Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Novena of Meditations on the Feast of the Purification

A Novena of Meditations on the Feast of the Purification, 
Relating to the Titles of Mary

First Day
I.  "HOLY MARY, pray for us." Since, in the Litany of our Blessed Lady, the Church teaches us to ask this good Mother so many times to pray for us, it will be well before meditating upon the titles by which she is invoked, to consider the great power, which her prayers have with God. Blessed is that person for whom Mary prays. Jesus rejoices when His most beloved Mother prays to Him, that He may have the pleasure of granting her all she asks. One day Saint Bridget heard Jesus speak to Mary and say, '"My Mother, thou well knowest that I cannot do otherwise than grant thy prayers; therefore ask of Me what thou wilt."  And He then added, "Since thou, when on earth, didst deny Me nothing, it is becoming, now that I am in Heaven, that I should deny thee nothing that thou askest Me." Saint Bernard says, "To be heard by the Son is to be graciously heard."  Mary has only to speak, and her Son grants her all that she asks. Let us, therefore, pray to this Divine Mother, without ceasing, if we wish to secure our eternal salvation; and let us address her in the words of Saint Andrew of Crete: "We beseech thee, therefore, O Holy Virgin, to grant us the help of thy prayers with God; prayers which are more precious than all the treasures of the world; prayers which obtain for us a very great abundance of graces; prayers which confound all enemies, and triumph over their strength."

2. "HOLY MARY." ---- The name of Mary is a name of salvation. This name came not of earth, but from Heaven; hence St. Epiphanius says, that it was not given to Mary by her parents, but was imposed on her by the express will of God. Therefore it is that, after the name of Jesus, the name of Mary is above every other name; for God has filled it with grace and sweetness, that every blessing may be obtained by him who names it. St. Bernard says, "O Mary, thou canst not be named without inflaming the heart of him who does so, with love for thee."  Blessed Henry Suso used to exclaim, "O Mary, what must thou thyself be, since thy very name is so amiable and gracious!"  That name is filled with blessings. Saint Bonaventure says  that the name of Mary cannot be invoked without profit to him who does so. Above all, this name has power to overcome the temptations of Hell. Ah, my Lady, had I always invoked thee in my temptations, I should not have fallen. For the future I will never cease, to invoke thee, saying, "Mary help me: Mary succor me." And do thou obtain me the grace always to invoke thee in time of spiritual danger.

3. "HOLY MOTHER OF GOD." ---- If the prayers of the Saints are very powerful with God, how great must be the power of those of Mary!  The former are the prayers of servants, the latter the prayers of a mother. Saint Antoninus says, that the prayers of Mary have the force of a command with Jesus Christ. Hence he concludes, that it is impossible for the Son not to grant a grace for which the Mother asks.   Saint Bernard, therefore, exhorts us to ask for every grace which we desire from God through Mary: "Let us seek for grace, and seek it by Mary." And why? "Because she is a mother, and is always graciously heard." O great Mother of God, pray to Jesus for me. Behold the miseries of my soul, and pity me. Pray, and never cease to pray, until thou seest me safe in Paradise. O Mary, thou art my hope; abandon me not. "Holy Mother of God, pray for us."

Second Day
4. "MOTHER OF DIVINE GRACE." ---- Saint Anselm calls Mary "the Mother of all graces;"  and Blessed Raymond Jordano, "The treasurer of Divine grace."   Hence, Saint Bernardine of Siena writes, that all the gifts and graces which we receive from God are dispensed by the hands of Mary, to whom, when, and as she pleases."  This she herself says: "With me are riches . . . that I may enrich them that love me."  "Our Lord has deposited all the riches of His graces in my hands, that I may enrich those who love me." Then, my Queen, if I love thee, I no longer shall be poor as I now am. After God, I love thee above all things; do thou obtain me greater tenderness and love for thy goodness. Saint Bonaventure tells me that all whom thou willest are saved; therefore will I address thee with the same Saint, "O salvation of all who call upon thee, save me from Hell;" But first of all, save me from sin, which alone can take me to Hell.

