- The Little Office
- 1 Mirror of Justice
- 2 The Saviour
- 3 The First Years
- 4 In The Temple
- 5 Nazareth
- 6 The Annunciation
- 7 The Visitation
- 8 The Magnificat
- 9 The Benedictus
- 10 Christmas
- 11 The Magi
- 12 At The Manger
- 13 Nunc Dimittis
- 14 The Presentation
- 15 Flight into Egypt
- 16 The Holy Innocents
- 17 Life at Nazareth
- 18 Jesus in the Temple
- 19 Jesus at labour
- 20 Death of St. Joseph
- 21 Baptism Of Jesus
- 22 Jesus In The Desert
- 23 Calling The Apostles
- 24 Marriage at Cana
- 25 Silence Of The Gospel
- 26 Start Of The Passion
- 27 Foot Of The Cross
- 28 Jesus Laid In The Tomb
- 29 Resurrection
- 30 Ascension, Pentecost
- 31 The Assumption
Mary Spouse of The Holy Ghost, part 3. BY MONSIGNOR JOHN T. MCMAHON, M.A., PH.D.
THE SONG OF MARY
Mary is a living lyre touched by the Holy Ghost.
The Song of Mary takes its title from the word with which it begins: “Magnificat.” In earlier times it was known as
“The Gospel of Mary,” “The Virgin’s Prophecy,” and, perhaps, the most beautiful title of all, “The Virgin’s Nuptial Song.” It was the custom at weddings in Palestine to express appropriate sentiments in extempore song. But Mary sang her own bridal song, the song of her espousal with the Holy Ghost, the song of the Bride of the Holy Ghost, of the union of God with mankind, of the marriage of heaven and earth, the hymn of the Incarnation. The Magnificat is steeped in the hymns and prophecies of the Old Testament with which Mary, like every pious Israelite, was familiar. In her song Mary proclaims the fulfilment of ancient prophecy, and makes a new prophecy for a new era. The Magnificat is the crown of Scriptural song, for it surpasses all the canticles of the Old Testament and is itself the first canticle of the New.
In the first great happiness of her Divine Motherhood, Mary, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, her Spouse, pours from her soul her exultant, wondrous song, simple in expression but of mysterious depth. The song may be divided into three parts. First, Mary thanks God on her own behalf, then on behalf of the world redeemed, and finally on behalf of Israel, God’s chosen people.
“My soul doth magnify the Lord;
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God My Saviour.
For He hath regarded the humility of His hand-maiden;
For behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me Blessed;
For He that is mighty hath done great things to me; and holy is His Name.”
A literal translation from the Greek text would be:
“My soul extols the Lord, And my spirit leaps for joy in God My Saviour.”
The word “magnify” does not mean to make great, for no one can increase the infinite greatness of God; rather is it used in a sense of declaring great. St. Elizabeth had declared that Mary was great: “Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.” Our Lady is quick to refer her greatness to its true source, God.
“Exult” is a better word that “rejoice.” Mary sings her soaring song of joy that God has so honoured His obscure maid.
“The humility of his hand-maiden” means the lowliness of his slave.
“From henceforth all generations shall call me blessed” are daring words for a young country girl to make in an unimportant village in Palestine. But the prophecy is all the greater if it is fulfilled. And how wonderfully it has been fulfilled in this our Marian age!
Mary of Nazareth makes the staggering statement that all future generations of mankind will honour her memory. The greatest masterpieces in the art galleries of Christendom are pictures of Mary of Nazareth. No woman has ever been eulogized by the poets as Mary. Mary’s name and titles are written across the map of the world; cities and towns, hills and mountains, capes and bays, rivers and provinces are named after Mary. The number of churches dedicated to her is past counting. Who can estimate the number of children with the name of Mary? Countless generations have prayed to her daily and died with her name on their lips, “0 Mary, 0 Mary, how great is thy name!”
“He that is mighty hath done great things to me.” The Mighty One, He Whose Name is Holy, has done this sublime thing to Mary, making her His Bride and Spouse. Mary’s explanation is that the Mighty One was honouring the lowliness of His slave.
Through Mary the Seat of Wisdom, we hope to be wise. She will teach us that no man is wise unless he falls upon his knees in deep humility. How sorely the modern world needs Mary to bring it to its knees! The advance of science has sharpened the intellect, while the hearts of men remain dark and cold. Recourse to the Holy Ghost, and to Mary His Spouse, is the urgent need of this proud age.
“And His mercy is from generation unto generation,
To them that fear Him.
He hath shown might with His arm:
He hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat,
And hath exalted the lowly.
He hath filled the hungry with good things;
And the rich He hath sent away empty.”
