By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Mater Christi - Meditations on Our Lady
Author: Paul, Mother St.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Mater Christi - Meditations on Our Lady" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

(This file was produced from images generously made




With a Preface to each volume by the Rev. JOSEPH RICKABY, S.J.

     SPONSA CHRISTI. Meditations on the Religious Life.

     PASSIO CHRISTI. Meditations for Lent.

     DONA CHRISTI. Meditations for Ascension-tide, Whitsun-tide,
     and Corpus Christi.









    _Mater Christi, ora pro nobis_




    All rights reserved

    =Nihil obstat=


            _Censor deputatus._


        [+] EDUARDUS

            _Archiep. Birmingamien._

    _Die 31 Oct. 1918._


_JESUS CHRIST, yesterday and to-day, the same also for ever._ (Heb.
xiii. 8.) His salvation extends to all generations. _My salvation shall
endure for ever, and My righteousness shall not fail._ (Isaias li. 6.)
Also He says: _My words shall not pass away_. (Matt. xxiv. 35.) He is
the Teacher of all times, and that as well by His actions as by His
words, by what He said and by what He did. It was His _to do and to
teach_. (Acts i. 1.) It is ours, ours in this twentieth century, to
listen to what He says, and to mark what He does. It is ours to hear Him
and to see Him, spiritually. That we do by reading of His gospel, by
listening to sermons, and very particularly by meditation, or by what St
Ignatius calls "contemplation" of the mysteries of His life. To
"contemplate" in the Ignatian sense is to make yourself present at some
scene of our Saviour's life and behold it all, as it were, re-enacted
before your eyes. It is the process called in modern philosophy
"visualisation." These Meditations are composed on the Ignatian plan of
_visualising_ what Our Lord did, said, and suffered. _Blessed are they
who hear the word of GOD and keep it._ (Luke xi. 28.) Blessed are they
who take pains thus to _hear_ what their Saviour _says_, to
_contemplate_ and _visualise_ what He _does_. They are the persons most
likely, with Mary, to _keep all these words in their heart_ (Luke ii.
51), and in their measure to fulfil the teaching of the _Teacher of all
nations_. (Matt. xxviii. 19.)

                                        JOSEPH RICKABY, S.J.

    _20th October 1918._

    _Dignare me laudare te, Virgo sacrata_



    Prayers before and after Meditation                            1


     1. Immaculate!                                                2

     2. Mary's Birthday                                            6

     3. Her Presentation in the Temple                             9

     4. Her Marriage                                              14

     5. Hail Mary!                                                18

     6. Mary's First Word. ("_How shall this be done?_")          23

     7. Her Second Word. ("_Behold the Handmaid of the Lord_")    27

     8. Her Third Word. (Her Salutation to Elizabeth)             30

     9. Her Fourth Word. (The _Magnificat_)                       35

    10. Her Silence                                               38

    11. Her Expectation                                           42

    12. The Stable                                                45

    13. The Circumcision of her Son                               49

    14. Her Purification                                          52

    15. Wise Men and Babes                                        56

    16. Egypt                                                     60

    17. Mary's Fifth Word. ("_Son, why hast Thou done so to
            us?_")                                                65

    18. Nazareth                                                  68

    19. Mary's Sixth Word. ("_They have no wine_")                74

    20. Her Seventh Word. ("_Whatsoever He shall say to you,
            do ye_")                                              77

    21. "Who is My Mother?"                                       80

    22. The Fourth and Fifth Dolours. (_Meeting JESUS with His
            Cross, and The Crucifixion_)                          84

    23. The Sixth and Seventh Dolours. (_The Taking down from
            the Cross and The Burial_)                            88

    24. The First Glorious Mystery                                92

    25. The Second and Third Glorious Mysteries                   95

    26. Mary's Exile                                              99

    27. Her Death                                                104

    28. Her Tomb                                                 107

    29. "Who is She?" (The Fourth Glorious Mystery)              110

    30. Mary's Coronation. (The Fifth Glorious Mystery)          114

    31. Salve Regina                                             118



Before Meditation

O Holy Ghost, give me a great devotion and a great attraction towards
Mary, Thy spouse; a great support in her maternal bosom, and an abiding
refuge in her mercy; so that in her and by her Thou mayest form in me
JESUS Christ.

                            (_Blessed Grignon de Montfort._)

Memorare, O piissima Virgo Maria, non esse auditum a sæculo, quemquam ad
tua currentem præsidia, tua implorantem auxilia, tua petentem suffragia,
esse derelictum. Ego, tali animatus confidentia, ad te Virgo virginum,
Mater, curro. Ad te venio; coram te gemens peccator assisto. Noli, Mater
Verbi, verba mea despicere; sed audi propitia et exaudi. Amen.

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that
anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, and sought thy
intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to
thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother. To thee I come; before thee I
stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not
my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.

(_300 days, each time._)

After Meditation

My Queen and my Mother, to thee I offer myself without reserve; and to
give thee a mark of my devotion, I consecrate to thee during this day,
my eyes, my ears, my mouth, my heart, and my whole person. Since then I
belong to thee, O my good Mother, preserve and defend me, as thy
property and possession. Amen.

(_100 days, once a day, if said morning and evening._)

Sub tuum præsidium confugimus, sancta Dei Genitrix! nostras
deprecationes ne despicias in necessitatibus nostris, sed a periculis
cunctis, libera nos semper Virgo gloriosa et benedicta.

We fly to thy patronage, O holy Mother of GOD. Despise not our petitions
in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious
and blessed Virgin.


     "_Thy Holy Tabernacle which Thou hast prepared from, the
     beginning._" (Wisdom ix. 8.)

     _1st Prelude._ A picture or medal of the Immaculate

     _2nd Prelude._ Grace to understand.


Why should Mary be called a Tabernacle? She tells us herself--for the
Church applies these words to Mary: "He that created me rested in my
tabernacle." (Ecclus. xxiv. 12.) He sojourned there for a time Who "was
made flesh and dwelt (_tabernacled_ the Greek word means) among us."
When did GOD begin to prepare His Tabernacle? Was it on the day of the
Holy and Immaculate Conception? Was it when He spoke to our first
parents of "the seed of the woman"? Was it just before the War in
Heaven, when He revealed His plans to the first creatures of His Hands?
Long, long before! "From the beginning," the Holy Tabernacle was being
prepared. And _He_ says this, Who had no beginning, with Whom is
"neither beginning of days nor end of life," (Heb. vii. 3), Who says of
Himself: "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end." (Apoc. i.
8.) From all Eternity, then, the Holy Tabernacle was being prepared in
the mind of GOD.

What care GOD took in the preparation of Mary, because she was to be the
Mother of His Son! And what care He takes in His preparation of me! I,
too, have always been in the mind of GOD. "From the beginning" He has
prepared me to fulfil the end for which He created me. Here on earth we
are very careful about the training of those who are destined to fill
certain offices, and the higher the office the more careful the
training. How carefully are princes of royal blood trained! How careful
is the preparation of a Priest, of a Religious! But GOD has been at work
at the preparation long before we begin ours, and He is training for a
most important office, namely, the salvation of the soul--the end for
which He created every single child of Adam. All the chequered picture
of the life of GOD'S child forms a part of His preparation--all the ups
and downs, and windings and turnings, and things that seemed at the
time, perhaps, so useless. Mistakes and failures--even sin itself, He
can, by means of the contrition which it causes, turn to good account,
as He did in the cases of St Mary Magdalen, of St Peter, and of
innumerable others. He knows how to bring good out of evil, and to make
all work together for good to those who love Him.

What have I got to do, then, in the matter? Do as Mary did, prove my
love to Him by _co-operation_ in His plans for me. There must be no
complaint about what He arranges. Faith must be strong enough to
believe that, not only now in the present, all things are working
together to enable me to fulfil the end for which GOD created me; but
that in the past, too--that past which I so often allow to disturb my
peace--GOD was working, and preparing me step by step for what He
intended me to be. It is want of faith, really, which is often at the
bottom of all my problems and difficulties. I will not believe that He
forgives and forgets and brings good out of the evil. This it is which
interferes in GOD'S preparation of me, and makes me unfit for the work
for which He has so patiently been preparing me. Let me think to-day of
Mary's perfect co-operation, and ask her to obtain for me more faith and
more love.


What was it? A human body and soul specially prepared by GOD to be the
Tabernacle where His Son should rest--a body, we may well believe, more
than usually beautiful, for that body from which He that was "fairer
than the sons of men" was to take flesh, must needs be fair too. "Thou
art _all_ fair." But it was the _soul_ which made the Tabernacle holy.
Here the preparation had been special and unique. Mary's soul had a
beauty all its own, for neither original sin nor any of its effects had
ever touched it. Not only was it sinless, as my soul was after Baptism,
but, instead of being prone to evil, it was upright, and ever aspiring
after good. Never once was there a wilful imperfection in Mary's soul.
It is probable, too, that her understanding was enlightened, and that
she had the full use of reason from the moment of her Conception, that
is, from the moment when her body and soul were joined together. In her
will there was no weakness, it was in perfect conformity with GOD'S
Will; and in her heart there was no concupiscence. Her body, too, shared
in this wondrous liberty, for it knew neither sickness nor corruption.

But are we not making Mary almost equal with her Son? No, for the gulf
between them is that between the Creator and the creature. Could any
gulf be wider? Her Son was GOD, and was impeccable _by nature_. Mary was
impeccable _by grace_. Mary was sinless because GOD her Creator chose to
make her so, so that at the moment of her conception He was able to say:
"Thou art all fair--there is no spot in thee."

Such was "the Holy Tabernacle prepared from the beginning."

And Mary is my model! Does it seem impossible? Does it almost weary me
to have such perfection given me to copy? Let me answer my question by
another: _Could_ GOD do otherwise? Would it be worthy of Himself if He
were to give me anything less than a _perfect_ copy? If for our pupils,
who are studying merely things of time, we seek ever the best models,
can we expect GOD, Who is training for eternity, to give His pupils a
copy that is less than perfect? And the task need not discourage us. GOD
is not a hard master expecting to reap where He has not sown. He does
not expect more than He has given; He does not expect perfection; but He
does expect generous efforts. He does expect fidelity, and
correspondence to the grace He has given. It was her constant
perseverance in these virtues which kept Mary always full of grace and
pleasing to GOD, not the privilege of her Immaculate Conception.

"O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee."
Pray that I, who with all a child's love and admiration desire to copy
my Mother, may never be discouraged, but may go on, ever aiming at
perfection, and never surprised at the want of it; full of faults and
failings always, but full, too, of love and confidence and conformity to
GOD'S Will. So shall I one day, with my Mother's prayers and help, be
presented "spotless before the presence of His glory with exceeding
joy." (Jude 24.)

     _Colloquy._ "O GOD, Who by the Immaculate Conception of a
     Virgin didst prepare a worthy habitation for Thy Son, we
     beseech Thee that Thou, Who through the foreseen death of Thy
     same Son didst preserve her from all stain of sin, wouldst
     grant also to us through her intercession to come pure to
     Thee." (_Collect for the Feast of the Immaculate

     _Resolution._ To strive to copy my model.

     _Spiritual Bouquet._ "Be diligent, that ye may be found
     undefiled and unspotted to Him in peace." (2 Peter iii. 14.)

Mary's Birthday

     "_In me is all grace._" (Ecclus. xxiv. 25.)

     _1st Prelude._ A picture of Our Lady's Nativity. St Anne is
     holding up her babe, just swaddled, and offering it to GOD;
     the nurse is waiting to put the little one in its cradle. St
     Joachim is coming into the room. A Dove is hovering over the
     babe's head. Angels are looking on.

     _2nd Prelude._ Grace to look on with the Angels, and try to

_Point I._--THE ANGELS

What does it all mean? Why are the Angels so full of interest? Was the
birth of this little one so different from any other? It was indeed
miraculous, but Joachim and Anne were by no means the only ones thus
favoured. No, there is something beyond this which is engaging the
interest of the Angels. They see in this little babe, whom Anne is
offering to GOD, a sight to make them wonder and adore--they see a soul
which has never been touched by original sin. They had seen Adam created
in grace; they had seen Jeremias, and later would see John Baptist, both
spotless from their birth, but spotless because they had been _cleansed_
from original sin before birth. In these souls, however, they saw no
more than they see in each little soul as it leaves the baptismal font,
grace having taken the place of original sin. But in Mary they see a
sight which they have never seen before--a soul whose sanctity surpasses
that of angels and of men, a soul which will glorify GOD more perfectly
than any other creature ever has done, or will do. No wonder the Angels
are lost in admiration!

They have known about the Incarnation ever since the War in Heaven; now
they see one of the steps by which it was to be accomplished. They see
the "tabernacle prepared," and at its side they will never cease to
wonder and praise GOD, as long as that pure soul stays in this land of

_Point II._--THE BABE

Mary was born with an end to fulfil, just as I was. She was created to
praise, reverence, and serve GOD, just as I was; created to save her
soul, just as I was. And because of her absolute purity, she understood
her end perfectly from the first moment of her existence, and followed
it always without swerving. While her mother was offering her to GOD,
she, with the full use of her reason (as many hold) offered herself to
fulfil the end for which she had been created. She did not know what the
_particular_ end was to be--GOD did not reveal to her till the day of
the Incarnation, that she was to be the Mother of GOD--but she offered
herself to do what GOD wished, she put herself at His disposal.

And this is what I must do every day of my life if I would fulfil the
end for which GOD has created me. Here I am, Lord, to do Thy bidding, to
do whatever Thou didst intend me to do to-day. I may not know, any more
than did the Immaculate babe in her cradle, what the _particular_ end is
for which He has destined me; but that does not matter. If I am found
faithfully doing my duty of the moment, whatever it may be--doing it,
that is to say, for GOD, praising, reverencing, and serving Him in it--I
shall not miss the important moment in my life when GOD calls me to the
special work for which He has destined me. I can, if I will, do each
little duty of my everyday life for GOD, with the pure motive of giving
Him pleasure. It is the surest way of making myself indifferent as to
whether or not the duty gives _me_ pleasure! And it ensures that, from
one point of view, _all_ duties will be a pleasure. I was created by GOD
to do this particular thing for Him at this particular moment, so I do
it. What an uplifting thought! It puts me at once on to another
plane--the supernatural plane--where the whole aspect is different. This
is the truth, which the little one whose birthday I am thinking about
to-day understood so perfectly. "Behold the handmaid of the Lord," was
her cry even then. It was because Mary understood the value of the
"Sacrament of the moment," as it has been called, that when _the_ moment
of her life came, and her great end was revealed to her, she was able to
say: "_Ecce ancilla Domini!_" She was used to saying it; it was the most
natural thing for her to say. And so will it be for me, if only I will
practise as Mary did. I shall bow to His Will in the _great_ crises of
my life--not naturally but supernaturally--because I have formed the
habit in all the _little_ things that make up my life.

_Point III._--THE DOVE

Overshadowing His spouse is the Holy Ghost. He it was Who filled her
with grace at the moment of the Immaculate Conception. He it is Who will
keep her "full of grace" at every moment of her life. Never for one
instant will He leave her. Never for one instant will she cease to be
the Temple of the Holy Ghost. (1 Cor. vi. 19.) Always will He be able to
say to her: "Thou art all fair, O my love, and there is not a spot in
thee." (Cant. iv. 7.) Why? Because Mary will never "_extinguish_ the
Holy Spirit." (1 Thess. v. 19.) She will never "_grieve_" Him. (Eph. iv.
30.) And not only will she never resist a single one of His
inspirations, but she will never let _one_ pass by unnoticed. Her
correspondence to grace will be perfect.

Oh, what need I have to turn to the little one in her cradle to-day, and
say: "Pray for me _now_"! Pray that I may never extinguish the Holy
Spirit, but live always in a state of grace. Pray that I may never
grieve Him, Whose temple I am, by resisting His pleadings with me.

     _Colloquy_ with the babe in her cradle.

     _Resolution._ To make much of the "Sacrament of the moment"

     _Spiritual Bouquet._ "In me is all grace." (Ecclus. xxiv.

Mary's Presentation in the Temple

     "_In the holy dwelling-place I have ministered before Him._"
     (Ecclus. xxiv. 14.)

     _1st Prelude._ The child on the Temple steps.

     _2nd Prelude._ Grace to present myself to GOD.

_Point I._--MARY

At the age of three years, tradition tells us, Mary left her home to go
and live in the Temple--not merely, as other little girls of her time,
to attend the Temple school, but to dedicate herself to GOD, and to live
continually under the shadow of His Presence, as Samuel of old had done.
Her desire, even at that tender age, was to confirm her parents'
dedication of her at her birth, by giving herself up entirely to GOD, to
live a hidden life with Him away from everything, however lawful, that
might disturb her union with Him. She waited only for His call, and as
soon as it was given, she left all and followed--even her parents must
take a second place.

So, joyously and eagerly, did Mary fulfil her end of the moment. GOD
called her, and she went to Him. She did not know what He wanted her
for, nor did she seek to know. Sufficient for her that He wanted her,
and was calling. At once she presented herself before Him as the little
Samuel of old. "Here am I, for Thou didst call me. Speak, for Thy
servant heareth." (1 Kings iii. 9.) She was ready for anything that He
might want.

And this should be the attitude of all who would serve Him--a constant
presentation of themselves to Him for whatever He wants. This attitude
can only be arrived at by the spirit of sacrifice. To be always at
liberty for GOD'S service, the soul must be disentangled from all else,
free from all that would hold it back. And this means sacrifice. Mary,
presenting herself at the Temple, is specially, though not exclusively,
the model of those who are called to the Religious Life. But do not let
us make any mistake--a Religious is not _free_ to give himself to GOD
because he has left parents and home and possessions. He may go through
all these preliminaries, and yet not be, by any means, at GOD'S service.
The great work of disentangling the soul and setting it free is done
_inside_ the Cloister, while the Religious is learning that it is _self_
which stands in the way, and that until _that_ is crushed, he is not
able to render to GOD free and joyous service, such as Mary did. And
this lesson has to be learned by those outside the Cloister too, if they
would follow Mary in being always ready to answer GOD'S calls and do His
biddings. It is not their home and friends and possessions that they are
asked to quit, but _themselves_. GOD will constantly want them in the
midst of their busy lives, and they will never be too much occupied or
engrossed to answer His calls, if self is out of the question. "Present
your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing unto GOD, your reasonable
service." (Rom. xii. 1.) Present yourselves each day, each hour, each
moment, with each joy, each sorrow, each duty, each difficulty--present
all as an offering to Him, Who expects your reasonable service. This is
the lesson which the child on the Temple steps teaches us to-day--the
lesson of _self-sacrifice_.


Her parents did not thwart her in her wish. They had made their
sacrifice three years before, and they were not likely to take it back
now. They had probably told Mary the story of their long, childless
years; of their earnest prayers to GOD; and of their promise to give the
child back to Him should He bless them with one. They would have told
her, too, that they had offered her to GOD at birth, and that, as soon
as she was old enough, she would present herself in GOD'S Temple, as
something dedicated to His service. And now, to-day, they accompany
their little one to the "holy dwelling-place" where she is to "minister
before Him," and watch her climbing the Temple steps, at the top of
which the Priest is waiting to receive her in GOD'S name. Desolate
though their home would now be, Joachim and Anne would rather have it so
than interfere in any way with the call of GOD to their child. They
recognised that GOD has _His_ rights, and that these must come first.

What an honour GOD shows to parents, when He gives a vocation to a child
of theirs; and what a blessing is thereby bestowed on the whole family!
And surely, if there is merit laid up for the one who, in answer to
GOD'S call, leaves father, mother, brother, sister, friend, to follow
Him, there is merit also for those who make perhaps an equally great
sacrifice, even if it is somewhat grudgingly made. GOD will not forget
the hearts and homes which have been made desolate because He has
ravished a heart there. He is never outdone in generosity. Those who
have given up their treasure on earth will find treasure in Heaven.

Children sometimes give themselves unnecessary pain by presuming too
readily that their parents' consent will be withheld. They will often
find their parents more ready than they think to make the sacrifice. It
is not likely that GOD would give a vocation in a family without making
_some_ sort of preparation there for it. His ways are not our ways, and
so it happens that there are many surprises.

_Point III._--MARY'S VOW

It is not known exactly when she made it--probably not on the day of her
Presentation. She would take then the _Temporary_ Vow of Virginity, as
all the pupils at the Temple school did till they left to be married.
But some time during her stay in the Temple, Mary, probably unknown to
anyone but GOD, Who inspired her, took a vow of _Perpetual_ Virginity.
She could keep nothing back from GOD; He must have all. She presented
herself "wholly acceptable unto GOD."

To understand what a strange thing this Vow of Mary's was, we must
remember that in those days _everyone_ married, even priests and High
Priests, and everyone hoped--and especially now that the expectation was
getting keener--that his would be the favoured family in which the
Messias was to be born. Mary had more reason to hope than many others,
for was she not of the tribe of Judah, and of the House of David? Yet
she took a vow which cut her off from all hope that this greatest of
blessings would be hers. Why? Because her sacrifice of self was perfect.
Self was laid entirely on one side, and, as a consequence, her humility
was so great that she never thought it possible that the honour of being
the Mother of the Messias could be hers, and she cut herself off from
all prospect of it. It was this very self-abnegation which was fitting
Mary for the destiny GOD intended for her. Her Vow of Virginity, made in
response to GOD'S inspirations, was the necessary means for the carrying
out of His plans. GOD'S ways are not our ways. "Behold a _virgin_ shall
conceive and bear a Son, and His name shall be called Emmanuel." (Is.
vii. 14.) But there were no virgins; and the fact that every Mother in
Israel was hoping to be the Mother of the Messias was a proof that this
"sign," which GOD Himself gave, was wholly ignored. It was contrary to
the spirit of the age. And this was GOD'S moment. Clearly He gave His
call: "Hearken, O daughter, and see, and incline thy ear, and forget thy
people and thy father's house; and the King shall greatly desire thy
beauty." (Ps. xliv. 11, 12.) And as the little one, in answer to the
appeal, joyously mounted the Temple steps, the Angels were already
saluting her as _Queen of Virgins_. She was the first; how many would
follow in her train! "_After her_ shall virgins be brought to the King;
her neighbours shall be brought to Thee; they shall be brought with
gladness and rejoicing; they shall be brought into the Temple of the
King. Instead of thy fathers, sons shall be born unto thee." (Verses

May there not be a warning here for those who, having, in imitation of
Mary, taken the Vow of Virginity, desire too ardently to be the
"spiritual Mothers of children"? Mary had no such desires. Her whole
desire was for union with GOD--there was not a tinge of self in it. The
soul which thinks itself unworthy of being used is the one GOD uses, the
soul which is wrapped up in seeking after its own perfection, hiding
itself in its interior life, living its life in solitude with GOD and
for GOD. Blessed are the Mothers of spiritual children! Yes, but rather
blessed are they who hear the word of GOD and keep it. There should be
no limit to our zeal for souls, but it should be covered up by an
annihilation of self, and an unobtrusive humility--a humility which
teaches us to _act_, not to talk, as if _we_ could never be the ones
chosen by GOD to do His work. Humility, far from being an obstacle,
always makes it easier for GOD to carry out His plans.

