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Published on May 8, 2017 by in Marian Devotion

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Brothers and Sisters in the Immaculate Heart, you can now send a petition to Pope Francis in less then 60 seconds— and right from your smartphone!
Please go to www.crownmary.com, and join over 800 cardinals and bishops, over 8 million faithful, St. Teresa of Calcutta, Mother Angelica, Sr. Lucia of Fatima and many more by sending your online petition to Pope Francis today!

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“Dear children! Also today I call you: live your vocation in prayer. Now, as never before, satan wants to suffocate man and his soul by his contagious wind of hatred and unrest. In many hearts there is no joy because there is no God or prayer. Hatred and war are growing from day to day. I am calling you, little children, begin anew, with enthusiasm, the walk of holiness and love; since I have come among you because of this. Together let us be love and forgiveness for all those who know and want to love only with a human love and not with that immeasurable love of God to which God calls you. Little children, may hope in a better tomorrow always be in your heart. Thank you for having responded to my call.”

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This beautiful commentary on the Universal Church’s patron, St. Joseph, was written by Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P and has been taken from his classic mariological work The Mother of the Saviour and Our Interior Life. –Assistant Ed.

“He that is lesser among you all, he is the greater” (Luke 9:48)

His Pre-eminence Over the Other Saints

The opinion that St. Joseph is the greatest of the saints after Our Lady is one which is becoming daily more commonly held in the Church. We do not hesitate to look on the humble carpenter as higher in grace and eternal glory than the patriarchs and the greatest of the prophets—than St. John the Baptist, the Apostles, the martyrs and the great doctors of the Church. He who is least in the depth of his humility is, because of the interconnection of the virtues, the greatest in the height of his charity: “He that is the lesser among you all, he is the greater.”

St. Joseph’s pre-eminence was taught by Gerson (1) and St. Bernardine of Siena. (2) It became more and more common in the course of the 16th century. It was admitted by St. Teresa, by the Dominican Isidore de Isolanis, who appears to have written the first treatise on St. Joseph, (3) by St. Francis de Sales, by Suarez, (4) and later by St. Alphonsus Liguori, (5) Ch. Sauve, (6) Cardinal Lépicier (7) and Msgr. Sinibaldi; (8) it is very ably treated of in the article “Joseph” in the Dict. de Théol. Cath. by M. A. Michel.

The doctrine of St. Joseph’s pre-eminence received the approval of Leo XIII in his encyclical Quamquam pluries, August 15th, 1899, written to proclaim St. Joseph patron of the universal Church:

The dignity of the Mother of God is so elevated that there can be no higher created one. But since St. Joseph was united to the Blessed Virgin by the conjugal bond, there is no doubt that he approached nearer than any other to that super-eminent dignity of hers by which the Mother of God surpasses all created natures. Conjugal union is the greatest of all; by its very nature it is accompanied by a reciprocal communication of the goods of the spouses. If then God gave St. Joseph to Mary to be her spouse He certainly did not give him merely as a companion in life, a witness of her virginity, a guardian of her honor, but He made him also participate by the conjugal bond in the eminent dignity which was hers.

When Leo XIII said that Joseph came nearest of all to the super-eminent dignity of Mary, did his words imply that Joseph is higher in glory than all the angels? We cannot give any certain answer to the question. We must be content to restate the doctrine which is becoming more and more commonly taught: of all the saints Joseph is the highest after Jesus and Mary; he is among the angels and the archangels. The Church mentions him immediately after Mary and before the Apostles in the prayer A cunctis. Though he is not mentioned in the Canon of the Mass, he has a proper preface, and the month of March is consecrated to him as protector and defender of the universal Church.

The multitude of Christians in all succeeding generations are committed to him in a real though hidden manner. This idea is expressed in the litanies approved by the Church:

St. Joseph, illustrious descendant of David, light of the Patriarchs, Spouse of the Mother of God, guardian of her virginity, foster-father of the Son of God, vigilant defender of Christ, head of the Holy Family; Joseph most just, most chaste, most prudent, most strong, most obedient, most faithful, mirror of patience, lover of poverty, model of workers, glory of domestic life, guardian of virgins, support of families, consolation of the afflicted, hope of the sick, patron of the dying, terror of demons, protector of the Holy Church.

He is the greatest after Mary.

The Reason For St. Joseph’s Pre-eminence

What is the justification of this doctrine which has been more and more accepted in the course of five centuries? The principle invoked more or less explicitly by St. Bernard, St. Bernardine of Siena, Isidore de Isolanis, Suarez, and more recent authors is the one, simple and sublime, formulated by St. Thomas when treating of the fullness of grace in Jesus and of holiness in Mary: “An exceptional divine mission calls for a corresponding degree of grace.” This principle explains why the holy soul of Jesus, being united personally to the Word, the Source of all grace, received the absolute fullness of grace. It explains also why Mary, called to be Mother of God, received from the instant of her conception an initial fullness of grace which was greater than the initial fullness of all the saints together: since she was nearer than any other to the Source of grace she drew grace more abundantly. It explains also why the Apostles who were nearer to Our Blessed Lord than the saints who followed them had more perfect knowledge of the mysteries of faith. To preach the gospel infallibly to the world they received at Pentecost the gift of a most eminent, most enlightened, and most firm faith as the principle of their apostolate.

The same truth explains St. Joseph’s pre-eminence. To understand it we must add one remark: all works which are to be referred immediately to God Himself are perfect. The work of creation, for example, which proceeded entirely and directly from the hand of God was perfect. The same must be said of His great servants, whom He has chosen exceptionally and immediately—not through a human instrument—to restore the order disturbed by sin. God does not choose as men do. Men often choose incompetent officials for the highest posts. But those whom God Himself chooses directly and immediately to be His exceptional ministers in the work of redemption receive from Him grace proportionate to their vocation. This was the case with St. Joseph. He must have received a relative fullness of grace proportionate to his mission since he was chosen not by men nor by any creature but by God Himself and by God alone to fulfill a mission unique in the world. We cannot say at what precise moment St. Joseph’s sanctification took place. But we can say that, from the time of his marriage to Our Lady, he was confirmed in grace, because of his special mission. (9)

To What Order Does St. Joseph’s Exceptional Mission Belong?

St. Joseph’s mission is evidently higher than the order of nature—even by angelic nature. But is it simply of the order of grace, as was that of St. John the Baptist who prepared the way of salvation, and that the Apostles had in the Church for the sanctification of souls, and that more particular mission of the founders of religious orders? If we examine the question carefully we shall see that St. Joseph’s mission surpassed the order of grace. It borders, by its term, on the hypostatic order, which is constituted by the mystery of the Incarnation. But it is necessary to avoid both exaggeration and understatement in this matter.

Mary’s unique mission, her divine motherhood, has its term in the hypostatic order. So also, in a sense, St. Joseph’s hidden mission. This is the teaching of many saints and other writers. St. Bernard says of St. Joseph: “He is the faithful and prudent servant whom the Lord made the support of His Mother, the foster-father of His flesh, and the sole most faithful co-operator on earth in His great design.” (10)

St. Bernardine of Siena writes: “When God chooses a person by grace for a very elevated mission, He gives all the graces required for it. This is verified in a specially outstanding manner in the case of St. Joseph, Foster-father of Our Lord Jesus Christ and Spouse of Mary….” (11) Isidore de Isolanis places St. Joseph’s vocation above that of the Apostles. He remarks that the vocation of the Apostles is to preach the gospel, to enlighten souls, to reconcile them with God, but that the vocation of St. Joseph is more immediately in relation with Christ Himself since he is the Spouse of the Mother of God, the Foster-father and Protector of the Savior. (12) Suarez teaches to the same effect:

Certain offices pertain to the order of sanctifying grace, and among them that of the Apostles holds the highest place; thus they have need of more gratuitous gifts than other souls, especially gratuitous gifts of wisdom. But there are other offices which touch upon or border on the order of the Hypostatic Union … as can be seen clearly in the case of the divine maternity of the Blessed Virgin, and it is to that order that the ministry of St. Joseph pertains. (13)

Some years ago Msgr. Sinibaldi, titular Bishop of Tiberias and secretary of the Sacred Congregation of Studies, treated the question very ably. He pointed out that the ministry of St. Joseph belonged, in a sense, because of its term, to the hypostatic order: not that St. Joseph co-operated intrinsically as physical instrument of the Holy Spirit in the realization of the mystery of the Incarnation—for under that respect his role is very much inferior to that of Mary—but that he was predestined to be, in the order of moral causes, the protector of the virginity and the honor of Mary at the same time as foster-father and protector of the Word made flesh: “His mission pertains by its term to the hypostatic order, not through intrinsic physical and immediate cooperation, but through extrinsic moral and mediate (through Mary) co-operation, which is, however, really and truly co-operation.” (14)

St. Joseph’s Predestination Is One With the Decree of the Incarnation

St. Joseph’s pre-eminence becomes all the clearer if we consider that the eternal decree of the Incarnation covered not merely the Incarnation in abstraction from circumstances of time and place but the Incarnation here and now—that is to say, the Incarnation of the Son of God Who by the operation of the Holy Spirit was to be conceived at a certain moment of time by the Virgin Mary, espoused to a man of the family of David whose name was Joseph: “The angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David” (Luke 1:26-27).

All the indications are therefore that St. Joseph was predestined to be foster-father of the Incarnate Word before being predestined to glory; the ultimate reason being that Christ’s predestination as man to the natural divine sonship precedes the predestination of all the elect, since Christ is the first of the predestined. (15) The predestination of Christ to the natural divine sonship is simply the decree of the Incarnation, which, as we have seen, includes Mary’s predestination to the divine motherhood and Joseph’s to be foster-father and protector of the Incarnate Son of God.

As the predestination of Christ to the natural divine son-ship is superior to His predestination to glory and precedes it, and as the predestination of Mary to the divine motherhood precedes (in signo priori) her predestination to glory, so also the predestination of St. Joseph to be foster-father of the Incarnate Word precedes his predestination to glory and to grace. In other words, the reason why he was predestined to the highest degree of glory after Mary, and in consequence to the highest degree of grace and of charity, is that he was called to be the worthy foster-father and protector of the Man-God.

The fact that St. Joseph’s first predestination was one with the decree of the Incarnation shows how elevated his unique mission was. This is what people mean when they say that St. Joseph was made and put into the world to be the foster-father of the Incarnate Word and that God willed for him a high degree of glory and grace to fit him for his task.

The Special Character of St. Joseph’s Mission

This point is explained admirably by Bossuet in his first panegyric of the saint:

Among the different vocations, I notice two in the Scriptures which seem directly opposed to each other: the first is that of the Apostles, the second that of St. Joseph. Jesus was revealed to the Apostles that they might announce Him throughout the world; He was revealed to St. Joseph who was to remain silent and keep Him hidden. The Apostles are lights to make the world see Jesus. Joseph is a veil to cover Him; and under that mysterious veil are hidden from us the virginity of Mary and the greatness of the Savior of souls… He Who makes the Apostles glorious with the glory of preaching, glorifies Joseph by the humility of silence.

The hour for the manifestation of the mystery of the Incarnation had not yet struck: it was to be preceded by the thirty years of the hidden life.

Perfection consists in doing God’s will, each one according to his vocation; St. Joseph’s vocation of silence and obscurity surpassed that of the Apostles because it bordered more nearly on the redemptive Incarnation. After Mary, Joseph was nearest to the Author of grace, and in the silence of Bethlehem, during the exile in Egypt, and in the little home of Nazareth he received more graces than any other saint.

His mission was a dual one.

As regards Mary, he preserved her virginity by contracting with her a true but altogether holy marriage. The angel of the Lord said to him: “Joseph, son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived of her is of the Holy Spirit” (Mt. 1:20; Luke 2:5). Mary is truly his wife. The marriage was a true one, as St. Thomas explains (IIIa, q. 29, a. 2) when showing its appropriateness. There should be no room for doubt, however light, regarding the honor of the Son and the Mother: if ever doubt did arise Joseph, the most informed and the least suspect witness, would be there to defend it. Besides, Mary would find help and protection in St. Joseph. He loved her with a pure and devoted love, in God and for God. Their union was stainless, and most respectful on the side of St. Joseph. Thus he was nearer than any other saint to the Mother of God and the spiritual Mother of men—and he too was a man. The beauty of the whole universe was nothing compared with that of the union of Mary and Joseph, a union created by the Most High, which ravished the angels and gave joy to the Lord.

As regards the Incarnate Word, Joseph watched over Him, protected Him, and contributed to His human education. He is called His foster-father, but the term does not express fully the mysterious supernatural relation between the two. A man becomes foster-father of a child normally as a result of an accident. But it was no accident in the case of St. Joseph: he had been created and put into the world for that purpose: it was the primary reason of his predestination and the reason for all the graces he received. Bossuet expressed this well:

If nature does not give a father’s heart, where will it be found? In other words, since Joseph was not Jesus’ father, how could he have a father’s heart in His regard?

Here we must recognize the action of God. It is by the power of God that Joseph has a father’s heart, and if nature fails God gives one with His own hand; for it is of God that it is written that He directs our inclinations where he wills…. He gives some a heart of flesh when He softens their nature by charity…. Does He not give all the faithful the hearts of children when He sends to them the Spirit of His Son? The Apostles feared the least danger, but God gave them a new heart and their courage became undaunted…. The same hand gave Joseph the heart of a father and Jesus the heart of a son. That is why Jesus obeys and Joseph does not fear to command. How has he the courage to command his Creator? Because the true Father of Jesus Christ, the God Who gives Him birth from all eternity, having chosen Joseph to be the father of His only Son in time, sent down into his bosom some ray or some spark of His own infinite love for His Son; that is what changed his heart, that is what gave him a father’s love, and Joseph the just man who feels that father’s heart within him feels also that God wishes him to use his paternal authority, so that he dares to command Him Who he knows is his Master. (16)

That is equivalent to saying that Joseph was predestined first to take the place of a father in regard to the Savior Who could have no earthly father, (17) and in consequence to have all the gifts which were given him that he might be a worthy Protector of the Incarnate Word.

Is it necessary to say with what fidelity St. Joseph guarded the triple deposit confided to him: the virginity of Mary, the Person of Jesus Christ, and the secret of the Eternal Father, that of the Incarnation of His Son, a secret to be guarded faithfully till the hour appointed for its revelation?

In a discourse delivered in the Consistorial Hall on the 19th of March, 1928, Pope Pius XI said, after having spoken on the missions of St. John the Baptist and St. Peter:

Between these two missions there appears that of St. Joseph, one of recollection and silence, one almost unnoticed and destined to be lit up only many centuries afterwards, a silence which would become a resounding hymn of glory, but only after many years. But where the mystery is deepest it is there precisely that the mission is highest and that a more brilliant cortège of virtues is required with their corresponding echo of merits. It was a unique and sublime mission, that of guarding the Son of God, the King of the world, that of protecting the virginity of Mary, that of entering into participation in the mystery hidden from the eyes of ages and so to co-operate in the Incarnation and the Redemption.

That is equivalently to state that Divine Providence conferred on St. Joseph all the graces he received in view of his special mission: in other words, St. Joseph was predestined first of all to be as a father to the Savior, and was then predestined to the glory and the grace which were becoming in one favored with so exceptional a vocation.

The Virtues and Gifts of St. Joseph

St. Joseph’s virtues are those especially of the hidden life, in a degree proportioned to that of his sanctifying grace: virginity, humility, poverty, patience, prudence, fidelity, simplicity, faith enlightened by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, confidence in God and perfect charity. He preserved what had been confided to him with a fidelity proportioned to its inestimable value.

Bossuet makes this general observation about the virtues of the hidden life:

It is a common failing of men to give themselves entirely to what is outside and to neglect what is within; to work for mere appearances and to neglect what is solid and lasting; to think often of the impression they make and little of what they ought to be. That is why the most highly esteemed virtues are those which concern the conduct and direction of affairs. The hidden virtues, on the contrary, which are practiced away from the public view and under the eye of God alone, are not only neglected but hardly even heard of. And yet this is the secret of true virtue. . . a man must be built up interiorly in himself before he deserves to be given rank among others; and if this foundation is lacking, all the other virtues, however brilliant, will be mere display . . . they will not make the man according to God’s heart. Joseph sought God in simplicity; Joseph found God in detachment; Joseph enjoyed God’s company in obscurity. (18)

St. Joseph’s humility must have been increased by the thought of the gratuity of his exceptional vocation. He must have said to himself: why has the Most High given me, rather than any other man, His Son to watch over? Only because that was His good pleasure. Joseph was freely preferred from all eternity to all other men to whom the Lord could have given the same gifts and the same fidelity to prepare them for so exceptional a vocation. We see in St. Joseph’s predestination a reflection of the gratuitous predestination of Jesus and Mary. The knowledge of the value of the grace he received and of its absolute gratuitousness, far from injuring his humility, would strengthen it. He would think in his heart: “What have you that you have not received?”

Joseph appears the most humble of the saints after Mary—more humble than any of the angels. If he is the most humble he is by that fact the greatest, for the virtues are all connected and a person’s charity is as elevated as his humility is profound. “He that is lesser among you all, he is the greater” (Lk. 9:48).

Bossuet says well:

Though by an extraordinary grace of the Eternal Father he possessed the greatest treasure, it was far from Joseph’s thought to pride himself on his gifts or to make them known, but he hid himself as far as possible from mortal eyes, enjoying with God alone the mystery revealed to him and the infinite riches of which he was the custodian. (19) Joseph has in his house what could attract the eyes of the whole world, and the world does not know him; he guards a God-Man, and breathes not a word of it; he is the witness of so great a mystery, and he tastes it in secret without divulging it abroad. (20)

His faith cannot be shaken in spite of the darkness of the unexpected mystery. The word of God communicated to him by the angel throws light on the virginal conception of the Savior: Joseph might have hesitated to believe a thing so wonderful, but he believes it firmly in the simplicity of his heart. By his simplicity and his humility, he reaches up to divine heights.

Obscurity follows once more. Joseph was poor before receiving the secret of the Most High. He becomes still poorer when Jesus is born, for Jesus comes to separate men from everything so as to unite them to God. There is no room for the Savior in the last of the inns of Bethlehem. Joseph must have suffered from having nothing to offer to Mary and her Son.

His confidence in God was made manifest in trials. Persecution came soon after Jesus’ birth. Herod tried to put Him to death, and the head of the Holy Family was forced to conceal the child, to take refuge in a distant country where he was unknown and where he did not know how he could earn a living. But he set out on the journey relying on Divine Providence.

His love of God and of souls did not cease to increase during the hidden life of Nazareth; the Incarnate Word is an unfailing source of graces, ever newer and more choice, for docile souls who oppose no obstacle to His action. We have said already, when speaking of Mary, that the progress of such docile souls is one of uniform acceleration, that is to say, they are carried all the more powerfully to God the nearer they approach Him. This law of spiritual gravitation was realized in Joseph; his charity grew up to the time of his death, and the progress of his latter years was more rapid than that of his earlier years, for finding himself nearer to God he was more powerfully drawn by Him.

Along with the theological virtues the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which are connected with charity, grew continuously. Those of understanding and of wisdom made his living faith more penetrating and more attuned to the divine. In a simple but most elevated way his contemplation rose to the infinite goodness of God. In its simplicity his contemplation was the most perfect after Mary’s.

His loving contemplation was sweet, but it demanded of him the most perfect spirit of abnegation and sacrifice when he recalled the words of Simeon: “This child will be. . . a sign that will be contradicted” and “Thy own soul a sword shall pierce.” He needed all his generosity to offer to God the Infant Jesus and His Mother Mary whom he loved incomparably more than himself.

St. Joseph’s death was a privileged one; St. Francis de Sales writes that it was a death of love. (21) The same holy doctor teaches with Suarez that St. Joseph was one of the saints who rose after the Resurrection of the Lord (Mt. 27:52 sqq.) and appeared in the city of Jerusalem; he holds also that these resurrections were definitive and that Joseph entered heaven then, body and soul. St. Thomas is much more reserved regarding this point. Though his first opinion was that the resurrections were definitive (22) he taught later, after an examination of St. Augustine’s arguments in the opposed sense, that this was not the case. (23)

St. Joseph’s Role in the Sanctification of Souls

The humble carpenter is glorified in heaven to the extent to which he was hidden on earth. He to whom the Incarnate Word was subject has now an incomparable power of intercession. Leo XIII, in his encyclical Quamquam pluries finds in St. Joseph’s mission in regard to the Holy Family “the reasons why he is Patron and Protector of the universal Church…. Just as Mary, Mother of the Savior, is spiritual mother of all Christians…. Joseph looks on all Christians as having been confided to himself…. He is the defender of the Holy Church which is truly the house of God and the kingdom of God on earth.”

What strikes us most in St. Joseph’s role till the end of time is that there are united in it in an admirable way apparently opposed prerogatives. His influence is universal over the whole Church, and yet, like Divine Providence, it descends to the least details; “model of workmen,” he takes an interest in everyone who turns to him. He is the most universal of the saints, and yet he helps a poor man in his ordinary daily needs. His action is primarily of the spiritual order, and yet it extends to temporal affairs; he is the support of families and of communities, the hope of the sick. He watches over Christians of all conditions, of all countries, over fathers of families, husbands and wives, consecrated virgins; over the rich to inspire them to distribute their possessions charitably, and over the poor so as to help them. He is attentive to the needs of great sinners and of souls advanced in virtue. He is the patron of a happy death, of lost causes; he is terrible to the demon, and St. Teresa tells us that he is the guide of interior souls in the ways of prayer. His influence is a wonderful reflection of that of Divine Wisdom which “reacheth from end to end mightily, and ordereth all things sweetly” (Wis. 8:1).

He has been clothed and will remain clothed in Divine splendor. Grace has become fruitful in him and he will share its fruit with all who strive to attain to the life which is “hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3).

 

Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. (1877-1964), consultor to the Holy Office and other Congregations, taught at the Angelicum in Rome from 1909 to 1960 and authored over 500 books and articles.

 

Endnotes

(1) Sermo in Nativitatem Virginis Mariae, IVa consideratio.

(2) Sermo I de S. Joseph, c. iii, Opera, Lyon, 1650, t. IV, p. 254.

(3) Summa de donis S. Joseph, ann. 1522. There is a new edition by Fr Berthier, Rome, 1897.

(4) In Summam S. Thomae, IIIa, q. 29, disp. 8, sect. I.

(5) Sermone di S. Giuseppe, Discorsi Morali, Naples, 1841.

(6) Saint Joseph Intime, Paris, 1920.

(7) Tractatus de Sancto Joseph, Paris, 1908.

(8) La Grandezza di San Giuseppe, Rome, 1927, pp. 36 sqq.

(9) Cf. Dict. Théol Cath., art. Joseph, col. 1518.

(10) Homil. II super Missus est.

(11) Sermo I de S. Joseph.

(12) Summa de donis sancti Joseph, Pars IIIa, c. xviii. This work was very highly praised by Benedict XIV.

(13) In Summam S. Thomae, IIIa, q. 29, disp. 8, sect. I.

(14) La Grandezza di San Giuseppe, Rome, 1927, pp. 36 sqq.

(15) Cf. IIIa, q. 24, a. 1, 2, 3, 4.

(16) First Panegyric of St. Joseph, edit. Lebarcq, t. II, pp. 135 sqq.

(17) We read that Jesus was subject to Mary and Joseph. Joseph in his humility must have been confounded that he, the least of the three, should be the head of the Holy Family.

(18) Second Panegyric on St. Joseph.

(19) First Panegyric on St. Joseph.

(20) Second Panegyric on St. Joseph.

(21) Treatise of the Love of God, Bk. VII, ch. xiii.

(22) Cf. in Matth. xxvii and IV Sent., dist. 42, q. 1, a. 3.

(23) Cf. IIIa, q. 53, a. 3, ad 2.

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The visionary and seer, Sr. Lucia of Fatima, provided the world with profound and inspired Rosary meditations in her book, “Calls” from the Message of Fatima. We begin this week by presenting her meditations on the Joyful Mysteries. – Ed.

Having seen that the prayer of the Rosary is the one which God has recommended most for all of us in general, both by means of the Church’s Magisterium and through the Message which He sent to us by Our Lady, we will now look at the mysteries of our Redemption which this prayer leads us to recall and contemplate in each decade.

For the majority of Christians who live in the corrupt atmosphere of the world, it is almost pointless to talk about mental prayer. Hence, what is most suitable for them is vocal prayer, in common or in private: the liturgical prayer of the Holy Mass and the recitation of the Rosary.

In the Rosary, we find all the riches of God’s truths, or rather, the revelation of God to men. From the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity which God revealed to us in the Annunciation of the Archangel Gabriel to Mary, to the mystery of the Word made man, his life, passion, death, resurrection and ascension into heaven, where He is seated at the right hand of the Father, and is also present in his Church, in the Sacraments, in the tabernacle where He remains in the consecrated hosts, and in our brothers and sisters who form, with us, his Mystical Body, of which we are all living and functioning members.

This is the faith, which we imbibe in prayer, and it is prayer which sustains and increases our faith. As we pray the mysteries of the Rosary, we receive the light of truth and the strength of grace in order to accept willingly, and co-operate in, the redemptive work of Christ.

First Joyful Mystery: The Annunciation

In the first decade, we recall the annunciation of the Angel Gabriel to Mary:

The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin… and the virgins name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.” And Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no husband?” And the angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God” (Lk 1:26-35).

In this passage, God reveals to us how the incarnation of the Word took place; He speaks to us of the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity, that is one God in three distinct Persons: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.”

God also reveals to us the virginity and immaculate purity of Mary: God did not choose just any woman to be the Mother of His Son who, of course, could not assume a nature stained by sin. Therefore, He made Mary immaculate from the first instant of her life, the moment of her conception; and she remained always a virgin, because the Son of God could not be confused with any other, according to his human nature, which would happen if another child were born of the same Mother.

The Angel told Mary that she was full of grace: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” If Mary had not been full of grace and all holy, the Angel could not have said to her that she was full of grace, because she would have some stain of sin in her. “The Lord is with you”—said the Angel—because Mary belongs totally to God and exists totally for God. To think that Jesus shared his Mother with us! He gave us Mary to be our Mother in the spiritual order of grace. What a great gift God has given us!

And the Angel continued: “Mary, do not be afraid: you have won God’s favor.” Yes, she had caught God’s attention because she was a virgin, pure and spotless, and, therefore, was chosen to be the first human temple inhabited by the Most Holy Trinity. Through the merits of the Word made flesh, from whom we receive pardon and grace, we also, if we are fortunate enough to possess the gift of faith and to live a good life, are living temples of the adorable Trinity, which dwells in us according to the sacred texts: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you” (Jn 14:15-17). And St. Paul draws our attention to the same truth: “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If any one destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and that temple you are. Let no one deceive himself” (1 Co 3:16-18).

Jesus Christ and the Apostle tell us here that we are living temples of God and that we must keep our temple pure, because we are God’s dwelling-place, and also in order that God’s life may grow in us and may give us immortality.

Ave Maria!

Second Joyful Mystery: The visit of Our Lady to St. Elizabeth

In the second decade, we recall Our Lady’s visit to her cousin, St. Elizabeth. In the first mystery, we left the Angel talking to Mary and adding afterwards:

And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible. And Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

In those days Mary arose and went in haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?… And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (Lk 1:36-45).

This meeting of Our Lady and her cousin St. Elizabeth shows us Mary’s great faith and deep humility. This is obvious at once in her answer to the Angel, when he announced that she had been chosen to be the Mother of God. She does not feel herself exalted, or raised to a higher level. She believes the Angel’s words; she recognizes her lowliness before God and offers herself to serve Him as a slave: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”

And, thinking always of God’s mercy, Mary answers her cousin: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden” (Lk 1:46-48).

The Virgin Mary and St. Elizabeth intone here the most beautiful canticle of praise to God. Their lips are moved by the Holy Spirit. But, after all, was not Mary the living temple of the adorable Trinity!

Ave Maria!

Third Joyful Mystery: The Birth of Jesus Christ

In the third decade of the Rosary, we recall the birth of Jesus Christ, God made man. He is the masterpiece of love! God who comes down from heaven to earth, to save his poor creatures.

“I am the living bread which came down from heaven” (Jn 6:51)—He would say later, in the synagogue at Capernaum. Yes, He came from heaven; He became man, assuming the humble condition of a creature! He who is God, co-eternal with the Father, equal to the Father in power, wisdom and love! He is born as man, but He is eternal like God! A mystery which the Apostle St. John describes thus: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father” (Jn 1:1.14).

He came into the world as a man and manifested Himself as Light. Light, which shines in the darkness: present among us, today as then, but now his humanity is veiled. He is present in his word and in his works, in the Eucharist and in the Sacraments, in the Church and in the person of each of our brothers and sisters. He says: “I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (Jn 8:12). Those who follow Christ will find in Him light and life.

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ took place:

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

And in the region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all people; for to you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you; you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!”

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child; and all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them (Lk 2:1-20).

As St. Luke says here, the shepherds came and heard what was said to them, they believed and praised God. In the same way, we, too, must renew our faith in the revelation which God gives us here; we must believe and say, “My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love You! I ask pardon of You for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love You.” And, like Our Lady, we must keep all these truths in our hearts, with faith, hope and love.

Ave Maria!

Fourth Joyful Mystery: The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple

In the fourth decade of the Rosary, we call to mind the presentation of Jesus in the temple. St. Luke describes this event in the life of Christ in the following terms:

And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. And when the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord), “Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord” (Lk 2:21-23).

Circumcision, prescribed by God in the Old Law, was replaced by Baptism, of which it was a figure, and which Jesus Christ was to institute later as a Sacrament, to wipe out the stain of original sin in us, to make us members of his Mystical Body and sharers in the graces of his redemptive work.

The example of fidelity in the observance of God’s Law which Our Lady gives us here should move us to follow the same road of fidelity to God and his Church.

Fulfilling this commandment to present her first-born in the Temple to be offered to the Lord, Mary is, at the same time, carrying out the mission entrusted to her by God, that of Co-redemptrix of the human race. Mary knows the Sacred Scriptures and, through them, she knows that her Son is destined to be a victim of expiation for the sins of men and a sacrifice of praise offered to God.

Reflect on what Isaiah prophesied about this:

Who has believed what we have heard? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed. All like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearer is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the Lord to bruise him; he has put him to grief; when he makes himself an offering for sin (Is 53:1-10).

Mary knows that this prophecy is to be fulfilled in the person of her Son; she knows that He has been sent by God to carry out the work of our redemption. And far from wanting to save Him from such pain and suffering, she takes Him in her pure arms, brings Him to the temple with her virginal hands and places Him on the altar so that the priest may offer Him to the eternal Father as an expiatory victim and a sacrifice of praise.

Here, Mary does not simply offer her Son, she offers herself with Christ, because Jesus had received his body and blood from her; thus she offers herself in and with Christ to God, Co-redemptrix, with Christ, of humanity.

In this mystery of the presentation of Jesus, the pure hands of Mary are the first paten on which God placed the first host; and, from this paten, the priest on duty in the temple of Jerusalem took it, to place it on the altar and offer it to the Father as something which is owed to Him and an offering with which He is well pleased. Here we have a figure; later will come the real Mass, when the sacrifice of expiation will be consummated on Calvary; Jesus, by His own hands, will offer Himself to the Father for men, under the consecrated species of bread and wine, saying to the priests of the New Covenant: “Do this in remembrance of me” (Lk 22:19), that is, offer My sacrifice to the Father so that it will be renewed on the altar for the salvation of the world. Because “This is my body which is given for you…. This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Lk 22:19.20).

Ave Maria!

Fifth Joyful Mystery: The prayer of Jesus in the temple of Jerusalem

In the fifth decade of the Rosary, we recall the journey of Jesus Christ to the temple in Jerusalem, to take part in the communal prayer of the people of God. St. Luke describes this event in Our Lord’s life thus:

Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom; and when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, but supposing him to be in the company they went a day’s journey, and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintances; and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions;… and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously.” And he said to them, “How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Lk 2:41-49).

The Holy Family here gives us a great example of Christian life. Neither distance nor lack of transport deters them from journeying to the temple in Jerusalem to join their prayer to that offered to God by his people. The Jerusalem temple reminds us of the places of worship which, today, for us, are our Churches where we too should go, all together, to offer to God our prayer and praise.

In the answer He gave his mother, Jesus Christ tells us that the temple is the house of God: “Did you not know that I must be in My Father’s house?” For us, the Churches are our Father’s house and so we must enter them with faith, with respect and with love.

We go to our Father’s house, so that, there, united around the same table, we can be fed by the same bread: the bread of the Eucharist, the bread of the word of God. Like Jesus Christ, we must listen there to the word of God, which is spoken to us by his ministers, as it was formerly imparted to the people of God by the doctors of the law.

Today, we are the successors of that people; we who, happily, have received Baptism and, with it, the gift of faith, members, now, of the Mystical Body of Christ, which is the Church.

Ave Maria!

This article is an excerpt from Sr. Lucia’s “Calls” from the Message of Fatima, Secretariado dos Pastorinhos, Fatima, distributed by Ravengate Press.

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The Sorrows and Joys of St. Joseph

Published on March 20, 2012 by in Marian Devotion

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We are pleased to present to you this special devotion of the Seven Sorrows and Joys of St. Joseph, along with the story, according to some traditions, of how the devotion came into being. – Ed.

Two Fathers of the Franciscan order were sailing along the coast of Flanders, when a terrible tempest arose, which sank the vessel, with its three hundred passengers. The two Fathers had sufficient presence of mind to seize hold of a plank, upon which they were tossed to and fro upon the waves, for three days and nights. In their danger and affliction, their whole recourse was to St. Joseph, begging his assistance in their sad condition. The Saint, thus invoked, appeared in the habit of a young man of beautiful features, encouraged them to confide in his assistance, and, as their pilot, conducted them into a safe harbor. They, desirous to know who their benefactor was asked his name, that they might gratefully acknowledge so great a blessing and favor. He told them he was St. Joseph, and advised them daily to recite the Our Father and Hail Mary seven times, in memory of his seven dolors or griefs, and of his seven joys, and then disappeared.

Recite one Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be after each number.

1. St. Joseph, Chaste Spouse of the Holy Mother of God, by the Sorrow with which your heart was pierced at the thought of a cruel separation from Mary, and by the deep Joy that you felt when the angel revealed to you the ineffable mystery of the Incarnation, obtain for us from Jesus and Mary, the grace of surmounting all anxiety. Win for us from the Adorable Heart of Jesus the unspeakable peace of which He is the Eternal Source.

2. St. Joseph, Foster-Father of Jesus, by the bitter Sorrow which your heart experienced in seeing the Child Jesus lying in a manger, and by the Joy which you felt in seeing the Wise men recognize and adore Him as their God, obtain by your prayers that our heart, purified by your protection, may become a living crib, where the Savior of the world may receive and bless our homage.

3. St. Joseph, by the Sorrow with which your heart was pierced at the sight of the Blood which flowed from the Infant Jesus in the Circumcision, and by the Joy that inundated your soul at your privilege of imposing the sacred and mysterious Name of Jesus, obtain for us that the merits of this Precious Blood may be applied to our souls, and that the Divine Name of Jesus may be engraved forever in our hearts.

4. St. Joseph, by the Sorrow when the Lord declared that the soul of Mary would be pierced with a sword of sorrow, and by your Joy when holy Simeon added that the Divine Infant was to be the resurrection of many, obtain for us the grace to have compassion on the sorrows of Mary, and share in the salvation which Jesus brought to the earth.

5. St. Joseph, by your Sorrow when told to fly into Egypt, and by your Joy in seeing the idols overthrown at the arrival of the living God, grant that no idol of earthly affection may any longer occupy our hearts, but being like you entirely devoted to the service of Jesus and Mary, we may live and happily die for them alone.

6. St. Joseph, by the Sorrow of your heart caused by the fear of the tyrant Archelaus and by the Joy in sharing the company of Jesus and Mary at Nazareth, obtain for us, that disengaged from all fear, we may enjoy the peace of a good conscience and may live in security, in union with Jesus and Mary, experiencing the effect of your salutary assistance at the hour of our death.

7. St. Joseph, by the bitter Sorrow with which the loss of the Child Jesus crushed your heart, and by the holy Joy which inundated your soul in recovering your Treasure on entering the Temple, we supplicate you not to permit us to lose our Saviour Jesus by sin. Yet, should this misfortune befall us, grant that we may share your eagerness in seeking Him, and obtain for us the grace to find Him again, ready to show us His great mercy, especially at the hour of death; so that we may pass from this life to enjoy His presence in heaven, there to sing with you His divine mercies forever.

Let Us Pray

O God, Who in Your ineffable Providence has vouchsafed to choose Blessed Joseph to be the Spouse of Your most holy Mother; grant, we beseech You, that we may deserve to have him for our intercessor in heaven whom on earth we venerate as our holy protector: Who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.

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Introduction

It is truly proper to glorify you, who have borne God, the Ever-blessed, Immaculate, and the Mother of our God. More honorable then the Cherubim, and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim, who, a virgin, gave birth to God the Word, you, truly the Mother of God, we magnify. (1)

Our late Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, in his Apostolic Letter, Orientale Lumen, speaks of the light of Christ, which shone first in the East. He reminds us that the Eastern Churches continue to illumine the world today, and it is important to appreciate and retain the fullness of the Catholic Church’s rich Eastern heritage. One of the most brilliant rays of light from the Eastern Church shines from the honor and love given to the Blessed Virgin Mary, whom they refer to as “Theotokos,” or “God-Bearer.” Within the Eastern liturgy and iconography, one finds clearly set forth all the truths about the Blessed Mother’s roles as Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate, and a clear explanation of why She is given the special praise of hyperdulia above all other created beings.

A closer look at the Divine Office of the Eastern Church, the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, the Akathist Hymn, and Church iconography will provide abundant evidence of how the Eastern Church honors the Holy Theotokos, and enables her to fill the Church with the light of Christ.

The Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom is very well known and common in the Eastern Churches today, both those in union with Rome and those that are not. St. John Chrysostom (345-407 AD), Bishop of Constantinople and an eloquent preacher and Father of the Church, formulated this liturgy, which probably received its present form after the ninth century. The liturgical prayers of the East have nourished the Christian Church throughout the centuries in their understanding and love for the Mother of God. Since we express our beliefs within our prayers (lex orandi lex est credendi), one must look to the liturgical prayers of the Byzantine Rite in order to understand the Eastern Church’s beliefs regarding the Holy Mother of God. These liturgical prayers make clear that Mary is honored in the Eastern Churches as Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate for the people of God.

The Divine Office of the East

Throughout the Eastern Church Divine Office, the Blessed Mother is spoken of in terms of Old Testament references, showing Her divine fore-ordination to be the Mother of God and how the history of salvation culminates in Her. Thus, in the matins prayers for the Birth of the Holy Theotokos, the Church sings:

The bush on the mountain that was not consumed by fire, and the Chaldean furnace that brought refreshment as the dew, plainly prefigured thee, O Bride of God. For in a material womb, unconsumed thou hast received the divine and immaterial fire.

Again, in the matins prayers for the Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos the Church links the Blessed Mother to Old Testament images, singing:

Let us praise in faith Mary the Child of God, whom long ago the assembly of prophets foretold, speaking of her as jar of manna and Aaron’s rod, tablet of the Law and uncut mountain.

In addition, the prophecies of David in the psalms are seen as fulfilled by Mary’s entry into the temple, for the Church sings:

Let David prophecy, who said in the spirit: “virgins shall be brought after thee; they shall be brought into the temple to the queen and Mother.” (2)

Furthermore, the Church sings of St. Ann, regarding the Blessed Mother’s fore-ordination:

Today Ann the Barren gives birth to the Child of God, foreordained from all generations to be the habitation of the King of all and Maker, Christ our God, in fulfillment of the divine dispensation. (3)

Immaculate Conception

The Divine Office goes on to set forth the truth that the Blessed Mother’s freedom from the stain of sin from the time of her conception enables Her to take part in the redemption of mankind. Because She is Immaculate, She is able to reverse the curse of Eden and take part in the salvation of all. In Her a new Eve is born, who, through Her obedience, reverses the curse brought about by Eve’s disobedience. For the Feast of the Birth of the Holy Theotokos, the Church sings:

O Adam and Eve . . . rejoice with us today: for if by your transgression ye closed the gate of Paradise to those of old, we have now been given a glorious fruit, Mary the Child of God, who opens its entrance to us all. (4)

She is further extolled for reversing the curse of Eden in these words:

She is the restoration of Adam and the recalling of Eve, the fountain of incorruption and the release from corruption: through her we have been made godlike and delivered from death. (5)

The Church recognizes that while Eve’s sin brought death, the Immaculate Mother’s obedience brings life and deliverance, and thus Eve rejoices in her own salvation and the restoration of all which comes through her offspring. In the words of Eve from the Great Vespers of The Birth of the Holy Theotokos: “Unto me is born deliverance, through which I shall be set free from the bonds of hell.” Further extolling this mystery the Church sings:

Adam is set free and Eve dances for joy, and in spirit they cry aloud to thee, O Theotokos: “By thee, through Christ’s appearance, we have been delivered from Adam’s ancient curse.” (6)

The Blessed Mother is clearly seen in the Divine Office of the Eastern Church as the pure and undefiled one, who “alone among women is pure and blessed” and thus is able to give flesh to the God-man. (7) At Her birth the Church rejoices that a worthy vessel for the Word has been born:

In thee, O Undefiled, is the mystery of the Trinity praised and glorified. For the Father was well pleased with thee, and in thee the Word made His tabernacle among us, and the Holy Spirit overshadowed thee. (8)

Gabriel’s words at the Annunciation also clearly set forth the Blessed Mother as the Immaculate One. The archangel greets Her as, “O all-holy Lady, utterly without spot.” (9)

Within the Divine Office, the Church affirms the Blessed Mother’s freedom of choice, demonstrating that She was not a passive vessel, but an active participant, who cooperated, out of freedom, in God’s saving work. This is made clear within the Divine Office of the Annunciation in the form of a conversation between Mary and Gabriel, in which:

Mary’s doubts are set forth with the utmost directness, we see all her incredulity and her embarrassment; and this is done in order to make clear that she acted in full freedom, consciously and deliberately accepting the will of God. When, on this and other feasts, the . . . Church shows honor to the Mother of God, it is not just because God chose her but also because she herself chose aright. (10)

Mary Co-Redemptrix

In addition to glorifying the Immaculate One’s freedom from sin, the Divine Office of the Eastern Church also sets forth her special bond with Christ and her Co-Redemptive role of suffering with Her Son, which provides the basis for Her further roles as Mediatrix of all grace and Advocate. One beautiful aspect of the Office that identifies Mary with the redemptive role of Her Son is seen in the Feast of the Entry of the Holy Theotokos into the temple. Just as She and Joseph would later offer the infant Jesus in the temple, Mary’s parents brought Her to the temple as a young child, making clear the fact that She, like Christ, was immolated to God for the plan of salvation. Thus the Church sings:

Having received the fruit of the promise come from the Lord, today in the temple Joachim and Ann offered the Mother of God as an acceptable sacrifice; and Zacharias the great High Priest received her with his blessing. Into the holy places the Holy of Holies is fittingly brought to dwell, as a sacrifice acceptable to God. (11)

The Church also shows us the unique and intimate bond between Christ and Mary, which justifies Her role as Co-Redemptrix, in the fact that She gives Jesus His most Holy Body; the Church sings:

From thy virgin womb the Light that was before the sun, even God who has come forth upon us, took flesh ineffably, coming to dwell among us in the body. Thee, then, O blessed and all-holy Theotokos, do we magnify. (12)

Many other aspects of Mary’s intimate sharing in the sufferings of Christ throughout His earthly life are highlighted in the Divine Office, making clear the understanding that She participated in a unique way with Christ in His saving work for the salvation of men. The Church honors the suffering She underwent in the flight to Egypt, putting these words into the mouth of the Mother: “O Son . . . as I behold thee fleeing from Herod with his sword of sorrow, I am torn in soul. But do Thou live and save those that honor Thee.” (13)

Additionally, the Church sets forth Her Co-Redemptive role when it lauds Her co-suffering at the Passion, showing the depth of Her suffering with Jesus, suffering in a way that only a Mother could. The Church sings:

When the pure Virgin, His Mother, beheld Him upon the Cross, she cried out in pain: “Woe is me, my Child: why hast Thou done this? Thou, whose beauty was fairer than that of all mortal men, dost appear without life and form, having neither shape nor comeliness. Woe is me, O my Light. I cannot bear to look upon Thee sleeping, and I am wounded in my innermost self, a harsh sword pierces my heart.” (14)

Clearly, the liturgy shows the Eastern Church’s understanding of the Blessed Mother’s most intimate sharing in the sufferings of Her Son, and thus Her unique cooperation in His Redemptive work, which merits Her the title of Co-Redemptrix.

