Saturday, May 31, 2008

Thirty-First Day of May

Mary Leads Her Servants to Heaven.

O, what an evident mark of predestination have the servants of Mary! The holy Church, for the consolation of her clients, puts into her mouth the words of Ecclesiasticus, ‘In all these I sought rest, and I shall abide in the inheritance of the Lord.’ Cardinal Hugo explains these words, and says, ‘Blessed is he in whose house the most Holy Virgin finds repose.’ Mary, out of the love she bears to all, endeavors to excite in all devotion towards herself; many either do not admit it into their souls, or do not preserve it. But blessed is he that receives, and preserves it. O, how many blessed souls are there now in heaven, who would never have been there had not Mary, by her powerful intercession, led them thither.

St. Bonaventure says, ‘that the gates of heaven will open to all who confide in the protection of Mary.’ Hence St. Ephrem calls devotion to the Divine Mother, ‘the unlocking of the gates of the heavenly Jerusalem.’ The devout Blosius also, addressing our Blessed Lady, says, ‘To you, O Lady, are committed the keys and the treasures of the kingdom of heaven.’ And therefore we ought constantly to pray to her, in the words of St. Ambrose, ‘Open to us, O Mary, the gates of paradise, since you have its keys.’ Nay, more, the Church says, ‘that thou art its gate.’

For the same reason, finally, is she called, by St. Peter Damian, ‘the heavenly ladder.’ ‘For,’ says the Saint, ‘by Mary God descended from heaven into the world, that by her men might ascend from earth to heaven.’

St. Antoninus tells us ‘that this Divine Mother has already, by her assistance and prayers, obtained heaven for us, provided we put no obstacle in the way.’ Hence says the Abbot Guarric, ‘He who serves Mary, and for whom she intercedes, is as certain of heaven as if he was already there.’ St. John Damascene also says, ‘that to serve Mary and be her courtier is the greatest honor we can possibly possess; for to serve the Queen of Heaven is already to reign there, and to live under her commands is more than to govern.’ On the other hand, he adds, ‘that those who do not serve Mary will not be saved; for those who are deprived of the help of this great Mother are also deprived of that of her Son and of the whole court of heaven.’ ‘May the infinite goodness of our Lord be ever praised,’says St. Bernard, ‘for having been pleased to give us Mary as our advocate in heaven, that she being at the same time the Mother of our Judge and a Mother of Mercy, may be able, by her intercession, to conduct to a prosperous issue the great affair of our eternal salvation.’ St. James, a doctor of the Greek Church, says, ‘that God destined Mary as a bridge of salvation, by using which we might with safety pass over the stormy sea of this world, and reach the happy haven of paradise.’ Therefore St. Bonaventure exclaims, ‘Give ear, O ye nations, and all you who desire heaven, serve, honor Mary, and certainly you will find eternal life.’

Nor should those even who have deserved hell, be in the least doubtful as to obtaining heaven, provided they are faithful in serving this Queen. ‘O, how many sinners,’ says St. Germanus, ‘have found God and have been saved by your means, O Mary!’

It is true that in this world no one can be certain of his salvation: ‘Man knows not whether he be worthy of love or hatred,’ says the Ecclesiastes. But St. Bonaventure, on the words of King David, ‘Lord, who shall dwell in Your tabernacle?’ and on the preceding quotation, answers, ‘Sinners, let us follow Mary closely, and casting ourselves at her feet, let us not leave them until she has blessed us; for her blessing will insure our salvation.’ ‘It suffices, O Lady,’ says St. Anselm, ‘that you will it, and .our salvation is certain.’ And St. Antoninus says, ‘that souls protected by Mary, and on which she casts her eyes, are necessarily justified and saved.’

St. Mary Magdalen of Pazzi saw a vessel in the midst of the sea: in it were all the clients of Mary, and this Blessed Mother herself steered it safely into the port. By this the Saint understood, that those who live under the protection of Mary, are secure in the midst of the dangers of this life from the shipwreck of sin, and from eternal damnation; for she guides them safely into the haven of salvation. Let us then enter this blessed ship of the mantle of Mary, and there we can be certain of the kingdom of heaven, for the Church says, ‘O holy Mother of God, all those who will be partakers of eternal happiness dwell in you, living under your protection.’


A Cistercian nun, in Toledo, named Mary, being at the point of death, the Divine Mother appeared to her. The nun then said: ‘O Lady, the favor you do me in visiting me, emboldens me to ask you another favor; it is, that I may die at the same hour in which you expired and entered heaven.’ ‘Yes,’ Mary replied; ‘I will satisfy you, you shall die at that hour, and you shall also hear the songs and praises, with which the blessed accompanied my entrance into heaven: prepare yourself;’ and then disappeared. The nuns, hearing her speaking to herself, thought that she was in delirium; but she related the vision which she had had to them, and the promised favor. She awaited the desired hour; and when she knew, by the striking of the clock, that it had arrived (the writer does not say what hour it was), she said, ‘Behold the hour announced to me: I already hear the music of the angels: this is the hour in which my Queen ascended to heaven; peace be with you, for I now go to see her.’ With these words she expired. In the same moment her eyes became bright as two stars, and her face became of a beautiful color.


O Queen of heaven, Mother of holy love since thou art the most amiable of creatures, the most beloved of God, and His greatest lover, be pleased to allow the most miserable sinner living in this world, who, having by thy means been delivered from hell, and without any merit on his part been so benefited by thee, and who is filled with love for thee, to love thee. I would desire, were it in my power, to let all men who know thee not, know how worthy thou art of love, that all might love and honor thee. I would desire to die for the love of thee, in defense of thy virginity, of thy dignity of Mother of God, of thy Immaculate Conception, should this be necessary to uphold these thy great privileges. Ah! my most beloved Mother, accept this my ardent desire, and never allow a servant of thine, who loves thee, to become the enemy of thy God, whom thou lovest so much. Alas! poor me, I was so for a time, when I offended my Lord. But then, O Mary, I loved thee but little, and strove but little to be beloved by thee. But now there is nothing that I so much desire after the grace of God as to love, and be beloved by thee. I am not discouraged on account of my past sins, for I know that thou, O most benign and gracious Lady, dost not disdain to love even the most wretched sinners who love thee; nay, more, that thou never allowest thyself to be surpassed by any in love. Ah! Queen, most worthy of love, I desire to love thee in heaven. There, at thy feet, I shall better know how worthy thou art of love, how much thou hast done to save me, and thus I shall love thee with greater love, and love thee eternally, without fear of ever ceasing to love thee. O Mary, I hope, most certainly, to be saved by thy means. Pray to Jesus for me. Nothing else is needed; thou hast to save me; thou art my hope. I will therefore always sing, O Mary, my hope, thou hast to save me.


Consecrate yourself to the most Blessed Virgin Mary after making a good confession. On the same day hear Mass and receive Communion in her honor. Renew this consecration every year on the same day. It is best to choose one of our Lady’s feast days to make this consecration.

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Sacred Heart of Jesus

Today is the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests. In addition to today's May Devotion you will also find the lessons from Matins of the Divine Office I am also providing a link to some wonderful posts regarding the need for prayer for the sanctification of priests and the Sacred Heart at Don Marco's blog, Vultus Christi. I ask that you visit his blog and pray the Prayer of Reparation to the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, especially on behalf of priests. Another prayer which can be prayed in the spirit of reparation our Lord requested of St. Margared Mary Alacoque is the Litany of the Sacred Heart which can be found in most prayerbooks or by doing a web search.

The most important thing to do today is assist at Mass and receive Holy Communion in reparation for the sins that continually grieve this most loving Heart. If that is not possible, then a visit to the Blessed Sacrament or a Holy Hour in the same spirit of reparation.

Knowing what our Lord has done for us,
can we not do something in return for him?

Lessons from Matins of the Divine Office - The Sacred Heart of Jesus

Breviary Lesson for the Feast of the Sacred Heart - Second Nocturn

Among the wonderful developments of sacred teaching and piety, by which the plans of the divine Wisdom are daily made clear to the Church, hardly any is more manifest than the triumphant progress made by the devotion of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus. Very often indeed, during the course of past ages, Fathers, Doctors, and Saints have celebrated our Redeemer's love : and they have said, that the wound opened in the side of Christ was the hidden fountain of all graces. Moreover, from the Middle Ages onward, when the faithful began to shew a more tender piety towards the most sacred Humanity of the Savior, contemplative souls became accustomed to penetrate through that wound almost to the very Heart itself, wounded for the love of men. And from that time, this form of contemplation became so familiar to all persons of saintly life, that there was no country or religious order in which, during this period, witnesses to it were not to be found. Finally, during recent centuries, and most especially at that period when heretics, in the name of a false piety, strove to discourage Christians from receiving the most Holy Eucharist, the veneration of the most Sacred Heart began to be openly practiced, principally through the exertions of St. John Eudes, who is by no means unworthily called the founder of the liturgical worship of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

But in order to establish fully and entirely the worship of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus, and to spread the same throughout the whole world, God himself chose as his instrument a most humble virgin from the order of the Visitation, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, who even in her earliest years already had a burning love for the Sacrament of the Eucharist, and to whom Christ the Lord had very many times appeared, and was pleased to make known the riches and the desires of his divine Heart. The most famous of these apparitions was that in which Jesus revealed himself to her in prayer before the blessed Sacrament, showed her his most Sacred Heart, and, complaining that in return for his unbounded love, he met with nothing but outrages and ingratitude from mankind, he ordered her to concern herself with the establishment of a new feast, on the Friday after the Octave of Corpus Christi, on which his Heart should be venerated with due honor, and that the insults offered him by sinners in the Sacrament of love should be expiated by worthy satisfaction. But there is no one who knows not how many and how great were the obstacles which the handmaid of God experienced, in carrying out the commands of Christ; but, endowed with strength by the Lord himself, and actively aided by her pious spiritual directors, who exerted themselves with an almost unbelievable zeal, up to the time of her death she never ceased faithfully to carry out the duty entrusted to her by heaven.