     _Colloquy._ "O Mary, Queen of Virgins, grant that by thy
     intercession we may deserve to be presented one day to the
     Most High in the Temple of His glory." (_Collect for the
     Feast of the Presentation, B.V.M., Nov. 21._)

     _Resolution._ To present myself often to GOD to-day.

     _Spiritual Bouquet._ "Congratulate me, all ye that love the
     Lord, because when I was a little one, I pleased the Most
     High." (_Common Office of Our Lady._)

Mary's Marriage

     "_Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born JESUS, Who is
     called Christ._" (St Matt. i. 16.)

     _1st Prelude._ Picture of the marriage of Our Lady and St

     _2nd Prelude._ The grace of confidence in GOD.

_Point I._--MARY

Twelve years have passed since the little child mounted the Temple steps
to present herself to GOD. Never, during that time, has she taken back
the smallest part of her offering. Always has she been presenting
herself as a living sacrifice; always has she been _full_ of grace,
doing GOD'S will perfectly, glorifying Him by her every thought, word,
and action, as no human creature had ever glorified Him. How much Mary
added during those twelve years to the Treasury of merits from which the
Church was to draw, through all time, in answer to the appeals of her
children, who were anxious to make satisfaction for their sins! In
return for a little Indulgenced Prayer, or Act, the Church unlocks the
Treasury, and the superabundant merits of Mary, added to the infinite
merits of her Divine Son, are given to the suppliant, either to make
satisfaction for his own sins, or, if he will, to be applied to the
souls in Purgatory, and thus lessen the debt they owe to GOD, and
shorten the distance that lies between them and the Beatific Vision, for
which they so earnestly long.

Oh, blessed Treasury of merits! JESUS, Who poured into it His infinite
merits, has an interest in it. Mary, whose wondrous merits all went into
it, has an interest in it. The Saints, whose superabundant satisfactions
are stored up there, have an interest in it. The Holy Souls must watch
with the keenest interest for the moments when the Church, coming with
the keys, entreats from Him, Who alone has jurisdiction in Purgatory,
that her treasures may be handed to this or that particular soul; and
He, Whose justice, as well as His mercy, is infinite, will distribute
them as He will. And shall not I, too, take an interest in this wondrous
Treasury? Let me never forget to make use of it; and let my prayer every
morning be a fervent and a heart-felt one: "I desire to gain all the
Indulgences that I can this day."

But the time came when Mary had to leave the seclusion of the Temple,
and give herself in marriage. She was helpless to prevent this, for her
Vow was a secret, unknown even to her parents. All she could do was to
leave the matter in GOD'S Hands. It was to Him she had offered her
virginity, and she trusted Him to guard it. How simple and child-like
was her trust! The path pointed out to her _appeared_ to be directly
opposite to the one she had chosen, but it was pointed out by those whom
GOD had chosen to represent Himself to her--the priests of the Temple,
or her parents, or both. Her faith was great enough to believe that GOD
can make no mistakes, that He cannot call in two different directions,
that all will work together to fulfil His Will, if only His Will is put
_first_. What a lesson for us! How often in my life has something
happened, some way opened, which seemed to cut at the very root of some
cherished plan! And yet, on looking back, I see that had I not followed
GOD'S call along the path which _seemed_ to be leading the wrong way, I
should never have been able to carry out that plan which I had made for
His glory. Why was Abraham called the friend of GOD? Was it not because
of his confidence in GOD--confidence shown in his readiness to follow
wherever GOD called--even when He called him to sacrifice the child of
the promises? GOD loves to lead us about, by circuitous paths, and thus
to bring out our love and trust and obedience. Had Mary taken a line of
her own, and refused to marry because of her Vow, she would have
frustrated GOD'S plans for the Incarnation.

I do not want to frustrate His plans for me. Let me remember this the
next time I am tempted to turn a deaf ear to a call of His, which does
not fit in with my tastes and desires and hopes.

_Point II._--JOSEPH

The husband, chosen by GOD for this most delicate and most responsible
position, was our dear St Joseph. He was the one man in all the world of
whom GOD could be sure. He was "a just man," one who would put no
obstacle to GOD'S designs, but would, by his silence, tact,
self-sacrifice, and fidelity lend himself to further them.

Let me dwell for a little while on these qualities--qualities which GOD
values and looks for, when He wants someone to whom He can entrust His
work or His secrets; and perhaps I shall discover things which may help
me to be more zealous in His service, to be less for self and more for

Some have thought that Mary confided her secret to Joseph; and that he
showed his sympathy, and readiness to enter into all her interests, by
taking the Vow of Virginity too, thus preparing himself to be the
husband of Mary and the foster-father of JESUS.


And so this most beautiful marriage took place; and the Holy Spirit, Who
was ever watching over His spouse, blessed and sanctified the union of
these two virgin souls. It was a union in which the body was
forgotten--or rather, the spiritual life had reached such heights by
means of the body, that is, of the senses, that the soul was able to
live entirely in those heights. The soul was helped upwards by the body,
as GOD intended it to be. When the body is dead, the soul can grow no
more. The level of the spiritual life, at which I am found at death,
will be mine through all eternity. The converse of this truth is, that
the body is necessary for the growth of the spiritual life, and that the
soul grows in proportion to the help it gets from the body. These
thoughts will help me to understand how much the chaste marriage of
Joseph and Mary must have aided their spiritual life, and how the Angels
must have rejoiced at a union which savoured so much more of Heaven than
of Earth.

Now, all was ready. The Virgin who was to conceive and bear a child,
Whose name was to be Emmanuel--GOD with us--had got a guardian. GOD
could work His stupendous miracle, and keep it hidden, as He willed it
to be for the present, from the curious gaze of unbelievers. Mary, by
her self-abandonment, was supplying GOD with all He needed, never
thwarting Him, nor putting the least obstacle in His way.

And so we leave her, doing the work of the little cottage at Nazareth,
while her carpenter-husband labours to support her. Mary has changed her
abode; her outward circumstances have altered; but her union with GOD
suffers no change; it remains unbroken, undisturbed; nothing has the
power to disturb her thoughts of Him. And Mary is my model. What I have
to aim at, too, is a union with GOD so real and so close that the
changes and chances of this mortal life have no power to interrupt it.
This blessed lot will be mine when I have faith enough to see GOD'S Hand
in every circumstance of my life. If I know that He is there, why need I
trouble so much about the ups and downs? The sea of life is bound to
have waves. What I have to do is to see to it that my little barque
rides on the top of them in the most perfect security and peace. The
Master is at the helm, and I am _with Him_ in the boat. My thoughts,
surely, will be fixed on Him rather than on the changes in the weather!

     _Colloquy_ with Our Lady, asking her to get me more faith.

     _Resolution._ To let nothing interrupt my union with GOD.

     _Spiritual Bouquet._ "Sancta Virgo virginum, ora pro nobis."

Hail Mary!

     "_The Angel Gabriel was sent from GOD into a city of Galilee,
     called Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was
     Joseph, of the house of David; and the Virgin's name was
     Mary. And the Angel, being come in, said unto her: Hail! full
     of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among
     women!_" (St Luke i. 26-28.)

     _1st Prelude._ Gabriel saying the first _Hail Mary_.

     _2nd Prelude._ Grace to say my _Hail Maries_ well.

When all was ready and GOD'S moment had arrived--"when the fulness of
the time was come" (Gal. iv. 4)--heaven opened, and one of GOD'S
messengers, Gabriel, an Archangel, was sent to Nazareth on a secret
errand to Mary. He knew her well, and he expressed his knowledge in the
first _Hail Mary_ that was ever said. Let us meditate on these familiar
words, and try to find a few thoughts which may help us to say our _Hail
Maries_ better.

_Point I._--HAIL!

Reverently he salutes her; for though she is not yet the Mother of GOD,
she is immaculate, and worthy of all honour; besides, he is in the
secret, and knows GOD'S designs. "Hail! full of grace."

What does it mean--this word "_Ave_," _Hail!_ with which Gabriel begins
his message? It is an expression of respect, honour, and reverence. It
was the salutation always given to the Roman Emperor: _Ave! Cæsar
Imperator._ But it is not only a form of greeting; it implies also that
he who uses it is anxious to attract attention because he has something
to say or some favour to ask.

How often I say it!--_Hail Mary!_ What do I mean by it? I ought to mean
that I am saluting the Queen of Heaven with all respect, honour, and
reverence; and also that I, her child, am calling my Mother's attention.
When she hears my _Hail!_ she expects that I have something to say to
her, or that I want something. Is it so? And if Mary turned and said:
"Yes, my child, what is it?" should I know?

My _Hail!_ should be also to call my Mother's attention to the fact that
I am there if _she_ has anything to say to me, or if she wants anything.
Hail Mary! Your child is here, ready to do anything for you. When she
turns at my _Hail!_ to ask me for something, does she always get it? Or
is she disappointed to find that her child's thoughts are not really
with her at all?

What shall I do, for I know that I stand convicted; and much though I
should like each _Hail Mary_ that I say to mean all this, I know that it
does _not_? Would it be better not to say it at all, than to risk any
want of respect to that Mother whom I love so dearly?

Oh no. Does not a mother love to hear the voice of her babe in its
cradle, even though the sounds it makes are quite inarticulate, and it
cannot say what it wants? She always understands, and is able to
interpret the baby language, and will give it what is good for it,
though it may be all unconscious of its needs. None but the mother would
recognise that the babe was calling her attention--not even the babe
itself. Is not this something like my _Hail Maries_ carelessly and
lightly said? I say them because I am Mary's child; it is the most
natural thing to do; and she will interpret them as her Mother's heart
knows how. And, like the babe in its cradle, I love to feel that she is
at my side, because I have attracted her attention, even though I may
have done it almost from habit, and may not know exactly why.

Hail Mary! I will say the blest words as often as I can, putting into
them all the meaning and fervour of which I am capable, and leaving it
to my Mother to make up all deficiencies.


How is Mary full of grace?

1. Because she was conceived without sin: that is, her soul was full of
grace instead of original sin. She was full of grace always--even before
she was the Mother of the Author of grace.

2. Because of her correspondence to grace. She was always faithful to
grace. She never let one single opportunity pass by her unused. The more
faithful I am to the inspirations of grace, the fuller shall I be of
grace. It is a question of my fidelity, not of GOD'S generosity. He
never fails--the grace is always there waiting for me.

3. Because she was always meriting grace. Each correspondence to grace
entitled her to more, as it does me. It is by virtue of her merits that
she can obtain from her Divine Son all the grace that her children need.
Confidently may they appeal to her, for she is the "Mother of Divine

"_In me is all grace of the way._" (Ecclus. xxiv. 25.) So Mary says to
her children, and she has all I need for the way--that is, for my
journey through life. The way is hard--it is the Highway of the Cross,
the way that JESUS trod before me. Let me never attempt to tread it
alone--not for a single hour, for the pitfalls are many; but let me ask
Mary to accompany me--Mary with her never-failing supply of grace. It
was JESUS Himself Who gave me His Mother, and He gave her also all the
grace that He knew I should need for the way. What a provision He has
made for me! If I drew upon my stores more confidently, I should be much
fuller of grace than I am.

_Hail Mary! full of grace_, thou art my Mother. Let me put my hands in
thine and keep close to thee. So shall the way have no terrors for me,
and so shall I be able to tread in the Footsteps of thy Son, along His
Own Highway of the Cross.


_The Lord is with thee._ These words were often said of or to those to
whom GOD was about to entrust some special work. He was "with Joseph"
while he was in Putiphar's prison, preparing him for the great work of
serving the nation during the famine. (Gen. xxxix. 21.) "I will be with
thee," GOD said to Moses at the burning bush, when He told him that it
was he who was to bring the children of Israel out of Egypt. (Ex. iii.
12.) And to Josue, who had to bring the chosen people into the promised
land, He said: "As I have been with Moses, so I will be with thee. Fear
not, and be not dismayed: because the Lord thy GOD is with thee in all
things whatsoever thou shalt go to." (Jos. i. 5-9.) "The Lord is with
thee, O most valiant of men." This was the message the angel brought to
Gedeon at the threshing floor, for he was to leave his wheat and go to
deliver GOD'S people from idolatry and from their enemies. (Jud. vi.

And now when Mary is being singled out for the greatest work that was
ever entrusted to any child of Adam--that of being the Mother of Him Who
was to save not one nation only, but the whole world, GOD sends an
Archangel and bids him say to her: _The Lord is with thee_. GOD was with
Mary always; but now all three Persons of the Blessed Trinity are to be
with her in a very special way, to enable her to co-operate with GOD'S
designs for her. But the message goes further: "Blessed art thou among
women." Gabriel tells her that GOD'S message to her is that she is
blessed, and more blessed than all other women! It is praise indeed, and
praise from GOD Himself. But GOD can trust Mary with praise. She is full
of humility, for she is full of grace; and GOD knows that she will look
at things from His point of view--not from her own.

I may get some consolation from these words for myself. GOD sometimes
gives me work to do for Him. How blessed I am to be picked out and
chosen by Him! And I may be quite sure that He is _with me_ for it. It
is His own work, and He will look after it Himself; but He needs an
instrument. The workman is never far from his tools, unless he has
thrown them on one side as useless. "The Lord is with thee." If I see to
it that I am an instrument fit and ready for His service, I need have no
other anxiety. He will use me when He wants me; the responsibility of
the work will be all His, and He will be with me, doing His work by
means of me.

O Mary, my Mother, help me to see things from GOD'S point of view, as
thou didst. Obtain for me the grace to be full of confidence about any
work with which GOD may entrust me. And while I rejoice to be amongst
those _blessed_ ones whom He picks out to do His work, obtain for me the
grace of humility. And if the Workman should allow any words of praise
to be given to the instrument, may it be because He can count on the
humility of His instrument--because He knows that the praise will all be
passed on to Himself.

     _Colloquy_ with my Mother as we walk along "the way"
     together--a colloquy about correspondence to grace, about
     being never alone in my work, about the blessedness of being
     chosen by Him, about humility.

     _Resolution._ To let my Rosary recall some of these thoughts

     _Spiritual Bouquet._ "Among the blessed she shall be
     blessed." (Ecclus. xxiv. 4.)

Mary's First Word

     "_And Mary said to the Angel: How shall this be done, because
     I know not man?_" (St Luke i. 34.)

     _1st Prelude._ A picture of the Annunciation.

     _2nd Prelude._ That my love for GOD may be great enough to
     separate me from all else.


We do not know what Mary was doing when the heavenly visitor arrived
with his message. She is generally represented as kneeling in
contemplation. She may have been: or she may have been about her work.
In any case, she was engaged in prayer, for Mary's heart and mind were
ever lifted up to GOD; and that is prayer. And GOD can reveal His
secrets just as easily to those who are working as to those who are
given up to contemplation.

No wonder Mary's attention is arrested, for not only does she see one of
GOD'S Archangels, but it is to _her_ that he has come, to _her_ that he
is showing such reverence and honour, to _her_ that he is now delivering
his message: "Hail! ... full of grace; the Lord is with thee.... Blessed
art thou among women." Each sentence of the message seems more wonderful
and startling than the last. Mary does not speak, but she is _troubled_,
as she thinks within herself what manner of salutation this is. Her
intelligence is perfect, and she knows at once what the message means.
It means that she, the one woman who has cut herself off from every
prospect of being the Mother of the Messias; that she, who has felt
herself so utterly unworthy that legend tells us she used to pray that
she might be His Mother's _servant_; that _she_ has been singled out by
GOD as the one who was to be blessed among women. And she is _troubled_.
It is not the presence of the Angel nor the dignity of his message which
is disquieting her--her trouble goes deeper; but still she does not
speak--she waits in silence for GOD to explain Himself or to direct her.

How much wiser in _most_ cases it would be for me, if I kept silence,
for a time at any rate, when I am face to face with trouble, or
difficulty, or perplexity. Of one thing I may be sure--that the trouble
is a message from GOD, and if I wait patiently, He will reveal more to
me, and throw light upon what seems so obscure. Nothing is gained by
making complaints, and losing my calm and self-possession. Much is
gained by silence; for silence to man, at such times, generally means
converse with GOD, and to obtain this more intimate union with my heart
is one of His chief reasons for sending me His messages.

Gabriel, seeing that she is troubled, hastens to reassure her: "Fear
not, Mary." He is GOD'S messenger, and he is giving GOD'S consolation,
so he calls her by her name. Consolation is never far off when it is to
GOD alone that we turn for it. Gabriel then tells her quite plainly what
are GOD'S intentions concerning her, if she gives her consent and
co-operation--that she is indeed to be the Mother of the Messias; that
she is to call Him JESUS; that her Son is to be great, and is to be
called the Son of the Most High; that GOD will give Him a throne and a
kingdom; and that of His kingdom there shall be no end.


She has pondered in her heart, and now she speaks: "_How shall this be
done?_" St Bernardine, who calls the seven recorded words of Our Lady,
"_Seven Flames of Love_," calls this first word "A Flame of _Separating_
Love" (_flamma amoris separantis_). Let us try to find out why.

"How shall this be done?" Her question shows clearly what is the cause
of her trouble. It is the thought of her vow of virginity--that precious
offering which, as a little child, she had made to GOD. This it is which
forces Mary, who so values silence, to speak. "How shall this be done,"
and yet my vow be left intact? To it at any cost I must be faithful.
Mary, by her first word, shows that her love for GOD is so intense that
it separates her from all else besides. It was out of love for Him that
she made that vow. It was a flame of separating love that burnt within
her, making a clear division between GOD and anything, however lawful
and even desirable in itself, which might hinder her union with Him. And
it is the same flame of love which now impels her to speak: "How shall
this be done?" seeing that I am separated, consecrated to GOD. Her love
so detaches her from all else that even the honour of being singled out
to be the Mother of GOD has no attraction for her in comparison with
keeping that contract made with GOD, by which she promised to be wholly

Am I, like Mary, absolutely faithful to any contract that I may have
made with GOD? Do I say: "How can this be done?" seeing I have made that
promise, seeing I am a Christian, seeing I have been to Holy Communion,
seeing I have taken certain vows. All these are so many cords of love
which should separate me from the world. My contract with GOD must come
before everything else--all turns upon my fidelity to it. Mary was
troubled because she feared her vow was in danger; and her trouble was
pleasing to GOD.

Mary's separating love for GOD was the outcome of GOD'S separating love
for Mary. Her very vow of virginity, which, humanly speaking, made it
impossible for her to be the Mother of the Messias, was part of GOD'S
plan, separating her from the rest of the world for this honour. When
GOD wants something done, He separates the soul which He has chosen to
do it, though at the moment the soul may be wholly unconscious of the
reasons for the process which gives it so much pain. The separation may
be one of place, or family, or affections, or cherished hopes and plans.
GOD'S separating love takes various forms: but in some way or other He
must and will separate from self those whom He intends to use for His
service. St Paul says of himself that GOD separated him from his
earliest infancy. (Gal. i. 15.) None would have guessed that he was
separated when he was haling the Christians to death and persecuting the
Church of GOD beyond measure. We understand so little of GOD'S plans,
and of His preparation of souls for His service. St Paul tells us that
later he was "separated unto the Gospel of GOD." (Rom. i. 1.) And when
Our Lord wanted him for a special mission, the order went forth to the
Church: "Separate me Saul and Barnabas for the work whereunto I have
taken them."

Help me, my Mother, to co-operate with grace, lest I hinder GOD'S
designs for me; and while _His_ love is a separating one, may mine be
the same--a love strong enough to separate me from all but His Will.

     _Colloquy_ with Mary, asking her to obtain for me the grace
     to say with her: "How shall this be done?" whenever the
     least thing comes between me and my duty to GOD.

     _Resolution._ To let nothing to-day separate me from the love
     of GOD. (Rom. viii. 39.)

     _Spiritual Bouquet._ "How shall this be done?"

Mary's Second Word

     "_The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the
     Most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy,
     which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of GOD.
     And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to
     me according to Thy word._" (St Luke i. 35, 38.)

     _1st Prelude._ Picture of the Annunciation.

     _2nd Prelude._ Grace to meditate more deeply on the _First
     Joyful Mystery_.


In answer to Mary's question, the Angel explains quite simply how GOD'S
plans are to be brought about. "_The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee._"
No prophecy had ever said a word of this; the agency of the Holy Ghost
had never been hinted at till the Angel made it known to Mary to quiet
her legitimate trouble. And as soon as Mary knew that it was to be the
work of the Holy Ghost, she was at rest--all trouble disappeared. Do I
follow my Mother's example in this? As soon as I know that whatever is
being asked of me is the Holy Spirit's doing, am I at rest? Is there no
more trouble, no more indecision, no more questioning, even though the
inspiration may seem to be going to upset my plans, and may be contrary
to all that has hitherto seemed right? It is not necessary to
_understand_ GOD'S dealings with me, but as soon as I know that they are
His dealings, it _is_ necessary to co-operate at whatever
cost--otherwise there will be trouble in my soul. The co-operation with
the work of the Holy Spirit will produce a calm and a peace which no
exterior things, however changed they may be, will have the power to

And then the Angel tells her about her cousin Elizabeth and the
miraculous things which are happening to her, in order to prove to Mary
that "no word is impossible with GOD"--that He, the GOD of nature, has
power over nature's laws--that when he makes such promises as she has
just heard, "the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the
Son of GOD," all will be fulfilled.


Then Mary speaks again: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to
me according to Thy word." She gives her consent, shows herself ready to
co-operate with GOD; and at the same moment, the Word is made Flesh;
Gabriel adores the GOD-Man, as he had pledged himself to do at the time
of the War in Heaven, and, his mission accomplished, departs from her.

St Bernadine calls this second word: "A flame of _transforming_ love"
(_flamma amoris transformantis_). It was certainly _love_ that prompted
the word, but in what sense was it a _transforming_ love?