Mary Mediatrix and Advocate

The Mother’s ongoing role as Mediatrix of all grace and Advocate for all people is also set forth within the Byzantine liturgy as the Church recognizes that She was given at Calvary to John and to all the children of God as a Mother, and that She is now in heaven with Jesus where Her motherly care continues. In the liturgy of the Dormition the Church plainly shows the belief that She is taken up to heaven where She continues Her powerful role of intercession for the redemption of Her children. While the Roman Catholic Church calls this event the Assumption of Mary, the Eastern Church entitles this Her “Dormition.” The Church tells of Her place at the right hand of Her Son where She intercedes for us. Calling Her the “Gate of God” and the “Palace of the King,” the Church sings of Her Who, even in death, did not know corruption, and was taken straight to heaven:

What songs filled with awe did all the apostles of the Word then offer thee, O Virgin, as they stood round thy deathbed and cried aloud in wonder: “The Palace of the King withdraws; the Ark of holiness is raised on high. Let the gates be opened wide that the Gate of God may enter into abundant joy, she who asks without ceasing for great mercy on the world.” (15)

Within the liturgical text the Church manifestly sees that the Blessed Mother is now with Her Son, where She is able to intercede most effectively on our behalf. The Church asks for the powerful prayers of She Who dwells with Her Son:

Therefore, O most pure Theotokos, who livest for ever with thy Son, the King who brings life, pray without ceasing that thy newborn people be guarded on every side and saved from all adverse assault; for we are under thy protection. (16)

Again and again throughout the liturgy, the Church recognizes the significance of Her being taken up into heaven, and that in Her role as Advocate, the Blessed Mother continues to pray for Her children without ceasing:

O pure and most holy Virgin, the multitude of angels in heaven and mankind on earth extol and venerate thy Dormition; for thou art the Mother of Christ, our God and the Creator of all. Never cease, we entreat thee, to intercede with Him on our behalf; for next to God we have put our hope in thee, O far-famed and unwedded Theotokos. (17)

The Church sings of the saving power of Her prayers from Her place in heaven:

In giving birth, O Theotokos, thou hast retained thy virginity, and in falling asleep thou hast not forsaken the world. Thou who art the Mother of Life hast passed over into life, and by thy prayers thou dost deliver our souls from death. (18)

Once again the Church, after Her Dormition, emphasizes her role as Advocate in heaven, pleading for us, and as Mediatrix of all grace, pouring out salvation for the faithful:

Come, O ye faithful, let us approach the tomb of the Mother of God, and let us embrace it, touching it sincerely with the lips and eyes and foreheads of the heart. Let us draw abundant gifts of healing grace from this ever-flowing fount. (19)

In another beautiful prayer from the Office of the Feast of the Dormition, the Church asks that She, who now reigns with Her Son and continues Her cooperative work with Christ in our salvation, pray for us. The Church on earth echoes the prayers of the apostles, singing: “As thou departest to the heavenly mansions unto thy Son, do thou ever save thine inheritance.” (20)

In addition to describing Her roles of Advocate and Mediatrix, the Church also uses these specific titles within the liturgy. For example, as Mary enters the temple herself as a young child, the Church cries:

Make this feast to be held in honor throughout all the world by those who cry: The Theotokos is come among us, mediator of salvation. (21)

Again she is hailed as Mediatrix in the Liturgy for the Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the seventh Ecumenical Council:

O gentle Protectress of Christians, unfailing Mediatrix before the Creator, do not despise the prayerful voices of sinners; but in your goodness hasten to assist those who cry out to you; “Inspire us to prayer, and hasten to hear our supplication, intercede always, Mother of God, in behalf of those who honor you.”

Once again, a specific title is used when Mary is called Advocate in the liturgy for the deceased: “We have in You a defense and a refuge and an advocate acceptable to God to Whom you gave birth, O Virgin Mother of God, the salvation of the faithful.” (22)

The Akathist Hymn to the Mother of God

In addition to the abundance of liturgical evidence of the honor that the Eastern Church gives to Our Lady as Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate, evidence of the Eastern Church’s recognition of Her unique roles can also be found in the Eastern Church hymn to the Mother of God, known as the Akathist Hymn. This hymn contains abundant examples of the Eastern Church’s praises of Mary for Her unique participation in the work of Her Son. While the hymn does not use the explicit titles of Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate, the fact that She is honored for these roles is clear. As Luigi Gambero states in his description of the Akathist hymn: “The Akathist is a convincing example of how the theology of the Greek Fathers could create titles indicative of fervid admiration for the divine mystery, in which Mary was involved in a unique way.” (23) This beautiful hymn serves as another shining example of the Eastern Church’s beliefs regarding the Holy Theotokos, once again relying on the principle, lex orandi est lex credendi (what we pray is what we believe). Truly, the words that the Church prays set forth the beliefs of the Church; the prayer of the Akathist clearly shows us the Eastern Church’s belief in Mary as Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate.

Looking more closely at the descriptions used in the Akathist clearly shows the Blessed Mother’s various roles. Within the text of the Akathist She is set forth as the Co-Redemptrix, worthy to take part in an intimate and unique way in the Redemptive work of Her Son. Due to the extraordinary union She achieved with God through the Incarnation, based on Her Immaculate Conception, She is able to take part in reversing the curse of Adam and Eve and suffering all with Her Son to become the Co-Redemptrix, and thus the joy of our race. Let us look at some of the lines within the hymn in which She is praised for Her Co-Redemptive role:

Hail, O Restoration of the fallen Adam (first chant)
Hail, O Redemption of the tears of Eve (first chant)
Hail, O you through whom creation is renewed (first chant)
Hail, O you through whom the Creator becomes a Babe (first chant)
Hail, Expiation of the whole universe (third chant)
Hail, O you through whom death was despoiled (fourth chant)
Hail, O you who unthroned the enemy of men (fifth chant)
Hail, O you who cleansed us from the stain of pagan worship (fifth chant)
Hail, O you who saved us from the mire of evil deeds (fifth chant)
Hail, O Resurrection of mankind (sixth chant)
Hail, O Downfall of the demons (sixth chant)
Hail, O you through whom transgression was erased (eighth chant)
Hail, O you through whom paradise was opened (eighth chant)
Hail, O Retriever from the abyss of ignorance (ninth chant)
Hail, O Ship for those who seek salvation (ninth chant)
Hail, O you who erased the stain of sin (eleventh chant)
Hail, O you through whom the enemies are routed (twelfth chant)
Hail, O Healing of my body (twelfth chant)
Hail, O Salvation of my soul (twelfth chant)

In addition to the lines within the Akathist that set forth the Blessed Mother’s Co-Redemptive role, we also see many lines that show Her role as Mediatrix of all graces. The lines of the hymn make it clear that the Church sees the Blessed Virgin Mary as enthroned with Her Son in heaven, where She dispenses to us all the graces that we need. For example, She is depicted as a “holy Vessel,” and a “fruitful Tree,” in order to show that She is the one from whom all the graces of heaven come down to believers. We can see Her role as Mediatrix of all graces set forth in the following lines of the Akathist:

Hail, celestial Ladder by whom God came down (second chant)
Hail, O you who enlighten faithful minds (second chant)
Hail, O you through whom we were clothed with glory (fourth chant)
Hail, O Rock who quenched those who thirst for life (sixth chant)
Hail, O Pillar of fire who guided those in darkness (sixth chant)
Hail, O fruitful Tree from whom believers feed (seventh chant)
Hail, O Message unsure to men without faith (eighth chant)
Hail, O Dispenser of God’s bounties (tenth chant)
Hail, O you who gave sense to those who had lost it (tenth chant)
Hail, O Beam of the mystical Sun (eleventh chant)
Hail, holy Vessel overflowing with joy (eleventh chant)

The Akathist also describes the Blessed Mother’s role as Advocate. The hymn beautifully describes how the Holy Theotokos receives all of the Church’s prayers and continues to intercede for the Church unceasingly before the throne of God. Because it is through Her advocacy that believers enter heaven, She is called such titles as the Door, the Key, the Voice, and the Hope of the Church. Her intercessory role as Advocate is made evident within the following lines of the hymn:

Hail, O Bridge leading earthly ones to heaven (second chant)
Hail, O Trust of mortals before God (third chant)
Hail, O Key to the doors of Paradise (fourth chant)
Hail, O you who guide the faithful toward Wisdom (fifth chant)
Hail, O you who unsettled even the just judge (seventh chant)
Hail, O Stole for those who lack freedom to speak (seventh chant)
Hail, O Gate of the sublime Mystery (eighth chant)
Hail, O Key to the Kingdom of Christ (eighth chant)
Hail, O Hope for the ages of bliss (eighth chant)
Hail, O Gateway of salvation (tenth chant)
Hail, O you who join the faithful with God (tenth chant)

While scholars suggest several different authors of the Akathist, including George of Pisidia, Germanus of Constantinople, Sergius of Constantinople, and Romanos the Melodist, these names remain hypotheses. The most recent studies date the composition of the hymn to the late fifth or early sixth century. Regardless of the identity of the author, Luigi Gambero notes, one can agree with the conclusion of Father Ermanno Toniolo, from his book, Acatisto: Canto di lode a Maria, fonte di luce, when he states:

Undoubtedly, its author was a great poet, an outstanding theologian, a consummate contemplative; he was great enough to be able to translate the Church’s faith into a prayerful synthesis, yet humble enough to disappear into anonymity. God knows his name; the world does not. It is just as well; in this way, the hymn belongs to everyone, because it belongs to the Church. (24)

That the Catholic Church clearly embraces the beliefs set forth in this hymn to the Mother of God is clear from the plenary indulgence the Church grants to all Catholics who pray the Akathist to the Mother of God and fulfill the other requirements for a plenary indulgence.

The Theotokos in Iconography

In addition to the praise that the Eastern Church gives to the Blessed Mother through sacred hymns, the Church also praises and venerates the Holy Theotokos through the use of icons. The icon expresses the glorious truths of Our Lady without using words, in a way that reaches not only the head, but also the heart of the believer. Iconography in the Eastern Church sets forth the Church’s beliefs about Our Lady, and at the same time expresses the love and devotion the Church feels for the Mother Who is our Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate before God. Let us look at specific icons to learn the truths of the Blessed Mother which are set forth in these images.

The Annunciation Icon

Details of this icon are drawn from the Gospel of St. Luke, and from the Protoevangelium of James. In this account we are told of the meaning of the thread and spindle which Mary holds in almost every icon of the Annunciation:

we are . . . told that at the time of the Annunciation Mary was engaged in drawing out purple thread that was to be used for making a veil for the Temple. This latter detail is almost always included in icons of the Annunciation, often with the thread falling away to the ground: Mary turns away from the external work with the thread for a veil in the Jerusalem Temple, to attend to the vocation to become the temple and dwelling place of the Incarnate Lord. (25)

This detail of the thread points out the truth that Mary is the New Testament fulfillment of the Old Testament Temple.

The posture of the Blessed Mother represents a questioning of the angel’s message, but also a free choice and willingness to cooperate in God’s plan of salvation. Once again, by Her free choice to obey, the Blessed Mother can be seen as the New Eve who reverses Eve’s disobedience and brings the New Adam into the world. The presence of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove, overshadowing the Virgin, depicts the truth of the Virgin birth of Christ and Mary’s role as Spouse of the Holy Spirit.

The Nativity Icon

The icon of the Nativity of Christ sets forth for believers several truths about the Blessed Virgin Mary. Throughout the Eastern Church, this icon is brought out in the Christmas season, and worshippers who pray in front of the image learn the truths about the Blessed Virgin Mary as they gaze on the details of this scene. At the center of the icon is the Blessed Mother, set forth as the New Eve and the Mother of the new creation born through Her Divine Son. As one author tells us: “The Virgin Mother lies in the centre of the icon, as the second Eve. Just as the first Eve was the ‘mother of all living’ (Gen 3:20), so the Virgin Mother of God is the Mother of the new humanity restored and deified through the Incarnation of the Eternal Son.” (26)

Below the Mother, two midwives wash and care for the newborn infant Jesus: “their function in the icon is to stress the true humanity of the Incarnate God, against the heretical teaching that Christ only appeared to be human.” (27) In the lower left corner of the icon, Saint Joseph sits with a troubled expression on his face, and the Blessed Mother is turned toward him with solicitude. Here is set forth the doctrine of the Virgin birth of Christ, for Joseph looks troubled, as “one who is not the father of the child, and who represents those who cannot comprehend the wonder of this event which is beyond the natural order of things.” (28) Mary’s maternal care is shown by the fact that, “the face of the Virgin is turned towards Joseph—a symbol of compassion for those beset by doubts and difficulties in believing.” (29)

Thus, we have within the Nativity icon, the doctrine of Mary as the New Eve and Mother of the new humanity, an affirmation of the true humanity of Christ, the true virginity of the Blessed Mother, and the role of Mary as the compassionate Mother of those in trial.

The Presentation Icon

In the icon of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple is set forth a seed of the Blessed Mother’s role as Co-Redemptrix, for She offers the infant Messiah to the Lord, and into the hands of Simeon, a “representative of the old covenant community of Israel,” (30) reminding us that “the Mother of God offers Her Son to all who will receive Him with faith and love—those very qualities expressed in the outstretched arms of Simeon as he receives the Christ child.” (31) The Blessed Mother, aware of the future sufferings of the Son, nonetheless obediently brings Him to the Temple, showing Her readiness to cooperate in God’s saving plan, even at the cost of Her own suffering and sacrifice. Believers who pray before this icon can meditate on the Co-Redemptrix’s self-sacrificing cooperation in God’s work of salvation, springing forth from Her love of God and love for all the spiritual children who will be born to Her through Her Son’s saving work.

The Mother of God of the Way Icon

There are various depictions of the Blessed Mother holding the Christ Child. The “Hodogitria” is the name given to the style of icon in which “the right hand of the Virgin points to the Incarnate Son of God who sits enthroned on her left arm, facing out from the icon with a scroll in his left hand and the right hand raised in blessing.” (32) This icon shows little tenderness between Mother and Child, for Christ is portrayed as “pre-eternal God and incarnate Wisdom who has come into the world, and who has the divine authority to bless and instruct,” (33) while the Mother shows us the way, pointing away from Herself and toward Her Son. The fact that Mary is seen with Her Divine Child as the “Theotokos” stresses “the reality of the Incarnation: the divinity as well as the humanity of the Incarnate Son.” (34) While this icon portrays these truths about the Incarnation, it also expresses the truth that the Blessed Mother stands as a “symbol and type of the Church and the Christian vocation: to point away from self to Christ, and yet to have an inner awareness of his presence in ourselves through the life of prayer and worship.” (35)

Mother of God of the Passion Icon

In this icon, the Blessed Mother holds the Christ Child, while in the upper corners are two angels who are holding the instruments of the Passion of the Lord. The Christ Child looks up at one of the angels, and the “expression of the Mother and Child show that they are well aware of the meaning of the instruments.” (36) Also known as “Our Lady of Perpetual Help,” this icon sets forth Our Lady’s role as Co-Redemptrix, suffering with Her Son in His Passion for the Redemption of mankind. We see the immensity of Our Lady’s suffering in the fact that Our Lady realized the future sufferings of Her Son even from the time of His birth.

Eastern Church iconography shows the exalted role of the Mother of God, and history bears witness to the devotion which believers from the Eastern Church give to the Holy Virgin. A short story from one Russian Orthodox writer during World War I exemplifies the love that the people show to the Blessed Mother through iconography, and the fact that She carries out the roles of Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate for the people:

In late August, prayer services for a victorious end to the war were held throughout the country. Under the impact of anxiety, the attendance in our village was unusually large and the mood of the congregation very fervent . . . . The church was crammed. Everyone joined in singing the prayer to the Holy Virgin. At the words, “We have no other recourse, no other hope,” many wept, and the whole crowd prostrated itself at the Virgin’s feet. I had never before heard a large congregation put so much feeling into these words. All these peasants had seen the refugees and were thinking of their own possible destitution, death from famine, the horrors of winter flight. No doubt they felt that without the Virgin’s protection they would surely perish. (37)

After looking at the liturgy, devotion, and iconography of the Eastern Church, the strong faith and love of the Eastern Church for the Holy Mother of God in her roles as Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate become clear. Even when these titles for Mary are not explicitly used, the words of the Divine Liturgy and the Divine Office make it obvious that the Eastern Church understands that Mary fulfills the roles of participating with Her Son in our redemption (Co-Redemptrix), mediating all graces to God’s children (Mediatrix), and praying for us unceasingly from Her exalted place in heaven (Advocate). In addition, the iconography of the East makes clear the doctrines of Our Lady, and allows believers to meditate upon the truths of Her exalted roles.

Just as Mary serves as a bridge between Her Son and the world, she can also serve as a strong unifying factor between the Orthodox and the Catholic Churches. Our late Holy Father, John Paul II, the Totus Tuus Pope, recognized the heartfelt devotion of the Eastern Churches to Our Lady, and saw Her as a key to unity between the East and the West. Our beloved John Paul II spoke of his joy at the Eastern Church’s expressions of love for Mary through their liturgy and devotions in his encyclical, Redemptoris Mater. He summarizes the importance of the Eastern Churches in the development of Church dogma, and the unity that can come about within the Church through our common praise of Our Lady:

I wish to emphasize how profoundly the Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church and the ancient Churches of the East feel united by love and praise of the Theotokos. Not only “basic dogmas of the Christian faith concerning the Trinity and God’s Word made flesh of the Virgin Mary were defined in Ecumenical Councils held in the East,” but also in their liturgical worship “the Orientals pay high tribute, in very beautiful hymns, to Mary ever Virgin . . . God’s Most Holy Mother” . . . . Such a wealth of praise, built up by the different forms of the Church’s great tradition, could help us to hasten the day when the Church can begin once more to breathe fully with her “two lungs,” the East and the West. As I have often said, this is more than ever necessary today.

As many theologians have pointed out with regards to the formal definition of the Fifth Marian Dogma, Mary Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate, the nature of truth is to heal, rather than separate. Clearly the Eastern Churches already have the truths of Mary deeply embedded within their minds and hearts, as can be seen from a closer study of their liturgy and devotions. Thus, the Eastern Churches can lend support for the definition of the Fifth Marian Dogma. And, in return, the definition of the Dogma will help to draw together the Eastern and Western Churches as we recognize the unity of our beliefs regarding the Most Holy Theotokos. May She once again bear for the Church the light of truth so that the East and West can recognize the truth of our unity.

 

Notes

(1) Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom

(2) Matins, Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos.

(3) Great Vespers, The Birth of the Holy Theotokos.

(4) Ibid.

(5) Ibid.

(6) Matins, The Birth of the Holy Theotokos.

(7) Great Vespers, Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos.

(8) Matins, The Birth of the Holy Theotokos.

(9) Great Vespers, Annunciation of the Most Holy Theotokos.

(10) Ware, Archimandrite Kallistos, The Festal Menaion, London: Faber, 1969, 61.

(11) Small Vespers, The Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple.

(12) Matins, The Birth of Our Most Holy Lady.

(13) Compline, The Forefeast of the Nativity of Christ.

(14) Matins, The Universal Exaltation.

(15) Small Vespers, The Dormition of Our Most Holy Lady the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary.

(16) Great Vespers, Dormition of Our Most Holy Lady.

(17) Ibid.

(18) Ibid.

(19) Matins, Dormition of Our Most Holy Lady.

(20) Ibid.

(21) Matins, Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos.

(22) Bohorodicen, Liturgy for the Deceased.

(23) Gambero, Luigi, Mary and the Fathers of the Church, San Francisco: Ignatius, 1999, 341.

(24) Ibid., 338.

(25) Baggley, John, Doors of Perception: icons and their spiritual significance, Crestwood, New York: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1988, 128.

(26) Ibid., 142.

(27) Loc.cit.

(28) Loc.cit.

(29) Loc.cit.

(30) Ibid., 126

(31) Loc.cit.

(32) Ibid., 106.

(33) Loc.cit.

(34) Loc.cit.

(35) Loc.cit.

(36) Popp, Bishop Nathaniel, Holy Icons, Jackson, MI: Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America, 1969, 27.

(37) Trubetskoi, Eugene, Icons: Theology in Color, St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1973, 35.

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The following article is an excerpt from a chapter in the recently published Marian anthology, Mariology: A Guide for Priests, Deacons, Seminarians, and Consecrated Persons, Seat of Wisdom Books, A Division of Queenship, 2008. Fifteen international Mariology experts contributed to the text. The book features a foreword by Archbishop Raymond L. Burke and has 17 chapters divided into four parts: 1. Mary in Scripture and the Early Church; 2. Marian Dogma; 3. Marian Doctrine; and 4. Marian Liturgy and Devotion. The book is now available from Queenship Publications. Visit our store to order a copy. To view the book in its entirety, simply click here. Asst. Ed.

Some – perhaps many – Catholics, if they give any thought to it at all, may think that the practice of consecrating oneself to Our Lady or placing one’s life entirely in her hands is a rather recent phenomenon in the life of the Church. Indeed, even if they are rather well informed, they may be of the conviction that this custom dates from the time of St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort (+1716), the author of the famous treatises, True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin and The Secret of Mary. Surely without hesitation, St. Louis de Montfort (whom I hope will soon be named a Doctor of the Church) and St. Maximilian-Maria Kolbe (+1941) should be acknowledged as two of the principal proponents of Marian consecration in modern times. Yet the fact remains that this devotional practice dates from the earliest days of the Church and is really rooted in the Scriptures themselves, especially the words of Jesus from the Cross spoken to his Mother and to the beloved disciple (cf. Jn. 19:25-27).

Arguably the greatest proponent of Marian consecration in our own time was the Servant of God Pope John Paul II (+2005). His motto as bishop and pope was Totus Tuus (all yours), an abbreviated form of one of St. Louis de Montfort’s formulas, Totus tuus ego sum et omnia mea tua sunt (I am all yours [O Mary] and everything I have is yours).1 More than any other teacher of Marian consecration before him, this pope rooted his teaching and practice in the entrusting of John to Mary and Mary to John on Calvary. Here is a very important text from his Encyclical Redemptoris Mater of March 25, 1987, in which he expounded this doctrine in an authoritative manner:

The Redeemer entrusts Mary to John because he entrusts John to Mary. At the foot of the Cross there begins that special entrusting of humanity to the Mother of Christ, which in the history of the Church has been practiced and expressed in different ways. The same apostle and evangelist, after reporting the words addressed by Jesus on the Cross to his Mother and to himself, adds: “And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home” (Jn. 19:27). This statement certainly means that the role of son was attributed to the disciple and that he assumed responsibility for the Mother of his beloved Master. And since Mary was given as a mother to him personally, the statement indicates, even though indirectly, everything expressed by the intimate relationship of a child with its mother. And all of this can be included in the word “entrusting.” Such entrusting is the response to a person’s love, and in particular to the love of a mother.

The Marian dimension of the life of a disciple of Christ is expressed in a special way precisely through this filial entrusting to the Mother of Christ, which began with the testament of the Redeemer on Golgotha. Entrusting himself to Mary in a filial manner, the Christian, like the Apostle John, “welcomes” the Mother of Christ “into his own home” and brings her into everything that makes up his inner life, that is to say into his human and Christian “I”: he “took her to his own home” (Redemptoris Mater 45).

Explaining the intimate relationship which Jesus wishes us to have with his Mother, the Pope pointed out that, while it is truly a personal relationship with Mary, it is ultimately oriented to Jesus himself:

This filial relationship, this self-entrusting of a child to its mother, not only has its beginning in Christ but can also be said to be definitively directed towards him. Mary can be said to continue to say to each individual the words which she spoke at Cana in Galilee: “Do whatever he tells you.” … Precisely with her faith as Spouse and Mother she wishes to act upon all those who entrust themselves to her as her children. And it is well known that the more her children persevere and progress in this attitude, the nearer Mary leads them to the “unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:8) (Redemptoris Mater 46).

Historical Forms

The more one studies, the more one discovers Mary’s maternal presence in the itinerary of the Church’s life as well as the desire on the part of the faithful to entrust themselves to her. Here we can only indicate some of the major landmarks on this journey.2

Patristic Period

It does not seem presumptuous to see the first adumbrations of the tradition which would come to be known as Marian consecration in the Church in the most ancient recorded prayer to the Mother of God, dating from the third or fourth century, the Sub tuum praesidium.3 It is the filial prayer of Christians who know Mary’s motherly mercy (eusplangchnía in the Greek text) and therefore do not hesitate to have recourse to her protection (praesidium in the Latin text). If it does not speak of belonging to Mary, it is surely not far removed from this concept.

The late redoubtable Marian encyclopedist, Father Michael O’Carroll, C.S.Sp., renders this third- or, at the latest, fourth-century prayer according to the reconstruction of Father Gabriele Giamberardini, O.F.M.: “Under your mercy, we take refuge, Mother of God, do not reject our supplications in necessity. But deliver us from danger. [You] alone chaste, alone blessed.”4 This Marian troparion used in almost all the rites of the Church and cited in Lumen Gentium 66 is ordinarily rendered into English after the Latin version: “We fly to thy patronage, O holy Mother of God, despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us from all danger, O ever glorious and Blessed Virgin.”5 Mother Maria Francesca Perillo, F.I., on the basis of her recent study on the philology and doctrinal contents of the prayer, translates: “We take refuge in your womb, Holy Mother of God; do not refuse our pleas in our need, but save us from danger, O incomparable Virgin, divinely pure and blessed.”6

This ancient Marian invocation is of capital importance from many perspectives. First, it constitutes a remarkable witness to the fact that prayer was already explicitly addressed to Mary as Theotókos, or “Mother of God,” long before the Council of Ephesus which vindicated the use of this title in 431. Secondly, it may well reflect a tradition even older than the third century, the era from which many scholars believe the Egyptian papyrus dates, going all the way back to the apostolic period. Thirdly, while this antiphon (called a “troparion” according to Byzantine liturgical usage) does not explicitly call Mary “our Mother,” it does so in equivalent and very expressive terms.

About this justly famous and most ancient of Marian prayers Father Quéméneur makes this careful observation:

Here we do not yet have a consecration properly so called, but we already discern the fundamental elements that characterize Marian consecrations. The Sub tuum recognizes the patronage of the Mother of God; it is a spontaneous gesture of recourse to Mary. Originating in Egypt, the Sub tuum, with slight variations, will soon be taken up by the other churches; starting with the sixth century, it is inserted into the Byzantine, Ambrosian, and Roman liturgies. We can say that it is the root from which the formulas of other Marian prayers will arise.7

Significantly, and very conscious that he was standing in the most ancient stream of the Church’s Tradition, John Paul II framed the first part of his great acts of consecration and entrustment of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1982 and 1984 with the words of this antiphon: “We have recourse to your protection, holy Mother of God.”8 There are numerous other instances of his quotation of this most ancient Marian prayer.9

Father O’Carroll informs us that his confrère, the late Father Henri Barré, C.S.Sp., found evidence for the title servus Mariae in African sermons from the fifth and sixth centuries which indicate a personal attitude of belonging to Mary.10 Father Stefano De Fiores, S.M.M., also points to the use of this term in St. Ephrem the Syrian (+373) and Pope John VII (+707), but indicates that these instances cannot compare with the consistent usage and fervor of St. Ildephonsus of Toledo (+667).11 Ildephonsus is usually considered the first major representative of the spirituality of “Marian slavery”12 which eventually develops into what is now known as Marian consecration.13 400. In the case of Pope John VII one might profitably consult the testimony presented by Gabriele M. Roschini, O.S.M.,

Pope John Paul II himself, in his homily in Saragossa on November 6, 1982, immediately prior to the Entrustment of Spain to Our Lady, reviewed what is for us the most relevant information about this Benedictine Abbot who became the archbishop of Toledo:

St. Ildephonsus of Toledo, the most ancient witness of that form of devotion which we call slavery to Mary, justifies our attitude of being slaves of Mary because of the singular relation she has with respect to Christ. “For this reason I am your slave, because your Son is my Lord. Therefore you are my Lady because you are the slave of my Lord. Therefore, I am the slave of the slave of my Lord, because you have been made the Mother of my Lord. Therefore I have been made a slave because you have been made the Mother of my Maker” [De virginitate perpetua Sanctæ Mariæ, 12: PL 96, 108].

As is obvious, because of these real and existing relationships between Christ and Mary, Marian devotion has Christ as its ultimate object. The same St. Ildephonsus saw it with full clarity: “So in this way one refers to the Lord that which serves his slave. So, what is delivered up to the Mother redounds to the Son; thus passes to the King the honor that is rendered in the service of the Queen” [c. 12: PL 96, 108]. Then one understands the double employment of the desire expressed in the same blessed formula, speaking with the most Holy Virgin: “Grant that I may surrender myself to God and to you, to be the slave of your Son and of you, to serve your Lord and you” [c. 12: PL 96, 105].14

(Page 2)

The next major witness to the development of the tradition is the great Doctor of the Church St. John of Damascus (+c.750). The last of the great Eastern Fathers of the Church interprets the name of Mary, according to Syriac etymology, to mean “lady” or “mistress.” In his Exposition of the Orthodox Faith he says of Mary: “Truly she has become the Lady ruler of every creature since she is the Mother of the Creator.”1 In his first homily on the Dormition of the Mother of God he consequently prays:

We are present before you, O Lady [Despoina], Lady I say and again Lady, binding our souls to our hope in you, and as to a most secure and firm anchor [cf. Heb. 6:9], to you we consecrate [anathémenoi] our minds, our souls, our bodies [cf. 1 Thess 5:23], in a word, our very selves, honoring you with psalms, hymns and spiritual canticles [cf. Eph. 5:19], insofar as we are able-even though it is impossible to do so worthily. If truly, as the sacred word has taught us, the honor paid to our fellow servants testifies to our good will towards our common Master, how could we neglect honoring you who have brought forth your Master? … In this way we can better show our attachment to our Master.

Turn your gaze on us, noble Lady, Mother of the good Master, rule over and direct at your discretion all that concerns us; restrain the impulses of our shameful passions; guide us to the tranquil harbor of the divine will; make us worthy of future blessedness, of the beatific vision in the presence of the Word of God who was made flesh in you.2

One notes how in language which is redolent with scriptural overtones St. John makes the total gift of himself and those who are joined with him, of all that they have and are, to Our Lady. He deliberately used the Greek term anathémenoi in order to indicate that “consecration” means “setting aside for sacred use.” What is literally signified, according to the use of this word in Leviticus 27:28 and in other places in the Old Testament, is that this “giving of oneself to Mary” is so exclusive, absolute and permanent that one who would revoke the gift would be “cut off” (i.e. anathema) from God and his people. In analyzing this text, Father José María Canal, C.M.F., makes three major points: 1) Damascene’s deliberate use of the term “consecration” which pertains to setting aside for sacred use; 2) the comprehensiveness of this act which excludes nothing; and 3) its basis in Mary’s unique relationship to her divine Son by virtue of the divine maternity.3

Medieval Period

In the feudal setting of the early Middle Ages we find the custom of “patronage” (patrocinium) becoming widespread. In order to protect their lives and possessions, freemen would vow themselves to the service of their overlords; in exchange for the assurance of protection and the necessities of life, the client would place himself completely at the disposal of his protector. Here is a description of a traditional ceremony by which a vassal would put himself under the patronage and at the service of a suzerain, by the well-known liturgical scholar, Josef Jungmann, S.J.:

He put his hands in the enfolding hands of the master, just as is done today by the newly ordained priest when he promises honor and obedience to his bishop at the end of the ordination Mass. The act is also called commendation: se commendare, se tradere, in manus or manibus se commendare (tradere), and also patricinio se commendare (tradere). From the side of the overlord there was the corresponding suscipere, recipere, manus suscipere and the like.4

Not surprisingly, in those ages of faith this relationship of vassalage would provide a way of describing one’s relationship to Mary. If Jesus is one’s Lord, as we have already seen St. John of Damascus reason, then it is only logical that Mary becomes one’s Lady. Fulbert of Chartres (+1028) provides us with a beautiful prayer in which he underscores that his consecration to Christ in baptism also makes of him another “beloved disciple” (cf. Jn 19:26-27) “committed” to Mary:

Remember, O Lady, that in baptism I was consecrated to the Lord and professed the Christian name with my lips. Unfortunately I have not observed what I have promised. Nevertheless I have been handed over [traditus] to you and committed to your care [commendatus] by the Lord, the living and true God. Watch over the one who has been handed over to you [traditum]; keep safe the one who has been committed to your protection [commendatum].5

Likewise, a freeman who was in debt or otherwise not prospering in his affairs might present himself to an overlord “a rope around his neck, a sign that [he] was to become a serf, engaging his person, his family and his goods.”6 This, too, could be transferred into the spiritual realm and appropriated to one’s relationship to Our Lady as we see in the case of St. Odilo, abbot of Cluny (+1049) who as a young man consecrated himself to Our Lady by going to a church dedicated to her and presenting himself at her altar with a rope around his neck and praying:

O most loving Virgin and Mother of the Savior of all ages, from this day and hereafter take me into your service and in all my affairs be ever at my side as a most merciful advocate. For after God I place nothing in any way before you and I give myself over to you forever as your own slave and bondsman [tanquam proprium servum, tuo mancipatui trado].7

Another beautiful image of the patrocinium of the Virgin is that of her “protective mantle,” or Schutzmantel as it became known in German. In the Christian East the same image of the Virgin’s “protective mantle” is manifested in a slightly different iconographical style in the feast and image of the Pokrov.8 Here is Jungmann’s description of the Marian iconography which would become classical in the medieval West:

The emblem of Citeaux was the image of the Mother of God with the abbots and abbesses of the order kneeling under her mantle. Caesarius of Heisterbach (+1240) also knew this motif as he shows in his description of a Cistercian monk in heaven, looking about in vain for his brothers until Mary opens out her wide mantle and discloses a countless number of brothers and nuns. In the later Middle Ages especially, the motif of the protective mantle is widespread, commonly as an expression of protection being sought or hoped for, chiefly in connection with the image of the Mother of God.9

Arnold Bostius (+1499), a Flemish Carmelite, wrote explicitly about Mary’s patronage and protection of his order in his major Marian work, De Patronatu et Patrocinio Beatissimae Virginis Mariae in Dicatum sibi Carmeli Ordinem. Although he did not use the word “consecration” to describe the Carmelite’s relationship to Mary because that meaning had not yet been appropriated to the word, he used all the equivalent Latin expressions such as dicare, dedicare, devovere, sub qua vivere, etc.,10 and he maintained, as Pope Pius XII would in his letter, Neminem Profecto of February 11, 1950,11 that the wearing of the Carmelite scapular was an explicit sign of the acceptance of Mary’s patronage and protection, of the Carmelite’s belonging to her.12 In continuity with his predecessor, Pope John Paul II took up the same theme in his message to the prior general of Carmelites of the Ancient Observance and the superior general of the Discalced Carmelites on the 750th anniversary of the scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, stating that “the most genuine form of devotion to the Blessed Virgin, expressed by the humble sign of the scapular, is consecration to her Immaculate Heart.”13

Modern Period

This heritage of the patrocinium of Mary would find expression in the Marian Congregations (sodalities) established by the Belgian Jesuit Jean Leunis in 1563 for the students of the Collegio Romano.14 The admission to the congregation, which had as its aim the formation of militant Christians after the ideals of St. Ignatius Loyola and which was placed under the patronage of Our Lady, soon became an act of oblation to the Virgin. The text of one of these early admission ceremonies by Father Franz Coster (+1619) was published in the Libellus sodalitatis in 1586 and is most likely the very formula which he first used to receive students into the congregation which he had founded at Cologne, Germany, in 1576. In it the sodalist chooses Mary as “Lady, Patroness and Advocate” and begs her to receive him as her servum perpetuum.15 Father Quéméneur underscores the fact that the Marian Congregations introduce yet another perspective into the question of Marian consecration which is inherited from the late Middle Ages: the corporate dimension.16

In 1622, the Marian Congregation admission formulae of the Italian Jesuit Pietro Antonio Spinelli as well as that of Father Coster were published in the book Hortulus Marianus of Father La Croix. The two formulae are described respectively as modus consecrandi and modus vovendi to the Blessed Virgin. Jungmann comments that this is the first appearance of the word consecrare (to consecrate) with the meaning of putting oneself under the patrocinium of Mary and it is taken as being synonymous with the word devovere which in classical Latin meant to devote oneself to a deity.17 In effect, the understanding from the beginning of this usage has been that by the act of consecration to Our Lady the sodalist places himself at the service of Christ the King through her mediation and under her patronage.18 The use of the term “consecration,” with the meaning of giving oneself completely to Mary in order to belong more perfectly to Christ, enters into the common Catholic lexicon from this period and has continued to be used in this sense by the popes of the past hundred years.

During virtually the same period of time that the Jesuit Marian Congregations were developing, confraternities of the Holy Slavery of Mary were germinating in the soil of Spain. In fact, the earliest of these, founded under the inspiration of Sister Agnes of St. Paul at the convent of the Franciscan Conceptionists at Alcalá de Henares, dates from August 2, 1595,19 and thus antedates the foundation of the sodality movement. The first theologian of this “Marian slavery” as it was practiced in Alcalá was the Franciscan Melchor de Cetina “who composed in 1618 what may be called the first ‘Handbook of Spirituality’ for the members of the confraternity.”20

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As the seventeenth century progressed, the confraternities multiplied and papal approval followed. One of the great promoters and proponents of this spirituality was the Trinitarian, St. Simon de Rojas (+1624),1 who was canonized by Pope John Paul II on July 3, 1988. The Augustinian Bartolomé de los Rios (+1652)2 extended the work of his friend de Rojas into the Low Countries and propagated it by means of his writings, which were known and cited by St. Louis de Montfort.3

Perhaps the single most important figure to emerge thus far in our brief consideration of the forms of Marian consecration in the spiritual journey of the Church is Cardinal Pierre de Bérulle (+1629). Founder of the Oratory of Jesus and promoter of the Teresian reform of Carmel in France, his greatest glory in terms of the history of spirituality is probably one of which he was never conscious, that of being the “founder of the French School” of spirituality. His spiritual paternity would enrich the Church through St. John Eudes and the Ven. Jean-Jacques Olier, Sts. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort and Jean-Baptiste de la Salle. His disciples of even the second and third generations would continue to develop his doctrine with their own refinements and emphases. The depth of thought and the ponderousness of his style rendered him somewhat inaccessible so that often his immediate followers such as Olier and Eudes presented the fruits of his contemplation in ways which were much more appealing,4 but there can be no doubt that he was “le chef d’école.”

Of specific interest to us is that while visiting Spain in 1604 Bérulle, who had been a member of the Marian Congregation in his days in the Jesuit College of Clermont, came into contact with the confraternities of the Slaves of the Virgin and in particular with that of Alcalá de Henares, where he went to see the general of the Carmelites.5 This exposure would seem to have had a notable influence on the development of his own spirituality, for he would eventually formulate a “vow of servitude” to the Virgin Mary because of his conviction that in the divine design God wished to include in the vocation and predestination of Jesus Christ his divine filiation as well as the divine maternity.6 Hence Mary, the first to have made the vow of servitude to Jesus, “pure capacity for Jesus filled with Jesus,”7 relates one perfectly to him. Here are his words:

To the perpetual honor of the Mother and the Son, I wish to be in the state and quality of servitude with regard to her who has the state and quality of the Mother of my God. … I give myself to her in the quality of a slave in honor of the gift which the eternal Word made of himself to her in the quality of Son.8

We have already indicated a number of Bérulle’s illustrious disciples, but surely the greatest of them all was St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, described as “the last of the great Bérullians.”9 According to François-Marie Léthel, O.C.D.:

All of his teaching is marked by the powerful Christocentrism of the French School, with the same insistence on the mystery of the Incarnation and on the place of Mary in this mystery. But in receiving this precious talent, he makes it fruitful in a way that is personal and original. Above all, he renders accessible to all, especially the poorest and the smallest, the doctrine which Bérulle had formulated in a very theological manner, but in difficult language.10

While Bérulle had already indicated the link between baptism and his “vow of servitude to Jesus,” de Montfort would associate Mary with one’s baptismal commitment as well. What he proposes in his classic work, True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, is a renewal of one’s baptismal promises “through the hands of Mary”:

In holy baptism we do not give ourselves to Jesus explicitly through Mary, nor do we give him the value of our good actions. After baptism we remain entirely free either to apply that value to anyone we wish or keep it for ourselves. But by this consecration we give ourselves explicitly to Jesus through Mary’s hands and we include in our consecration the value of all our actions.11

If Louis-Marie had written a special formula of consecration in conjunction with his treatise, True Devotion, it has not thus far come to light. This is because the first and last pages of the manuscript, only discovered in 1842, have never been found. The formula which he has left us in his earlier work, The Love of Eternal Wisdom, clearly highlights the fact that Jesus is the goal of the act of consecration which he proposes while Mary is its intermediary:

Eternal and incarnate Wisdom, most lovable and adorable Jesus, true God and true man, only Son of the eternal Father and of Mary always Virgin, … I dare no longer approach the holiness of your majesty on my own. That is why I turn to the intercession and the mercy of your holy Mother, whom you yourself have given me to mediate with you. Through her I hope to obtain from you contrition and pardon for my sins, and that Wisdom whom I desire to dwell in me always. … O admirable Mother, present me to your dear Son as his slave now and for always, so that he who redeemed me through you, will now receive me through you.12

Thus, while de Montfort readily and very frequently speaks of “consecrating oneself to Mary,” this must always be understood as a shorthand form of “consecrating oneself to Jesus through the hands of Mary.”13 It is precisely in these terms that Pope John Paul II presented him as a proponent of authentic Marian spirituality in Redemptoris Mater.14

Further, that same Pope defended the whole tradition of Marian slavery of which de Montfort is a major exponent-and, as we have seen, is deeply embedded in the whole tradition-in a discourse to his brother Polish bishops on December 17, 1987:

On May 3 of the year of the Millennium of the Baptism of Poland [1966] we were witnesses to the participants in the Act of Consecration proclaimed by Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński at Jasna Góra. The title of the act stimulated reflection, and at the same time it gave rise to certain objections, even protests. Can one speak of giving oneself “as a slave,” even if it is only a question of a “maternal slavery” and the act in question concerns the Mother of God and Queen of Poland?

One could say that the Act of Jasna Góra is itself rooted in the history of that “great paradox” whose first setting is the Gospel itself. Here it is a question not only of verbal paradoxes, but of ontological ones as well. The most profound paradox is perhaps that of life and death, expressed, among other places, in the parable of the seed which must die in order to produce new life. This paradox is definitively confirmed by the Paschal Mystery.

The tradition of a “holy slavery”-that is of a “maternal slavery” which is a “slavery of love”-has grown up on the same soil, and has been passed on by certain figures in the history of Christian spirituality. Suffice it to mention St. Louis de Montfort and our own St. Maximilian. Of course, the primate of the millennium inherited this tradition of Marian spirituality in part from his predecessor in the primatial see as well. It is known that Cardinal Hlond died with these words on his lips: “Victory, if it comes, will be victory through Mary.”