At length, in the year 1765, the Supreme Pontiff Clement XIII approved the Mass and Office in honor of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus; and Pius IX extended the feast to the universal Church. From then on the worship of the most Sacred Heart, like an overflowing river, washing away all obstacles, hath poured itself forth over all the earth, and, at the dawn of the new century, Leo XIII, having proclaimed a jubilee, decided to dedicate the whole human race to the most Sacred Heart. This consecration was actually carried out with solemn rites in all the churches of the Catholic world, and brought about a great increase of this devotion, leading not only nations but even private families to it, who in countless numbers dedicated themselves to the Divine Heart, and submitted themselves to its royal sway. Lastly, the Sovereign Pontiff Pius XI, in order that, by its solemnity, the feast might answer more fully to the greatly widespread devotion of the Christian people, raised the feast of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus to the rite of a double of the first class, with an octave; and moreover, that the violated rights of Christ, the supreme King and most loving Lord, might be repaired, and that the sins of the nations might be bewailed, he ordered that annually, on that same feast-day, there should be recited an expiatory form of prayer in all the churches of the Christian world.

Breviary Lesson for the Feast of the Sacred Heart - Third Nocturn
St. Bonaventure: De vite mystica Cap. 3

Because we are now come to the sweet Heart of Jesus, and because it is good for us to be here, let us not too soon turn away therefrom. O how good and joyful a thing it is to dwell in this Heart. What a good treasure, what a precious pearl, is thy Heart, O most excellent Jesu, which we have found hidden in the pit which hath been dug in this field, namely, in thy body. Who would cast away such a pearl? Nay, rather, for this same I would give all my pearls. I will sell all my thoughts and affections, and buy the same for myself, turning all my thoughts to the Heart of the good Jesus, and without fail it will support me. Therefore, o most sweet Jesu, finding this Heart that is thine and mine, I will pray to thee, my God : admit my prayers into the shrine of hearkening : and draw me even more altogether into thy Heart.

For to this end was thy side pierced, that an entry might be open unto us. To this end was thy Heart wounded, that in it we might be able to dwell secure from alarms from without. And it was wounded none the less on this account that, because of the visible wound, we may perceive the wound of love which is invisible. How could this fire of love better shine forth than for him to permit that not only his body, but that even his Heart, should be wounded with the spear? Who would not love that Heart so wounded? Who would not, in return, love one who is so loving? Who would not embrace one so chaste? Wherefore let us who are in the flesh love in return, as much as we can, him who so loveth, embrace our wounded one, whose hands and feet, side and Heart, have been pierced by wicked husbandmen ; and let us pray that he may deign to bind our hearts, still hard and impenitent, with the chain of his love, and wound them with the dart thereof.

Thirtieth Day of May

Mary Succors Her Clients in Purgatory.

Fortunate, indeed, are the clients of this most compassionate Mother, for not only does she succor them in this world, but even in purgatory they are helped and comforted by her protection. And as in that prison poor souls are in the greatest need of assistance, since in their torments they cannot help themselves, our Mother of Mercy does proportionately more to relieve them. St. Bernardine of Sienna says, ‘that in that prison, where souls which are spouses of Jesus Christ are detained, Mary has a certain dominion and plenitude of power, not only to relieve them, but even to deliver them from their pains.’

And, first, with respect to the relief she gives, the same Saint, in applying those words of Ecclesiasticus, ‘I have walked in the waves of the sea.’ adds, ‘that it is by visiting and relieving the necessities and torments of her clients, who are her children.’ He then says, ‘that the pains of purgatory are called waves, because they are transitory; unlike the pains of hell, which never end: and they are called waves of the sea, because they are so bitter. The clients of Mary, thus suffering, are often visited and relieved by her.’ ‘See, therefore,’ says Novarinus, ‘of what consequence it is to be the servant of this good Lady, for her servants she never forgets when they are suffering in those flames; for though Mary relieves all suffering souls in purgatory, yet she always obtains far greater indulgence and relief for her own clients.’

The Divine Mother once addressed these words to St. Bridget: ‘I am the Mother of all souls in purgatory; for all the pains that they have deserved for their sins are every hour, as long as they remain there, in some way mitigated by my prayers.’ The compassionate Mother even condescends to go herself occasionally into that holy prison to visit and comfort her suffering children.

And what other consolation have they in their sufferings than Mary, and the relief they receive from this Mother of Mercy? St. Bridget once heard Jesus say to His holy Mother, ‘You are My Mother, the Mother of Mercy, and the consolation of souls in purgatory.’ The Blessed Virgin herself told the Saint, ‘that as a poor sick person, bedridden, suffering, and abandoned, is relieved by words of encouragement and consolation, so are the souls in purgatory consoled and relieved by only hearing her name.’ The mere name of Mary, that name of hope and salvation, and which is frequently invoked by her beloved children in their prison, is a great source of comfort to them; ‘for,’ says Novarinus, ‘that loving Mother no sooner hears them call upon her, than she offers her prayers to God, and those prayers to God, and these prayers, as a heavenly dew, immediately refresh them in their burning pains.’

Mary not only consoles and relieves her clients in purgatory, but she delivers them by her prayers. Gerson says, ‘that on the day of her assumption into heaven purgatory was entirely emptied.’ Novarinus confirms this, saying, ‘that it is maintained by many grave authors, that when Mary was going to heaven, she asked, as a favor from her Son, to take all the souls then in purgatory with her.’ ‘And from that time forward,’ says Gerson, ‘Mary had the privilege of delivering her servants.’ St. Bernardine of Sienna also positively asserts, ‘that the Blessed Virgin has the power of delivering souls from purgatory, but particularly those of her clients: by her prayers, and by applying her merits for them.’ Novarinus says, ‘that by the merits of Mary, not only are the pains of those souls lessened, but the time of their sufferings is shortened through her intercession.’ She has only to ask, and all is done.

Why should we not hope for the same graces and favors, if we are devout clients of this good Mother? And if we serve her with more special love, why can we not hope to go to heaven immediately after death, without even going to purgatory? This really took place in the case of Blessed Godfrey, to whom Mary sent the following message, by brother Abondo: ‘Tell Brother Godfrey to endeavor to advance rapidly in virtue, and thus he will belong to my Son and to me; and when his soul departs, I will not allow it to go to purgatory, but will take it and offer it to my Son.’ And if we wish to relieve the holy souls in purgatory, let us do so by imploring the aid of our Blessed Lady in all our prayers, and especially by offering the Rosary for them, as that relieves them greatly.


We read, in the life of Sister Catherine of St. Augustine, that in the place where she resided there was a woman, of the name of Mary, who in her youth was a sinner, and in her old age continued so obstinate in wickedness, that she was driven out of the city, and reduced to live in a secluded cave; there she died, half consumed by disease, and without the sacraments, and was consequently interred in a field like a beast. Sister Catherine who always recommended the souls of those who departed from this world, with great fervor, to God, on hearing the unfortunate end of this poor old woman, never thought of praying for her, and she looked upon her (as did every one else) as irrevocably lost. One day, four years afterwards, a suffering soul appeared to her, and exclaimed: ‘How unfortunate is my lot, Sister Catherine; you recommend the souls of all those that die to God: on my soul alone you had not compassion!’ ‘And who are you? asked the servant of God. ‘I am,’ she replied, ‘that poor Mary, who died in the cave.’ ‘And are you saved?’ said Catherine. ‘Yes,’ she answered, ‘by the mercy of the Blessed Virgin Mary.’ ‘And how?’ ‘When I saw myself at the point of death, loaded with sins, and abandoned by all, I had recourse to the Mother of God, saying, Lady, you are the refuge of abandoned creatures: behold me, at this moment, abandoned by all; you are my only hope; you alone can help me: have pity on me. The Blessed Virgin obtained for me the grace to make an act of contrition. I died, and am saved; and besides this she, my Queen, obtained that my purgatory should be shortened, by enduring, in intensity, that which otherwise would have lasted for many years: I now only want a few masses to be entirely delivered; I beg you to get them said, and on my part, I promise always to pray for you to God and to Mary.’ Sister Catherine immediately had the masses said; and after a few days that soul again appeared to her, shining like the sun, and said: ‘I thank you, Catherine: behold, I go to Paradise, to sing the mercies of my God, and to pray for you.’


