Many are the tribulations of the just, says the Psalmist. For the just living under the Old Dispensation, there could hardly be a greater trial than that of having no posterity. For, as we saw yesterday, in entering the marriage state, they had principally in view the preserving and multiplying the holy nation, the only one which served the true God and praised His Name. This trial was still more severe for the spouses of the family of David, for they had reason to hope that the promised Savior would be of their blood. For many long years, St. Joachim and St. Anne had to bear this trial: according to tradition twenty years passed without their union being blessed by any offspring. We can better enter into how great a trial this was to St. Anne especially, by recalling the example of that other Anne or Anna, the mother of Samuel, who, being also barren passed even the days of the greatest rejoicing in fasting, prayers and groans, incessantly beseeching God to give her a son and promising to consecrate that son to the service of the temple. According to tradition, our Anne acted in a similar manner; to prayers and fasting she added, with the consent of her holy husband, the vow of consecrating to God the child whom He would vouchsafe to send them And even as God granted the prayers of the first Anne, by sending her the prophet Samuel, so did He grant those of the second by sending her Mary.
Why did the Lord decree that the parents of the glorious Virgin should undergo the trial of barrenness? For many reasons which all redound to the glory of their blessed Daughter as well as to their own. Firstly, it was fitting that the birth of such a Child as Mary should have a miraculous character, as had that of Isaac, Jacob, Samuel and John the Baptist. Secondly, it was fitting that the birth of her who was to be called the Mother of Grace should be due to grace or to a special effect of divine goodness rather than to nature; and that the Mother of all purity should be born of parents whose flesh had been subdued by age, prayers, fasts and other austerities. Thirdly, however holy Joachim and Anna were at the time of their marriage, they were not yet sufficiently so to give such a Daughter as Mary to the world. By multiplying their fasts, their alms, through so many long years, in order to obtain this grace from God s goodness, they made rapid progress in perfection and in the love of God, and at length arrived at the requisite degree of purity and holiness desired by the Holy Ghost. Fourthly, by granting this Child of blessing to their prayers and good works, God made them appreciate the worth of the gift He was bestowing on them and, at the same time, placed the whole of the human race under a deep debt of gratitude towards them. Besides, He made them more glorious in our eyes: we should not be so filled with admiration and the sense of our indebtedness towards them if the birth of Mary had cost them no effort. Fifthly, we may add that God hereby gives us a high idea of the power of prayer. If prayer could obtain the birth of Mary, what can be impossible for it to obtain? If, says JESUS-CHRIST you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, nothing shall be impossible to you. Let us here admire how beautiful are the ways of divine wisdom. St. Paul assures us that "to them that love God, all things work together for good." How completely is this saying verified in the Blessed Virgin’s holy parents! Devout souls, you too must believe that it will be so in your own case, if you but truly love the Heavenly Father. If trials overtake you, bear them patiently and believe that He has only your spiritual advantage in view; pray to Him with humility, confidence and perseverance; to prayer add penance, almsgiving and other good works; and then, one day, together with the Psalmist, with Joachim and Anne, you will rejoice over the remembrance of your days of trial.
On July 28th, 1874, a young girl of St. Joseph-de-Levis; aged 24, Flore Brulotte by name, went on a pilgrimage to St. Anne de Beaupre to ask her cure. Her malady was consumption of the worst type, the doctors pronouncing her case incurable, and she was also suffering from nearly total loss of voice.
During the night after her arrival, she coughed so dreadfully and so long, that the Sisters of Charity, at whose convent she was stopping, thought it would be impossible for her to get to the church the next morning. However her faith and courage gave her the strength to rise and go to Mass. She approached the Holy Table and received the God of all goodness. At the very moment when the Holy of holies descended into her heart, she felt a most extraordinary sensation, as she herself afterwards related. It seemed to her as if something within her chest suddenly swelled out. She was immediately able to take a deep breath and her voice returned, so that she was able to sing a hymn of thanksgiving to Good St. Anne. The slight cough that remained soon disappeared, as well as all traces of the cruel malady that was wearing her away, and she has ever since been in perfect health.
Glorious Patron, since it is the holy Will of Our Lord that we should suffer, I will submit to His law. Born in sin and having myself many times sinned and merited Hell, it is but just that I should suffer; and it is better for me to suffer here than, after death, to fall into the hands of divine justice without having appeased the divine wrath by means of penance. St. Paul, also, says that we must enter the kingdom of God through much tribulation. Why should I then not have to pass by this road which was trodden by all the just, even by JESUS, the Chief of the just, and by Mary His Mother, the Mother of all the elect? From this moment then I accept whatever trials it may please God to send me now and henceforward; I unite them to the sufferings of JESUS; I place myself in those hands which were wounded for love of me. Do thou, good and beloved St. Anne, together with thy saintly spouse, obtain for me courage, resignation, perseverance in prayers and good works, the strength to stand beneath the salutary burden of the Cross. I ask these graces of JESUS and Mary by your merits; by your prayers I hope to obtain them.
St. Joachim and St. Anne, pray for me, so that by patience under suffering, I may become worthy of the promises of JESUS-CHRIST.
Patience under suffering is the shortest road to Heaven, and a great sign of predestination. When crosses overtake you then, do not ask St. Anne to deliver you from them but rather to give you patience to bear them.