(1) _It was a transformation for Mary._ Her first word _separated_ her
for Him Who loved her; her second word _transformed_ her into Him Who
loved her. It made them for ever one. "Behold the handmaid of the Lord."
Here I am for Thee to do whatever Thou wilt with me. I put no obstacle
in Thy way. _Fiat._ "Be it done to me according to Thy word." This word
was not only the outcome and the proof of her perfect union with GOD, it
was also the turning point of her life--and not only of her life but of
the life of the whole world. Heaven--and earth too, though
unconsciously--was waiting for this word of Mary's, a word which she
could have withheld. The word was spoken, and by it she lent herself to
GOD as His co-worker; by it she was transformed from a maid into a
mother, and in that moment of transformation she saw all that it
meant--she saw Calvary, and she said _Fiat_. "Be it done to me." She saw
herself transformed into the image of Christ (2 Cor. iii. 18) by pain
and suffering, and yet she would not withhold her _Fiat_. Why? Because
she _loved_, and from that moment the transforming process was ever
going on in her soul; and the flame of transforming love was ever
burning more brightly, showing her the way to greater heights and deeper
depths of the love of GOD, and so transforming her at each further step,
that she shrank from nothing.

(2) _It was a transformation for the world._ This word of Mary's, by
which she gave her consent to GOD'S plan of Redemption, changed the face
of the whole world. It began a new era--A.D. instead of B.C. It settled
the moment of the arrival of the "fulness of time" (Gal. iv. 4)--of
GOD'S time. As a result of it, GOD was already tabernacling among men.
The leaven of the Gospel, which was to leaven the whole world, was
already beginning to work. Mary's word produced a transformation in the
world, and though it "knew Him not," it was never the same world again.

(3) This word is a _transformation for the soul_ which makes it its own.
Any soul which really says: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it done
to me according to Thy word," is transformed, for it is "made
conformable to the image of His Son." (Rom. viii. 29.) Nothing but love
has the power to bring about this transformation in the soul, for it
means the effacement of self; it means a readiness to do GOD'S will at
whatever cost; it means a holy indifference to one's own plans and
theories and even judgment--it means what it says: "_Fiat_," for
everything that GOD arranges. When this is so there is a complete
transformation; the selfish soul becomes selfless; the weak, strong; the
timid, courageous; the hesitating, decided; the doubting, confident; the
agitated, peaceful and calm. Heaven has already begun in the soul.
Love--GOD'S love for it first, and then its love for GOD--has
transformed it.

Are these great things possible for me? Yes, quite possible. How was
Mary transformed? By Christ dwelling within her. How was the world
transformed? By Christ dwelling within it. And this is how I am to be
transformed, by Christ dwelling within me. Each Communion should be to
me a "flame of transforming love." It is then that, in answer to the
appeal: "My child, give Me thy heart," I say to Him: "Be it done to me
according to Thy word," and He comes to do what He will in my heart; and
if only I put no obstacles in His way, His love will transform me into
all that He wants me to be.

     _Colloquy_ with Our Lady, asking her to get me the grace of
     submission, which alone can transform me.

     _Resolution._ To do nothing to-day to hinder the transforming
     process in me.

     _Spiritual Bouquet._ "Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariæ et
     concepit de Spiritu Sancto."

Mary's Third Word

     "_And she entered into the house of Zachary, and saluted
     Elizabeth._" (St Luke i. 40.)

     _1st Prelude._ Mary saluting Elizabeth.

     _2nd Prelude._ The grace of Charity.


When the Angel left her, Mary's thoughts seem to have been fixed, not,
as we should have expected, on the part of the heavenly message which
concerned herself, but on what had been incidentally revealed to her
about her cousin Elizabeth. What a total oblivion of self there is in
Mary and what charity! She picks out just the little bit of the message
that concerns somebody else, decides that it is not for nothing that she
has been told this--it may be that her cousin has need of her; and so,
instead of giving herself up to dwelling on the great things that have
been said and done to her, she rises up in those days and goes into the
hill country, with haste, to pay a visit of charity. And she takes JESUS
with her.

Mary is my model, and I can surely find some lessons to study here. One
is that charity passes before everything, even sometimes before
spiritual exercises and contemplation and meditation, going to Mass and
Benediction. I see too that though I must be ever mindful of GOD'S
benefits, I need not dwell too much--if at all--on the interior graces
He has given to my soul; on any words of praise--though they may have
come almost directly from Himself; on any piece of work that He has
effected through my instrumentality. It is far more wholesome to be
rising up to go to the next duty, starting forth into the hill country
of difficulties, if need be, and thus taking my thoughts off myself by
doing something for somebody else. I shall not, by thus acting, lose any
of the graces or any of the sweetness, for I shall take JESUS with me,
and together we shall face the difficulties of the next bit of life's


She _saluted_ Elizabeth. We are not told what this salutation was, but
we know that words were spoken, because Elizabeth _heard_ them. "The
voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears," she says. It was probably
just the form of salutation customary among the Jews: "The Lord is with
you!" But what a different meaning the words have on Mary's lips! She,
the Mother of the Word Incarnate, has brought Him with her to the house
of Zachary. The Lord Himself is indeed there in a way that He has never
been before. John the Baptist, yet unborn, understands the salutation,
and leaps to adore his GOD; and at that moment JESUS, Whose work on
earth has already begun, cleanses His Forerunner from the stain of
original sin. Elizabeth also understands in what sense the words are
spoken; for the Holy Ghost, Who has been doing great things for her too,
has communicated to her the heavenly secret about the Mother and the
Child. She is expectant and ready for her Visitors, and when Mary gives
her wondrous salutation: "The Lord is with you," filled with the Holy
Ghost she answers: "Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the
Fruit of thy womb"; and then she thinks of the great honour which GOD is
showing to her home by permitting Mary with her Child to visit it.
"Whence is this to me, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?"
Next she tells Mary of the joy that has been caused within her, and
adds: "Blessed art thou that hast believed, for all that the Lord hath
spoken about the Child will now be accomplished."

Thus Mary receives the blessed assurance that all is true--not that she
doubted, and not that she needed any confirmation, but it must,
nevertheless, have been a comfort to her to hear herself called "The
Mother of my Lord," and that by one who had not heard the news from any
human lips.

It was because Elizabeth was "filled with the Holy Ghost" that she saw
all so clearly and believed that Mary was indeed the Mother of GOD. It
is a truth which many people in the twentieth century have not yet
grasped. The reason is that they have not yet grasped the meaning of the

"_Nos cum prole pia benedicat Virgo Maria._" ("May Mary the Virgin bless
us with her Holy Child.")


St Bernardine describes this third word as a "flame of _communicating_
love" (_flamma amoris communicantis_.) No sooner has Mary become "the
Mother of fair love" than she wants to communicate that love to
others--not to communicate her secret--no, of that she does not
speak--but to let the flame of love, which is burning within her, reach
others also. So it is not Mary only, but JESUS within her, Who "makes
haste" to go into the "hill country." He is in a hurry to begin His
work. It is JESUS, Divine Love, Who enters into the house of Zachary and
salutes Elizabeth. It is the Heart of JESUS, burning already with love
for sinners, which speaks to the heart of John. It is because GOD, Who
for love of us men became incarnate, is communicating that love to her,
that Elizabeth is able to grasp so clearly the mysteries by which she is
surrounded. Ah, yes, Mary's third word is indeed one of communicating
love, because she communicates to all around her, JESUS, Who is love.

O Mother of fair love, why do the poor banished children of Eve so
continually turn to thee? Is it not just because of this flame of
communicating love? Is it not because they know that to go to Mary is to
go to JESUS; that when they appeal to the heart of Mary it is the Heart
of JESUS which answers through her; that her chief work is to
communicate His love to them?

Three months Mary abode in Zachary's house, and all that time the flame
of communicating love abode there too, burning ever more brightly within
her. What a privilege for the house of Zachary! We read in Sacred
History that once "the Ark of the Lord abode in the house of Obededom
the Gethite for three months; and the Lord blessed Obededom and all his
household." (2 Kings vi. 11.) What then must have been the blessings
bestowed on Zachary's household, while Mary the "Ark of the Covenant"
abode there! "_Foederis arca, ora pro nobis._" Pray that we too may get
the blessings of those who receive thee as their constant guest.

But Mary is my example. Is there anything in which I can copy her in her
visit to her cousin Elizabeth? Let me make a self-examination on a few
points suggested by this meditation.

Am I in _haste_ to perform acts of charity, especially when the request
for them comes at inconvenient moments?

Do I always take JESUS with me when I go to visit my friends?

Do those whom I visit feel that I create an atmosphere--an atmosphere
which makes them more ready to bless JESUS and Mary?

These things can only be so by my having a flame of communicating love
within me. Where can I get it? At each communion, when JESUS comes to me
in the Sacrament of His Love. And if I put no hindrance in His way, He
will communicate Himself to others through me. Let me, then, aim at
being a Christ-bearer. "Glorify and bear Christ in your body." (1 Cor.
vi. 20.) It is often through His children that JESUS does His work in
the world, and communicates His love to others.

     _Colloquy_ with our Lady.

     _Resolution._ To be a Christ-bearer to all whom I greet,
     remembering that even a little act of politeness may turn the
     scale in the conversion of a soul. A visit paid, a word
     dropped in conversation, may be a necessary part of GOD'S

     _Spiritual Bouquet._ "Flamma amoris communicantis."

Mary's Fourth Word

     _And Mary said: "My soul doth magnify the Lord."_

     _1st Prelude._ Mary saying the _Magnificat_.

     _2nd Prelude._ Grace to catch something of the spirit in
     which she said it.


As soon as Elizabeth has finished "crying out with a loud voice" her
praise of Mary and of JESUS, and of the benefits GOD has wrought for
herself and her son, Mary speaks, and in the longest of her recorded
"words" gives vent to the thoughts pent up in her breast. She at once
closes the door against any praise given to herself: "My soul doth
magnify the _Lord_"--He it is Whom we must praise and make much of--"and
my spirit hath rejoiced in GOD my Saviour." Mary understands what it is
that is making her so full of joy. It is the presence of JESUS her
_Saviour_. She has Him within her, Who has saved her from the stain of
original sin, and Who will save her each moment that she lives from
actual sin. Well may her spirit rejoice!

She goes on to explain more fully the cause of her joy and exultation.
It is because GOD has done such great things for her. He has regarded
the humility of His handmaid. The word used means _humiliation_ rather
than humility. Mary is too humble to speak of her humility. She is
referring rather to her humble circumstances, her low estate. The same
word is translated in St James i. 9 as "low condition." He whose name is
Holy has regarded _me_! And His mercy is not only for me, but for all
that fear Him. It is because of the great things He has done to me that
"all generations shall call me blessed." Mary passes on all the praise
and honour to GOD. She speaks of herself only to recall her low
estate--only to let her littleness magnify GOD'S greatness in the eyes
of others--only that in calling her blessed they may be lifted up to
"the GOD and Father of our Lord JESUS Christ, Who is blessed for ever."
(2 Cor. xi. 31.)

Gabriel stands at the head of "all generations." When he was delivering
GOD'S message he called her blessed. Elizabeth, inspired by the Holy
Ghost, did the same. And yet there are those to-day (and their name is
legion!) who think it would defile their lips to speak of the _Blessed_
Virgin Mary! Can it be that they do not believe that GOD did great
things for her? Can it be that they _prefer_ to be among the proud whom
He scatters in the conceit of their heart, among the mighty whom He puts
down from their seat, among the rich whom He sends away empty? Can it be
that they refuse to listen to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit Who
tells them that Mary is blessed among women? And yet they sing the
_Magnificat_, which tells them how ready GOD is to "exalt the humble"
and to "fill the hungry with good things." O Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother
of GOD, pray for all those who honour thee by singing thy _Magnificat_,
that they may honour thee also by understanding it. Grant that they too
may fulfil thy prophecy--"All generations shall call me blessed"--and
get in return the blessings thou art so ready to bestow on thy children.

Before I go on, let me ask myself to what extent I am copying my Mother
in at once passing on to GOD all praise that may come to me? He it is
Who does all for me, and in me, and by me; and the more He gives, the
more He ought to get. He knew it would be so with Mary, and therefore He
could trust her with "great things." He knew that He would have all the
glory. Let me see how much I take into account GOD'S glory. Is it my
first motive and object? If He gives me some little thing--for example,
an "original" thought, a happy idea, a solution to a problem, some word
to help another--is my first thought to thank Him and to praise Him
because this will bring glory to Him? Is it not rather to go and tell
it to someone else--to quote my words and deeds--not with the object of
edifying others (Satan, to quiet my conscience, tells me that this is
the reason), but of gaining glory and praise for myself out of something
that is not mine at all? Thus do I rob GOD of His glory, deliberately
taking for myself what belongs to Him! Oh, my Mother, teach thy child
what real humility means, and that _all_ praise belongs of right to GOD.


This is the name that St Bernardine gives to Mary's fourth
word--"_Flamma amoris jubilantis_." Her love for GOD was so strong that
it made her burst out into this joyful song of praise. She could no
longer keep to herself all that GOD had done to her; she must tell
others; she was so full of joy that she must sing GOD'S praises. And all
her love and joy found expression in the _Magnificat_--a song of
thanksgiving for the Incarnation--a song which showed clearly that
Mary's joy was caused by the glory that was given to GOD by the

All through those blessed three months during which Mary abode with
Zachary and Elizabeth, she was singing _Magnificat_. All through her
life she sang _Magnificat_, even though she was the Mother of Sorrows,
for the thought of GOD'S glory ever lifted her out of herself and made
her praise Him for all He did. It was because Mary had said her _Fiat_
that she could say her _Magnificat_.

What do I know of this flame of joyful love? If it is caused by the
great things GOD has done, surely it ought to be burning in me. Surely
He has done enough for me to make my love so great that it is a flame of
_joy_ within me. Is it so? Does the joy that is in my heart show itself
in my countenance, in my manner, in my actions, and sometimes perhaps in
my words? Does my happiness, even in the midst of trial, make others
understand what great things GOD _can_ do for those who love Him? If
so, I am praising Him and obtaining praise and glory for Him.

Oh, my Mother, look upon thy child, so often discontented, sad,
distrustful, murmuring, and obtain for me "the oil of joy for mourning,
and a garment of praise for the spirit of grief." (Isaias lxi. 3.) Teach
me to say my _Fiat_ for everything, and out of it will spring a joyful
_Magnificat_. Teach me to love GOD'S will, and to praise Him for all He

     _Colloquy_ with Our Lady.

     _Resolution._ To let others see my joy to-day.

     _Spiritual Bouquet._ "Our Lady sings _Magnificat_ in songs
     surpassing sweet."

Mary's Silence

     "_Mary abode with Elizabeth about three months, and she
     returned to her own house._" (St Luke i. 56.)

     _1st Prelude._ A statue of Our Lady.

     _2nd Prelude._ Grace to leave all that concerns me in GOD'S


We know nothing of what went on during those three months, but we may
presume that things continued as they began. It is not likely that
Elizabeth said her "_Ave_" only once, and only once spoke of the honour
she considered it to have the Mother of GOD in her house. It is not
likely that the unborn Forerunner never again saluted His Master, in
Whose presence he so continually was. It is impossible to conceive that
Mary sang GOD'S praises and her own unworthiness no more during those
three months. And what about JESUS? These were the first three months of
His life on earth, and grace was surely going out from Him to His
Blessed Mother first, and then to all who knew the secret. And we must
not forget the head of the household, Zachary. He, at any rate after the
birth of his son, knew the secret too, for he spoke in his song of
praise of the "_Orient_ from on High (which) hath visited us." (St Luke
i. 78.) "Dumb" he had been and "unable to speak," but Mary with her Son
had been sojourning in his house, with the result that his doubts had
all disappeared, and that he understood already something of the "joy
and gladness" which Gabriel had promised should be his (verse 14), and
understood also how it came to pass that his son was "filled with the
Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb." (verse 15.)

But the time comes when Mary has to leave this highly favoured household
and go home. Her work of charity is over. Elizabeth no longer needs her,
and her thoughts turn to Joseph, her husband, and to Nazareth--to the
spot where Gabriel had visited her, and where the Holy Ghost had wrought
such great things in her.


When last we thought about St Joseph, he was abandoning himself to a
life of self-sacrifice by his vow of virginity. Since then he has made
the sacrifice of sparing Mary from their little home to go and do an act
of charity for her kinswoman, and now that that is over, it is probably
Joseph himself who goes to fetch her home again. Of the visit of the
Archangel to his wife Joseph knows nothing, and Mary keeps the secret
locked within her heart. She has not revealed it to anyone. (It was the
Holy Ghost who told Elizabeth, and JESUS Himself who saluted John.) But
trouble is in store for those two faithful souls. This is natural. It
would be strange if GOD did not take us at our word when we make the
sacrifice of ourselves to Him! It would look as if He did not believe
us. "Mary was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Whereupon Joseph her
husband, being a just man and not willing publicly to expose her, was
minded to put her away privately." (St Matt. i. 18, 19.) How much is
told in those few simple words! What anguish of soul do they cover! How
could Joseph bear to have suspicions of his wife, whom he considered to
be purity itself, and whom he loved so tenderly? And yet he was forced
to suspect, and as a just man was obliged to keep the law--namely, write
a bill of divorce, give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.
(Deut. xxiv. 1.) He made up his mind to do this as _privately_ as
possible, shielding her secret from everyone except the two witnesses
who were necessary for the bill of divorce. How nobly Joseph acted! He
was ready, for the sake of right, to sacrifice what was most dear to
him, to crush at one blow his most cherished affections! No wonder the
Holy Spirit calls him a just man! No wonder that he was the one in all
the world whom GOD could trust to co-operate with Himself!

And if Joseph suffered, how much more did Mary in seeing him thus
troubled, and knowing that she was the cause of his distress. One word
from her would have been sufficient to clear away all the
difficulties--and it almost seemed as if it would be for the glory of
GOD to say the word--at any rate it would have justified her, put an end
to Joseph's trouble, and saved her from suspicion, and even perhaps
shame and humiliation. But Mary has made her sacrifice--has said her
_Fiat_--and this is her first great trial, caused entirely by the fact
of her nearness to JESUS, and of the union between her life and His. And
so she does not say the word--she does not take back her sacrifice, but
meets it generously. It is not for her to publish GOD'S secrets. His
dealings with her are for herself, and are not to be shared even with
one as dear to her as is St Joseph, unless GOD bids her. Mary is silent
and abandons herself and her trouble and all that concerns her to GOD.

And this is GOD'S moment--when the need is at its height, when both His
children have proved their fidelity, and their readiness to abandon
themselves to Him and His Will, cost what it may. In his sleep an Angel
appears to Joseph and reveals the secret to him, and his sorrow is
changed to an unspeakable joy.

If I am striving to tread the way trodden by Mary and the Saints, I
shall do well to let self-justification alone. I am not likely to be put
to as great a test as were Mary and Joseph, but there are sure to be
many little occasions in my life when it is left to my choice either to
clear myself of suspicion or to leave the matter in GOD'S Hands, and out
of love to Him keep silence, and thus sacrifice a little of my
self-love. It is a difficult question, perhaps, when to keep silence and
when to speak; but at any rate I need not be in such a hurry to excuse
myself and shield myself from blame as I generally am. Nothing will be
lost by _waiting_. Mary and Joseph _waited_, with the result that GOD
Himself cleared things up for them and brought them consolation. If
Joseph had questioned Mary, or if Mary had allayed Joseph's suspicions,
both would have acted in a most natural way; but GOD would not have been
glorified, and they would have missed the consolation which He reserves
for those who are generous in their sacrifices to Him.

     _Colloquy_ with Mary.

     _Resolution._ To be silent the next time fault is found with

     _Spiritual Bouquet._ "Fear not, Joseph."

Mary's Expectation

     "_His left hand is under my head, and His right hand shall
     embrace me._" (Cant. ii. 6.)

     "_My Beloved to me and I to Him._" (verse 16.)

     _1st Prelude._ Mary and Joseph waiting.

     _2nd Prelude._ Grace to believe that GOD'S plans are the


We should like to penetrate into those remaining six months, which Mary
and Joseph spent together, before the birth of the Holy Child. Scripture
is silent about them, but it is not difficult for a sanctified
imagination to picture something of what was taking place. Perhaps the
thought of the Altar of Repose on Maundy Thursday will bring the
realities home to us better than anything else could. Though He is
hidden from our sight, all know that He is there. Angels are in constant
adoration, and the faithful do not forget Him. All try to get near and
to hold silent communion with Him; and all are expecting the great day
when He will rise again and show Himself to them. And He is spending the
time in giving His blessing and His grace to all who, by faith, seek
Him. The house at Nazareth was in very deed GOD'S Sanctuary, containing
the Altar of Repose, where the Saviour of the world was resting. Angels
were in constant adoration before their King. The faithful consisted of
Mary and Joseph, whose thought and conversation could be about nothing
else but the Child Who was coming into the world. And who shall measure
the graces and blessings, which that Child was showering upon Mary and
her faithful spouse, during those months of waiting and prayer and holy
converse, while they planned and arranged with such care and minuteness,
as parents are wont to do, every detail connected with the birth of the

But man proposes and GOD disposes. GOD, Who "ordereth all things
sweetly," (Wisdom viii. 1), was stirring up the whole civilised world so
that the Scripture might be fulfilled which said: "And thou, _Bethlehem_
Ephrata, ... out of _thee_ shall He come forth to me, that is to be the
Ruler in Israel; and His going forth is from the beginning, from the
days of eternity." (Micheas v. 2.) It was in _Bethlehem_--not at
_Nazareth_, that the Child was to be born. And to effect this, "in those
days there went out a decree from Cæsar Augustus, that the whole world
should be enrolled.... And all went to be enrolled, every one into his
own city. And Joseph also went ... out of the city of Nazareth ... to
the city of David, which is called Bethlehem (because he was of the
house and family of David), to be enrolled with Mary his espoused wife."
(St Luke ii. 1-5.) What a trial this order must have been to Mary! To
leave home, to forego all her plans, to take a long journey, to
interrupt her days of solitude and calm and peace--and all at the
bidding of a heathen Emperor. But Mary knew how to take her trials.
_Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum._ "Be it done to me according to Thy
word." For her there were no second causes. It was ever GOD Who was
ordering "all things sweetly" for her, and she had nothing to say but
"_Ecce ancilla--fiat_." She waited for nothing but GOD'S will. And as
_He_ arranged it, she could spend her time of waiting just as well on
the public highway to Bethlehem as in the seclusion of Nazareth.