O Queen of Heaven and earth! O Mother of the Lord of the world! O Mary, of all creatures the greatest, the most exalted, and the most amiable! It is true, that there are many in this world who neither know thee, nor love thee; but in heaven, there are many millions of angels and blessed spirits, who love and praise thee continually. Even in this world, how many happy souls are there not, who burn with thy love, and live enamored of thy goodness! O, that I also could love thee, O Lady, worthy of all love. O that I could always remember to serve thee, to praise thee, to honor thee, and engage all to love thee. Thou hast attracted the love of God, whom, by thy beauty, thou hast, so to say, torn from the bosom of His Eternal Father, and engaged to become man, and be thy Son. And shall I, a poor worm of the earth, not be enamored of thee? No, my most sweet Mother, I also will love thee much, and will do all that I can to make others love thee also. Accept then, O Mary, the desire that I have to love thee, and help me to execute it. I know how favorably thy lovers are looked upon by God. He, after His own glory, desires nothing more than thine, and to see thee honored and loved by all. From thee, O Lady, do I expect all; through thee the remission of my sins, through thee perseverance. Thou must assist me at death, and deliver me from purgatory; and finally, thou must lead me to heaven. All this thy lovers hope from thee, and are not deceived. I, who love thee with so much affection, and above all other things, after God, hope for the same favors.


Each day recommend the poor souls in purgatory to our Blessed Lady and offer prayers on their behalf.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Twenty-Ninth Day of May

Mary Delivers Her Clients From Hell.

It is impossible for a client of Mary, who is faithful in honoring and recommending himself to her, to be lost. When we say that it is impossible for a client of Mary to be lost, we must not be understood as speaking of those clients who take advantage of this devotion, that they may sin more freely. And, therefore, those who disapprove of the great praises bestowed on the clemency of this most Blessed Virgin, because it causes the wicked to take advantage of it, to sin with greater freedom, do so without foundation, for such presumptive people deserve chastisement, and not mercy, for their rash confidence. It is, therefore, to be understood of those clients who, with a sincere desire to amend, are faithful in honoring and recommending themselves to the Mother of God. It is, I say, morally impossible that such as these should be lost. St. Anselm says, ‘that as it is impossible for one who is not devout to Mary, and consequently not protected by her, to be saved, so is it impossible for one who recommends himself to her, and consequently is beloved by her, to be lost.’ Many others declare the same thing, such as blessed Albert, who says, that ‘All those who are not thy servants, O Mary, will perish.’ And St. Bonaventure: ‘He who neglects the service of the Blessed Virgin will die in his sins.’ Again, ‘He who does not invoke you, O Lady, will never get to Heaven.’ And, on the 99th psalm, the Saint even says, ‘that not only those from whom Mary turns her face will not be saved, but that there will be no hope of their salvation.’ Before him, St. Ignatius the martyr said, ‘that it was impossible for any sinner to be saved without the help and favor of the most Blessed Virgin; because those who are not saved by the justice of God are, with infinite mercy, saved by the intercession of Mary.’ Some doubt as to whether this passage is truly of St. Ignatius; but, at all events, as Father Crasset remarks, it was adopted by St. John Chrysostom. It is also repeated by the venerable Raymond Jordano. And in the same sense does the Church apply to Mary the words of Proverbs: ‘All that hate me, love death:’ that is, all who do not love me, love eternal death. For, as Richard of St. Lawrence says—on the words of the same book, ‘She is like the merchant’s ship’—‘All those who are out of this ship will be lost in the sea of the world.’' Even the heretical Ecolampadius looked upon little devotion to the Mother of God as a certain mark of reprobation: and therefore he said, ‘ Far be it from me ever to turn from Mary.’

But, on the other hand, Mary says in the words applied to her by the Church, ‘He that hearkens to me shall not be confounded;’ that is to say, he who listens to what I say shall not be lost. On which St. Bonaventure says, ‘O Lady, he who honors you will be far from damnation.’ And this will still be the case, St. Hilary observes, even should the person, during the past time, have greatly offended God. ‘However great a sinner he may have been,’ says the saint, ‘if he shows himself devout to Mary he will never perish.’

For this reason the devil does his utmost with sinners, in order that after they have lost the grace of God, they may also lose devotion to Mary. The devil, also, is not satisfied with a soul turning out Jesus Christ unless it also turns out His Mother. Otherwise he fears that the Mother will again, by her intercession, bring back her Son. ‘And his fears are well grounded,’ says the learned Paciucchelli; ‘for he who is faithful in serving the Mother of God will soon receive God Himself by the means of Mary.’ St. Ephrem then was right in calling devotion to our Blessed Lady ‘a Divine charter,’ our safeguard from hell. This same saint also calls the Divine Mother ‘the only hope of those who are in despair.’ That which St. Bernard says is certainly true, ‘that neither the power nor the will to save us can be wanting to Mary:’ the power cannot be wanting, for it is impossible that her prayers should not be heard, as St. Antoninus says, ‘It is impossible that the Mother of God should pray in vain;’ and St. Bernard says the same thing; ‘that her requests can never be refused, but that she obtains whatever she wills:’ the will to save us cannot be wanting, for Mary is our Mother, and desires our salvation more than we can desire it ourselves. Since then this is the case, how can it be possible for a client of Mary to be lost? He may be a sinner, but if he recommends himself to this good Mother, with perseverance and purpose of amendment, she will undertake to obtain for him light to abandon his wicked state, sorrow for sins, perseverance in virtue, and, finally, a good death. And what mother would not deliver her son from death if it only depended on her asking the favor to obtain it from the judge? And can we think that Mary, who loves her clients with a Mother’s most tender love, will not deliver her child from eternal death when she can do it so easily?

‘O, how many would have remained obstinate in sin, and have been eternally lost,’ says Thomas a Kempis, ‘if Mary had not interposed with her Son, that He might show them mercy!’

‘What, then, will be our lot, O tender Mother,’ let us ask with St. Germanus, ‘who are sinners, but desire to change, and have recourse to you, who are the life of Christians?’ St. Anselm says, ‘that he will not be lost for whom you once pray.’ O, pray then for us, and we shall be preserved from hell.


In the year 1604, in a city of Flanders, there were two young men, students; but who, instead of attending to their studies, gave themselves up to a life of debauchery. One night they were both in a house with an evil companion, when one of them, named Richard, returned home, leaving his companion there. After he got home, and had begun to undress, he remembered he had not that day said some ‘Hail Marys’ that he was in the habit of reciting. Feeling very sleepy he was loath to say them; he did himself violence, and repeated them, though without devotion, and half asleep. He then laid down, and had fallen into a sound slumber, when he was suddenly roused by a violent knocking at the door, and without its opening he saw his companion, deformed and hideous, standing before him. ‘Who art you?’ he cried out. ‘What! don’t you know me?’ ‘Ah! yes, but how you are changed; you seem to me a devil.’ ‘Truly,’ he exclaimed, ‘poor unfortunate creature that I am, I am damned, and how? When I was leaving that wicked house a devil came and strangled me: my body is in the street, and my soul in hell; and you must know,’ added he, ‘that the same fate awaited you had not the Blessed Virgin preserved you in consideration of that little act of homage of the "Hail Mary." Fortunate are you if only you know how to take advantage of this warning sent to you by the Mother of God!’ With these words he opened his mantle, and showing the flames and serpents by which he was tormented, he disappeared. Richard immediately burst into sobs and tears, and casting himself prostrate on the ground, he returned thanks to Mary, his protectress; and, while thinking how to change his life, he heard the bell of the Franciscan monastery ringing for matins. ‘Ah! it is there that God calls me to do penance.’ He went straight off to the convent, and implored the fathers to admit him. But they were hardly willing to do so, knowing his wicked life; but he, sobbing bitterly, told all that had taken place; and two fathers being sent to the street, and having found the strangled body, which was as black as a coal, they admitted him. From that time forward Richard led a most exemplary life, and, at length, went to preach the gospel in the Indies; and thence to Japan, where he had the happiness of giving his life for Jesus Christ, being burnt alive for the Faith.


O Mary, my most dear Mother, in what an abyss of evils should I not now be, if thou hadst not so many times delivered me with thy compassionate hand! How many years ago should I not have been in hell, hadst thou not saved me by thy powerful prayers! My grievous sins already drove me there; Divine justice had already condemned me; the devils already longed to execute the sentence; and thou didst fly to my aid, and save me without being even called or asked. And what return can I make to thee, O my beloved protectress, for so many favors, and for such love? Thou also didst overcome the hardness of my heart, and didst draw me to thy love, and to confidence in thee. And into how many other evils should I not have fallen, if with thy compassionate hand thou hadst not so often helped me in the dangers into which I was on the point of falling! Continue, O my hope, to preserve me from hell, and from the sins into which I may still fall. Never allow me to have this misfortune—to curse thee in hell. My beloved Lady, I love thee. Can thy goodness ever endure to see a servant of thine that loves thee lost? Ah, then, obtain that I may never more be ungrateful to thee and to my God, who, for the love of thee, has granted me so many graces. O Mary, tell me, shall I be lost? Yes, if I abandon thee. But is this possible? Can I ever forget the love thou hast borne me? Thou, after God, art the love of my soul. I can no longer trust myself to live without loving thee. O most beautiful, most holy, most amiable, sweetest creature in the world, I rejoice in thy happiness, I love thee, and I hope always to love thee both in time and in eternity. Amen.