Thus it is that “maternal slavery” must reveal itself as the path towards victory, the price of freedom. For that matter, it is difficult to imagine any being less inclined to “enslave” than a mother, than the Mother of God. And if what we are speaking of is an “enslaving” through love, then from that perspective “slavery” constitutes precisely the revelation of the fullness of freedom. In fact, freedom attains its true meaning, that is, its own fullness, through a true good. Love is synonymous with that attainment. …

If we are speaking of the act of consecration itself “in maternal slavery” to the Mother of God, it is certainly, like every expression of her authentic cult, profoundly Christocentric. It introduces us into the whole mystery of Christ. Furthermore, we have a solid basis for affirming that the experiences of our country (which in a certain sense culminate in the Act of Consecration proclaimed at Jasna Góra) are also very close to the Mariology which found expression in Lumen Gentium: The Mother of God “present in the mystery of Christ and of the Church.”

Although there continue to be those who call into question and criticize the terminology of “maternal slavery,”16 as John Paul II acknowledged, it remains one of those Gospel paradoxes which reflects the fact that the Son of God himself took on the “form of a slave” (Phil. 2:7) and that his followers glory in being “slaves of Christ” (cf. 1 Cor. 7:22; Col. 1:7, 4:7). In recent years Fathers François-Marie Léthel, O.C.D., and Étienne Richer of the Community of the Beatitudes have offered extended reflections on its perennial validity.17

While it is only right to recognize de Montfort’s teaching as the highpoint of the Marian consecration championed by the “French School,” it would be unfair to consider the subsequent history of this phenomenon in the life of the Church simply in terms of denouement. The unfolding of this process continued even in that difficult period after the French Revolution with holy founders such as Bl. William Joseph Chaminade (+1850), who incorporated total consecration to Mary into the Society of Mary which he founded as the object of a special perpetual religious vow.18 The specific influence of de Montfort has been experienced, deepened according to the particular gifts of each and spread directly or indirectly by many other holy persons in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Among these are the Ven. Mother Mary Potter (+1913), the Servant of God Frank Duff (+1980), Bl. Edouard Poppe (+1924), Bl. Dina Bélanger (+1929) and the Servant of God Marthe Robin (+1981).

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I believe, however, that in terms of the extent of the influence of de Montfort on his life and teaching and his subsequent diffusion of that teaching in his own unique way no twentieth-century figure can equal the Servant of God Pope John Paul II. He testified to that influence on his formation on many occasions.1 I am convinced that his Marian Magisterium is his greatest single legacy to the Church and that he has not only consolidated the teaching of his predecessors on Marian consecration, but has raised it to a new level by making it such a fundamental feature of his Ordinary Magisterium. (Rome: Edizioni Monfortane, 2005) 798-816; André Frossard,

It should also be noted that there are other approaches to Marian consecration which have come into existence in modern times which are not a direct result of the influence of great saint of Montfort-la-Cane. These are surely not in conflict with de Montfort’s; they simply have had their genesis under different circumstances and are a beautiful example of how the Holy Spirit draws unity out of diversity. It seems that St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe discovered de Montfort’s True Devotion only after he had been led to the necessity of Marian consecration through his immersion in the great Franciscan Marian tradition.2 Maximilian, who was familiar with de Montfort and saw the movement which he founded as a means of fulfilling his prophecy on the latter times,3 was also conscious of standing in the great tradition of Marian slavery. Although he did not employ the word with the frequency of de Montfort, he leaves no doubt about its implications in the following text:

You belong to her as her own property. Let her do with you what she wishes. Do not let her feel herself bound by any restrictions following from the obligations a mother has towards her own son. Be hers, her property; let her make free use of you and dispose of you without any limits, for whatever purpose she wishes.

Let her be your owner, your Lady and absolute Queen. A servant sells his labor; you, on the contrary, offer yours as a gift: your fatigue, your suffering, all that is yours. Beg her not to pay attention to your free will, but to act towards you always and in full liberty as she desires.

Be her son, her servant, her slave of love, in every way and under whatever formulation yet devised or which can be devised now or in the future. In a word, be all hers.

Be her soldier so that others may become ever more perfectly hers, like you yourself, and even more than you; so that all those who live and will live all over the world may work together with her in her struggle against the infernal serpent.

Belong to the Immaculate so that your conscience, becoming ever purer, may be purified still more, become immaculate as she is for Jesus, so that you too may become a mother and conqueror of hearts for her.4

Standing in the great tradition which we have been sketching, Maximilian brings a note of urgency about the battle, Mary’s “struggle against the infernal serpent” (cf. Gen. 3:15) and, hence, the all-consuming goal of his life was to mobilize an army, a militia completely at her disposal. This is clearly illustrated in the official Act of Consecration for the Militia Immaculatae:

O Immaculata, Queen of heaven and earth, refuge of sinners and our most loving Mother, God has willed to entrust the entire order of mercy to you. I, N … a repentant sinner, cast myself at your feet humbly imploring you to take me with all that I am and have, wholly to yourself as your possession and property. Please make of me, of all my powers of soul and body, of my whole life, death and eternity, whatever most pleases you.

If it pleases you, use all that I am and have without reserve, wholly to accomplish what was said of you: “She will crush your head,” and, “You alone have destroyed all heresies in the whole world.” Let me be a fit instrument in your immaculate and merciful hands for introducing and increasing your glory to the maximum in all the many strayed and indifferent souls, and thus help extend as far as possible the blessed kingdom of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus. For wherever you enter you obtain the grace of conversion and growth in holiness, since it is through your hands that all graces come to us from the most Sacred Heart of Jesus.5

Another twentieth century figure who developed an apostolic Marian movement based on total consecration to Our Lady was the Servant of God Joseph Kentenich (+1968). In the process of nurturing what eventually became the Schönstatt family, Father Kentenich formulated a beautiful approach to Marian consecration in richly biblical imagery as a “covenant of love”:

Through a solemn consecration, that is, through a perfect mutual covenant of love, we want to give ourselves to her [Mary] entirely and unreservedly for time and eternity, so that as a perfect covenant partner we may always stand in her presence and grow in holy two-in-oneness with her, and in her with the Triune God. …

The covenant of love not only gives us the right, but even makes it our duty to make proper use of our right to make claims of love on our covenant partner, and to use the power of petition which has been given to us. In other words, just as Our Lady makes claims on and expresses wishes to us, we in turn should do the same with her.6

The Papal Magisterium

If, as we have just seen, Pope John Paul II is the heir of the great ecclesial tradition of Marian consecration, manifested in various ways in the course of the Church’s almost two millennia of history, he might be said to be even more explicitly the inheritor of the legacy of papal consecration to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary.7 While space does not permit us to enter into this fascinating history here,8 we wish to indicate the most important high points. On October 31, 1942, the Servant of God, Pope Pius XII, gave a radio broadcast to pilgrims at Fatima celebrating the Silver Jubilee of the last of the 1917 apparitions. Concluding the broadcast, he prayed:

To you and to your Immaculate Heart, we, the common father of the vast Christian family, we, the vicar of him to whom was given “all power in heaven and on earth,” and from whom we have received the care of so many souls redeemed by his blood; to you and to your Immaculate Heart in this tragic hour of human history, we commit, we entrust, we consecrate [confiamos, entregamos, consagramos], not only the Holy Church, the mystical body of your Jesus, which suffers and bleeds in so many places and is afflicted in so many ways, but also the entire world torn by violent discord, scorched in a fire of hate, victim of its own iniquities. … Finally, just as the Church and the entire human race were consecrated to the Heart of your Jesus, because by placing in him every hope, it may be for them a token and pledge of victory and salvation; so, henceforth, may they be perpetually consecrated to you, to your Immaculate Heart [assim desde hoje Vos sejam perpetuamente consagrados também a Vós e ao vosso Coração Imaculado], O our Mother and Queen of the world, in order that your love and protection may hasten the triumph of the Kingdom of God.9

The act of consecration, originally made in Portuguese, was renewed in Italian in St. Peter’s Basilica on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, 1942. This was been referred to many times by Pope John Paul II, especially in his own major consecrations to the Immaculate Heart of Mary of May 13, 1982, and March 25, 1984.10 Here it should be pointed out that, even though this first consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary was carried out in conjunction with celebrations in Fatima, the fundamental impetus for this came not from Sister Lúcia (who had a particular mission calling for the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary), but from Bl. Alexandrina da Costa (whose mission was to implore the consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary).11

Another important pronouncement of Pius XII may be found in his address to the Jesuit Marian Congregations or Sodalities on January 21, 1945:

Consecration to the Mother of God in the Marian Congregation is total gift of oneself, for life and for eternity; it is not just a mere matter of form nor a gift of mere sentiment, but it is an effective gift, fulfilled in an intensity of Christian and Marian life, in the apostolic life, making the member of the congregation a minister of Mary and, as it were, her hands visible on earth through the spontaneous flow of a superabundant interior life which overflows in all the exterior works of deep devotion, of worship, of charity, of zeal.12

On November 21, 1964, at the end of the third session of the Second Vatican Council, when he solemnly declared Mary Mother of the Church, the Servant of God Pope Paul VI wished to commemorate the consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by Pius XII and prayed in these words:

We commit [committimus] the human race, its difficulties and anxieties, its just aspirations and ardent hopes, to the protection of our heavenly Mother.

O Virgin Mother of God, most august Mother of the Church, we commend [commendamus] the whole Church and the Ecumenical Council to you. … We commend [commendamus] the whole human race to your Immaculate Heart, O Virgin Mother of God.13

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A frequently overlooked reference to entrusting oneself to Our Lady is found in the Second Vatican Council’s Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity: “Everyone should have a genuine devotion to her [Mary] and entrust his life to her motherly care” [Hanc devotissime colant omnes suamque vitam atque apostolatum eius maternæ curæ commendent].1

On May 13, 1967, Pope Paul VI issued his Apostolic Exhortation Signum Magnum to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the first apparition of Mary to the children of Fatima and his own pilgrimage to that shrine. Recalling the great act of consecration of Pius XII in 1942 and his own reaffirmation of it in 1964, he went on to make this appeal.

So now we urge all members of the Church to consecrate [consecrent] themselves once again to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to translate this pious act into concrete action in their daily lives. In this way they will comply ever more closely with God’s will and as imitators of their heavenly Queen, they will truly be recognized as her offspring.2

Bringing with him to the papacy the great heritage of Polish Marian piety and the collective consecrations of Poland to Our Lady (in 1920, 1946, 1956, 1966, 1971, and 1976)3 and his total appropriation of the spirituality of St. Louis-Marie de Montfort, the Servant of God Pope John Paul II promoted Marian consecration and entrustment as no other successor of St. Peter has ever done. Here I can only present a few highlights. His first solemn entrustment of the Church to Our Lady took place at the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome on December 8, 1978.4

The prototype of great acts of consecration/entrustment was that pronounced by previous recording for Pentecost Sunday, June 7, 1981,5 in conjunction with the celebration of the 1600th anniversary of the First Council of Constantinople and the 1550th anniversary of the Council of Ephesus. The event itself had been planned well in advance by the Pope. The double observance had been the object of a Pontifical Letter, A Concilio Constantinopolitano I, addressed to the bishops of the world,6 in which he spoke of Mary’s divine maternity as establishing a “permanent link with the Church” (perpetuum vinculum maternum cum Ecclesia).7 His more active participation in the festivities marking the observance of these two great councils and culminating on Pentecost Sunday, however, was precluded by an assassin’s bullet. The circumstances of this act of entrustment to Mary which addresses her as “entrusted to the Holy Spirit more than any other human being” and “linked in a profound and maternal way to the Church”8 are particularly poignant, then, and may also be reckoned as the plea of a stricken father on behalf of his family. The very same act was renewed again on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception in 1981 before the icon of the Salus Populi Romani in St. Mary Major’s.9

The above cited act of entrustment became the archetype of two subsequent acts, closely modeled upon it, which gained considerably more public notice. The first of these was made on May 13, 1982, the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, in that humble village in Portugal where Our Lady had first appeared 65 years earlier.10 It was also the first anniversary of the near fatal attempt on his life. The second of the acts deriving from that of Pentecost Sunday, 1981, was given more advance publication and correspondingly more emphasis was placed on the collegial nature of the act. It was announced in a pontifical letter to all the bishops of the world dated from the Vatican on December 8, 1983, but only published on February 17, 1984.11 It was intended to be one of the crowning acts of the Holy Year of the Redemption which began on March 25, 1983, and concluded on Easter Day, April 22, 1984. John Paul presented the rationale to his brother bishops in this way:

In the context of the Holy Year of the Redemption, I desire to profess this [infinite salvific] power [of the redemption] together with you and with the whole Church. I desire to profess it through the Immaculate Heart of the Mother of God, who in a most particular degree experienced this salvific power. The words of the act of consecration and entrusting which I enclose, correspond, with a few small changes, to those which I pronounced at Fatima on May 13, 1982. I am profoundly convinced that the repetition of this act in the course of the Jubilee Year of the Redemption corresponds to the expectations of many human hearts, which wish to renew to the Virgin Mary the testimony of their devotion and to entrust to her their sorrows at the many different ills of the present time, their fears of the menaces that brood over the future, their preoccupations for peace and justice in the individual nations and in the whole world.

The most fitting date for this common witness seems to be the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord during Lent 1984. I would be grateful if on that day (March 24, on which the Marian Solemnity is liturgically anticipated, or on March 25, the Third Sunday of Lent) you would renew this act together with me, choosing the way which each of you considers most appropriate.12

The act itself was carried out by the Pope on Sunday March 25, 1984, in St. Peter’s Square before the statue of Our Lady of Fatima which ordinarily occupies the site of Mary’s appearances at the Cova da Iria in Fatima, Portugal, and which was especially flown to the Vatican for this occasion. The act of entrustment13 was recited by the Pope after the Mass commemorating the Jubilee Day of Families. Already the Holy Father has referred to his program of entrustment in his address to the Roman Curia on the Vigil of the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul in 1982:

This year, in a special way, after the attempt on my life which by coincidence occurred on the anniversary of the apparition of the Virgin at Fatima, my conversation with Mary has been, I should like to say, uninterrupted. I have repeatedly entrusted to her the destiny of all peoples: beginning with the act of consecration of December 8, (1981), Feast of the Immaculate Conception, to the consecration to the Virgin of the countries visited: of Nigeria at Kaduna, of Equatorial Guinea at Bata, of Gabon at Libreville, of Argentina at the Sanctuary of Lujan. I remember the visits to the Italian sanctuaries of Our Lady of Montenero in Livorno, and of Our Lady of St. Luke in Bologna; culminating in the pilgrimage to Fatima in Portugal, “Land of St. Mary,” which was a personal act of gratitude to Our Lady, almost the fulfillment of a tacit vow for the protection granted me through the Virgin, and a solemn act of consecration of the whole human race to the Mother of God, in union with the Church through my humble service.14

There was never any veering from the path of this “program of entrustment” from the beginning of the pontificate to its very conclusion.15 Pope Benedict XVI has continued to follow in the footsteps of his venerated predecessor, most frequently using the term entrust. Here is one of his strongest exhortations to date. It occurred in his homily at the canonization of Frei Antônio de Sant’Ana Galvão at Campo de Marte, São Paulo, Brazil on May 11, 2007:

In fact, the saint that we are celebrating gave himself irrevocably to the Mother of Jesus from his youth, desiring to belong to her forever and he chose the Virgin Mary to be the Mother and Protector of his spiritual daughters.

My dearest friends, what a fine example Frei Galvão has left for us to follow! There is a phrase included in the formula of his consecration which sounds remarkably contemporary to us, who live in an age so full of hedonism: “Take away my life before I offend your blessed Son, my Lord!” They are strong words, the words of an impassioned soul, words that should be part of the normal life of every Christian, whether consecrated or not, and they enkindle a desire for fidelity to God in married couples as well as in the unmarried. The world needs transparent lives, clear souls, pure minds that refuse to be perceived as mere objects of pleasure. It is necessary to oppose those elements of the media that ridicule the sanctity of marriage and virginity before marriage.

In our day, Our Lady has been given to us as the best defense against the evils that afflict modern life; Marian devotion is the sure guarantee of her maternal protection and safeguard in the hour of temptation. And what an unfailing support is this mysterious presence of the Virgin Most Pure, when we invoke the protection and the help of the Senhora Aparecida! Let us place in her most holy hands the lives of priests and consecrated laypersons, seminarians and all who are called to religious life.16

A Question of Terminology?

In recent years not a few Mariologists have taken the position that not only the terminology of Marian slavery-as we have seen above-but also the concept of Marian consecration itself is no longer acceptable.17 The argument is that consecration pertains to God alone and depends on his sovereign initiative and that our part can only be one of response.18 Further some argue that in a larger passive sense one cannot be consecrated to anyone but God.19 These authors argue that Pope John Paul II fully accepted their perspective and so decided to use the words entrust and entrustment to describe our relationship with Mary, effectively avoiding the “defective and discredited formulas of the past.”

In contrast, Father George Kosicki, C.S.B., has considered at some length the meaning of the Polish word most frequently used by John Paul II, translated into Italian as “affidare” and into English as “entrust.” The word is zawierzać, the same word employed in Cardinal Wyszyński’s various consecrations of Poland.20 Let us allow Father Kosicki to share some of his discoveries about this word:

I continued to wonder about the word “entrust” until I met a priest from Poland, a colleague of the present Pope while at the University of Lublin where Karol Wojtyła taught as bishop of Krakow. I asked him about the word “entrust” and its Polish meaning, mentioning that I was disappointed that he didn’t use the word “consecrate” to Mary in his Letter to All Priests [of April 8, 1979].21 His response was very clear and reassuring. He pointed out that the Polish word “zawierzać” (translated as “entrust”) is a strong word and is used for what we call in English “consecration” to Mary. He went on to say that the Polish word which is the equivalent root word to the English “consecration” (viz. “konsekracia“) is usually reserved for the consecration at Mass. He went further to point out that the word “entrust” was a special word for John Paul II because of the way he has used it in his Polish writings. He added that the motto of John Paul, “Totus Tuus,” (I am) all yours (Mary), means, “I consecrate myself to you, Mary” and is what Pope John Paul has in mind when he uses “zawierzać” (translated into English as “entrust”). In short the Polish “to entrust” means “to consecrate.”22

I have studied the question of consecration to Our Lady vis-à-vis entrustment to her, both in terms of contemporary theological discussion23 as well as John Paul II’s use of the term entrustment,24 and am convinced that he frequently used the words interchangeably along with other words such as dedicate, offer, commend, place in the hands of, etc.25 At the same time I have chosen as the title for this chapter the binomial “consecration and entrustment” because I believe that each word can be justified and offers shades of meaning not conveyed by the other.

(Page 6)

 The Theological Foundations of Consecration/Entrustment

A classical presentation on personal consecration provides us an important approach to the theological questions underlying our presentation:

Strictly speaking, one can consecrate himself only to God, for only God has the right to man’s total dedication and service. Consecration to Christ, to the Sacred Heart, is legitimate because of the hypostatic union. But “consecration” to the Blessed Virgin, or even to St. Joseph or to other saints, is not unknown to Christian piety. In the case of St. Joseph or the other saints, this is to be understood as consecration in a broad sense of the term, and it signifies no more than an act of special homage to one’s heavenly protector. The case of the Blessed Virgin, however, is not the same. The importance of her role in Christian spirituality is such that formulas of dedication to her appear to have more profound meaning. Her position in the economy of salvation is inseparable from that of her Son. Her desires and wants are his, and she is in a unique position to unite Christians fully, quickly, and effectively to Christ, so that dedication to her is in fact dedication to Christ. French spirituality has made much of consecration to Mary. Cardinal Bérulle encouraged the vow of servitude to Jesus and Mary. St. John Eudes propagated the devotion of consecration not only to the Sacred Heart, but to the Heart of Mary as well. But the practice achieved its strongest expression in the Traité de la vraie dévotion à la Sainte Vierge of St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort. The act of personal consecration according to Montfort, is an act of complete and total consecration. It consists in giving oneself entirely to Mary in order to belong wholly to Jesus through her.1

In effect the author of this article points to a resolution of this problem along two complementary lines. First and, admittedly, only very implicitly he evokes the principle of analogy. Secondly and quite explicitly he points to the unique role of Mary in the mystery of Christ and the economy of our salvation, particularly her mediation.

The Principle of Analogy

In the perspective of the philosophia perennis (perennial philosophy), analogy means a “likeness in difference.” Here are two excerpts from his article on consecration in the Nuovo Dizionario di Mariologia:

The only way to be able to apply a term to God and to a creature is to have recourse to analogy which is based precisely on the likeness in the difference. The analogical use of consecration referred to Mary maintains a sense of “total and perpetual gift” which is required in order to bring this usage in line with the light of revelation and theology. … The gift to her is analogous to that which is made to God since it maintains the significance of the total and perpetual gift, but on the different level proper to a creature.2

Consequently, when one speaks of “consecration to God” and “consecration to Mary” one is effectively speaking in the first place of what the disciples of St. Thomas call the “analogy of attribution.” Gardeil says that

In the analogy of attribution there is always a primary (or principal) analogate (or analogue), in which alone the idea, the formality, signified by the analogous term is intrinsically realized. The other (secondary) analogates have this formality predicated of them by mere extrinsic denomination.3

Following this paradigm, then, “consecration to God” is the primary analogate whereas “consecration to Mary” is a secondary analogate. In other words, the term “consecration” signifies something which is common to both analogates, the recognition of our dependence on them, but since God is our Creator and Mary is a creature that dependence cannot be exactly the same.4

But it can be held as well that such usage of the term “consecration to Mary” is also an instance of the “analogy of proportionality” which Gardeil explains in this way:

It will be remembered that in the analogy of attribution the (secondary) analogates are unified by being referred to a single term, the primary analogue. This marks a basic contrast with the analogy now under consideration, that of proportionality; for here the analogates are unified on a different basis, namely by reason of the proportion they have to each other. Example: in the order of knowledge we say there is an analogy between seeing (bodily vision) and understanding (intellectual vision) because seeing is to the eye as understanding is to the soul.5

Theologians have long recognized that there exists an analogy, a certain “likeness in difference,” between Jesus and Mary, a certain symmetry and complementarity, though not identity, between them.6

Admittedly, today this classical Catholic principle is more and more being called into question, and yet it is a fundamental building block of Catholic theology. Indeed, without it the discipline of theology is impossible and without it there is no understanding of Marian consecration. Even authors whom I have cited, like De Fiores, today distance themselves from it.7 In this regard Father Joaquín Ferrer Arellano has done us a great favor in recent years exposing the weakness of so much modern theology and Mariology8 and clearly indicating the Lutheran/Barthian animus against the principle of analogy.9 Let us have a few examples of how the great masters employ this concept. Here are some very important instances from St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort:

As all perfection consists in our being conformed, united and consecrated to Jesus it naturally follows that the most perfect of all devotions is that which conforms, unites, and consecrates us most completely to Jesus. Now of all God’s creatures Mary is the most conformed to Jesus. It therefore follows that, of all devotions, devotion to her makes for the most effective consecration and conformity to him. The more one is consecrated to Mary, the more one is consecrated to Jesus. That is why perfect consecration to Jesus is but a perfect and complete consecration of oneself to the Blessed Virgin, which is the devotion I teach; or in other words, it is the perfect renewal of the vows and promises of holy baptism.10

This devotion consists in giving oneself entirely to Mary in order to belong entirely to Jesus through her.11

It follows that we consecrate ourselves at one and the same time to Mary and to Jesus. We give ourselves to Mary because Jesus chose her as the perfect means to unite himself to us and unite us to him. We give ourselves to Jesus because he is our last end.12

(Page 7)

The Principle of Marian Mediation

The astute reader will recognize that de Montfort’s texts cited above are a marvelous fusion of the principle of analogy and that of Marian mediation. He was, indeed, an extraordinary teacher who knew how to present sound theology to the poor and little ones. It was one of the great achievements of the late Pope John Paul II to re-launch discussion on Mary’s maternal mediation in the third part of his great Marian encyclical, Redemptoris Mater (38-47), at a time when such discourse had been out of favor in most theological and Mariological circles since the time of the Second Vatican Council.1 Perhaps even less noticed are his profound statements about Our Lady in his first encyclical, which speaks about Mary’s mediation without using the word. In Redemptor Hominis 22, he wrote:

For if we feel a special need, in this difficult and responsible phase of the history of the Church and of mankind, to turn to Christ, who is Lord of the Church and Lord of man’s history on account of the mystery of the redemption, we believe that nobody else can bring us as Mary can into the divine and human dimension of this mystery. Nobody has been brought into it by God himself as Mary has. It is in this that the exceptional character of the grace of the divine motherhood consists. Not only is the dignity of this motherhood unique and unrepeatable in the history of the human race, but Mary’s participation, due to this maternity, in God’s plan for man’s salvation through the mystery of the redemption is also unique in profundity and range of action. … The Father’s eternal love, which has been manifested in the history of mankind through the Son whom the Father gave, “that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life,” comes close to each of us through this Mother and thus takes on tokens that are of more easy understanding and access by each person. Consequently, Mary must be on all the ways for the Church’s daily life. Through her maternal presence the Church acquires certainty that she is truly living the life of her Master and Lord and that she is living the mystery of the redemption in all its life-giving profundity and fullness.2

In his own unique style he was already reaffirming the Church’s teaching about Mary’s mediation of all graces.3

The teaching about the analogy between Jesus and Mary, between his Heart and her Heart, and her unique role as Mediatrix, he would draw out in many different ways in the course of his pontificate of over 26 years, precisely in his presentation of Marian consecration and entrustment. Here a few examples must suffice. In his homily at Fatima on May 13, 1982, before making his solemn Act of Consecration and Entrustment to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, he stated:

On the Cross Christ said: “Woman, behold your son!” With these words he opened in a new way his Mother’s Heart. A little later, the Roman soldier’s spear pierced the side of the Crucified One. That pierced Heart became a sign of the redemption achieved through the death of the Lamb of God.

The Immaculate Heart of Mary opened with the words “Woman, behold, your son!” is spiritually united with the Heart of her Son opened by the soldier’s spear. Mary’s Heart was opened by the same love for man and for the world with which Christ loved man and the world, offering himself for them on the Cross, until the soldier’s spear struck that blow.

Consecrating the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary means drawing near, through the Mother’s intercession, to the very Fountain of life that sprang from Golgotha. This Fountain pours forth unceasingly redemption and grace. In it reparation is made continually for the sins of the world. It is a ceaseless source of new life and holiness.

Consecrating the world to the Immaculate Heart of the Mother means returning beneath the Cross of the Son. It means consecrating this world to the pierced Heart of the Savior, bringing it back to the very source of its redemption. Redemption is always greater than man’s sin and the “sin of the world.” The power of the redemption is infinitely superior to the whole range of evil in man and the world.

The Heart of the Mother is aware of this, more than any other heart in the whole universe, visible and invisible.

And so she calls us.

She not only calls us to be converted: she calls us to accept her motherly help to return to the source of redemption.

Consecrating ourselves to Mary means accepting her help to offer ourselves and the whole of mankind to him who is holy, infinitely holy; it means accepting her help-by having recourse to her motherly Heart, which beneath the Cross was opened to love for every human being, for the whole world-in order to offer the world, the individual human being, mankind as a whole, and all the nations to him who is infinitely holy. God’s holiness showed itself in the redemption of man, of the world, of the whole of mankind, and of the nations: a redemption brought about through the sacrifice of the Cross. “For their sake I consecrate myself,” Jesus had said (Jn 17:19).

By the power of the redemption the world and man have been consecrated. They have been consecrated to him who is infinitely holy. They have been offered and entrusted to Love itself, merciful Love.

The Mother of Christ calls us, invites us to join with the Church of the living God in the consecration of the world, in this act of confiding by which the world, mankind as a whole, the nations, and each individual person are presented to the Eternal Father with the power of the redemption won by Christ. They are offered in the Heart of the Redeemer which was pierced on the Cross.4

He sounded very similar notes when he spoke on the last day of 1984 in the Church of the Gesù in Rome, commenting on his Act of Consecration and Entrustment to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on March 25 of that same year:

Closely united with the Jubilee Year was the Act of Entrustment to the Immaculate Heart of Mary which I carried out in union with all the bishops of the world.

I had already made such an act of entrustment and consecration on May 13, 1982, during my pilgrimage to Fatima, thus linking myself with the two acts carried out by Pius XII in 1942 and 1952. On March 25 of this year the same act of entrustment and consecration had a collegial character, because it was made simultaneously by all the bishops of the Church: it was carried out in Rome and at the same time all over the world.

This Act of Consecration was a drawing nearer of the world, through the Mother of Christ and our Mother, to the source of life, poured out on Golgotha: It was a bringing back of the world to the same fount of redemption, and at the same time, to have the Madonna’s help to offer men and peoples to him who is infinitely holy (cf. Homily at Fatima, n. 8).

Before the venerated statue of Our Lady of Fatima, brought to Rome for the occasion, I offered the hopes and anxieties of the Church and the world, invoking the aid of Mary in the struggle against evil and in preparation for the third millennium. Now is the hour when every person must make an effort to live faithfully this Act of Consecration to Mary.5

Again on September 22, 1986, the late Holy Father offered yet another synthesis of his great acts of consecration and entrustment:

We see symbolized in the Heart of Mary her maternal love, her singular sanctity and her central role in the redemptive mission of her Son. It is with regard to her special role in her Son’s mission that devotion to Mary’s Heart has prime importance, for through love of her Son and of all humanity she exercises a unique instrumentality in bringing us to him. The act of entrusting to the Immaculate Heart of Mary that I solemnly performed at Fatima on May 13, 1982, and once again on March 25, 1984, at the conclusion of the Extraordinary Holy Year of the Redemption, is based upon this truth about Mary’s maternal love and particular intercessory role. If we turn to Mary’s Immaculate Heart she will surely “help us to conquer the menace of evil, which so easily takes root in the hearts of the people of today, and whose immeasurable effects already weigh down upon our modern world and seem to block the paths towards the future”

Our act of consecration refers ultimately to the Heart of her Son, for as the Mother of Christ she is wholly united to his redemptive mission. As at the marriage feast of Cana, when she said “Do whatever he tells you,” Mary directs all things to her Son, who answers our prayers and forgives our sins. Thus by dedicating ourselves to the Heart of Mary we discover a sure way to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, symbol of the merciful love of our Savior.

The act of entrusting ourselves to the Heart of Our Lady establishes a relationship of love with her in which we dedicate to her all that we have and are. This consecration is practiced essentially by a life of grace, of purity, of prayer, of penance that is joined to the fulfillment of all the duties of a Christian, and of reparation for our sins and the sins of the world.6

He would draw out the implications of consecration/entrustment to Mary for both individuals and peoples in countless ways in the course of his long pontificate. Perhaps one of his last and greatest gifts to the Church was his teaching in his last encyclical, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 57:

“Do this in remembrance of me” (Lk. 22:19). In the “memorial” of Calvary all that Christ accomplished by his Passion and his death is present. Consequently all that Christ did with regard to his Mother for our sake is also present. To her he gave the beloved disciple and, in him, each of us: “Behold, your son!” To each of us he also says: “Behold your mother!” (cf. Jn 19: 26-27).

Experiencing the memorial of Christ’s death in the Eucharist also means continually receiving this gift. It means accepting-like John-the one who is given to us anew as our Mother. It also means taking on a commitment to be conformed to Christ, putting ourselves at the school of his Mother and allowing her to accompany us. Mary is present, with the Church and as the Mother of the Church, at each of our celebrations of the Eucharist.7

While an enormous number of further texts could be adduced, it is my sincere hope that those already presented will be an encouragement to take up the exhortation which John Paul II made on December 31, 1984: “Now is the hour when every person must make an effort to live faithfully this act of consecration to Mary.”8

 

Footnotes, Page 1

1. Cf. True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin [= TD] 179, 216, 266 in God Alone: The Collected Writings of St. Louis Marie de Montfort (Bay Shore, NY: Montfort Publications, 1988). In each of these passages the phrase appears with slightly different variations. The Latin formula quoted in TD 216 comes from a work attributed to St. Bonaventure (1221-1274), the Psalterium Majus, Opera Omnia (Vives Ed.), Vol. 14, 221a and 221b.
2. Cf. Arthur Burton Calkins, Totus Tuus: John Paul II’s Program of Marian Consecration and Entrustment (New Bedford: Academy of the Immaculate, “Studies and Texts,” No. 1, 1992) [= Totus Tuus] 41-74. I hope that within a year a second enlarged and revised edition of this work will appear. On the historical evolution of Marian consecration, cf. also P. Alessandro M. Apollonio, F.I., “La consacrazione a Maria,” Immaculata Mediatrix I: 3 (2001) [Apollonio, Cons] 72-91.
3. Discovered in 1917, a papyrus now kept in the John Rylands Library in Manchester, England, contains the text of this Marian prayer which makes it the oldest invocation of the Mother of God which has thus far been found. Cf. Gerard S. Sloyan, “Marian Prayers” in Juniper B. Carol, O.F.M. (ed.) Mariology Vol. 3 (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Co., 1961) 64-68; I. Calabuig, O.S.M., “Liturgia” in Stefano De Fiores and Salvatore Meo (eds.) Nuovo Dizionario di Mariologia (Cinisello Balsamo: Edizioni Paoline, 1985) [= NDM] 778-779; Théodore Koehler, S.M., “Maternité Spirituelle, Maternité Mystique,” in Hubert du Manoir (ed.), Maria: Études sur la Sainte Vierge Vol. VI (Paris: Beauchesne et Ses Files, 1961) [= Maria]; Gabriele Giamberardini, O.F.M., Il culto mariano in Egitto, Vol. I: Secoli I-VI (Jerusalem: Franciscan Printing Press, 1975) 69-97; Achille M. Triacca, “Sub tuum praesidium: nella lex orandi un’anticipata presenza della lex credendi. La teotocologia precede la mariologia?” in La mariologia nella catechesi dei Padri (età prenicena), ed. Sergio Felici (Rome: Libreria Ateneo Salesiano “Biblioteca di Scienza Religiosa” no. 88, 1989) 183-205; R. Iacoangeli, “Sub tuum praesidium. La più antica preghiera mariana: filologia e fede,” ibid. 207-40; Mother M. Francesca Perillo, F.I., “Sub Tuum Praesidium: Incomparable Marian Praeconium” in Mary at the Foot of the Cross – IV: Acts of the Fourth International Symposium on Marian Coredemption (New Bedford, MA: Academy of the Immaculate, 2004) [= Perillo] 138-169.
4. Michael O’Carroll, C.S.Sp., Theotokos: A Theological Encyclopedia of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Wilmington, DE: Michael Glazier; Dublin: Dominican Publications, 1982) [= Theotokos] 336.
5. Theotokos 336.
6. Perillo 168.
7. M. Quéméneur, S.M.M., “Towards a History of Marian Consecration,” trans. Bro. William Fackovec, S.M., Marian Library Studies 122 (March 1966) 4. (This excellent article originally appeared as “La consécration de soi à la Vierge à travers l’histoire,” Cahiers Marials no. 14 [1959] 119-128.
8. Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II [= Inseg] V/2 (1982) 1586, 1587 [L’Osservatore Romano, weekly edition in English (= ORE). First number = cumulative edition number; second number = page] 735:5, 12; Inseg ORE 828:9, 10].
9. Cf. Totus Tuus 44-45.
10. Theotokos 107.
11. Stefano de Fiores, “Consacrazione” in NDMMaria Santissima nella Storia della Salvezza Vol. IV (Isola del Liri: Tipografia Editrice M. Pisani, 1969) 97-98.
12. Cf. the excellent study by Théodore Koehler, S.M., in Dictionnaire de Spiritualité Ascétique et Mystique [= DSp] 14:730-745.
13. Cf. Patrick J. Gaffney, S.M.M., “The Holy Slavery of Love,” in Juniper B. Carol, O.F.M. (ed.), Mariology 3:143-146; Roschini, Maria Santissima nella Storia della Salvezza IV:85-86.
14. Inseg V/3 (1982) 1179-1180 [trans. by Debra Duncan].

Footnotes, Page 2

1. Cited in Valentine Albert Mitchell, S.M., The Mariology of Saint John Damascene (Kirkwood, MO: Maryhurst Normal Press, 1930) 76; cf. also 214.
2. Patroligia Graeca 96, 720C-D, 721A-B; Sources Chrétiennes 80, 118 (my trans. made with reference to Theotokos 199 and Georges Gharib et al (ed.), Testi Mariani del Primo Millennio Vol. 2: Padri e altri autori bizantini (Rome: Città Nuova Editrice, 1989) 519-520); my emphasis.
3. P. José María Canal, C.M.F., “La Consagración a la Virgen y a Su Corazon Inmaculado,” Virgo Immaculata Acta Congressus Mariologici-Mariani Romae anno MCMLIV (Rome: Pontificia Academia Mariana Internationalis, 1956) XII:234-235.
4. J.A. Jungmann, S.J., Pastoral Liturgy (NY: Herder and Herder, 1962) 298.
5. Henri Barré, C.S.Sp., Prières Anciennes de l’Occident à la Mère du Sauveur: Des origines à saint Anselme (Paris: Lethielleux,, 1963) 159 (my trans.).
6. Quéméneur 6.
7. Barré, Prières Anciennes, 147 (my trans).
8. Cf. S. Salaville, A.A., “Marie dans la Liturgie Byzantine ou Gréco-Slave,” in Maria I:280; cf. also Quéméneur 4 and Redemptoris Mater 33.
9. Jungmann 300; cf. also Theotokos 93-94.
10. I. Bengoechea, O.C.D., “Un precursor de la consagración a María en el siglo XV: Arnoldo Bostio (1445-1499),” Estudios Marianos 51 (1986) 218; cf. also Redemptus M. Valabek, O.Carm., Mary, Mother of Carmel: Our Lady and the Saints of Carmel, Vol. I (Rome: Institutum Carmelitanum, 1987) 74.
11. Acta Apostolicæ Sedis [= AAS] 42 (1950) 390-391; Our Lady: Papal Teachings (Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1961) [= OL] 452-454.
12. Bengoechea 224-225; Valabek 76.
13. Inseg XXIV/1 (2001) 600 [ORE 1687:5].
14. Cf. E. Villaret, S.J., “Marie et la Compagnie de Jésus” in Maria 2:962-968.
15. Jungmann 303.
16. Quéméneur 8.
17. Jungmann 304.
18. Villaret 968.
19. Gaffney 146; Canal 250 and especially J. Ordoñez Marquez, “La Cofradía de la Esclavitud en las Concepcionistas de Alcalá,” Estudios Marianos 51 (1986) 231-248.
20. Gaffney 146; Canal 252-53; Gaspar Calvo Moralejo, O.F.M., “Fray Melchor de Cetina, O.F.M., el primer teólogo de la ‘Esclavitud Mariana’ (1618),” Estudios Marianos 51 (1986) 249-271; Juan de los Angeles – Melchior de Cetina, Esortazione alla devozione della Vergine Madre di Dio: Alle origini della “schiavitù mariana” Introduzione, traduzione e note di Stefano Cecchin, O.F.M., (Vatican City: Pontificia Academia Mariana Internationalis, 2003).

Footnotes, Page 3

1. Cf. Juan Pujana, “Simón de Rojas,” DSp 14:877-884; Gaffney 147; Canal 253-254.
2. Cf. Quirino Fernandez, “Los Rios y Alarcón (Bartolomé de)” DSp 9:1013-1018.
3. TD 160; Gaffney 255-259.
4. Raymond Deville, P.S.S., L’école française de spiritualité, n. 11 de la “Bibliothèque d’Histoire du Christianisme (Paris: Desclée, 1987) 29.
5. A. Molien, “Bérulle,” DSp 1:1547.
6. Opuscule de piété, 93, 1103 quoted in Paul Cochois, Bérulle et l’École française, n. 31 de “Maîtres Spirituels” (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1963) 105. Cf. also William M. Thompson (ed.), Bérulle and the French School: Selected Writings (NY: Paulist Press, 1989) 14-16; 41-50; Théodore Koehler, S.M., “Servitude (saint esclavage),” DSp 14:738-741.
7. Quoted in Cochois 105.
8. Theotokos 80.
9. Henri Brémond, Histoire littéraire du sentiment religieux en France, IX, (Paris: Librairie Bloud et Gay, 1932) 272. This appellation is also cited in Deville 139.
10. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, L’Amour de Jésus en Marie: Le Traité de la vraie dévotion, Le Secret de Marie, Nouvelle édition établie et présentée par François-Marie Léthel, O.C.D., I: Présentation Générale (Geneva: Ad Solem, 2000) 23-24 (my trans.). Cf. also Ibid., “La Maternité de Marie dans le mystère de l’Incarnation et de notre divinisation selon saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort et le Cardinal de Bérulle” in François-Marie Léthel, O.C.D, Théologie de l’Amour de Jésus: Écrits sur la théologie des saints (Venasque: Éditions du Carmel, 1996) 105-138.
11. TD 126 (in God Alone 329).
12. Love of Eternal Wisdom 223, 226 (in God Alone 112, 113). Léthel points out in L’Amour de Jésus en Marie, II: Textes, pp. 198-201, that in 66-69 of the Secret of Mary [= SM] three prayers addressed to Jesus, to the Holy Spirit and to Mary effectively constitute a renewal of this consecration.
13. Cf. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P., The Mother of the Saviour and Our Interior Life trans. by Bernard J. Kelley, C.S.Sp., (St. Louis: B. Herder Book, Co., 1957) 256, note 19.
14. Redemptoris Mater 48.
15. Inseg ORE 1022:11.
16. Here, for example, is the critique of E. Schillebeeckx, O.P.: “Let us take one example of antiquated terminology in this context, the phrase ‘slave of Mary.’ It is quite obvious, both from the cultural and from the religious point of view, that this term cannot hope to make a favorable impact or produce the right effect nowadays. In the past this phrase may well have concealed a deep religious reality. Today it is absolutely unacceptable, and its use can only lead to total misunderstanding. The reader should not impute pride to this condemnation-the very opposite is true. It is simply that the present-day Christian is incapable of embodying in his life the idea of total loving surrender if this is presented to him in the form of ‘loving slavery.’ The greatest tribute which could be paid to St. Louis Grignion de Montfort would be to free his profound vision from its now out-of-date terminology, which today hinders rather than promotes devotion to the Blessed Virgin.” Mary Mother of the Redemption trans. by N.D. Smith (NY: Sheed and Ward, 1964) 139.
17. Cf. François-Marie Léthel, O.C.D., “La Maternité de Marie dans le mystère de l’Incarnation et de notre divinisation selon saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort et le Cardinal de Bérulle” in François-Marie Léthel, O.C.D, Théologie de l’Amour de Jésus: Écrits sur la théologie des saints (Venasque: Éditions du Carmel, 1996) 127-133; Ibid., L’Amour de Jésus en Marie, I: Présentation Générale I:81-119; Étienne Richer, La pédagogie de sainteté de saint Louis-Marie de Montfort (Paris: Pierre Téqui, éditeur, 2003) 179-188; Ibid., Suivre Jésus avec Marie: Un secret de sainteté de Grignion de Montfort à Jean-Paul II (Nouan-le-Fuzelier: Éditions des Béatitudes, 2006) 267-281.
18. Cf. Henri Lebon, S.M., “Chaminade (Guillaume-Joseph),” DSp 2:454-59; Peter A. Resch, S.M., “Filial Piety” in Mariology 3:162-167.

