves and lose themselves in Mary, to become the faithful portraits of Jesus Christ.

221. Oh, beautiful and true comparison! But who will comprehend it? I desire that you may, my dear brother. But remember that we cast in a mold only what is melted and liquid; that is to say, you must destroy and melt down in yourself the old Adam to become the new one in Mary.

This article is an excerpt from St. Louis Marie de Montfort’s True Devotion, Tan, 1985, chapter III.

Notes

(1) St. Ambrose, Expositio in Luc., Lib. II. no. 26.

(2) Ag. 1:6. The exact text is: “Seminastis multum.”

(3) Sermo 208 (inter opera Sti. Augustini): “You are worthy to be called the mold of God.”

(4) The French text shows this word in lower case, that is, dieu, in contrast to the word Dieu, “God,” at the end of the sentence. This accords with the Catholic teaching that by sanctifying grace one receives “a created sharing in the Divine Nature.”—Publisher, 1999.

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The Garden of Eden described in the second and third chapters of Genesis is one of the most expressive figures drawn by the omnipotent and all-wise hand of God to represent the Heart of His beloved Daughter, the Blessed Virgin Mary. His infinite goodness has given us an excellent picture of her immaculate Heart. The earthly paradise of Scripture is the perfect representation of another paradise; it is the paradise of the first man, Adam, excellently portraying the paradise of the second man, Jesus Christ, Our Redeemer.

To view this picture in its true light, we must consider many aspects of it. […]

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The Angelic Salutation is so heavenly and so beyond us in its depth of meaning that Blessed Alan de la Roche held that no mere creature could ever possibly understand it, and that only Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ Who was born of the Blessed Virgin Mary can really explain it.

Its enormous value is due first of all to Our Lady to whom it was addressed, to the purpose of the Incarnation of the Word for which reason this prayer was brought from heaven, and also to the Archangel Gabriel who was the first ever to say it.

The Angelic Salutation is a most concise summary of all that Catholic theology teaches about the Blessed Virgin. It is divided into two parts, that of praise and petition: the first shows all that goes to make up Mary’s greatness and the second all that we need to ask her for and all that we may expect to receive through her goodness. […]

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Having spoken thus far of the necessity of devotion to the most holy Virgin, I must now show in what this devotion consists. This I will do, with God’s help, after I shall have first laid down some fundamental truths which shall throw light on that grand and solid devotion which I desire to disclose.

— First Truth —

Jesus Christ Is the Last End of Devotion to Mary

61. Jesus Christ our Savior, true God and true Man, ought to be the last end of all our other devotions, else they are false and delusive. Jesus Christ is the Alpha and the Omega, (1) the beginning and the end, of all things. We labor not, as the Apostle says, except to render every man perfect in Jesus Christ; because it is in Him alone that the whole plenitude of the Divinity dwells together with all the other plenitudes of graces, virtues and perfections. It is in Him alone that we have been blessed with all spiritual benediction; and He is our only Master, who has to teach us; our only Lord on whom we ought to depend; our only Head to whom we must be united; our only Model to whom we should conform ourselves; our only Physician who can heal us; our only Shepherd who can feed us; our only Way who can lead us; our only Truth whom we must believe; our only Life who can animate us; and our only All in all things who can satisfy us. There has been no other name given under Heaven, except the name of Jesus, by which we can be saved. God has laid no other foundation of our salvation, our perfection or our glory, than Jesus Christ. Every building which is not built on that firm rock is founded upon the moving sand, and sooner or latter infallibly will fall. Every one of the faithful who is not united to Him, as a branch to the stock of the vine, shall fall, shall wither, and shall be fit only to be cast into the fire. Outside of Him there exists nothing but error, falsehood, iniquity, futility, death and damnation. But if we are in Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ is in us, we have no condemnation to fear. Neither the angels of Heaven nor the men of earth nor the devils of Hell nor any other creature can injure us; because they cannot separate us from the love of God, which is in Jesus Christ. By Jesus Christ, with Jesus Christ, in Jesus Christ, we can do all things; we can render all honor and glory to the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit; (2) we can become perfect ourselves, and be to our neighbor a good odor of eternal life (2 Cor. 2:15-16). […]

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The only Son of God was not content to become man for our salvation, but He willed to come into this world not like Adam, in the fullness of manhood, but by way of generation, having only a Mother upon earth as He had only a Father in heaven. Now He could have created this Virgin of whom He was to be born, in the fullness of perfect age, as He did the first woman. But the excess of His bounty towards us obliged Him to use another measure, and, by passing through the state of infancy, to honor all the posterity of Adam with three marvelous advantages and three very singular privileges.

The first is, that by this birth of the glorious Virgin, the Divine Bounty has given us two great Saints, Joachim and Ann, in quality of father and mother of her who is Mother of our Savior. Without them we should be bereft of these particular models of high sanctity and of their powerful intercession for us with their holy daughter Mary and their adorable son, Jesus. St. Joachim and St. Ann are two brilliant stars in the heaven of the Church which shed upon it the light of their powerful influence and salutary grace. […]

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