As the end of this month with Mary draws to a close, renew your resolve to practice devotion to this loving Mother every day of your life.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Twenty-Eighth Day of May

Mary Renders Death Sweet to Her Clients.

The prophet Isaias tells us that when a man is on the point of leaving the world, hell is opened and sends forth its most terrible demons, both to tempt the soul before it leaves the body, and also to accuse it when presented before the tribunal of Jesus Christ for judgment. The prophet says, ‘Hell below was in an uproar to meet you at your coming, it stirred up the giants for you.’ But Richard of St. Lawrence remarks, that when the soul is defended by Mary, the devils dare not even accuse it, knowing that the Judge never condemned, and never will condemn, a soul protected by His august Mother. He asks, ‘Who would dare accuse one who is patronized by the Mother of Him who is to judge? Mary not only assists her beloved servants at death and encourages them, but she herself accompanies them to the tribunal seat of God. As St. Jerome says, writing to the virgin Eustochia, ‘What a day of joy will that be for you, when Mary, the Mother of our Lord, accompanied by choirs of virgins, will go to meet you.’

The Blessed Virgin assured St. Bridget of this, for speaking of her devout clients at the point of death, she said, ‘Then will I, their dear Lady and Mother, fly to them, that they may have consolation and refreshment.’ St. Vincent Ferrar says, that not only does the most Blessed Virgin console and refresh them, but that she receives the souls of the dying. This loving Queen takes them under her mantle, and thus presents them to the Judge her Son, and most certainly obtains their salvation.

Ecclesiasticus says, that ‘her bands are a healthful binding,’ and that ‘in the latter end you shall find rest in her.’ O, you are indeed fortunate, my brother, if at death you are bound with the sweet chains of love of the Mother of God! These chains are chains of salvation; they are chains that will insure your eternal salvation, and will make you enjoy in death that blessed peace which will be the beginning of your eternal peace and rest. Father Binetti, in his book on the perfections of our Blessed Lord, says, ‘that having attended the deathbed of a great lover of Mary, he heard him, before expiring, utter these words: ‘O my father, would that you could know the happiness that I now enjoy from having served the most holy Mother of God; I cannot tell you the joy that I now experience.’ Father Suarez (in consequence of his devotion to Mary, which was such that he used to say, that he would willingly change all his learning for the merit of a single ‘Hail Mary’) died with such peace and joy, that, in that moment, he said, ‘I could not have thought that death was so sweet;’ meaning, that he could never have imagined that it was possible, if he had not then experienced it, that he could have found such sweetness in death. You, devout reader, will, without doubt, experience the same joy and contentment in death, if you can then remember that you have loved this good mother, who cannot be otherwise than faithful to her children, who have been faithful in serving and honoring her, by their visits, rosaries, and fasts; and still more by frequently thanking and praiseing her, and often recommending themselves to her powerful protection.

Nor will this consolation be withheld, even if you have been for a time a sinner, provided that, from this day, you are careful to live well, and to serve this most gracious and benign Lady. She, in your pains, and in the temptations to despair which the devil will send you, will console you, and even come herself to assist you in your last moments.

And if, by chance, at that moment, you are greatly alarmed, and lose confidence at the sight of your sins, she will come and encourage you. Let us then be of good heart, though we be sinners, and feel certain that Mary will come and assist us at death, and comfort and console us with her presence, provided only that we serve her with love during the remainder of the time that we have to be in this world.


Father Crasset relates, that a military commander told him that once, after a battle, he found a soldier in the camp, who, holding a rosary and Mary’s scapular in his hand, asked for a confessor; as his forehead was pierced by a musket ball, which had come out at the back of his head, so that the brain was visible and came out through each opening, so much so, indeed, that naturally he could not live. He raised himself up, made his confession to the chaplain with great compunction, and when he had received absolution, expired.


O Comforter of the Afflicted, console a poor creature who recommends himself to thee. The remorse of a conscience overburdened with sins fills me with affliction. I am in doubt as to whether I have sufficiently grieved for them. I see that all my actions are soiled and defective; hell awaits my death in order to accuse me; the outraged justice of God demands satisfaction. My Mother, what will become of me? If thou dost not help me, I am lost. What sayest thou, wilt thou assist me? O compassionate Virgin, console me; obtain for me true sorrow for my sins; obtain for me strength to amend, and to be faithful to God, during the rest of my life. And finally, when I am in the agonies of death, O Mary, my hope, abandon me not; then more than ever help and encourage me, that I may not despair at the sight of my sins, which the evil one will then place before me. My Lady, forgive my temerity; come thyself to comfort me with thy presence in that last struggle. This favor thou hast granted to many, grant it also to me. If my boldness is great, thy goodness is greater; for it goes in search of the most miserable to console them. On this I rely. For thy eternal glory, let it be said that thou hast snatched a wretched creature from hell, to which he was already condemned, and that thou hast led him to thy kingdom. O yes, sweet Mother, I hope to have the consolation of remaining always at thy feet in heaven, thanking and blessing and loving thee eternally. O Mary, I shall expect thee at my last hour, deprive me not of this consolation. Fiat, fiat. Amen, amen.


Have yourself and all those in your care enrolled in the Five-fold Scapular or at least the Brown Scapular of the Carmelites and wear it faithfully.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Twenty-Seventh Day of May

Of the Sweetness of the Name of Mary at the Hour of Death.

‘He that is a friend, loves at all times; and a brother is proved in distress.’ says the Book of Proverbs. We can never know our friends and relations in the time of prosperity; it is only in the time of adversity that we see them in their true colors. People of the world never abandon a friend as long as he is in prosperity; but should misfortunes overtake him, and more particularly should he be at the point of death, the immediately forsake him. Mary does not act thus with her clients. In their affliction, and more particularly in the sorrows of death—this good Lady and Mother not only does not abandon her faithful servants, but, as during our exile, she is our life, so also is she, at our last hour, our sweetness, by obtaining for us a calm and happy death. For from the day on which Mary had the privilege and sorrow of being present at the death of Jesus her Son, who was the head of all the predestined, it became her privilege to assist also at their deaths. And for this reason the holy Church teaches us to beg this most Blessed Virgin to assist us, especially at the moment of death: ‘Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death!"

The most holy name of Mary is sweet indeed to her clients during life, on account of the very great graces she obtains for them. But sweeter still will it be to them in death, on account of the tranquil and holy end that it will insure them. Father Sertorius Caputo exhorted all who assist the dying, frequently to pronounce the name of Mary; for this name of life and hope, when repeated at the hour of death, suffices to put the devils to flight, and to comfort such persons in their sufferings. St. Camillus de Lellis also recommended his religious, in the strongest terms, to remind the dying frequently to invoke the names of Jesus and Mary. This was his own custom when attending others; but O, how sweetly did he practice it himself on his death-bed, for then he pronounced the beloved names of Jesus and Mary with such tenderness, that he inflamed even those who heard him with love.

O how great are the sufferings of the dying! They suffer from remorse of conscience on account of past sins, from fear of the approaching judgement, and from the uncertainty of their eternal salvation. Then it is that hell arms itself, and spares no efforts to gain the soul which is on the point of entering eternity; for it knows that only a short time remains in which to gain it, and that if it then loses it, it has lost it forever. ‘The devil is come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he hath but a short time.’ And for this reason the enemy of our salvation, whose charge it was to tempt the soul during life, does not choose at death to be alone, but calls others to his assistance, according to the prophet Isaias: ‘Their houses shall be filled with serpents.’ But how quickly do the rebellious spirits fly from the presence of the Queen of Heaven!

If at the hour of death we have only the protection of Mary, what need we fear from the whole of our infernal enemies? David, fearing the horrors of death, encouraged himself by placing his reliance in the death of the coming Redeemer, and in the intercession of the Virgin Mother.

Thomas a Kempis affirms, ‘that the devils fear the Queen of heaven to such a degree, that on only hearing her great name pronounced, they fly from him who does so as from a burning fire.
Our Blessed Lady also told St. Bridget, ‘that in the same way as the revel angels fly from sinners who invoke the name of Mary,’ so also do ‘the good angels approach nearer to just souls who pronounce her name with devotion.’

‘Yes, truly blessed is he who loves your sweet name, O Mother of God!’ exclaims St. Bonaventure, for ‘your name is so glorious and admirable, that no one who remembers it has any fears at the hour of death.’ Such is its power, that none of those who invoke it at the hour of death fear the assaults of their enemies.

O, that we may end our lives as did the Capuchin father, Fulgentius of Ascoli, who expired singing, ‘O Mary, O Mary, the most beautiful of creatures! let us depart together;’ or like blessed Henry the Cistercian, who expired in the very moment that he was pronouncing the most sweet name of Mary. Let us then, O devout reader, beg God to grant us, that at death the name of Mary may be the last word on our lips. This was the prayer of St. Germanus: ‘May the last movement of my tongue be to pronounce the name of the Mother of God!’ O sweet, O safe is that death which is accompanied and protected by such a saving name; for God only grants the grace of invoking it to those whom He is about to save.


In Germany, there was a criminal who had been condemned to death, but he was obstinate, and refused to make his confession. A Jesuit Father did all that he could to convert him; this good Father entreated him, wept, cast himself at his feet; but seeing that all time was lost, he at length said: ‘Now, let us recite a "Hail Mary" together.’ The criminal did so, and in an instant began to weep bitterly, confessed his sins with great compunction, and desired to die clasping an image of Mary in his arms.