Footnotes, Page 4

1. Cf. Alberto Rum, S.M.M., “Montfort e Giovanni Paolo II: Due Testimoni e Maestri di Spiritualità Mariana,” Fragmenta Monfortana 3 (Rome: Edizioni Monfortane, 1999) 107-142; Ibid., “Giovanni Paolo II” in Dizionario di Spiritualità Monfortana”Be Not Afraid!” trans. by J.R. Foster (NY: St. Martin’s Press, 1984) 125-127; Pope John Paul II, Crossing the Threshold of Hope edited by Vittorio Messori and trans. by Jenny and Martha McPhee (London: Jonathan Cape, 1994) 212-215; Ibid., Gift and Mystery: On the 50th Anniversary of My Priestly Ordination (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1996) 41-43.
2. Cf. Alessandro Maria Apollonio, F.I., Mariologia Francescana: Da san Francesco d’Assisi ai Francescani dell’Immacolata. Dissertationes ad Lauream in Pontificia Facultate Theologica «Marianum» 71, Estratto (Rome, 1997) [= Apollonio, MF].
3. Cf. TD 35, 46-59; Scritti di Massimiliano Kolbe (Rome: Editrice Nazionale Milizia dell’Immacolata, 1997) 1129 [Anselm W. Romb, O.F.M. Conv., The Kolbe Reader (Libertyville, IL: Franciscan Marytown Press, 1987) 36-39].
4. Scritti 1334 [Romb 194].
5. Scritti 37, 1331 [English version from Marytown, Libertyville, IL]. On the consecration proposed by St. Maximilian cf. Apollonio, MF 192-195; Peter Damian Fehlner, F.I., St. Maximilian M. Kolbe, Martyr of Charity, Pneumatologist: His Theology of the Holy Spirit (New Bedford, MA: Academy of the Immaculate, 2004) 143-145.
6. Joseph Kentenich, Schoenstatt’s Covenant Spirituality ed. and trans. Jonathan Niehaus (Waukesha, WI: Schoenstatt Fathers) 28, 57.
7. Cf. Arthur Burton Calkins, “The Cultus of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary in the Papal Magisterium from Pius IX to Pius XII” in Acta Congressus Mariologici-Mariani Internationalis in Sanctuario Mariano Kevelaer (Germania) Anno 1987 Celebrati II: De Cultu Mariano Saeculis XIX et XX usque ad Concilium Vaticanum II Studia Indolis Generalioris (Rome: Pontificia Academia Mariana Internationalis, 1991) 355-392; Ibid., “The Hearts of Jesus and Mary in the Magisterium of Pope John Paul II” Acta Congressus Mariologici-Mariani Internationalis in Civitate Onubensi (Huelva – Hispania) Anno 1992 Celebrati IV: De Cultu Mariano Saeculo XX a Concilio Vaticano II usque ad Nostros Dies (Vatican City: Pontificia Academia Mariana Internationalis, 1999) 147-167.
8. Cf. Totus Tuus 75-98.
9. AAS 34 (1942) 318-19, 324-25; Our Lady: Papal Teachings (Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1961] [= OL] 374, 380 [alt.]. Cf. AAS 34 (1942) 313‑25 for the text of the radio message and the Act of Consecration in both Portuguese and Italian. For a commentary on this act, cf. Totus Tuus 99-102.
10. December 8, 1981, Inseg IV/2 (1981) 869, 873 [ORE 714:2, 12]; May 13, 1982, Inseg V/2 (1982) 1574-75, 1586 [ORE 735:5]; May 19, 1982, Inseg V/2 (1982) 1759 [Portugal: Message of Fatima (Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1983) 200]; March 25, 1984, Inseg VII/1 (1984) 775 [ORE 828:9]; December 31, 1984, Inseg VII/2 (1984) 1684 [ORE 869:4]; September 22, 1986, Inseg IX/2 (1986) 699; October 16, 1988, Inseg XI/3 (1988) 1240 [ORE 161:1].
11. Cf. Totus Tuus 96-98; Umberto M. Pasquale, S.D.B., Messaggera di Gesù per la Consacrazione del Mondo al Cuore Immacolato (Rome: Postulazione Casa Generalizia Salesiana, n.d.).
12. Discorsi e radiomessaggi di sua Santità Pio XII, Vol. VI (Vatican City: Tipografia Poliglotta Vaticana, 1951) 281 [OL 389].
13. AAS 56 (1964) 1017‑18 [The Pope Speaks (= TPS) Vol. 10:140‑141]. Cf. Totus Tuus 106-108.

Footnotes, Page 5

1. Apostolicam Actuositatem 4. Cf. Totus Tuus 73, 108.
2. AAS 59 (1967) 475 [TPS 12:286].
3. Cf. Totus Tuus 113-137.
4. Inseg I (1978) 313-314 [Talks of John Paul II (Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1979) 423-424].
5. Inseg IV/1 (1981) 1241-1247 [ORE 688:7, 10].
6. Inseg IV/1 (1981) 815-828 [ORE 678:6-8].
7. Inseg IV/1 (1981) 824 [ORE 678:7].
8. Inseg IV/1 (1981) 1245 [ORE 688:10].
9. Inseg IV/2 (1981) 876-879 [ORE 714:12].
10. Inseg V/2 (1982) 1586-1590 [ORE 735:5, 12].
11. Inseg VII/1 (1984) 416-418 [ORE 823:2].
12. Inseg VII/1 (1984) 417-418 [ORE 823:2].
13. Inseg VII/1 (1984) 774-77; ORE 828:9-10. The text is exactly the same as that earlier transmitted to all the bishops of the Church in Inseg VII/1 (1984) 418-21 [ORE 823:2, 12], with the exception that the Pope inserted between the two sentences of the last paragraph of number 2 these additional words when he recited it in St. Peter’s Square: Illumina specialmente i popoli di cui tu aspetti la nostra consacrazione e il nostro affidamento “Enlighten especially the peoples whose consecration and entrustment by us you are awaiting.” Inseg ORE 828:10].
14. Inseg V/1 (1982) 2442-2443 [ORE 744:6].
15. My book Totus Tuus takes up the major documentation on this matter until 1991. I hope to conclude the documentation in the second enlarged edition.
16. L’Osservatore Romano [= OR] 24 maggio 2007, pp. VI-VII [ORE 1994:14].
17. Thus René Laurentin wrote: “Our votive formulas of consecration to God need to recognize more clearly the place God has accorded to Mary. We need to ensure that our vocabularies and terminologies in this regard always rise above some of the ambiguous and discredited formulas of the past; these defective formulas have sometimes served to discredit the great modern spiritual movement of consecrations through Mary.” René Laurentin, The Meaning of Consecration Today: A Marian Model for a Secularized Age trans. by Kenneth D. Whitehead (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992) 165. Cf. my review of this book in Divinitas XXXVII (1993, fasc. III) 304-308.
18. Cf. Stefano De Fiores, S.M.M., Maria: Nuovissimo Dizionario, Vol. 1 (Bologna: Centro editoriale dehoniano, 2006) 8.
19. Cf. Laurentin, The Meaning of Consecration Today 98-99.
20. George W. Kosicki, C.S.B., Born of Mary: Testimonies, Teachings, Tensions (Stockbridge, MA: Marian Press, 1985) 64.
21. Inseg II/1 (1979) 860-861 [ORE 577:9].
22. Kosicki 66-67.
23. Cf. Totus Tuus 143-151.
24. Cf. Totus Tuus 171-178.
25. Cf. Totus Tuus 143-144; Apollonio, Cons 87.

Footnotes, Page 6

1. N. Lohkamp, “Consecration, Personal” in New Catholic Encyclopedia 4 (NY: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1967) 209; cf. also Joseph de Finance, S.J., “Consécration” in DSp 2:1579-1582.
2. NDM 409, 412 (my trans.).
3. H.D. Gardeil, O.P., Introduction to the Philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas IV: Metaphysics trans. by John A. Otto (St. Louis: B. Herder Book Co., 1967) 53.
4. Cf. J. Bittremieux, “Consecratio Mundi Immaculato Cordi B. Mariae Virginis,” Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses 20 (1943) 102.
5. Gardeil 54.
6. On the principle of analogy as it pertains to Mariology, cf. José M. Bover, S.J., “El Principio Mariologico de Analogia,” Alma Socia Christi: Acta Congressus Mariologici-Mariani Romæ Anno Sancto MCML Celebrati (Rome: Pontificia Academia Mariana Internationalis, 1953) I:1-13; Gabriele M. Roschini, O.S.M., Dizionario di Mariologia (Roma: Editrice Studium, 1961) 30-31; Roschini, Maria Santissima nella Storia della Salvezza I: Introduzione Generale (Isola del Liri: Tipografia Editrice M. Pisani, 1969) 171-77; Brunero Gherardini, La Madre: Maria in una sintesi storico-teologica (Frigento: Casa Mariana Editrice, 2006) 309-10; Emile Neubert, S.M., Mary in Doctrine (Milwaukee: Bruce Publishing Co., 1954) 5-8.
7. Maria: Nuovissimo Dizionario I:383-386. A fundamental premise of Laurentin’s The Meaning of Consecration Today is the unacceptablity of the use of the concept of analogy and thus of the term “consecration to Mary.” His revision of the entire history of Marian consecration is most unfortunate and is outside the Tradition.
8. Cf. Totus Tuus 162-178.
9. Joaquín Ferrer Arellano, “Marian Coredemption in the Light of Christian Philosophy” in Mary at the Foot of the Cross II (New Bedford, MA: Academy of the Immaculate, 2002) 122-124, 135-139; Ibid., “La mediación materna de María a la luz de la Filosofía Cristiana. Perspectivas ecuménicas” in Maria: “Unica Cooperatrice alla Redenzione” (New Bedford, MA: Academy of the Immaculate, 2005) 485-491.
10. TD 120.
11. TD 121.
12. TD 125.

Footnotes, Page 7

1. Cf. Theotokos 242-245, 351-356; Ibid., “Still Mediatress of All Graces?”, Miles Immaculatæ 24 (1988) 122-125.
2. Inseg II/1 (1979) 607-608 [U.S.C.C. Edition 97, 98].
3. Cf. Father Alessandro Apollonio’s treatment of this topic in this book. Cf. also my article “Mary, Mediatrix of All Graces, in the Papal Magisterium of Pope John Paul II” to appear in Mary at the Foot of the Cross, VII.
4. Inseg V/2 (1982) 1573-1574; Portugal: Message of Fatima (Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1983) 79-81. Emphasis my own.
5. Inseg VII/2 (1984) 1683‑84 [ORE 869:4]. Emphasis my own.
6. Inseg IX/2 (1986) 699-700; ORE 959:12‑13.
7. Inseg XXVI/1 (2003) 508 [ORE 1790:IX-X]. The teaching about accepting/welcoming Mary into our lives is another aspect of Marian entrustment which the Pope developed over the course of the years. Cf. Totus Tuus 240-248.
8. Inseg VII/2 (1984) 1683‑84 [ORE 869:4].

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Excerpt from a sermon preached by St. Cyril, Patriarch of Alexandria presiding as representative of the Holy See at Ecumenical Council of Ephesus, 421. In refuting Nestorianism, he is called Doctor of the Incarnation. This translation of his praises of Dei-para received the imprimatur of the Most. Rev. Francis Gilfillan, Bishop of St. Joseph. – Ed.

Hail, O Mary, Mother of God, Virgin and Mother! Morning Star, perfect vessel. We salute thee, Mother of God. Hail, O Mary, Mother of God! holy temple in which God Himself was conceived. We salute thee, Mother of God. Hail, O Mary, Mother of God! chaste and pure dove. We salute thee, Mother of God. Hail, O Mary, Mother of God! ever-effulgent light; from thee proceedeth the Sun of Justice. We salute thee, Mother of God. Hail, O Mary, Mother of God ! Thou didst enclose in thy sacred womb the One Who cannot be encompassed. We salute thee, Mother of God. Hail, O Mary, Mother of God! With the shepherds we sing the praise of God, and with the angels the song of thanksgiving: Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth to men of good will. We salute thee, Mother of God. Hail, O Mary, Mother of God! Through thee came to us the Conqueror and the triumphant Vanquisher of hell. We salute thee, Mother of God. Hail, O Mary, Mother of God! Through thee blossoms the splendor of the resurrection. We salute thee, Mother of God. Hail, O Mary, Mother of God! Thou hast saved every faithful Christian. Hail, O Mary, Mother of God! Who can praise thee worthily, O glorious Virgin Mary! We salute thee, Mother of God.

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During her visitations at Kibeho, the Holy Virgin revealed that this Rosary of the Seven Sorrows possesses immense spiritual power for those who say it sincerely. She promised that when prayed with an open and repentant heart, this Rosary would win us the Lord’s forgiveness for our sins and free souls from guilt and remorse. She also promised over time, this Rosary would develop within us a deep understanding of why we sin, and that knowledge would give us the wisdom and strength to change or remove any internal flaws, weaknesses of character, or personality faults causing unhappiness and keeping us from enjoying the joyous life God intended for us to live.

The Rosary of the Seven Sorrows contains all the power you need to change your life for the better, obtain peace and happiness, realize your full potential, fulfill all your dreams, and grow closer to God’s light.

Immaculée Ilibagiza, international author and speaker
on the apparitions of Our Lady of Kibeho, Rwanda

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Fifteen Promises

Published on October 7, 2011 by in Marian Devotion

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One Tuesday night, a woman called our home begging for prayers. She is a grandmother of a Hispanic family who live in a lower income region of a large American city. The woman’s voice sounded urgent and deeply troubled.

 

“My granddaughter ran away from home and has been missing since Saturday evening. She has been listed by the police as a runaway minor, and we have no idea where she is.” The woman’s granddaughter is fifteen years old, from a broken family, and has been exposed to serious moral improprieties by the parent that she lives with. The girl has recently been removed from Catholic school and placed into public school, where hanging out with the wrong crowd and missing classes have become the norms rather than the exceptions.

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Praying the Rosary has the power to change the course of human history. It has indeed done so on several occasions.

The renowned Battle of Lepanto is one obvious manifestation of the extraordinary power of this Marian prayer. In 1571, Pope St. Pius V called upon Western Christendom to pray the Rosary for victory over the significantly stronger naval fleet of the Muslim Turks, and specifically requested the Rosary confraternities to intensify their Rosary prayer in preparation for the October 7 naval battle. The sailors of the Christian fleet were likewise armed with the weapon of the Rosary.

It is said that while the battle raged, St. Pius V was granted a heavenly vision and exclaimed: “Victoria, Victoria!” The Christian fleet had delivered a deadly blow to the Turkish navy, the Church and the West were saved from Islamic invasion, and the feast of “Our Lady of the Rosary” was liturgically instituted. The October 7 feast, beyond a memorial of thanksgiving, should also remind the Church of the power of the Rosary in regards to our present time of monumental difficulties.

A more recent example was the dramatic standoff in 1986 between the Philippines Army under the command of the dictator Marcos and the two million Filipino faithful who were armed with Rosaries in downtown Manila. With tanks and gunmen having received the order to open fire on the crowd who were together praying the Rosary, Our Lady of the Rosary interceded.

Jaime Cardinal Sin, Cardinal Primate of the Philippines at the time, relayed the testimony given by a number of soldiers of what had actually taken place. A large-scale silhouette of a woman dressed in white appeared between the military and the people. Upon seeing the silhouette, not a single member of the military obeyed the order to open fire upon the crowd. This Marian miracle eventually led to the fleeing of the corrupt Marcos government on February 25, 1986, and to the establishment of democratic government in the Philippines.

The month of October also calls to mind the inspirational guidance of Pope Leo XIII, popularly known as the “Pope of the Rosary.” He was also particularly responsible for designating October as the “Rosary Month.” In one of his numerous encyclicals on the Rosary, he wrote:

 

 

To this heavenly mother, we have offered the flowers of the month of May; to her we would also have fruit-bearing October dedicated with a particularly tender devotion. It is fitting that both parts of the year should be consecrated to her… (Augustissimae Virginis, September 12, 1897).

 

October is the month to return to a more devout praying of the Rosary. It is the month to become more generous in our quantity of Rosary prayer. It is the month to make a Rosary examination of conscience.

Have I lost a past fervor for praying the Rosary? Could I offer more Rosaries than I currently do for the present state of the family, the Church and the world? Does my family daily pray the Rosary together? Am I praying my Rosary from the heart, meditating on the Gospel mysteries of my own salvation and the salvation of the entire world, and contemplating the “face of Christ” through the eyes and the heart of Mary?

Throughout the Rosary month, Mother of All Peoples will offer great papal excerpts, classical mariological excerpts, as well as contemporary commentaries that testify to the power and the imperative of daily praying this most efficacious Marian prayer. John Paul II has called us to pray especially for the intentions of world peace and family peace in his 2003 apostolic letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae.
The imperative for heavenly assistance from the Lady of the Rosary and the Mother of All Peoples for our present world situation is, I believe, well beyond the perils facing the Church and the West during the times of the Battle of Lepanto. For the contemporary approaching evils constitute attacks both on world peace ad extra and upon the nature of family, faith and morals, and even the most basic precepts of the natural law ad intra: abortion, euthanasia, cloning, homosexual marriages, the Aids epidemic, contraception, abortifacients, pornography, child prostitution, child abuse and neglect, and now, in the Netherlands, the legal killing of children under 12 years of age through euthanasia laws.

We need to change the present course of human history. We need to pray the Rosary.

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The Chaplet of St. Michael

Published on September 23, 2011 by in Marian Devotion

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In 1751 Saint Michael appeared to Antonia d’Astonac, a Carmelite nun in Portugal, and told her that he wished to be honored by nine salutations corresponding to the nine Choirs of Angels, which should consist of one Our Father and three Hail Marys in honor of each of the angelic choirs. Whosoever would practice this devotion in his honor would have, when approaching the Holy Table, an escort of nine angels chosen from each one of the nine choirs. In addition, for the daily recital of these nine salutations he promised his continual assistance and that of all the holy angels during life, and after death deliverance from purgatory for themselves and their relations. – Ed.

The chaplet is begun by saying the following invocation on the medal of St. Michael:

 

O God, come to my assistance.
O Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

 

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Consecration to the Holy Angels

Published on September 23, 2011 by in Marian Devotion

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O Holy Angels of God, here, in the presence of the Triune God and in the love of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Redeemer, I, N.N., a poor sinner, want to make a covenant with you, who are his servants, so that in union with you, I might work with humility and fortitude for the glory of God and the coming of his Kingdom. Therefore, I implore you to assist me, especially in the adoration of God and of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar; in the contemplation of the word and the salvific works of God; in the imitation of Christ and in the love of his Cross in a spirit of expiation; in the faithful fulfillment of my mission within the Church, serving humbly after the example of Mary, my heavenly Mother, your Queen. And you, my good guardian angel, who continually behold the face of our Father in heaven, God entrusted me to you from the very beginning of my life. I thank you with all my heart for your loving care. I commit myself to you and promise you my love and fidelity. I beg you: protect me against my own weakness and against the attacks of the wicked spirits; enlighten my mind and my heart so that I may always know and accomplish the will of God; and lead me to union with God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith  approved this Consecration prayer on May 31, 2000 for use in Opus Angelorum.

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Stabat Mater

Published on September 8, 2011 by in Marian Devotion

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At the Cross her station keeping,
stood the mournful Mother weeping,
close to her son to the last.

Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
all His bitter anguish bearing,
now at length the sword has passed.

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Before the Prince of Peace was born, the Virgin of Nazareth was only the “Queen-designate,” but when she said “yes” to Gabriel and God, the Holy Spirit overshadowed her, she conceived, and then became the Queen of Peace. Nine months later, she gave birth to the Messiah. A first-century physician recorded the event: “In the countryside close by, there were shepherds who lived in the fields and took in turns to watch their flocks during the night. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them. They were terrified, but the angel said, ‘do not be afraid. Listen, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people. Today, in the town of David a savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord…’ and suddenly with the angel there was a throng of the heavenly host, praising God and singing: ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven and peace on earth to men of goodwill'” (Luke 2:8-14).

But the event was prophesied by Isaiah: “For there is a child born for us, a son is given to us and dominion is laid on his shoulders; and this is the name they gave him: ‘Wonder-Counselor, Mighty-God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace’ (Isaiah 9:5-6). Then in his farewell discourse to his disciples at the Last Supper, the Prince of Peace said: “Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you, a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you” (John 14:27). Paul later summarized his Lord’s mission: “He came to bring the good news of peace, peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near at hand” (Ephesians 2:17).

Her Majesty’s mission is also one of peace. She not only gave birth to the Prince of Peace but she was at the foot of the Cross when he made peace between man and God. She appeared in the Rue du Bac in Paris in 1830 and in La Salette in 1846, and wept over the civil war which she prophesied would occur in France and other states in Europe. She appeared in Pontmain, France in 1874 towards the end of the Franco-Prussian war as the Lady of Hope, and saved the little prayerful town. She appeared in Fatima towards the end of World War I in 1917 as the Lady of the Rosary, in response to the prayers of Pope Benedict XV and the faithful, and promised that the war would end soon, but warned that another and more terrible war would come if men did not do as she said. World War II started in 1939. She appeared in Amsterdam towards the end of World War II in 1945 as the Mother of all Nations and also assured us that the war was shortly going to end, as she said, “thanks to the rosary.” She then appeared in 1981 in Medjugorje, Yugoslavia as the Queen of Peace warning us again about war. Yugoslavia paid her little heed except the parish of Medjugorje and its environs. War broke out in Yugoslavia in 1992. She also appeared in Kibeho in Africa in 1981 and warned of war and bloodshed. Her call for prayer and conversion was not heeded. It came to pass.

Little Jacinta, one of the visionaries of Fatima, said to Lucia before she died in 1920: “Make it known that the Sacred Heart of Jesus wishes that the Immaculate Heart of Mary be honored with him. People must ask for peace through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, for God has entrusted the peace of the world to her.” Indeed, when, according to Sr. Lucia, Pope John Paul II’s consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1984 was accepted by the Lord, within two months, almost to the day, Mikhail Gorbachev came into power and introduced two new ideologies in Russia, glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring). It was the beginning of the fall of Communism and its promotions of wars.

But Russia is not as yet fully converted. This may await the definition of the fifth and final Marian dogma—Mary, Coredemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate. And so, we should do as she says and pray the prayer of the Mother of all Nations, which she said is the prerequisite to the dogma: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Father, send now Your Spirit over the earth. Let the Holy Spirit live in the hearts of all nations that they may be preserved from degeneration, disaster and war. May the Lady of All Nations, (who once was Mary), be our Advocate. Amen.” Indeed, when the dogma, the last dogma in Marian history, is proclaimed, then more than ever before, all generations will call her blessed and she will be able to shower in abundance the graces of the Mediatrix, who advocates for us before the throne of God. She gained this privilege at the moment she said “yes” to his wedding invitation; that moment in time when she became the Coredemptrix and Queen of Peace.

In an address to the United Nations on September 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy said: “Unconditional war can no longer lead to unconditional victory. It can no longer serve to settle disputes. It can no longer be of concern to great powers alone. For a nuclear disaster, spread by winds and waters and fear, could well engulf the great and the small, the rich and the poor, the committed and the uncommitted alike. Mankind must put an end to war or war would put an end to mankind.”

Kofi Annan, the Secretary-General of the United Nations was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo on December 10, 2001. It was a significant and appropriate choice in this era of war. In his Nobel lecture he said: “We have entered the third millennium through a gate of fire. If today, after the horror of 11 September we see better, and we see further, we will realize that humanity is indivisible. New threats make no distinctions between races, nations or regions. A new insecurity has entered every mind, regardless of wealth or status… The 20th century was perhaps the deadliest in human history, devastated by innumerable conflicts, untold suffering, and unimaginable crimes. Time after time, a group or a nation inflicted extreme violence on another, often driven by irrational hatred and suspicion, or unbounded arrogance and thirst for power and resources. In response to these cataclysms, the leaders of the world came together at mid-century to unite the nations as never before. A forum was created, the United Nations, where all nations could join forces to affirm the dignity and worth of every person, and to secure peace and development for all peoples… In the twenty-first century I believe that the mission of the United Nations will be defined by a new, more profound, awareness of the sanctity and dignity of every human life, regardless of race or religion.”

A Reuter report stated that the day after he had urged the world in apocalyptic terms to pull back from the brink of further conflict, apparently signaling his anxiety over the Afghan war, on December 8, 2001, the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Pope John Paul II said in a speech in Rome: “Dark clouds are gathering on the horizon. Humanity, which greeted the dawning of the third millennium with hope, now feels weighted down by the threat of new shocking conflicts. World peace is at risk.”

Now, on August 6, 1981, the feast of the Transfiguration, Her Majesty identified herself to the children in Medjugorje: “I am the Queen of Peace” and in the beginning of April, 1982, she made this request: “I wish a feast of the Queen of Peace on the 25th of June, the anniversary of the first apparition. When the Holy Spirit comes, peace would be established. When that occurs everything would change around you. I am asking you to spread peace and love. Pray for peace because Satan wants to destroy the little peace you have.” It is to be noted that when she appeared in Amsterdam as the Lady or Mother of all Nations, the prayer which she composed for the world was also an appeal to the Holy Spirit: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Father, send now Your Spirit over the earth. Let the Holy Spirit live in the hearts of all nations that they may be preserved from degeneration, disaster and war.”

This Queen of Peace is the Mother of all Nations and also the Mother of Unity, and her longing is for a world of united nations; nations with her children all of one faith. Our Lady’s concern is therefore not confined to individuals. It embraces entire nations. World peace cannot be achieved unless the law of the Author of Peace is taken into account; until nations return to God and the reign of Christ is established among the nations. This is why she wishes to be called “in these times” the Mother of all Nations.

Because she gave birth to the Prince of Peace, I have selected all the messages which she has given to Maria Pavlovic-Lunetti of Medjugorje on each Christmas day over the past decade from 1990 to 2000: “Dear children, without peace you cannot experience the birth of the little Jesus, neither today nor in your daily lives. Therefore, pray to the Lord of Peace that he may protect you and that he may help you to comprehend the greatness and importance of peace in your heart. In this way, you shall be able to spread peace from your hearts throughout the whole world. Pray, because Satan wants to destroy my plans of peace. Be reconciled with one another and by means of your lives help peace to reign on the whole earth” (1990).

“Today in a special way I bring the little Jesus to you so that he may bless you with his blessings of peace and love. Give your love as an example to your families. You say that Christmas is a family feast, therefore, dear children, put God in the first place in your families so that he may give you peace and may protect you not only from war but also during peacetime, and protect you from every satanic attack. When God is with you, you have everything, but when you do not want him, you are then miserable and lost and you do not know whose side you are on. Therefore, little children, decide for God and then you will obtain everything” (1991).”

“Dear children, today is the day of peace, but throughout the whole world there is a great lack of peace. Therefore, I call on you to build up a new world of peace together with me by means of prayer. Without you I cannot do that, and I therefore call all of you, with my motherly love, and God will do the rest. Do not forget that your life does not belong to you, but it is a gift with which you must bring joy to others and lead them to eternal life” (1992). “Today I rejoice with little Jesus and it is my desire that the joy of Jesus may enter every heart. I give you a blessing with my son Jesus so that in every heart peace may reign. I love you, little children, and I want you to come closer to me through prayer. You talk and talk but do not pray, therefore, little children, decide for prayer. Only in this way would you be happy and God will give you what you ask of him” (1993).

“Today I am joyous with you and I pray with you for peace; peace in your hearts, peace in your families, peace in your desires and peace in the whole world. May the King of Peace bless you today and give you peace” (1994). “Jesus is the King of Peace and only he can give you the peace that you seek. I am with you and I am presenting you to Jesus in a special way now in this new time in which one should decide for him. This is the time of grace” (1995).

“I am your mother and I wish to reveal to you the God of love and the God of peace. I do not want your life to be one of sadness but that it be realized in everlasting joy, according to the Gospel. Only in this way will your life have a meaning” (1996). “I desire that each of you reflect and carry peace in your heart and say: ‘I want to put God in the first place in my life.’ In this way each of you would become holy” (1997). “In this Christmas joy I give you the blessing of little Jesus. May he fill you with his peace. Today, little children, you do not have peace and yet you yearn for it. That is why, with my son Jesus, I call you on this day to pray, pray, pray, because without prayer you cannot have joy or peace or (a future). Yearn for peace and seek it, for God is true peace” (1998).

“Dear children, I am giving you the possibility to decide for peace. Through your ‘yes’ for peace and your decision for God, a new possibility for peace is opened. Only in this way, little children, will this century be a time of peace and well-being for you. Therefore, put little newborn Jesus in your hearts” (1999). “Dear children, today when God has allowed me to be with you with little Jesus in my arms, I rejoice with you and give thanks to God for everything he has done in this Jubilee year. I thank God especially for all the vocations of those who said ‘yes’ to God completely. I bless you all with the blessing of the newborn Jesus. I pray for all of you for joy to be born in your hearts so that in joy, you too may carry the joy which I have today. In this child I bring to you the Savior of your hearts and the One who calls you to the holiness of life. Thank you for having responded to my call” (2000).

But she is truly the Queen of Peace. The United States entered World War II on December 8, 1942. It was an entry which won the war for the Allies. It was the feast of the Immaculate Conception. The war ended when Japan surrendered on August 15, 1945. It was on the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Japan signed another formal pact in San Francisco pertaining to her surrender. It was called the Second World War Peace Treaty. It was signed on September 8, 1951, the feast of the nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The signing of the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in Washington by Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan, abolishing medium range missiles in Europe took place on December 8, 1987, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. The Communist Party in Russia suddenly and dramatically collapsed without a shot being fired on August 22, 1991. It was on a very special feast day of Her Majesty, the feast of the Queenship of Mary! This was a fitting day for the triumph of Her Royal Highness. As Albert Einstein once said: “God does not play dice!” On December 8, 1991, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, began the Commonwealth of Republics and the end of the USSR. Twelve days later, Yeltsin of Russia met with Pope John Paul II at the Vatican. Then on December 25, 1991, Christmas Day, the communist flag was taken down for the last time over the Kremlin and one year later, on December 25, 1992, once more on Christmas Day, Communism was declared illegal in Russia.

But peace is not simply the absence of war, and world peace must begin with the inner peace of all peoples and all nations, the peace of God in our consciousness. And so, as the song says: “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me. Let there be peace on earth, the peace that was meant to be. With God as Our Father, brothers all are we. Let me walk with my brother in perfect harmony. Let peace begin with me, let this be the moment now. With every step I take, let this be my solemn vow. To take each moment and live each moment in peace eternally; let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.”

When that moment comes, “The wolf shall lie with the lamb, the panther shall lie down with the kid; the calf and lion cub will feed together with a little child to lead them. The cow and the bear will make friends, their young shall lie down together. The lion shall eat hay like the ox. The baby shall play over the cobra’s hole; and into the vipers lair the young child puts his hand. They shall not hurt nor harm in all my holy mountain, for the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of Yahweh as the waters swell the sea” (Isaiah 11:6-9), and “nation will not lift sword against nation, there will be no more training for war” (Isaiah 2:4).

Then it will be “as it was in the beginning.” It is the everlasting wish of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, who has entrusted the peace of the world to his Mother and the Mother of all Nations, the Coredemptrix who gave birth to the Redeemer and King of all Nations—Her Majesty, the Queen of Peace.

Dr. Courtenay Bartholomew, M.D., is a scientist from Trinidad who is considered a leading international AIDS researcher. He has authored a series of mariological studies from a scientific perspective entitled, A Scientist Researches Mary. The above article was excerpted from Her Majesty Mary, Queen of Peace, End Times Prophecies and Warnings of Mary, Queenship, 2002.

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Lord, have mercy
     Lord have mercy 
Christ, have mercy
     Christ have mercy
Lord, have mercy 
     Lord, have mercy 

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In recognition that June is the Month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we present to you the twelve promises given by Our Lord to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque concerning the graces he would bestow on any soul who practiced the First Fridays devotion to his Sacred Heart.

On May 31, 1899, Pope Leo XIII officially approved the devotion and the twelve promises when he sent a document of papal approbation to Philip Kemper, an Ohio businessman who had been distributing the list of promises all over the world. The Pope’s blessing for Mr. Kemper’s “pious” and “useful” work is a sure guarantee of the legitimacy of the devotion and the twelve promises attached to it.

Our Lord told St. Margaret Mary, “My Divine Heart is so passionately fond of the human race… that it cannot keep back the pent-up flames of its burning charity any longer. They must burst out through you and reveal my Heart to the world, so as to enrich mankind with my precious treasures” (December 27, 1673). Let us not return such love with indifference or ingratitude, but let us practice this devotion with all our hearts, in reparation for the sins committed against the Sacred Heart and in order to console Our Lord who loves us so much and yet receives so little love in return. – Asst. Ed.

The Twelve Promises

1. I will give them all the graces necessary in their state in life.
2. I will establish peace in their homes.
3. I will comfort them in all their afflictions.
4. I will be their secure refuge during life, and above all, in death
5. I will bestow abundant blessings upon all their undertakings.
6. Sinners will find in my Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.
7. Lukewarm souls shall become fervent.
8. Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection.
9. I will bless every place in which an image of my Heart is exposed and honored.
10. I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.
11. Those who shall promote this devotion shall have their names written in my Heart.
12. I promise you in the excessive mercy of my Heart that my all powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the First Fridays in nine consecutive months the grace of final perseverance; they shall not die in my disgrace, nor without receiving the Sacraments. My Divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.

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A Diabolical Possession

When St. Dominic was preaching the Rosary near Carcassone (1) an Albigensian was brought to him who was possessed by the devil. St. Dominic exorcised him in the presence of a great crowd of people; it appears that more than 12,000 had come to hear him preach. The devils who were in possession of this wretched man were forced to answer St. Dominic’s questions in spite of themselves.

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The Divine Mercy Chaplet

Published on April 22, 2011 by in Marian Devotion

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In 1933, God gave Sister Faustina a striking vision of His Mercy, Sister tells us: “I saw a great light, with God the Father in the midst of it. Between this light and the earth I saw Jesus nailed to the Cross and in such a way that God, wanting to look upon the earth, had to look through Our Lord’s wounds and I understood that God blessed the earth for the sake of Jesus.”

How to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet

1. Begin with the Sign of the Cross, 1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary and The Apostles Creed.

2. Then on the Our Father Beads say the following: Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

3. On the 10 Hail Mary Beads say the following: For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world. (Repeat step 2 and 3 for all five decades).

4. Conclude with (three times): Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world. 

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Our Lady of Grace, who gave the Miraculous Medal to Sr. Catherine Labouré, brings to the world a message of hope for those who trust in her maternal care. Dr. Miravalle traces the historical events and the wondrous meaning of the Miraculous Medal. This article, excerpted from a longer article on the three prominent messages of the Age of Mary, was taken from Private Revelation: Discerning with the Church. – Assistant Editor.

The Marian Message to the Modern World

The universally designated “Age of Mary,” which had been anticipated by the historic Marian apparitions at Guadalupe some three centuries earlier{footnote}For more information on the 1531 Marian Apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe to St. Juan Diego, cf. Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, eds., A Handbook on Guadalupe, Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, 2001.{/footnote}, is generally accepted to have begun in 1830 with the ecclesiastically approved apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to St. Catherine Labouré in what have been named the “Miraculous Medal” apparitions. From these nineteenth-century apparitions until our present time, Marian apparitions have been reported and approved by the Church on every continent. The Marian message to the modern world begins in seed form in the revelations of Our Lady of Grace at Rue du Bac, and then expands in specificity and concretization throughout the twentieth century and on into our own time. It is important to remember that this Marian message maintains its fundamental unity as one message from one Mother, which then admits of diverse historical and cultural expressions, as well as different emphases and specific calls for the implementations of the general Marian message for prayer and penance in reparation to God, and for the conversion of sinners and the salvation of souls. […]

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The Blessed Virgin Mary promised to Saint Dominic and to all who follow her urgings that “Whatever you ask in the Rosary will be granted.” These are the fifteen promises she imparted to Saint Dominic and Blessed Alan de la Roche, granted to all Christians who faithfully recite the Rosary. All that remains for us is to pray and to respond to the great graces she gives to us. –Assistant Ed.

1. Whoever shall faithfully serve me by the recitation of the Rosary, shall receive signal graces.

2. I promise my special protection and the greatest graces to all those who shall recite the Rosary.

3. The Rosary shall be a powerful armor against hell, it will destroy vice, decrease sin, and defeat heresies.

4. The Rosary will cause virtue and good works to flourish; it will obtain for souls the abundant mercy of God; it will withdraw the hearts of men from the love of the world and its vanities, and will lift them to the desire for eternal things. Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means.

5. The soul which recommends itself to me by the recitation of the Rosary, shall not perish.

6. Whoever shall recite the Rosary devoutly, applying himself to the consideration of its sacred mysteries shall never be conquered by misfortune. God will not chastise him in His justice, he shall not perish by an unprovided death; if he be just he shall remain in the grace of God, and become worthy of eternal life.

7. Whoever shall have a true devotion for the Rosary shall not die without the sacraments of the Church.

8. Those who are faithful to recite the Rosary shall have during their life and at their death the light of God and the plenititude of His graces; at the moment of death they shall participate in the merits of the saints in paradise.

9. I shall deliver from Purgatory those who have been devoted to the Rosary.

10. The faithful children of the Rosary shall merit a high degree of glory in Heaven.

11. You shall obtain all you ask of me by the recitation of the Rosary.

12. All those who propagate the Holy Rosary shall be aided by me in their necessities.

 

13. I have obtained from my Divine Son that all the advocates of the Rosary shall have for intercessors the entire celestial court during their life and at the hour of death.

14. All who recite the Rosary are my sons and daughters, and brothers and sisters of my only Son Jesus Christ.

15. Devotion of my Rosary is a great sign of predestination.

 

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The Threefold Garland

Published on October 29, 2010 by in Marian Devotion

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This article is an excerpt from The Threefold Garland by Hans Urs von Balthasar. In looking at the Mother and in honoring her singular participation in the work of the Father, the Church finds a model for Herself and the path by which She journeys to God. –Assistant Ed.

Christian prayer can attain to God only along the path that God himself has trod; otherwise it stumbles out of the world and into the void, falling prey to the temptation of taking this void to be God or of taking God to be nothingness itself. God is not a worldly object, but neither is he a supraworldly thing to be aimed at and conquered, after making adequate technical preparations, by a kind of spiritual trip to the moon. God is infinite freedom, which opens up to us only on its own initiative. He not only addresses his Word to us, but makes it live among us. Thus, the Word that comes from God is also the Word that returns to him. The path between God and us has been trod in both directions: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” “I have come into the world as its Light so that no one who believes in me will remain in the darkness” (Jn 14:6; 12:46).

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The Blessed Virgin urged the children at Fatima to pray the Rosary frequently and fervently. This article is an excerpt from Sr. Lucia’s “Calls” from the Message of Fatima, Secretariado dos Pastorinhos, Fatima, distributed by Ravengate Press. –Assistant Ed.

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Neither human nor angelic tongue, says St. Epiphanius, can describe the honor and triumph with which Mary was welcomed in heaven on the glorious day of her Assumption. This alone can be said: that there never was and never shall be a greater, after the glory and triumph of her Son. No created mind, St. Bernard states, can grasp with what glory the Blessed Virgin entered into heaven, with what devotion she was welcomed by all the choirs of Angels, with what pleasure and delight she was received and embraced by her divine Son.

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Sinner. Satanist. Social worker. Saint. A strange progression taken by Blessed Bartolo Longo. On February 11, 1841, a sweet tempered physician’s wife of Latiano, Italy, gave birth to a son whom she named Bartolo. Devoted to Our Lord and His Mother, she taught all her children to pray the Rosary daily and to visit and care for the poor while Dr. Longo instilled in them a love of music and beauty. Bartolo would later describe himself as “a lively and impertinent imp, sometimes rather a rascal.” The priests who educated him found Bartolo to be highly intelligent, cordial, and accommodating although prone to a fiery temper.

When Bartolo was ten, his mother died. Slowly Bartolo began to drift away from his faith. Eventually he studied law from a private tutor, then attended the University of Naples to complete his education. It wasn’t the same University of Naples where St. Thomas Aquinas taught, but a dangerous place for Bartolo’s young mind. Searching for meaning in life, Bartolo became enmeshed in the political movements and spiritism so popular with college students at that time in Italy. Deeply involved with a satanic sect, Bartolo aspired to the satanic priesthood, so he entered upon a long preparation of studies, fastings, and mortifications. On the night of his ordination by a satanic bishop, the walls of the “church” shook with thunder while blasphemous, disembodied shrieks knifed the air. Bartolo fainted with fright and for a while afterwards was deeply tormented and physically ill. Despite this depression and nervousness, he exercised his satanic priesthood by preaching, officiating at satanic rites, and publicly ridiculing Catholicism and everyone and everything connected with it.

During these bleak years, the Longo family was besieging heaven for their wayward member. One day Bartolo seemed to hear the voice of his dead father begging him to return to God. Troubled, he paid a visit to one of his friends from Latiano, Professor Vincenzo Pepe, who was living and teaching near Naples. Shocked by Bartolo’s appearance, Pepe exclaimed, “Do you want to die in an insane asylum and be damned forever?” When Bartolo admitted his mental confusion, Pepe took him under his wing. He introduced the troubled young man to many holy people who gave him support and counsel. One of these was a well-educated Dominican priest, Alberto Radente, who gave Bartolo a detailed course in the Catholic faith which included the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas. After much study, prayer, and a lengthy confession, Bartolo was again admitted to the sacraments. On the feast of the Annunciation, March 25, 1871, he was professed into the Third Order of St. Dominic and given the name of Brother Rosary in recognition of his favorite daily prayer.

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Roses For Our Lady

Published on October 13, 2010 by in Marian Devotion

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If there is a heart in the audience that ever sent roses to a friend in token of affection or ever received them as a sign of remembrance, he will not be alien to this story of prayer!

Some deep instinct in humanity makes it link roses with joy. Pagan people crowned their statues with roses, as symbols of the offering of their own hearts. The faithful of the early Church substituted prayers for roses. In the days of the early martyrs—I say “early” because the Church has more martyrs today that it had in the first four centuries—as the young virgins marched over the sands of the Coliseum into the jaws of death, they clothed themselves in festive robes and wore on their heads a crown of roses, bedecked fittingly to meet the King of Kings in whose name they would die. The faithful at night would gather up their crowns of roses and say their prayers on them, one prayer for each rose. Far away in the desert of Egypt, the anchorites and hermits were counting their prayers too, but in the form of little grains or pebbles strung together into a crown—a practice which Mohammed took for his Moslems. From this custom of offering spiritual bouquets arose a series of prayers known as the Rosary, for Rosary means “a crown of roses.”

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Having looked at the events in the life of Jesus, which are recalled in the first part of the Rosary, we now pass on to the second part, the five Sorrowful Mysteries.
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Pray the Rosary!

Published on October 13, 2010 by in Marian Devotion

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Predestinate souls, you who are of God, cut yourselves adrift from those who are damning themselves by their impious lives, laziness and lack of devotion—and, without delay, recite often your Rosary, with faith, with humility, with confidence and with perseverance.

Our Lord, Jesus Christ, told us to follow His example and to pray always—because of our endless need of prayer, the darkness of our minds, our ignorance and weakness and because of the strength and number of our enemies. Anyone who really gives heed to this Our Master’s commandment will surely not be satisfied with saying the Rosary once a year (as the Perpetual Members do) or once a week (like the Ordinary Members) but will say it every day (as a member of the Daily Rosary) and will never fail in this—even though the only obligation he has is that of saving his own soul.

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A Diabolical Possession

When St. Dominic was preaching the Rosary near Carcassone (1) an Albigensian was brought to him who was possessed by the devil. St. Dominic exorcised him in the presence of a great crowd of people; it appears that more than 12,000 had come to hear him preach. The devils who were in possession of this wretched man were forced to answer St. Dominic’s questions in spite of themselves.

They said that:

 

1. There were 15,000 of them in the body of this poor man, because he had attacked the 15 mysteries of the rosary;

2. They went on to testify that by preaching the Rosary he (Dominic) put fear and horror into the very depths of hell and that he was the man they hated most throughout the whole world, because of the souls which he snatched from them through devotion to the Holy Rosary;

3. They then revealed several other things.

 

St. Dominic put his rosary around the Albigensian’s neck and asked the devils to tell him who, of all the saints in heaven, was the one they feared the most, and who should therefore be the most loved and revered by men. At this they let out such unearthly screams that most of the people fell to the ground, faint from fear. Then, using all their cunning, so as not to answer, the devils wept and wailed in such a pitiful way that many of the people wept also, out of purely natural pity. The devils spoke through the mouth of the Albigensian, pleading in a heartrending voice:

 

Dominic, Dominic, have mercy on us—we promise you that we will never hurt you. You have always had compassion for sinners and those in distress; have pity on us, for we are in grievous straits. We are suffering so very much already, so why do you delight in heightening our pains? Can’t you be satisfied with our suffering without adding to it? Have pity on us! Have pity on us!