5. "MOTHER MOST PURE." ---- This Virgin Mother, all fair and pure, renders all her servants pure and chaste. Saint Ambrose writes, that "When Mary was on earth her presence alone inspired all those who looked at her with a love of purity.  She was called a lily amongst thorns: "As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters."   "All other virgins," says Denis the Carthusian, "were thorns either to themselves or to others; but the Blessed Virgin was so neither to herself nor to others, for she inspired all those upon whom she looked with pure and holy affections."

Frigenius, who wrote the life of Saint Thomas Aquinas, relates that it was an ordinary saying of the Saint, that "even the images of this chaste turtle-dove extinguish sensual desires in those who look at them with devotion." The venerable John D'Avila says,  "that many who were tempted against purity had preserved themselves chaste by devotion to our Blessed Lady." O, how especially powerful is the name of Mary in conquering all temptations to this vice! O most pure Mary, deliver me from it. Grant that in my temptations I may always have recourse to thee, and invoke thee as long as the temptation lasts.

6. "MOTHER UNDEFILED." ---- Mary was that spotless woman who always appeared beautiful and without stain in the eyes of God: "Thou art all fair, O my love, and there is not a spot in thee."  Hence she was made the sinner's peacemaker, as she is called by Saint Ephrem, "Hail, peacemaker of the whole world!"  This she also says herself in the sacred Canticles, "I am become in His presence as one finding peace."  Saint Gregory says,  "that if a rebel appeared before his offended king to appease him, instead of doing so, he would provoke him to greater anger." Hence, Mary being destined to treat of peace between God and men, it was not becoming that she should appear as a sinner and as an accomplice in Adam's sin; and therefore our Lord preserved her from every stain. Ah, my Immaculate Queen, fair dove, and the beloved of God, disdain not to cast thine eyes on the many stains and wounds of my soul; see me, and pity me. God, who loves thee so much, denies thee nothing; and thou knowest not how to refuse thee who have recourse to thee. O Mary, to thee I have recourse; pity me. "Mother inviolate, pray for us."

Third Day
7. "MOTHER MOST AMIABLE." ---- Richard of Saint Lawrence says, "that Mary was amiable in the eyes of God Himself."  Mary was so beautiful in the eyes of God that He was enamored of her beauty. "How beautiful art thou, my love! how beautiful art thou!"  Hence He called her His only dove, His only perfect one: "One is my dove; my perfect one is but one."  "It is certain," as Father Suarez says,  "that God loved Mary more than all the other Saints together; and with reason; for she alone loved God more than all men, and all Angels have ever loved Him." O most beautiful Mary, O most amiable Mary, thou hast gained the heart of God; take also my poor heart, and make me a Saint. I love thee; in thee is my confidence. "Most amiable Mother, pray for us."

8. "MOTHER OF OUR REDEEMER." ---- Saint Bonaventure calls Mary "the Mediatress of our salvation;"  and Saint John Damascene "the Savior in a certain mannerof the world."  For two reasons Mary can be called the Savior of the world and our Mediatress; that is, the mediatress of grace, as Jesus Christ is the mediator of justice. First, on account of the consent which she gave at the Incarnation of the Eternal Word; for by that consent, Saint Bernardine says, "she procured us salvation."  Secondly, by the consent which Mary gave to the death of her Son, in which she expressed her willingness that He should be sacrificed on the Cross for our salvation. I remind thee, then, O Mother of my Savior, that thou didst once offer the life of thy Son to God; save me now by thy intercession.

9. "VIRGIN MOST VENERABLE." ---- Saint Anselm says, "that when we say that Mary is the Mother of God, we speak of a dignity which is above every other dignity that can be named or thought of, after that of God;" therefore he says, "O Lady, nothing equals thee; for all is either above thee, and this is God alone, or beneath thee, and this is all which is not God."  In fine, Saint Bernardine writes, "that God alone can know the greatness of Mary." Blessed Albert the Great says, that Mary could not be more closely united to God without becoming God. This great Mother of God is, then, indeed worthy of our veneration, since God Himself could not have made her greater than He did when He made her His Mother. O Mother of God, my Mother Mary, I venerate thee, and would wish thee to be venerated by all hearts, as that exalted Lady, which thou art. Pity a poor sinner who loves thee, and trusts in thee. "Virgin most venerable, pray for us."

