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.
|Mother of God of Konevsk|
MARY, being the true Mother of Jesus, King and Lord of the whole universe, by this very fact is Queen and Mistress, not only of men, but also of angels. She possesses, then, with Jesus, right of property over all creatures, even those endowed with intelligence, so that she can dispose of them according to her good pleasure. We can even say with all truth that God, in creating the world, had especially in mind these two persons, whom He loved more than all men and angels together. Yes, it was for Jesus and Mary that God formed all this vast universe and adorned it in its different parts.
Rejoice, O my soul, to see thy sovereign Queen holding in her hands the sceptre of the world. Admire this peerless woman, raised to so lofty a dignity, and none the less animated toward us with the tenderest sentiments of mercy and pity. Mary's mercy is for us poor sinners, an inexhaustible source of hope, a pledge of everlasting life. "Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of mercy, hail! our life, our sweetness, and our hope, hail!"
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The dignity of Mother of God to which Mary was elevated, and the office of Mother of men, which Jesus Christ confided to her, afford so many motives for us to honor the Holy Virgin with an especial cultus.
In the first place, the excellence of the Divine Maternity is so great, that it gives Mary a right to a cultus inferior, it is true, to the cultus due the Divinity, but for all that superior to the cultus we owe to the saints. This is called by a special name, cultus of hyperdulia, and consists in honoring the Holy Virgin as Mother of the Incarnate Word, true God and true Man and supreme Lord of the universe.
Moreover, we owe to Mary a cultus of dulia, on account of the marvelous graces with which she is adorned, and the heroic virtues which she practiced during her mortal life. In thus honoring Mary, we acknowledge her as our Queen, and proclaim ourselves her devoted servants.
But it is not only in private that we should honor Mary; we owe her also a public cultus. For in the same way that individuals, taken apart, owe to the Mother of God the saving graces which Jesus Christ has won for each of them, in like manner the entire human race has received through Mary its patent of nobility: "Thou art the glory of Jerusalem, thou art the joy of Israel, thou art the honor of our people, for thou hast done manfully." (Judith, xv, 10, 11.)
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The cultus which Christians render to Mary is no barren homage; it is a source of unnumbered blessings for individuals as well as for society.
This cultus is, in the first place, a most efficacious means for coming to Jesus; for the knowledge and love of Mary, by a natural consequence, draws the soul onward to a knowledge and love of our Divine Saviour, of whom the Holy Virgin is the most perfect copy that ever existed.
Furthermore, the honor which we pay to Mary inevitably redounds to the honor of Jesus, and becomes to Him a source of glory and praise, for it is written that parents are the glory of their children: Gloria filiorum patres eorum. (Prov. xvii, 6.)
Moreover, a firm faith in Mary's privileges is a token of right belief in the Incarnation and the other mysteries of our religion. Wherefore, the Church proclaims that Mary, by herself alone, has destroyed all heresies in the whole world: Gaude Maria Virgo, cunctas haereses sola interemisti in universo mundo. (1st. Antiphon of the Third Nocturn of the Office of Our Lady.)
Finally, the cultus which we pay to Mary is an unfailing fountain of blessings, whether in the spiritual or temporal order, for this mighty Queen never abandons her servants, but continually helps them during life, and delights to assist them in the hour of their death. She answers love by love: Ego diligentes me diligo. (Prov. viii, 17.)
Example - Venerable Julius Arrighetti
Venerable Julius Arrighetti was born at St. Peter of Sieve, near Florence, on the sixteenth of March, 1622. His great devotion for the Queen of Heaven moved him, while still a youth, to enter the Order of her Servants.
Having entered upon his novitiate, he soon distinguished himself among his brethren for a rare love toward the Mother of God. Later, he was elected Prior of the monastery of the Santissima Annunziata in Florence, in which there were living at that time over a hundred Religious. His first thought was to decline to accept such an important office, but afterwards, considering it to be the will of God he humbly submitted to the disposition of his Superiors.
His first thought, on this occasion, was to have recourse to his heavenly Patroness and implore her aid. One night, after all the Religious had retired to their cells, he took the keys of the monastery and carrying them into the Church, placed them on the altar of the Santissima Annunziata, and lying prostrate on the ground he exclaimed: "Most Holy Virgin, most loving Patroness, well do you know the needs of this your religious family. You see also how weak I am. You must yourself be the Superior, you the Mother, to govern this your family, and I will be your minister and your representative."
After this, it seemed to Julius, as he revealed later to some of his Religious, that he was being lifted up as it were by the arm from the ground, and he heard a voice saying to him: "Be confident and persevere in your work." He arose full of vigor and henceforth began to rule and govern the numerous family intrusted to him with such prudence, that some time after he was elected Superior of the whole Province.
After three years spent in this office, moved as he was by his love of solitude, he resigned the dignity of Provincial and betook himself to the hermitage of Monte Senario, in order there to lead a penitential life among the Servite hermits who lived then on that holy mountain in a great spirit of prayer and mortification.
Soon afterward, Julius was summoned by a Brief of Innocent XI to take up the government of the whole Order, in which office one of his principal cadres was to promote devotion to our blessed Lady. When the term of his office had expired, the same Pontiff confirmed him therein, and the Venerable Julius Arrighetti thus continued to govern the Order of the Servants of Mary with the special assistance of Our Lady, until in the General Chapter of 1690, he asked to be relieved of this office.
The Capitular Fathers were overcome with grief, for they knew that they were losing in him not only a zealous Superior but also an affectionate father and vigilant pastor. Julius died in the odor of sanctity, on the tenth of October, 1705, leaving behind him a noteworthy example of what every true Servant of Mary ought to be.
O Mary, I acknowledge and proclaim thee Queen of the whole universe, and I choose thee this day for my own Queen and Mother. O Mother of the Incarnate Word, deign now to accept me as thy servant: I am thine and I wish to be thine for ever: Ego servus tuus et filius ancillae tuae. (Ps. cxv, 16.) Amen.