 

St. Dominic was not one whit moved by the pathos of these wretched spirits and told them that he would not let them alone until they had answered his question. Then they said they would whisper the answer in such a way that only St. Dominic would be able to hear. The latter firmly insisted upon their answering clearly and out loud. Then the devils kept quiet and refused to say another word, completely disregarding St. Dominic’s orders—so he knelt down and prayed thus to Our Lady: “Oh, all powerful and wonderful Virgin Mary, I implore you by the power of the Most Holy Rosary, order these enemies of the human race to answer me (9).

No sooner had he made this prayer than a glowing flame leaped out of the ears, nostrils and mouth of the Albigensian. Everyone shook with fear, but the fire did not hurt anyone. Then the devils cried:

 

Dominic, we beseech you, by the passion of Jesus Christ and by the merits of His Holy Mother and of all the saints, let us leave the body of this man without speaking further—for the angels will answer your question whenever you wish. After all, are we not liars? So why should you want to believe us? Please don’t torture us any more; have pity on us.

 

“Woe unto you wretched spirits, who do not deserve to be heard,” St. Dominic said, and kneeling down he prayed to Our Lady:

 

Oh most worthy Mother of Wisdom, I am praying for the people assembled here who have already learned how to say the Angelic Salutation properly. Please, I beg of you, force your enemies to proclaim the whole truth and nothing but the truth about this, here and now, before the multitude.

 

St. Dominic had hardly finished this prayer when he saw the Blessed Virgin near at hand, surrounded by a multitude of angels. She struck the possessed man with a golden rod that she held and said: “Answer my servant Dominic at once.” (Remember, the people neither saw nor heard Our Lady, but only St. Dominic.) Then the devils started screaming:

 

Oh you who are our enemy, our downfall and our destruction, why have you come from heaven just to torture us so grievously? O Advocate of sinners, you who snatch them from the very jaws of hell, you who are the very sure path to heaven, must we, in spite of ourselves, tell the whole truth and confess before everyone who it is who is the cause of our shame and our ruin? Oh woe unto us, princes of darkness:

Then listen well, you Christians: the Mother of Jesus Christ is all-powerful and she can save her servants from falling into hell. She is the Sun which destroys the darkness of our wiles and subtlety. It is she who uncovers our hidden plots, breaks our snares and makes our temptations useless and ineffectual.

We have to say, however reluctantly, that not a single soul who has really persevered in her service has ever been damned with us: one single sigh that she offers to the Blessed Trinity is worth far more than all the prayers, desires and aspirations of all the saints.

We fear her more than all the other saints in heaven together and we have no success with her faithful servants. Many Christians who call upon her when they are at the hour of death and who really ought to be damned according to our ordinary standards are saved by her intercession.

Oh if only that Mary (it is thus in their fury that they called her) had not pitted her strength against ours and had not upset our plans, we should have conquered the Church and should have destroyed it long before this; and we would have seen to it that all the Orders in the Church fell into error and disorder.

Now that we are forced to speak we must also tell you this: nobody who perseveres in saying the Rosary will be damned, because she obtains for her servants the grace of true contrition for their sins and by means of this they obtain God’s forgiveness and mercy.

 

Then St. Dominic had them all say the Rosary very slowly and with great devotion, and a wonderful thing happened: at each Hail Mary that he and the people said together a large group of devils issued forth from the wretched man’s body under the guise of red-hot coals.

When the devils had all been expelled and the heretic was at last entirely free of them, Our Lady (who was still invisible) gave her blessing to the assembled company, and they were filled with joy because of this.

A large number of heretics were converted because of this miracle and joined the Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary.

 

Simon de Montfort, Alan de Lanvallay and Othere

It is almost impossible to do real credit to the victories that Count Simon de Montfort Won against the Albigensians under the patronage of Our Lady of the Rosary. These victories are so famous that the world has never seen anything to match them. One day he defeated 10,000 heretics with a force of 500 men and on another occasion he overcame 3,000 with only 30 men. Finally, with 800 horsemen and 1,000 infantrymen he completely put to rout the army of the King of Aragon which was 100,000 strong, and this with the loss on his side of only one horseman and eight soldiers!

Our Lady also protected Alan de Lanvallay, a Breton Knight, from great perils. He too was fighting for the Faith against the Albigensians. One day when he found himself surrounded by enemies on all sides Our Lady let fall 150 rocks upon his enemies and he was delivered from their hands. Another day when his ship foundered and was about to sink, the Blessed Mother caused 150 small hills to appear miraculously above the water and by means of them they reached Brittany in safety.

He built a monastery at Dinan for the religious of St. Dominic, in thanksgiving to Our Lady for all the miracles that she had worked on his behalf in answer to his daily Rosary. Having become a religious himself he died a holy death at Orleans.

Othere was also a Breton soldier, from Vaucouleurs, and he often put whole companies of heretics or robbers to flight unaided, wearing his Rosary on his arm or carrying it on the hilt of his sword. Once when he had beaten them his enemies admitted that they had seen his sword gleam and that another time they had noticed a shield on his arm which had pictures of Our Lord and Our Lady and the saints upon it. This shield made him invisible and gave him the strength to attack well.

Another time he defeated 20,000 heretics with only 10 companies and without losing a single man. This so impressed the general of the heretics’ army that he came to see Othere afterwards, abjured his heresy and declared publicly that he had seen him surrounded by flaming swords during the battle.

 

Cardinal Pierre

Bl. Alan de la Roche says that a certain Cardinal Pierre, whose titular Church was that of St. Mary-beyond-the-Tiber, was a great friend of St. Dominic’s and had learned from him a deep devotion to the Most Holy Rosary. This resulted in his loving it so much that he never ceased singing its praises and encouraging everyone he met to embrace it

Eventually he was sent as Legate to the Holy Land to the Christians who were fighting the Saracens. So successfully did he convince the Christian army of the power of the Rosary that they started saying it one and all to storm heaven for help in a battle in which they knew they would be pitifully outnumbered. This resulted in victory for them, and 3,000 Christians triumphed over an enemy of 100,000.

As we have seen, the devils have an overwhelming fear of the Rosary. St. Bernard says that the Angelic Salutation puts them to flight and makes all hell tremble.

Bl. Alan says that he has seen several people delivered from Satan’s bondage after taking up the Holy Rosary, even though they had previously sold themselves to him in body and soul by renouncing their Baptismal Vows and their allegiance to Our Lord Jesus Christ

 

Freed from Satan

In 1578 a woman in Anvers had given herself to the devil and had signed the contract with her own blood. Shortly afterwards she was stricken with sincere remorse and had an intense desire to make amends for this terrible deed. So she sought out a kind and wise confessor who advised her to go to Father Henry, one of the Fathers of the Dominican Friary, who was Director of the Rosary Confraternity in that town, to ask him to enroll her in it and hear her confession.

Accordingly she went to ask for him but met, not Father Henry, but the devil disguised as a Dominican Father. The latter scolded her pitilessly and said that she could never hope to receive Almighty God’s grace again as long as she lived, and that there was in which she could regain possession of her contract. This grieved her greatly but she did not quite lose hope of God’s mercy and sought out Father Henry once more, only to find the devil a second time, and to meet with a second rebuff.


She came back for the third time and then at last, by Divine Providence, she found Father Henry, in person—the priest whom she had been looking for—and he treated her with very great kindness, urging her to throw herself upon the mercy of Almighty God and to make a good confession. He then received her into the Confraternity and told her to say the Rosary frequently.

One day while Father Henry was saying mass for her Our Lady forced the devil to give back the contract which she had signed. In this way she was delivered from the devil by the authority of Mary and by her devotion to the Most Holy Rosary.

 

A Monastery Reformed

A nobleman who had several daughters entered one of them in a lax monastery were the nuns were very proud and thought of nothing else but worldly pleasures. The nuns’ confessor, on the other hand, was a zealous priest and had a great love for the Holy Rosary. Wishing to guide this nun into a better way of life he ordered her to say the Rosary every day in honor of the Blessed Virgin while meditating on the life, Passion and glory of Jesus Christ

She joyously undertook to say the Rosary and little by little she grew to have a repugnance for the wayward habits of her sisters in religion. She developed a love for silence and prayer and this in spite of the fact that the others despised and ridiculed her and called her a fanatic.

It was at this time that a holy priest, who was making the visitation of the convent, had a strange vision while he was making his meditation: he saw a nun in her room, rapt in prayer, kneeling in front of a Lady of breathless beauty who was surrounded by angels. The latter had flaming spears with which they repelled a crowd of devils who wanted to come in. These evil spirits then fled to the other nuns’ rooms under the guise of vile animals.

By this vision the priest became aware of the lamentable state the monastery was in and he was so upset that he thought he might almost die of grief. He immediately sent for the young religious and exhorted her to persevere.

As he pondered on the value of the Rosary, he decided to try to reform the sisters by means of it. He bought a supply of beautiful rosaries and gave one to each nun, imploring them to say the Rosary every day, even going so far as to promise them that, if they would only say it faithfully, he would not try to force them to alter their lives. Wonderful and strange as it may seem the nuns agreed to this pact and were glad to be given the rosaries and promised to say them.

Little by little they began to give up their empty and worldly pursuits, letting silence and recollection come into their lives. In less than a year they all asked that the monastery be reformed.

So the Holy Rosary worked more changes in their hearts than the priest could have worked by exhorting and commanding them.

 

A Bishop’s Devotion

A Spanish countess, who had been taught the Holy Rosary by St. Dominic, used to say it faithfully every day with the result that she was making wonderful strides in her spiritual life. Since her one and only thought was how she might attain to perfection she asked a Bishop who was a renowned preacher for some practices that would help her become perfect

The Bishop told her that, before he could give her any counsels, she would have to let him know the state of her soul and also what her religious exercises were. She answered that her most important exercise was the Holy Rosary which she said every day meditating on the Joyous, Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries, and that her soul was greatly helped by so doing.

The Bishop was overjoyed to hear her explain what priceless lessons the mysteries contain. “I have been a doctor of theology for 20 years,” he exclaimed “and I have read many excellent books on various devotional practices. But never before have I come across one better than this—for it is of the essence of Christianity and is a devotion which cannot but bear fruit I shall follow your example, and from now on I shall preach the Rosary.”

The Bishop’s preaching met with great success, for in almost no time his diocese changed for the better. There was a notable decline in immorality and worldliness of all kinds as well as in gambling. There were several striking instances of people being brought back to the Faith, or sinners making restitution for their crimes and of others sincerely resolving to give up lives of vice. Religious fervor and Christian charity began to flourish. These changes were all the more remarkable because this Bishop had been striving to reform his diocese for some time but with hardly any results.

To better inculcate devotion of the Rosary, the Bishop also wore a beautiful rosary at his side and always showed it to the congregation when he preached. He used to say:

“My dear brethren in Jesus Christ, I am a doctor of theology and a doctor of canon as well as civil law, but I say to you, as your Bishop, that I take more pride in wearing Our Lady’s Rosary than in any of my episcopal regalia or academic robes.”

 

Parish Transformed

A Danish priest used to love to tell how the very same improvement that the Spanish Bishop noticed in his diocese had occurred in his own parish. He always told his story with great rejoicing of soul because it gave such glory to Almighty God. He said:

 

I had preached as compellingly as I could, touching on many aspects of our Holy Faith, and using every argument I could possibly think of to get the people to amend their way of life. But in spite of all my efforts they went unconcernedly about their way as before; and it was then that I decided to preach the Holy Rosary.

I told my congregations how precious it is and I taught them how to say it. I kept on preaching the Holy Rosary and the devotion took root in the parish. Six months later I was overjoyed to see that people had really changed for the better. How true it is that this God-given prayer has divine power— the power to touch our hearts and to fill them with horror of sin and the love of virtue!

 

One day Our Lady said to Bl. Alan:

 

Just as Almighty God chose the Angelic Salutation to bring about the Incarnation of His Word and the Redemption of mankind, in the same way those who want to bring about moral reforms and who want people reborn in Jesus Christ must honor me and greet me with the same salutation. I am the channel by which God came to men, and so, next to my Son Jesus Christ, it is through me that men must obtain grace and virtue.

 

I, who write this, have learned from my own experience that the Rosary has the power to convert even the most hardened hearts. I have known people who have gone to missions and who have heard sermons on the most terrifying subjects without being in the least moved; and yet, after they had, on my advice, started to say the Rosary every day they eventually became converted and gave themselves completely to God. When I have gone back again to visit parishes where I have given missions I have seen a tremendous difference in them; in those parishes where people had given up the Rosary they had generally fallen back into their sinful ways again, whereas in places where the Rosary was said faithfully I found the people were persevering hi the grace of God and were advancing each day in virtue.

 

Admirable Effects

Bl. Alan de la Roche, Father Jean Dumont, Father Thomas, the chronicles of St. Dominic and other writers who have seen these things with their own eyes speak of the marvelous conversions that are brought about by the Holy Rosary. Great sinners—both men and women—have been converted after 20, 30 or even 40 years of sin and unspeakable vice, because they persevered in saying the Holy Rosary. And these have been people who, beforehand, had been deaf to all pleading! I shall not tell you about those wonderful conversions here because I do not want to make this book too long. And I am not even going to refer to those which I have seen with my very own eyes: there are several reasons why I would rather not talk about them (2).

Dear reader, I promise you that if you practice this devotion and help to spread it you will learn more from the Rosary than from any spiritual book. And what is more, you will have the happiness of being rewarded by Our Lady in accordance with the promises that she made to St. Dominic, to Bl. Alan de la Roche and to all those Who practice and encourage this devotion which is so dear to her. For the Holy Rosary teaches people about the virtues of Jesus and Mary, and leads them to mental prayer and to imitate Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It teaches them to approach the Sacraments often, to genuinely strive after Christian virtues and to do all kinds of good works, as well as interesting them in the many wonderful indulgences which can be gained through the Rosary.

People ore often quite unaware of how rich the Rosary is in indulgences. This is because many priests, when preaching on the Rosary, hardly ever mention indulgences and give rather a flowery and popular sermon which excites admiration but scarcely teaches anything.

Be that as it may I shall say no more than to assure you, in the words of Bl. Alan de la Roche, that the Holy Rosary is the root and the storehouse of countless blessings. For through the Holy Rosary:

 

1. Sinners are forgiven;
2. Souls that thirst are refreshed;
3. Those who are fettered have their bonds broken;
4. Those who weep find happiness;
5. Those who are tempted find peace;
6. The poor find help;
7. Religious are reformed;
8. Those who are ignorant are instructed;
9. The living learn to overcome pride;
10. The dead (the Holy Souls) have their pains eased by suffrages.

 

 

One day Our Lady said to Bl. Alan:

 

I want people who have a devotion to my Rosary to have my Son’s grace and blessing during their lifetime and at their death, and after their death I want them to be freed from all slavery so that they will be like kings wearing crowns and with scepters in their hands and enjoying eternal glory.

 

Amen. So be it.

This article was excerpted from The Secret of the Rosary, Montfort Publications, 1999.

 

Notes

 

(1) This incident is referred to by St. Louis in his “True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary” when he explains that those who love Our Lady are not lost Cf. paragraph 42. M.B.

 

(2) This an example of St. Louis’ humility! It is more than probable that he himself had extraordinary favors and most likely witnessed miracles—but these he seems reluctant to discuss, MB.

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Stabat Mater

Published on September 18, 2010 by in Marian Devotion

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At the Cross her station keeping,
Stood the mournful Mother weeping,
Close to Jesus to the last.

Through her Heart, His sorrow sharing,
All His bitter anguish bearing,
Now at length the sword has passed.

O how sad and sore distressed
Was that Mother highly blessed
Of the sole-begotten One!



[…]

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STEUBENVILLE, Ohio, SEPT. 14, 2010 (Zenit.org).- A few years back, a man called into a live radio show and exclaimed, “What’s all the fuss about calling Mary the co-redemptrix?”

The caller explained, “What parent can’t understand that when a child suffers, a parent suffers with that child? Last month, my daughter underwent a life threatening surgery, and it would have been much easier for me to be on the operating table than to be in the waiting room. When a child suffers, of course the parent suffers. When Jesus suffered, of course Mary suffered.”

To celebrate the feast of Our Mother of Sorrows is to celebrate Mary’s role as co-redemptrix. In seven ways, this Mother suffered with this Son like no mother has ever suffered before.

[…]

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So much does the Crucified Lord desire humanity to ponder, along with His own saving Redemption, the coredemption of his Mother, that He has attached to the prayerful meditation of the seven principal historical events of Our Lady’s sufferings promises of grace and mercy that are nothing short of extraordinary and miraculous.

To St. Bridget of Sweden (1303-1373), Our Lady directly reveals the amazing graces granted by her Son for all those who daily pray seven Hail Mary’s while meditating on her seven dolors and tears:

[…]

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On March 25, 2010, a “Day of Dialogue” will take place at the Vatican Forum on the issue of the appropriateness of a fifth Marian Dogma, the solemn papal definition of Our Lady as the Spiritual Mother of all humanity, the Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces and Advocate.  Bishops and theologians from different parts of the world have been invited by Inside the Vatican Magazine, moderator of the discussion, to partake in the Church dialogue, one which could have significant and even historic effects of the solemn definition of Our Lady’s spiritual motherhood and thereby on the entire Church and world.

The following Annunciation Novena has been adapted and initiated by members of the Christian faithful to pray for the success of this Roman Day of Dialogue and for the eventual definition on the Fifth Marian Dogma.  We are happy to forward on to you this novena which we have received, and to encourage readers the world over to participate in this novena from Wednesday, March 17 to Thursday, March 25, that the Holy Spirit through the Immaculate and Coredemptive Heart of Mary will overshadow those participating in the Day of Dialogue and ultimately our beloved Holy Father regarding the dogmatic crowning of our Mother Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces and Advocate. -Ed.

Annunciation Novena

I greet you. Ever-blessed Virgin, Mother of God, Throne of Grace, miracle of Almighty Power! I greet you, Sanctuary of the Most Holy Trinity and Queen of the Universe, Mother of Mercy and Refuge of Sinners!

Most loving Mother, attracted by your beauty and sweetness, and by your tender compassion, I confidently turn to you, miserable as I am, and beg of you to obtain for me from your dear Child the favor I request in this novena:

For the day of dialogue in Rome and that the Church may dogmatically crown you as Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of All Grace, and Advocate.

Obtain for me also. Queen of heaven, the most lively contrition for my many sins and the grace to imitate closely those virtues which you practiced so faithfully, especially humility, purity and obedience. Above all, I beg you to be my Mother and Protectress, to receive me into the number of your devoted children, and to guide me from your high throne of glory.

Do not reject my petitions, Mother of Mercy! Have pity on me and do not abandon me during life or at the moment of my death. Amen 

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The Legion of Mary Today

Published on November 21, 2009 by in Marian Devotion

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Who is she that comes forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in battle array? (Song 6:10)

 “The Virgin’s name was Mary.” (Lk I:27)

 “The Legion of Mary! What a perfectly chosen name!” (Pope Pius XI)  

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NAME AND ORIGIN 

The Legion of Mary is an Association of Catholics who, with the sanction of the Church and under the powerful leadership of Mary Immaculate, Mediatrix of all Graces (who is fair as the moon, bright as the sun, and – to satan and his legionaries – terrible as an army set in battle array), have formed themselves into a Legion for service in the warfare which is perpetually waged by the Church against the world and its evil powers.

“The whole life of men, both individual and social, shows itself to be a struggle, and a dramatic one, between good and evil, between light and darkness.” (GS 13)

The legionaries hope to render themselves worthy of their great heavenly Queen by their loyalty, their virtues, and their courage. The Legion of Mary is therefore organised on the model of an army, principally on that of the army of ancient Rome, the terminology of which is adopted also. But the army and the arms of legionaries of Mary are not of this world.

This army, now so considerable, had the most humble of beginnings. It was not a thought-out organisation. It sprang up spontaneously. There was no premeditation in regard to rules and practices. A suggestion was simply thrown out. An evening was fixed, and a little group came together, unaware that they were to be the instruments of most loving Providence.

Read more: The Legion of Mary Today

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THE LEGION OF MARY

 

Who is she that comes forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in battle array? (Song 6:10)

 “The Virgin’s name was Mary.” (Lk I:27)

 “The Legion of Mary! What a perfectly chosen name!” (Pope Pius XI)  

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NAME AND ORIGIN 

The Legion of Mary is an Association of Catholics who, with the sanction of the Church and under the powerful leadership of Mary Immaculate, Mediatrix of all Graces (who is fair as the moon, bright as the sun, and – to satan and his legionaries – terrible as an army set in battle array), have formed themselves into a Legion for service in the warfare which is perpetually waged by the Church against the world and its evil powers.

“The whole life of men, both individual and social, shows itself to be a struggle, and a dramatic one, between good and evil, between light and darkness.” (GS 13)

The legionaries hope to render themselves worthy of their great heavenly Queen by their loyalty, their virtues, and their courage. The Legion of Mary is therefore organised on the model of an army, principally on that of the army of ancient Rome, the terminology of which is adopted also. But the army and the arms of legionaries of Mary are not of this world.

This army, now so considerable, had the most humble of beginnings. It was not a thought-out organisation. It sprang up spontaneously. There was no premeditation in regard to rules and practices. A suggestion was simply thrown out. An evening was fixed, and a little group came together, unaware that they were to be the instruments of most loving Providence.

To look at that meeting, it was identical with what would be seen to-day were one to attend a Legion meeting anywhere in the world. The table around which they met bore a simple altar, of which the centre was a statue of the Immaculate Conception (of the miraculous medal model). It stood on a white cloth, and was flanked by two vases with flowers, and two candlesticks with lighted candles. This setting, so rich in atmosphere, was the inspired notion of one of the earliest comers. It crystallised everything for which the Legion of Mary stands. The Legion is an army. Well, their Queen was there before they assembled. She stood waiting to receive the enrolments of those whom she knew were coming to her. They did not adopt her. She adopted them; and since then they have marched and fought with her, knowing that they would succeed and persevere just to the extent that they were united to her.

The first corporate act of those legionaries was to go on their knees. The earnest young heads were bent down. The invocation and prayer of the Holy Spirit were said; and then through the fingers which had, during the day, been toilsomely employed, slipped the beads of the simplest of all devotions. When the final ejaculations died away, they sat up, and under the auspices of Mary (as represented by her statue), they set themselves to the consideration of how they could best please God and make him loved in his world. From that discussion came forth the Legion of Mary, as it is today, in all its features.

What a wonder ! Who, contemplating those inconspicuous persons – so simply engaged – could in his wildest moments imagine what a destiny waited just a little along the road? Who among them could think that they were inaugurating a system which was to be a new world-force, possessing – if faithfully and forcefully administered – the power, in Mary, of imparting life and sweetness and hope to the nations? Yet so it was to be.

That first enrolment of legionaries of Mary took place at Myra House, Francis Street, Dublin, Ireland, at 8 p.m. on 7 September, 1921, the eve of the feast of Our Lady’s Nativity. From the title of the parent branch, that is, Our Lady of Mercy, the organisation was for a time known as “The Association of Our Lady of Mercy.”

Circumstances which one would regard as accidental determined this date, which seemed at the time less appropriate than the following day would have been. In after years only-when countless proofs of a truly maternal love had made one reflect-was it realised that not the least exquisite touch of Mary’s hand had been shown in the moment of the Legion’s birth. Of the evening and the morning was the first day made (Gen 1:5), and surely the first, and not the last fragrances of the feast which honours her own Nativity were appropriate to the first moments of an organisation, whose first and constant aim has been to reproduce in itself the likeness of Mary, thus best to magnify the Lord and bring him to men. 

Mary is the Mother of all the members of the Saviour, because by her charity she has co-operated in the birth of the faithful in the Church. Mary is the living mould of God, that is to say, it is in her alone that the God Man was naturally formed without losing a feature, so to speak, of His Godhead; and it is in her alone that man can be properly and in a life-like way formed into God, so far as human nature is capable of this by the grace of Jesus Christ.” (St. Augustine)

 “The Legion of Mary presents the true face of the Catholic Church” (Pope John XXIII) 

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OBJECT 

The object of the Legion of Mary is the glory of God through the holiness of its members developed by prayer and active co-operation, under ecclesiastical guidance, in Mary’s and the Church’s work of crushing the head of the serpent and advancing the reign of Christ.

Subject to the approval of the Concilium, and to the restrictions specified in the official handbook of the Legion, the Legion of Mary is at the disposal of the bishop of the diocese and the parish priest for any and every form of social service and Catholic action which these authorities may deem suitable to the legionaries and useful for the welfare of the Church. Legionaries will never engage in any of these services whatsoever in a parish without the sanction of the parish priest or of the Ordinary.

By the Ordinary in these pages is meant the local Ordinary, that is, the bishop of the diocese or other competent ecclesiastical authority. 

(a) “The immediate end of organisations of this class is the apostolic end of the Church; in other words: the evangelization and sanctification of men and the Christian formation of their conscience, so as to enable them to imbue with the Gospel spirit the various social groups and environments.

(b) The laity, cooperating in their own particular way with the hierarchy, contribute their experience and assume responsibility in the direction of these organisations, in the investigation of the conditions in which the Church’s pastoral work is to be carried on, in the elaboration and execution of their plan of action.

(c) The laity act in unison after the manner of an organic body, to display more strikingly the community aspect of the Church and to render the apostolate more productive.

(d) The laity, whether coming of their own accord or in response to an invitation to action and direct cooperation with the hierarchical apostolate, act under the superior direction of the hierarchy, which can authorise this cooperation, besides, with an explicit mandate.”

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SPIRIT OF THE LEGION 

 

The spirit of the Legion of Mary is that of Mary herself. Especially does the Legion aspire after her profound humility, her perfect obedience, her angelical sweetness, her continual prayer, her universal mortification, her altogether spotless purity, her heroic patience, her heavenly wisdom, her self-sacrificing courageous love of God, and above all her faith, that virtue which has in her alone been found in its utmost extent and never equalled. Inspired by this love and faith of

Mary, her Legion essays any and every work and “complains not of impossibility, because it conceives that it may and can do all things.” (Imitation of Christ, Book 3:5) 

“Perfect model of this apostolic spiritual life is the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Apostles. While on earth her life was like that of any other, filled with labours and the cares of the home; always, however, she remained intimately united to her Son and cooperated in an entirely unique way in the Saviour’s work . . . Everyone should have a genuine devotion to her and entrust his life to her motherly care.”

 

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LEGIONARY SERVICE 

1.   Must “put on the whole armour of God”. (Eph 6:11) 

The Roman Legion, from which the Legion takes its name, has come down through the centuries illustrious for loyalty, courage, discipline, endurance, and success, and this for ends that were often base and never more than worldly. (see appendix 4, The Roman Legion) Manifestly, Mary’s Legion cannot offer to her the name (like a setting stripped of the jewels which adorned it) accompanied by qualities less notable, so that in these qualities is indicated the very minimum of legionary service. St. Clement, who was converted by St. Peter and was a fellow-worker of St. Paul, proposes the Roman army as a model to be imitated by the Church. 

“Who are the enemy? They are the wicked who resist the will of God. Therefore let us throw ourselves determinedly into the warfare of Christ and submit ourselves to his glorious commands. Let us scrutinise those who serve in the Roman Legion under the military authorities, and note their discipline, their readiness, their obedience in executing orders. Not all are prefects or tribunes or centurions or commanders of fifty or in the minor grades of authority. But each man in his own rank carries out the commands of the emperor and of his superior officers. The great cannot exist without the small; nor the small without the great. A certain organic unity binds all parts, so that each helps and is helped by all. Let us take the analogy of our body. The head is nothing without the feet; likewise the feet are nothing without the head. Even the smallest organs of our body are necessary and valuable to the entire body. In fact all the parts work together in an interdependence and yield a common obedience for the benefit of the whole body.” (St. Clement, Pope and Martyr: Epistle to the Corinthians (96 .A.D.), chps 36 and 37) 

2.  Must be “a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God . . . not conformed to this world.” (Rom 12:1-2) 

From that foundation will spring in the faithful legionary, virtues as far greater as his cause is superior, and in particular a noble generosity which will echo that sentiment of St. Teresa of Avila: “To receive so much and to repay so little: O! that is a martyrdom to which I succumb.” Contemplating his crucified Lord, who devoted to him his last sigh and the last drop of his Blood, the legionary’s service must strive to reflect such utter giving of self. 

“What more was there to do for my vineyard that I have not done in it?” (Is 5:4) 

3.   Must not turn from “toil and hardship.”(2 Cor 11:27) 

There will ever be places where Catholic zeal must be prepared to face the instruments of death or torture. Many legionaries have thus triumphantly passed through the gates of glory. Generally, however, legionary devotedness will have a humbler stage, but still one giving ample opportunity for the practice of a quiet but true heroism. The Legion apostolate will involve the approaching of many who would prefer to remain remote from good influences, and who will manifest their distaste for receiving a visit from those whose mission is good, not evil. These may all be won over, but not without the exercise of a patient and brave spirit.

Sour looks, the sting of insult and rebuff, ridicule and adverse criticism, weariness of body and spirit, pangs from failure and from base ingratitude, the bitter cold and the blinding rain, dirt and vermin and evil smells, dark passages and sordid surroundings, the laying aside of pleasures, the taking on of the anxieties which come in plenty with the work, the anguish which the contemplation of irreligion and depravity brings to the sensitive soul, sorrow from sorrows wholeheartedly shared-there is little glamour about these things, but if sweetly borne, counted even a joy, and persevered in unto the end, they will come, in the weighing-up, very near to that love, greater than which no man has, that he lay down his life for his friend.

“What shall I return to the Lord for all his bounty to me?” (Ps 116:12) 

4.   Must “live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.” (Eph 5:2) 

The secret of all success with others lies in the establishment of personal contact, the contact of love and sympathy. This love must be more than an appearance. It must be able to stand up to the tests that real friendships can bear. This will frequently involve little mortifications. To greet, in fashionable surroundings, one who a little while before was the subject of one’s visitation in a jail, to be seen walking with bedraggled persons, to grasp warmly the hand which is coated with grime, to partake of a proffered meal in a very poor or dirty home, may to some be difficult; but if avoided, the attitude of friendship is shown to have been a pretence, the contact breaks, and the soul that was being lifted sinks back in disillusion.

At the bottom of all really fruitful work must be the readiness to give oneself entirely. Without this readiness, one’s service has no substance. The legionary who somewhere sets up the barrier: “thus far and no farther is self-sacrifice to go,” will accomplish only the trivial, though great exertions may be made. On the other hand, if that readiness exist, even though it may never, or but in small measure, be called upon, it will be fruitful of immense things. 

“Jesus answered : ‘Will you lay down your life for me?’ ” (Jn 13:38) 

5.  Must “finish the race” (2 Tim 4:7) 

Thus the call of the Legion is for a service without limit or reservations. This is not entirely a counsel of perfection, but of necessity as well, for if excellence is not aimed at, a persevering membership will not be achieved. A lifelong perseverance in the work of the apostolate is in itself heroic, and will only be found as the culmination of a continuous series of heroic acts, as indeed it is their reward.

But not alone to the individual membership must the note of permanence attach. Each and every item of the Legion’s round of duty must be stamped with this selfsame seal of persevering effort. Change, of course, there must necessarily be. Different places and persons are visited; works are completed, and new works are taken on. But all this is the steady alteration of life, not the fitful operation of instability and novelty-seeking, which ends by breaking down the finest discipline. Apprehensive of this spirit of change, the Legion appeals unceasingly for a sterner temper, and from each succeeding meeting sends its members to their tasks with the unchanging watchword, as it were, ringing in their ears: “Hold firm.”

Real achievement is dependent upon sustained effort, which in turn is the outcome of an unconquerable will to win. Essential to the perseverance of such a will is that it bend not often nor at all. Therefore, the Legion enjoins on its branches and its members a universal attitude of refusal to accept defeat, or to court it by a tendency to grade items of work in terms of the “promising,” the “unpromising,” the “hopeless,” etc. A readiness to brand as “hopeless” proclaims that, so far as the Legion is concerned, a priceless soul is free to pursue unchecked its reckless course to hell. In addition, it indicates that an unthinking desire for variety and signs of progress tends to replace higher considerations as the motive of the work. Then, unless the harvest springs up at the heels of the sower, there is discouragement, and sooner or later the work is abandoned.

Again, it is declared and insisted that the act of labelling any one case as hopeless automatically weakens attitude towards every other case. Consciously or unconsciously, approach to all work will be in a spirit of doubt as to whether it is justifying effort, and even a grain of doubt paralyses action.

And worst of all, faith would have ceased to play its due part in Legion affairs, being allowed only a modest entrance when deemed approvable to reason. With its faith so fettered and its determination sapped, at once rush in the natural timidities, the pettinesses, and the worldly prudence, which had been kept at bay, and the Legion is found presenting a casual or half-hearted service which forms a shameful offering to heaven.

Hence it is that the Legion is concerned only in a secondary way about a programme of works, but much about intensity of purpose. It does not require from its members wealth or influence, but faith unwavering; not famous deeds but only unrelaxed effort; not genius but unquenchable love; not giant strength but steady discipline. A legionary service must be one of holding on, of absolute and obstinate refusal to lose heart. A rock in the crisis; but constant at all times. Hoping for success; humble in success; but independent of it; fighting failure; undismayed by it; fighting on, and wearing it down; thriving upon difficulties and monotony, because they give scope for the faith and effort of an enduring siege. Ready and resolute when summoned; on the alert though not called upon; and even when there is no conflict and no enemy in sight, maintaining a tireless precautionary patrol for God; with a heart for the impossible; yet content to play the part of stop-gap; nothing too big; no duty too mean; for each the same minute attention, the same inexhaustible patience, the same inflexible courage; every task marked with the same golden tenacity; always on duty for souls; ever at hand to carry the weak through their many weak moments; vigilantly watching to surprise the hardened at their rare moments of softness; unremitting in search for those that have strayed; unmindful of self; all the time standing by the cross of others, and standing there until the work is consummated.

Unfailing must be the service of the organisation consecrated to the Virgo Fidelis, and bearing, either for honour or dishonour, her name.

5

THE DEVOTIONAL OUTLOOK OF THE LEGION 

The devotional outlook of the Legion is reflected in its prayers. The Legion is built in the first place upon a profound faith in God and in the love he bears his children. He wills to draw great glory from our efforts, and he will purify them and render them fruitful and persevering. We swing between the opposite extremes of apathy and feverish anxiety because we regard him as detached from our work. Instead, let us realise that we only have the good purpose because he has implanted it, and that we shall only bring it to fruition if he sustains us all the time. The success of the enterprise in hand is more by far to him than it is to us. Infinitely more than we, does he desire that conversion we are seeking. We wish to be saints. He yearns for it a million times more than we.

The legionaries’ essential mainstay must be this knowledge of the companionship of God, their good Father, in their two-fold work of sanctifying themselves and serving their neighbour. Nothing can stand in the way of success except want of trust. If there be but faith enough, God will utilise us to conquer the world for him. 

“For whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith.” (1 Jn 5:4)

“To believe means ‘to abandon oneself’ to the truth of the word of the living God, knowing and humbly recognising ‘how unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways’ (Rom 11:33). Mary, who by the eternal will of the Most High stands, one may say, at the very centre of those ‘inscrutable ways’ and ‘unsearchable judgments’ of God, conforms herself to them in the dim light of faith, accepting fully and with a ready heart everything that is decreed in the divine plan” (R Mat 14). 

1.  GOD AND MARY 

Under God, the Legion is built upon devotion to Mary, “that ineffable miracle of the Most High.” (Pope Pius IX) But what is the place of Mary herself in relation to God? It is that he brought her, as he did all the other children of earth, out of nothing; and though he has since then exalted her to a point of grace immense and inconceivable, nevertheless, in comparison to her Maker, she still remains as nothing. Indeed, she is – far more than any other – his creature, because he has wrought more in her than in any other of his creatures. The greater the things he does to her, the more she becomes the work of his hands.

Very great things he has done to her. From all eternity, the idea of her was present to his mind along with that of the Redeemer. He associated her to the intimacies of his plans of grace, making her the true mother of his Son and of those united to that Son. He did all these things because, in the first place, he would gain from Mary herself a return greater than he would from all other pure creatures together. In the second place, he thereby intended, in a way which our minds cannot adequately grasp, to enhance the glory which he would receive from ourselves also. Thus, the prayer and loving service, with which we recompense Mary, our mother and the helper of our salvation, can represent no loss to him who made her so. What is given to her goes none the less surely and fully to him. But there is question of more than undiminished transmission; there is question of increase. And Mary is more than a faithful messenger. She has been set by God to be a vital element in his gracious scheme, in such sort that both his glory and our grace are the greater by reason of her presence there.

As it is the pleasure of the Eternal Father so to receive through Mary the homages intended for him, so too he has been graciously pleased to appoint her to be the way by which shall pass to men the various outpourings of his munificent goodness and omnipotence, beginning with the cause of them all-the Second Divine Person made man, our true life, our only salvation. 

“If I will to make myself dependent on the Mother, it is in order to become the slave of the Son. If I aspire to become her possession, it is in order to render more surely to God the homage of my subjection.” (St. Ildephonsus) 

2.  MARY, MEDIATRIX OF ALL GRACES 

The Legion’s trust in Mary is limitless, knowing that by the ordinance of God, her power is without limit. All that he could give to Mary, he has given to her. All that she was capable of receiving she has received in plenitude. For us God has constituted her a special means of grace. Operating in union with her we approach him more effectively, and hence win grace more freely. Indeed we place ourselves in the very flood-tide of grace, for she is the spouse of the Holy Spirit: she is the channel of every grace which Jesus Christ has won. We receive nothing which we do not owe to a positive intervention on her part. She does not content herself with transmitting all: she obtains all for us. Penetrated with belief in this office of Mary, the Legion enjoins it as a special devotion for all its members. 

“Judge as to the ardent love with which God would have us honour Mary seeing that he has set in her the fullness of all good: in such manner that all we have of hope, all of grace, all of salvation all-I say and let us doubt it not – flows to us from her.” (St. Bernard: Sermo de Aquaeductu) 

3.  MARY IMMACULATE 

A second aspect of Legion devotion is towards the Immaculate Conception. At the very first meeting, the members prayed and deliberated round a little altar of the Immaculate Conception identical with that which now forms the centre of every Legion meeting. Moreover, the very first breath of the Legion may be said to have been drawn in an ejaculation in honour of this privilege of Our Lady, which formed the preparation for all the dignities and all the privileges afterwards accorded to her.

The Immaculate Conception is referred to by God in the same sentence in which Mary herself is first promised to us. The privilege is part of Mary: Mary is the Immaculate Conception; and, together with the privilege, prophecy is made of its heavenly sequel: the Divine Maternity, the crushing of the serpent’s head in Redemption, and Mary’s Motherhood of men.

“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Gen 3:15)

To these words, addressed to satan by Almighty God, the Legion turns as the source of its confidence and strength in its warfare with sin. It aims with all its heart to become in fullness the seed, the children of Mary, for there is the pledge of victory. In the measure that it makes her more and more its mother, is the Legion’s enmity with the powers of evil intensified and victory made more complete. 

“The sacred writings of the Old and New Testaments, as well as venerable tradition, show the role of the Mother of the Saviour in the plan of salvation in an ever clearer light and call our attention to it. The books of the Old Testament describe the history of salvation, by which the coming of Christ into the world was slowly prepared.

The earliest documents, as they are read in the Church and are understood in the light of a further and full revelation, bring the figure of a woman, Mother of the Redeemer, into a gradually clearer light. Considered in this light, she is already prophetically foreshadowed in the promise of victory over the serpent which was given to our first parents after their fall into sin. (cf Gen 3:15)” (LG 55)

4.  MARY OUR MOTHER 

But if we claim the inheritance of children, there must be esteem for the motherhood through which it comes. A third aspect of Legion devotion to Mary is the special honouring of her as our real mother, which in very fact she is.

Mary became the Mother of Christ and our mother when to the Angel’s salutation she pronounced her meek assent, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord, let it be with me according to your word.” (Lk 1:38) That motherhood of hers was proclaimed at the moment when it reached its complete expansion, that is, when Redemption was consummated. Amid the sorrows of Calvary Jesus said to her from the cross: “Woman, here is your son” and to St. John “Here is your mother.” (Jn 19:26-27) Through St. John, these words were addressed to all the elect. Fully co-operating by her consent and sorrows in this spiritual birth of mankind, Mary became in the fullest and most perfect sense our mother.

Truly her children, we must behave as such, and indeed as very little children dependent utterly upon her. We must look to her to feed us, to guide us, to teach us, to cure our ailments, to console us in our griefs, to counsel us in our doubts, to recall us when we wander, so that wholly confided to her care, we may grow to the resemblance of our elder brother, Jesus, and share his mission of combating sin and conquering it.

“Mary is the Mother of the Church not only because she is the Mother of Christ and his most intimate associate in ‘the new economy when the Son of God took a human nature from her, that he might in the mysteries of his flesh free man from sin’ but also because ‘she shines forth to the whole community of the elect as a model of the virtues.’ No human mother can limit her task to the generation of a new man. She must extend it to the function of nourishing and educating her offspring. Just so the Blessed Virgin Mary, after participating in the redeeming sacrifice of the Son, and in such an intimate way as to deserve to be proclaimed by him the mother not only of his disciple John but – may we be allowed to affirm it – of mankind which he in some way represents, now continues to fulfil from heaven her maternal function as the cooperator in the birth and development of divine life in the individual souls of redeemed men. This is a most consoling truth which, by the free consent of God the All-Wise, is an integrating part of the mystery of human salvation, therefore it must be held as faith by all Christians.” (SM) 

5.  LEGIONARY DEVOTION THE ROOT OF THE LEGIONARY APOSTOLATE 

One of the dearest duties of the Legion shall be to show whole-hearted devotion to the Mother of God. It can only do so through its members, so that each one of these is asked to associate himself with it by serious meditation and zealous practice.

If the devotion is to be in real truth a legionary tribute, it must be an essential part of the Legion – as much an obligation of membership as the weekly meeting or active work: all must participate in it in a perfect unity. This is a point of view with which members cannot be too deeply impressed.

But this unity is something most delicate, for each member in a measure controls it, and can mar it. So on each one devolves a solemn trusteeship in the matter. If there is default; if the legionaries are not “living stones . . . built into a spiritual house” (1 Pet 2:5), then is a vital part of the structure of the Legion defective. In measure as the living stones are found in this way wanting, will the Legion system tend more and more to become a ruin, which will not shelter, and hence with difficulty will retain, its children. Still less will it be the home of high and holy qualities, or a starting-point for heroic endeavour.

But with everyone adequately discharging this item of legionary service the Legion will be found possessed of a marvellous unity of mind and purpose and action. This unity is so precious in the sight of God that he has vested it with an irresistible power; so that, if for the individual a true devotion to Mary is a special channel of grace, what shall it bring to an organisation which is persevering with one mind in prayer with her (Acts 1:14) who has received all from God, participating in her spirit; and entering fully into the design of God with regard to the distribution of grace! Shall not such an organisation be filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4) and shall there not be “many wonders and signs.” (Acts 2:43) 

“The Virgin in the Cenacle, praying in the midst of the apostles and pouring out her heart for them with intensity unspeakable, calls down upon the Church that treasure which will abound in it for ever: the fullness of the Paraclete, the supreme gift of Christ.” (JSE) 

6.  IF MARY WERE BUT KNOWN! 

To the priest struggling almost despairingly in a sea of religious neglect, the following words of Father Faber – taken from his preface to St. Louis-Marie de Montfort’s “True Devotion to Mary” (an abounding source of inspiration to the Legion) – are commended as a preliminary to his consideration of the possible value to him of the Legion. The argument of Father Faber is that Mary is not half enough known or loved, with sad results for souls:- “Devotion to her is low and thin and poor. It has no faith in itself. Hence it is that Jesus is not loved, that heretics are not converted, that the Church is not exalted; that souls, which might be saints, wither and dwindle; that the sacraments are not rightly frequented, or souls enthusiastically evangelised. Jesus is obscured because Mary is kept in the background. Thousands of souls perish because Mary is withheld from them. It is the miserable unworthy shadow which we call our devotion to the Blessed Virgin, that is the cause of all these wants and blights, these evils and omissions and declines. Yet, if we are to believe the revelations of the saints, God is pressing for a greater, a wider, a stronger, quite another devotion to his blessed mother . . . Let a man but try it for himself, and his surprise at the graces it brings with it, and the transformations it causes in his soul, will soon convince him of its otherwise almost incredible efficacy as a means for the salvation of men, and for the coming of the Kingdom of Christ.” 