O my sweet Lady and Mother, I love thee much, and because I love thee I also love thy holy name. I purpose and hope, with thy assistance, always to invoke it during life and at death. And to conclude with the tenter prayer of St. Bernard: ‘I ask thee, O Mary, for the glory of thy name, to come and meet my soul when it is departing from this world, and to take it in thine arms.’ ‘Disdain not, O Mary,’ the Saint continues, ‘to come then and comfort me with thy presence. Be thyself my soul’s ladder and way to heaven. Do thou thyself obtain for it the grace of forgiveness and eternal repose.’

My own dear Mary, O my beloved Jesus, may your most sweet names reign in my heart, and in all hearts. Grant that I may forget all others, to remember, and always invoke, your adorable names alone. Ah! Jesus my Redeemer, and my Mother Mary, when the moment of death comes, in which I must breathe forth my soul and leave this world, deign, through your merits, to grant that I may then pronounce my last words, and that they may be, ‘I love Thee, O Jesus, I love thee, O Mary; to you do I give my heart and my soul.’


Do not fail to daily invoke the Blessed Virgin, asking her to assist you at the hour of death. For you may not be able to call upon her when you have most need of her.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Twenty-Sixth Day of May

Of the Sweetness of the Name of Mary During Life.

The great name of Mary, which was given to the Divine Mother, did not come to her from her parents, nor was it given to her by the mind or will of man, as is the case with all other names that are imposed in this world; but it came from heaven, and was given her by a Divine ordinance. This is attested by St. Jerome, St. Epiphanius, St. Antoninus, and others. ‘The name of Mary came from the treasury of the Divinity,’ says St. Peter Damian. Ah! yes, O Mary, it was from that treasury that your high and admirable name came forth; for the most Blessed Trinity, says Richard of St. Lawrence, bestowed on you a name above every other name after that of your Son, and ennobled it with such majesty and power, that He willed that all heaven, earth, and hell, on only hearing it, should fall down and venerate it; but I will give the author's own words: ‘The whole Trinity, O Mary, gave you a name, after that of your Son, above every other name, that in your name every knee should bow, of things in heaven, on earth, and under the earth.’ But amongst the other privileges of the name of Mary, and which were given to it by God, we will now examine that of the peculiar sweetness found in it by the servants of this most holy Lady.

And in the first place, the holy anchorite Honorius used to say, that ‘this name of Mary is filled with every sweetness and Divine savor,’ so much so that the glorious St. Anthony of Padua found the same sweetness in the name of Mary that St. Bernard found in that of Jesus. ‘Name of Jesus!’ exclaimed the one. ‘O name of Mary!’ replied the other; ‘joy in the heart, honey in the mouth, melody to the ear of her devout clients.’ It is narrated in the life of the Ven. Father Juvenal Ancina, bishop of Saluzzo, that in pronouncing the name of Mary he tasted so great and sensible a sweetness, that, after doing so, he licked his lips. We read also, that a lady at Cologne told the Bishop Massilius, that as often as she uttered the name of Mary, she experienced a taste far sweeter than honey. The bishop imitated her, and experienced the same thing.

But here I do not intend to speak of that sensible sweetness, for it is not granted to all; I speak of that salutary sweetness of consolation, of love, of joy, of confidence, of strength, which the name of Mary ordinarily brings to those who pronounce it with devotion. The Abbot Francone, speaking on this subject, says, ‘there is no other name, after that of the Son, in heaven or on earth, whence pious minds derive so much grace, hope, and sweetness.’ After the most sacred name of Jesus the name of Mary is so rich in every good thing, that on earth, and in heaven, there is no other from which devout souls receive so much grace, hope, and sweetness. ‘For,’ he continues, ‘there is something so admirable, sweet, and divine in this name of Mary, that when it meets with friendly hearts it breathes into them an odor of delightful sweetness.’ And he adds, in conclusion, ‘that the wonder of this great name is, that if heard by the lovers of Mary a thousand times, it is always heard again with renewed pleasure, for they always experience the same sweetness each time it is pronounced.’

The Blessed Henry Suso, also speaking of this sweetness, says, ‘that when he named Mary, he felt himself so excited to confidence and inflamed with such love and joy, that between the tears of joy, with which he pronounced the beloved name, he desired that his heart might leave his breast; for he declared that this most sweet name was like a honeycomb dissolving in the inmost recess of his soul:’ and then he would exclaim: ‘O most sweet name! O Mary, what must you yourself be, since your name alone is thus amiable and gracious!’

‘And if riches comfort the poor, because they relieve them in their distress, O how much more does your name, O Mary,’ says Richard of St. Lawrence, ‘comfort us than any earthly riches? It comforts us in the anguishes of this life.’ ‘Your name, O Mary, is far better than riches, because it can better relieve poverty.’ In fine, ‘Your name, O Mother of God, is filled with Divine graces and blessings,’ as St. Methodius says. So much so, that St. Bonaventure declares, ‘that your name, O Mary, cannot be pronounced without bringing some grace to him who does so devoutly.’

Let us, therefore, always take advantage of the beautiful advice given us by St. Bernard in these words: ‘In dangers, in perplexities, in doubtful cases, think of Mary, call on Mary; let her not leave your lips; let her not depart from your heart.’ In every danger of forfeiting Divine grace, we should think of Mary, and invoke her name, together with that of Jesus; for these two names always go together. O, then, never let us permit these two most sweet names to leave our hearts, or be off our lips; for they will give us strength not only not to yield, but to conquer all our temptations. Consoling indeed are the promises of help made by Jesus Christ, to those who have devotion to the name of Mary; for one day, in the hearing of St. Bridget, He promised His most holy Mother that He would grant three special graces to those who invoke that holy name with confidence: first, that He would grant them perfect sorrow for their sins; secondly, that their crimes should be atoned for; and, thirdly, strength to attain perfection, and at length the glory of paradise.


A woman came to a house of our little congregation in this kingdom to let one of the fathers know that her husband had not been to confession for many years, and the poor creature could no longer tell by what means to bring him to his duty; for if she named confession to him he beat her. The father told her to give him a picture of Mary Immaculate. In the evening the woman once more begged her husband to go to confession; but as he as usual turned a deaf ear to her entreaties, she gave him the picture. Behold! he had scarcely received it, when he said, ‘Well, when will you take me to confession, for I am willing to go? The wife, on seeing this instantaneous change, began to weep for joy. In the morning he really came to our church, and when the father asked him how long it was since he had been to confession, he answered twenty-eight years. The father again asked him what had induced him to come that morning: ‘Father,’ he replied, ‘I was obstinate, but last night my wife gave me a picture of our Blessed lady, and in the same moment I felt my heart changed, so much so, that during the whole night every moment seemed a thousand years, so great was my desire to go to confession,’ He then confessed his sins with great contrition, changed his life, and continued for a long time to go frequently to confession to the same father.


O great Mother of God and my Mother Mary, it is true that I am unworthy to name thee; but thou, who lovest me and desirest my salvation, must, notwithstanding the impurity of my tongue, grant that I may always invoke thy most powerful name in my aid, for thy name is the succor of the living, and the salvation of the dying. Ah, most pure Mary, most sweet Mary, grant that from henceforth thy name may be the breath of my life. O Lady, delay not to help me when I invoke thee, for in all the temptations which assail me, and in all my wants, I will never cease calling upon thee, and repeating again and again, Mary, Mary. Ah, Mary, most amiable Mary, with what consolation, what sweetness, what confidence, what tenderness, is my soul penetrated in only naming, in only thinking of thee. I thank my Lord and God, who for my good, has given thee a name so sweet and deserving of love, and at the same time so powerful.

But, my sovereign Lady, I am not satisfied with only naming thee, I wish to name thee with love: I desire that my love may every hour remind me to call on thee, so that I may be able to exclaim with St. Bonaventure, ‘O, name of the Mother of God, thou art my love.’


In every need, but most especially when tempted to sin, call on the names of Jesus and Mary.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Corpus et Sanguinis Christi

"Behold, I am with you all days, even unto the consummation of the world"

Today the Church rejoices in the great gift of the most Holy Eucharist. Before he ascended into Heaven to the right hand of the Father, Christ our Lord promised that he would not leave us orphans. And in truth, he has not, for he remains with us day and night in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. Ever waiting, he is there for one reason-- to be with us. In every Catholic church is fulfilled the ancient promise of God to dwell among men. Thus every Catholic church is truly the House of God and Gate of Heaven. In the tabernacle Christ is waiting for us. He waits for us to come and visit. He waits for us to tell him our trials and problems. He waits for us to tell him of our joys and happiness. He waits for us to tell him whatever we desire. He waits for us..... and more often than not, he is alone.

This great feast reminds us not only that Christ gave us the Eucharist to be our food, but also so that he could remain among us. He did not do this for himself. He did so for us. He has no need to be the Prisoner of the Tabernacle. But he is.

So often in our busy lives, going from here to there we pass by a church. Inside a dear friend is waiting. He doesn't ask that we stay for hours. A short visit will do. Dropping in to say "I'm thinking of you, dear Jesus. I just wanted to say hello and thank you for ......." And if we truly are pressed for time, a short aspiration such as "Blessed be Jesus Christ in the holy Sacrament of the Altar" lets him know we know he is there and are thinking of him.