Oh, my Mother, teach me this lesson too: if I could only learn it, how
different my life would be! My life--every detail of it--is in GOD'S
Hands. He is "ordering it sweetly," and I _complain_! How little is my
faith! When my faith is great enough, I shall take all things, as
sweetly as GOD orders them, even though they may upset my most cherished


And so, in obedience to the command, Mary and Joseph leave the calm and
quiet and solitude of their little home, and go to face poverty and
difficulties and the unknown. But JESUS is with them, and this makes
them independent of exterior circumstances--their calm and quiet are
unbroken, and they can find solitude even in the busy thoroughfares.
Mary is communing with her Child, and is peaceful with the peace He
gives. Joy, too, fills her heart as she thinks how fast the time is
approaching when she will see His face.

Oh, how I should love to be allowed to go with them on this journey! At
my request, Mary readily consents to take me as her servant, and I am so
glad to be in that blessed company that I forego everything else--I know
that the Family I have come to live with is _poor_, and I am determined
not to ask them to get any special things for _me_. The table has the
barest necessities--perhaps hardly these, for true poverty consists in
the want of necessities; but it is the company that I care about, and
nothing else matters. I can see that all sorts of inconveniences and
privations and hardships will be mine, but I cannot be an exception in
that Family; and somehow, now that I am so close to the Blessed Mother,
I do not wish to be. My great desire is to be like her, and to share all
with her and her Son.

At Bethlehem Joseph begins his weary and anxious search for a lodging;
but all in vain--no one wants the Holy Family. How Joseph suffers at
each refusal--not for himself but for Mary! Mary is too much taken up
with her joy to heed the suffering. And the servant--does she regret
that she is not in one of the big hotels, as she might have been, or
does she turn with joy to follow the Holy Family to the cave, saying:
With JESUS and Mary I have all I want, and I love every hardship and
every privation which comes to me, because I have made myself one with

Oh, my Mother, I thank thee for allowing me to be thy servant; I thank
thee for bringing me into such close contact with thy Son; I thank thee
for every privation, every difficulty, every hardship, every
inconvenience, every crossing of my own will which has come to me,
because I chose to be in thy company and in that of thy Son. Help me to
persevere bravely, thinking all worth while for the sake of the company.

     _Colloquy_ with Mary, asking her to get me grace to be always
     joyous, because I am living my life with her and her Blessed

     _Resolution._ To show myself worthy of the company I am in,
     by the way I face the little difficulties of my everyday

     _Spiritual Bouquet._ "I am Thy servant and the son of Thy
     handmaid." (Ps. cxv. 16.)

The Stable

     "_Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart._"
     (St Luke ii. 19.)

     _1st Prelude._ Mary and Joseph, and the Infant lying in the

     _2nd Prelude._ Grace to ponder with Mary


"She brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him up in swaddling
clothes and laid Him in a manger." She has seen His face at last; she
has folded Him in her arms and pressed Him to her bosom--her Son and her
GOD. And she ponders--she meditates--she cannot tell her thoughts to any
human soul--but she can tell them to her Son. _Dico ego opera mea Regi._
I will speak of my works to the King. (Ps. xliv. 2.) Many works had
been wrought in and through Mary by the Holy Ghost, but they were all
the King's secrets, and she pondered over them, speaking of them to Him
alone. There was her vow of virginity, which she did not even speak of
to her parents; there was the visit of the King's messenger, of which
she spoke to no one--not to Elizabeth, nor even to St Joseph; there was
the painful journey to Bethlehem, and the difficulty about finding a
lodging. She might have told St Luke all about it, and had it all
written down in the Gospel--but no, there is not a word except the mere
fact that they went to Bethlehem, and that there was no room for them in
the inn. Her sufferings were those of the King, and she shared them with
Him alone.

And now that she has got her JESUS, she spends her time in pondering--in
telling Him her thoughts and her secrets, which are His too.

How much I should gain if I could be a little more like my Mother in
this!--if, instead of being so ready to go and talk of all the things
that have been said and done to me, or of what I have said or done, or
of what I have had to suffer, I were just to speak to my King about
it--let it be something between us which nobody else knows anything
about. It may often be my duty to speak, as it was Mary's later on, when
she was obliged, for example, to tell St Luke all about the Angel's
visit and what he said to her, because GOD wanted that piece of
revelation to be written. But this was later. She did not go at once and
tell Elizabeth all about it. Let us learn from Mary to let our _first_
words, at any rate, be for our King; and, if this is so, it is probable
that in many cases the matter will go no further, and others as well as
ourselves will be saved from the miseries which so often follow from our
being too ready to talk. _Dico ego opera mea Regi._ To _Him_ I can never
say too much, and He loves those silent heart-to-heart colloquies. He
loves the things which are talked over with Him only--the King's


"They came with haste, and they found Mary and Joseph, and the Infant
lying in a manger." And during their visit they "understood," and went
away to tell the good news to wondering listeners, leaving Mary still
pondering. Each moment of her Son's life on earth brings her fresh
matter for meditation. She has scarcely time to think of the miraculous
birth before she hears "a multitude of the Heavenly Army" proclaiming
the birth, praising GOD, and telling of the glory that is being given to
Him, and of the peace that is being brought to earth. And Mary realises
that she no longer has her Babe all to herself, that Heaven and earth
claim Him. Then the Shepherds arrive; and after they have adored the
Saviour Who is born to them, they tell His Mother of all the wonders of
that night: of the Angel of the Lord who suddenly stood by them in the
night watches; of the "brightness of GOD"; of how they feared; of how
the Angel bid them: "Fear not"; of the good tidings that he brought, and
of the great joy which was to be for everyone; that the Angel had
actually told them that the Child was the Messias, and that he had given
them the strangest sign by which they could know Him--He will be wrapped
in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger! And lastly, how they had
come in haste, as soon as the Angels had gone back to Heaven, and had
found it all to be true. What joy this beautiful, simple, story must
have brought to the Mother's heart! What fresh subjects for meditation
now were hers! What a tender welcome she would give to these simple
shepherds, whom GOD had picked out for such signal favours, and had
allowed to be the first worshippers of her Son! How she would realise
all the "great things" that GOD was doing now that she heard them from
the mouths of these "little ones" to whom GOD had revealed them! (St
Matt. xi. 25.) How graciously she would accept the poor offerings of
these poor men to her Child Who had chosen to be poor! And how proud she
would be that she, as His Mother, had the right to lift that little
Hand, to convey the blessing which His Heart was giving to those who
were going to be His first witnesses and apostles.

"Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart." How easy
meditation was to Mary! Why? Because she lived always in the closest
possible union with JESUS. If I find my meditations difficult, let me
examine myself, and see whether the cause may not be that my union with
Him is not so close as it was, that I have let something come between
us, that I am not telling all my secrets to the King. If this is so, let
me hasten to put things right with Him; and then I shall find again that
my most precious moments are those in which I can devote my thoughts
entirely to my King and ponder over the simple stories told of Him and
His Blessed Mother.

     _Colloquy._ _The Alma Redemptoris Mater_:--"Sweet Mother of
     our Redeemer, gate whereby we enter Heaven, and star of the
     sea, help us, we fall; yet do we long to rise. Nature looked
     upon thee with admiration when thou didst give birth to thy
     Divine Creator, thyself remaining before and after it a pure
     Virgin. Gabriel spoke his _Hail_ to thee; we sinners crave
     thy pity." (_Anthem from Advent to the Purification._)

     _Resolution._ To ponder more and speak less.

     _Spiritual Bouquet._ "Dico ego opera mea Regi."

The Circumcision of Mary's Son

     "_And after eight days were accomplished that the child
     should be circumcised, His name was called JESUS, which was
     called by the Angel before He was conceived._" (St Luke ii.

     _1st Prelude._ Mary with her Child.

     _2nd Prelude._ Grace to learn more about them both.


After one week of peace and joy, Mary is called upon to suffer with, and
on account of, her Son. The Law of GOD is clear. "On the eighth day, the
infant shall be circumcised." (Lev. xii. 3.) And there is no doubt in
the minds of Mary and Joseph, that, though the Holy Child has no need of
the rite which probably cleansed away original sin, He must nevertheless
submit to it, as being part of His Father's law, every jot and tittle of
which He has come to fulfil. So JESUS, of His own free will, classes
Himself with sinners, and offers to GOD the firstfruits of that Blood
which He will shed for them on Calvary.

The Circumcision of her Son means much to Mary; she sees Him suffer; she
hears His cry of pain; she sees the Blood flow; and she understands that
to be the Mother of GOD means being the _Mater Dolorosa_; and now she
has fresh matter for her Meditations. Her Son is to be the Victim for
sin, and she unites her sacrifice to His.

The rite of Circumcision was to the Jew a sign of the Covenant that GOD
had made with his nation--it marked him out as one of GOD'S own people;
it was a mark of his dependence on GOD, and also of his slavery to sin
till GOD set him free.

"Circumcision is that of the heart," St Paul tells us, "in the spirit,
not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of GOD." (Rom. ii.
29.) By assisting with Mary at the Circumcision of her Son, I mean that
I want to understand something of this circumcision of the
_heart_--understand, that is, that GOD has made a covenant with me, that
I belong to Him, and am dependent on Him; I mean that I am ready with
the knife of mortification to cut away all that prevents me from being a
good servant, ready to "resist unto blood," if need be, but, at any
rate, ready to make myself a victim with JESUS, as Mary did, willing to
suffer anything which He calls upon me to suffer.


His Name was chosen by His Heavenly Father, and revealed both to Mary
and Joseph before His birth--to Mary by the Angel Gabriel at the
Annunciation, and to Joseph by the Angel who was sent to allay his
suspicions about his wife. JESUS--the "name which is above every name"!
GOD gave it Him because "He humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto
death--even the death of the cross." (Phil. ii. 8.) He earned His Name
by the Cross, and it was given Him at the moment when He shed the first
drops of His Precious Blood. He could have allowed this first shedding
of His Blood to redeem the world, had He so willed. He could have made
it the _redeeming_ Blood, but it was not yet His Will; His time had not
yet come; He wished to live and to suffer long years on earth before He
shed the Blood which He intended to be efficacious for the Redemption of
the world. "Thou shalt call His Name JESUS, for He shall save His people
from their sins." (St Matt. i. 21.) And when at length He did shed His
redeeming Blood on Calvary, there was a title nailed to the Cross,
proclaiming His Name to all: "This is JESUS," the Saviour. He is saving
His people from their sins.

It cost Him much to be the Saviour, and it cost Mary much to be the
Mother of the Saviour; but both cheerfully made the sacrifice in
advance--both entered into GOD'S plan for my salvation. JESUS had come
to do His Father's will--He was content to do it--and His Mother was
content to be identified in everything with her Son, and to say her
_Fiat_. If my salvation cost JESUS and Mary so much, ought it not to
cost me something too? Would it be fair if all were easy and smooth for
me? Surely not. Surely, if I have a part in the Saviour, I ought to have
a part in His Cross. Let the thought of the Holy Babe shedding His first
drops of Blood on His Mother's knee brace me up to meet suffering, of
whatever kind GOD chooses for me; let it hush my murmurs and my
discontent; let it make me not only willing but anxious to suffer, and
thus to have an opportunity of being like Him, Who was in such a hurry
to shed His Blood, that it seemed as though it were too long for Him to
wait till Calvary. He must make the sacrifice in advance, and offer at
any rate the firstfruits of His Blood to His Father.

     _Colloquy_ with Mary, who is identifying herself with the
     sufferings, intentions, and desires of her Son. Teach me, my
     Mother, not only to expect but to appreciate suffering. How
     can I be like JESUS, and a child of thine without it? I want
     to look upon it always as a sign of love, as a sign that I am
     recognised as one of the Holy Family.

     _Resolution._ To understand that my very existence on earth
     means suffering, and that my identification with JESUS and
     Mary means suffering willingly and cheerfully.

     _Spiritual Bouquet._ "I come to do Thy Will, O my GOD."

Her Purification

     "_They carried Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord._"

     _1st Prelude._ JESUS, Mary, and Joseph going to the Temple.

     _2nd Prelude._ Grace to go too, and learn the lessons.


It is the fortieth day after the birth of her Son, the day when it is
Mary's turn to keep the legal observances, and so to identify herself in
all things with her Son. There is no need for her to be purified, before
she is allowed to enter GOD'S Temple; neither is there any need for her
to present her Firstborn in the Temple and pay the ransom money for Him,
for His Name is Saviour and He is Himself the Ransom for His people.
There is no _need_; but Mary gladly does both, that she may enter more
closely into the spirit of her Son, Who had undergone the rite of

How many unnecessary humiliations and unpleasant duties do I undertake
just for the sake of identifying myself with JESUS and Mary, and sharing
their spirit?

We may imagine the Holy Family quietly setting out for their two hours'
walk to the Temple, attracting no more notice than was usually attached
to an event so common. Passing remarks were probably made as to its
being the first time she was out; as to the disparity in their age; as
to their poverty, for Joseph was carrying two doves, the offering of the
poor, to be offered by Mary for her Purification.

Ah, how little the world sees! Extraordinary things are going on, though
they are hidden, as is ever GOD'S wont, under things most ordinary.
Mary, the purest of creatures, the Virgin of virgins, the Queen of
Heaven, of Angels and of men, is bearing in her arms the Lord of glory,
Who is on His way to visit His Temple for the first time, and thus to
fill it with a greater glory than ever Solomon's Temple had possessed.
Angels are worshipping and adoring at every step of that journey, and
presently they will throw open wide the gate of the Temple to let the
King of Glory in. And the humble and silent Joseph is playing a part
which no Jew before or since has ever played; for though the verdict of
the world is that he is too poor to afford to take a lamb, in reality he
is too rich to need one, for is he not bringing to the Temple the Lamb
of GOD--an offering which no one has ever been rich enough to make
before? Let us try to see things and judge them from GOD'S point of
view--not from the world's.


This involved three sacrifices.

(1) The sacrifice made by JESUS. _Ecce Venio._ "Lo, I come to do Thy
will, O my GOD." He has come to the Temple to offer Himself as a
sweet-smelling sacrifice to His Father. This is the morning
sacrifice--the evening sacrifice will be on Calvary. This is like the
_Offertory_ at Mass, when the Priest offers to GOD the Bread and Wine
which He will use presently to accomplish the sacrifice at the
Consecration. He is the "Firstborn amongst many brethren," (Rom. viii.
29), that is why He must be presented in the Temple. He is our Elder
Brother. He represents us all, and answers to GOD for all those who are
united to Him. He offers Himself as a Ransom that all the rest of the
family may go free.

Am I prepared to ratify this offering that my Elder Brother made in my
name? Have I any right to claim the privileges? Yes, if I am united with
Him, identified with Him; if I am saying as He did: "Behold, I come to
do Thy Will," and this in the little sacrifices of my everyday life.

(2) The sacrifice made by Mary. _Ecce ancilla._ "Behold the handmaid of
the Lord." Mary knows perfectly well what she is doing when she puts
her JESUS into the arms of the Priest. She knows that she is offering to
GOD the firstfruits--the earnest of what is to come; and she makes her
sacrifice whole-heartedly, zealously, lovingly. She said her _Fiat_ at
the Incarnation, and she will never take it back. She is His Mother--it
is with Blood drawn from her veins that He will one day redeem the
world; and she offers to GOD now, not only the Victim Who is to be the
Redeemer, but herself as a co-victim--herself to suffer with Him.
"Behold the Handmaid of the Lord"--ready to give Him all that He
requires. How perfectly Mary identifies herself with JESUS! It is her
intense love which enables her to copy so exactly.

(3) The sacrifice made by Joseph. _Ecce adsum._ "Behold, I am here too,
ready for any sacrifice." Joseph is so closely connected with JESUS and
Mary that he must share their spirit and do what they do. But his
sacrifice is made in the dark, as ours are for the most part. He does
not know what JESUS and Mary are doing. He cannot gauge the extent of
their sacrifices--enough for him to unite his intention with theirs, and
to offer with perfect detachment his two treasures to GOD, begging Him
to use them as He will. Am I ready to make my sacrifice--even a blind
one--ready to say: _Ecce adsum_--"Behold, here I am"--and to trust where
I cannot understand?


The sacrifice was no sooner made than GOD took Mary at her word. Simeon,
holding "the Christ of the Lord" in his arms, called Him "the
_salvation_ which Thou hast prepared; a light to the revelation of the
Gentiles and the glory of Thy people Israel." And while His father and
mother were wondering at these things which were spoken concerning Him,
Simeon addressed himself to "Mary His Mother," and spoke in no hidden
language of the Passion; and the sword pierced her soul, for though she
knew it all, it was the first time she had heard it from the lips of
another. It was the first of the _Seven Dolours_. She heard that her
Child was to be:--

1. "... _for the fall of many_": that is, the _ruin_ of many. What a
lifelong sorrow for the heart of Mary to know that for many her Son's
Passion would be in vain--that He was to be the "touchstone," with the
result that, in many cases, He would be "rejected of men"!

2. "... _for a sign which shall be contradicted_." War was to be waged
against Him in all places, and that to the end of time. This was the
treatment He, Who had come to be the Saviour and the Light of the World,
was to receive.

And then Simeon added: "_Thy own soul a sword shall pierce_." He
identified Mary with her Son, and spoke not only of His Passion but of
her Compassion. The Queen of Sorrows was now on her throne; there was no
longer any doubt about it. GOD had accepted her sacrifice. JESUS was the
Victim, and she was His Mother--the Mater Dolorosa.

But Simeon's prophecy was not the last word that Mary was to hear before
she left the Temple courts, which she loved so well. GOD, Who in His
love had permitted the wound, had provided also some balm to be poured
into it. A little act of courtesy was waiting for Mary to do before she
was free to ponder over all that had happened in the Temple, and
especially over the new revelation which had stabbed her to the quick.
Well did old Anna, the Prophetess, know the maiden whose happy childhood
had been spent in the Temple! How gladly Mary went up to her and renewed
her friendship with her! How proud she was to show her little Son to
her! Mary was wondering how much Anna knew; but she did not speak, she
revealed nothing. Soon she found out that the holy old woman had been
rewarded for her fasting and prayers and vigils, by a special
revelation, in consequence of which she "confessed to the Lord and spoke
of Him to all that looked for the redemption of Israel." And Mary heard,
and balm was poured into that first sword-wound.

Can I, sweet Mother of Sorrows, pour balm into that terrible wound? I
cannot bear to think of thee going home, pressing thy Babe against thy
aching heart. Let me accompany thee; I will keep close to thee, and I
will speak continually of thy Child. Never will I speak against Him--to
me, at least, He shall not be a contradiction, but a resurrection from
all from which He has come to save me.

     _Colloquy_ with Mary, about the _Fourth Joyful Mystery_, and
     the _First Dolour_.

     _Resolution._ To throw in my lot with JESUS and Mary.

     _Spiritual Bouquet._ "Ecce adsum."

Wise Men and Babes

     "_Thy heart shall wonder and be enlarged when the strength of
     the Gentiles shall come to Thee._" (Isaias lx. 5.)

     _1st Prelude._ A picture of the Wise Men.

     _2nd Prelude._ Grace to understand that nearness to JESUS and
     Mary means the Cross.

_Point I._--THE WISE MEN

Mary had much to meditate about as she turned her steps homewards to
Bethlehem. She knew, for the Angels had said so at His birth, that her
Son was to be the Saviour for "all the people"; but Simeon in his song
of praise had gone further, and said that He was to be for "all
peoples," emphasising the fact that He was to be "a light to the
revelation of the _Gentiles_." And so the subjects to ponder over were
ever increasing, and Mary's heart was ever enlarging. She had now to
pray for the great world outside, as well as for GOD'S chosen people.
Thus was her heart being prepared to receive the next worshippers at the
shrine of the Infant GOD, and it may be that when they arrived--perhaps
soon after the first anniversary of her Son's birth--it was no surprise
to her that they were _Gentiles_. "Gentiles shall walk in Thy light, and
kings in the brightness of Thy rising; they shall come from afar,
bringing gold and frankincense and showing forth praise to the Lord."
(Isaias lx. 3-6.) All this was fulfilled in the little house at
Bethlehem. The Wise Men, firstfruits of the Gentile world, had had faith
enough to overcome every obstacle, and during their journey of, perhaps,
some months, had had but one idea--namely, to follow the star which GOD
had put in the heavens for them, and by its means to find the new King,
Who was to be their Saviour. Mary's prayers had no doubt helped them to
make light of their many difficulties, and when their star had brought
them right to the house which they sought, "they entered in and found
the Child with Mary, His Mother." They were quite at home at once; their
faith was so strong, that the unexpected surroundings and the poverty
did not strike them as incongruous. They had found what they sought, and
their joy and satisfaction were complete. As soon as they were in the
Real Presence their conversion was an accomplished fact. Mary showed
them her Child, "and falling down they adored Him." It was to _Mary_
that they offered their gifts out of gratitude for all that the Holy
Child, to Whom they felt that they now belonged, had done for them. It
was _Mary_ whom they thanked for her gracious hospitality. It was _Mary_
who guided the little Hand to bless them ere they took their departure.
It was to _Mary_ that they explained that from henceforth their lives
would be devoted to the service of the new King and the spreading of His
kingdom among the Gentiles. It was _Mary_, the Mother of the Way, who
bade them Godspeed on their journey. How interested she was in those
first great converts from the Gentiles! How their visit widened her
outlook, and enlarged her maternal heart!

She is not less interested now in converts than she was then. She has
been praying for them ever since. "Mary's prayers shall bring them
back." Let us remember this when we are dealing with them; we are not
working alone. Mary, the great advocate, is pleading with Her Son. Let
us bring them, as often as we can, into the Real Presence--they may be
all unconscious, but _He_ is not. He will act upon them. Virtue will go
out of Him to them: they will not go empty away, for it is impossible
for them to be under the direct rays of His Presence without being


Their visit over, the three Kings took leave of the Holy Child and His
Mother, and, warned by GOD not to go and give their good news to Herod,
they returned to their country by another way. This so exasperated Herod
that he gave an order which plunged not only Bethlehem but all the
neighbourhood into the most profound grief and desolation. How the heart
of Mary went out in sympathy to the bereaved mothers! How big her heart
felt as it dilated to take them all in! She understood now what it meant
to be the Mother of Sorrows, and that only by having this title could
she have the other--_Consolatrix afflictorum_ (Consoler of the
afflicted). How quickly Simeon's prophecy was being fulfilled! Her Son
was already a sign being contradicted, in those Hebrew mothers and their
innocent babes. Each mother was sacrificing her babe that Mary might not
have to sacrifice hers. Each babe was giving its life to save the life
of JESUS. Their sufferings were all because of JESUS and Mary. How the
sword pierced Mary's heart as she heard the bitter cries of mothers and
children! "Poor banished children of Eve," born to sorrow and trouble!
But from henceforth their cause will be espoused by a "most gracious
Advocate," who will take a special interest in all troubles and
sufferings that come to her children on account of the sacrifices that
they make for her Son, or which are caused by their nearness to Him. At
that moment of anguish the Jewish mothers _were_ making a sacrifice,
though it was an unwilling one and made in ignorance. GOD, in His mercy,
rewards even such. Had their children lived, they might have been among
the murderers of JESUS; now they are saved from all sin, they escape
Purgatory, and, the first to give their lives for Him, they will follow
the Lamb for ever. Happy little Innocents! Happy those who have the
honour to be their mothers! Happy all those who make the least sacrifice
for Him! And happy, thrice happy, the Queen of Martyrs, who is now
entering into the possession of her new kingdom!