Having glorified God for His favours to herself, Mary now glorifies and praises God for His mercies to men. She echoes here the sentiments of the psalmist, David, who had declared: “But the mercy of God is from eternity and unto eternity, upon them that fear Him.” (Ps. 102. 17). The mercy promised by God to Abraham and to his seed forever is in her mind and heart as she sings her song.
She looks into the future and sees the Divine revolution in which the pride and arrogance of man are overthrown by the foolishness of the Gospel. God shows might in His arm; the proud are scattered; the mighty put down from their seat; the rich sent hungry away; while the humble are exalted and the hungry filled with good things. So does Mary proclaim in advance the Beatitudes of the Gospel and anticipates St. Paul’s preaching:
“Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? And the base things of this world and the contemptible hath God chosen, that no flesh should glory in His sight.” (I Cor. 1. 20).
“He hath given help to His servant Israel.
Being mindful of His mercy;
As He spoke to our Fathers, to Abraham and to his seed forever.” -(Luke I. 46–55).
Finally, Mary thanks God for His favours to Israel, His chosen people. The Messiah was to be born in Israel of the seed of Abraham. Despite the sins of the chosen people, Jehovah has mercifully remembered His promises to their fathers, the Patriarchs. Now He deigns to fulfill those promises. Mary, an Israelite of the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, has become the Mother of the Messiah.
In the “Magnificat” Mary makes a solemn act of thanksgiving, the first to fall from Jewish lips for the Incarnation. She, a daughter of David, a child of Abraham, looks back along the course of the centuries to the promise given by God to Abraham and her joy and gratitude is in her song that the promise has been fulfilled in herself.
The Church takes up the song of Mary. She chants or recites it daily in her Office, reminding her children of God’s mercy to us in the Incarnation, and of the greatness of her through whom this blessing has come. During the Office in choir all must rise and stand with uncovered heads for the singing of the “Magnificat.” Another mark of respect is the incensing of the altar during the “Magnificat.” The song of Mary is the only canticle or hymn that from remote antiquity has been prefaced by making the Sign of the Cross.
Although the “Magnificat” is primarily Mary’s praise of God, yet, we see in it God’s intention that men should praise Mary. Mary praises God in herself and herself in God. She extols the power and wisdom and goodness of the Most High, for the reason that these attributes are so wondrously shown in her who is His Mother. Not to honour Mary is consequently not to honour God in the noblest work of His hands. The Holy Ghost moved St. Elizabeth to recognize and revere the Mother of God and to proclaim her “blessed among women. That is why the humble handmaid of the Lord does not chide St. Elizabeth for her praise. She teaches us that she is worthy of honour, worthy because God has so honoured her. The Holy Ghost speaks through the lips of Mary her right to our praise and veneration:
“Behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. Because He that is mighty hath done great things to me: And holy is His Name.”
MARY, HIS INSEPARABLE COMPANION
“When the Holy Ghost, her Spouse, has found Mary in a soul, He flies there. She is the inseparable companion of the Holy Ghost in all His works of grace. Unless the Holy Ghost finds Mary in a soul, He works none of His marvels there. We cannot have a perfect fidelity to the Holy Ghost without union with Mary.”-St. Louis-Marie de Montfort.
The Legion of Mary is full of the Spirit of St. Louis-Marie de Montfort. That spirit might be summarized in his own words that “Mary is the inseparable companion of the Holy Ghost.” Over the standard of the Legion is the Dove of the Holy Ghost. In the picture of the Legion the widespread wings of the Dove of the Holy Ghost surmount Mary and her apostolate for souls. The Legionary Promise is addressed to the Holy Ghost. Every meeting of the Legion opens with the invocation and prayer of the Holy Ghost. The Legionaries seek personal holiness through the union of the Holy Ghost and Mary. They appeal to the Holy Ghost to deepen their devotion to Mary, His Spouse, and they ask Mary to lead them and all they hope to do to the Holy Ghost. The Legion is convinced that the sanctification of themselves, and of the other members of the Mystical Body, is dependent on the power and operation of the Holy Ghost.
TRUE DEVOTION IS FROM THE HOLY GHOST
True devotion to Mary means to link her always with the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is the Mighty One Who has done such great things to Mary. He will do great things for all who approach Him through Mary, His Spouse. The Legion of Mary has been guided by the Holy Ghost in prescribing for its members interior prayer and apostolic action. Prayer and action, interior and exterior formation, prayer before action and action to follow prayer, to pray to act and to act because of prayer-this is the explanation of the extraordinary fruits of the Legion.
The Legion has been led back to the spirit of apostolic times by Mary. We have many societies, confraternities, sodalities and pious unions but none of them have combined, as the Legion does, prayer and action. The Legion has the wisdom of the saints who prayed fervently because everything depended on the good God and then worked as if all depended on themselves. Inner holiness and apostolic work are the two wings on which the Legionary advances in grace and co-operates with Mary in the salvation of the world.