The daily visit to the Blessed Sacrament was once a common practice. It was unheard of to pass by a church and not stop in, if only for a minute or two. Many Catholics made it a regular part of their prayer life. I know of many people who, if the doors to the church are locked or it is late at night, park in front of the church and make a visit from their car or the church steps. Archbishop Sheen let nothing get in the way of his daily appointment with our Lord. Neither should any of us.

Let us resolve to increase our visits to the Blessed Sacrament. Let us be mindful of Jesus who is a prisoner of love in the tabernacle and longs for a bit of company. He has given his very life for us. Can we not give some of our's back to him?

Twenty-Fifth Day of May

Mary Is Also Our Life, Because She Obtains Perseverance for Us.

Final perseverance is so great a gift of God, that, as it was declared by the Holy Council of Trent, it is quite gratuitous on His part, and we cannot merit it. Yet we are told by St. Augustine, that all who seek for it obtain it from God; and, according to Father Suarez, they obtain it infallibly, if only they are diligent in asking for it to the end of their lives; for, as Bellarmin well remarks, ‘That which is daily required must be asked for every day.’ Now, if it is true that all the graces that God dispenses to men pass by the hands of Mary, it will be equally true that it is only through Mary that we can hope for this greatest of all graces—perseverance. And we shall obtain it most certainly, if we always seek it with confidence through Mary. This grace she herself promises to all who serve her faithfully during life, in the following words of Ecclesiasticus, and which are applied to her by the Church, on the Feast of her Immaculate Conception: ‘They that work by me shall not sin. They that explain me shall have life everlasting.’

In order that we may be preserved in the life of grace, we require spiritual fortitude, to resist the many enemies of our salvation. Now this fortitude can be obtained only by the means of Mary, and we are assured of it in the book of Proverbs, for the Church applies the passage to this most Blessed Virgin: ‘Strength is mine; by me kings reign.’ Meaning, by the words, ‘strength is mine,’ that God has bestowed this precious gift on Mary, in order that she may dispense it to her faithful clients. And by the words, ‘By me kings reign,’ she signifies that by her means her servants reign over and command their senses and passions, and thus become worthy to reign eternally in heaven. O, what strength do the servants of this great Lady possess, to overcome all the assaults of hell! Mary is that tower spoken of in the sacred Canticles: ‘Your neck is as the tower of David, which is built with bulwarks; a thousand bucklers hang upon it, all the armor of valiant men.’ She is as a well-defended fortress in defense of her lovers, who in their wars have recourse to her. In her do her clients find all shields and arms, to defend themselves against hell. Truly are those souls to be pitied who abandon this defense, in ceasing their devotion to Mary, and no longer recommending themselves to her in the time of danger! If the sun ceased to rise, says St. Bernard, how could the world become other than a chaos of darkness and horror? And applying his question to Mary, he repeats it: ‘Take away the sun, and where will be the day? Take away Mary, and what will be left but the darkest night? When a soul loses devotion to Mary it is immediately enveloped in darkness, and in that darkness of which the Holy Ghost speaks in the Psalms: ‘You have appointed darkness, and it is night; in it shall all the beasts of the woods go about.’ When the light of heaven ceases to shine in a soul, all is darkness, and it becomes the haunt of devils and of every sin. St. Anselm says, that ‘if any one is disregarded and contemned by Mary, he is necessarily lost;’ and therefore we may with reason exclaim, Woe to those who are in opposition with this sun! Woe to those who despise its light! that is to say, all who despise devotion to Mary. St. Francis Borgia always doubted the perseverance of those in whom he did not find particular devotion to the Blessed Virgin.

It was then not without reason that St. Germanus called the most Blessed Virgin the breath of Christians; for as the body cannot live without breathing, so the soul cannot live without having recourse to and recommending itself to Mary, by whose means we certainly acquire and preserve the life of Divine grace within our souls.

On the other hand, Mary says in the following words of the Book of Proverbs, which are applied to her by the Church: ‘Blessed is the man that hears me, and that watches daily at my gates, and waits at the posts of my doors,’—as if she would say, Blessed is he that hears my voice, and is constantly attentive to apply at the door of my mercy, and seeks light and help from me. For clients who do this, Mary does her part, and obtains them the light and strength they require to abandon sin and walk in the paths of virtue. For this reason Innocent III. beautifully calls her ‘the moon at night, the dawn at break of day, and the sun at mid-day.’ She is a moon to enlighten those who blindly wander in the night of sin, and makes them see and understand the miserable state of damnation in which they are; she is the dawn (that is, the forerunner of the sun) to those whom she has already enlightened, and makes them abandon sin and return to God, the true Sun of justice; finally, she is a sun to those who are in a state of grace, and prevents them from again falling into the precipice of sin. And therefore St. Philip Neri, in his exhortations to his penitents, used always to say: ‘My children, if you desire perseverance, be devout to our Blessed Lady.’ The Blessed John Berchmans, of the Society of Jesus, used also to say: ‘Whoever loves Mary will have perseverance,’ Truly beautiful is the reflection of Abbot Rupert on this subject in his commentary on the parable of the prodigal son. He says, ‘That is this dissolute youth had had a mother living, he would never have abandoned the paternal roof, or, at least, would have returned much sooner than he did;’ meaning, thereby, that a son of Mary either never abandons God, or, if he has this misfortune, by her help he soon returns. O, did all men but love this most benign and loving Lady, had they but recourse to her always, and without delay, in their temptations, who would fall? Who would ever be lost? He falls and is lost who has not recourse to Mary. We, says St. Thomas of Villanova, need only when tempted by the devil, imitate little chickens, which, as soon as they perceive the approach of a bird of prey, run under the wings of their mother for protection. This is exactly what we should do whenever we are assaulted by temptation; we should not stay to reason with it, but immediately fly and place ourselves under the mantle of Mary. I will, however, quote the Saint’s own words addressed to Mary: ‘As chickens, when they see a hawk soaring above, run and find refuge under the wings of the hen, so are we preserved under the shadow of your wings.’ ‘And you,’ he continues, ‘who are our Lady and Mother, have to defend us; for, after God, we have no other refuge than you, who are our only hope and our protrectress; towards you we all turn our eyes with confidence.’


The history of St. Mary of Egypt, in the first book of the lives of the Fathers, is well known. At the age of twelve years she fled from the house of her parents, and went to Alexandria, and there led an infamous life, and was a scandal to the whole city. After living for sixteen years in sin, she took it into her head to go to Jerusalem. At the time the Feast of the Holy Cross was being celebrated, and, moved rather by curiosity than by devotion, she determined on entering the church; but when at the door, she felt herself repelled by an invisible force. She made a second attempt, and was again unable to enter; and the same thing was repeated a third and fourth time. Finding her efforts in vain, the unfortunate creature withdrew to a corner of the porch, and there, enlightened from above, understood that it was on account of her infamous life that God had repelled her even from the church. In that moment she fortunately raised her eyes and beheld a picture of Mary. No sooner did she perceive it, than, sobbing, she exclaimed, ‘O Mother of God, pity a poor sinner! I know that on account of my sins I deserve not that you should cast your eyes upon me. But you art the refuge of sinners; for the love of your Son Jesus, help me. Permit me to enter the church, and I promise to change my life, and to go and do penance in whatever place you point out to me.’ She immediately heard an internal voice, as it were that of the Blessed Virgin, replying: ‘Since you hast recourse to me, and wish to change your life, go—enter the church, it is no longer closed against you.’ The sinner entered, adored the Cross, and wept bitterly. She then returned to the picture, and said, ‘Lady, behold I am ready, where will you that I should go to do penance?’ ‘Go,’ the Blessed Virgin replied, ‘cross the Jordan, and you wilt find the place of your repose.’ She went to confession and communion, and then passed the river, and finding herself in the desert, she understood that it was in that place she should do penance for her sinful life. During the first seventeen years the assaults of the devil, by which he endeavored to make the Saint again fall into sin, were terrible. And what were her means of defense? She constantly recommended herself to Mary, and this most Blessed Virgin obtained her strength to resist during the whole of the above time, after which her combats ceased. After fifty-seven years spent in the desert, and having attained the age of eighty-seven, she was, by a disposition of providence, met by the Abbot Zosimus; to him she related the history of her life, and entreated him to return the following year, and to bring her the Holy Communion. The saintly Abbot did so, and gave her the Bread of Angels. She then requested that he would again return to see her. This also he did, but found her dead. Her body was encompassed by a bright light, and at her head these words were written, ‘Bury my body here—it is that of a poor sinner, and intercede with God for me.’ A lion came and made a grave with his claws. St. Zosimus buried her, returned to his monastery, and related the wonders of God's mercy towards this happy sinner.