“To the powerful Virgin it is given to crush the serpent’s head; to souls who are united to her, it is given to overcome sin. In this we must believe with an unshaking faith, with a firm hope.

  God is willing to give us all. All now depends on us, and on thee by whom all is received and treasured up, by whom all is transmitted, O Mother of God! All depends on the union of men with her who receives all from God.” (Gratry) 

7.  BRINGING MARY TO THE WORLD 

If devotion to Mary will work such wonders, then the great purpose must be to bring that instrument to bear, to bring Mary to the world. And how more effectively can this be done than through an apostolic organisation; lay-hence unlimited as to numbers; active-hence penetrating everywhere; loving Mary with all its might, and binding itself to involve the hearts of all others in that love; utilising all its avenues of action to fulfil this purpose.

And so, bearing her name with an inexpressible pride; built as an organisation upon an unbounded and childlike trust in her, to which it gives solidity by planting it in the heart of each individual one of its members: possessing then these members as working parts acting in a perfect harmony of loyalty and discipline-the Legion of Mary does not think it presumption, but rather a right degree of confidence to believe that its system forms, as it were, a mechanism which only requires operating by the hand of authority to compass the world, and which Mary will deign to use as an agency to accomplish her maternal work for souls, and to carry on her perpetual mission of crushing the head of the serpent. 

“‘Whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother.’ (Mk 3:35) What a marvel! What an honour! To what a height of glory Jesus elevates us! The women proclaim as most happy her who brought him into the world; but what prevents them from participating in that same maternity? For here the Gospel speaks of a new mode of generation, a new parenthood.” (St. John Chrysostom)

 

 

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Thy birth, O Virgin Mother of God,
heralded joy to all the world.
For from thou hast risen the Sun of justice,
Christ our God.

Destroying the curse, He gave blessing;
and damning death, He bestowed on us
life everlasting.

Blessed art thou among women
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
For from thou hast risen the Sun of justice,
Christ our God.

­ from The Divine Office – Matins (Morning Prayer)

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The most highly developed of Marian Scapular devotions is that of the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Since the seventeenth century, the Brown Scapular has been a uni­versal Catholic devotion, considered to be, together with the rosary, a customary form of Marian devotional practice. The popularity of the Scapular devotion was due to the sixteenth and seventeenth century popes, who promulgated the so-called Sabbatine Privilege and who approved the Confraternity of the Scapular for every diocese throughout the Catholic world.

The growth and development of the Scapular devotion reached its culmination in 1726 in the extension to the universal Church of the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel for July 16. {footnote} The feast spread rapidly in the seventeenth century. For its liturgical history, cf. Augustine M. Forcadell, O.Carm., Commemoratio Solemnis Beatae Mariae Virginis de Monte Carmelo (Romae, 1951). The rank of the feast has been reduced to a Commemoration by the decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites concerning the new calendar for the breviary and the Mass. Cf. A.A.S., Vol. 52, 1960, p. 706. The retention of the feast as a Commemoration in the new calendar preserves the memory of the liturgical intent of thanksgiving for which the feast was originally instituted, as Benedict XIV observed: “Since through the inter­cession of the Blessed Virgin God worked numerous miracles in favor of those who practiced this devotion, it must be conceded that the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was not instituted without serious judgment, and celebrated in the universal Church with proper Office and Mass.” De festis D. N. Jesu Christ* et B. Mariae Virginis (Patavii, 1745), p. 479.{/footnote}

The wearing of the Scapular fosters a true devotion to Mary that is based on her supernatural mission in the redemption of mankind. Two Marian doctrines are proposed in the devotion of the Brown Scapular: Mary’s Spiritual Maternity and her Mediation of Grace. The Scapular teaches a practical confidence in the inter­cession of the Blessed Virgin to obtain for its wearer the grace of final perseverance, or a happy death. The two general conditions to obtain this benefit are that one must honor Mary by wearing the Scapular faithfully until death and endeavor sincerely to lead a Christian life. This reliance on Mary’s intercession for the gift of final perseverance derives historically from the belief that the Blessed Virgin promised in an apparition to St. Simon Stock, Prior General of the Carmelites (1247?-1265), that all who die wearing the Scapular will not suffer the eternal flames of hell. This tradition has become known as the “Scapular promise.”

The devotion also teaches that the aid of Mary may be confidently expected in purgatory by all those who have faithfully worn the Scapular and have fulfilled two other conditions: the practice of chastity according to one’s state of life and the daily recitation of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin. {footnote} As will be noted below, the third condition may be commuted.{/footnote} This privilege of the Scapular devotion has been thought to stem from an apparition of Mary to Pope John XXII, who then promulated this spiritual benefit to the faithful in 1322. According to the copies of the Bull of promulgation attributed to John XXII, the devotee of the Scapular would be released from purgatory on the Saturday after death. Because of the allusion to Saturday, the document of John XXII has been called the “Sabbatine Bull” and its Marian privilege the “Sabbatine Privilege.”

The Origin of the Scapular Devotion

Historically, the devotion of the Scapular among the Catholic laity originated from the tradition of the Marian apparition and promise of the Scapular to St. Simon Stock. {footnote} The historical documentation pertaining to the apparition of Our Lady to St.Simon Stock has been collected and evaluated by Bartholomew F. M. Xiberta,O.Carm., De Visione Sancti Sitnonis Stock (Romae, 1950).{/footnote} From about 1400, Carmelite authors allude to the wearing of the Scapular by the laity in reliance on the Virgin’s promise of eternal salvation. Carmelite authors of the fifteenth century begin to record a devotional view of the Scapular, insinuating its heavenly origin. According to Grossi (ca. 1411), Mary gave the Scapular to St. Simon Stock. According to Bradley (ca. 1450), in bestowing the Scapular Mary changed the Carmelite habit. {footnote} The implication of fifteenth-century authors that the Scapular came directly from Mary as a new piece of the Carmelite habit is an elaboration of the fourteenth-century narrative of the apparition. The fourteenth-century account, which simply states that Mary appeared holding the Scapular, will be provided below.

As the Scapular devotion developed, it was natural that the details of the apparition would be magnified.{/footnote} Still later authors added new motives for the wearing of the Scapular by the laity. Calciuri (1461) alluded to miracles that had been worked through the Scapular; and Leersius (1483) added that the Scapular had been worn by saints. {footnote}For these details in fifteenth century Carmelite authors, cf. Xiberta, De Visione,pp. 92-93; 107-111.{/footnote}This tradition of the fifteenth century, which began to develop the devo­tional value of the Scapular and of its promise, culminated in 1470 in a work by Arnold Bostius, a Belgian Carmelite of Ghent. His manuscript work, De patronatu et -patrocinio B. V. M., formulated the solid basis of Marian doctrine on which the Scapular devotion was founded. Bostius explained how the Scapular promise of eternal salvation was a concrete illustration of the doctrine of Mary as Mediatrix of all Graces. The reception of the Scapular as the pledge of Mary’s promise of eternal salvation placed the obligation upon the members of the Confraternity to imitate Mary in her practice of virtue. Bostius’ work was popularized by John Paleonydor, a Flemish Carmelite, in a book entitled Fasciculus Tripartitus.

Pub­lished in 1495, the book was frequently reprinted in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. By the end of the fifteenth century, the theological structure of the Scapular devotion had been essentially outlined: its doctrinal foundation was the cult of Mary as Mediatrix of all Graces; its motive was the tradition of the apparition of Our Lady to St. Simon Stock with the promise of the Scapular. {footnote} An analysis of Bostius’ thought, based on his manuscript work, has been made by Eamon R. Carroll, O.Carm., Arnold Bostius and the Scapular, in The Sword, Vol. 14, 1950, pp. 342-355.{/footnote}

 

The Scapular Promise and Historical Criticism

The question of the historical authenticity of the Scapular promise was raised in the seventeenth century when the modern concept of scientific history was first developed. {footnote} John Launoy wrote against the historicity of the Scapular tradition in Dissertatio Duplex (Paris [?], 1642) and De Simonis Stockii Visa, De Sabbatinae BullaePrivilegio (Paris, 1653). For a discussion of his position, cf. Xiberta, De Visione,pp. 31-48.{/footnote} It cannot be said that the historical value of the tradition has been decided with finality. Recent historical investigations into Carmelite medieval history have provided information on the tradition of the Scapular promise that was not in the possession of scholars of past decades. {footnote} Our knowledge of medieval Carmelite literature has improved since the studies of Benedict Zimmerman, O.C.D., The Origin of the Scapular, in TheIrish Ecclesiastical Record, Series 4, Vol. 9; 1901, pp. 385-408; Vol. 15, I904, 142-153; 206-234; 331-351; and Herbert Thurston, S.J., The Origin of the Scapular: A Criticism, in the same periodical, Vol. 16, 1904, pp. 59-75; Scapulars, in The Month, Vol. 150, 1927. Xiberta, De Visione, has collected analyzed the documents of the medieval Scapular tradition.{/footnote}

The Carmelites of the fourteenth century preserved the tradition of the Scapular promise as part of the cult within the Order St. Simon Stock. The narrative of the apparition and of the pron of the Scapular was incorporated in the Carmelite Catalogue Saints, or Sanctoral, composed for the Order. {footnote} For a discussion of the Sanctoral and its origin, cf. Xiberta, De Visione
198-211.{/footnote} The account in earliest known form reads as follows:

The ninth (saint) was St. Simon of England, the sixth Genera the Order. He continually besought the most glorious Mother of God to defend with a privilege the Order of Carmelites, which enjoys special title of the Virgin. He prayed devoutly:

Flower of Carmel Vine Blossom-laden.
Splendor of heaven,
Child-bearing maiden,
None equals thee!
O Mother benign,
Who no man didst know,
On all Carmel’s children
Thy favors bestow
Star of the Sea. {footnote} The Latin text of the Flos Carmeli is as follows: Flos Carmeli, vitis flor splendor caeli, Virgo puerpera singularis, Mater mitis sed viri nescia, Carn da privilegia, stella maris. The English translation is that of Joachim Smet, O.Carm.The poem incorporates traditional medieval allusions from the Bible that applied to Mary.{/footnote}

The Blessed Virgin appeared to him with a multitude of angels holding in her blessed hands the Scapular of the Order. She said “This will be for you and for all Carmelites the privilege, that he dies in this will not suffer eternal fire,” that is, he who dies in this will be saved. {footnote} We have omitted the concluding paragraph of the hagiographical noticewhich simply states the death of St. Simon Stock at the Bordeaux Carmel. For the complete text, cf. Xiberta, De Visione, p. 283{/footnote}

There is no doubt that the origin of the Scapular devotion among the laity is traceable to this fourteenth century narrative. {footnote} In an appendix, Xiberta, De Visione, pp. 281-313, has published the papal manuscript texts of the Sanctoral. There are noticeable in them gradual additions and changes, the most evident being a notice on the wearing of the Scapular by the laity in the later manuscript copies of the fifteenth century.{/footnote}Its composition has been dated about the mid-fourteenth century. {footnote} Benedict Zimmerman, O.C.D., The Carmelite Scapular, in The Month, Vol. 150, 1927, pp. 323-32,7, dated the earliest written account soon after 1361. Xiberta, De Visione, p. 205, dates it about the middle of the fourteenth century,perhaps in the early decades of the fourteenth century.{/footnote}

Of greater significance, however, than the date of the narrative, isits location in the Carmelite Sanctoral, where it forms the complete hagiographical notice on St. Simon Stock. If this story of the Marian apparition and promise were not found in the earliest hagiographical notice on St. Simon Stock, but only in documents of later origin, this fact would cast grave suspicion on the authentic origin of the tradition. The appearance in the fourteenth century narrative of the poem, the Flos Carmeli, reveals the existence of a cult of the apparition at this time within the Order. {footnote} Evidence has been discovered that the apparition to St. Simon Stock was alluded to in the principal Marian feast of the English Province of Carmelites, the Solemn commemoration of Holy Mary. Margaret Rickert, reconstructing a Car­melite Missal of 1390, found fragments of the Mass for the feast on which were the words of the Flos Carmeli. CfT Vinculum Ordinis Carmelitarum, Vol. 3 (1952-I953) pp. 205-206.{/footnote} A Marian devotion induced by the Scapular promise existed within the Car­melite Order before it arose among the laity. {footnote} The earliest account of the apparition to St. Simon Stock contains no allu­sion to the Scapular devotion among the laity.

The fact that the devotion did not arise until sometime after the acceptance of the apparition within the Carmelite Order is one of the more important discoveries of recent research into the traditionof the Scapular. Scholars in the past have sought historical evidence in the thir­teenth and early fourteenth centuries in the belief that the devotion among the laity would have been in vogue. Thus Thurston was inclined to reject the historicity of the apparition because of the absence of evidence in the thirteenth and four­teenth centuries revealing the existence of the Scapular devotion. Cf. Scapulars, in The Month, Vol. 150, 1927, p. 45.

The belief that the devotion was practiced by the laity in the thirteenth century came from the Swanyngton fragments, published by John Cheron, O.Carm., in 1642. The fragments are now recognized as unauthentic.{/footnote} The story of the apparition of Mary and the promise of the Scapular was a fully formed tradition within the Order by the mid-fourteenth century, one hundred years after the death of St. Simon Stock. The tradition was not originally motivated by the spread of the Scapular devotion among the laity. Nor was the tradition utilized by the medieval Carmelites to claim a unique Marian privilege. {footnote} A clear illustration is the failure of the medieval Carmelites to use the Scapular promise in connection with their title, “Order of the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel.” John Horneby, who defended the title at the University of Cambridge in 1374, made no appeal to the apparition to St. Simon Stock, although by his time it was long in writing in the Carmelite Sanc­toral. Cf. Xiberta, De Visione, p.150.{/footnote} The absence of these motives behind the tradition tells in favor of its authenticity.

In the past, scholars have urged three difficulties against the historicity of the Scapular promise: (1) absence of documentary evidence for the tradition from the thirteenth century{footnote} This point was pressed in the works of John Launoy. Cf. note 7.{/footnote}; (2) silence of Carmelite authors of the fourteenth century concerning the promise{footnote} This objection was urged by Benedict Zimmerman, O.C.D., Monumenta Historica Carmelitana (Lirinae, 1907), pp. 343-344.{/footnote}; (3) confusion in the tradition between the Carmelite habit and the Carmelite Scapular as the garment supposedly desig­nated by Mary. {footnote} Ibid., p. 343.{/footnote} These objections no longer constitute serious diffi­culties against the authenticity of the Scapular tradition.

Documen­tary evidence cannot be expected from the thirteenth century since the Carmelite Order did not begin to produce an extensive literature until the middle of the fourteenth century. {footnote} P. Rudolf Hendriks, O.Carm., Le succession hereditaire, in Elie le prophete, Vol. 2 (Bruges, 1956), pp. 34-75.{/footnote} The appearance of the written tradition of the Scapular promise coincides with the blossom­ing of literary activity within the Order.{footnote} The fourteenth century account of the Scapular vision appears to be a literary production.

It is a stylized, partly poetic, narrative. The story is not told as St. Simon Stock might have told it. It is related with a greater insight, born only with the passage of time, into the Order’s mendicant difficulties in the thirteenth cen­tury. The Flos Carmeli was more probably not composed by St. Simon Stock, but was induced by the tradition of the Marian apparition.

The narrative would have passed through an oral stage, and perhaps an initial written stage, before being incorporated into the Sanctoral in its fourteenth century form. Some indication of the initial written form may exist in a fifteenth century Brussels manuscript, which describes the apparition in these simple lines: “St Simon . . . always besought the Virgin in his prayers that she would endow her Order with a special privilege. The glorious Virgin appeared to him, holding the Scapular and saying, This will be for you and yours a privilege: he who dies in this will be saved.'” For the Latin text, cf. Xiberta, De Visione, p. 311. {/footnote} In the face of modern research into the history of Carmelite literary activity in the four­teenth century, the argument from silence against the tradition of the scapular promise loses point. The account of the Marian appari­tion to St. Simon Stock is a constant written tradition as far back as literary activity reveals itself to be an important factor in the life of the Order. Finally, the conclusion of some historians that the apparition was originally associated by the Carmelites with their habit in general rather than with the Scapular in particular is certainly mistaken. There is an unbroken line of evidence, beginning with the Chapter of Montpellier in 1287 that the terms habit and Scapular were used interchangeably by the medieval Carmelites{footnote} The Constitutions of 1294, 1324, and 1357 call the Scapular the habit.

For the Acts of the Chapter of Montpellier, which made an explicit identification between “habit” and “scapular,” cf. Antoine Marie de la Presentation, O.C.D.,Constitutions des Freres de Notre Dame du Mont-Carmel faites I’annee 1357(Marche, 1915), pp. 158-160. Xiberta, De Visions, p. 236, who interprets “habit” to mean “tunic” in the Acts of the Chapter of Montpellier, should be corrected.For the Constitutions of 1294 cf. Ludovicus Saggi, O.Carm., Constitutiones Cafituli Burdigalensis anni 1294, in Analecta Ord. Carm., Vol.18,1953, 152-153.For the Constitutions of 1324 cf. Zimmerman, Monumenta, pp. 49-52{/footnote}When the word habit is employed in Carmelite authors in connec­tion with the Marian promise to St. Simon Stock, the term means simply “Scapular.”

The sole reason for rejecting the historical authenticity of the Scapular promise is the absence of thirteenth century documentation revealing Carmelite knowledge and acceptance of the story of the apparition. The absence of such evidence leaves open the possibility that the Scapular tradition developed as a legend in the thirteenth or early fourteenth century. While the possibility of a legendary origin for the tradition of the Scapular promise must be admitted, its legendary origin cannot be affirmed. {footnote} The explanation of Lancelot C. Sheppard, The English Carmelites (London, I943), pp. 13ff., suggesting a legendary origin for the Scapular tradition, is an oversimplification. The author’s statement that the early lessons of the breviary for the feast of St. Simon Stock are silent on the Scapular vision is unfounded. Cf. Xiberta, De Visione, pp. 127-130.{/footnote} Beginning with the docu­mentary evidence in the fourteenth century, the essential details of the tradition remain invariable: (1) the apparition of Mary, (2) to St. Simon Stock, (3) with the Scapular, (4) stating the words of eternal life for all who die clothed in this garment.

 

The Sabbatine Privilege: Origin and Historical Critique

The Sabbatine Bull occupied a place of key importance in the spread of the Scapular devotion in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Throughout this period the popes repeatedly promulgated the Sabbatine Privilege in allusion to the Bull of 1322 attributed to Pope John XXII: Clement VII (1530); Paul III (1534; 1549); Pius IV (1561); Pius V (1566); Gregory XIII (1577); Urban VIII (1628); Clement X (1673; 1674; 1675); Innocent XI (1678; 1679; 1682; i684). {footnote} Henry M. Esteve, O.Carm., De valore spiritual devotionis S. Scapularis (Romae, 1953), p. 61.{/footnote} Since according to the Sabbatine Privilege the souls of the faithful departed would benefit in purgatory from the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, the Church found it useful to stress the privilege in order to teach the legitimacy of the doctrine of indulgences and of Marian devotion. {footnote} lUd., pp. 59 ff.{/footnote}

The tradition of the Sabbatine Bull seems to have been first spread in the fifteenth century. The Bull was known to the Carmelites Calciuri in 1461 and Leersius in 1483. It was referred to by the Carmelite General Chapter of 1517. Historically, however, the tra­dition of the Sabbatine Bull is clearly vulnerable. No evidence of the Bull appears in the registers of John XXII. Although it is recognized that the absence of a papal document from the medieval registers is not a conclusive argument against its authenticity, no positive historical evidence from other sources supports the papal origin of the Bull. Its literary character is entirely too odd to recommend it as the work of John XXII. For these reasons, historians have rejected the authenticity of the Sabbatine Bull. {footnote} Papenbroeck, S.J., wrote a firm case against the authenticity of the Bull in his Responsio . . . ad Exhibitionem Errorum (Antwerpiae, 1696), p. 124 ff. The ques­tion was reviewed by Benedict Zimmerman, O.C.D., in The Irish Ecclesiastical Record, Series 4, Vol. 15, 1904, pp. 331-351.{/footnote} The apparent spuriousness of the Bull naturally casts serious doubt on its tradition that the Sabbatine Privilege originated in a Marian apparition to Pope John XXII. Three theories have been proposed to explain the origin of the tradition of the apparition and the Bull. According to one view the tradition would have originated in an oral declaration by John XXII. {footnote} Elias Magennis, O.Carm., The Sabbatine Privilege of the Scapular (New York, 1923), p. 47.{/footnote}

This theory accounts for the spurious character of the Bull and for its peculiar style. The explanation is too conjectural to win credence. A second theory would derive the Sabbatine Bull from an original authentic document from John XXII which became corrupt in the course of time. {footnote} Zimmerman, The Origin of the Scapular, in the Irish Ecclesiastical Record,Series 4, Vol. 15, 1904, p. 347.{/footnote} But no evidence has been produced from existing copies of the Bull to show a gradual corruption of its text. A third theory considers the Bull to be an interpretation, based on theological grounds, of the Marian promise to St. Simon Stock. {footnote} Esteve, op. cit., p. 309.{/footnote}Since Mary’s Mediation of Grace, of which her promise of eternal salvation is a reflection, embraces the final goal of the Christian life, which is union with God, it is logical to conclude that her maternal assistance makes itself felt in purgatory. {footnote} Cf. C. X. J. M. Friethoff, O.P., A Complete Mariology (London, 1958), pp. 277-278. The author derives Mary’s power to intercede for the souls in purgatory from her Queenship.{/footnote}

This third theory, that the Sabbatine Privilege is a more developed understanding of the significance of the Marian promise to St. Simon Stock, is the most plausible explanation of the origin of the Sabbatine Bull. The copies of the Bull indicate a close relationship between the promise to St. Simon Stock and the Sabbatine Privilege. The Bull states, “One who perseveres in holy obedience, poverty and chastity – or who will enter the Holy Order – will be saved.” Then follows the declaration of the Sabbatine Privilege concerning release from purgatory for “others” who wear the holy “habit” of the Order. It would seem, then, that the Sabbatine Privilege arose historically in a fuller under­standing of the Marian promise to St. Simon Stock.

The Decision of the Holy Office on the Sabbatine Privilege

Since the early seventeenth century, Carmelite preaching of the Sabbatine Privilege has been theologically independent of the his­torical authenticity of the Sabbatine Bull. In 1613 the Holy Office under Pope Paul V issued a decree on the Sabbatine Privilege which took account of the papal bulls of the sixteenth century. These Bulls had promulgated the privilege according to the tradition of the Sabbatine Bull. The decree of the Holy Office made no reference to the Bull of John XXII or to the tradition of the Marian apparition to him. It simply affirmed the privilege itself. The decree follows:

The Carmelite Fathers may preach that the Christian people can piously believe in the aid of the souls of the brethren and confratres of the Sodality of the Most Blessed Virgin of Mount Carmel. Through her continuous intercessions, pious suffrages, merits, and special pro­tection the Most Blessed Virgin, especially on Saturday, the day dedicated to her by the Church, will help after their death the brethren and members of the Sodality who die in charity. In life they must have worn the habit, observed chastity according to their state, and have recited the Little Office. If they do not know how to recite it, they are to observe the fasts of the Church and to abstain from meat on Wednesdays and Saturdays, except for the feast of Christmas. {footnote} The Latin text may be found in Esteve, op. cit., p. 72. The word “piously” in the opening statement of the decree does not mean “with a fond hope,” hut out of proper interior dispositions. Cf. Esteve, op. cit., p. 74.{/footnote}

This decree of Paul V stated in effect that the spiritual authority of the popes of the sixteenth century had sanctioned the Marian teaching of the Sabbatine Privilege. This aspect of the devotion of the Brown Scapular was thus declared spiritually fruitful for the laity.

 

The Interpretation of the Scapular Promise

The first affirmation of theologians concerning the Scapular prom­ise of eternal salvation deals with the necessity of ruling out formal­ism in the practice of the devotion. Formalism is the physical wearing of the Scapular without sincere intent to serve God. The theological reason for ruling out formalism is that exterior acts of religion must be a reflection of one’s interior mind and will if they are not to be hypocritical. The Scapular is merely a symbol having in itself no intrinsic power of grace. As a symbol it possesses a twofold import, one in relation to the Blessed Virgin, one in rela­tion to its wearer. As a sign of consecration to Mary, the Scapular is a reminder of the spiritual prerogatives enjoyed by her in the economy of the redemption, and it is a pledge that her role be acti­vated in favor of the wearer of the Scapular. In relation to its wearer, the Scapular is a sign that one has resolved to dedicate himself to the service of Christ and Mary according to his station in life. The Scapular symbolizes both the recognition of the spiritual maternity of Mary and an acceptance of the spiritual duties that Christians, as children of Mary, are obligated to undertake in the service of God. For the layman who becomes a member of the Scapular Confra­ternity the spiritual duties are summed up in the observance of the Ten Commandments, daily prayer, attendance at Mass on days of obligation, the reception of the Sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist, and the faithful performance of the duties of one’s state.

The Scapular devotion does not provide an escape from the ordinary duties of Christianity, but is rather an incentive to under­take them with fervor and exactitude in the knowledge that one thus prepares himself to arrive at the final goal of the Christian life, union with God in eternity. In order to insist that the Scapular is meaningless without interior devotion, the Church has inserted the word fie, “piously,” into the words of the promise concerning those who die in the Scapular. {footnote} For a more extended discussion of the necessity of interior devotion, see Esteve, op. cit., pp. 80-99, 276-315.{/footnote}

The interpretation of the promise to St. Simon Stock, “He who dies in this will not suffer eternal fire,” must be based on sound principles of theology. The words themselves simply express the object of Mary’s promise, eternal salvation, and the pledge of her assistance, the material sign of the Scapular to be worn continually. To ascertain the meaning of the promise, one must have recourse to two principles for the interpretation of private revelation, (1) All private revelation must be understood in the light of the truths of salvation divinely revealed by Jesus Christ and His Apostles. These truths are proposed by the Church, the divinely appointed teacher. (2) Private revelations concerning the Blessed Virgin must be understood in the light of the spiritual values inherent in true devotion to Mary. These values have been revealed by God and are taught by the Church. Only when these two principles are utilized do we arrive at a correct estimate of the promise of the Scapular.

The practice of the Christian life, however perfectly it may be accomplished, cannot merit in justice the grace of final perseverance. The grace of final perseverance is a gift of God by which we die united to Him in supernatural friendship. All theologians teach it as certain that a good life does not entitle us, in justice, to obtain this grace from God. To live in the supernatural friendship of God is His gift, and so it is His gift also to die in this friendship. The moment of the death of all men, whether in the pursuit of good or of evil, lies in the hands of God.

Those who are faithful to the divine commands, truly repentant for their sins, and who avail them­selves of the means of grace established by Christ may remain, not absolutely certain, {footnote} According to the well-known definition of the Council of Trent (D.B. 805), absolute and infallible certainty of one’s eternal salvation is not possible without a personal divine revelation. Theologians, however, admit certain “signs” that one will be saved, among which is special devotion to the Blessed Virgin.{/footnote} but confident of their salvation. This confidence derives from the virtue of Christian hope, by which we rely on the promises of God that He wills the salvation of all men and gives them the means to attain it.

It is precisely in connection with the grace of final perseverance that the Church recommends the devo­tion of the Scapular. Mary has promised that the grace of final perseverance will be granted through her intercession to all those who, by means of the Scapular, dedicate themselves to her and wear it until death out of devotion to her and to the teachings of Christ. The particular value of the Scapular devotion consists in the special help of Mary, so that the grace of final perseverance, or of a “happy death,” may be obtained through her intercession.

This interpretation of the Scapular promise is but an affirmation of the spiritual value of Marian devotion: one who practices true devotion to Mary cannot lose his soul for eternity. This proposition of the power of Mary’s intercession has been expressed in papal teaching. {footnote} Cf. Benedict XV, Inter sodalicia, in A.A.S., Vol. 10, 1918, p. 120; Pius XI, Explorata res est, in A.A.S., Vol. 15, 1923, p. 104.{/footnote} It is the consciousness of the Church on the value o true Marian devotion. The same awareness is expressed in the Ave Maria, wherein the gift of final perseverance is requested: “Holy Mary . . . pray for us now and at the hour of our death.” Reliance on Mary’s intercession, put into these words of momentary prayer becomes in the symbol of the Scapular a continual prayer that spans the moments of a lifetime, to the supreme moment of death.

The necessity of interior devotion does not prevent the sinner from benefiting from the Scapular promise, {footnote} This point was forcefully stated by Pius XII: “. . . How many souls even in circumstances which, humanly speaking, were beyond hope, have owed their final conversion and their eternal salvation to the scapular which they were wearing! How many more, thanks to it, have experienced the motherly protection of Mary in dangers to body and soul. . .” Discorsi e radiomessaggi di Sua Santitti Pio XII, Vol. 12 (1950-1951) p 165. The pope’s allusion to the miraculous tradition of the Scapular is based on fact, admitted by all authorities on the devotion. Numerous books were written on this subject alone from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries, e.g., Guardius, O.Carm., Thesaurus coelestis (Brixiae, 1611); Michael de la Fuente, O.Carm., Compendium historiale . . . gratiarum B. V. Mariae de Monte Carmelo (Toleti, 1619); Hugust, S.M., Vertu miraculeuse du Scapulaire (Paris, 1879).{/footnote} since all men are sinners. Only the degree, not the fact, of sin in man is debatable. To affirm that the Scapular devotion is not of value to sinners, including those humanly judged to be the worst of them, would be to say that God fails to hear their prayers. The teaching of Christ is that God hears the prayers of the sinner (Lk. 18:9-14). The question of the Scapular and sinners is falsely posed when it is asked how the Scapular promise can save the worst of them. The question can only be whether or not the sinner who wears the Scapular out of devotion makes those interior acts in response to divine grace that are necessary to his salvation. The answer to this question is known only to God, who alone may scan the secrets of the heart of man.

 

The Scapular Devotion in Modern Life

The popes in modern times have been solicitous in their en­couragement of the Scapular devotion. St. Pius X permitted the substitution of a Scapular Medal for the cloth Scapular in recognition of the changed circumstances of life, precisely to encourage the dedication to Mary signified by the Scapular. For any reason, even simple convenience, the faithful invested in any Scapular except that of the Third Orders, may substitute a Scapular Medal which need only be carried on the person. The Medal was not intended as a new form of the Scapular devotion, but only as an aid to its continual practice. Catholics should be instructed to make free and wise use of both Scapular and Medal according to their judgment and cir­cumstances.

The permission for the Medal reflects the mind of the Church that the Scapular itself is only the exterior sign of an interior devotion. {footnote} The Scapular Medal entitles the wearer to all the benefits of the Scapular devotion, including the promise of eternal salvation and the Sabbatine Privilege. Objection on theological grounds that the Scapular Medal does not entitle the wearer to the benefit of the promise of eternal salvation is unfounded. Cf. The Decree on the Scapular Medal in The Sword, Vol. 16, 1953,1TM. 343-360; and in popular form, The Great Debate: Scapular or Medal, in The Scapular, Vol. 16, July-August, 1957, pp. 15-20; reprinted in Vol. 17, July-August, 1958, pp. 15-20.{/footnote}

In 1890 Leo XIII had begun to grant the faculty to confessors to commute the condition of abstinence into other good works for the gaining of the Sabbatine Privilege. In order to gain the privilege one must (1) wear the Scapular or the Scapular Medal; (2) observe chastity according to one’s state in life; (3) recite daily the Little Office of Our Lady, or if one does not know how to recite it, abstain from meat on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The commutation of the third condition, due to practical difficulties in the circumstances of modern life, has become a common practice. The confessor is free to choose any suitable good work as the daily substitute. The com­mutation of Carmelite confessors is usually to seven Paters, Aves, and Glorias.

 

Other Marian Scapulars

From time to time in the history of the Church Scapular devotions have arisen to foster love of Mary and to encourage the practice of particular virtues. The Black Scapular of the Seven Dolors originated from the habit of the Servite Fathers. The inspiration for the habit of the Order and for its devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows is at­tributed to an apparition of Mary to its founders. Pope Martin V approved a rule for the Third Order secular in 1424. The Blue Scapular of the Immaculate Conception, which the Church has favored with an extraordinary number of indulgences, originated in an apparition of Mary to the Ven. Ursula Benincasa in 1617. Great graces were promised by Mary to those who would honor her Im­maculate Conception by wearing the Blue Scapular. The condition was expressed that they live chastely according to their state in life.

Other Marian Scapulars are of more recent origin: the white Scapu­lar of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, approved by Pius IX in 1877; the white Scapular of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, ap­proved by the Congregation of Rites in 1900; the white Scapular of Our Lady of Good Counsel, approved in 1893 by Leo XIII for the purpose of invoking Mary’s guidance upon its wearer; the white Scapular of Our Lady of Ransom bearing the cross of Aragon, which originated in the thirteenth century in connection with the Fathers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Redemption of Captives; the black Scapular of Our Lady Help of the Sick, the badge of the Confraternity founded by St. Camillus de Lellis for the aid of the sick, approved in 1860 by Pius IX. {footnote} For more detailed information, cf. Magennis, The Scapular Devotion (Dublin, 1923)> PP- 99-160. The Green “Scapular” of the Immaculate Conception, ap­proved by Pius IX in 1870, is a cloth badge rather than a Scapular, since it consists of a single panel.{/footnote}

 

Recent Popes and the Scapular

Pius XI and Pius XII have urged those wearing the Brown Scapu­lar of Our Lady of Mount Carmel to be especially attentive in their personal lives to the requirements of true Marian devotion. Pius XI wrote, “. . . although it is very true that the Blessed Virgin loves all who love her, nevertheless those who wish to have the Blessed Mother as a helper in [the hour of] death, must in life merit such signal favor by abstaining from sin and laboring in her honor.” {footnote} Apostolic Letter, Petis tu quidem, in A.A.S., Vol. 14, 1922, p. 274.{/footnote}Pius XII stressed the spiritual importance of the Scapular devotion:

We are not here concerned with a light or passing matter, but with the obtaining of eternal life itself which is the substance of the promise of the most Blessed Virgin which has been handed down to us. We are concerned, namely, with that which is of supreme importance to all and with the manner of achieving it safely. . . But not for this reason may they who wear the Scapular think that they can gain eternal salvation while remaining slothful and negligent of spirit, for the Apostle warns us: “In fear and trembling shall you work out your salvation” (Phil. 2:i2). {footnote} Apostolic Letter Neminem profecto latet, in A.A.S., Vol. 42, 1950, pp. 390-391. This letter marks a change in the manner of explaining the Sabbatine Privi­lege. It does not refer to the release from purgatory in the older terminology,
”especially on Saturday,” but in the words “as soon as possible.” The traditional description in terms of “Saturday” alluded to the liturgical practice of dedicating this day to Mary.{/footnote}

Pius XII likewise emphasized the value of the Scapular devotion For society itself:

There is no one who is not aware how greatly a love for the Blessed Virgin Mother of God contributes to the enlivening of the Catholic faith and to the raising of the moral standard. These effects are espe­cially secured by means of those devotions which more than others are seen to enlighten the mind with celestial doctrine and to excite souls to the practice of the Christian life. In the first rank of the most favored of these devotions, that of the holy Carmelite Scapular must be placed – a devotion which, adapted to the minds of all by its very simplicity, has become so universally widespread among the faithful and has produced so many and such salutary fruits.{footnote} Ibid. For a detailed discussion of the papal encouragement of the Scapular devotion, cf. Eamon R. Carroll, O.Carm., The Pope Speaks on the Scapular, inOur Lady’s Digest, Vol. n, 1956, pp. 63-71. Recent writings in English on theScapular include: Take This Scapular, by Carmelite Fathers and Tertiaries (Chi:ago, 1949); Kilian Lynch, O.Carm., Your Brown Scapular (Westminster, Md., 1950); William G. Most, Mary in Our Life (New York, 1954), pp. 233-240; Henry M. Esteve, O.Carm., The Brown Scapular of Carmel (Marian reprint No. 32. University of Dayton, 1955).{/footnote}

 

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Significance of “Carmel”

Devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel can be traced to the Old Testament to the time of the prophet Elijah. Of course the Blessed Virgin Mary was not yet born, yet without an understanding of Mount Carmel so prevalent in the Old Testament one cannot fully grasp the meaning of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Through an exploration of the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary in relation to Mount Carmel, we come to develop a deeper understanding of Our Lady’s unique role in the history of salvation, as Mother of the Church. An examination of the history of Carmel, the Carmelite Order, the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and implications for our world today, unveils the unique privileges given to the Blessed Virgin Mary, her maternal mediation, and the qualities she embodies which she wishes to bestow upon her children.

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The treatment of this subject is divided into two parts:

I. Doctrinal Explanations
II. Historical Ideas

Devotion to the Sacred Heart is but a special form of devotion to Jesus. We shall know just what it is and what distinguishes it when we ascertain its object, its foundations, and its proper act.

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O Eternal and incarnate Wisdom! O sweetest and most adorable Jesus! True God and true man, only Son of the Eternal Father, and of Mary, always virgin! I adore You profoundly in the bosom and splendors of Your Father during eternity; and I adore You also in the virginal bosom of Mary, Your most worthy Mother, in the time of Your incarnation.

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If only the Mother were crowned.

If only the Mother were crowned, she would intercede more powerfully to mitigate the horrendous genocide which continues daily in Darfur – men and children slaughtered with machetes, women gang raped, all for being black Africans in an Arab-led Sudanese country and government.

If only the Mother were crowned, she would intercede more powerfully for the peoples of China – still oppressed by an atheistic Communist regime that forcibly aborts, sterilizes their women, and imprisons their own people who seek religious liberty and personal dignity.

If only the Mother were crowned, she would intercede more powerfully for the hundreds of peoples of Mexico City who are dying from the swine flu, as well as the peoples presently affected on every continent. She came to Mexico City to stop human sacrifice over four centuries ago, but now it has returned in the form of abortion, with children being sacrificed to new gods of materialism, secularism, hedonism, and convenience.

If only the Mother were crowned, she would intercede more powerfully for the global economic crisis, in ways that would bring true remedies to the metaphysical origins of the problem: greed, hoarding, and selfishness, both personal and national.

If only the Mother were crowned, she would intercede more powerfully to prevent Western governments from their culture of death platforms of abortion, contraception, euthanasia, and cloning, thinking that God is no longer necessary for the end of human life or its beginning.

If only the Mother were crowned, she would intercede more powerfully for the ubiquitous family breakdowns sweeping across the West, with marriages dividing and the youth being lost to multiform moral degeneration and loss of faith.

As you well know, the contemporary list of global woes goes on and on.

The Mother of Jesus is already crowned in heaven as Queen. But she also needs to be crowned here on earth, and by us.

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Introductory Prayer

I unite with all the saints in heaven, with all the saints in Heaven, with all the just on earth and with all the faithful here present. I unite with Thee, O my Jesus, in order to praise worthily Thy holy Mother and to praise Thee in her and through her. I renounce all the distractions I may have during this Rosary, which I wish to say with modesty, attention and devotion, just as if it were to be the last of my life.

We offer Thee, O most Holy Trinity, this Creed in honor of all the mysteries of our Faith; this Our Father and these three Hail Marys in honor of the unity of Thy Essence and the Trinity of Thy Persons. We ask of Thee a lively faith, a firm hope and an ardent charity. Amen.

Apostles’ Creed, Our Father, three Hail Marys, Glory Be …

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“Go to Joseph, and do all that he shall say to you” (1) (Gen 41:55)

The original Biblical phrase is applied to the Old Testament figure of the Patriarch Joseph; however, we can apply it to St. Joseph, as did St. Teresa of Avila.

St. Joseph and the Family

St. Joseph is described by Pope John Paul II in his Apostolic Letter,” Guardian of the Redeemer,” as “the Guardian of the Church for these times,” thus augmenting the role of St. Joseph as Patron of Families (2). Today, the family worldwide is under continuous and mounting attack, often resulting in the disintegration of marriage and family life. Christian values are eroded and not passed on to younger generations, leading to the loss of special graces God bestows on families in the sacraments.

The aim of the Apostolate of St. Joseph is to restore holiness within the family through the invocation and patronage of St. Joseph and St. Monica (the patient, prayerful mother of St. Augustine) (3). We implore them to intercede for us at the throne of God (Rev 5:8; 8:3-4) particularly for family members who have strayed from Him.

It is perfectly true that we should pray directly to Jesus for our needs. However, the New Testament and the tradition of the Church have shown us clearly that we may also ask for the intercession of the saints who are part of the eternal family in heaven (cf. Jas 5:16; 1 Tim 2:5; Rev 5:8; 8:3-4). St. Basil says in his liturgy of 373, “By the command of your only-begotten Son we communicate with the memory of your saints … by whose prayers and supplications have mercy upon us all, and deliver us for the sake of your Holy Name” (4).

We invoke St. Joseph, traditionally honored as the Patron Saint of Families. As Protector of the Church, he will care for us as he did Jesus and Mary in his earthly life (Mt 1:19; 2:13-15). The phrase “Go to Joseph.” from Genesis (41:55) refers to the Patriarch Joseph, son of Jacob. St. Teresa of Avila regarded him as a forerunner of St. Joseph, in that he cared for and protected his family and we can see him in the same way (5).

Pope John Paul II wrote, “The patronage of St. Joseph must be invoked as ever necessary for the Church … for her renewed commitment to evangelize in the world and to re-evangelize the lands where religion and the Christian life were formerly flourishing and now put hard to the test” (6). The mission of the Christian is to respond to Jesus’ call to spread his Word throughout the world. The Apostolate aims to do this beginning with our families.

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All our perfection consists in being conformed, united and consecrated to Jesus Christ; and therefore the most perfect of all devotions is, without any doubt, that which most perfectly conforms, unites and consecrates us to Jesus Christ. Now, Mary being the most conformed of all creatures to Jesus Christ, it follows that, of all devotions, that which most consecrates and conforms the soul to Our Lord is devotion to His holy Mother, and that the more a soul is consecrated to Mary, the more it is consecrated to Jesus. Hence it comes to pass that the most perfect consecration to Jesus Christ is nothing else but a perfect and entire consecration of ourselves to the Blessed Virgin, and this is the devotion which I teach; or, in other words, a perfect renewal of the vows and promises of holy Baptism.