The more closely I am identified with JESUS and Mary, the more I must
expect suffering. The training for the kingdom is the same, whether for
Wise Men or Babes. The Wise Men learnt from the child on Mary's knee to
view suffering in a new light, and they went back to their country
prepared to sacrifice all for the Child and His Mother, shrinking from
nothing till they laid down their lives for Him Whose star they had so
diligently followed. So Simeon's sword is piercing; the Cross is already
showing that the followers of the Babe are to be victims too--all is
getting clearer and clearer to Mary, and as she wonders her heart is

     _Colloquy_ with Mary.

     _Resolution._ To follow the generosity of the Wise Men and
     the Babes.

     _Spiritual Bouquet._ "Mater Dolorosa, Consolatrix
     afflictorum, Regina Martyrum, ora pro nobis."


     "_That it might be fulfilled which the Lord spake by the
     prophet, saying: Out of Egypt have I called My Son._" (St
     Matt. ii. 15.)

     _1st Prelude._ Picture of JESUS, Mary, and Joseph.

     _2nd Prelude._ Grace to believe that no circumstances in
     which GOD has placed me can hinder my spiritual life.


Only one child escaped the cruel sword of Herod, and that one was Mary's
Son. He was safe in the arms of His Mother, who was fleeing with Him
into Egypt, with an anguish of heart so great that it constituted the
_Second Dolour_. But no design of Herod, however powerful and clever,
could touch that life before His hour was come. The child knew it, and
His Mother knew it--yet they fled from those who sought His life; for in
all things Mary's Son must be made like unto His brethren. He could have
protected Himself, had He so wished, without giving so much trouble and
anxiety to His parents. He heard "Rachel bewailing her children"; He
heard the cry of each one of those little Innocents, who was giving his
life for Him--yet He did not raise a finger to prevent all the misery,
because He had come to do His Father's Will, and He left all in His
Hands; and also because He is our model, and He was showing us how to
act. He wants us to have a perfect acquiescence in GOD'S Will, a
boundless confidence, a profound peace, and even _joy_, in the midst of
the most trying and perplexing circumstances. He wants us to lie quiet
in GOD'S arms, as He lay in His Mother's, content to know nothing except
that GOD'S will is being done.

He who knew least about it all, and yet had apparently to take the chief
part and bear all the anxiety, was Joseph. He it was who received the
warning message from the Angel; he it was who had to break the news to
Mary that the Child's life was in danger and that they must fly
immediately--even in the middle of the night. He it was who took the
Child and His Mother into Egypt, in accordance with what to anyone else
but Joseph would have seemed a very arbitrary and unreasonable command.
But those who live their lives close to JESUS and Mary do not criticise
GOD'S dealings: such an idea never occurs to them; they have only one
thing to do--to obey. When a criticising, discontented spirit comes over
me, I shall find that the reason is always the same--I have not been
keeping close to JESUS and Mary.

How much Mary suffers during that long journey across the
desert--anxiety, fatigue, hunger, thirst, want of shelter! But it is all
on account of her Son; the sword is piercing her heart every day, but
the Babe is pressed against the wounds. Angels are following and longing
to help their Queen, but they cannot without a permission from their
little Master, and the permission will not be given, for He and His
Mother have made their sacrifice--they have laid themselves on the Altar
as victims and are already being consumed; and the desert is rejoicing
and flourishing like the lily, (Isaias xxxv. 1), because Mary with her
child is passing through it. O Mary, look upon thy children who are
crossing the desert of this world. The wilderness has lost all its
terrors since thou with thy Son didst pass through it. Thou knowest its
difficulties and its hardships; "turn, then, thine eyes of mercy towards
us, and after this our exile show unto us the blessed Fruit of thy womb,


Mary now finds herself in a heathen land, and her interest in the
Gentiles must have greatly increased. But her heart is also enlarged in
another direction--namely, towards the Jews of the Dispersion. Legend
tells us that it was at Heliopolis, one of the cities where the Egyptian
Jews lived and where they had built a Temple, that the Holy Family took
up their abode while they stayed in Egypt. What a blessing and a joy to
those faithful souls to have the Holy Family living amongst them! How it
must have stirred up their zeal and courage! It may have been Mary's
influence on many a mother's heart, and the influence of JESUS on many a
little playmate, which produced in after years some of the great
preachers to the Gentiles who came from amongst the Jews of the

It was not for nothing that Mary and her Son were sent into Egypt. GOD
has His reasons, though He does not often reveal them, because He loves
to have our confidence.

Now, for a time--_perhaps_ only for a few months, for Herod died soon
after the slaughter of the Innocents--Egypt was the centre of the world;
nobody guessed it, but the Angels were there worshipping, adoring,
wondering. It is a true picture of the Blessed Sacrament, hidden away in
so many Tabernacles, surrounded by people who do not suspect Its
presence. It is nothing to thousands who pass by. But what is It to
those who know? What was JESUS to Mary in the land of her exile? He was
her all--_with Him_ exile was no exile; _with Him_ GOD'S Will was easy,
GOD'S arrangements the best; _with Him_ it was impossible to complain,
impossible to have any regrets about the past, or impatient wonderings
about the future. She was absorbed in the present, because she had JESUS
with her. He had to be taken care of, fed, taught, thought about, worked
for, lived for. What a lesson for those who are inclined to look upon
their surroundings as _Egypt_, who say too readily: "How shall we sing
the song of the Lord in a strange land?" (Ps. cxxxvi. 4.) How can I do
this or that _here_?

It was in Egypt that the Child grew, and it was there that Mary heard
His first words, watched His first tottering steps, and taught Him His
first (vocal) prayers. And while her Child grew in wisdom and age, Mary
was growing too--growing in grace and virtue; imbibing more and more of
the spirit of her Son from the services she rendered to Him; making
great progress in her new school, the school of the Cross; getting daily
more food for meditation and prayer; enlarging her heart and preparing
herself to be a second Eve--the Mother of all living.

It _is_ possible, then, to grow in Egypt! And not only is it _possible_,
but if GOD sends me there, it is the soil most suitable for my growth at
that particular epoch of my life. How many of GOD'S children have had to
live in uncongenial surroundings, and with those who have no sympathy
with their faith, from the earliest confessors and martyrs to the
present-day converts to the Faith! If JESUS had spent all His lifetime
in the Holy Land, such might have been tempted to say: "He is my Model,
but He was never in my circumstances!" But no, JESUS spent some time
with His Mother in Egypt, and He _grew_ there.

Let me learn the lesson that GOD is with me wherever I am and in
whatever circumstances; and let me try to copy Mary in being so absorbed
by Him, and by all that I have to do for Him, in the person of His
"least brethren," that my surroundings matter little.


"Be thou there until I shall tell thee," was the only order given to
Joseph--there was no hint of how long the time would be; and so Mary
said her _Fiat_ each day, ready either to stay in Egypt or to go back to
her own land--both were the same to her as long as they were the
expression of GOD'S Will. At last the Angel came again with a message:
"Arise and take the Child and His Mother, and go into the land of
Israel; for they are dead that sought the life of the Child." Their own
dear land, then, was no longer dangerous to them. GOD gave His reasons
this time--but when He does not, what then? Then my faith must be strong
enough to believe that the fair land, which looks as if it would be so
congenial, holds dangers for me which Egypt does not; there are enemies
there who seek after my soul to destroy it, and whom I can only escape
by the hard discipline of Egypt. Then I will be thankful for Egypt as
long as it lasts, and thankful, too, that my life--every detail of
it--is arranged for me by one who _knows_.

And so the faces of Mary and JESUS were set towards the land of
Israel--and to them both it meant Calvary. Mary would doubtless have
preferred to take her Son back to Bethlehem, and bring Him up near the
Temple, but again the warning voice told them that it was not GOD'S
will. And so they "retired into the quarters of Galilee," and Mary found
herself back again in Nazareth--the city of so many memories; and two
more of the prophecies concerning her Son have been fulfilled: "Out of
Egypt have I called my Son," and, "He shall be called a Nazarene."

     _Colloquy._ O Mary, get thy child grace to learn some of the
     precious lessons that Egypt has to teach--that blind
     obedience and submission which bring perfect rest; that
     waiting for GOD'S orders without any complaining, or
     impatience, or suggestions of something else; that quiet
     uniting of all sufferings with those of JESUS; that entire
     acquiescence in all His plans for me.

     _Resolution._ To put no obstacle in the way of GOD'S
     direction of me to-day.

     _Spiritual Bouquet._ "Fly into Egypt, and be there until I
     shall tell thee."

Mary's Fifth Word

     "_And His Mother said to Him: Son, why hast Thou done so to
     us? Behold, Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing._"
     (St Luke ii. 48.)

     _1st Prelude._ A picture of Mary and Joseph finding JESUS in
     the Temple.

     _2nd Prelude._ Grace to seek JESUS as Our Lady sought Him.


Once more the Holy Family has come up to the Temple; and it is here that
Mary speaks her next recorded word. Her Son was not yet born when she
spoke her last. Since then He has been her constant companion through
infancy and boyhood, in trouble and in joy, at Bethlehem, in Egypt, and
at Nazareth. He is twelve years old now, and counts under the law as a
man; it is time to decide His calling in life. He is old enough to go
with His parents to the Passover Feast at Jerusalem. So once again the
real Passover Lamb goes up to His Temple; and we can think of Mary and
Joseph praying there to the Child Who is kneeling between them, Mary
pondering over her last visit to the Temple with Him, when she presented
Him to the Lord as a little baby and when the sword pierced her soul for
the first time.

When it was all over, the Child JESUS "remained in Jerusalem," without
saying anything to His parents! It was only when they halted for the
night that Mary and Joseph would find out their loss, for the men and
women left the Temple by different gates, and the children might go with
either group. Mary had lost her Child! It was the third of the _Seven
Dolours_, and it has been revealed to the Saints that her spiritual
desolation was greater than that ever experienced by any of GOD'S
children. Not only was she suffering intense desolation, but her grief
was enhanced by the fear that He had left her because she had done
something of which He did not approve. She also had to bear the sight
of her dearly loved spouse "sorrowing," perhaps blaming himself for his
want of care, and in any case not so well able as she to bear the
anxiety and grief. Mary shows us how to act in our times of desolation.
Diligently she searched for Him during those three days, "in the company
among their kinsfolks and acquaintance," and in all the places where He
had been. Then they retraced their steps to Jerusalem. No time was lost,
no pains were spared; they sought Him sorrowing for His loss, and for
any fault that might be theirs. How JESUS loves to be sought thus! It is
one of His reasons for hiding Himself, to force us back to the company
where we enjoyed His presence, to the places where we had Him with us,
and to everything that reminds us of what He said to us and what we said
to Him. He is not far from the souls that thus seek Him.


It was the most natural place to find Him. Do I in my times of
desolation turn instinctively to His House, where I know that He is
hidden? Do I feel that I must spend all the time I possibly can close to
the Tabernacle, that my body, at any rate, may be near to Him, while my
spirit is calling out in its distress: "Oh, that I knew where I might
find Him!"

Who can measure what must have been Mary's joy and relief when she saw
her Son sitting in the midst of the doctors, listening to their
teaching! She "wondered"; she was perplexed; and then it was that she
uttered her fifth word. It was a word of reproach rather than of joy,
though it was joy that caused it, and the reproach was full of
tenderness. St Bernardine calls this word, _flamma amoris saporantis_,
"a flame of savouring or relishing love," because, he says, it belongs
to love to "distinguish and discern, and, as it were, taste the divine
effects and qualities of that which is loved." It was her love which
made Mary _savour_ the intense pain caused by the absence of her Son
and by the anxiety of her spouse. The flame of love within her enabled
her to _relish_ both the love and the pain. Mary does not try to conceal
her pain--that is not the outcome of true love. She says straight out
what she is feeling, with that holy familiarity to which her love gives
her a right: "Son, why hast Thou done so to us? Behold, Thy father and I
have sought Thee sorrowing." Why? None knew better than He what the
agony of those three days had been to His Mother, and He could have
prevented it. Why, then, has He done so? Because He was beginning the
principle which He carried out all through. He was the "Man of Sorrows,"
and she was the "Mother of Sorrows," and He would not spare her one drop
in the cup of suffering. He knew its value too well, and His love for
her was too great.

When we have to undergo suffering that seems so unnecessary and that
could (perhaps we think) with a little forethought have been so easily
avoided, instead of allowing ourselves to give way to discontent, and
regrets, and even rebellion, how much better it would be to say: Yes, it
is quite true, JESUS could have prevented this, but He is treating me in
some degree as He treated His Blessed Mother, not saving me the pain and
trouble and inconvenience, but letting me have the opportunity of
sanctifying my soul and of gaining greater merit. "Why hast Thou done
so?" And He answers: "Did you not know that I must be about My Father's
business?" By His answer He prepares His Mother for the future; He
raises her above the human in Him to the Divine; He announces Himself,
though obscurely, to the Doctors as the Messias; He teaches the great
lesson of detachment, and shows that even our best natural affections
must be supernaturalised. "My Father's business"--that must ever come
first. "For this came I into the world," (St John xviii. 37), and I
_must_ be about it, even if by so doing I give pain to those dearest to

They were her Son's first recorded words, and Mary "understood" them
not; they were words full of mystery and full of meaning; her mingled
feelings of pain and relief, of sorrow and joy, would prevent her from
seeing the gist of their meaning at once; but as time went on, and her
spiritual horizon increased, she would understand more and more what His
"Father's business" was, though perhaps not till she stood at the Foot
of the Cross did she understand the words in all their fulness.

"_Why hast Thou done so?_" It is a question Mary often puts to her other
children--sometimes in surprise and amazement, sometimes in anxiety and
sorrow, sometimes in love and tenderness. Well for us if we can always
answer, like our Elder Brother: The "Father's business." This is an
answer which will always satisfy the flame of love within her which
prompts the question.

     _Colloquy_ with Mary, asking for grace that I may be so taken
     up with my "Father's business" that I cause her no anxiety.

     _Resolution._ To put my "Father's business" first, to-day.

     _Spiritual Bouquet._ "Why hast Thou done so to us?"


     "_And He went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was
     subject to them. And His Mother kept all these words in her
     heart. And JESUS advanced in wisdom and age, and grace with
     GOD and men._" (St Luke ii. 52.)

     _1st Prelude._ JESUS, Mary, and Joseph going back to

     _2nd Prelude._ Grace to go there too, and to study its


The lesson has been given now; JESUS has shown His parents that He is
the Son of GOD before He is the Son of Mary; that GOD'S will, and GOD'S
business, and GOD'S work, are the reasons for His being on earth. Now,
because He is perfect man, He will live for eighteen years in subjection
to His parents, to show us that subjection is one of GOD'S laws; that
the Father's business can only be done by a perfect submission to His
will and to His orders, expressed and given by those under whom His
providence places us. All the direction needed for the spiritual life is
contained in these two sentences: "_I must be about My Father's
business_," and "_He was subject to them_." The Father's business is to
be done in His way--not in mine; it will only be done by a perfect
submission of my will to His, by subjection all along the line, by the
crushing of self.

His Mother kept all these words in her heart. As she went home she was
pondering and meditating again. She had no need to make a "_Composition
of Place_," as she had to do a few hours ago, for her Boy was at her
side once again; it was upon His words that she was meditating. They had
made her realise that He was a man now, that He would have "business" to
do that she must no longer expect wholly to understand. No doubt she
prepared herself in her meditation to be ready from henceforth to find
that His sweet, childish, obedience was over. Just as we, in our
meditations, make the sacrifice beforehand about something that we
dread, and then when we come up to it during the day, it is not there!
But GOD is pleased, nevertheless, that we made our sacrifice. One of the
many uses of meditation is that we may be fore-armed for the day's
battles. So it was with Mary. When she got back to Nazareth, it is true
that there was a change; it is true that the boyhood of her Son was fast
passing into manhood; but His subjection was the same--only it was far
more touching to His Mother's heart just because He was no longer a

And what was Mary's part? If JESUS was "subject," Mary had to command;
if JESUS obeyed, it was because Mary gave her orders--and this till He
was thirty years old! What an absolute repression of self and of her own
ideas there must have been in Mary before she could bring herself to
give an order to Him Whom she was worshipping as her GOD! With what
reverence, and honour, and humility, and searchings of heart, and
preparation, and care she would give her orders! Only the knowledge that
it was His wish that she should stand in GOD'S place to Him, could have
given her courage. Her authority over Him was GOD'S authority, and it
was only by constantly referring it to GOD that she dared to maintain

What a lesson Mary gives here to parents and superiors and to all whose
duty it is to command others! Whether they have to command the unruly
and the unsubmissive, or those whom they know to be in every way
superior to themselves, a few thoughts suggested by the contemplation of
Mary commanding her Son at Nazareth may help to make easier a position
which must often be irksome and difficult:--

     1. GOD has put me into this position because He intends me to
     be His delegate.

     2. My orders are all given in His Name, and all my authority
     refers back to Him.

     3. My only sure weapons are--_humility_, that is, a real
     belief in my own weakness; and _self-effacement_, to the
     extent of letting those who are under me see, not me, but
     GOD, in my orders.

     4. I must see JESUS in all whom I command. If they are
     thankless and unruly, they are nevertheless amongst His
     "least brethren," and He wants them trained to live with
     their Elder Brother in His Father's house. If they are
     already so like Him in their docility and humility that the
     very sight of them makes me adore GOD in them, I will
     remember that Mary gave her orders to JESUS because GOD
     wished it; and that thought will give me courage to be His
     faithful representative and to give those under my care every
     possible opportunity of advancing in wisdom and grace by the
     submission of their will.

     5. I must be firmly persuaded that GOD never puts anyone into
     a position without giving the grace to fill it. Mary needed
     far more grace to command JESUS than ever I shall need!


Neither sacred nor profane history gives the exact date of that sad day
in Mary's life when death deprived her of her beloved spouse. Joseph had
shared all Mary's sacred joys and sorrows from her school-days. He it
was who had trained her Son in His work as a carpenter; and to him alone
could she speak freely of Him. What a wonderfully happy and blessed
death must have been St Joseph's--the last people he saw, JESUS and
Mary; his last messages given to JESUS and Mary; all he had to leave,
left to JESUS and Mary; the last words he heard, those of JESUS and
Mary! He is the _Patron of a good death_: that is, he will help those
who invoke him, to die with JESUS and Mary.

And now from henceforth Mary will have no one to talk to about her Son,
no one to share her joy in all these new lessons which she is ever
learning from Him. But, on the other hand, from henceforth her Son will
be her _all_. He, who later raised the dead man because "he was the only
son of his mother and she was a widow," knew how to wipe away the tears
from His Mother's eyes. He knew how to be to her more than a husband.
From henceforth the Son and the Mother were all in all to each other--He
her sole support, and she keeping the little home for Him alone. They
were alone for their meals, and alone in the evenings when the day's
work was done. It may have been during those blessed evenings that JESUS
explained to Mary what His "Father's business" was, so that she might
understand all about it; that He unfolded to her the wonderful plan of
Redemption; that He told her about His public life, about the Church
that He was going to found, and which she was to nurse during its
infancy. Perhaps He told her, too, of the extension of the
Incarnation--His great secret, the Blessed Sacrament. Who had a greater
right to know it than Mary, through whose means the Incarnation took
place? And as the time of the Hidden Life drew to a close, He would
explain to her that His "Father's business" was calling Him away from
Nazareth, that He would have to give up His home and His life with her,
but that they would still work together for the Redemption of the world,
their interests would still be one. Oh, blessed converse! The secrets of
JESUS and Mary! More than ever was her heart being enlarged; more than
ever would she have need to ponder these things in her heart. With the
undivided attention of such a Master, what progress she must have made
in virtue and in grace!


But the day came at last when her Son was to leave their little home.
Mary knew that it would come; again she had made her sacrifice
beforehand, and she was ready. She was saying her _Fiat_ while Simeon's
ever-active sword was piercing her heart. There was the last meal, the
last kiss, the last blessing--and He was gone. She watched Him till He
was out of sight and then turned to her empty house. It would never be
the same again. Never again would she have Him all to herself. But Mary
was a "valiant woman," and no grief of hers would spoil her Son's work.
Three thoughts supported her in her trial; and the same three will
support us in our trials too.

     1. This separation was GOD'S will--and that was always dearer
     to Mary than _anything_ else.

     2. The very sacrifice of her Son that she was called upon to
     make, was a proof of her union with Him and with His

     3. The knowledge that the separation was no real separation.

It is true that never again will He come in from His work and share the
simple meal with her; true that there will be no more talking over their
plans together; but such a perfect union as theirs cannot be broken by
separation. Does not everything in the house speak of Him? Mary has had
her time of _consolation_; now she is to have her time of _desolation_.
Let me learn from her how to act under these changed conditions, which
are sure to be mine at some time or other in my life. How does Mary act?
Does she sit still and mourn over the days that are gone? Not at all.
She acts as though they were _not_ gone; as though there were no
difference between consolation and desolation; there _is_ no difference
really, but faith and love must be very strong before this fact can be
grasped. Mary does her work as usual with her Son and for her Son. Her
heart is with Him all the time; everything reminds her of Him, and she
is thinking of Him, talking to Him, telling Him everything just as she
did before. How far am I like her?

"Sedes sapientiæ, ora pro nobis."

     _Colloquy_ with Mary, asking her to get me grace to ponder
     over these wonderful mysteries.

     _Resolution._ Never to allow myself to make any change in my
     spiritual life during a time of desolation.

     _Spiritual Bouquet._ "He was subject to them."

Mary's Sixth Word

     "_The Mother of JESUS saith to Him: They have no wine._" (St
     John ii. 3.)

     _1st Prelude._ The Marriage Feast.

     _2nd Prelude._ Grace to remember the interest that Mary takes
     in her children.