O compassionate Mother, most Sacred Virgin, behold at thy feet the traitor, who, by paying with ingratitude the graces received from God through thy means, has betrayed both thee and Him. But I must tell thee, O most blessed lady, that my misery, far from taking away my confidence, increases it; for I see that thy compassion is great, in proportion to the greatness of my misery. Show thyself, O Mary, full of liberality towards me; for thus thou art towards all who invoke thy aid. All that I ask is that thou shouldst cast thine eyes of compassion on me, and pity me. If thy heart is thus far moved, it cannot do otherwise than protect me; and if thou protectest me, what can I fear? No, I fear nothing. I do not fear my sins, for thou canst provide a remedy; I do not fear devils, for thou art more powerful than the whole of hell; I do not even fear thy Son, though justly irritated against me; for at a word of thine He will be appeased. I only fear lest, in my temptations, and by my own fault, I may cease to recommend myself to thee, and thus be lost. But I now promise thee that I will always have recourse to thee; O help me to fulfil my promise. Lose not the opportunity which now presents itself of gratifying thy ardent desire to succor such poor wretches as myself. In thee, O Mother of God, I have unbounded confidence. From thee I hope for grace to bewail my sins as I ought, and from thee I hope for strength never again to fall into them. If I am sick, thou, O heavenly physician, canst heal me. If my sins have weakened me, thy help will strengthen me. O Mary, I hope all from thee; for thou art all-powerful with God. Amen.


Beg the most holy Virgin to grant you the grace to persevere in devotion to her until you shall go to meet her in paradise.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Twenty-Fourth Day of May

Mary Is Our Life, Because She Obtains Us the Pardon of Our Sins.

If we have had the misfortune to lose the grace of God, we should seek to recover it, but we should do so by Mary, for though we may have lost it, she has found it; and hence St. Bernard calls her ‘the finder of grace.’ The angel Gabriel expressly declared this for our consolation, when he saluted the Blessed Virgin, saying, ‘Fear not, Mary; you have found grace.’ But if Mary had never been deprived of grace, how could the archangel say that she had then found it? A thing may be found by a person who did not previously possess it; but we are told by the same archangel, that the Blessed Virgin was always with God, always in grace, nay, full of grace: ‘Hail, full of grace,’ the Lord is with you.’ Since Mary then did not find grace for herself, she being always full of it, for whom did she find it? Cardinal Hugo, in his commentary on the above text, replies that she found it for sinners who had lost it. ‘Let sinners then,’' says this devout writer, ‘'who by their crimes have lost grace, address themselves to the Blessed Virgin; for with her they will surely find it; let them humbly salute her, and say with confidence, Lady, that which has been found must be restored to him who has lost it; restore to us, therefore, our property which you have found.’ On this subject, Richard of St. Lawrence concludes, ‘That if we hope to recover the grace of God, we must go to Mary, who has found it, and finds it always.’ And as she always was and always will bo dear to God, if we have recourse to her, we shall certainly succeed. Again Mary says, in the eighth chapter of the sacred Canticles, that God has placed her in the world to be our defense: ‘I am a wall, and my breasts are as a tower.’ And she is truly made a mediatrix of peace between sinners and God, ‘Since I am become in His presence as one finding peace.’ On these words St. Bernard encourages sinners, saying, ‘Go to this Mother of Mercy, and show her the wounds which your sins have left on your soul; then will she certainly entreat her Son, by the breasts that gave Him suck, to pardon you all. And this Divine Son, who loves her so tenderly, will most certainly grant her petition.’ In this sense it is that the holy Church, in her almost daily prayer, calls upon us to beg our Lord to grant us the powerful help of the intercession of Mary to rise from our sins: ‘Grant your help to our weakness, O most merciful God: and that we, who are mindful of the holy Mother of God, may by the help of her intercession rise from our iniquities.’ With reason then does St. Lawrence Justinian call her ‘the hope of malefactors:’ since she alone is the one who obtains them pardon from God. With reason does St. Bernard call her ‘the sinners’ ladder;’ since she, the most compassionate Queen, extending her hand to them, draws them from an abyss of sin, and enables them to ascend to God. With reason does an ancient writer call her ‘the only hope of sinners;’ for by her help alone can we hope for the remission of our sins. St. John Chrysostom also says’ that sinners receive pardon by the intercession of Mary alone.’ And therefore the Saint, in the name of all sinners, thus addresses her: ‘Hail, Mother’ of God and of us all, ‘heaven,’ where God dwells, ‘throne,’ from which our Lord dispenses all graces, ‘fair daughter, Virgin, honor, glory, and firmament of our Church, assiduously pray to Jesus that in the day of judgment we may find mercy through thee, and receive the reward prepared by God for those who love Him.’

St. Andrew of Crete calls Mary the pledge of Divine mercy; meaning that, when sinners have recourse to Mary that they may be reconciled with God, He assures them of pardon, and gives them a pledge of it; and this pledge is Mary, whom He has bestowed upon us for our advocate, and by whose intercession, in virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, God forgives all who have recourse to her. St. Bridget heard an angel say that the holy prophets rejoiced in knowing that God, by the humility and purity of Mary, was to be reconciled with sinners, and to receive those who had offended Him to favor: ‘They exulted, foreknowing that our Lord Himself would be appeased by your humility and the purity of your life, O Mary, super-effulgent star, and that He would be reconciled with those who had provoked His wrath.’

No sinner having recourse to the compassion of Mary should fear being rejected; for she is the Mother of Mercy, and as such desires to save the most miserable. ‘Mary is that happy ark,’ says St. Bernard, ‘in which those who take refuge will never suffer the shipwreck of eternal perdition.’ At the time of the Deluge, even brutes were saved in Noah’s ark. Under the mantle of Mary even sinners obtain salvation. St. Gertrude once saw Mary with her mantle extended, and under it many wild beasts—lions, bears, and tigers—had taken refuge; and she remarked that Mary not only did not reject, but even welcomed and caressed them with the greatest tenderness. The Saint understood hereby that the most abandoned sinners who have recourse to Mary are not only not rejected, but that they are welcomed and saved by her from eternal death. Let us then enter this ark, let us take refuge under the mantle of Mary, and she will not reject us, but will secure our salvation.


Father Bovio relates that there was a wicked woman named Ellen, who entered a church, and by chance heard a sermon on the Rosary. On leaving the church she purchased a set of beads, but wore them concealed, as she did not wish it to be known that she had them. She began to recite them; and though she did so without devotion, our most Blessed Lady poured such sweetness and consolation into her soul during the whole time, that she could not cease repeating the ‘Hail Mary’s.’ At length she was filled with such horror for her wicked life, that she no longer could find repose, and she was obliged to go to confession; and she accomplished this duty with such contrition, that the priest was filled with astonishment. After her confession, she went to the foot of an altar of the most Blessed Virgin, and there, as a thanksgiving to her advocate, said the Rosary. The Divine Mother then addressed her from the image in the following words: ‘Ellen, you have already offended God and me too much. From this moment change your life, and I will bestow a large share of my graces upon you’ The poor sinner, in the deepest confusion, replied : ‘Ah, most Holy Virgin, it is true that hitherto I have been a wicked sinner; but you can do all—help me. On my part, I abandon myself to you, and will spend the whole remainder of my life in doing penance for my sins.’ With the assistance of Mary, she distributed all her goods to the poor, and began a life of rigorous mortification. She was tormented with dreadful temptations; but constantly recommended herself to the Mother of God, and thus was always victorious. She was favored with many extraordinary graces, with visions, revelations, and even the gift of prophecy. Finally, before her death, which was announced to her by Mary some days before it took place, the most Blessed Virgin came herself, with her Divine Son, to visit her; and when she expired, her soul was seen flying towards Heaven in the form of a beautiful dove.


Behold, O Mother of my God, my only hope, Mary, behold at thy feet a miserable sinner, who asks thee for mercy. Thou art proclaimed by the whole Church, and by all the faithful, the refuge of sinners. Thou art consequently my refuge; thou hast to save me. Thou knowest, most sweet Mother of God, how much thy blessed Son desires our salvation; thou knowest all that Jesus Christ endured for this end. I present thee, O my Mother, the sufferings of Jesus: the cold He endured in the stable, His journey into Egypt, His toils, His sweat, the blood He shed; the anguish which caused His death on the cross, and of which thou wast thyself a witness. O, show that thou lovest thy beloved Son; and by this love I implore thee to assist me. Extent thy hand to a poor creature who has fallen, and asks thy help. Were I a Saint, I need not seek thy mercy; but because I am a sinner I fly to thee, who art the Mother of Mercies. I know that thy compassionate heart finds its consolation in assisting the miserable when thou canst do so, and dost not find them obstinate. Console, then, thy compassionate heart, and console me this day; for now thou hast the opportunity of saving a poor creature condemned to hell; and thou canst do so; for I will not be obstinate. I abandon myself into thy hands. Only tell me what thou wouldst have me to do, and obtain me the strength to execute it; for I am resolved to do all that depends on me to recover the Divine grace. I take refuge under thy mantle. Jesus wills that I should have recourse to thee, in order not only that His blood may save me, but also that thy prayers may assist me in this great work, for thy glory and for His own, since thou art His Mother. He sends me to thee that thou mayest help me. O Mary, see, I have recourse to thee; in thee do I confide. Thou prayest for so many others, pray also for me; say only a word. Tell our Lord that thou willest my salvation, and God will certainly save me. Say that I am thine, and then I have obtained all that I ask—all that I desire.


If you do not already do so, begin to say the Rosary each day. If you already say the Rosary each day, teach it to another person.