Fourth Day
10. "VIRGIN MOST RENOWNED." ---- The Holy Church proclaims that this Divine Mother is "most worthy of every praise;" for, as Saint Ildephonsus says, "all praise which is given to the Mother redounds to the honor of the Son."  With reason, then, did Saint George of Nicomedia declare, "that God accepts the praises which are lavished on Mary, as if they were bestowed on Himself."  The Blessed Virgin promises Paradise to him who endeavors to make her known and loved: "they that explain me, shall have life everlasting."  Therefore, Richard of Saint Lawrence writes, that "all who honor her in this world, will be honored by her in the next." Saint Anselm says, "that as Mary, by becoming the Mother of God, was the means of the salvation of sinners, so are sinners saved by proclaiming her praises."  All cannot be preachers, but all can praise her, and speak to relations and friends in familiar conversation of the merits of Mary, of her powers and mercy, and thus lead them to devotion towards this Divine Mother. O Queen of Heaven, from this time forward I am determined to do all that I can to cause thee to be venerated and loved by all. Accept my desire, and help me to execute it; in the mean time inscribe me in the number of thy servants, and never permit me again to become a slave of Lucifer.

11. "VIRGIN MOST POWERFUL." ---- And who amongst the Saints is as powerful with God as His most holy Mother? She obtains all that she pleases. "Thou willest," says Saint Bernard, "and all is done." Saint Peter Damian even says, "that when Mary asks graces from God, she does not ask, but, so to say, commands; for her Son honors her by refusing her nothing."  Thus does the Son honor His beloved Mother by granting her whatever she asks, even in favor of sinners. Hence, Saint Germanus says, "Thou, O Mother of God, art omnipotent to save sinners, and needest no other recommendation with God, for thou art the Mother of true life."  O Mary, thou canst make me a Saint; I rely on thee.

12. "VIRGIN MOST MERCIFUL." ---- Mary is as clement and merciful towards those who have recourse to her intercession as she is powerful with God. Saint Bernard says, "that since the power to save us cannot be wanting to Mary, as she is the Mother of God, so neither can the will be wanting to her, for she is our Mother."  Who is there that ever had recourse to Mary and was abandoned? "Let him cease to praise thy mercy" says the same Saint Bernard, "who remembers having ever invoked thee without being graciously heard."  Saint Bonaventure writes, "that Mary has so great a desire to be invoked by us, that she may dispense her favors to us in greater abundance, that she is not only offended by those who speak ill of her, but also by those who neglect to ask her for graces." Thus, to obtain her help, we are not obliged to entreat this Mother of Mercy much; it is enough to ask for it with confidence. "Her mercy," says Richard of Saint Victor, "comes to our aid before we invoke it;" and he tells us why: "It is because she cannot know and see our miseries without relieving them."  See, then, O Mary, see my miseries, and help me. "Virgin most merciful, pray for us." 
Fifth Day
13. "VIRGIN MOST FAITHFUL." ---- Blessed is he who by his prayers watches at the gates of Mary, as the poor wait at the door of the rich to obtain relief. "Blessed is the man," Mary says, "that heareth me, and that watcheth daily at my gates." O that we were as faithful to serve this Divine Mother, as she is faithful to relieve us when we pray to her! Mary promises that all who serve and honor her shall be free from sin and obtain eternal life: "They that work by me shall not sin. They that explain me shall have life everlasting."  She invites all to have recourse to her, and promises them every grace which they desire: "In me is all grace of the way and of the truth; in me is all hope of life and of virtue; come over to me, all ye that desire me." Saint Lawrence Justinian applies to Mary that other text of Ecclesiasticus, "her bands are a healthful binding;" and then adds, "wherefore bands, unless to bind her servants, that they may not stray in the fields of sin." Mary binds her servants, that they may not give themselves too much liberty, which would cause their ruin. O Mother of God, in thee do I place all my confidence; thou must preserve me from falling any more into sin. My Lady, abandon me not, obtain me the grace rather to die than to lose the grace of God.