It looks, from the context, as though Our Blessed Lady were staying in
the house at Cana where the wedding feast took place, for while St John
tells us that JESUS and His disciples were _invited_, he says that "the
Mother of JESUS was _there_." We need not suppose that she remained long
at Nazareth after her Son began His public ministry--it is more probable
that she stayed with friends in the neighbourhood of His work. After
this first miracle of her Son's, she went with Him and His disciples to
Capharnaum, but "remained there not many days," St John tells us. (chap.
ii. 12.) At all events, she was at Cana at the time of the marriage
feast, and it may be that it was in St John's house that she was
staying; for there is a very old tradition which tells that the
bridegroom was none other than John himself. If the tradition be true,
it lends an additional significance to this sixth word of Our Lady; for,
as St Bernardine suggests, it would probably be the miracle produced by
this word which made him decide to give up the wedded state, even before
he had entered upon it, for one of perpetual virginity--a decision which
endeared him to the hearts of Our Lord and His Blessed Mother.

Eighteen years had passed since Mary's last recorded word. It was spoken
to Our Lord Himself, as also was this one. St Bernardine calls the sixth
word "a word of compassionating love" (_flamma amoris compatientis_). We
shall see why as we continue our meditation.

It is not difficult to picture that little family feast in which JESUS
and Mary took part. Their presence produced, as it ever must, joy,
peace, and harmony. But now, apparently, there was going to be a hitch
in the proceedings; Mary's watchful eyes noticed that the wine was
running short; she wanted to save the newly married pair from any
confusion and humiliation that would spoil their mirth on this glad day,
and she showed her _compassionating_ love by anticipating their need.

Mary is the same now; she is full of compassionating love, pity, and
thought for her children; she anticipates their needs and will save
them, if possible, from the dangers which threaten them, by telling
JESUS. What a comfort it should be to me to remember that I have a
Mother in Heaven who is looking out for the difficulties and dangers
which threaten me, and doing her best to avert them! How far am I like
my Mother in this? Do I, by my tact and forethought and observation, try
to smooth away difficulties and avert little unpleasantnesses that I see
lying in the path of another? To what extent is this _flamma amoris
compatientis_ burning in me? Do others feel that if I am there, not only
will there be more joy and mirth, but also more harmony and good
feeling--in short, that things are sure to run smoothly, because one of
Mary's children--"a child of Mary"--is there. The Mother of JESUS was


JESUS, too, had noticed that the wine was running short, and He knew
that He was going to work a wonderful miracle of transubstantiation,
foreshadowing the miracle worked at every Mass. He knew also that He
would not work the miracle till His Mother had intervened. At Nazareth
He made her a participator in all His work. Though separated from Him,
she was still to have her share; and her share was _prayer_--the great
work of intercession. By this means, doubtless, she had had her share in
her Son's Baptism, in the Fasting and Temptation in the wilderness, in
the calling of the first six Apostles. Now, in this first miracle, He
will give a lesson to these Apostles and show them the position His
Mother is to occupy in His Church. She understands that He addresses her
as "Woman" rather than as Mother, to show them that He, and they too,
must be detached from all natural affections and ties. He has His
Father's business to do, and they have been chosen to help Him in it,
and she is acting in her _official_ position as Intercessor. My hour for
working this miracle is not yet come, but now that you have spoken it
soon will come, seems to be the meaning of His answer. It was by this
miracle that JESUS manifested forth His glory, "so that His disciples
believed on Him."

And one of Mary's reasons for saying: "They have no wine," and thus
asking for the miracle, may have been that she knew it would confirm the
faith of the new Apostles in her Son.

What a loving, compassionating Mother she already is! How her heart is
enlarging to take in all that concerns her Son--His work, His interests,
His miracles, His Apostles! She notices the needs, and just hints them
to JESUS; there is no need to explain and go into details; they
understand each other--it is heart-to-heart work. If the flame of
compassionating love is burning in her heart, it is because it has been
lighted at the fire of the Sacred Heart.

In after years, especially during the Passion and after the Ascension,
when the Apostles must so often have turned to Our Lady for consolation,
help, and direction, how they would look back to the time of the feast
in Cana of Galilee, when they heard her say her first _official_ word:
"They have no wine"! And how the remembrance of it would strengthen
their faith, not only in Him, in Whom from that moment they "believed,"
but also in her whom He had then so clearly pointed out as His
co-worker, and as the one from whom they might expect help in their

If Mary did so much for her children when she was on earth, without even
being asked; and if she supplied needs, of which they were scarcely
conscious, what will she not do now, when, as the great Intercessor at
her Son's right hand in Heaven, she hears the entreaties of her children
on earth? She still co-operates with JESUS; her work is still to find
out the needs of her children and to tell Him of them. When I am in
need, perplexity, or trouble, what a consolation and strength it would
be to remember that this very need of mine is a subject of conversation
between JESUS and Mary; and that, when His hour is come, her pleadings
for me will be heard, and the need will be supplied!

     _Colloquy_ with the Mother of Compassion. "Mater
     misericordiæ, ora pro nobis."

     _Resolution._ To try to-day to prevent little
     unpleasantnesses happening to others.

     _Spiritual Bouquet._ "The Mother of JESUS was there."

Her Seventh Word

     _His Mother saith to the waiters: "Whatsoever He shall say to
     you, do ye."_ (St John ii. 5.)

     _1st Prelude._ The Marriage Feast. Mary speaking to the

     _2nd Prelude._ Grace to obey.


The perfect understanding that existed between Mary and her Son made her
quite sure from His answer that all would be well, that a miracle would
be worked, and the need supplied; and so she prepared the way for it by
speaking her seventh recorded word. It is to the waiters that she
speaks--to those whose work it is to minister to the needs of JESUS and
His brethren. "Whatsoever He shall say to you, do ye." St Bernardine
calls this word "a flame of consummating love," (_flamma amoris
consummantis_), because Mary shows by it that her love for her Son and
for all her other children is so great, that she desires that all should
obey Him, and accomplish His commandments perfectly. She is not content
with loving and serving Him herself, the flame of love that makes her
own obedience so perfect, burns that others too may consummate their
love by their obedience: "Whatsoever He shall say to you, do ye." If you
want my Son to show you some special favour, be very careful about your

Mary's word is for _all_ her children, but it is intended principally
for the waiters, to whom it was primarily addressed. It is those who
have, in any way, to minister to JESUS under the guise of His "least
brethren," who have to remember so specially that they are to do only
what _He_ says--that they are only His agents waiting for His orders.
How much better His servants would do their work if they carried out His
Mother's direction, and did all that He says and only what He says! His
"least brethren," who are sick, would never feel neglected, would never
hear that impatient word which makes them long to get up, and wait on
themselves, instead of being left to the tender mercies of the servants
of JESUS and Mary! His "least brethren" who are tiresome and difficult
to get on with--perhaps only because they are lonely and in need of
sympathy--would be quite sure of never getting an unkind, cutting, or
thoughtless word from those who are waiting on JESUS and Mary; it is
what _He_ saith that they will say and do--nothing else.

And amongst the waiters themselves there would be no jealousies, and
heart-burnings, and envyings, and criticisms; no thinking that others
are preferred to them, that they are left out and taken no notice of,
that their services are not wanted. The waiters would remember that they
are waiting upon _His_ Brethren, and that they have no right to do or
say or plan anything that He does not tell them; and if He tells them
nothing for the moment, and they have to stand by, and see others do His
work, they are nevertheless His servants, waiting for His next orders.

"Whatsoever He shall say, do." Obedience, then, is love's consummation.
Mary's love--strong flame though it is--cannot get beyond obedience;
there is nothing higher; it is the proof, the crown, the consummation of
love. When, for the moment, her request seems unheeded--even
rejected--her consolation is: "Whatsoever He shall say" will be right;
whatever it is, it will be the answer for me. "_Ecce ancilla Domini._"
Behold the servant waiting.


The waiters have not long to wait for their orders. When His Mother has
prepared us and we are standing waiting ready to do "whatsoever" He
shall say, the order is quite clear. We know exactly what He means, and
what it is that He wants done; and though the order may seem
unreasonable, and we run the risk of humiliating ourselves before
others, yet we shall do it, for His Mother said: "Whatsoever." And by
doing it we shall prove that our love, like hers, is a consummating
love--a love that finds its consummation in obedience. This kind of love
is like a fairy's wand; it changes all that it touches, water is wine
everywhere--that is, we get the best out of everything; not perhaps
immediately, or at any rate we are not so quick to _detect_ the "good
wine" as the steward of the feast was; the path of obedience is often,
as it was for Mary, a path beset with difficulty and sorrow; but love
has touched it, the result is the same, the water _is_ changed, and
changed into "_good_ wine." It would not be good for us to drink of it
to the full now. GOD reserves the good wine till the end, and when we
have well drunk of the cup of suffering and sorrow here, He will hand us
the cup of joy that inebriates. Here we may only "_taste_ and see that
the Lord is sweet"; (Ps. xxxiii. 9); but one day, when the _flamma
amoris consummantis_ is perfected in us, when we have done all that He
saith to us, and paid our debts even to "the last farthing," (St Matt.
v. 26), then we shall drink to the full of the joy of His countenance,
(Ps. xv. 11), and He will say: "I have inebriated the weary soul, and I
have _filled_ every hungry soul." (Jer. xxxi. 25.)

     _Colloquy_ with Our Lady, asking that I may always hear her
     voice telling me to obey her Son.

     _Resolution._ To remember that obedience turns water into

     _Spiritual Bouquet._ "Whatsoever He shall say to you, do ye."

Who is my Mother?

     "_My mother and my brethren are they who hear the word of GOD
     and do it._" (St Luke viii. 21.)

     _1st Prelude._ Our Lady standing waiting on the outskirts of
     the crowd.

     _2nd Prelude._ Grace to "hear the word of GOD and do it."


This one incident in which Mary is mentioned between the time of the
Marriage at Cana and Holy Week, happened during the second year of her
Son's ministry. We do not know whether or not she had been near Him
during this time. According to the opinion of some, she was one of the
little band of women who followed Him about, to minister to His needs
and those of His Apostles. But whether she followed Him actually or not,
we know that her spirit was ever with Him, and that she followed Him
with her prayers, and interest, and sympathy, _knowing_ Him more as He
manifested Himself more by His healing and miracles, and therefore
_loving_ Him and _imitating_ Him more, and _therefore_, growing in
grace, of which she was ever full. Such, we are quite sure, is a true
picture of Mary, though this one instance at Capharnaum is the only
occasion on which we are able to make an actual picture of her.

Her Son had probably come to Capharnaum for a rest after one of His
missionary rounds; it may be that He had come to have a little time of
refreshment with her. And she and His brethren--His relatives--went to
meet Him, desiring to speak to Him. We are not told what it was that
they were so anxious to tell Him. When they arrived He was already
addressing a crowd which was _sitting_ about Him, and which was so great
that His Mother and His brethren could not get near Him; and so "they
_stood_ without"--on the outskirts--and thus attracted the notice of
someone who attracted _His_ notice; someone, in fact, who interrupted
Him in the middle of His discourse, by telling Him that His Mother and
His brethren wanted Him. Such is the simple incident, and by it Mary
affords her Son the opportunity of giving two most important lessons to
His Apostles, and also to those who would, during all time, have any
kind of apostolic work to do.


He is preaching, and He is interrupted. What does He do? Shows, as He
had shown so clearly before, when He was only twelve years old, that
His "Father's business" must come first--that He is perfectly
indifferent to all natural ties when that is concerned, and that His
followers have got to be the same. He is preaching to the people--that
is His work, and not even for a desire of His Mother will He interrupt
it. He preaches by example what He had already preached by word: "He
that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he
that taketh not up his cross and followeth Me is not worthy of Me." (St
Matt. x. 37.)

Incidentally, He shows us what we may do with our interruptions. We are
so prone to let them worry us, to think that they spoil our work, to
say: But for these endless interruptions, I could do so much more! What
did our Lord do with His interruption, which was a very real one, and
far more disturbing than are many of ours of which we complain so
readily? He turned it into good use, so that His work was the gainer by
it and not the loser. If we cannot always follow His example literally
by making the interruption a _direct_ help to our work, we can always
make it help _indirectly_ by taking it as a message from GOD, Who would
give His Apostle an opportunity of practising patience, self-control,
and self-repression. Our work will gain more by these divinely planned
interruptions than by the smooth, easy, methods which we had planned for


To the interrupter He said: "Who is My mother? and who are My brethren?"
And, looking round on them who sat about Him, He saith: "Behold My
mother and My brethren! For My mother and My brethren are they who hear
the word of GOD and do it." It is the same lesson that He gave to the
woman, who probably was one of the very crowd He was now addressing, and
who could not refrain from proclaiming before everyone the
_blessedness_ of His Mother. To her He said: "Yea, rather, blessed are
they who hear the word of GOD and keep it." (St Luke xi. 27, 28.) The
lesson, then, is that He holds as His nearest and dearest those who do
His Father's Will. His Mother was, it is true, dearer to Him than all
besides, was, it is true, blessed above all women; but only because she
did His Father's Will more perfectly than any other.

Who is My mother? Any of these in the crowd have as much right to Me as
she has, if they do My Father's Will as she does it. This is the lesson
that Mary is giving Him the opportunity of teaching.

Would I be dear to Him as His Mother was; would I have that close union
of heart; would I see things from His point of view; would I be willing
to be put in the background and kept standing there if it furthers the
"Father's business"; would I be ready to suffer anything for the spread
of His Kingdom? There is only one way--do as she did. "Whosoever shall
do the will of My Father that is in Heaven, the same is My mother."

     _Colloquy_ with Mary standing in the background. Thou whose
     unique privilege it is to be the Mother of GOD, teach me to
     do His will in such a way that I may share in some degree thy
     _spiritual_ maternity. This was thine by _detachment_--even
     from the visible presence of JESUS, by a perfect _performance
     of the will of GOD_, and by _suffering_. By thy ceaseless
     intercession help me to struggle ceaselessly till I know
     something of these three things.

     _Resolution._ To prove my close relationship with JESUS and
     Mary to-day by the way I do GOD'S will.

     _Spiritual Bouquet._ "His Mother stood without."

The Fourth and Fifth Dolours

     "_And thy own soul a sword shall pierce._" (St Luke ii. 35.)

     _1st Prelude._ (1) Mary meeting JESUS with His Cross.

     (2) Mary witnessing the Crucifixion of Her Son.

     _2nd Prelude._ Grace to understand what a precious gift
     suffering is.


Mary, with the knowledge which she had all her life of her Son's
Passion, must have known when the hour was approaching. She had noticed
the ever-increasing envy and hatred of the Chief Priests. She knew of
the various attempts on His life, and of the organised plot to kill Him.
And when the Passion itself began, we may be quite sure that, even if
she were not actually a witness of some of the scenes, the Apostles kept
her informed of what was going on. She would hear of the Agony in the
Garden, of Judas' betrayal, of the desertion of the Apostles; then of
the trials, of the scourging and crowning with thorns, of Pilate's vain
attempts to save Him; _she_ knew that they would be vain. And when at
length the death sentence was passed, she set out with the other
ministering women to be as near to Him as she could while He carried His
Cross to Calvary. _Once_, at any rate, on the Way of the Cross they
caught sight of each other, and had that unspeakable consolation which
no one could give to JESUS but Mary, and no one to Mary but JESUS. But
though it was a consolation, it was also an anguish so great, that this
meeting of JESUS with His Blessed Mother is counted as one of the seven
swords that pierced her heart. It is the _Fourth Dolour_. Then, on
Calvary's hill, she must have heard, even if she did not see, the nails
being driven in; and heard, too, something that gave her strength and
courage at that terrible moment--her Son speaking to His Father, the
crowning point of Whose "business" He had now reached: "Father, forgive
them, for they know not what they do." Who can measure what the pain of
this _Fifth Dolour_ was to Mary! What was it that gave her an almost
superhuman courage? The firm belief that everything she saw and heard
was GOD'S will; and such was the intensity with which she had said her
_Fiat_, that His will was nearer to her even than her own sufferings. In
proportion as this is the case with us shall we get the good that GOD
intends out of suffering, and join, as Mary did, our prayers with those
of JESUS by asking GOD'S forgiveness for all who cause us suffering.


Then, as soon as the darkness permitted her to draw near without
observation, she allowed John to take her to the Foot of the Cross, and
there took up her stand. Her sacrifice was very near to its completion
now. This is what she meant when she said her _Fiat_ to the Angel
Gabriel thirty-three years ago. This is what she meant when she
presented Him to the Lord when He was forty days old. The three days'
loss, and the separation when He left His home at Nazareth, had been a
foreshadowing of this. Now the consummation of her sacrifice had
arrived: "And there stood by the Cross of JESUS His Mother"! She had
never flinched, had never looked back. It had been _Fiat_ all along the
line. She was a "valiant woman" to the end, bravely doing her part, and
offering her Son to GOD.

This was Mary's sacrifice--but what is her part in the Sacrifice that
her Son is offering to His Father for the world's redemption? Just this,
that she provided the Victim. She did not withhold her Son--her only
Son. (Gen. xxii. 16.) JESUS on Calvary offered Himself to the Father;
and Mary assisted--not only by the perfect union of her will and
intention with His, but _actually_, by providing Him with the Body which
He was offering to His Father. Her position was that of the Deacon at
High Mass. His part is not the offering of the Sacrifice--the Priest
alone can do that--but He provides the Priest with the bread and wine
which he is going to use for the Sacrifice, and without which there
could be no Sacrifice. "A _Body_ hast thou prepared Me"; and that Body
came from Mary--it was with Blood drawn from her veins that He redeemed
the world. But the Sacrificial Act was His, and His alone: "I have
trodden the wine-press alone." (Isaias lxiii. 3.)


As she stood there taking her part, how her heart was enlarging! He was
dying for the whole world--for the whole human race, past, present, and
future--and she was His Mother; she was standing by and assisting; all
His interests were hers. She had seen the conversions worked by Him on
the Way of the Cross; she had seen the change in the dying thief; now
JESUS addressed Himself to her, and by His Third Word from the Cross
made her the Second Eve, the Mother of all living--of all for whom He
was dying. "Woman, behold thy son!" Again He used the official
title--_Woman_; He was not treating her now as _His_ Mother, but rather
as the Mother of all. Behold thy son; take John for thy son, and with
him take the whole human race. He counted on her power of suffering, and
it was through that suffering that she became the universal Mother. He
knew how the sword would stab when she heard that she was to take John
in His place, but He knew also that the wound made by that sword-thrust
would enlarge her heart to take in her new family. He was dying, and His
legacy to His Mother was the whole human race. The idea was not a new
one to her, for He had been gradually training her up to it, as we have
seen, ever since the Incarnation. He added another word to make all
sure. He spoke now to John as the representative of the human race:
"Behold thy Mother!" The immediate meaning of His words John very well
understood--that he was to cherish, support, and take care of her; be a
son to her now that her own Son was being taken from her. But He had an
intention in that word for each one of us. To each and all He said:
"_Behold Thy Mother!_" and from that moment all who will, have the right
to take her to their own.

To what extent have I taken this word seriously? Have I really believed
that JESUS had me in His mind as well as St John when He said: "Behold
thy Mother!" that it was of me that He thought and to me that He spoke?
Have I felt the responsibility as well as the honour of being a child of
Mary, and that it is my bounden duty to love and cherish her, to support
and take care of her--that is, to stand up for her and shield her from
those who _will_ not behold her as their Mother? O my Mother, I want
more than ever to take thee to _my own_, as thy first adopted son did.
Come home with me, live side by side with me, talk to me of JESUS, and
thus help to pass the time when you see me getting weary; help me to
imitate Him as thou didst, and to share His work by my prayer and
sacrifice as thou didst. And then, Mother, thou wilt always be there to
show me what sacrifice really means--how it enters into all the little
details of everyday life--to show me what having my will united to thy
Son's means. Thou wilt be there to put a restraining hand upon me and
make me live as a child of Mary should; thou, to whom JESUS was subject,
wilt teach me what real submission means. Yes, I am decided that to-day
it shall be recorded of me in Heaven: "From that hour that disciple took
her to his own."

     _Colloquy_ with Mary.

     _Resolution._ To take Mary as the special gift of JESUS to

     _Spiritual Bouquet._ "There stood by the Cross of JESUS His

The Sixth and Seventh Dolours

     "_And Joseph, buying fine linen and taking Him down, wrapped
     Him in the fine linen, and laid Him in a sepulchre which was
     hewed out of a rock._" (St Mark xv. 46.)

     _1st Prelude._ A picture of the Thirteenth Station.

     _2nd Prelude._ Grace to be unselfish in my grief.


As Mary stands at her post, praying for her new family for whom her Son
is dying, and uniting herself more closely than ever with His
intentions, the sword never ceases to pierce afresh her wounded heart.
She has to listen to the cry: "I thirst!" from the parched lips and
throat of Him from Whom she had never heard a complaint; and she has to
appear to be deaf to His needs. Again she hears a cry, more full of
agony even than the last: "My GOD, My GOD, why hast Thou forsaken Me!"
and she who once lost her Son for three days (the _Third Dolour_) can
understand in some small degree the anguish of that cry. Then after His
next words: "All is consummated," she hears Him commend His Soul to His
Father, and she watches Him die. She is alone! And not only is she
alone, but she has a sense of responsibility. Just as on the occasion of
a death among us, the one next has to rise to the responsibility and act
_at once_, so it was with Mary. She was the one _next_. She knew that it
was to her that the Apostles and all His friends would turn to know what
to do--what He would like done. He who had died on the Cross "was indeed
the Son of GOD," and she was His Mother; she, if anyone did, must know
all about Him. So, although all is over, there is no time for Mary to
relax and give way to her grief. There is work to be done--work that He
has left her. "It is finished" for Him, but she is only just beginning
her work as Mother of the Church. And so she still stands at the Foot
of the Cross, reverently worshipping the dead Body to which the Divinity
is still united.

Her meditation was suddenly interrupted--"One of the soldiers with a
spear pierced His Side"; and again Simeon's prophecy was fulfilled:
"Thine own soul a sword shall pierce." Soon followed what is called her
_Sixth Dolour_--the taking down of her Son from the Cross. He was in the
hands of friends now, and all was done with the greatest reverence and
loving tenderness. But nothing could stay the sword from piercing Mary's
heart when she received into her hands the blood-stained Crown of Thorns
and the rough nails. Nothing could stay it when she had her JESUS once
more in her arms, and was able to see for herself the cruel wounds as
she washed them and bound them up. Then when the precious Body had been
wrapped in the winding sheet, she accompanied the little cortège which
carried It to the tomb. And when, after a few minutes' adoration, she
beckoned them all away, and the great stone was rolled to its place, the
sword pierced her heart again--it was the _Seventh Dolour_--the burial

She allowed John to escort her past the three crosses, along the way
which He had trodden, back to the Cenacle. "That disciple took her to
his own." The next time we make the Way of the Cross, let us make it
with Mary as John did. She will explain to us better than anyone else
can, the meaning of each "station."