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The following article is an excerpt from a chapter in the recently published Marian anthology, Mariology: A Guide for Priests, Deacons, Seminarians, and Consecrated Persons, Seat of Wisdom Books, A Division of Queenship, 2008. Fifteen international Mariology experts contributed to the text. The book features a foreword by Archbishop Raymond L. Burke and has 17 chapters divided into four parts: 1. Mary in Scripture and the Early Church; 2. Marian Dogma; 3. Marian Doctrine; and 4. Marian Liturgy and Devotion. The book is now available from Queenship Publications. To obtain a copy, visit queenship.org. Visit books.google.com and search on "Mariology: A Guide" to view the book in its entirety, or simply click here.
Asst. Ed
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Introduction

Veneration of the Mother of the Lord, which is an integral part of Christian worship, is manifested in an eminent manner in the celebration of the Church’s liturgy, but also by means of other forms of devotion, which are valuable auxiliary practices that harmonize with the liturgy but without becoming confused with it. These are precisely the other forms of Marian devotion—most specifically those of the Rosary and the scapular—which will be dealt with in the present chapter, but not without having first carefully laid the doctrinal foundation, that is to say the profound roots of all authentic veneration of Mary, liturgical or not, in Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium. The liturgy, which is the "summit and source of the Church’s life" (SC 10), according to the teaching of the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, "does not exhaust the entire activity of the Church" (SC 9) and consequently "the spiritual life is not limited solely to participation in the liturgy" (SC 12). Such truths are particularly reflected in the Marian dimension of the Christian life and in the various modes of expression of the piety of the faithful towards the Blessed Virgin Mary. That is why chapter 8 of the Constitution Lumen Gentium not only admonishes "all the sons of the Church that the cultus, especially the liturgical cultus, of the Blessed Virgin, be generously fostered" (LG 67) (1), but also "that the practices and exercises of devotion towards her, recommended by the teaching authority of the Church in the course of the centuries be highly esteemed" (LG 67). By the same token, the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy (2002) exhorts

all the faithful—sacred ministers, religious and laity—to develop a personal and community devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary through the use of approved and recommended pious exercises. Liturgical worship, notwithstanding its objective and irreplaceable importance, its exemplary efficacy and normative character, does not in fact exhaust all the expressive possibilities of the People of God for devotion to the Holy Mother of God (2).


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My dear brother, be sure that if you are faithful to the interior and exterior practices of this devotion which I will point out (1), the following effects will take place in your soul.

First Effect: Knowledge and Contempt of Self

By the light which the Holy Spirit will give you through His dear spouse, Mary, you will understand your own evil, your corruption and your incapacity for anything good. In consequence of this knowledge, you will despise yourself. You will think of yourself only with horror. You will regard yourself as a snail that spoils everything with its slime; or a toad that poisons everything with its venom; or as a spiteful serpent seeking only to deceive. In other words, the humble Mary will communicate to you a portion of her profound humility, which will make you despise yourself—despise nobody else, but love to be despised yourself.

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The Fifteen Saturdays

Published on October 4, 2008 by in Marian Devotion

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The First Saturday

The First Joyful Mystery – The Annunciation of the Lord (Lk 1:26-55)

Meditation

1. At last the heavens open and He whom the Prophets call the just one, the desired of the Patriarchs, the expectation of the nations, the one sent from God, descends into the world. The weeks of Daniel are accomplished, the prophecies of Jacob are fulfilled, for the scepter of Judah has already passed into the hands of Herod, a foreign king. A maiden, remaining a virgin, is to bring forth to the world a Man, who is the Son of the Most High.

My soul, do you understand what this means: the Word is made man? … O the endless goodness and mercy of the Lord! This God thus loved you so much as to wish his only begotten Son to humble himself taking the form of a servant (Phil 2:7)?

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (April 18, 2008)–Beginning on Thursday, May 1 (Solemnity of the Ascension), to Saturday, May 10 (day before Pentecost), believers from all over the world are invited to participate in a worldwide novena for a renewed descent of the Holy Spirit, a “New Pentecost,” for our day.

International lay leaders, as well as cardinals, bishops, clergy, and religious have given their support to this Pentecost prayer novena. Among the most noteworthy supporters are Mother Angelica, foundress of the worldwide Catholic network EWTN; Ambassador Howard Dee, former Vatican ambassador from the Philippines; Michael O’Brien, renowned Canadian novelist and social commentator; and Sister Briege McKenna, O.S.C., an Irish Sister of St. Clare, who has an international ministry to priests and bishops.

As part of the Pentecost Novena, participants are called to pray the Rosary, along with their choice of prayers calling for a new descent of the Holy Spirit into the hearts of all peoples through the intercession of Mary, Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate. […]

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Besides the external practices of the devotion which we have been describing so far, and which we must not omit through negligence or contempt, so far as the state and condition of each one will allow him to observe them, there are some very sanctifying interior practices for those whom the Holy Spirit calls to high perfection.

These may be expressed in four words: to do all our actions by Mary, with Mary, in Mary, and for Mary; so that we may do them all the more perfectly by Jesus, with Jesus, in Jesus and for Jesus.

All by Mary

258. We must do all our actions by Mary; that is to say, we must obey her in all things, and in all things conduct ourselves by her spirit, which is the Holy Spirit of God. “Those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.” (Rom 8:14). Those who are led by the spirit of Mary are the children of Mary, and consequently the children of God, as we have shown (1); and among so many clients of the Blessed Virgin, none are true or faithful but those who are led by her spirit. I have said that the spirit of Mary was the Spirit of God, because she was never led by her own spirit, but always by the Spirit of God, who has rendered Himself so completely master of her that He has become her own spirit.

It is on this account that St. Ambrose says: “Let the soul of Mary be in each of us to magnify the Lord, and the spirit of Mary be in each of us to rejoice in God” (2). A soul is happy indeed when, like the good Jesuit lay-brother, Alphonse Rodriguez, who died in the odor of sanctity (3), it is all possessed and overruled by the spirit of Mary, a spirit meek and strong, zealous and prudent, humble and courageous, pure and fruitful.

259. In order that the soul may let itself be led by Mary’s spirit, it must first of all renounce its own spirit and its own lights and wills before it does anything. For example: It should do so before prayers, before saying or hearing Mass and before communicating; because the darkness of our own spirit, and the malice of our own will and operation, if we follow them, however good they may appear to us, will be an obstacle to the spirit of Mary. Secondly, we must deliver ourselves to the spirit of Mary to be moved and influenced by it in the manner she chooses. We must put ourselves and leave ourselves in her virginal hands, like a tool in the grasp of a workman, like a lute in the hands of a skillful player. We must lose ourselves and abandon ourselves to her, like a stone one throws into the sea. This can be done simply, and in an instant, by one glance of the mind, by one little movement of the will, or even verbally, in saying, for example, “I renounce myself, I give myself to thee, my dear Mother.” We may not, perhaps, feel any sensible sweetness in this act of union, but it is not on that account the less real. It is just as if we were to say with equal sincerity, though without any sensible change in ourselves, what—may it please God—we never shall say: “I give myself to the devil”; we should not the less truly belong to the devil because we did not feel we belonged to him. Thirdly, we must, from time to time, both during and after the action, renew the same act of offering and of union. The more often we do so, the sooner we shall be sanctified, and attain to union with Jesus Christ, which always follows necessarily on our union with Mary, because the spirit of Mary is the spirit of Jesus. […]

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Although what is essential in this devotion consists in the interior (1), we must not fail to unite to the inward practice certain external observances. “We must do the one, yet not leave the other undone” (Matt. 23:23); because the outward practices, well performed, aid the inward ones; and because they remind man, who is always guided by his senses, of what he has done or ought to do; and also because they are suitable for edifying our neighbor, who sees them; these are things which inward practices cannot do. Let no worldling, then, or critic, intrude here to say that because true devotion is in the heart, we must avoid external devotion; or that devotion ought to be hidden, and that there may be vanity in showing it. I answer, with my Master, that men should see our good works, that they may glorify our Father who is in Heaven (Matt. 5:16); not, as St. Gregory says (2), that we ought to perform our actions and exterior devotions to please men and get praise—that would be vanity; but that we should sometimes do them before men with the view of pleasing God, and glorifying Him thereby, without caring either for the contempt or the praise of men.

I will allude only briefly to some exterior practices, which I call “exterior” not because we do not perform them interiorly, but because they have something outward about them to distinguish them from those which are purely inward. […]

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Praise to Mary, Heaven’s Gate

Published on December 22, 2007 by in Marian Devotion

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Praise to Mary, Heaven’s Gate,
Guiding Star of Christians’ way,
Mother of our Lord and King,
Light and hope to souls astray.

When you heard the call of God
Choosing to fulfill his plan,
By your perfect act of love
Hope was born in fallen man.

Help us to amend our ways,
Halt the devil’s strong attack,
Walk with us the narrow path,
Beg for us the grace we lack.

Mary, show your motherhood,
Bring your children’s prayers to Christ,
Christ, your son, who ransomed man,
Who, for us, was sacrificed.

Virgin chosen, singly blest,
Ever faithful to God’s call,
Guide us in this earthy life,
Guard us lest, deceived, we fall.

Mary, help us live our faith
So that we may see your son;
Join our humble prayers to yours,
Till life’s ceaseless war is won.

Praise the Father, praise the Son,
Praise the Holy Paraclete;
Offer all through Mary’s hands,
Let her make our prayers complete.

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III. Our Sanctification by the Perfect Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary

A Perfect Means

24. There are several true devotions to Our Lady: here I do not speak of those that are false.

25. The first consists in fulfilling our Christian duties, avoiding mortal sin, acting more out of love than fear, praying to Our Lady now and then, honoring her as the Mother of God, yet without having any special devotion to her.

26. The second consists in entertaining for Our Lady more perfect feelings of esteem and love, of confidence and veneration. It leads us to join the Confraternities of the Holy Rosary and of the Scapular, to recite the five decades or the fifteen decades of the Rosary, to honor Mary’s images and altars, to publish her praises and to enroll ourselves in her sodalities (14). This devotion is good, holy and praiseworthy, if we keep ourselves free from sin; but it is not so perfect as the next, nor so efficient in severing our soul from creatures or in detaching us from ourselves, in order to be united with Jesus Christ.

27. The third devotion to Our Lady, known and practiced by very few persons, is the one I am now about to disclose to you, predestinate soul. […]

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Predestinate soul, here is a secret the Most High has taught me, which I have not been able to find in any book, old or new (1). I confide it to you, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, on condition:

That you communicate it only to those who deserve it by their prayers, their almsgiving and mortifications, by the persecutions they suffer, by their detachment from the world and their zeal for the salvation of souls (2).

That you make use of it for your personal sanctification and salvation, for this secret works its effect in a soul only in proportion to the use made of it. Beware, then, of remaining inactive while possessing my secret; it would turn into a poison and be your condemnation (3).

That you thank God all the days of your life for the grace He has given you to know a secret you do not deserve to know.

As you go on making use of this secret in the ordinary actions of your life, you will comprehend its value and its excellence, which at first you will not fully understand because of your many and grievous sins and because of your secret attachment to self (4).

2. Before you read any further, lest you should be carried away by a too eager and natural desire to know this truth, kneel down and say devoutly the Ave Maris Stella and the Veni Creator, in order to understand and appreciate this divine mystery (5).

As I have not much time for writing, nor you for reading, I shall say everything as briefly as possible. […]

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Mary and the Sword

Published on July 14, 2007 by in Marian Devotion

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One of the penalties of Original Sin was that a woman should bring forth her children in sorrow:

Nothing begins and nothing ends
That is not paid with moan—
For we are born in others’ pain
And perish in our own.

But the heart, too, has its agony, for although the new life is lived apart from the mother, the heart always keeps that new life as its own. What is disowned in the independence of a child is owned in the love of a mother-heart. Her body for a time follows her heart, as to each child at her breast she speaks the language of a natural eucharist: “Take ye and eat. This is my body; this is my blood.” The time finally comes for the soul of the child to be nourished in the Divine Eucharist by the Lord, Who said: “Take ye and eat. This is My Body. This is My Blood.” Even then the mother-heart pursues, never ceasing to love the life that changed her from a woman to a mother. […]

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On May 12, 2007, the Chinese government announced that it will be dynamiting the sanctuary of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, in Tianjiajing China. The shrine, built in 1903 in thanksgiving to the Blessed Virgin for protecting Christians during the Boxer Rebellion, is a popular pilgrimage destination for the Chinese faithful and draws an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 pilgrims each year for the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The Chinese authorities have proclaimed that the site hosts “illegal religious activity” and will thus be shut down and destroyed.

The faithful of the area have made an appeal to their Catholic brethren throughout the world, pleading: “We ask all our brothers and sisters in the Lord to pray for us and spread our message to all the faithful of the world.”

We ask you to please pray fervently to Our Mother, the Mother of All Peoples, to intervene for her beloved children in China and stop this desecration. Offer up Masses, Rosaries, novenas, your love and sacrifices. Let us bombard Heaven with an appeal to save the sanctuary of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. We cannot let the pleas of our brothers and sisters in China go unheard.

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What follows is a letter written by a young Marine to his mother while he was hospitalized after being wounded on a Korean battlefield in 1950. It came into the hands of a Navy Chaplain who read the letter before 5,000 Marines at a San Diego Naval Base in 1951.

The Navy Chaplain had talked to the young man, to his mother, and to the Sergeant in charge of the patrol. This Navy Chaplain, Father Walter Muldy, assured anyone who asked, that this was a true story. This letter was read once a year in the 1960’s over a mid-western radio station at Christmas time. We present the letter and let it stand on its own merits.

Dear Mom,

I wouldn’t dare write this letter to anyone but you because no one else would believe it. Maybe even you will find it hard, but I have to tell somebody.

First off, I am in a hospital. Now don’t worry, you hear me, don’t worry. I was wounded but I’m okay. The doctor says that I will be up and around in a month. But that is not what I want to tell you.

Remember when I joined the Marines last year; remember when I left, how you told me to say a prayer to St. Michael every day. You really didn’t have to tell me that. Ever since I can remember you always told me to pray to St. Michael the Archangel. You even named me after him. Well I have always prayed to St. Michael. When I got to Korea, I prayed even harder. Remember the prayer that you taught me? “Michael, Michael of the morning, fresh corps of Heaven adorning…” You know the rest of it. Well, I said it every day, sometimes when I was marching or sometimes resting, but always before I went to sleep. I even got some of the other fellas to say it. […]

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Faithful servant of Mary, you have understood that we ought to perform in union with Our Lady not only our exercises of piety but all our exterior works as well, in order to glorify God more perfectly and to increase the supernatural merit of our actions. Listen to the words which Jesus, the Son of Mary, spoke one day to St. Gertrude: “As a covetous usurer would not willingly miss the opportunity of making a single gain, much more unwillingly would I allow one thought or one movement of your little finger, made for My sake, to perish without My turning it to My own greater glory and to your eternal salvation.”

How grateful must we not be to Jesus and His holy Mother for having given us such an easy means of acquiring merit for Heaven at every moment of our life! Know well that our actions, even the most ordinary, when done in the state of grace and with a supernatural intention, are of an immense value in the sight of God. “Their merit,” says St. Thomas, “increases in proportion to the supernatural motive which animates us in doing them.” Place, therefore, your actions in Mary’s hands at the beginning of every day. She will purify them; she will make you share her sublime intentions and she will make use of the value of your works for the greater glory of God. What a consolation for you, if you have the spirit of faith! […]

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The nuptials of Mary and Joseph were solemnized in the Temple, and, after receiving the sacerdotal blessing, the newly-married couple would be accompanied by their relatives and friends, walking in procession with music and rejoicing and the waving of myrtle and palm-branches, to their abode, the house which Joachim and Anne had occupied near the Probatic Pool. Perhaps—for this was a Jewish custom where it was designed to show honor—some of these branches would be cast under the feet of the Blessed Virgin and her spouse. Mary was to have her one scene of honor and pomp upon earth, as her Divine Son was to have His in His descent from the Mount of Olives on the road to His Passion, when He was to espouse to Himself the Church upon the Cross of Calvary. The friends of the bridegroom and the bride would on their arrival partake of the marriage-feast which had been prepared for them, an instance of which practice we see in the marriage at Cana in Galilee where the Mother of Jesus was present, to which our Lord, as well as His disciples, was invited, and which He honored with His presence and first public miracle.

After the feast, and as the sun went down, the guests would depart, leaving the married pair alone with God and with their good angels, who, we may piously believe, were now called to witness the interchange of those secret words which revealed the hitherto hidden vows, of the existence of which, however, we have reason to be well persuaded that the Holy Spirit had already interiorly assured them. It was now, then, that, according to the opinion of Fathers and Doctors, Mary and Joseph, while remaining bound together by the contract and tie of matrimony, renewed in a solemn and absolute form their respective vows of perpetual virginity. And thus, while continuing in the face of the law and in verity husband and wife, they were to live together as brother and sister, innocent and immaculate, like the angels of God in Heaven. They might be compared to a rose and a lily growing together in one vase. It was, indeed, an incomparable marriage, uniting all that is sweet and pure in the two estates; so that the devout servant of Mary and Joseph, John Gerson, speaking before the Council of Constance of this most pure marriage, gave expression to his ecstasy, when contemplating it, by exclaiming that in them virginity had espoused itself. Nothing in this marriage but what was heavenly, nothing savoring of earth. Holy doctors (as has been already observed) have interpreted the “sealed book” spoken of by Isaiah the prophet, (Is. 29:11) which should be delivered to one that is learned, as the Blessed Virgin, who is also called “a garden enclosed, a fountain sealed up,” (Cant. 4:12) so that no foot of man should enter the former or profane hand invade the waters of the latter, and that it was to Joseph that this book was given. And when was it given? No doubt it was on the solemn day of his espousals with Mary that Joseph had this mystical book committed into his keeping. The book was the symbol of Mary’s virginity, and it was given to the most pure Joseph in order that he might guard it in his virginal hands. And Joseph, knowing before his espousals that the Blessed Virgin had consecrated her virginity to God, understood the mystery of the sealed book, and received it into his custody only to respect and to guard it. […]

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On June 3, 2006, His Eminence, Telesphore Cardinal Toppo of Ranchi, India was received in private audience by our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. During the audience, Cardinal Toppo formally presented to His Holiness a petition on behalf of approximately forty cardinals and bishops for the solemn papal definition of Our Lady’s doctrinal role as the Spiritual Mother of all peoples under its three essential aspects as Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces, and Advocate.

This monumental presentation to our Holy Father was the fruit of a 2005 international Marian symposium on Marian Coredemption which was conducted at Fatima and co-sponsored by six cardinals: their Eminences, Edouard Cardinal Gagnon of Canada; Telesphore Cardinal Toppo of India; Luis Cardinal Aponte Martínez of Puerto Rico; Varkey Cardinal Vithayathil of India; Ernesto Cardinal Corripio Ahumada of Mexico; and Ricardo Cardinal Vidal of the Philippines. The participating cardinals and bishops from all parts of the world discussed Our Lady’s privileges as the Co-redemptrix of humanity with and under Jesus Christ, our divine Redeemer, and her subsequent roles as Mediatrix of all graces and universal Advocate for humanity. The symposium led to the formulation and signing of a formal petition by the cardinals and bishops present to our Holy Father for the proposed fifth Marian dogma of Our Lady’s role as Spiritual Mother of all humanity and its three unique maternal functions. […]

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This practice of devotion gives to those who make use of it faithfully a great interior liberty, which is the liberty of the children of God (Rom. 8:21). Since, by this devotion, we make ourselves slaves of Jesus Christ and consecrate ourselves entirely to Him in this capacity, our good Master, in recompense for the loving captivity in which we put ourselves, 1. takes from the soul all scruple and servile fear, which are capable only of cramping, imprisoning or confusing it; 2. He enlarges the heart with firm confidence in God, making it look upon Him as a Father; and 3. He inspires us with a tender and filial love.

170. Without stopping to prove these truths with arguments, I shall be content to relate here what I have read in the life of Mother Agnes of Jesus, a Dominican nun of the convent of Langeac, in Auvergne, who died there in the odor of sanctity in the year 1634. When she was only seven years old, and was suffering from great spiritual anguish, she heard a voice which told her that if she wished to be delivered from her anguish, and to be protected against all her enemies, she was as quickly as possible to make herself the slave of Jesus and His most holy Mother. She had no sooner returned to the house than she gave herself up entirely to Jesus and His Mother in this capacity, although up to that time she did not so much as know what the devotion meant. Taking an iron chain, she put it around her body and wore it until her death. After this, all her anguish and scruples ceased, and she experienced great peace and dilation of heart. This is what brought her to teach the devotion to many persons who made great progress in it—among others, Father Olier, the founder of St. Sulpice, as well as many priests and ecclesiastics of the same seminary. One day Our Lady appeared to her and put around her neck a chain of gold, to show her the joy she had at Mother Agnes’ having made herself her Son’s slave and her own; and St. Cecilia, who accompanied Our Lady in that apparition, said to the religious: “Happy are the faithful slaves of the Queen of Heaven: for they shall enjoy true liberty.” “To serve thee is liberty.” […]

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— Fourth Motive —

It Is an Excellent Means of Procuring God’s Greater Glory

True devotion to Mary, faithfully practiced, is an excellent means of making sure that the value of all our good works shall be employed for the greater glory of God. Scarcely anyone acts for that noble end, although we are all under an obligation to do so. Either we do not know where the greater glory of God is to be found, or we do not wish to find it. But our Blessed Lady, to whom we cede the value and merit of our good works, knows most perfectly where the greater glory of God is to be found; and inasmuch as she never does anything except for the greater glory of God, a perfect servant of that good Mistress, who is wholly consecrated to her, may say with the hardiest assurance that the value of all his actions, thoughts and words is employed for the greater glory of God, unless he purposely revokes his offering. Is there any consolation equal to this for a soul who loves God with a pure and disinterested love, and who prizes the glory and interest of God far beyond his own? […]

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On Saturday, November 11, at 12:00 pm, at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, a historic event will take place for our country: the consecration of the United States to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Presiding at the Mass will be Papal Nuncio, His Excellency, Archbishop Pietro Sambi, in the company of American bishops as well as the signatures of the numerous bishops who have signed the consecration form that will re-consecrate our country to the Immaculate Conception, the U.S. National Patroness.

For those who cannot be physically present, we invite you to be spiritually united by joining in the Rosary between 11:15 am and 12:00 pm Eastern Time, and we also include below the consecration form to be used.

Prayer for Renewal of Consecration To Our Patroness of the United States of America The Immaculate Conception

Most Holy Trinity: Our Father in Heaven, who chose Mary as the fairest of your daughters; Holy Spirit, who chose Mary as Your spouse; God the Son, who chose Mary as Your Mother; in union with Mary, we adore your majesty and acknowledge Your supreme, eternal dominion and authority.

Most Holy Trinity, we put the United States of America into the hands of Mary Immaculate in order that she may present the country to you. Through her we wish to thank you for the great resources of this land and for the freedom, which has been its heritage. Through the intercession of Mary, have mercy on the Catholic Church in America. Grant us peace. Have mercy on our president and on all the officers of our government. Grant us a fruitful economy born of justice and charity. Have mercy on capital and industry and labor. Protect the family life of the nation. Guard the precious gift of many religious vocations. Through the intercession of our Mother, have mercy on the sick, the poor, the tempted, sinners—on all who are in need.

Mary, Immaculate Virgin, Our Mother, Patroness of our land, we praise you and honor you and give our country and ourselves to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. O Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary pierced by the sword of sorrow prophesized by Simeon save us from degeneration, disaster and war. Protect us from all harm. O Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, you who bore the sufferings of your Son in the depths of your heart be our Advocate. Pray for us, that acting always according to your will and the Will of your Divine Son, we may live and die pleasing to God. Amen.

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How can we practically involve our children in family prayer? What are ways that we can teach them the beauty of communing with Jesus in prayer, even though homework needs to be completed, dishes washed, pajamas put on little ones, and we may even want to reserve a few moments of peace and quiet for ourselves after a busy day? In my last article dealing with the Family Rosary (see article “The Family Rosary” in the Marian Devotion section) I identified the need for parents to make the call of the family Rosary heard, knowing the result will at times be met with resistance and indifference. For the encouragement of parents, I reminded the reader that the suffering encountered in family prayer is redemptive, and that its application in the home ensures that spiritual goods soak into the little hearts and minds of their children, even if parents feel their efforts are not making a great deal of difference.

In this article I want to offer a variety of ideas to parents of a practical nature for engaging our children in prayer, so that they approach prayer with a sense of expectancy. This is not to say that I am imparting approaches that are always a success with my family; rather, it is advice and insight I too am trying to implement daily within our home. The success is found at the finish line, not during the race itself. […]

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The following is a homily given by the legendary Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen during a Mass at the 41st International Eucharistic Congress in Philadelphia in 1976. – Ed.

Fifty-seven years ago when I was ordained a priest, I took two resolutions: one, that I would say Mass every Saturday in honor of our Blessed Lady, for her protection during my priesthood. The second resolution was that every day of my life I would make a Holy Hour in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. These two are now conjoined, as I address you on the subject of Mary, the Tabernacle of the Lord. I shall speak of Mary and the Host, Mary and the Sword, Mary and the Holy Hour.

Not one of us has the power to make our own mother. If we did, we would have made her the most beautiful woman in the world. Our Lord pre-existed His own mother. Therefore He could make her the perfect mother. He thought of her from all eternity. As a matter of fact, the first Immaculate Conception was in the mind of God. When the first Paradise was lost, God said that He would make another Paradise; this Paradise, flesh-girt, to be gardened by a new Adam, would be our Blessed Mother. […]

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— First Motive —

It Devotes Us Entirely to the Service of God

The first motive, which shows us the excellence of this consecration of ourselves to Jesus Christ by the hands of Mary.

If we can conceive on earth no employment more lofty than the service of God—if the least servant of God is richer, more powerful and more noble than all the kings and emperors of this earth, unless they also are the servants of God—what must be the riches, the power and the dignity of the faithful and perfect servant of God, who is devoted to His service entirely and without reserve, to the utmost extent possible? Such is the faithful and loving slave of Jesus in Mary who has given himself up entirely to the service of that King of Kings, by the hands of His holy Mother, and has reserved nothing for himself. Not all the gold of earth nor all the beauties of the heavens can repay him.

136. The other congregations, associations and confraternities erected in honor of Our Lord and His holy Mother, which do such immense good in Christendom, do not make us give everything without reserve. They prescribe to their members only certain practices and actions to satisfy their obligations. They leave them free for all other actions and moments and occupations. But this devotion makes us give to Jesus and Mary, without reserve, all our thoughts, words, actions and sufferings, every moment of our life, in such wise that whether we wake or sleep, whether we eat or drink, whether we do great actions or very little ones, it is always true to say that whatever we do, even without thinking of it, is, by virtue of our offering—at least if it has not been intentionally retracted—done for Jesus and Mary. What a consolation this is! […]

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A friend wrote me on the Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with a spine-tingling story:

“Mark, an unusual incident occurred on Sunday. It happened as follows”:

My husband and I celebrated our thirty-fifth wedding anniversary over the week-end. We went to Mass on Saturday, then out to dinner with our associate pastor and some friends, we later attended an outdoor drama “The Living Word.” As an anniversary gift a couple gave us a beautiful statue of our Lady with the baby Jesus.

On Sunday morning, my husband placed the statue in our entry-way, on a plant ledge above the front door. A while later, I went out on the front porch to read the bible. As I sat down and started to read, I glanced down into the flower bed and there lay a tiny crucifix (I have never seen it before and I have worked in that flower bed many times!) I picked it up and went to the back deck to show my husband. I then came inside, placed it on the curio rack, and went to the porch again to read. […]

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The modern age, which gives primacy to sex, justifies promiscuity and divorce on the grounds that love is by its nature free—which, indeed, it is. All love is free love, in a certain sense. To be devoid of love is of the essence of hell. Scripture tells us: “Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Cor 3:17). The ideal life is fulfilled—not in subjection to an absolute law but in the discriminating response of an educated affection.

The formula that love is free is right. The interpretation of this can often be wrong. Those husbands who leave one wife for another may justify their infidelity on the grounds that “one must be free to live his own life.” No one is ever selfish or voluptuous without covering up his demands with a similar parade of ideals. Behind many contemporary affirmations of the freedom of love is a false rationalization, for although love involves freedom, not all freedom involves love. I cannot love unless I am free, but, because I am free, still I may not love as I please. A man can have freedom without love—for example, he who violates another is free in his action when there is no one around to restrain him—yet he certainly has no love. A robber is free to ransack a house when the owners are away, but it is absurd to say that he loves the owners because he is free to steal. The purest liberty is that which is given, not that which is taken. […]

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No mother whose son has won distinction for himself, either in a profession or in the field of battle, believes that the respect paid her for being his mother detracts from the honor or dignity that is paid her son. Why, then, do some minds think that any reverence paid to the Mother of Jesus detracts from His Power and Divinity? We know the false rejoinder of those who say that Catholics “adore” Mary or make her a “goddess,” but that is a lie. Since no reader of these pages would be guilty of such nonsense, it shall be ignored.

Where do this coldness, forgetfulness, and, at the least, indifference to the Blessed Mother start? From a failure to realize that her Son, Jesus, is the Eternal Son of God. The moment I put Our Divine Lord on the same level with Julius Caesar or Karl Marx, with Buddha or Charles Darwin, that is, as a mere man among men, then the thought of special reverence to His Mother as different from our mothers becomes positively repellent. Each famous man has his mother, too. Each person can say: “I have my mother, and mine is as good as or better than yours.” That is why little is written of the mothers of any great men—because each mother was considered the best mother by her son. No one mother of a mortal is entitled to more love than any other mother. Therefore no sons and daughters should be required to single out someone else’s mother as the Mother of mothers. […]

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Every person carries within his heart a blueprint of the one he loves. What seems to be “love at first sight” is actually the fulfillment of desire, the realization of a dream. Plato, sensing this, said that all knowledge is a recollection from a previous existence. This is not true as he states it, but it is true if one understands it to mean that we already have an ideal in us, one that is made by our thinking, our habits, our experiences, and our desires. Otherwise, how would we know immediately, on seeing persons or things, that we loved them? Before meeting certain people we already have a pattern and mold of what we like and what we do not like; certain persons fit into that pattern, others do not.

When we hear music for the first time, we either like or dislike it. We judge it by the music we already have heard in our own hearts. Jittery minds, which cannot long repose in one object of thought or in continuity of an ideal, love music that is distracting, excited, and jittery. Calm minds like calm music: the heart has its own secret melody, and one day, when the score is played, the heart answers: “This is it.” So it is with love. A tiny architect works inside the human heart drawing sketches of the ideal love from the people it sees, from the books it reads, from its hopes and daydreams, in the fond hope that the eye may one day see the ideal and the hand touch it. Life becomes satisfying the moment the dream is seen walking, and the person appears as the incarnation of all that one loved. The liking is instantaneous—because, actually, it was there waiting for a long time. Some go through life without ever meeting what they call their ideal. This could be very disappointing, if the ideal never really existed. But the absolute ideal of every heart does exist, and it is God. All human love is an initiation into the Eternal. Some find the Ideal in substance without passing through the shadow. […]

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The following article by Fr. Louis Verheylezoon, S.J., represents a classical treatment of the history and nature of devotion to Our Lady’s most Immaculate Heart. – Asst. Ed.

Before the thirteenth century there is no trace to be found of a special devotion to the Heart of Mary. The first pious considerations on this subject occur in the writings of St. Mechtilde (1298), St. Gertrude (1302), Tauler (1361), St. Bernardine of Siena (1444), Justus Landsberger (1539), and especially of St. Francis of Sales (1622).

From the sixteenth century onward, theologians and spiritual writers make mention of this devotion. St. John Eudes (1680) quotes, among the writers who speak of it, twelve Jesuits, whom he calls “the twelve apostles of the divine Heart of Mary,” the most famous of whom are: St. Peter Canisius, Suarez, Nierenberg and Cornelius a Lapide. […]

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St. Louis Marie de Grignion was born 31 January 1673 in the small town of Montfort-sur-Meu, just west of Rennes in Brittany, France. He was the eldest surviving child of the large family of Jean-Baptiste Grignion and his wife Jeanne Robert.

Louis Marie passed most of his infancy and early childhood in Iffendic, a few miles from Montfort, where his father had bought a farm known as “Le Bois Marquer.” According to those who knew him at this early stage, he showed signs even then of a spiritual maturity uncommon in one of his age.

At the age of 12, he entered the Jesuit College of St. Thomas Becket in Rennes, where, as well as doing well in his studies, he developed some of the enthusiasms which were to mark his later life. Listening to the stories of a local priest, the Abbé Julien Bellier, about his life as an itinerant missionary, he was fired with zeal to preach missions. And, under the guidance of some other priests he began to develop his strong devotion to the Blessed Virgin. At the same time, he began to experience the deprivations suffered by the very poor, and his love and care for them grew, not only in theory but in a practical way. […]

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O Eternal and incarnate Wisdom! O sweetest and most adorable Jesus! True God and true man, only Son of the Eternal Father, and of Mary, always virgin! I adore You profoundly in the bosom and splendors of Your Father during eternity; and I adore You also in the virginal bosom of Mary, Your most worthy Mother, in the time of Your incarnation.

I give You thanks because You have annihilated Yourself, taking the form of a slave in order to rescue me from the cruel slavery of the devil. I praise and glorify You because you have been pleased to submit Yourself to Mary, Your holy Mother, in all things, in order to make me Your faithful slave through her. But, alas! Ungrateful and faithless as I have been, I have not kept the promises which I made so solemnly to You in my Baptism; I have not fulfilled my obligations; I do not deserve to be called Your child, nor yet Your slave; and as there is nothing in me which does not merit Your anger and Your repulse, I dare not come by myself before Your most holy and august Majesty. It is on this account that I have recourse to the intercession of Your most holy Mother, whom You have given me for a Mediatrix with You. It is through her that I hope to obtain of You contrition, the pardon of my sins, and the acquisition and preservation of wisdom.

Hail, then, O immaculate Mary, living tabernacle of the Divinity, where the Eternal Wisdom willed to be hidden and to be adored by angels and by men! Hail, O Queen of Heaven and earth, to whose empire everything is subject which is under God. Hail, O sure refuge of sinners, whose mercy fails no one. Hear the desires which I have of the Divine Wisdom; and for that end receive the vows and offerings which in my lowliness I present to you.

I, (name), a faithless sinner, renew and ratify today in your hands, O Immaculate Mother, the vows of my Baptism; I renounce forever Satan, his pomps and works; and I give myself entirely to Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Wisdom, to carry my cross after Him all the days of my life, and to be more faithful to Him than I have ever been before.

In the presence of all the heavenly court, I choose you this day for my Mother and Queen. I deliver and consecrate to you, as your slave, my body and soul, my goods, both interior and exterior, and even the value of all my good actions, past, present, and future; leaving to you the entire and full right of disposing of me, and all that belongs to me, without exception, according to your good pleasure, for the greater glory of God, in time and eternity. Amen.

Receive, O gracious Virgin, this little offering of my slavery, in honor of, and in union with, that subjection which the Eternal Wisdom deigned to have to your maternity, in homage to the power which both of you have over this poor sinner, and in thanksgiving for the privileges with which the Holy Trinity has favored you. I declare that I wish henceforth, as your true slave, to seek your honor and to obey you in all things.

O admirable Mother, present me to your dear Son as His eternal slave, so that as He has redeemed me by you, by you He may receive me! O Mother of mercy, grant me the grace to obtain the true Wisdom of God; and for that end receive me among those whom you love and teach, whom you lead, nourish and protect as your children and your slaves.

O faithful Virgin, make me in all things so perfect a disciple, imitator and slave of the Incarnate Wisdom, Jesus Christ your Son, that I may attain, by your intercession and by your example, to the fullness of His age on earth and of His glory in Heaven. Amen.

—From True Devotion to Mary, Tan, 1985.

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Novena of Divine Mercy

Published on April 15, 2006 by in Marian Devotion

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On Good Friday of 1937 Our Lord dictated a Novena of Divine Mercy to St. Faustina Kowalska to be said from the Friday before Easter to the Saturday before Divine Mercy Sunday. When we pray this novena we unite ourselves with the Heart of Christ and make his intentions our own. We therefore want to make this beautiful prayer available to our readers so that they can take full advantage of the wonderful graces being offered by Our Lord and, in interceding for our brothers and sisters, console his Most Sacred Heart and help spread his infinite Mercy throughout the world. – Asst. Ed.

It is greatly recommended that the following novena intentions and prayers be prayed together with the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, since Our Lord specifically asked for a novena of Chaplets, especially before the Feast of Mercy.

First Day

“Today bring to Me all mankind, especially all sinners, and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy. In this way you will console Me in the bitter grief into which the loss of souls plunges Me.”

Most Merciful Jesus, whose very nature it is to have compassion on us and to forgive us, do not look upon our sins but upon our trust which we place in Your infinite goodness. Receive us all into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart, and never let us escape from It. We beg this of You by Your love which unites You to the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon all mankind and especially upon poor sinners, all enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. For the sake of His sorrowful Passion show us Your mercy, that we may praise the omnipotence of Your mercy for ever and ever. Amen. […]

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The Litany of St. Joseph

Published on March 18, 2006 by in Marian Devotion

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Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Jesus, hear us.
Jesus, graciously hear us.

God, the Father of Heaven,
have mercy on us.
God, the Son, Redeemer of the world,
have mercy on us.
God, the Holy Spirit,
have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God,
have mercy on us.
Holy Mary,
pray for us.
St. Joseph,
pray for us.
Renowned offspring of David,
pray for us.
Light of Patriarchs,
pray for us.
Spouse of the Mother of God,
pray for us.
Chaste guardian of the Virgin,
pray for us.
Foster father of the Son of God,
pray for us.
Diligent protector of Christ,
pray for us.

Head of the Holy Family,
pray for us.
Joseph most just,
pray for us.
Joseph most chaste,
pray for us.
Joseph most prudent,
pray for us.
Joseph most strong,
pray for us.
Joseph most obedient,
pray for us.
Joseph most faithful,
pray for us.
Mirror of patience,
pray for us.
Lover of poverty,
pray for us.
Model of artisans,
pray for us.
Glory of home life,
pray for us.
Guardian of virgins,
pray for us.
Pillar of families,
pray for us.
Solace of the wretched,
pray for us.
Hope of the sick,
pray for us.
Patron of the dying,
pray for us.
Terror of demons,
pray for us.
Protector of Holy Church,
pray for us.

Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world,
spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world,
graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world.
have mercy on us.

V. He made him the lord of his household.
R. And prince over all his possessions

Let us pray: O God, in your ineffable providence you were pleased to choose Blessed Joseph to be the spouse of your most holy Mother; grant, we beg you, that we may be worthy to have him for our intercessor in heaven whom on earth we venerate as our Protector: You who live and reign forever and ever.

Saint Joseph, pray for us

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Novena to St. Joseph

Published on March 18, 2006 by in Marian Devotion

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O Glorious St. Joseph, faithful follower of Jesus Christ, to you do we raise our hearts and hands, to implore your powerful intercession in obtaining from the benign Heart of Jesus all the helps and graces necessary for our spiritual and temporal welfare, particularly the grace of a happy death, and the special favor we now implore (mention your petition).

Then say the following seven times in honor of the seven sorrows and joys of St. Joseph:

O Glorious St. Joseph! Through the love you bear to Jesus Christ and for the glory of His Name, hear our prayers and obtain our petitions. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, assist us.

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It is very difficult for the unspiritual-minded to think of a golden mean between marriage and being alone. They think either that a person is tied up with someone in wedded life or else that he lives in solitude. The two are not exclusive, for there is such a thing as a combination of marriage and solitude, and that is absolute virginity with wedded life, in which there is a union of the soul of one with another and yet an absolute separateness of body. Only the joys of the spirit are shared, never the pleasures of the flesh.

Today the vow of virginity is taken only outside of human espousals or marriage, but among some Jews and among some great Christian saints, the vow of virginity was sometimes taken along with espousals. Marriage then became the frame into which the picture of virginity was placed. Marriage was like a sea on which the bark of carnal union never sailed, but one from which one fished the sustenance for life. […]

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Mary the Dawn

Published on December 24, 2005 by in Marian Devotion

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Mary the dawn, Christ the Perfect Day;
Mary the gate, Christ the Heavenly Way!

Mary the root, Christ the Mystic Vine;
Mary the grape, Christ the Sacred Wine!

Mary the wheat, Christ the Living Bread;
Mary the stem, Christ the Rose blood-red!

Mary the font, Christ the Cleansing Flood;
Mary the cup, Christ the Saving Blood!

Mary the temple, Christ the temple’s Lord;
Mary the shrine, Christ the God adored!

Mary the beacon, Christ the Haven’s Rest;
Mary the mirror, Christ the Vision Blest!

Mary the mother, Christ the mother’s Son
By all things blest while endless ages run. Amen.

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We’d like to remind our readers and their children about our youth section, the Youth Zone. So, in honor of our youth and their often underestimated commitment to the Faith we present this short but powerful testimony of one young person’s trust in the mediating power of Our Lady, taken from the Youth Zone. It’s a place where young Catholics can go and share their faith with one another. There’s music, games, articles and other testimonies like the one featured here. Check it out! – Chris Padgett, Youth Editor

So I’m in a state of mortal sin, and I need to go to confession. My parents were out of town all day today, until 3:00, and the confessions are being held from 3:30 to 5:00. My parents got home and looked exhausted, so I hesitated to ask them. When I finally did, they said they were too tired to drive and they would “think about it.” So I was just freaking out for the past ten minutes and I was saying Hail Mary’s super fast, non-stop. I was sitting at this computer chair staring out into space, just waiting, until I finally stopped myself. I said to myself: “Calm down, and say the Hail Mary from your heart. Mary, please help me!” And I prayed it very slowly, and I now felt like I was actually praying. When I finished saying that Hail Mary, I hear my mother get off the couch and go to the bathroom. She gets out, comes to me and says “I’ll just change my clothes and then we’ll go.”

Thank you so much, Mary, for praying for me in these few minutes. And thank you Lord for answering them!

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“Have pity on me, and I will have pity on you.”

“Give me my hands, and I will give you peace.”

“The more you honor me, the more I will bless you.”

These are the extraordinary supernatural pledges made by the Infant Jesus to the priest who found the miraculous statue which was buried under the rubble of a partially destroyed Carmelite Church in Prague. And the Infant Child of Prague makes the same extraordinary pledges to us today.

It is time for families to return to a truly heartfelt devotion to the Infant Jesus, who wishes to bestow countless blessings upon families of the third millennium; but they will have to open their homes and their hearts to his sacred image. […]

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What is devotion to Mary?

To answer this question we must first make a basic theological distinction. Adoration, which is known as latria in classical theology, is the worship and homage that is rightly offered to God alone. It is the acknowledgement of excellence and perfection of an uncreated, divine person. It is the worship of the Creator that God alone deserves.

Veneration, known as dulia in classical theology, is the honor due to the excellence of a created person. This refers to the excellence exhibited by the created being who likewise deserves recognition and honor. We see a general example of veneration in events like the awarding of academic awards for excellence in school or the awarding of the Olympic medals for excellence in sports. There is nothing contrary to the proper adoration of God when we offer the appropriate honor and recognition that created persons deserve based on achievement in excellence. (1) […]

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One of the most beautiful moments in history was that when pregnancy met pregnancy—when childbearers became the first heralds of the King of Kings. All pagan religions begin with the teachings of adults, but Christianity begins with the birth of a Child. From that day to this, Christians have ever been the defenders of the family and the love of generation. If we ever sat down to write out what we would expect the Infinite God to do, certainly the last thing we would expect would be to see Him imprisoned in a carnal ciborium for nine months; and the next to last thing we would expect is that the “greatest man ever born of woman,” while yet in his mother’s womb, would salute the yet imprisoned God-Man. But this is precisely what took place in the Visitation.

At the Annunciation the archangel told Mary that her cousin Elizabeth was about to become the mother of John the Baptist. Mary was then a young girl, but her cousin was “advanced in years,” that is, quite beyond the normal age of conceiving. “See, moreover, how it fares with thy cousin Elizabeth; she is old, yet she too has conceived a son; she who was reproached with barrenness is now in her sixth month, to prove that nothing is impossible with God. And Mary said, ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done unto me according to thy word.’ And with that the angel left her” (Lk 1:36-38). […]

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God Our Loving Father

Published on August 6, 2005 by in Marian Devotion

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“How beautiful it is to have a Father in Heaven.” This was an exhortation frequently on the lips of St. John Vianney. Like many a saint before and after, he was ardently devoted to the Our Father prayer, which Christians have always treasured as a most precious gift from the God-Man himself. Its whole appeal and power is that it expresses, in simple language and in a wonderfully compact way, all the basic duties and needs that bind us humans to our Father-Creator in Heaven. Indeed, the prayer provides the essential building materials for the civilization of love waiting to be constructed by mankind with the help of God’s grace during the third millennium.

