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.
"Thou hast not spared thy life, by reason of the distress and tribulation of thy people, but hast prevented our ruin in the presence of our God." (Judith, xiii, 25.)
MAN having fallen from his first dignity by original sin, became the slave of the demon and the prey of death. But God pitied him and decreed, of His infinite goodness, to rescue him from his misery and re-establish him in the state of grace in which he had been created.
To this end, He sent His only-begotten Son upon the earth, in order that, being made man, He should redeem by His blood the human race from the slavery of sin, and make us the adopted sons of God, and heirs to eternal life. Thus the Angel revealing to Joseph the cause of Mary's pregnancy, commanded him to call the Child which should be born, by the name of Jesus, a name which signifies Saviour, "for," he added, "He shall save His people from their sins. (Matt, x, 21.) And when Jesus came into the world, the angels announced Him as the Saviour of mankind. (Luke, ii, 11.) Jesus, my Saviour and my God, be Thou blessed for having delivered me from death. May Thy Holy Name remain so deeply impressed upon my heart, that it may always be for me a pledge of salvation.
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As God created man without the assistance of any creature whatsoever, so also He alone could save him. He willed, however, that His Immaculate Mother should cooperate with Him in this great enterprise, thus associating her in the work of our redemption in an altogether singular manner.
Jesus redeemed us by offering Himself as a victim of expiation to the Eternal Father. For not only did He pray for our salvation, but furthermore He gave Himself up to suffer all the torments which should be inflicted on Him, by the combined efforts of men and demons. He immolated Himself even to the excess of yielding His life upon the cross.
And how did Mary take part in our redemption? In: the first place, by obtaining for us, through her ardent desires and fervent prayers, the accomplishment of the great mystery of the Incarnation; secondly, by consenting to become Mother of the Word, giving to Him that humanity of ours, by which He was to save us; finally, by offering Jesus to the Eternal Father as a victim of propitiation and suffering together with Him woes without measure to satisfy the punishment due for our sins.
Such being the case, it is the duty of every Christian to compassionate the dolors which Mary, in cooperating with Jesus in the work of our redemption, did suffer for love of us: "Forget not the groanings of thy mother." (Ecclus. vii, 29.) Not charity alone, but justice also prompts us to share in the sorrows of the Mother of God, for it was for us solely that she suffered.
Happy he, whose devotion impels him, not only to pay homage to Mary's greatness, but also to nourish a tender compassion for her sorrows: he can but partake in the priceless boon of the Redemption.
"May we obtain, O Virgin Mary, salvation through the wounds of Jesus Christ!" (Office of the Seven Dolors.)
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Since Mary did cooperate with Jesus in the work of our salvation, it is our bounden duty to render to her our most heartfelt thanks.
The virtuous Esther exposed herself to the danger of death to rescue the people of Israel: the chaste Judith braved the army of Holofernes to deliver the city of Bethulia: Mary offered herself with Jesus, a victim of expiation, not for one town or for one nation alone, but for the whole world.
Let us not, then, forget in our acts of homage, in our affection, in our thanksgivings, to join in one our most holy Redeemer and his Mother, for it is to Mary, after Jesus, that we owe our salvation. In the passion of Jesus and the sorrows of Mary God has placed all our hope of salvation.
It is just, therefore, that we proclaim Mary co-Redemptress of the human race, and honor her as such. This is the most beautiful title that we can give her, because it sums up all the benefits we owe her as our Mother. It is the end of he? singular predestination, the principal motive of her Immaculate Conception, the source of her incomparable glory.
Example - St Alphonsus Mary De Liguori
St. Alphonsus Mary de Liguori deserves to be mentioned as one of the most devout servants of our Lady. While still a young man, he was accustomed to fast every Saturday in her honor, and he did not allow any one day to pass without visiting her shrine and honoring her with special reverence and love. Being inspired to leave the world in order to dedicate himself entirely to the service of God, he wished to confirm his holy purpose by hanging up his sword at the altar of Our Lady of Mercy, in this way avowing that he was determined to dedicate his whole life to the service of this glorious Queen of heaven and earth.
Hardly had he embraced the ecclesiastical state when he began to propagate devotion to Our Lady, honoring her with endless fervent' practices, and speaking of her to all who came his way. He loved to preach to the people on the glories of Mary and on her excellent virtues and powers, which office he performed with such zeal and perfection that often a marvelous light shone on his face and he appeared as if enraptured. Especially did he cherish a tender devotion toward the sorrows of the great Mother of God. He compassionated with lively affection the bitter sufferings which she endured in the passion of Jesus, striving to make others join in this spirit of filial compassion toward her who is truly called the co-Redemptress of the human race.
In his preaching, Alphonsus never failed to impress upon the faithful the powerful patronage of Mary, her beneficence in welcoming sinners and her motherly assistance especially in the hour of death. And this he performed with such advantage to souls, that often he was successful in converting sinners steeped in vice. In order that his teaching might come to the notice of a greater number of the faithful, he wrote several pious works in which he exalted the glories of this heavenly Mother and impressed upon all Christians the efficacy of devotion to her. Moreover, he introduced the pious custom of preaching, in the course of a mission, on the power and mercy of Mary, and this always produced a powerful effect upon the people.
After a long life spent entirely in promoting the good of souls, St. Alphonsus breathed forth his spirit to God in his ninetieth year, on the first of August, 1787.
O Mary, inseparable companion of Jesus in the work of our redemption, interpose, I pray thee, thy powerful mediation with thy Son, that the immense sufferings which He endured for me may not be wasted: but that I may find in His sacred wounds all my consolation in this life, and eternal salvation in the hour of my death. Amen.