God being the author of nature as well as of grace, it would be a great error to suppose that the latter destroys the former, and that by advancing in perfection the Saints lose those legitimate affections which God Himself has placed in the heart of man. Saints love more truly than sinners do, for they love more purely; the fire of their love burns the brighter for being less overshadowed by the smoke of human imperfections. It is certain therefore that never did a child love its parents as Mary loved hers, but she loved them in God. She knew that by uniting herself more closely with God instead of separating herself from them, she would, on the contrary, but draw closer the bonds that united her to them and render those bonds eternal. Therefore from the time she first knew of their vow, she knew no rest till she saw it accomplished. She would often enquire of them whether the happy day of her consecration would not soon arrive; she longed for the courts of the house of God as the wounded hind longs for the valley in the shade of which she is accustomed to repose and refresh herself with drinking of its limpid fountains.
The holy Anne, as formerly the mother of Samuel, was likewise making her preparations for the sacrifice. With her own hands and with admirable devotion she was spinning, weaving, and making the tunics and other garments which the youthful Mary was to wear in the Temple, and, whilst working, she was praying that her work might be agreeable in God’s eyes, and that He would be pleased to bless her beloved Daughter, clothing her with the robe of innocence and the mantle of virtue and never allowing her purity to receive the slightest stain. She prayed too that her Child might never be guilty of any negligence in the divine service.
The long-looked for day at length arrived. Anne announced this to her Daughter on the eve and this latter testified the most unbounded joy on receiving the intelligence.
She rejoiced as an affianced bride rejoices when she sees the day approaching which is to unite her to some prince who is as worthy of love as he is rich and illustrious. Joachim chose from his flock the spotless victims which he wished to offer in thanksgiving for the precious gift bestowed on him by God; Anne took charge of Mary’s little wardrobe; the Child herself took hold of her Mother’s hand; and all three set out towards Jerusalem, which was at the distance of a three day’s journey from Nazareth, where it appears they were dwelling. On approaching the holy city, the two saintly Spouses pointed out the domes of the Temple which could just be seen in the distance; and at the sight of them the heart of the happy Child was filled with a joy like that of the exile returning to his country after many years absence and once more beholding the paternal roof. Her joy grew more intense on approaching it, but the parent s hearts grew proportionally and involuntarily heavy as they thought that perhaps they would see her no more.
For generally speaking, the Saints have some presentiment of their death, and it is thought that Joachim and Anne did not long survive their Daughter’s consecration. It seemed to St. Anne as if her heart were being torn from her body; she, as well as St. Joachim, felt something of the anguish with which Abraham, out of love for God, took the knife and raised his hand over his beloved Isaac’s head. Their anguish was at its height, when they saw the heroic little Virgin leave their side and run swiftly up the last fifteen steps that led to the Temple, like a young turtle dove hastening to her nest. On arriving at the entrance, she turned to them and knelt to receive their blessing. And Joachim, stretching out his trembling hands over her head, called down on her the benediction which from generation to generation had come down to him from Abraham. Anne weeping pressed her Child to her heart once more and exhorted her to practice piety towards God, obedience to her mistresses and respect to the priests and holy things, to be constant in prayer, to love the poor, to be humble and charitable to all. And Mary kept all these precious lessons in her heart and entered into the Temple even as the dove, in the days of Noah, entered the Ark at his call. Lastly her father and mother offered to God the victims they had brought; and, after having prayed for a long time for their be loved Child, sorrowfully and silently took the road back to Nazareth.
Among the numerous pilgrims from the diocese of Rennes who formed part of the large pilgrimage to St. Anne d Auray, was a young girl named Augustine Crosnier, an orphan of twenty years of age, a seamstress by trade. Three months previously the poor girl had met with a fall and had fractured her arm in two places. In vain had two physicians tried to reduce the fractures, her state was most alarming. Three open sores had formed, one in the palm of her hand, one at the end of the arm and one in the armpit. Gangrene had commenced, and on the eve of her departure on the pilgrimage, her confessor had been obliged to leave the confessional and hear her confession in a more airy locality.
The doctor who had attended the poor girl shrugged his shoulders when he heard any allusion to the possibility of her being cured. On the Sunday morning, the young girl made a fervent Communion at the Sanctuary of St. Anne and, after her thanksgiving was ended, she approached the fountain reciting prayers on the way. She plunged her arm into it, with full confidence, and after having immersed it for about two minutes, she felt an extraordinary sensation as if life were returning to her limb. Shortly afterwards, as if by enchantment, commencing at the fingers and gradually working up to the shoulder, a complete cure was effected. No trace of swelling or gangrene remained nor any mark or scar of the three sores above mentioned; only there was a little black spot, perfectly painless, remaining on each fingernail. Many thousands saw her arm white, fresh and rosy as a baby’s and this in singular contrast with the other arm which was red and tanned through exposure to the sun.
My beloved Patroness, how far am I from resembling thee; out of love of God thou didst send far from thee the Child dearer to thee than life, and I cannot even make up my mind to sacrifice my very lightest caprice. I would wish to be a Saint; but I sigh after a holiness which will not oblige me to renounce myself, to oppose my own evil inclinations, to mortify my senses and my heart. Such holiness as that is but a delusion. Good St. Anne, come to my aid; obtain for me from JESUS, through the merits of thine own sacrifice, that He may vouchsafe to change my disposition, so that I may take pleasure in that which has hitherto been most bitter to me, and find naught but bitterness in that wherein I formerly took pleasure. May the love of God enable me to bear those sacrifices by means of which I may learn to put off the old man and put on the new, our Savior, JESUS-CHRIST, who, out of love for me a sinner, chose the Cross in preference to tasting any human joy.
You will advance in virtue more by the very smallest victory over your self than by many hours spent in prayer. Try then to profit by every opportunity of conquering yourself, and make use of prayer to obtain the necessary strength.