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.
|The original Miraculous Icon of the Iveron Mother of God is on Mount Athos|
BY THE very fact of becoming Mother of God, Mary entered into relationship, so to speak, with each of the Three Divine Persons. She became so intimately united with the Holy Trinity, that no other creature has ever been admitted to anything like this close communion with the thrice Holy God. A consideration of this relationship will not be without consolation for the human heart, nor devoid of some practical utility.
In the first place, we may say that, by engendering the Word, Mary acquired a certain relationship toward God the Father, in this sense that she conceived in her most chaste womb and brought forth to the light of this world, that same Son, whom God the Father has generated from all eternity of His own substance.
The Son of God is therefore, at one and the same time, Son of Mary, though under another aspect; and just as He was generated, according to His divine nature, of the substance of the Father, so also, as regards His human nature, He was formed of Mary's own substance.
Nay, more, it is in some sort to Mary that the Father owes His authority over the Son: because as God, both Father and Son are equal, ' but as Man, the Son is subject to the Father. Consequently, it is due to Mary that the Son of God, being Himself God, could say that He received from the Father the command to die for our sins. (John. x, 18.)
I give Thee glory, O Eternal Father, because the execution of the mystery of the Incarnation was committed to Mary, by being made dependent on her consent; for by this Thou didst associate her with the splendors of Thine own eternal fatherhood.
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If the relation of Mary with the Father is so close, what shall we say of that which unites her with the Son? Was it not through Mary that the Word appeared on this earth clothed with our humanity? Was it not of her own most pure substance that the body of the God-Man was formed? If, then, Jesus Christ unites in His Sacred Humanity all created' perfections, and can thus offer them in His own Person to His Heavenly Father, it is in some respect to Mary that He owes them, in whose womb He took our humanity.
How sweet, yet potent are the bonds which unite the Son of God to His Blessed Mother! What intimacy in the intercourse between Jesus and Mary! Jesus revealing to Mary all the secrets of His Heart, and Mary modelling her every action on the life of the Saviour.
It is above all in the work of our redemption that the straitness of the ties between the Word and Mary shines forth most vividly. From the conception of the Saviour in her virginal womb to the tragedy of Calvary, Mary fulfilled her office of co-redemptress, offering continually to the Father, her beloved Son as a victim of propitiation on the altar of her heart. After that, it is easy to understand why Christians cannot separate in their worship and in their love the Word Incarnate from her who has the unparalleled honor of being His Mother.
Be Thou ever blessed, Divine Word, for having chosen Mary for Thy Mother. The virgins who follow Thee are all dear to Thy love: but none can be compared to Thine own Immaculate Mother.
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Sweet also and intimate is the relation of Mary with the Third Person of the most Holy Trinity.
Taught by the Angel Gabriel, Mary acquiesces without hesitation in the dispositions of the divine will in her regard, and becomes by the very fact the fruitful Spouse of the Holy Ghost. She belongs to herself no longer, having by her consent consecrated the gift of her own self to her Heavenly Bridegroom.
If Mary never ceased to direct all her thoughts and actions toward the Holy Ghost, He on His part let no moment go by, in which He did not exhibit the signs of His peculiar love toward the Bride of His Heart.
Be thou blessed, O Holy Spirit, God of Love, for Thy sweet communications to Thy chosen Bride, in whom Thou didst find unalloyed delight.
Example - St. Peregrine Laziosi
St. Peregrine Laziosi was born at Forli, on the first of May, 1265. In his youth he proved a noble and valiant knight, but a fierce enemy of the Church and the Pope. As his townsmen rebelled against the Pope, he became one of the boldest leaders of the revolution. But the Blessed Virgin to whom, notwithstanding his evil-doing, he had ever preserved a special devotion, watched over him.
It happened that St. Philip Benizi, the fifth General of the Order of the Servants of Mary, came to Forli at the command of the Sovereign Pontiff, to bring back that city to the obedience of the Holy See. But this dutiful son of the Church was cruelly treated by the rebels. Peregrine, more daring than the rest, not only insulted St. Philip, but even went so far as to strike him. But this great Saint meekly bore the injury and, in imitation of St. Stephen the first holy martyr, prayed fervently for his persecutors.
At the sight of so genuine a humility and charity, Peregrine, overcome with grief, ran in search of the Saint whom he had offended and humbly asked his pardon. St. Philip received the lowly penitent and assured him of pardon. He then exhorted him to change his life and to place himself under the protection of the most holy Mother of God, the better to carry out his good resolutions.
Henceforth Peregrine was changed into another man; but as he did not know what state of life he ought to embrace, he prayed fervently to Our Lady that she would herself deign to direct his steps in the way that God willed. The divine Mother heard his entreaties, and one day, as he was praying before her statue, she said to him: "Go to Siena to my Servants and there thou shalt find the way of salvation." Peregrine obeyed and, going out of the city, he found a young man dressed as a traveler, who offered himself as guide. When they arrived in Siena at the door of the Servite monastery, the young man suddenly disappeared, and Peregrine knew that he was an angel sent to guide him on his way.
The penitent received the Servite habit from the hand of St. Philip himself. Together with this outward habit, he also appeared clothed with the spirit of religious perfection. So great was his penance, that for thirty years he was not seen to sit down. His patience also in bearing infirmities was truly extraordinary, so that never a word of complaint was heard to come from his lips. Finally he died full of merits on the first of May, 1345, at the advanced age of eighty years.
What meed of praise can I render to thee, O Mary, when I contemplate thee so closely united to the Most Holy Trinity? Grant that by my fidelity in corresponding with grace, I may always merit to possess within me the Three Divine Persons, according to the words of thy Son: "If any man love Me, . . . My Father will love him, and We will come to him and will make Our abode with him." (John. 14, 23.) Amen.