Instead of considering in a general manner St. Anne’s love for God, let us more particularly study her devotion to the person of Our Lord JESUS-CHRIST. We have already said that JESUS was the great, the principal object of devotion to the Saints of the Old Testament, as well as to those of the New. They were justified by faith, by confidence in the JESUS to come, even as we are justified by our faith, our confidence in the JESUS Who has come. Just as we read His life in the gospel, they read it in the prophets; and the consideration of His humiliations and sorrows was their chief incentive to advancing in virtue. By faith Moses, when he was grown up, denied himself to be the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, rather choosing to be afflicted with the people of God, than to have the pleasure of sin for a time. This too was the case with all the just of those times, and particularly with St. Anne, the glorious Grandmother of JESUS.
With what pious sorrow would St. Anne read these word of Isaias: "Christ shall grow up as a tender plant, as a root out of thirsty ground." "There is no beauty in Him nor comeliness; we have seen Him and there was no sightliness that we should be desirous of Him" "He was the most abject of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with infirmity." "Surely, He hath borne our infirmities and carried our sorrows, and we have thought Him as it were a leper, and as one struck by God and afflicted." "He was wounded for our iniquities, He was bruised for our sins." "By His bruises we are healed." "All we like sheep, have gone astray, every one has turned aside into his own way, and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all." "He was offered because it was His own will." "He shall be led as a sheep to the slaughter; and shall be dumb as a lamb before his shearer and He shall not open His mouth."
JESUS, the mysteries of His life, the benefits conferred by Him, His humiliations, His sufferings, such are the ordinary topics of David’s psalms: the Savior Himself affirms it in the gospel. We can hardly doubt that St. Anne, who took such delight in these sacred songs, penetrated their meaning by the assistance of the lights which the Holy Ghost imparted to her. What then must have been her sentiments when she read these complaints of our Redeemer to His Father: "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?" "My God, I have cried unto Thee and Thou hast not heard me. " "I am a worm and no man; I am. the reproach of men and the outcast of the people." "They have pierced my hands and my feet, they have numbered all my bones." "They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture they have cast lots." "They have given me gall to eat and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink." "My heart has become like wax melting, my strength is dried up, Thou hast brought me down to the dust of death." In the legal ceremonies and sacrifices, Anne found again what she had read in the sacred Books. She saw our Savior in the paschal lamb, in the two lambs that were immolated every morning and evening in the temple, in the scape-goat on whose head were laid every year the sins of the people and which was then sent forth into the desert to become the prey of the wild beasts. She well understood that the blood of an animal could not purify man from his sins, that the blood of a God-man alone could do this. With what ardor then did she not hasten His coming by her prayers and penances! With what piety did she not take part in the paschal feast, in which she seemed to be feeding on the flesh and blood of the divine Lamb! And when she was at Jerusalem, with what love did she not assist at the sacrifices which prefigured that of Calvary!
Faithful soul, happier than St. Anne, you can really possess JESUS-CHRIST. You know all that He has done and suffered for you, you can daily be present at the holy Sacrifice, which is not a mere figure, but a substantial renewal of that of the Cross; each day you can partake of His Flesh, drink His Blood, receive His Divine Person in your heart! Every day you can speak alone with Him in the churches. How totally unworthy of your divine Patroness will you be if you feel naught but indifference for these august mysteries! How can she love you and listen favorably to your prayers, if you bestow but scanty affection on Him Who here below was the object of her thoughts and affections?
Reginaldus, the king of Hungary’s chaplain, recounts having been witness in 1074 of the following prodigy. In a town of Hungary called Nissa, there lived a young nobleman named Emmerich who, having inherited great wealth from his parents, spent everything in crime and debauchery. Having fallen into extreme misery and destitution through his dissolute life, he undertook a pilgrimage to St. James of Compostella, from his very childhood having had great devotion to that Saint, as well as to St. Anne. During his toilsome journey he was, on one occasion, completely discouraged at the consideration of his own unhappy position, and throwing himself on his knees, he burst into tears and begged God to pardon him, raising his hands to Heaven, and exclaiming: "My Father who art in Heaven, I have sinned against Thee and am not worthy of being called Thy son. Trusting in Thy infinite mercy, however, I beg of Thee to assist me in my great need; I promise Thee to change my life and henceforth to serve Thee faithfully until the hour of my death."
Hardly had he ended this humble prayer when St. James appeared to him in the guise of a pilgrim and urged him to have recourse to St. Anne: "For," said he, "she is the mother of the afflicted and never refuses her assistance to those who invoke her. She will intercede for you with her Grandson JESUS and will deliver you from your sad state." The young man having asked in what way he could best honor St. Anne, received the following answer from the apostle. "Every Tuesday, with a contrite heart and great confidence you will recite three times the Pater and Ave in her honor, and you will burn a candle before her statue." After saying these words, the apostle St. James disappeared.
The young man commenced practicing this devotion, and, on various occasions during his journey, he experienced the effects of the special protection afforded him by St. Anne. At length he arrived at the court of the king of Hungary, where he obtained so advantageous an appointment that, in a short time, he amassed a large fortune. He then returned to his native city, paid all his debts, turned his house into a chapel dedicated to St. Anne, exhorted all his friends to place great confidence in this good Mother, and propagated the devotion of specially honoring her on the Tuesday. When at seventy years of age, he fell sick and his last hour approached, St. Anne appeared to him, accompanied by JESUS and Mary, and thus surrounded, he gave up his soul to his Creator.
How ashamed ought I to be at my indifference towards a God who died for me, and Who, out of love for me, remains ever present on our altars! That very excess of Thy goodness, my JESUS, which ought to fill my heart with burning love, only seems to increase my tepidity: were Thou less lavish, I might, perhaps, be more desirous of Thy presence. St. Anne, my gentle Patroness, intercede for me, miserable sinner though I am, so that my stony heart may be softened, my icy heart melted, and that at the thought of the crib where JESUS was born, of the Cross on which He died, the altar on which He is daily offered, of the tabernacle where He remains ever present, I may feel myself impelled to give Him love for love, to renounce myself and to live only for Him.
St. Anne, obtain for me great love towards our Lord JESUS-CHRIST.
Take every means of increasing your devotion to JESUS crucified, to JESUS on our altars as a Victim, to JESUS present in the tabernacle, to JESUS, the Bread of Life. Take pleasure in making the way of the Cross, in being present daily at Mass, in visiting the Blessed Sacrament, in receiving Holy Communion. Often ask St. Anne to obtain for you the grace of performing these holy devotions with great fervor. Believe me, she will thereby be more disposed to listen to your prayers for temporal favors.