Mary has left Him now, but she is with Him still in spirit and in
heart--hence her strength. What a lesson she gives us on how to act in
times of bereavement! We are never to lose sight of the fact that this
particular kind of suffering is intended for our sanctification. This
will prevent us from allowing it to make us morbid, selfish, gloomy,
inconsiderate, ungrateful, acting as though _our_ suffering were greater
than that of everybody else, being exacting and fastidious about things
that remind us of our lost one--even of having the name mentioned in our
presence! What about our sacrifice? Are not all such things as these a
part of it? We have no business to add to the trials of others by our
tyrannical selfishness. Sorrow ought to brace the soul up to greater
heights of sanctity; if it depresses it to a lower level of
spirituality, there is something very wrong with us. We are not copying
Mary, neither are we uniting our sufferings to those of JESUS--the only
way of making them meritorious. Let us see to it that our grief is a
source of joy and blessing to everyone else in the house. This means
self put on one side; it means a smiling face, a bright, cheery, voice
in spite of a breaking heart. It means a great sympathy with the grief
of others--and it _often_ means that we shall get the credit of not
really caring, of not having much depth of affection, not much heart!
But this again is part of the sacrifice which we gladly offer if only it
may aid suffering in doing its blessed work. There were those, no doubt,
who were ready enough to say that Mary's calm courage was unnatural. But
_we_ know that it was supernatural: let us try to copy her in it.


What must have been the grief of the Apostles--their Friend, Teacher,
and Lord dead, their hopes all dashed, and their consciences ill at ease
as they thought of their base desertion of Him in His hour of need! They
were scattered everyone to his own, but probably one by one they found
their way back to the Cenacle. It was the last house where they had been
all together with Him, and it seemed natural to go there again--and
besides, His Mother was there. She was next to Him, and therefore more
to them than anyone else could be. _She_ had been faithful to the end.
She could tell them more about Him than anyone else could. Her very
voice and manner reminded them of Him. Somehow, they felt that she would
look at things from His point of view, and that if _she_ forgave them
for the wrong they had done to her Son, _He_ would. Then they would
learn from John what JESUS had said about her with His dying lips--that
they might now regard her in very deed as their Mother; that she was now
in fact the Mother of the Church which He had founded; and that they
could turn to her in their times of perplexity and difficulty. "Behold
thy Mother"--the Mother of Good Counsel and the Mother of Mercy! Was it
not just what they wanted? How well He knew! How thoughtful it was of
Him to leave us Mary!

And so we may think of Mary on Holy Saturday rallying her new family
round her, loving them for her Son's sake, making excuses for their
weaknesses, as a mother ever does, and putting fresh heart and courage
into them. And then we may think of her stealing away to ponder--to make
the first Meditation on the Passion, presenting willingly her heart to
the sword once more, that her compassion might fit her for her position
as Mother of Mercy.

     _Colloquy_ with Mary, who says to me: For you, too, my child,
     "I am the Mother of fair love, and of fear, and of knowledge,
     and of holy hope. Come over to me, all ye that desire me, and
     be filled with my fruits. He that hearkeneth unto me shall
     not be confounded; and they that work by me shall not sin."
     (Ecclus. xxiv. 24-30.)

     _Resolution._ To take my troubles and difficulties to Mary

     _Spiritual Bouquet._ "Mater Dolorosa, Mater misericordiæ, ora
     pro nobis."

The First Glorious Mystery

     "_He shall reign for ever, and of His Kingdom there shall be
     no end._" (St Luke i. 32, 33.)

     _1st Prelude._ A picture or statue of Our Lady.

     _2nd Prelude._ Grace to learn from Mary how to rejoice.


"Of His Kingdom there shall be no end." It was to Mary that these words
were said, before her Son was born; and she believed them. She knew,
therefore, that He would rise again; she knew that all was not finished
when she left the precious Body in Joseph's new tomb. In all
probability, too, JESUS had told her, as He told the Apostles, that He
would rise again on the third day. And while they "believed not nor
understood," _she_ did both. But this supernatural gift of faith, which
she exercised to the full, had not the power to prevent the sword from
piercing on Good Friday and Holy Saturday. She felt the full weight of
all her sorrow, but she sorrowed, as all Christian mourners should do,
"not without hope."

What must her expectation have been as she knelt on that Holy Saturday
night counting the minutes till the day dawned! She knew that He would
rise again--but would she see Him? Would He come to her? He had kept her
so much in the background during His ministry, perhaps He will do so
still, and it will be to those who need Him most that He will come. No,
sweet Mother, the meek and lowly of heart ever attract Him; it is to the
heart which _desires_ Him most that He will come. A pure, disinterested
desire to have JESUS ever proves to Him an invincible attraction. No one
on earth desired to see JESUS as Mary did, and it was to her, as the
traditions of the Holy Fathers testify, that He came first--as soon as
the Easter Day dawned and "death could no longer be holden of Him." The
Evangelists are silent about this appearance of JESUS to His Blessed
Mother, for the very good reason that she told them nothing about it.
There was no need to do so, as, for example, there was to tell various
little details about His Birth, because GOD wished us to know them. At
this meeting of the Son and the Mother even Angels would fear to
intrude; and we ordinary mortals simply should not understand what took
place, even were it narrated to us. All those to whom He appeared would
take it for granted that His Mother had seen Him--why write down a thing
that everybody knew? "According to thy faith be it unto thee." Mary was
the _only_ one who had faith enough to believe that her Son would rise
again, and it was only natural that she should be the first to see Him.
She was the one who had entered most deeply into His sorrows, and she
would be the one to whom He would first communicate the Easter joy. Let
us now think a little about Mary's joy.


What joy it must have been to Mary to see that precious Body which He
had taken from her, which she had nurtured and tended and loved, which
she had seen so recently covered with scars and gaping wounds! What joy
it must have been to her to see It in all the beauty of Its
Resurrection--to see It glorified! Her joy was so intense that the
saints tell us it was only by a miracle that her body could master her
soul and keep it still a prisoner. And then the consolation of knowing
that never again would He suffer--the joy of seeing the Five Wounds and
knowing that He would keep them always, as precious memorials of His
death and of His victory over death, of His undying love for His Church,
and of His right to give it all that it should ever claim, because with
those wounds He had more than paid for all that it would ever need.

Mary entered into all these truths as no one else could, and therefore
her Easter joy was greater than that of anybody else. Her joy was
greater, too, because her _love_ was greater. Her love for JESUS was
wholly unselfish, and so was her joy; it was wholly on account of the
joy of her Son. She forgot her own joy for the moment; she forgot the
long exile that lay before her; she forgot everything but His joy.

Her _suffering_ also was indirectly another cause of her joy. Our
capacity for joy is in proportion to our capacity for suffering. We have
seen something of what Mary's capacity for suffering was, and so we can
understand in some small measure how full was her cup of joy.

Mary had other joys too, which were incidental to the joy of seeing her
Son risen and glorified. She saw the saints who rose with Him, for He
would be sure to present them to His Mother. Some would need no
introduction--her dear spouse St Joseph, her parents St Joachim and St

Yes, Mary's joys more than made up for her sorrows. One day, if we try
to receive our cup of sorrow as Mary did, that is, take it _for_ JESUS
and _with_ JESUS, we too shall receive the cup of joy, and we shall be
able to say with St Paul as we put the two side by side: "The sufferings
are not worthy to be compared with the glory." (Rom. viii. 18.)

Teach me, O holy Mother of GOD, something of this real joy--the joy that
is arrived at through faith, through suffering, through a perfect union
of heart with the Sacred Heart of JESUS, and through conformity to GOD'S
will; the joy of the risen life--the new life that rises out of the
death to self.

     _Colloquy._ The _Regina Coeli_:--

     "Queen of Heaven, rejoice,--Alleluia
     For He Whom thou wast made worthy to bear--Alleluia
     Hath risen as He said--Alleluia.
     Pray for us to GOD--Alleluia."

                          (_Anthem from Easter to Trinity._)

     _Resolution._ To say my _Fiat_ bravely with Mary, as the
     surest way of sharing her joy.

     _Spiritual Bouquet._ "Causa nostræ lætitiæ, ora pro nobis."

The Second and Third Glorious Mysteries

     "_All these were persevering with one mind in prayer, with
     the women, and Mary the Mother of JESUS, and with His
     brethren._" (Acts i. 14.)

     _1st Prelude._ (1) A picture of the Ascension--Our Lady
     kissing the Footprints.

     (2) A picture of the Descent of the Holy Ghost--a tongue of
     fire resting on the head of Our Lady, who is seated in the
     midst of the Apostles.

     _2nd Prelude._ Grace to enter into the dispositions of Mary.


Many, no doubt, were the visits that JESUS paid to His Blessed Mother
during the forty days that His glorified Body still lingered in this
world of ours, as though He were loath to leave it. He was bracing her
up for the time of exile that lay before her, filling her with stores of
consolation upon which she would be able to draw in her times of
desolation. She probably knew that the fortieth day was the last, and
that, when He led His little flock out "as far as Bethania," it was His
last walk with them. She knew of the "mountain appointed" where He
wished all His brethren to assemble--"more than five hundred at once."
(1 Cor. xv. 6.) She heard His last words, heard Him charge His
_witnesses_: "Going, therefore, teach (_make disciples of_) all nations:
and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the
world." (St Matt. xxviii. 19, 20.) She was not to be a witness--though
she was ever the silent witness of His Humanity--but it was only fitting
that she should hear all the orders that were given to her children. She
heard of the promise of the Father, and that they were to stay in the
city till it was fulfilled. She saw Him lift up His hands in
blessing--the last blessing; she watched with the rest His glorified
Body raised up from their midst--watched till "a cloud received Him out
of their sight," then she knelt in humble acquiescence to GOD'S will and
kissed the ground where He had just stood--the favoured bit of earth
which was the last to be touched by His blessed Feet. When she looked
up, it was to see two angels asking the astonished disciples why they
were gazing into Heaven, and telling them that the same JESUS who was
taken up from them into Heaven would so come again as they had seen Him
go. It was not to _her_ that the angels were speaking--_she_ was not
gazing up. She _knew_ the lesson that the others were being taught, knew
that her Son was already in Heaven, sitting at the right hand of GOD.
(St Mark xvi. 19.) When the Apostles realised sufficiently what had
happened, they, "adoring, went back to Jerusalem with joy," (St Luke
xxiv. 52), and Mary led them to the Cenacle to "wait for the promise of
the Father," as her Son had bidden them.

Thus she taught them the lesson she would teach all her children--that
the only thing to do in times of desolation and sorrow is to follow
closely the commands of JESUS: "Whatsoever He shall say to you, do ye."
It is no use to stand gazing after what has gone; this is no time for
regrets; He gave a clear command: "Go to Jerusalem and wait." We shall
always find that there is no balm for sorrow like fidelity to duty. It
costs something; human nature longs to stay and hug its sorrow; but it
is far wiser to turn away from the loved spot and go bravely hand in
hand with the Mother of Sorrows to do the next thing to which duty--that
is the voice of JESUS--calls us.


Nine days they spent with Mary the Mother of JESUS, persevering with one
mind in prayer, (Acts i. 14), and going constantly to the Temple to
praise and bless GOD. (St Luke xxiv. 53.) It was a Novena of prayer and
thanksgiving. It was Mary's first official act as Mother of the Church.
She kept the little flock together, kept them close to her Son by
obedience to His last command, by intercession for the great gift that
He had promised to send them, and by thanksgiving for all that He had
been to them and done for them. It was the first Retreat, and they made
it with Mary, the Mother of GOD.

What must Mary's prayers have been during those nine days! She was now
more united than ever to her Son; her eye of faith saw Him at the Right
Hand of GOD in Heaven; she saw eye to eye with Him; she knew all His
interests and intentions; she had still a Mother's right to command Him;
she knew that nothing in their relationship was changed, and that He
would not refuse her behests in Heaven any more than He had done on
earth. And so, as her eyes swept the wide horizon which was now hers,
the Mother of the Church made a Novena for Pentecost, praying with all
her knowledge and all her power, for the Holy Ghost to come down upon
her children--to come and fill that Church of which she was the Mother,
that Church which her Son had founded, for which He had given His life.

These first Retreatants had no books. They needed none--their lives were
so closely bound up with the life of JESUS; the Holy Spirit prayed
within them; and Mary was ever with them directing, and setting them an
example. In proportion as these things are true of us are we independent
of _exterior_ help in our prayers. And the more we are able to dispense
with exterior help, the more interior and real will be our prayers.

Then "when the days were accomplished"--when the Novena was over--the
Holy Ghost came down as JESUS had promised that He should--came down as
a tongue of fire upon each one: a proof that He had entered into each
one of those expectant, faithful souls, filling each according to his
capacity, and giving each the power needful to carry on the work that
was appointed for him to do.

What, then, must have been the measure with which Mary was "filled with
the Holy Ghost," for what was the Apostles' work compared with hers? She
had always been "full of grace"--she had long been the spouse of the
Holy Ghost, ever since He had overshadowed her at the Incarnation, and
He had always been filling her according to her ever-increasing
capacity. We have seen how, under her Son's training, her horizon was
ever enlarging--how much wider it became on Calvary, how pain and joy
had dilated her heart, how her intercourse with her Divine Son during
those forty days had still more widened her outlook; and now, with all
the fresh territory over which she was to reign, in her mind and in her
heart, she had been praying--the Holy Ghost had been praying within
her--for Him to come and overshadow her once again, and fill her with
grace that she might be able to meet all her new responsibilities as
Mother of the Church. Mary had more need of the Holy Ghost than any of
the hundred and twenty souls gathered in the Cenacle; her desire to
receive Him too was greater than theirs; and so we may well believe that
she received Him in a fuller measure. She had no need of the gifts of
tongues and miracles, which were a necessity to the Apostles, to help
them in the beginning of their difficult work. Her work during the
remaining years of her life was that of intercession, and it was to be
carried on in secret and obscurity. The gifts she needed from the Holy
Ghost were those of hiddenness, patience, humility, conformity to GOD'S
will. She needed Him in all His plenitude to pray within her with
"unutterable groanings" for all the needs of the Church throughout all
time. Her work was still, as it ever had been, to _ponder_ in her
heart--to meditate and hold colloquies with her Divine Son, through the
agency of the Holy Spirit, about all the interests which they had in

     _Colloquy._ "Our Lady of Light, Spouse of the Holy Ghost, I
     offer thee my whole heart, my soul and my body, to keep for
     JESUS, that I may be His for ever. Our Lady of Light, pray
     for me." (_Prayer of Blessed Grignon de Montfort._)

     _Resolution._ To think more of the Holy Spirit praying within

     _Spiritual Bouquet._ "Sacrarium Spiritus Sancti, ora pro
     nobis." (Sanctuary of the Holy Spirit, pray for us.)

Mary's Exile

     "_Woe is me that my sojourning is prolonged._" (Ps. cxix. 5.)

     _1st Prelude._ A statue or picture of Our Lady.

     _2nd Prelude._ Grace to learn how an exiled child of Eve
     should live.

_Point I._--MARY'S EXILE

Tradition tells us that St John took the Holy Mother to his house in
Jerusalem, and that it was there that she died, though she spent some of
the time of her exile at Ephesus. In solitude and silence she pondered
over all the wonderful mysteries of her life; she interceded for her
new-born child, the Church, which had already so many needs; and she
helped the Apostles by her prayers. They were soon scattered in
different directions, "making disciples of all nations," as their Master
had bidden them; and it would only be at rare intervals that they could
come and see their Mother, and talk over their difficulties, and get the
advice of her who saw eye to eye with her Son. But what a comfort and
strength it must have been to them to know that she was always there,
telling her Divine Son of their needs!

And during those long years--according to some opinions fifteen, to
others, twenty-three--what was Mary's strength? The same as it had ever
been--union with her Son. Every day, tradition tells us, she received
Him in the Blessed Sacrament at the hands of St John. What Communions
must those have been, when Mary said again: _Ecce ancilla Domini, fiat
mihi secundum verbum tuum_, and her GOD was again incarnate within her!
What made those Communions so intense? The fact that His love and desire
in coming were _reciprocated_. The love and desire are never wanting on
His side, but unfortunately there is so little of either on ours! It
takes more than one to make a good Communion. _A joining together_ of
two is the meaning of the word. If the union is to be strong, fervent,
real, lasting, each must do his part. Oh, teach me, dear Mother, how to
receive thy Son in Holy Communion. Thy whole life was centred in Him;
thy every thought was with Him; everything thou didst was done for Him;
every moment of thy exile gladly borne for Him; every sigh a spiritual
Communion; and when each day the glad moment of actual Communion came,
it was just His embrace--He pressed thee to His Heart for a few minutes,
telling thee it would not be long before thy exile would be over, and
thou wouldst see His Face again. Thy Communions were an ecstasy of
love--help me to put a little more love into mine; teach me to regard
them as the Bread from Heaven sent specially for the exile; teach me to
make them the centre of my life; teach me to live my whole life with
Him, so that my Communion may never be interrupted. This should be the
aim, surely, of every communicant; it is the ideal life; it is the life
that JESUS intended when He said: "He that eateth Me, he shall live by
Me." It is possible; but oh, how far I come short!


Why did her Son leave her behind to suffer so intensely, as He well knew
she would, from the separation? Would not the Beatific Vision in Heaven
have been better than her Communions on earth? Could not her
intercession for the Church have been even more effectual had she been
close to her Son's throne in Heaven? Could she not have been the Mother
of Good Counsel in Heaven for those who had to guide the Church in its
infancy, as she has been ever since?

We can think of many reasons why JESUS left her in exile for a time:--

1. She had to _nurse the new-born Church_ by strengthening and
encouraging the Apostles with her example, so like that of the Master
Himself, and by supplying the Evangelists with many details of His life,
which they could not have learnt from any lips but hers.

2. She had to _establish her position_ as Mother of the Church--the
tradition was to be handed down by the Apostles that it was _she_ who
guided, and tended, and cared for the Church during the early and tender
years of its existence; that it was to her they turned in times of
perplexity and doubt; that her constant intercession for them was their
strength. This could not have been so had she left the earth with her
Son. During those long years of exile the new child learnt to regard
Mary as its Mother, and when she was taken away into Heaven, it was
quite natural to it still thus to regard her, and to teach all who came
after to do the same.

3. Our Lord would give her still more time to _increase her merits_ by
suffering. He wanted her crown to be the most beautiful possible, and
even for the Mother of GOD there was only one way to make it so--the way
of suffering, which intensified her love and humility and submission to
GOD'S will.

4. May not another reason have been in order that she might be the
_better able to sympathise_ with the exiled children of Eve (_exules
filii Evæ_)? Had He taken her with Him, they would surely have felt that
their Mother could not quite understand their position. And what is such
an effectual barrier to sympathy as the feeling that we are not

So Mary was left in exile to gain much that she could not have gained

I am one of the exiled children of Eve. What have _I_ got to do as an

1. _I have to establish my position._ There is a certain place prepared
for me in Heaven, which _may_ be mine through all eternity. What is to
decide whether I get it or not? The way I "pass the time of my
sojourning" here. By the time my exile is over, I must so have lived
that there must be no doubt about it that I belong to the Heavenly land;
that I am a child of GOD and an heir to His Kingdom; that I seek not the
things of earth but those which are above; that Heaven is my Home. And
what will be my position there? Mary earned her position as Queen of
Angels, of Patriarchs, Prophets, Martyrs, Virgins, as Mother of the
Church. What position shall I earn? That depends, as Mary's did, on my
fidelity to grace. I shall have just that degree of glory and merit to
which I have attained when I am called hence to give an account of my
stewardship--no less and no more. The position I have to establish,
then, during my exile, is that of being known by all the inhabitants of
Heaven--all the Angels and Saints--as one who is sure to join them one
day. "Make your calling and election _sure_."

2. _I have to suffer._ One of the actual reasons for my being here on
earth is that I may _suffer_--not that suffering is in itself good, but
it gives me the means--perhaps the greatest means--of developing the
virtues which must be mine if I am to enter the Kingdom one day. Our
Lord chose for Himself and for His Mother a life of suffering, to make
us understand and to show us how suffering may aid us--yes, the very
same suffering which hardens the sinner. What is the secret, then, of
suffering? That by means of it, and because of it, we may make Acts of
Love and Contrition and Submission to GOD'S Will. Suffering is too
powerful an instrument to leave our human nature untouched by it; we
_must_ do something under it--either _curse_ GOD and die, as Job's wife
advised him to do, or _bless_ Him all the more fervently, as Job did.
Let me remember, then, that one of the things I have to do as an exile
is to see to it that GOD gets, out of each piece of suffering that He
sends me, the extra _love_ that He expected would result from it.

3. _To do the work GOD wants me to do_; to work in my little corner of
His vineyard; to co-operate with Him in His great work of the salvation
of souls; and to show sympathy and kindness to my fellow-exiles.

     _Colloquy._ _The Salve Regina_:--"Hail, holy Queen, Mother of
     Mercy; hail, our life, our sweetness, and our hope! To thee
     do we cry, poor banished children of Eve; to thee do we send
     up our sighs, mourning, and weeping in this vale of tears.
     Turn then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy
     towards us; and after this our exile, show unto us the
     blessed Fruit of thy womb, JESUS: O clement, O loving, O
     sweet Virgin Mary." (_Anthem from Trinity to Advent._)

     _Resolution._ To learn the exile's lessons.

     _Spiritual Bouquet._ "For we have not here a lasting city,
     but we seek one that is to come." (Heb. xiii. 14.)

Mary's Death

     "_They that work by me shall not sin._" (From the Epistle for
     the Vigil of the Assumption, Ecclus. xxiv. 30.)

     _1st Prelude._ A picture of Mary's death.

     _2nd Prelude._ To prepare for death by living "by Mary."

_Point I._--"THE STING OF DEATH IS SIN" (1 Cor. xv. 56)

Sin had never touched Mary; there was therefore for her no sting in
death. She had no penalty to pay, neither had she to die for others as
her Son died. Why, then, should Mary die?

1. Because she had a mortal nature. She belonged to the great human
race, and it was therefore appointed unto her to die. (Heb. ix. 27.)

2. Because she chose to die (the Fathers say her Son gave her the
choice) that she might be conformable in all things to her Son, and also
that she might be the better able to help, and pray for, and sympathise
with her children, who throughout all time would be constantly saying:
"Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death."

