MARY THE LOVING MOTHER OF JESUS
THE FAIREST FLOWER OF PARADISE - CONSIDERATIONS ON THE LITANY OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN, ENRICHED WITH EXAMPLES DRAWN FROM THE LIVES OF THE SAINTS BY Very Rev. ALEXIS M. LEPICIER, O. S. M.
"She brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger." (Luke ii, 7.)
LET us transport ourselves in thought to that solemn moment when Mary, having carried in her womb for nine months the Word of God made Man, brought him forth to the light of this world. Men took no heed to provide for the new-born King of heaven and earth a dwelling-place worthy of Him: a poor abandoned stable was all that this world had to offer to its Creator. But Mary's love made amends for this extreme poverty. Who can tell with what tenderness the blessed Mother laid her new-born Son in the crib? Who can measure the intensity of those shafts of love, so pure, so chaste, so generous, which burned in her heart?
O Jesus, from Thy first entrance into this world, the hardness and coldness of mankind already prepares for Thee that bitter cup, which Thou must drink for thirty-three years, until Thou drainest the last drop upon the cross. In return Thou shalt find in the love of Thy Holy Mother an ample recompense. That love never wanes: on the contrary, it waxes in proportion as Thy sufferings increase and Thy pains grow more acute.
The love of the mother does not make Mary forget the humility of the servant. For she calls to mind that, by proclaiming herself the servant of the Most High, she was raised to the unequaled dignity of being Mother of God. Her first act at the birth of Jesus is to cast herself down before Him and adore in deepest humility her first-begotten Son, offering herself to Him as His slave. Mary adores in Jesus the world's Creator: she submits herself wholly to Him, and by this act of supreme submission and lowliest adoration, she makes to the Redeemer an honorable amend for the indifference and pride of men.
But it is to ransom mankind that Jesus came. Consequently Mary, from the first moment of the Incarnation, begins her office of Mediatrix, presenting to the Father this same Jesus, whom she has conceived, for the world's redemption, and offering herself to be with Him one victim of expiation. Thus the deliverance of man from the bondage of sin begins to be wrought out by the infinite merits of the Word Incarnate, to which are joined, not of necessity, but of superabundance, the merits of Mary.
Virgin most holy, I unite myself with thee in adoring Jesus, thy Son. I acknowledge Him for my King, and the King of the entire universe. In union with thee, I offer Him to the eternal Father for the remission of my own sins and those of the whole world.
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The mystery of the birth of Christ, a mystery which carries with it for Mary the glorious title of "Mother of Christ," invites the Christian soul to give vent, in imitation of and in company with Mary, to pious sentiments of faith and wonder. To these sentiments ought to be joined a lively recognition of the benefits which the Incarnation has brought us.
Furthermore, we should endeavor to foster in our hearts a true and sincere love for that God who has loved us to such an extent, as to abase Himself in assuming our miserable nature and abandoning Himself, for love of us, to a life of sorrows and tears.
It is also our bounden duty to adore, with sentiments of profound humility, Him who, without losing anything of His infinite grandeur, has deigned to make Himself like unto us.
Moreover, we should offer our hearts to Jesus through Mary's hands, imploring this King of love to graciously accept the offering of all that we are and of all that we have, for time and eternity.
Above all, it behoves tw to be on our guard against the insinuations of those who, whether by their harmful writings, or by their traitorous words, seek to lay snares for our faith, and so to deprive us of the great benefit of Redemption. Alas! how numberless are these emissaries of Satan, who wage ceaseless war upon the Christian, endeavoring to turn him away from his Master! In order to secure more surely their end, they do not blush to decry her who is the shortest way to come to Jesus, the glorious Virgin Mary, our Mother.
O my soul, guard with a jealous care the devotion thou hast to the Mother of God: this wholesome devotion will infallibly bring thee to salvation.
St. Alphonsus Rodriguez
Among the saints whom our blessed Lady seems to have particularly favored, St. Alphonsus Rodriguez deserves special mention. He was born in Segovia, a small town of Spain, and was, from his boyhood, so adorned with virtues, that it was easy to foresee to what heights of holiness he would one day attain. Above all, his devotion to Our Lady seemed to have been born with him. From his tenderest years he felt drawn to love and serve her and this good Mother did not cease to lavish graces and favors on him.
One day in the transport of his fervor, he spoke thus to the Mother of God: "O heavenly Lady, I do love thee. Would to God that thou also loved me thus." To which Mary made answer : "It is not as thou sayest, O my son; for the love I bear thee, is greater than the lave thou bearest me."
In the midst of worldly affairs in which he was engaged by his mother's will, the love of Jesus and Mary was what always upheld him and finally detached him from everything on earth. Moreover, Our Lord Himself, in a vision, bade him follow Him more closely; and this he did by becoming a lay-brother in the Society of Jesus. In this vocation he exercised the most heroic virtues, especially patience and charity, keeping himself always united to God in prayer, so that he could say with the Apostle: "For you are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God." (Col iii, 8.)
To what degree of sanctity St. Alphonsus Rodriguez rose, is proved by the fact that his Superiors were bound to restrain the ardor of his charity, which had found expression in over-severe penances. From his devotion to Jesus and Mary he drew the needful strength to withstand the hard temptations which it pleased God to let him undergo. In his last illness he had the consolation of being visited by Our Lady and her Divine Son. Gladdened by the sweet converse of Jesus and Mary, he ended his days uttering these Holy Names, on the thirtieth of October, 1617. He was canonized 1 by Leo XIII, at the same time as the Seven Holy Founders of the Order of the Servants of Mary, on the fifteenth of January, 1888.
O Blessed Mother, do thou thyself offer to thy Son Jesus my sentiments of love, adoration and self-surrender. Obtain that I may persevere in these sentiments even unto death, so that I may come to enjoy in heaven the ineffable vision of God, my Redeemer, the first beginning and the last end of all things. Amen.
1 Acta Leonis, Vol. viii, pp. 86, foll.