14. "CAUSE OF OUR JOY." ---- As the dawn is a cause of joy, after the darkness and gloom of night, so was the birth of Mary, who is our dawn, a cause of joy to the world, which, before the coming of Jesus Christ, had been, for four thousand years, immersed in the darkness of sin. A holy father says, "that in the birth of Mary the dawn appeared."  The dawn is the forerunner of the sun, and Mary was the precursor of the Incarnate Word, the Sun of Justice, the Redeemer, Who, by His death, delivered us from eternal death. With reason the Church sings, on the nativity of Mary, "Thy birth, O holy Mother of God, announced joy to the whole world." And as Mary was the beginning of our joy, so is she also its completion; for Saint Bernard says, "that Jesus Christ deposited the whole price of our redemption in the hands of Mary; that every grace which we receive, we may receive it from her."  O Mother of God, thou art my joy and my hope; for thou deniest thy graces to no one, and thou obtainest all that thou wilIest from God.

15. "VESSEL OF SINGULAR DEVOTION." ---- Devotion, as Saint Thomas teaches, consists in the readiness with which our will conforms itself to the will of God. This was the principal virtue which rendered His most Holy Mother so dear to God. This also was the signification of the answer which our Lord gave to the woman who called the womb which bore Him blessed: Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it."  By this, according to Venerable Bede, our Lord meant that Mary was more blessed by the union of her will with that of God than by being His Mother. That flower which always turns towards the sun is a real type of Mary. The Divine will was alone the aim and satisfaction of the heart of Mary; as she herself proclaimed, "My spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior." O blessed art thou, my Lady, who wast always, and in all, united to the Divine will. Obtain me the grace to spend the rest of my life in constant uniformity with the will of God.

Sixth Day
16. "MYSTICAL ROSE." ---- Of Mary it is said, in the sacred Canticles, that she was the enclosed Garden of God, " My sister, my spouse, is a garden enclosed."  Saint Bernard writes, "that our Lord planted all the flowers which adorn the Church in this garden; and amongst others the violet of humility, the lily of purity, and the rose of charity."  "A rose is red, and of a fiery color," says Blessed Raymond Jordano; "which denotes love of God and our neighbor;"  therefore, on account of the ardent love with which the heart of Mary was always inflamed towards God and us, she is called a rose. And where can we find an advocate who is more earnest in the affair of our salvation, or who loves us more than Mary? "We acknowledge," says Saint Augustine of her, "that one alone is solicitous for us in Heaven."  O my dear Mother, could I but love thee as thou lovest me! I will not, however, cease to do all that I can to honor and love thee. My most sweet Lady, do thou obtain me grace to be faithful to thee.

17. "TOWER OF DAVID." ---- Mary is called in the sacred Canticles the Tower of David: "Thy neck is as the tower of David; a thousand bucklers hang upon it; all the armor of valiant men."  Saint Bernardine says, that the tower of David stood on high, that is, on Sion; therefore Mary is called the Tower of David, to denote the height of the perfection of this great creature: "As Sion was a very elevated spot, so was the Blessed Virgin most exalted."  Therefore of Mary it is said in the Psalms, that the very beginning of her sanctity was more exalted than the mountains: "The foundations thereof are in the holy mountains."  Saint Gregory  explains it to mean that the Divine Mother was more holy in the first moment of her life than any of the Saints were at the moment of their death. Ah, my Queen and Mother, I rejoice in thy greatness, and am willing rather to sacrifice my life than that thy glory should be diminished in the least degree, were such a thing possible. O, that I could only by shedding every drop of my blood cause all nations of the earth to venerate and love thee as the great Lady which thou art!

18. "TOWER OF IVORY." ---- Thus is Mary also called, "Thy neck is as a tower of ivory." Mary is called a neck; for she is the mystic neck through which the vital spirits, that is, the Divine help which preserves in us the life of grace, are transmitted from Jesus Christ the Head to us the faithful, who are members of the mystic body of the Church. Saint Bernardine says, "The life-giving graces flow from Christ the Head, through the Blessed Virgin, into His mystic body."  The Saint then adds, "that from the time when Mary conceived the Incarnate Word, she received the great honor from God, that no one should receive any grace otherwise than through her hands." In fine, ivory is greatly esteemed, and is strong. Hence the Abbot Rupert writes of Mary, "that as a tower of ivory she is beloved by God, and terrible to the devil."  Then, O my sovereign Lady, because thou art so beloved of God, thou canst obtain us every grace; and because thou art terrible to the evil spirits, thou canst deliver us from all their snares. Have mercy on us, who glory in living under thy protection.

