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.
|Our Lady of Good Counsel original fresco from the church at Genazzano c. 1356. The image is a fresco executed on a thin layer of porcelain no thicker than an egg shell. Wikipedia|
"Counsel and equity are mine, prudence is mine, strength is mine." (Prov. viii, 14.)
By this gift we feel impelled to turn to the Holy Spirit, to obtain from Him light in our anxieties, and a clear knowledge of what it behoves us to do, in order to please God and save our souls. The Holy Spirit, like a tender father, hearkens to the cry of our heart, and in His infinite bounty sends a ray of heavenly light to illumine our soul, to dispel its darkness, to show it the way it should follow, and to fill it with a sense of security and peace. Our soul can then cry out with the Psalmist: "The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the protector of my life: of whom shall I be afraid?" (Ps. xxvi, 1-2.)
How precious is this gift of counsel! Let us ask it of God with all humility and perseverance.
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Next to Jesus, Mary is that privileged creature which possessed in a superlative degree the gift of counsel.
Her soul was, in fact, at all times turned toward God, to whose inspirations she ever responded with alacrity. In her, far more than in any other saint, the following words find their full and complete application: "Counsel shall keep thee and prudence shall preserve thee." (Prov. ii, 11.) And this promptness with which Mary turned to God in all things and perceived the lights He sent her, preserved her holy soul continually in perfect peace. This peace abode always with her, and imparted to her every action a celestial radiance.
It was, however, in two circumstances of her life especially that Mary gave proof of possessing the supernatural gift of counsel in a superior degree.
The first was at the moment of her presentation in the Temple. She then clearly perceived how pleasing it would be to God if she consecrated herself to Him by a vow of perpetual virginity: nor did she wait till riper years to put this vow into effect, thus showing how her actions were eminently characterized by the gift of counsel which animated each of them.
Again, at the moment of the Annunciation this gift shone forth in Mary with an added splendor. Hailed by the Angel as "full of grace" and solicited by him to give her consent to the realization of the Incarnation, the Holy Virgin inquired of the celestial messenger as to the dispositions of the divine will in her regard; which when she knew, she offered herself without reserve as the humble servant of the Lord.
O Woman without peer, grant that, like unto thee, I may frequently have recourse to the lights of the Holy Spirit, that I may know and perform in all things the holy will of God, and that I may therein find perfect peace.
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Just as he who has recourse to wise counsel is in the way of safety, (Prov. xi, 14.) so also he who neglects to seek counsel courts his own ruin. The punishment which God usually inflicts on individuals and peoples who, of set purpose, tread under foot His law and violate His justice, consists in withdrawing from them the guiding influence of the Holy Spirit, and leaving them to their own perverse inclinations: "I let them go according to the desires of their heart." (Ps. lxxx, 13.)
The natural consequence of the subtraction of the gift of counsel is a headstrong rashness, to which we see the impious given over: this foolhardiness is commonly the precursor of ruin and death. The carnal man, who desires only the goods of this world and the pleasures of sense, is urged on by a blind instinct to search after enjoyments: sooner or later, however, these very things carry him away like a whirlwind and he miserably perishes.
Beware, O my soul, of despising the lights of the Holy Spirit. Rather have constant recourse to the Author of all good, saying after the Prophet, with faith and humility: "I will hear what the Lord will speak to me: for He will speak peace unto His people." (Ps.. lxxxiv, 9.)
Example - Blessed Louis Mary Grignion De Montfort
Blessed Louis Mary Grignion de Montfort, so called from the castle in which he was born, manifested from his early youth a great devotion toward the Blessed Virgin. While still a boy, he used to call Mary by the sweet name of Mother and rejoiced to hear people speak of her virtues and her dignity. Moreover, at times he loved to separate himself from his companions, to recite the Rosary and sing the praises of this glorious Queen; and yet again he would invite others to join him in this pious exercise.
This devotion became more fervent as he grew older, so much so, that as he advanced in years, he also felt growing within him a greater love for the Mother of God and men. When he was ordained priest, he gave himself entirely to the work of saving souls, especially by means of missions, in which he never omitted to invoke the powerful intercession of Mary. This heavenly Queen, like a tender mother, deigned to bless his labors with most abundant fruits, in spite of the fierce persecutions which were raised against him.
To Mary, indeed, he had recourse in all his trials. To her he consecrated all his labors and sufferings. Every day, after his work was over, he prostrated himself before her Altar as if to obtain from her solace and comfort.
So ardent was his desire to enroll the faithful in the service of the Queen of Heaven, that among other endeavors to propagate devotion to her, he thought of establishing everywhere the Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary.
Moreover, he founded a Congregation of missionaries of the Society of Mary, who devoted themselves continually to this holy work. It was principally by means of this singular devotion to the Mother of God, that he was successful in converting numerous sinners, in sanctifying many souls and in preserving the Christian people from the heresy of Jansenism, which had crept in everywhere.
The name of Blessed Grignion will remain ever dear to the devout clients of Mary on account of a book full of heavenly wisdom which he wrote on the true devotion to the Blessed Virgin. In this book, the Apostle of the Queen of Heaven teaches the way of consecrating ourselves entirely to her, placing in her hands all we have and all we do, that she may be our Mediatrix with her Son. He died on the twenty-eighth of April, 1716, and Leo XIII beatified him on the twenty-second of January, 1888.
O Mary, it is to the effect of thy gift of counsel that we are indebted for the salvation of the world. Obtain for me, I beseech thee, of the Holy Spirit, that I may receive His lights with deep humility, and follow His counsels with a docile heart, in order that, like thee, I may partake of the promises made to those who have received the spirit of adoption of the sons of God. Amen. (Rom. viii, 15.)