A great orator has said that except the gaze which God directs over the world, there is nothing finer than the glance cast by an old man on a child. Perhaps there is something still finer: a mother’s gaze on her child when that mother is a Saint and knows that her child will be a Saint. This can but rarely be met with, but it has been seen: for example, such was the gaze bent on St. John the Baptist by Elisabeth; and, more particularly, that bent on Mary by St. Anne.
Leaning over her child’s cradle, a mother loves to look into the future of that little being, to weave for it a golden existence, to picture it rich, powerful, honored, happy; princes then destine their daughters to illustrious alliances, they dispose of them before even knowing them; see in them instruments of their own ambition, and build hopes without end on these little fragile beings whom a breath might destroy. What hopes and thoughts then filled the mind of St. Anne when she contemplated her beloved Daughter sleeping in her cradle? She too formed ambitious dreams and foresaw a future full of glory and happiness. But the ambitious dreams, hopes and aspirations of St. Anne were those formed by a saintly Mother for a saintly Daughter. She rightly looked on her child as the temple of the Holy Ghost; she knew perfectly that Mary was very agreeable to God. The love she bestowed on her Child was therefore all the more tender and ardent; but it was a love full of respect and veneration, like that of the holy Levites for the Ark of alliance in which the Lord reposed. Looking on herself not as the proprietor but only as the guardian of this unique treasure, she was far from wishing to dispose of it independently of God, as mothers do too often, thus counteracting the divine plans which would have led their children to true happiness. Anne, therefore, entrusted her Child’ future entirely to God. But she loved to picture that future according to her own inclinations. She did not picture Mary to herself as rich, or as seated on a throne, but as a Saint and a great Saint, attaining the perfection of Sara, Rebecca, ancestresses of the Hebrews; of Judith, of Esther, of Deborah their deliverers; of Anna, the mother of Samuel, and of the prophetess Anna, Daughter of Phanuel who lived in the temple and whose piety was known to all. Such was the ambition and such were the wishes of the saintly Mother; such was the object of her prayers. She would not have dared to aspire any higher. She knew that the time had come when the Savior was to appear on earth, that His coming was expected day by day, that He was to be born of the race of David of whom Joachim was directly descended; but never did it enter her mind that her Savior would consent to become her Grandson. She would have thought herself too blessed if her beloved Daughter had been found worthy of being the handmaid of the handmaid of the Messiah and of washing their feet. These holy dispositions were most agreeable to the Most High and not only increased the merits of the happy Mother, but also drew down many graces on the sacred head of her august Child. How much more numerous would Saints be in the Church of God, if all mothers resembled St. Anne a little more! How many scandalous sinners would be models of virtue, if they had a mother worthy of the name!
A lady from St. Julie de Somerset writes to the shrine of St. Anne as follows:
On June, 3rd 1879, I was suddenly taken with dyspepsia and no medical treatment succeeded in relieving my sufferings. For eighteen months I remained between life and death, my relations and friends all considering this to be my last illness.
All this time I had not ceased praying to St. Anne, asking her, for my children s sake, to give me back my health. I asked my friends to join their prayers to mine and many novenas and Communions were offered for me. I also had several Masses said for my intention. St. Anne, however, appeared to turn a deaf ear to all our entreaties. I did not lose faith, for I knew St. Anne to be so good and so powerful that she could obtain for us what we asked, if she only judged it beneficial to us. Our perseverance was rewarded. At the end of those eighteen months of suffering, a great amelioration took place, and I found myself able to take some slight nourishment. Gradually my strength increased until my health gradually improved. In July, 1882, I was enabled to visit the Sanctuary of St. Anne de Beaupre and pour forth my heart in gratitude to that powerful protectress who had so signally favored her unworthy servant. On my return, my health improved rapidly and continues excellent.
Glorious St. Anne, patroness and model of Christian mothers, pray for those mothers; obtain for them the gifts of the Holy Ghost, so that they may worthily fulfil the duties of their state of life, to the glory of JESUS-CHRIST, giving to God as many elect as He has given them children. Obtain for them the gift of Understanding, so that they may realize what honor God has done them by entrusting them with the education of a soul created to His image, purchased with the blood of His Son and destined to praise Him to all eternity; the gift of Wisdom where by they may esteem their children’s salvation above their worldly prosperity; the gifts of Counsel and Prudence, so that they may know how to choose and employ the best means of rendering their children worthy of being children of God and keep them from all dangers that might imperil their innocence; the gift of Fear, so that they may know how to inspire them with the fear of offending God. The gift of Piety, so that from their very earliest years, they may impart to them a tender filial love of God their Father in Heaven. Pray also for Christian children, so that by their docility, their respect, their love for the authors of their being, they may be the joy of their parents on earth and their crown in eternity.
Great St. Anne, in these sad and trying times, be thou more than ever the consolation and support of mothers and the protectress of their children.
Christian mothers, learn from St. Anne what you should have in view in bringing up your children. Christian children, to whom God has given a pious mother, look on her as the most precious gift He has be stowed on you here below.