Nor is it only saints and theologians that have sung the Our Father’s praises down the ages. A great diversity of people has done so as well. Take, for example, the two military geniuses who clashed famously at Waterloo—the Duke of Wellington and Napoleon. “The Lord’s Prayer,” said the former, “contains the sum-total of religion and morals.” As for Napoleon, his tribute was: “Do you wish to find out the really sublime? Recite the Lord’s Prayer.” […]

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The Parents of Our Lady

Published on July 30, 2005 by in Marian Devotion

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Far too little attention has been given to Saint Joachim and Saint Ann when we consider the fact that they were chosen by Almighty God to be the parents of the greatest creature in all history. What extraordinary gifts of grace and humility must have been theirs, the couple who were to give flesh to the Immaculate One! The mystical tradition of the Church (see, for example, the article Saint Ann and Saint Joachim by Raphael Brown) testifies to the exceptional holiness of Saints Joachim and Ann, particularly in the midst of their initial barrenness. How often it is in the mysteries of God’s design that from barrenness comes the most fruitful of life, as the Heavenly Father chooses the humble to make clear that his most magnificent work, the Immaculate Conception, is truly his work.

One wonders why there is not stronger devotion to Saint Ann and Saint Joachim in today’s Church. Both in virtue of their being the mother and father of the Queen of heaven and earth, and in virtue of being the grandparents of Jesus, should not grandparents in a special way be invoking the powerful intercession of Saints Joachim and Anne for the spiritual needs of their grandchildren? How often grandparents find themselves in a situation where they see the deep spiritual needs of their grandchildren but are unable to do much more than pray. It is in situations precisely like this that Saints Joachim and Ann, as the grandparents of the Lord, can be quintessential intercessors as the true patron saints of all grandfathers and grandmothers.

When retirement and senior years provide added time for today’s Catholic grandparents, with what is that time taken? There is such need for an increase in Eucharistic Adoration, Rosary prayer, and other spiritual works of mercy, that would so benefit the People of God in our day. Once again, we should turn to Saints Ann and Joachim in invoking their intercession that today’s grandparents will dedicate the time granted their state in life to the first priorities of Christian holiness, to prayers for their children and grandchildren (in particular daily Mass, Eucharistic Adoration and the Rosary), and to being the strongest possible spiritual influence on their children, grandchildren, parishes and the rest of society.

Saints Joachim and Ann, most blessed parents of the Mother of All Peoples, we invoke your celestial intercession for the proclamation of the dogma of Mary Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate and the fulfillment of all other elements of the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart. We ask your intercession for all parents and grandparents that we may have as the first priority of our hearts the call to Christian holiness for ourselves, for our families and for our children. O Saints Joachim and Ann, protect us from the distractions of modern living and keep us focused on our supernatural end, the glory of God, the attainment of eternal life and the salvation of souls. We ask this through the intercession of your daughter, and our Mother, Mary. Amen.

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Two Golden Gifts

Published on July 9, 2005 by in Marian Devotion

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When his life was approaching its end, our Savior left us two precious legacies. First was the Eucharist—the gift of his actual presence abiding really, albeit sacramentally, in our midst. And this gift includes the means not only to produce that presence but to reproduce his Good Friday sacrifice, which takes place in the Mass. Furthermore, the Offerer and Victim of that sacrifice gives himself to us in Holy Communion as food for our souls.

Our Lord’s second legacy was the gift of his mother to be our mother also. Thus Mary now beholds in each one of us a beloved child committed to her care by her dying Son; as for St. John, he stood proxy for those human multitudes down the ages who behold in Mary a tender mother and take her into their hearts and homes (cf. Jn. 19:26-27). […]

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What is it that keeps many hungry souls from devotion to Our Lady? Why are some resistant to her maternal call? What keeps many from speaking about her? Oftentimes, it is fear.

Many fear that by giving honor to Mary, one automatically diminishes the ability to give all of oneself to God alone. This fear comes from an honest heart, which is simply trying to resist possible errors such as idolatry, but it is a heart deceived nonetheless. I say this because I remember what it was like to fear the Mother of God. I was not concerned that she would visit me in a horrible nightmare, or that she even wanted the “extreme” devotions many people gave to her. Rather, I feared dishonoring her and losing myself spiritually by becoming a participant in idolatry. […]

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The Joy of All Who Sorrow

Published on April 23, 2005 by in Marian Devotion

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In light of the message of the first homily of Pope Benedict XVI, a message which articulates the ongoing mandate of the Church for ecumenical progress, we here publish the akathist entitled, To the Theotokos, Joy of All Who Sorrow. This akathist is a veneration of the Eastern Orthodox icon, The Mother of God, “Joy of All Who Sorrow,” a miraculous icon greatly venerated in Russia. This akathist is prayed not only in honor of her icon, but specifically to her, our refuge and Mediatrix, who works through it to aid those who suffer and are overwhelmed by difficulties. – Ed.

Kontakion 1

To Thee, the champion leader, do we Thy servants dedicate a hymn of victory and thanksgiving, as ones who have been delivered from eternal death by the Grace of Christ our God Who was born of Thee and by Thy maternal mediation before Him. As Thou dost have invincible might, free us from all misfortunes and sorrowful circumstances who cry aloud:

Rejoice, O Virgin Theotokos, full of Grace, Joy of all who sorrow!

Ikos 1

An archangel was sent from Heaven to declare unto the Theotokos: Rejoice, announcing the divine Incarnation of Christ, Who desired to be born of Her, the Joy of the whole world which was languishing in sorrow. Wherefore, heavy laden with sins, but having obtained the hope of salvation in Thee, we cry out to Thee with compunction: […]

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Like Wife, Like Husband

Published on March 12, 2005 by in Marian Devotion

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When asked by someone about the dignity of St. Joseph in Christian tradition, the late Father Francis L. Filas, S.J., the United State’s leading authority on the subject, responded simply, “Like wife, like husband. The man closest to Jesus and Mary rightly deserves all honor and praise.”

St. Joseph rarely enjoys great press. Usually he is forgotten, or at least left standing obscurely in the background. His self-effacement seems to have influenced the scant attention given him by many Church teachers.

In a hymn honoring the Holy Eucharist, St. Thomas Aquinas describes the inadequacy of human language to express full appreciation of the Blessed Sacrament. St. Bernard and other great devotees of Mary voiced the same idea regarding our Blessed Mother. I think we may say the same about St. Joseph, the husband of Mary and the virgin father of Jesus. […]

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Mary, My Mother

Published on February 12, 2005 by in February 2005, Marian Devotion

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I suppose it is like a child who is raised up by his mother only to discover when he is grown up that she is not his real mother. Then his search begins to know his real mother.

Mary, my Mother. I was born in 1952 but for thirty-three years of my life I never spoke or thought about these words. They meant nothing to me. Yes, I knew Mary as the Mother of Jesus but not as my Mother.

For thirty-three years of my life I also knew absolutely nothing about the Catholic Church. I was born in Northern Ireland of a Protestant family. I was brought up as a Baptist in a town predominantly Protestant. Schools were segregated and I never mixed with Catholics. It was only in my early teens that I started to have Catholic friends. I remember when I visited them I had an underlying feeling that they were different because they were Catholic, and there was a sense of suspicion and fear, created subconsciously, I felt, by this segregation. […]

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Among the religious and cultural factors that influence converts to enter into full communion with the Church, the Blessed Virgin Mary holds particular prominence. Yet she is not the possession of the Catholic Church solely, for many Protestant Churches are rediscovering the presence and role of Mary in life’s pilgrimage of faith.

Before embracing Catholicism John Henry Newman, probably the most famous convert in the last two centuries, formulated an explanation of the development of doctrines in the Catholic Church, especially the Marian doctrines. He explained that the saving truths of revelation were not given by God in timeless and static expressions, but through dynamic and life-giving truths which continue to unfold and develop. In An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine Newman wrote, “Growth is the only evidence of Life.” Ideas live in our minds and continually enlarge into fuller development. “In a higher world it is otherwise, but here below to live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.” […]

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Devotion to the Heart of Mary is a topic that has received much focus in Catholic devotion and pious practice following the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima. The Fatima apparitions greatly emphasized the need to offer reparation to the Heart of Mary, saddened by the sins of mankind. This reparation generally takes the form of the “First Saturdays” devotion along with communions of reparation, praying the Rosary, and accepting the daily sacrifices we are given. While this practice of offering reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is growing among devout Catholics, the theology that underlies this devotion remains highly uncharted. This article seeks to explore and clarify the theological basis for offering reparation to the Heart of Mary.

This task must begin by analyzing what the word “Heart” means in theology along with how devotion to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary has developed in the Church’s history. Throughout the article, devotion and reparation to the Heart of Jesus will be considered as a means to elucidate devotion and reparation to the Mother’s Heart. This will be done, practically speaking, because there are far more resources available on the topic of reparation to the Heart of Jesus. However, theologically speaking, this focus on Christ’s Heart is essential because of the deep and inseparable union between the two Hearts. The concept of reparation offered by Christ and to Christ will be considered first, followed by reparation offered by Our Lady and to Our Lady. The emphasis of this article is on the call to make reparation to the Heart Our Lady; however, a study of reparation to the Heart of Jesus helps to illuminate this analysis.

The theology of reparation to the Heart of Mary is also inextricably linked to Marian apparitions, in which Our Lady has spoken of her sorrow, as well as to her miraculous images which have shed tears and even blood. Although there seems to be a hidden mystery to the notion of Our Lady’s suffering Heart co-existing with her heavenly glory, those pursuing the study of theology must not ignore the many messages about her sorrows that she has come to earth to share with her children. Only with hearts like little children can we expect to understand the mysteries of Our Lady’s Heart.

In order to comprehend reparation to the Heart of Mary, we must first explore what the word “heart” refers to in theology. St. John Eudes, in his work The Admirable Heart of Mary, explains various meanings of the word “heart” in Scripture. The heart signifies the physical organ which beats within man giving him life. The heart also is used to signify the memory and the intellect in Scripture. Free will is also thought to be located in the heart: “A good man out the good treasure of his heart brings forth that which is good: and evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil” (Lk 4:45). The heart can also refer to the highest part of the soul or to the whole interior life of man. (1) In the twentieth century, many Catholic theologians have come to see the heart as an integrated component of the human person. Rather than thinking of the heart separately as a physical object or a symbol of love, the heart is understood to be “the fundamental center of the whole human being, body, soul, and spirit.” (2) It is this last meaning of the word heart that will be drawn upon when referring to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

Although this article focuses on the Heart of Mary, an understanding of the Church’s tradition concerning the Heart of Jesus will prove helpful. Devotion to the Heart of Jesus has been present in the Church from her inception. Many Fathers of the Church, including St. Justin Martyr, St. Hilary of Poitiers, and St. Andrew of Crete, speak of the countless sorrows that Christ’s Heart endured. (3) Explicit reference to consoling the Heart of Jesus is present in the writings of many saints and mystics from the thirteenth century onward, especially in the work of St. Gertrude the Great. Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus spread widely following the seventeenth century apparitions of Jesus to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in Paray-le-Monial, France. In these famous apparitions, Jesus showed St. Margaret Mary his thorn-pierced heart and implored her to console Him.

Another milestone in the development of devotion to the Heart of Jesus came in the twentieth century with the revelation of Divine Mercy to St. Faustina, which developed upon Sacred Heart spirituality with a particular emphasis on complete trust in the mercy of God. (4) Devotion to the Heart of Jesus is an enduring aspect of Catholic Tradition which has undergone development over the Church’s history in order that the faithful might draw closer to Christ’ Heart.

Likewise, devotion to the Heart of Mary is a traditional aspect of Catholic piety. Reference to the Heart of Mary can be traced back to biblical times. In St. Luke’s Gospel, there are two references to Our Lady’s heart: “But Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart” (Lk. 2:19) and “his mother kept all these words in her heart” (Lk 2:51). These references show that Our Lady’s heart is a center for contemplation and understanding. Some of the many saints who had a devotion to the Heart of Mary include St. Gertrude, St. Bernardino of Siena, St. Francis de Sales, and St. John Eudes. Devotion to the Heart of Mary also grew following apparitions of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to St Margaret Mary because of the union between the two Hearts. Great impetus was given to this devotion following the 1917 apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima, Portugal. The main message of these apparitions to the three young children was to spread devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary throughout the world.

While the Church’s history of devotion to both the Hearts of Jesus and Mary is evident, what must be clear is that there is a unique and intimate relationship between these Hearts. Their Hearts, though two, may be seen as one because of the inseparable union between them. This union is spoken of in Scripture as well as in the Tradition of the Church. In the prophesy of Simeon this unity of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary is foretold when Simeon tells the Blessed Mother:

“Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted and your own soul a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Lk 2:35).

While Christ will experience great sorrow as He is rejected by the children of Israel, Our Lady also will suffer greatly alongside her Son. The Tradition of the Church also espouses the notion of the unity of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, a union based on their shared love. Pope John Paul II writes to the President of the International Symposium on the Alliance of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary about this union of Hearts:

We can say that just as the mystery of Redemption began in the womb of the Virgin of Nazareth, so did that splendid union of hearts of Christ and his Mother. From the very moment when the Word was made flesh beneath the heart of Mary, there has existed, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, an enduring relationship of love between them. (5)

The alliance of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary is based on their relationship of love. Their love for the Father and the Spirit, for each other and for all of humanity is so great and so unified that their hearts are truly one. This unity of love leads to a unity of mutual suffering. The Church teaches that Our Lady endured great suffering with Jesus during His Passion and Death. Pope Leo XIII speaks of this joint suffering in his Encyclical on the Rosary, Iucunda Semper:

When she professed herself the handmaid of the Lord for the mother’s office, and when, at the foot of the altar, she offered up her whole self with her child Jesus—then and thereafter she took her part in the painful expiation offered by her son for the sins of the world. (6)

More recently, Pope John Paul II reiterated this teaching in his Apostolic Letter on suffering, Salvifici Doloris:

It was on Calvary that Mary’s suffering, beside the suffering of Jesus, reached an intensity which can hardly be imagined from a human point of view but which was mysteriously and supernaturally fruitful for the Redemption of the world. (7)

Because their Hearts are one, Our Lady suffered with her Son to the fullest extent possible of her. Many saints also spoke about the intimate union between the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. St. John Eudes, the master of the Two Hearts, speaks clearly about this:

Although the Heart of Jesus is distinct from that of Mary, and infinitely surpasses it in excellence and holiness, nevertheless, God has so closely united these two Hearts that we may say with truth that they are but one, because they have always been animated with the same spirit and filled with the same sentiments and affections… (8)

The Hearts of Jesus and Our Lady are not only full of the Holy Spirit, they also share each other’s joys, sorrows, laughter, and tears. St. John Eudes goes on to say “that in honoring and glorifying her Heart, we honor and glorify Jesus Christ Himself.” (9) Thus, the notion of consecration to the Heart of Our Lady is an authentic means of drawing closer to the Heart of Christ because whatever is offered to Mary is purified, perfected and given to Christ. In a Theological Symposium, the current Holy Father expressed this by saying: “by dedicating ourselves to the heart of Mary we discover a sure way to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, symbol of the merciful love of our Savior.” (10) Pope John Paul II goes so far as to say that consecration to the Heart of Mary is the most perfect devotion because it most perfectly brings the faithful into communion with Christ:

Hence the most perfect of all devotions is undoubtedly that which conforms, unites and consecrates us most perfectly to Jesus Christ. Now, since Mary is of all creatures the one most conformed to Jesus Christ, it follows that, among all devotions, that which most consecrates and conforms a soul to our Lord is devotion to Mary, his Holy Mother, and the more a soul is consecrated to her the more it will be consecrated to Jesus. (11)

Thus, the unique and inseparable union between the Hearts of Jesus and Mary is undeniable in the writings of many Popes and saints. Not only are their Hearts as one, it is the Son’s will that the members of His Mystical Body show special devotion to the Heart of Mary, His Mother. St. John Eudes, in his work The Admirable Heart of Mary, tells of apparitions of Jesus to St. Mechtilde, to whom He taught the first principles of devotion to the Heart of Mary. (12) St. John Eudes goes on to say Christ Himself willed to be the teacher of this devotion, since Mary is His Heart’s primary love, after the Eternal Father, and likewise should be the first object of the faithful’s love, after God. Thus, the Son has willed that the faithful exhibit an unparalleled devotion to and love for His Mother’s Heart. This devotion brings all glory and honor to God. (13)

Now that the history of devotion to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary and the concept of the unity of their Hearts have been briefly investigated, we must proceed to the topic of reparation. There are four ways of understanding reparation. The first and most essential form of reparation is the reparation made by Jesus to the Father. Reparation to the Father made by Christ on the Cross atoned for the sins of mankind, making up for what man could not do for himself. The reality of Christ’s atonement for our sin is widely accepted. However, attributing this reparatory act to His Sacred Heart is not as universally acknowledged. As mentioned above, the heart can be seen as the whole interior life of man, thus attributing Christ’s reparation to His Sacred Heart is not difficult to justify. Pope John Paul II comments on this relationship in a 1986 Angelus address:

The Passion and Death of Christ involved his whole body. They were effected through all the wounds which he received during the Passion. However, they were above all accomplished in His Heart, because it agonized in the dying of his entire body. His Heart was consumed in the throbbing pain of all his wounds. In this despoliation the Heart burned with love; a fire of love consumed the Heart of Jesus on the Cross…

This love of the Heart was the propitiating power for sins. It overcame and overcomes for all time all the evil contained in sin, all estrangement from God, all rebellion of the human free will, all improper use of created freedom which opposes God and His holiness. (14)

The reparation that Christ offers to the Father for the sins of the world is experienced most deeply in His Heart, thus making Christ’s Heart the instrument of atonement and salvation.

The second form of reparation also involves Christ; however, it does not involve reparation by Him, but rather reparation to Him. Reparation is made to Him for the sins committed by humanity. Thus, humanity can, through acts of reparation, assuage the sufferings of Christ caused by their sins and the sins of their brothers and sisters. The question that naturally arises here is: how can Jesus suffer while at the same time experience beatitude in heaven? This is a difficult question to answer as we have extremely limited knowledge of heaven. Many theologians believe that the reparation made to the Sacred Heart of Jesus by humanity is only applied to Christ’s suffering while on earth, not to His suffering in heaven. This theory is referred to as Retroactive consolation or reparation and is based on the belief that suffering is incompatible with Christ’s heavenly glory. In the late nineteenth century, a promoter of this theory, Xavier de Franciosi, S.J., taught that “…(Christ) is reigning in glory now and is incapable of suffering. Yet it may be helpful to the simple and ignorant people to conceive of Jesus as still laden with sorrow, and asking for consolation.” (15) This theory of reparation is questionable, though, because it suggests that Christ deceives the “simple and ignorant” in order to receive consolation for His earthly suffering. Of course, deceit is not possible for the Savior of mankind.

Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P., rejected Franciosi’s theory in favor of one more in line with the Thomistic tradition, which suggested that reparation adds to Christ’s accidental joy in heaven and is not merely applied to His earthly passion and death. This theory of reparation supports the notion that Christ experiences no sorrow in heaven, but can acquire additional joy, delight, or consolation through the loving acts of the faithful which help to bring souls to Him, thus completing His Mystical Body. This theory is analogous to the position of St. Thomas Aquinas that the souls in heaven, although fully immersed in Beatitude, will experience an even greater joy at the resurrection of their bodies. (16) Throughout the twentieth century, theologians have generally supported this theory of reparation. While this concept of reparation requires due thought and consideration, it also seems to lack a depth which would do proper justice to the sorrow which Christ has manifested to various saints and mystics over the centuries.

One theologian who believed that reparation to the Heart of Jesus did more than increase His accidental joy was Francisco Segarra, S.J. Segarra speculated that the glorified Christ could experience sadness and that mankind was capable of offering Him consolation. (17) This theory is more in line with the writings of numerous saints and mystics, who speak of Christ’s suffering as though He experiences it in the present. However, no other thinkers have furthered Segarra’s thoughts on this topic. (18)

While it would be bold to challenge the work of theologians over the centuries, one must further probe the assumed contradiction between heavenly glory and suffering. If heavenly glory consists in a full experience of the Beatific Vision, and Christ experienced both Beatitude and suffering while on earth, is it necessary that these two realities must be mutually exclusive? It is the general belief of the Church that Christ experienced the Beatific Vision while on earth. Pope Pius XII alludes to this reality in his encyclical Mystici Corporis: “for hardly was He conceived in the womb of the Mother of God, when He began to enjoy the Beatific Vision, and in that vision all the members of His Mystical Body were continually and unceasingly present to Him.” (19) In fact, the theory of Retroactive reparation requires that Christ had experienced the Beatific Vision while on earth. In the words of Msgr. Calkins: “as Jesus saw the sins of the world in his agony in Gethsemane by virtue of the beatific vision, so He also saw in advance every act of consolation offered to him until the end of time.” (20) Thus, is it inconceivable that Jesus could experience suffering, based on the sins of humanity, while enjoying Beatitude in heaven?

The theology of the Mystical Body can be used to support this theory. We know from Scripture that Christ’s followers are His Mystical Body: “For as the body is one, and hath many members; and all the members of the body, whereas they are many, yet are one body, so also is Christ. For in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body” (1Cor 12:12-13). St. Paul also tells us: “if one member suffers anything, all the members suffer with it” (1Cor 12:26). Thus, as Head of the Body, it is fitting that Jesus suffers when the members of the Body suffer because of His love for the members. While Jesus made the ultimate act of reparation to God for our sins by dying on the Cross, we are still called to “complete what is missing in Christ’s suffering” (Col 1:24).

Of course this raises the question: was not Christ’s suffering, and thus His reparation, complete and perfect? Yes indeed, Christ perfectly and superabundantly made reparation for the sins of humanity to the Father, but this does not preclude that the Father has willed that we also should offer up ourselves to add to this already perfect reparation of Christ.

Another principle which supports the possibility that Christ experiences suffering in His glorified body is the continuation of the hypostatic union in heaven; in other words, Christ still experiences everything that humans experience. In the words of Joseph K. Hogan of the Madonna House Apostolate in Combermere, Ontario: “Christ has a human Heart which knows and feels the lack of love even in a glorified state. We cannot deny Christ anything which a human heart now feels, otherwise He would not be man. Except for sin, Christ is everything we as human beings are now.” (21) Thus, Christ’s experience of suffering may not be as incompatible with His heavenly glory as was once thought.

Now that reparation to the Heart of Jesus, a subject which has received moderate attention from theologians, has been investigated in some depth, we will proceed to the topic of reparation to the Heart of Mary, a subject which has not been well studied by theologians but which closely relates to the previously discussed topic. It is the author’s opinion that it is fitting that Our Lady, as Mother of the Mystical Body, also experiences suffering in heaven. Before further exploring the heavenly sorrows of the Mother, we must investigate, in general, the two types of reparation which can be attributed to Our Lady’s Heart. These reparatory actions parallel those of Christ. Our Lady offers reparation to the Father for the sins of humanity by offering up her Son and sharing in His suffering and death. It is through this role as Coredemptrix that Our Lady makes atonement for the offenses of her children. Like Christ, this reparation can be ascribed to Our Lady’s Heart because the heart represents the whole person:

Thus the Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully persevered in union with her Son unto the cross, where she stood, in keeping with the divine plan, enduring with her only begotten Son the intensity of his suffering, associated herself with his sacrifice in her mother’s heart, and lovingly consented to the immolation of this victim which was born of her. (22)

Along with the reparation made by Our Lady’s heart to the Father, reparation is also made to Our Lady’s heart for the sins and offenses committed against God and against her. Because of the intimate and inseparable union between the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, the Mother suffers whenever her Son is offended. Again, this raises the question regarding suffering in heaven, this time the suffering of Our Lady. Some theologians assume that there is no way Our Lady could still be suffering while experiencing heavenly glory, believing that if Mary is in glory, she can suffer no more. If Our Lady does not suffer presently, and yet we are presently called to offer reparation to her heart, in what regard does she experience the consolation of these reparatory acts? Unlike Christ, who shared the Beatific Vision while on earth and thus could experience our acts of consolation retroactively during His earthly suffering, it is unlikely that Our Lady had this same knowledge. Without the ability to see humanity’s acts of reparation outside of time, Our Lady could not be consoled by them while on earth. Thus, the call for reparation to the Heart of Mary would be empty. One theory to explain the call to offer reparation to the Mother is parallel to the Christological theory of accidental joy. Rev. Luigi Ciappi, O.P, who spoke at the Fatima Congress in 1971, referred to the Sorrowful Heart of Mary as a symbol of compassion and aversion, but not true sorrow:

(The sorrowful heart is) a symbol of the true compassion, spiritual and sensitive, experienced by the Virgin Mother when she stood near the Cross of Jesus on Calvary. It is also the symbol of the most perfect aversion, the Immaculate Heart of Mary—though glorious in heaven—stills feels, even if there be no sensitive or spiritual sadness. (23)

Fr. Ciappi goes on to say that acts of reparation “bring to her physical glorious heart a true sensitive joy, and an increase of the accidental glory to her soul immersed now in the beatifying vision of God.” (24) This theology of reparation to the Heart of Mary espouses the idea that reparation only adds to her joy and glory in heaven, rather than consoling her sorrows. In my opinion this theory takes away much of the actual necessity and power of reparation.

However, we have even greater reason to believe that Our Lady currently suffers for the sins of her children. We know she suffers because Our Lady has made this very clear in her recent apparitions. In the 1830 apparitions of Our Lady to St. Catherine Labouré, Our Lady gives St. Catherine a vision of the Miraculous Medal. In this vision Our Lady’s heart appears pierced by a sword. It is certainly no light suffering to have a pierced heart, and this is how Our Lady chose to depict her heart on what was to become one of the most widely recognized images of the Blessed Mother. Sixteen years later, Our Lady appeared to two little shepherds in La Salette, France. In these apparitions, the Blessed Mother sat and held her head while she wept. (25) In 1871 at Pontmain, Our Lady appeared very sorrowful as she held a bloody crucifix. (26) When Our Lady appeared at Lourdes in 1858 she also wept, causing Bernadette to turn to the crowd and say “Penance! Penance! Penance!” (27) Thus, in at least four major apparitions in the last three centuries Our Lady has appeared sorrowful.

In the mother of all apparitions, Our Lady appeared seven times in Fatima, Portugal, to three children to promote devotion to her Immaculate Heart. In these apparitions, Our Lady appears sorrowful and speaks on the need for humanity to make reparation to her Heart. Ultimately, the message of Fatima is a message of reparation. After the angelic apparitions, Our Lady appeared to the children and continued the message of reparation to God for sins. She also made clear that her Immaculate Heart was also offended by the sins of man and that she too needed reparation made to her Heart. In the second apparition, on June 13, 1917, Our Lady showed the children her heart encircled by thorns. In the sixth apparition, on October 13, 1917, Our Lady looked very sad and told the children “do not offend the Lord Our God anymore; He is already so offended.” The apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima clearly indicate that she is suffering currently for the sins of her children.

Not only does Our Lady suffer presently, it is clear that God has willed that humanity make reparation to the Mother’s Heart as He attached the promise of salvation to those who carry out this wish. This promise was made known following the Fatima apparitions of 1917, when Our Lady appeared again to Sr. Lucia in 1925 and asked for reparation to be made to her Immaculate Heart through the first “Five Saturdays” devotion.

On December 10, 1925, the Blessed Mother appeared to Lucia with the Child Jesus. She showed Lucia her Heart surrounded by thorns. The Child Jesus said to Lucia: “have compassion on the Heart of thy most holy Mother covered with thorns which ungrateful men are thrusting into it at every moment without anyone making an effort to withdraw them by acts of reparation.” The Mother added:

“At least you, see that I be consoled and tell all those who for five months on the first Saturday go to confession, receive Holy Communion, say a Rosary and keep me company for fifteen minutes meditating on the fifteen mysteries of the rosary in a spirit of reparation, that I promise to assist them at the hour of dearth with all the graces necessary for the salvation of their soul.”

The devotion of first Saturdays is required for five Saturdays because there are five ways in which Our Lady is offended:

1. Blasphemies against the Immaculate Conception

2. Blasphemies against her virginity

3. Blasphemies against her divine Maternity and at the same time refusal to recognize her as Mother of men

4. Blasphemies of those who seek openly to foster in the hearts of children indifference, contempt and even hatred for their Immaculate Mother

5. The offenses of those who directly outrage her in her holy images

In addition to the first Saturdays devotion revealed to Sr. Lucia, they are many means to make reparation to God and Our Lady. One key to reparation is the Eucharistic devotion. The Eucharistic emphasis of the Fatima message is indisputable. Reparation can be made by participation in the Sacrifice of the Mass, in which Christ’s offering up of Himself is perpetuated, along with time spent in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. All prayers, especially the Rosary, are excellent forms of reparation along with accepting the sacrifices of each day and performing acts of spiritual and corporal mortification. The final apparition of Our Lady to Sr. Lucia revealed not only that Our Lady’s Heart was sorrowful and in need of reparation, but that it is the Lord’s will that this reparation to His Mother be carried out.

Some confusion may arise at this point as it can be seen that the children of Fatima were asked to make reparation to God as well as to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Did Our Lady want reparation to her Heart rather than to God? The answer to this question is a definite “NO!” The key to understanding reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is to note that the Hearts of Jesus and Mary are inseparable. Reparation made to the Immaculate Heart is ultimately reparation to God. Thus, there is no competition between reparation to Our Lady and to God. Reparation to the Blessed Mother is one and the same as reparation to God. Reparation is made to the Mother because it pleases God to see the suffering Heart of His Mother assuaged by the prayers and sacrifices of men. We can imagine this on human terms. If a mother and son are both offended by the insults and misdeeds of those they love, it is very likely that a gracious and loving son would prefer the offenders to make amends to his mother first for the pain caused to her. The son, who is always in close union with his mother, would not require the offenders to come to him specifically after they have come to his mother, for in making amends with his mother, they also made amends with him. It is possible that Christ willed the emphasis of the Fatima apparitions to be reparation to the Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart because she did not experience any of the consolation that He experienced retroactively, through acts of reparation made by Christians, during His Passion and Death. While this is pure speculation, what is certain is that reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is one with reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus because of the union of their Hearts.

Not only has Our Lady appeared sorrowful many times over the last two centuries in her apparitions, but recently her images have also miraculously wept and bled. While there have been many miraculous images of Our Lady which have been reported over the centuries, very few of these have been weeping or bleeding. However, beginning in the twentieth century, there have been dozens of reported sorrowful images of Our Lady. This is good evidence that Our Lady has a special message for the modern world concerning her suffering caused by recent atrocities.

A major occurrence in which Our Lady wept took place in Syracuse, Sicily in 1953. Here, a young woman, Antonietta Januso, was very sick in bed with a rare illness she contracted after giving birth. When she opened her eyes on August 29, she saw the little Madonna on the wall with tears streaming from her eyes. These tears continued for four days and attracted tens-of-thousands wishing to see it. After scientific investigations were carried out, the bishops of Sicily unanimously agreed about the authenticity of the tears. The L’Osservatore Romano, on December 18, 1953, stated: “(The bishops) have expressed the sincere desire that this manifestation of our heavenly Mother may inspire the whole world with a true spirit of penance, and more fervent devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.” (28)

Another more recent, but equally as prominent incident of miraculous happenings concerning a statue of Mary occurred in Akita, Japan. These events began on July 6, 1973, when Sr. Agnes Sasagawa saw drops of blood flowing from the right hand of the statue of Mary in the chapel. This flow of blood happened four more times. After the blood flow stopped the statue began to sweat. During this time Sr. Agnes received three messages from Our Lady. The Blessed Mother spoke emphatically about the need for reparation to God and to her: “I wish, with my Son, for souls who will repair by their suffering and their poverty for the sinners and ingrates.” Two years after this, the statue began to weep. It wept at intervals for the next six years and eight months. In total it wept one hundred and one times. While there are many more reported incidents of statues of Mary which shed either blood or tears, it is sufficiently obvious from the above reports that Our Lady has manifested her suffering in the last century.

The question that arises at this point is: “why are these things happening?” Pope John Paul II gives a very simple but profound answer to this question: “If the Madonna is weeping, this means that she has reasons to do so.” (29) In other words, Our Lady is not appearing sorrowful, speaking of her sorrow and shedding tears for no reason. It is clear, in these Church approved apparitions, that the Blessed Mother is sad. Is this sadness merely a representation of the pain and suffering Our Lady endured while on earth? Or is this a form of deception to encourage humanity to repent and pray? Surely not! I do not believe Our Lady would appear sad, speak of this sadness, and shed tears if she were not presently sad. To believe otherwise would be to accept a type of deceit on the part of Our Lady. As this is not possible, we can conclude that Our Lady does in fact still experience suffering, although she is in heavenly glory. Besides the theology of the Mystical Body of Christ, which supports that the Head and the Mother of the Body suffer with the members, a hypothesis for the unique suffering of Jesus and Mary is that they are the only two in heaven who possess their glorified bodies. As the body is the instrument of suffering, both Our Lord and Our Lady are able to suffer. While this is a mere hypothesis, what is clear is that God has willed that Jesus and Our Lady mysteriously be permitted to suffer in heaven although they share the Beatific Vision.

Although the mysterious element of the suffering of Jesus and Mary in heaven may be difficult to comprehend in theological terms, we must remember that very often, as in the case at Fatima, Our Lord and Our Lady appear to children or simple people not because it is easy to deceive them, but because they have hearts which are open and ready to embrace their messages. During the 1971 International Seminar at Fatima, the chairman spoke to this issue: “We must translate what happened here at Fatima from the language of children to the language of science. But there is also merit in the second suggestion: We must remain as children to understand this language ourselves.” (30) Thus, the desire to theologize the essence of the message of Fatima, along with the entire notion of reparation to the Heart of Mary must be embarked upon with much care; theological explanations should never lead hearts to grow cold to the truth about Our Lady’s sorrows which she herself has revealed to mankind.

Conclusion

While it is challenging to theologically reconcile the notion of heavenly glory coexisting with suffering, the call to offer reparation to the Heart of Mary asks us to go beyond pure reason and to trust in the messages that Our Lady herself has given to us, especially in the last century.

Our Lady’s apparitions in Fatima, along with her weeping and bleeding statues in Syracuse and Akita, indicate that she is unquestionably in pain now and desirous of our reparation. Some theologians may say that the Blessed Mother merely appears sad in her apparitions and miraculous images, although she is actually fully rejoicing in heaven and only capable of rejoicing further. This theory suggests deceit on the part of Our Lady, which is wholly incompatible with her person. Others may say that Our Lady desires reparation for the suffering she endured on earth. However, since she did not experience the Beatific Vision while on earth, she could not share in the consolation offered to her retroactively by men and women today. Thus, these theories, which attempt to explain away the Blessed Mother’s sadness, have serious difficulties which cannot be easily overcome. Although the theory that Our Lady actually experiences sorrow while in her glorified body is also challenging to reconcile with our present understanding of heaven, we must concede that our earthly knowledge of heaven is extremely limited and obscure.

The theory that Our Lady currently suffers while also experiencing Beatitude is the most plausible simply because she has continually and increasingly reaffirmed this fact. Like a child who sees his mother crying, we must run quickly to our Blessed Mother and do all we can to console her sorrowful Heart, while accepting the innate mystery that lies beneath those tears.

Elizabeth Stidham, a freelance writer, received her Masters in Theology from the Franciscan University of Steubenville. Newly married, she and her husband are presently residing in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

Endnotes

(1) Eudes, J., The Admirable Heart of Mary, P.J. Kenedy & Sons: New York, 1948. pp. 8-10.

(2) Stackpole, R., Consoling the Heart of Jesus, Pontifical University of St. Thomas: Rome, 2000, p. 31.

(3) Ibid., p. 182.

(4) Ibid., p. 166.

(5) Calkins, A., Totus Tuus, Academy of the Immaculate, 1992, pp. 281-282.

(6) Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Iucunda Semper, September 8, 1894, 3.

(7) Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Salvifici Doloris, February 11, 1984, 25.

(8) Eudes, J., Oeuvres Complètes Vol. VII:129-130 (St. John Eudes, Meditations on Various Subjects (New York: P. J. Kenedy & Sons, 1947) 240-241).

(9) Ibid.

(10) Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, IX/2 (1986), 700, Città del Vaticano: Libreria Editrice; L’Osservatore Romano, English edition, 959:13.

(11) John Paul II, On the Most Holy Rosary, Pauline Books & Media: Boston, 2002, p. 15.

(12) Eudes, Admirable Heart of Mary, p. 105.

(13) Eudes, Admirable Heart of Mary, p. 109.

(14) Inseg IX/2 (1986), 392, L’Osservatore Romano, English edition, 951:2.

(15) Stackpole, Consoling the Heart of Jesus, p. 213.

(16) Ibid., p. 362.

(17) Ibid., p. 226.

(18) Ibid., p. 227.

(19) Ven. Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Mysticic Corporis, June 29, 1943, 75.

(20) Calkins, A., The Hearts of Jesus and Mary and the Theology and Practice of Reparation, p. 5.

(21) Hogan, J. Reparation—Love—Atonement, p. 2.

(22) Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium, November 21, 1964, 58.

(23) Venancio, J., A Heart for All, AMI Press, Washington, NJ, 1972, p. 90.

(24) Ibid., p. 91.

(25) Hebert, A., The Tears of Mary—and Fatima, Why?, Pauline, LA, 1983, p. 29.

(26) Ibid.

(27) Ibid.

(28) Ibid., p. 49.

(29) Ibid., p. 19.

(30) Venancio, A Heart for All, p. 17.

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The great Jesuit theologian Father John Anthony Hardon (1914-2000) related that one Christmas, at the moment of the consecration of the bread during Midnight Mass, the mystery of the Incarnation—Jesus taking flesh and living with us as one of us—struck him with special profundity when he thought to himself: “I am holding in my hands the same Jesus that Our Blessed Lady held in her pure hands in the stable of Bethlehem.”

Such a precious insight can only but help all of us to focus more intently on Mary’s undeniable and essential role in that incredible, unrepeatable action: the Logos (Word)—the Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity—becoming flesh and pitching His tent among us. Mary accepted that Word…embraced that Word…loved that Word…and learned from that Word. And this Real Presence of Christ enjoyed by His sinless Mother and chaste foster-father Saint Joseph is effected and continued today—and will be until Jesus comes again—by the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which would not exist without the Incarnation.

Without Mary there is no Christmas.

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Have you ever done something extra to show your love for the Blessed Virgin Mary? Maybe something like making an effort to pray the Rosary every day, or wearing the Miraculous Medal or a scapular?

Perhaps you were also seeking Mary’s help in some area of your spiritual life?

Saint Faustina—who had a special devotion to Mary’s Immaculate Conception and sought Mary Immaculate’s help to grow in purity of heart—would make an extra effort to prepare well for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception on December 8th.

Showing Extraordinary Devotion

For the Solemnity of the Immacualte Conception in 1937, when she was a religious, she wrote in her Diary: “I prepared not only by means of the novena said in common by the whole community, but I also made a personal effort to salute (Mary) a thousand times each day, saying a thousand ‘Hail Marys’ for nine days in her praise” (Diary, 1413). […]

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We must say a few words about the different ways of praying the Rosary, for it has a simple form but its substance is wide and deep. This combination makes praying it easy and difficult at the same time: easy for a person with a vivid imagination and an open heart, capable of arresting the picture with the flow of words and identifying his own existence in the holy figures; difficult for him who has bartered his inner contemplative faculties for the multiformity of modern life.

So if a person belonging to the second order wishes to pray the Rosary, he must be prepared to grapple with some difficulty. He must practice, and learn gradually what comes naturally to others. Above all, he has to subdue his repugnance to repetition, for this is an essential part of the Rosary. The quiet rhythm of the same words is its form. […]

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A Christian parent’s greatest concern, after God himself, is the spiritual well-being of his children. The spiritual state of our family and our children can be the cause of the most intense suffering of heart, the most severe anxiety, the greatest loss of sleep and peace for a mother or a father. It can also be, through God’s infinite mercy and grace, our greatest parental victory. It can be a victory with nothing less than eternal ramifications, with heavenly crowns for our children and for ourselves.

As Christian parents, therefore, it is appropriate to examine within the extraordinary context of eternal victory for our families or, tragically eternal loss, the strong paternal invitation of John Paul II to every Christian family to daily make time to pray the Family Rosary. Second only to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and receiving the daily Bread of Angels, the praying of the Family Rosary is the greatest spiritual means of daily sanctification and protection for our families that Heaven places at our ready disposal. […]

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The Venerable Beads

Published on October 9, 2004 by in Marian Devotion

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Let Me Count the Ways

Down through the millennia, Christians have expressed their love for the Blessed Virgin in many different ways. The early Christians made pilgrimages to the sites associated with her life. The Eastern churches influenced by Byzantium composed long “akathist” hymns in her honor. The Ethiopians developed a rich tradition of liturgical prayer to Mary. The Egyptians appear first in the documentary record with the prayer Sub Tuum Praesidium. The West, in turn, produced the “Hail, Holy Queen,” the Memorare, and many litanies. Both East and West have amassed a stunning heritage of Marian art—predominantly icons in the East, and both sculpture and paintings in the West.

Without a doubt, though, the Church’s most popular and beloved expression of Marian devotion is the Rosary. It’s my favorite expression too. […]

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The Rosary Month

Published on October 2, 2004 by in Marian Devotion

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Praying the Rosary has the power to change the course of human history. It has indeed done so on several occasions.

The renowned Battle of Lepanto is one obvious manifestation of the extraordinary power of this Marian prayer. In 1571, Pope St. Pius V called upon Western Christendom to pray the Rosary for victory over the significantly stronger naval fleet of the Muslim Turks, and specifically requested the Rosary confraternities to intensify their Rosary prayer in preparation for the October 7 naval battle. The sailors of the Christian fleet were likewise armed with the weapon of the Rosary. […]

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I am the Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church, founded by the Apostle St. Thomas in India. The Apostle had already instilled into the hearts of his disciples a great devotion to Mary, Mother of Jesus. This devotion was further nurtured by the Carmelite missionaries from Europe who ruled our church for nearly 300 years. The Rosary used to be recited in every Catholic home and the brown scapular of the Blessed Virgin was worn by every single one of the faithful. This extraordinarily ardent devotion of the Syro-Malabar Church to the Mother of God is mentioned by Pope Pius XI in his apostolic constitution ‘Romani Pontifices’ erecting the Syro-Malabar Hierarchy in 1923.
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Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary was an ever-present grace in the life of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.  Like the sun that sends its rays of light upon the earth from its rising to its setting, so the love of Our Lady shone like a bright light over the life of the future Archbishop, from its very beginning right through to its conclusion.  It left an indelible impression on his life.  This devotion began with his Baptism, at the very time his life in Christ began.  He describes what happened in his autobiography:
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The Five Offenses

Published on September 18, 2004 by in Marian Devotion

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On the night of May 29 to 30, 1930, Sr. Lucia was praying before our Eucharistic Jesus in the chapel. The Fatima visionary spoke “heart to Heart” with our Eucharistic Lord about various questions which had been submitted to her concerning a previous message which had revealed the Five First Saturdays Devotion of Reparation (December 10, 1925).

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Mother Teresa of Calcutta, renowned for the worldwide mission of charity that she began in 1946, used a simple "tool" as a symbol of that charity: the "Miraculous Medal."  A common sight it was to watch Mother take a fistful of such medals, kiss them, and hand them out to the poor.  Queues of people would form outside her convents when word would spread that Mother Teresa had come to town.  One by one she would welcome young and old, the sick and the needy, lay and clergy, the significant and the insignificant.  Rarely would any leave without Mother pressing Miraculous Medals into their hands.

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