Day of Prayer for Chinese Catholics

Today, May 24 is the Feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians. Under this title, the most Blessed Virgin is venerated at the shrine of Sheshan near Shanghai, China. A place of great devotion, thousands of Chinese pilgrims will make their way to this, one of the most important shrines in China dedicated to Our Lady. Because of this, Pope Benedict XVI designated May 24th as a day of prayer for the Church in China in a letter to Chinese Catholics:

"On that same day, the Catholics of the whole world – in particular those who are of Chinese origin – will demonstrate their fraternal solidarity and solicitude for you, asking the Lord of history for the gift of perseverance in witness, in the certainty that your sufferings past and present for the Holy Name of Jesus and your intrepid loyalty to his Vicar on earth will be rewarded, even if at times everything can seem a failure."
Let us join our brothers and sisters throughout the world on this day of prayer for Chinese Catholics. You will find a prayer to Our Lady of Sheshan composed by Pope Benedict here.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Twenty-Third Day of Mary

Mary Is the Peacemaker Between Sinners and God

The grace of God is the greatest and the most desirable of treasures for every soul. It is called by the Holy Ghost an infinite treasure; for by the means of Divine grace we are raised to the honor of being the friends of God. These are the words of the book of Wisdom: ‘For she is an infinite treasure to me: which they that use become the friends of God.’ And hence Jesus, our Redeemer and God, did not hesitate to call those His friends who were in grace: ‘You are My friends.’ O accursed sin, that dissolves this friendship! ‘But your iniquities,’ says the Prophet Isaias, ‘have divided between you and your God.’ And putting hatred between the soul and God, it is changed from a friend into and enemy of its Lord, as expressed in the Book of Wisdom: ‘But to God the wicked and his wickedness are hateful alike.’ What, then, must a sinner do who has the misfortune to be the enemy of God? He must find a mediator who will obtain pardon for him, and who will enable him to recover the lost friendship of God. "Mary,’ says Cardinal Hugo, ‘is the great peacemaker, who finds and obtains the reconciliation of enemies with God, salvation for those who are lost, pardon for sinners, and mercy for those who are in despair.’ And therefore was she called by the Divine Bridegroom, ‘beautiful as the curtains of Solomon.’ In the tents of David, questions of war alone were treated, but in those of Solomon, questions of peace only were entertained; and thus does the Holy Spirit give us to understand that this Mother of Mercy never treats of war and vengeance against sinners, but only of peace and forgiveness for them.

Mary was prefigured by the dove which returned to Noah in the ark with an olive branch in its beak, as a pleadge of the peace which Go granted to men. And on this idea St. Bonaventure thus addresses our Blessed Lady: "You are that most faithful dove; you were a sure mediatrix between God and the world, lost in a spiritual deluge;’ you, by presenting yourself before God, have obtained for a lost world peace and salvation. Mary, then, was the heavenly dove which brought to a lost world the olive branch, the sign of mercy, since she in the first place gave us Jesus Christ, who is the source of mercy, and the, by His merits, obtained all graces for us. ‘And as by Mary,’ says St. Epiphanius, ‘heavenly peace was once for all given to the world, so by her are sinners still reconciled to God.’ Wherefore Saint Albert the Great makes her say: ‘I am that dove of Noah, which brought the olive branch of universal peace to the Church.’

Again, the rainbow seen by St. John, which encircled the throne of God, was an express figure of Mary: ‘And there was a rainbow round about the throne.’ It is thus explained by Cardinal Vitalis: ‘The rainbow round the throne is Mary, who softens the judgement and sentence of God against sinners. St. Bernardine of Sienna says, ‘that it was of this rainbow that God spoke when He promised Noah that He would place it in the clouds as a sign of peace, that on looking at it He might remember the eternal peace which He had covenanted to man. "I will set My bow in the clouds, and it shall be the sign of a covenant between Me and between the earth, . . . and I shall see it, and shall remember the everlasting covenant." ‘Mary,’ says the Saint, ‘is this bow of eternal peace:’ ‘for, as God on seeing it remembers the peace He promised to the earth, so does He, at the prayers of Mary, forgive the crimes of sinners, and confirm His peace with them.’

St. Andrew of Crete calls Mary ‘a pledge, a security for our reconciliation with God;’ that is, that God goes about seeking for reconciliation with sinners by pardoning them; and that they may not doubt of their forgiveness, He has given them Mary as a pledge of it, and therefore the Saint exclaims, ‘Hail, O peace of God with men.’ Wherefore St. Bonaventure encourages a sinner, saying: ‘If you fear that on account of your faults God in His anger will be avenged, what have you to do? Go, have recourse to Mary, who is the hope of sinners; and, if you fear that she may refuse to take your part, know that she cannot do so, for God Himself has imposed on her the duty of succoring the miserable.’ St. John Chrysostom says, ‘that another purpose for which the Blessed Virgin Mary was made the Mother of God was, that she might obtain salvation for many, who, on account of their wicked lives, could not be saved according to the rigor of Divine justice, but might be so with the help of her sweet mercy and powerful intercession.’ This is confirmed by St. Anselm, who says, ‘that Mary was raised to the dignity of Mother of God rather for sinners than for the just, since Jesus Christ declares, that He came to call not the just but sinners.’ For this reason, the holy Church sings, ‘You do not abhor sinners without whom you would never have been worthy of such a Son.’ For the same reason William of Paris, invoking her, says: ‘O Mary, you are obliged to help sinners for all the gifts, the graces, and high honors, which are comprised in the dignity of Mother of God, that you have received; you owe all, so. to say, to sinners, for on their account you were made worthy to have a God for your Son.’ ‘If then Mary,’ concludes St. Anselm, ‘was made Mother of God on account of sinners, how can I, however great my sins may be, despair of pardon?


Alan de la Roche and Boniface relate, that in Florence there was a young woman of the name of Benedicta, who was leading a most wicked and scandalous life. Fortunately for her, as it turned out, St. Dominic went to preach in that city, and she, out of mere curiosity, went one day to hear him. God, during that sermon, touched her heart, so much so that she went, and weeping bitterly, confessed to the Saint. St. Dominic thereupon absolved her, and desired her to say the Rosary for her penance. From evil habits, the unfortunate creature again fell into her former mode of life. The Saint heard of it, sought her out, and again induced her to confess. God, in order to make her persevere, one day showed her hell, and pointed out some who were there on her account. He then opened a book, and in it made her read the frightful catalog of her sins. The sinner was horrified at such a sight, and full of confidence, begged that Mary would assist her, and she understood that this good Mother had already obtained from God time for her to weep over so many crimes. After the vision Benedicta led a good life; but always seeing before her eyes that terrible catalog, she one day began to implore her comfortrix in the following terms: ‘My Mother,’ said she, ‘it is true that for my crimes I ought now to be in the lowest abyss of hell, but since you, by obtaining for me time to repent, have delivered me from it, I as you this one favor more, O most compassionate Lady, that my sins may be cancelled from the book, and I will never cease all the same to weep for them.’ At this prayer Mary appeared to her, and told her that to obtain what she desired she must always remember her sins and the mercy that God had shown her, and besides, that she should often recall to her mind the sufferings which her Divine Son had endured for her love, and consider how many were lost for less sins than she had committed; and, at the same time, revealed to her, that on that day, a child only eight years of age would go to hell for one mortal sin. Benedicta obeyed our Blessed Lady faithfully, and, behold, one day Jesus Christ appeared to her, and showing her the book, said, ‘See, the book is blank, your sins are cancelled, now write acts of love and virtue in their stead.’ Doing this, Benedicta led a holy life, and died the death of a Saint.


O my most sweet Lady, since thy office is, as William of Paris says, that of a mediatrix between God and sinners, I will address thee in the words of St. Thomas of Villanova: ‘Fulfill thy office in my behalf, O tender Advocate, do thy work.’ Say not that my cause is too difficult to gain, for I know, and all tell me so, that every cause, no matter how desperate, if undertaken by thee, is never, and never will be, lost. And will mine be lost? Ah, no, this I cannot fear. The only thing that I might fear is that, on seeing the multitude of my sins, thou mightest not undertake my defense. But on seeing thy immense mercy, and the very great desire of thy most sweet heart to help the most abandoned sinners, even this I cannot fear. And who was ever lost that had recourse to thee? Therefore, I invoke thy aid, O my great Advocate, my refuge, my hope, my Mother, Mary. To thy hands do I intrust the cause of my eternal salvation. To thee do I commit my soul; it was lost, but thou hast to save it. I will always thank our Lord for having given me this great confidence in thee; and which, notwithstanding my unworthiness, I feel is the assurance of my salvation. I have but one fear to afflict me, O beloved Queen, and that is, that I may one day, by my own negligence lose this confidence in thee. And therefore I implore thee, O Mary, by the love thou bearest to Jesus, thyself to preserve and increase in me, more and more, this sweet confidence in thy intercession, by which I hope most certainly to recover the Divine friendship, that I have hitherto so madly despised and lost; and having recovered it, I hope, through thee, to preserve it; and preserving it by the same means, I hope at length to thank thee for it in heaven, and there to sing God’s mercies and thine for all eternity. Amen. This is my hope; thus may it be, this it will be.


Pray the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the conversion of all those who will die this day (or night).