THE LEGIONARY PROMISE
Most Holy Ghost, I, (Name of candidate),
Desiring to be enrolled this day as a Legionary of Mary,
Yet knowing that of myself I cannot render worthy service,
Do ask of Thee to come upon me and fill me with Thyself,
So that my poor acts may be sustained by Thy power, and become an instrument of Thy mighty purposes. But I know that Thou, Who hast come to regenerate the world in Jesus Christ,
Hast not willed to do so except through Mary,
That without her we cannot know or love Thee,
That it is by her, and to whom she pleases, when she pleases, and in the quantity and manner she pleases, That all Thy gifts and virtues and graces are administered;
And I realize that the secret of a perfect Legionary service
Consists in a complete union with her who is so completely united to Thee.
So, taking in my hand the Legionary Standard, which seeks to set before our eyes these things, I stand before Thee as her soldier and her child,
And I so declare my entire dependence on her.
She is the mother of my soul.
Her heart and mine are one;
And from that single heart she speaks again those words of old: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord;” And once again Thou comest by her to do great things.
Let Thy power overshadow me, and come into my soul with fire and love,
And make it one with Mary’s love and Mary’s will to save the world,
So that I may be pure in her who was made Immaculate by Thee;
So that Christ my Lord may likewise grow in me through Thee;
So that I with her, His Mother, may bring Him to the world and to the souls who need Him; So that they and I, the battle won, may reign with her for ever in the glory of the Blessed Trinity. Confident that Thou wilt so receive me and use me-and turn my weakness into strength this day, I take my place in the ranks of the Legion, and I venture to promise a faithful service. I will submit fully to its discipline,
Which binds me to my comrades,
And shapes us to an army,
And keeps our line as on we march with Mary,
To work Thy will, to operate Thy miracles of grace,
Which will renew the face of the earth,
And establish Thy reign, Most Holy Ghost, over all.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
PRAYER TO MARY, SPOUSE OF THE HOLY GHOST
O Mary, thou spotless Bride of the Holy Ghost! Thou art the glory of Jerusalem,, the joy of Israel, the honour of our nation. Thou art the valiant woman who didst crush the head of the serpent when thou didst offer thy Divine Son to the Heavenly Father in the love of the Holy Ghost, for the salvation of the world. Through the merits of this previous sacrifice and through the sufferings of Thy Son, obtain for us the gifts of the Holy Ghost I thank the Holy Ghost that He has chosen thee as His Bride and constituted thee the dispenser of His graces. Look upon me with thy compassionate eyes, upon my distress and needs. Help me that I may never lose the grace of God nor defile the temple of the Holy Ghost, but that my heart may ever remain His holy dwelling, and that I may with thee eternally praise and bless the Holy Ghost in heaven. Amen.
Our Lady, Spouse of the Holy Ghost, pray for us.
SHE IS OUR LADY OF LIGHT
Mary is the Seat of Wisdom, the prudent Virgin, the Mother of Good Counsel, the confidant of God Himself, for she was that for three and thirty years on earth. She is Our Lady of Light, filled by the Holy Ghost not only at her Immaculate Conception, her beautiful Annunciation, but again at Pentecost She is given motherly queenship over all hearts, that she may love and understand and help all hearts. As Faber wrote, her heart was broken that it might wider be, “that in the vastness of its love there might be room for me.” And she is Our Lady of Paradise-full of joys, of virtues, of smiles, of welcoming.
HIS IMMACULATE SPOUSE
O Holy Ghost, give me a great devotion towards Mary, Thy Immaculate Spouse, so that in her and by her Thou mayest form in me Jesus Christ in a lifelike way, unto the fullness of His perfect age.
Mother of God, Immaculate Spouse of the Holy Ghost, I give Thee my whole self, soul and body, all I have or may have, to keep for Jesus, that I may be His for ever more.
O Lady of Light, Spouse of the Holy Ghost, pray for me.
O Mother of God, sanctified by the Holy Ghost in Thy Immaculate Conception, pray for me.
“Kindle in Us the Fire of Thy Love.” The Life of the Holy Ghost is symbolized by fire. Fire makes action. Fire creates an appetite for more action. A thing of fire will spread. When we ask Him to kindle in our hearts the fire of His Divine Love, we really ask Him to propel us to action, action on ourselves first, and then because of our increase in holiness, action on and for others for the love of Him. This is the new commandment of the Holy Ghost-action this day on behalf of the spiritual growth of others because we love Him.
A PRAYER FOR AUSTRALIA
Holy Ghost, we beseech Thee, descend upon our lovely morning land, dedicated to Thee. Change the hearts of the enemies of the Holy Church. Convert them to the true faith. Guide our leaders. Give us the spirit of justice and charity. Make us worthy of the name-”The Southern Land of the Holy Ghost.” Amen.