Seventh Day
19. "HOUSE OF GOLD." ---- Gold is a symbol of love. Therefore Blessed Albert the Great calls Mary "a golden temple of charity."  And with reason; for Saint Thomas says, that "as all in the temple was covered with gold, so was everything in the beautiful soul of Mary filled with sanctity."  Mary was the house of gold which Eternal Wisdom, that is, the Divine Word, chose for His dwelling on earth: "Wisdom hath built herself a house."  "This House of God," says Richard of Saint Lawrence, "is so rich that it can relieve all our wants." O Mary, thou lovest God so much, and therefore thou desirest to see Him loved by all. This is the grace which above all others I ask of thee, and which I hope from thee: obtain me great love for God.

20.  "ARK OF THE COVENANT." ---- Hesychius calls Mary "an ark more spacious than that of Noah;" for in the ark of Noah only two animals of every kind were received, but under the mantle of Mary the just and sinners find place. This was one day revealed to Saint Gertrude;  for she saw a multitude of wild beasts, lions, leopards, and the like, who took refuge under the mantle of Mary; and she not only did not drive them away, but with her benign hands caressed them, that they might not fly away. The animals which entered the ark remained animals; but sinners who are received under the mantle of Mary do not remain sinners. She is certain to change their hearts, and to render them dear to God. The Blessed Virgin herself said to Saint Bridget, "However much a man may have sinned, if he returns to me with a real purpose of amendment, I am ready at once to receive him; neither do I pay attention to the sins with which he is laden, but only to the good disposition in which he comes; and then I do not disdain to anoint and heal his wounds, for I am called and truly am the Mother of Mercy."  O Mother of Mercy, will I then say to thee, in the words of Saint Bernard, "Remember that it has never been heard of in any age, that any sinner who had recourse to thee was rejected by thee." I, a miserable sinner, have recourse to thee and trust in thee.

21. "GATE OF HEAVEN." ---- Mary is called the "Gate of Heaven," because, as Saint Bonaventure declares, "no one can enter Heaven unless by Mary, as through a door." Our Queen says, "My power is in Jerusalem."  Richard of Saint Lawrence adds: "commanding what I will, and introducing whom I will."  I can obtain whatever I please for my clients, and introduce all whom I please into Paradise. Hence, Saint Bonaventure writes, that "those who enjoy the favor of Mary are recognized by the citizens of Heaven; and those who bear her stamp, that is, have the grace to be her servants, are inscribed in the Book of Life."  For this reason, Bernardine de Bustis calls Mary "the Book of Life," and says that whoever, by his devotion, is written in this book, is certain to be saved. Ah, my Mother, in thee do I repose my hope of eternal salvation. I love thee; do thou save me; never allow a servant of thine who loves thee to go to blaspheme thee in Hell. 

Eighth Day
22. "MORNING STAR." ---- Saint John Damascene calls Mary "the Star which indicates the rising of the sun."  As the morning star precedes the sun, so does devotion towards the most Blessed Virgin precede the sun of Divine grace; for Saint Germanus says  that "devotion in a soul towards Mary is a sign either that it is already in a state of grace, or that it will very soon be so." Our Lady is also called "the Star of the Sea" by the Church; for, as Saint Thomas explains it, "as mariners, in tempestuous weather, are guided by the star of the sea into port, so are souls guided by Mary over the sea of this world into Paradise."  Hence Saint Bernard warns us, saying, "If you do not wish to be lost in the storm of temptations, turn not your eyes from this star of salvation." He then continues, "if you follow Mary, you will not go astray; if Mary protects you, you cannot fear to be lost; if Mary favors you, you will reach Paradise."

23. HEALTH OF THE WEAK." ---- Mary is called by Saint Simon Stock "the medicine of sinners;" and by Saint Ephrem, not only medicine, but health itself: "Robust health for those who have recourse to her."  Hence those who have recourse to Mary, not only find in her a remedy, but health itself; and this she herself promises to all who seek her: "He that shall find me shall find life, and shall have salvation from the Lord." Neither let us fear that, on account of the bad odor of our wounds, she may refuse to take care of us: she is our Mother; and as a mother does not shrink from dressing the wounds of her child, neither does this celestial physician refuse to heal her servants who have recourse to her. Wherefore Saint Bernard says, "O Mother of God, thou dost not disdain a sinner, however loathsome he may be: if he sends up his sighs to thee, thou wilt deliver him with thine own hand from despair."

