2001 Issue #3
tributes to the Rosary
that "every day the Rosary obtained fresh blessings for
Christianity." Sixtus IV declared that this method
of prayer "redounded to the honour of God and the Blessed
Virgin, and was well suited to ward off impending dangers,"
and Leo X that "it was instituted to oppose pernicious
heresiarchs and heresies"; while Julius III
called it "the glory of the Church." St.
Pius V said that "with the spread of this
devotion the meditations of the faithful have become more
ardent ^and their prayers more fervent, and they have quickly
become different men; the darkness of ) (heresy has been dissipated,
and the light of Catholic faith has broken forth in renewed
glory." ^Lastly, in his turn Gregory XIII pronounced
that "the Rosary has been instituted by St Dominic to
appease the anger of God and to implore the intercession of
the Blessed Virgin Mary."
Supremi Apostolatus, an Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII.
this penitential time of Lent, it is customary to make good
resolutions. We are much encouraged to this, that we might
cut with our bad habits and inclinations, and advance in virtue.
When Easter comes we would all wish to find in ourselves a
closer resemblance to our Divine Lord.
will we know if we bear a closer resemblance to Jesus Christ?
Look in the mirror; look in the mirror of justice, and she
who is the "mirror of justice" will show us our
interior life. Look at the Blessed Virgin by prayer and meditation
on her life. Especially during this month meditate on her
sublime privilege to be the Mother of God. When we think of
Mary, let us not think only in a speculative way of her remote
and illustrious virtues, but also let us compare our own lives
to this model, in order to imitate her.
is important to meditate in this manner, to draw profit from
the time we spend in prayer. During this time of Lent, I urge
you all to make the resolution to pray well the Rosary, which
we have pledged to pray. Let the rosary be both verbal prayer
and meditation, and we will find in ourselves a closer resemblance
to our Lord, after these 40 days.
to you in devotion to the Blessed Virgin, I am,
Annunciation - Humility and Purity
us imagine we see the humble home of Mary and Joseph, and
enter the little chamber of the Holy Virgin. Let us follow
her in her different occupations; she prays, she works, she
employs herself in household cares, for the Queen of heaven
and of earth lived in humble obscurity, hiding from all eyes
the incomparable beauty of her soul which spread its radiance
over her whole person. And now let us lift our thoughts to
heaven, and behold the Most High fix His regards on this lowly
dwelling, on this little chamber, on this Virgin so humble
God sends one of the princes of the heavenly court to announce
the great message of Salvation; it is in this poor cottage
the Son of God chooses to dwell, for it is here that He will
find the angelic purity and the profound humility which attract
Him to earth.
the exception of a very small number of souls, all men at
this time lived in a complete forgetfulness of God and of
the salvation of their souls. The evil one was adored by all
the nations of the earth; pride, sensuality, avarice, reigned
in all hearts, and knowledge of the true God was becoming
every day more obliterated from their minds. In one word there
was hardly any one knew, loved, or served God on the earth,
and, daily, souls without number were engulfed in perdition.
In this state of degradation and misery, man no more lifted
his eyes to heav en; all his cares, all his affections were
for this world, and God, had He listened only to justice,
would have treated him as He did the rebellious angels, and
forever abandoned him to vengeance. But the voice of mercy
made itself heard above that of anger, and God resolved to
save the human race by a miracle of goodness and love. In
a little comer of the world, this world so corrupt, in a small
town called Nazareth, in a mean looking house, lived the wife
of a poor workman. This humble matron, this pure Virgin gave
to the world Him who was to be its saviour.
Angel Gabriel, sent by Almighty God, drew near with veneration
to this lowly dwelling. He came in a human form but all radiant
with heavenly beauty, and presented himself before the most
holy Virgin: "Hail," said he most reverently, "Hail,
full of grace, the Lord is with thee." Attend closely
to this salutation so reverent, and recollect it is an angel
of God, and envoy from Heaven, who speaks thus to this humble
Virgin. Not as we too often do, without attention and without
respect, did the Archangel of God speak these words: "Hail
Gospel tells us Mary was troubled at these words. Whence comes
her trouble? "Mary," says St. Athanasius, "saw
clearly, notwithstanding his human form, that it was an angel
who spoke, and this address should rather have caused her
joy and peace than trouble; but Mary was the most humble of
all creatures; she saw herself saluted, she heard herself
praised by an angel, and her humility was alarmed." "Fear
not, Mary," said the Angel. 'Thou hast found grace in
the sight of God. Thou shalt conceive and bring forth a Son,
whom thou shalt call Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be
called the son of the Most High!"
came it that the trouble of the Blessed Virgin still
continued after these words of the angel: "Fear not,
Mary!" We need not feel astonished, for the humility
of Mary rendered her surprise and confusion yet greater when
the Angel declared to her the grandeurs with which God purposed
to overwhelm her. 'Thou shalt bear a Son," said the Angel,
"and He shall be called the Son of the Most High!"
How could it be but that so wonderful an honour should trouble
the humility of Mary? But if humility is one cause of her
trouble, we find also another in her incomparable purity.
She had consecrated her virginity to God by a vow, and she
heard it said she was to be a mother! She trembled, for how
could this be without her ceasing to be a virgin? It did not
suffice to reassure her to be told that she was to be the
Mother of God, because if it would cause her to lose her stainless
virginity, she preferred rather to renounce this sublime dignity
of becoming Mother of the Saviour!
Mary is as submissive and obedient as she is pure, and desiring
only to learn the will of God, she said: "How shall this
be done, because I know not man?" Instantly the Angel
restores her peace, by making known that this mystery of love
should be the work of the Holy Ghost, and that she would become
Mother of God without ceasing to be a virgin. It is then
only that Mary gives her consent in the words "Behold
the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to thy
maidens, who regard the holy Virgin as the honour of your
sex; you who profess to love and imitate her, behold here
what an admirable example she gives you. Her humility, her
purity made her tremble even in the presence of an angel,
and when he speaks to her of becoming a mother, even though
it be the Mother of God, she trembles yet more! What a price
did she attach to these two virtues of humility and purity!
With what zeal, what love, what fidelity did she seek to preserve
them. St. Bernard said it was these two virtues which attracted
to her the eyes of God, and that merited for her to be chosen
among all other creatures to be the Mother of Jesus Christ.
Remember then that you should cherish these two virtues above
all others, and that they are inseparable; if you lose the
one the other is in great danger; if you are not humble you
will not long be pure. The evil one when he seeks to destroy
chastity, first endeavors to overthrow humility. This wretched
being when he desires to cast some poor creature into the
depths of infamy, commences by praises, and flatteries addressed
to her vanity; he knows well if he can inspire her with sentiments
of pride, he will very soon make a conquest of her modesty;
and that when once a young girl becomes coquettish and ambitious
to be admired, she is not far from losing her innocence and
her honour. Be humble then, humility is the virtue most suited
to us. Let us often recall to ourselves that the Blessed Virgin
at the moment when an angel comes to declare to her she is
the Mother of God, humbly calls herself the handmaid of the
Lord. If you then have received from God any particular grace,
be it either exterior or interior, thank Him without glorifying
self in it, and never forget that you must always be humble
if you would continue to be pure.
Ave Maria, May 2,1868
Ave Regina caelorum
O Queen of heaven enthroned! Hail, by Angels Mistress
Root of Jesse, gate of morn, whence the world's true
Light was born:
Glorious Virgin, joy to thee, loveliest whom in heaven
Fairest thou where all are fair, plead with Christ
our sins to spare.
from the Roman Breviary for septuagesima and lent)