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 Word having become Man by taking to Himself a human body in the womb of the ever Blessed Virgin, pledged Himself thereby to fulfill toward His beloved Mother all the duties of the best of sons.
The first of these duties is love. It is chiefly by love that a son seeks to repay his parents' affection. Who then can tell the ardor of that love which burned in the Heart of the Infant Jesus toward His Blessed Mother? Who can count the treasures of grace with which that adorable Son inundated the soul of His Immaculate Mother from the very first moment of His mortal life? Even in His sleep, Jesus thought of His Mother whom He enriched with His choicest gifts: "I sleep and my heart watcheth." (Cant. v, 2.)
But it was at the time of His passion, that Jesus manifested His love toward Mary in a way altogether singular, for His last thought was directed to entrusting His Holy Mother to the beloved disciple.
To such love Mary responded by a boundless love toward her Son, and this mutual love begun here below, formed the bond which unites those two Hearts now in heaven so closely, that they are as it were but one Heart: "My beloved to me and I to him." (Cant. ii, 16.)
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The reverence which Jesus showed to Mary during His earthly life, was equal to His love for her. It was not merely His own quality of Son which impelled Him to venerate Mary: it was also the acknowledgement of the sublime privileges and extraordinary sanctity wherewith the Virgin's soul was adorned.
The incomparable dignity of Mary, the absence of all sin in her and the presence of the choicest graces in her soul, were for Jesus so many motives for thus especially honoring His Mother. Thus, the Son of God teaches us by His own example, with what respect we should treat our Heavenly Queen.
We find a symbol of the veneration which Jesus had for Mary, in the act of deference of King Solomon toward his mother Bethsabee. As she was going to him in order to petition a favor of him, Solomon rose up and went forward to meet his mother: then bowing before her, he ordered a throne to be placed for her, and seated her at his right hand. Thus Jesus honors Mary, His Mother, seating her at His right hand, and sharing with her the love and honor which men have for Himself. "The Queen stood on thy right hand in gilded clothing, surrounded with variety." (Ps. xliv, 10.)
It is a great thing indeed that both angels and men should pay homage to Mary, proclaiming her Queen of heaven and earth. But it passes all comprehension that God Himself should deign to lavish such singular tokens of esteem and veneration upon this marvellous and most excellent creature.
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Not only did Jesus love Mary with a most profound love, showing her a respect in accordance with her dignity, but He was even pleased to be subjected to her as long as He lived upon earth: "And He was subject unto them." (Luke, ii, 51.)
This was not in truth the submission of an inferior toward his superior, for the hypostatic union places Jesus high above all creatures. It was the act of deference of a son toward her,
whom Divine Providence had singled out to provide for the temporal needs of his life.
For it was to Mary that the noble task of attending to the temporal wants of Jesus was confided: a responsibility which she shared with her chaste Spouse, St. Joseph. Mary and Joseph had to clothe and feed the Infant Word Incarnate; they had to protect the Saviour of the world against the inclemency of the seasons and the hostility of men.
Oh, the humility of the King of kings! Oh, the unspeakable dignity of Mary and Joseph, in whose arms the Creator of the universe could rest happy and secure!
Example - The Apparition Of Our Blessed Lady At Monte Berico
In the beginning of the fifteenth century, the city of Vicenza, in Northern Italy, was visited by a horrible pestilence, which carried off numerous victims. The citizens, in their distress, had recourse to the powerful intercession of Mary. Their confidence was not in vain.
Moved with compassion at the miserable plight of the unhappy people, the Mother of God appeared in a vision to a holy woman named Vincenza, on the seventh of May, 1426, commanding her to go to the Bishop and to the Magistrate, to induce them to build a church in her honor, on Monte Berico, which is but a short distance from the city. Meantime the Blessed Virgin assured Vincenza that the awful scourge would immediately cease, if only her wish were complied with.
Vincenza readily obeyed, but her words were not believed. On the second of August, that same year, the most holy Mother of God appeared a second time to the pious woman, in the same place as before. Renewing her former behest, Mary took in her hands an olive branch with which she traced on the ground the design of the church that was to be built there in her honor.
This time the ecclesiastical and civil authorities, on hearing of this second vision, yielded to the entreaties of Vincenza. The people came together at the place appointed and promised to do what Mary had commanded. On the twenty-fifth of the same month, the first stone of the new church was laid, and from that day the plague began to be less severe, until three months after, that is, when the church was completed, the scourge which for twenty years had afflicted the city and the surrounding district disappeared entirely.
Incredible are the many graces which Mary thenceforth bestowed on those who went to visit her in this privileged church. It was reserved for Cardinal Joseph Sarto, Who was soon after to become the Sovereign Pontiff Pius X, to make solemn recognition, in the name of the Church and of all Christian people, of the favors granted by Mary to her faithful subjects. On the twenty-fifth of August in the year of Jubilee, 1900, Cardinal Sarto, in memory of the everlasting gratitude of the people to the most holy Mother of God, and in the name of the Vatican Chapter, crowned the Sacred Image of Mary, venerated in the basilica of Monte Berico, with a golden crown. Thus did the Church seal the bonds of affection and thanksgiving which unite the Christian people to the great Mother of God and men.
O Mary, Mother truly admirable, to whose voice God Himself was made obedient! O glorious Queen of heaven and earth, exercise thy sway over my heart, and ordain that my thoughts and feelings, alas! too often alien from thine own, may become perfectly conformed to the law of thy Divine Son. Amen.