24. "REFUGE OF SINNERS." ---- Thus is Mary called by Saint Germanus; he says, "She is the ever-ready refuge of sinners."  Yes, of all sinners; for as the Abbot of Celles says, "she can despise no sinner, but receives all, and welcomes all, the moment they have recourse to her."  Hence Saint John Damascene affirms, that Mary is not only the refuge of the innocent, but also of the wicked, who implore her protection: "I am a city of refuge to all who fly to me."  Therefore Saint Anselm exclaims, "Thou embracest with maternal affection a sinner who is even despised by the whole world, nor dost thou cease thine embrace until thou hast reconciled him with his Judge." By this the Saint gives us to understand, that a sinner being hated by God is also odious and abominable to all creatures; but if he has recourse to Mary, the refuge of sinners, not only she does not despise him, but embraces him with affection, and does not leave him until her Son Jesus Christ, Who is our Judge, has forgiven him. Since, then, O my Lady, thou art the refuge of all sinners, thou art also my refuge. Thou, who despisest no one who has recourse to thee, despise me not, who recommend myself to thee: "Refuge of sinners, pray for us." O Mary, pray for us, and save us.

Ninth Day
25. "COMFORTRESS OF THE AFFLICTED." ---- Saint Germanus says, "O Mary, who, after thy Son, is as solicitous for the whole human race as thou art? Who protects us in our trials as thou dost?"  Who, O Mary, watches over our interests as thou dost? Who is solicitous as thou art for us in our afflictions? "No," replies Saint Antoninus: "no Saint can be found who compassionates us in our miseries as does this most tender Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary."  And as the miseries which afflict us the most are disorders of the soul, blessed Henry Suso calls Mary "the most faithful comfortress of sinners." We need only show Mary the wounds of our souls, and she immediately heals them by her prayers, and consoles us. Nay, even as Richard of Saint Victor writes, her compassion anticipates our wants, and she relieves us before ee invoke her.   Let us, say, then, with Saint Bonaventure, "O Mary, console us always, but especially at the hour of our death; come at that last hour and receive our souls, and present them thyself to thy Son, Who will judge us."

26. "HELP OF CHRISTlANS." ---- Saint John Damascene calls Mary "the prepared and always ready-help of Christians, by which they are delivered from dangers."  The help of Mary is, as Saint Cosmas of Jerusalem writes, "all powerful to deliver us from sin and Hell." Saint Bernard,  addressing Mary, says, "Thou art an invincible warrior in defense of thy servants, fighting against the devils who assail them." For this reason she is called an army in the sacred Canticles: "thou art . . . terrible as an army set in array."  Ah, my Queen, had I always had recourse to thee, I should never have been conquered by my enemies; from henceforth thou shalt be my strength; in my temptations I will always have recourse to thee; from thee do I hope for victory.

27. "QUEEN OF MARTYRS." ---- With reason is Mary called the Queen of Martyrs, for her martyrdom in the death of her Son on the Cross exceeded the sufferings of all the Martyrs. "There stood by the Cross of Jesus His Mother." Mothers fly from their children when they see them dying and are unable to help them. Mary did not fly, but remained with Jesus until she saw Him expire. "She stood by the cross," and whilst Jesus was in His agony she offered the life of her Son to the Eternal Father for our salvation; but in doing so she also was in an agony, and experienced a torment greater than any death. O my afflicted Mother, be graciously pleased, by the merit of the sorrows which thou didst endure at the foot of the Cross, to obtain me true sorrow for my sins, and love for Jesus my Redeemer; and by the sword which transpierced thy heart when thou didst see Him bow down His head and expire, I beseech thee to help me at the hour of my death, and then to obtain me eternal salvation, that I may love thee with thy Jesus forever. 

by Saint Alphonsus de Liguori
Image Credit Waiting for the Word

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your interest in our blog! Your comment will be viewed shortly to be added to our blog. :)