3. Because Our Lord wanted her to have a specially chosen death--one
that came neither from old age nor sickness, but simply from _love_. Her
love for Him was so great that her body could no longer hold her soul

4. Because GOD would not deprive her of the inestimable privilege of
making the sacrifice of her life to Him, and such a life! This practice
it is which makes the death of His Saints precious in the sight of the
Lord. (Ps. cxv. 15.)

Let us learn two lessons:--

1. To _choose_ to be in all things conformable to JESUS, even though
this choice means death to self.

2. How precious a thing in GOD'S sight is the sacrifice of their lives
to Him by His children! Let us resolve to make Him this sacrifice often
beforehand--at least every night before we take from His Hands the
precious gift of sleep which "He giveth His beloved."


We are told that some little while before her death an Angel (probably
Gabriel) was sent to tell her that her time was at hand. She answered:
_Ecce ancilla Domini_ ("Behold the handmaid of the Lord"), and made once
again the sacrifice of her life. She then told the news to John, who
made it known to the faithful. How great their sorrow must have been at
the prospect of losing such a Mother! St Denis tells us that Our Lord
brought all the Apostles and missionaries, who were scattered all over
the world, to witness her death. She blessed them, and encouraged them
to continue their work, saying that she would help them powerfully in
Heaven. Her joy was full because the time, which was to unite her to her
Son, had come at last; but Mary was not selfish in her joy any more than
she had been in her grief. She did not forget the sorrow of her
children; they were still to be exiles, but exiles with a Mother in the
Homeland--a Mother who would be there to befriend them and take an
interest in all they were doing.

Do I realise this--that while I am an exile here I have a Mother in
Heaven who is taking the keenest interest in all that concerns me, in
all that is preparing me for my Home; a Mother who is waiting there for
me, ready to welcome me?


There was no sickness, no wearing out nor decay of that beautiful body,
no effects in it of original sin. Of what, then, did Mary die? Of two
things--_love_ and _desire_; and these were so intense that even _her_
body, strong and perfect though it was, had not the power to detain the
soul captive any longer. Mary died of love, as her Son had died of
grief--a grief which was the outcome of an immense love. Did Mary
receive the Last Sacraments? The Sacrament of Penance was out of the
question for her sinless soul; we may doubt about Extreme Unction; but
with what intensity of love and desire must she have received her
Viaticum! And when JESUS came with all His court to fetch her immaculate
soul, we are told that she said: "Thy will be done; for a long time I
have sighed after Thee, my Son and my GOD; nothing can be more
delightful than to join Thee and be where Thou art for ever."

Then the Angels began to sing--all who were present heard them--and
while they sang, Mary said her _Fiat_ and died, and her most pure soul
began its eternal happiness in the sight of the Beatific Vision. The
Eternal Trinity gave it the glory which was its due--the reward of her
love so pure, so generous, so constant. She had a higher degree of glory
and a clearer vision of GOD than all the Saints, because glory depends
on grace, virtue, and merit, of which she had far more than any of them.

What does Mary's death say to me? "They that work by me shall not sin."
You cannot be sinless, as I was, you cannot die of love, as I did, (St
Theresa and St Philip of Neri did), but you can, by keeping close to me,
and doing all your work at my side, keep from all wilful sin, and you
can thus love JESUS so much that when He comes to fetch you, death will
have no terrors for you, and you, too, will be able to say: _Ecce
ancilla Domini_, Here I am, Thy servant, doing Thy work. "Blessed is
that servant whom the Lord when He cometh shall find watching"; and the
best way to watch is to work at Mary's side.

And let me never forget that my degree of glory in Heaven will be
according to the amount of grace and merit that I have at the moment of
my death. How thankful I should be that I still have power to increase
these! And how eager and zealous to use my time to the best advantage!
Death cometh when no man can work--when no more merit, no more
reparation will be possible. The point I have then reached will be mine
through all eternity. "As the tree falls, so will it lie." Holy Mary,
Mother of GOD, pray for me now and at the hour of my death.

     _Colloquy_ with Mary, my Mother in Heaven, who is pleading
     for me; who is letting me do all my work close to her side;
     and who will be there at the hour of my death, to put me back
     into the Hands of her Son, Who gave me to her when He was on
     the Cross, saying: "Take this child and nurse it for Me." And
     He will see to it that none shall pluck me out of His Hands,
     for it is impossible for a child of Mary to be lost.

     _Resolution._ To let love for her Son keep me close to Mary's
     side to-day, listening to all her directions about my work,
     so that I may do it to please Him.

     _Spiritual Bouquet._ "They that work by me shall not sin."

Mary's Tomb

     "_I gave a sweet smell like cinnamon and aromatical balm; I
     yielded a sweet odour like the best myrrh._" (Ecclus. xxiv.

     "_In the Holy City likewise I rested, and my_ abode _is in the
     full assembly of the Saints._" (verses 15, 16.)

     _1st Prelude._ The Apostles carrying the body of their Mother
     to the grave.

     _2nd Prelude._ The grace of faith and love to penetrate into
     these mysteries.

_Point I._--MARY'S BODY

The Angels still continued singing, while the Apostles and missionaries
and women wept around the body. But the heavenly music was catching,
and it was not long before the mourners dried their tears and joined in
the Angels' hymn of praise. We are told that the sick and the blind and
the lame were allowed to come and kiss the precious body, and that in so
doing they were instantly healed. Why was Mary's body so precious?
Because it had been the tabernacle of the Son of GOD. Why is mine so
precious? Because it, too, is so often the tabernacle of JESUS Christ.
Do I realise that this makes my body holy? And do I regard it as
something precious, consecrated and dedicated, GOD'S Temple, His own
dwelling-place? Often have Angels adored before it! How much respect,
then, ought I to show it! How careful I ought to be as to what I do with
it, and to what use I put it!

We are told that when the Apostles carried the bier to the grave, near
the Garden of Gethsemani, all the faithful accompanied them, and the
Angels never ceased their singing. The precious body exhaled a sweet
fragrance which perfumed every place the procession had to pass through,
and there were miracles and conversions all along the route. They laid
their precious burden in the grave, put a great stone over it, and then
dispersed. But they did not leave the grave alone. The Apostles watched
and prayed there in turn, listening to, and rejoicing in the Angels'


On the third day, St Thomas arrived from the Indies (the Apostles felt
sure that it was Our Lord's plan that he should be late), and naturally
wanted to look once again on his Mother's face. So they removed the
stone, but only to find an empty tomb. They found the linen and clothes
all in order, and they noted the delicious fragrance, but the body was
gone; the soul had come back for it and fetched it to share in its
glory. Then the Apostles remembered that during the morning the
celestial singing had suddenly stopped, and they knew that their
Mother, clothed in her glorified body, was even then sitting at the
Right Hand of her Son in Heaven. Why was it? Why was her body not left
in the tomb? Because it was impossible for that body, from which the
Word had taken Flesh, and which had never been touched by sin, to "see
corruption." Also, although Mary had to die, and to bear the separation
of soul and body, there was no necessity in her case for that penalty to
be prolonged. GOD would not keep her--a perfect human creature--in an
imperfect state, which the soul without the body must ever be. So,
though not yet a dogma, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary has
ever been a belief of the Church. If we need a _proof_, let us call to
mind the fact that no one has ever pretended to possess relics of Our
Lady's body. Our Lord would surely never have deprived the Church of
such treasures, had they existed.


Let me turn from the empty tomb, and try to realise the other side of
the picture--Mary in Heaven. This Fourth Glorious Mystery was foretold
more than once in Holy Scripture: "Arise, O Lord, into Thy
resting-place; Thou, and the Ark which Thou hast sanctified." (Ps.
cxxxi. 8.) What is this ark sanctified by GOD but Mary's body, of which
the Son of GOD took flesh?

"The Queen stood on Thy Right Hand in gilded clothing surrounded with
variety." Who is this but the Queen of Heaven clothed with her glorious
body of immortality?

"A Throne was set for the King's Mother, and she sat on His Right Hand,"
(3 Kings ii. 19), in all the dazzling beauty of her glorified body,
surrounded by adoring Saints and Angels. Her Son on His Throne is saying
to her: Ask, My Mother, for I will not say thee nay. The beauty of the
scene is so entrancing, the light is so dazzling, the music is so
enchanting, the mystery is so wonderful, that I feel almost bewildered
and want to shut my eyes and think what it all means. It means
this--that I have a Mother in Heaven, and that when her Son bends
towards her from His Throne, and when all the hosts of Heaven hold their
breath to catch what their Queen is saying, they hear her ask some
little favour for me, her child on earth. Why? Because I am saying:
"Holy Mary, Mother of GOD, pray for me now." Let me, with the eye of
faith and love, penetrate the thin veil, which hides these wondrous
mysteries from my sight. Let me try to see things as they really are,
and then my prayers will be less formal.

     _Colloquy_ with Mary on the Right Hand of JESUS in Heaven.

     _Resolution._ To think of her there when I say my Rosary

     _Spiritual Bouquet._ "Holy Mary, Mother of GOD, pray for us
     sinners now and at the hour of our death."

"Who is She?"

(The Fourth Glorious Mystery)

     "_Quæ est ista quæ progreditur quasi aurora consurgens,
     pulchra ut luna, electa ut sol, terribilis ut castrorum acies
     ordinata?_" "_Who is she that cometh forth as the morning
     rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an
     army set in array?_" (Cant. vi. 9.)

     _1st Prelude._ The Angels asking three times: "Who is she?"
     (Cant. iii. 6; vi. 9; viii. 5.)

     _2nd Prelude._ Grace to understand who she is.

_Point I._--"WHO IS SHE?"

"Who is she?" ask the Angels, as they see Mary coming into Heaven. Once
before had One clothed in the robe of His beautiful, glorified Body
passed through Heaven's portals; and the Angels had said: "Who is this
that cometh with dyed garments from Bosra, this beautiful One in His
robe?" (Isaias lxiii. 1), and they had opened wide Heaven's gate to let
in the Conqueror of sin and death, the King of glory, the Lord mighty in
battle. But who is _she_--a woman, who, though she is beautiful as the
morning rising, fair as the moon, and bright as the sun, is also
terrible as an army set in array? She also has come from the
battlefield; she also is a conqueror, for she has crushed the serpent's
head; she has undone Eve's terrible work, and, as far as a creature can,
has made reparation for it. She it is who has stood like a rock amidst
the most crushing sorrows. Her strength is terrible to the devil, but
the Angels rejoice in it, and her children flee to her as the _Refugium
peccatorum_, saying: _Da mihi virtutem contra hostes tuos_. (Give me,
too, strength against thy enemies.) And so the Angels open wide Heaven's
gates again, to let in the Mother of the King--the Queen of
Heaven--_their_ Queen--who has earned her right to her throne; not by
being the Mother of GOD, but by nobly fighting the battle against sin,
the world, the flesh, and the devil.

    "Maria Mater gratiæ,
    Dulcis Parens clementiæ,
    Tu nos ab hoste protege,
    Et mortis hora suscipe."

(O Mary, Mother of grace, sweet fount of gentleness, do thou protect us
from the enemy, and receive us in the hour of our death.)

And she _will_; she is there for her children. "Who is she?" She is our
Mother; she will never forget it, though she is the Queen of Heaven, of
Angels, and of Saints; and she will ever be terrible to all who dare to
attack her children.

_Point II._--"WHO IS SHE?"

"Who is she that goeth up by the desert as a pillar of smoke, of
aromatical spices, of myrrh and frankincense, and of all the powders of
the perfumer?" (Cant. iii. 6.) That is: Who is she who is adorned with
all possible graces and virtues? "Who is she?" She is the "fairest among
women" (chap. i. 7) because of her _humility_, answers the Angel who
heard her say: _Ecce ancilla Domini_, at the most exalted moment of her
life. "Who is she?" She is the "fairest among women" because of her
conformity to GOD'S will, say those who have heard over and over again
her _Fiat_ when the sword was piercing her soul. "Who is she?" We, too,
can answer the question, for we know her. We have watched her, and
meditated upon her life, from the moment of her Immaculate Conception
till her holy death of love and desire; and we have seen that she has
always been growing in grace and in conformity to her Divine Son. Yes,
she is the "fairest among women," and she is my Mother and my model. How
is it with me? Am I known to my friends, to those who live with me, to
my Guardian Angel, yea, to the Blessed Trinity, as one, who is growing
in virtue and grace; as one, whose conformity to JESUS and His will, is
apparent from the use I make of the _Ecce ancilla_ and the _Fiat_? There
must be some resemblance between the child and the Mother.

_Point III._--"WHO IS SHE?"

For the third time the Angels ask the question: "Who is she that cometh
up from the desert flowing with delights, leaning upon her Beloved?"
(chap. viii. 5.) There is no doubt about it now--she is His Mother, and
her Beloved is JESUS, the Son of GOD and of Mary. What unspeakable joy
is hers to find herself once more in the arms of her Beloved! "His left
hand is under my head, and His right hand shall embrace me," (chap. ii.
6), and she leans upon Him. She had never left Him really; she had been
leaning on Him all the time of her exile: by her memory, by her love, by
her Communions, by her constant doing of His will. This is why I can so
safely lean on Mary, the Mother of Good Counsel, because to lean on her
is to lean on JESUS, on Whom she leans. She nurses her children _for

"Who is she that cometh up from the desert?" In spirit Mary had ever
been coming up. Always had she sought "the things that are above, where
Christ sitteth at the right hand of GOD." Her treasure was in Heaven,
and nothing on earth had power to attract or attach her.

How far do I copy my Mother in this? Are my affections set on things
above, where JESUS and Mary are? Have things of earth no attraction for
me in comparison with heavenly things? Am I ready to give them up to Him
to Whom they belong when He asks for them? Is my whole heart in Heaven
because my treasure is there? This is what is meant by going up from the
desert. It means striving always after what is more perfect. It means
that each day finds me _more_ charitable, _more_ faithful, _more_
careful about occasions of sin, _more_ like my Mother. And it means also
_Sursum corda_ (Lift up your hearts) whenever the difficulties and
sorrows of the desert seem too much.

     _Colloquy_ with Mary.

     _Resolution._ To ask myself the question often to-day: "Who
     is she?"

     _Spiritual Bouquet._ "Pulchra es et decora filia Jerusalem,
     terribilis ut castrorum acies ordinata." (Thou art fair and
     comely, O Daughter of Jerusalem, terrible as an army set in

Mary's Coronation

(The Fifth Glorious Mystery)

     "_Thou wast made exceeding beautiful and wast advanced to be
     a Queen._" (Ezech. xvi. 13.)

     _1st Prelude._ The great sign which appeared in Heaven: "A
     woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and
     on her head a crown of twelve stars." (Apoc. xii. 1.)

     _2nd Prelude._ The grace so to live and die, that I may one
     day be crowned.


_Specie tua et pulchritudine tua, intende, prospere procede, et regna._
(In thy comeliness and thy beauty go forth, proceed prosperously, and
reign.) The culminating point is reached, and Mary is led in triumph to
receive her crown from the Blessed Trinity. GOD the Father crowns her as
a _Victor_; GOD the Son as a _Queen_; and GOD the Holy Ghost as a
_Bride_. We give our crowns on earth to victors, to queens and to
brides. Mary was all of these for she had conquered the devil; she was
the King's Mother, and she was the spouse of the Holy Ghost.

1. She was crowned as a _Victor_, as a sign of her courage and bravery.
GOD the Father had seen the world, which He had created and had
pronounced to be "very good," spoiled by sin. The Arch-fiend had entered
Paradise, and had stolen away the hearts of His children, robbing them
of His grace, and leaving them and all their descendants stained by sin.
To Satan GOD had spoken of a woman whose Child would be his enemy; and
of her He said: "She shall bruise thy head." Now the old prophecy has
been fulfilled, and Mary stands before Him waiting for her crown. She
has crushed the serpent; she has been terrible to all GOD'S enemies; and
the crown that the Eternal Father places on the head of His daughter is
a token that she is indeed a Victor.

How did Mary win the Victor's crown? By her fidelity to grace. No one
ever had so many occasions of grace, and she did not miss one of them.

"There _is_," somewhere in the heavenly courts, "a crown laid up for
_me_." (2 Tim. iv. 8.) But "the Lord, the just Judge" will only give it
me if "I have fought a good fight." (verse 7.) "To him that shall
_overcome_ will I give to sit with Me in My Throne." (Apoc. iii. 21).
"Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life."
(chap. ii. 10.) "Hold fast that which thou hast, that no man take thy
crown" (chap. iii. 11). All, then, depends on my efforts. I have got to
be _faithful_, to _fight_, to _overcome_, and to _hold fast_. My
consolation is that my Mother is interceding for me; my enemies are the
same as hers, and she has overcome them. _Da mihi virtutem contra hostes

2. She is crowned as a _Queen_. Her Son is the King of Heaven, and He
crowns her as the Queen-Mother. "A throne was set for the King's Mother,
and she sat on His Right Hand." (3 Kings ii. 19.) "The Queen stood at
Thy Right Hand in gilded clothing, clothed round about with varieties."
(Ps. xliv. 14.)

Kings and Queens wear their crowns in token of their power and
authority. JESUS crowned His Mother in token of _her_ power and
authority. He made her Queen of Angels, of Patriarchs, Prophets,
Apostles, Martyrs, Confessors, Virgins, and gave her not only authority
over all these, but also, in a certain sense, if we may say so
reverently, over Himself. He allowed her still to keep the sweet
authority which she had exercised over Him at Nazareth, when He was
"subject" to her; for He says to her: "My Mother, ask, for I _must_ not
turn away thy face." (3 Kings ii. 20.) How He loves us--even to the
extent of pledging Himself to answer the intercessory prayer of one who
He knows will make full use of her privilege--one who is even now
turning to me, her child, and saying: "I will speak for thee to the
King." (verse 18). Let me determine to have my share in this blessed
compact between the Son and the Mother, by continually asking my
Queen-Mother for her intercession. _Sancta Dei Genitrix, ora pro nobis._

3. The Holy Ghost crowns her as His _Spouse_. "Come from Libanus, my
spouse; come and thou shalt be crowned." (Cant. iv. 8.) "Faithful unto
death" she had been; ever since her Immaculate Conception she had always
listened to the least inspiration of grace which her Divine Spouse had
suggested, and now she receives her reward, the "crown of life." The end
is attained, and there is joy in the presence of the Angels of GOD.


_De cujus Assumptione gaudent Angeli et collaudant Filium Dei._ At whose
Assumption the Angels rejoice and praise together the Son of GOD.
(_Introit for the Feast of the Assumption._)

What were the causes of their joy?

1. Mary's joy at her re-union with her Son.

2. Her reception and coronation as their Queen.

3. Her being placed on the throne at her Son's Right Hand.

4. The sight of her beautiful glorified body--the means of the
Incarnation--before which, as before the Tabernacle, they had so often
worshipped their hidden GOD.

5. The likeness between the Mother and the Son--a likeness which had
been increasing during her years of exile, by means of the Blessed

6. Hearing JESUS call her _Mother_. "My Mother, ask."

7. Seeing the great Intercessor at her work praying for sinners, in whom
they take such an interest.

And the result of their joy is that "they praise together the Son of
GOD"--that is, they perfectly fulfil the end for which they were
created, teaching us the great lesson that the more we know Mary and
rejoice in her joy, her position and her work, the more we shall know
and praise her Divine Son, and so fulfil the end for which we were

But it is not only the Angels who are rejoicing. She is "_Queen of all
Saints_" as well as "_Queen of Angels_," and the Church Triumphant is
swelling the chorus of joy. Each member of that spotless multitude has
already been a cause of joy in Heaven, for there is joy in the presence
of the Angels of GOD over every sinner that doeth penance. (St Luke xv.
7.) "Joy cometh in the morning" after the night of doing penance. "No
cross, no crown." It is because Mary is the "_Mother of Sorrows_" that
she is able to be the "_Cause of our joy_," and we must all pass by the
same route.

Help me, my Mother, to share the joy of the Angels and Saints even in
the "valley of tears." It is possible, but it can only be done by a
faith strong enough to see things as they really are.

And what about Mary's joy? As she stands in the midst of that great
multitude of Angels and Saints, who are vying with each other to do her
honour, her heart too is overflowing with joy, but it is all for her
Son. The honour and worship that are being paid to her are _His_; they
are because of "the great things _He_ has done" for her. She is only His
handmaid, and she is always singing her _Magnificat_: "My soul doth
magnify the Lord, my spirit doth _rejoice_ in GOD my Saviour."
_Humility_ is ever her greatest virtue, and she shows it on her
Coronation Day by casting her crown at the Feet of Him Who redeemed her
with His Blood--her Son, her Saviour, and her GOD.

     _Colloquy._ The _Ave Regina Cælorum_:--"Hail, Queen of
     Heaven! Hail, Lady of the Angels! Hail, blessed root and
     gate, from which came light upon the world! Rejoice, O
     glorious Virgin, that surpassest all in beauty! Hail, most
     lovely Queen! and pray to Christ for us." (_Anthem from
     Purification to Easter._)

     _Resolution._ To work for my crown to-day.

     _Spiritual Bouquet._ "Ora pro nobis, Sancta Dei Genitrix, ut
     digni efficiamur promissionibus Christi."

Salve Regina

(According to the Second Method of Prayer[1])

SALVE. This anthem of the Blessed Virgin, which the Church bids her
children use from Trinity to Advent, begins with a _salutation_. In
addressing our Mother, we are to copy the Archangel who, when he came
with a message to the lowly child at Nazareth, begins by _saluting_ her.
Hail! full of grace. But though the word, which is here put into the
lips of us sinners, means, "Be thou safe and well," it is not a wholly
disinterested salutation; there is an idea of wanting a favour implied
in it, though we do not actually ask for it. It is like the cheerful
"Good-morning, sir!" of the beggar. Our _Hail_ here has not so much the
majesty of the salutation of an Archangel as the cry of distress of a
banished child.

REGINA. She is appealed to as a Queen; she asks as a Queen; she is
answered as a Queen; she gives as a Queen. "I pray thee speak to the
King, for he cannot deny thee anything.... I will speak for thee to the
King.... And the King arose to meet her, and bowed to her, and sat down
upon his throne. And a throne was set for the King's Mother, and she sat
on his right hand. And she said to him: I desire one small petition of
thee; do not put me to confusion. And the King said to her: My Mother,
ask, for I must not turn away thy face." (3 Kings ii. 17-20.) Such is
the beautiful picture Holy Scripture portrays for us of King Solomon and
his mother Bethsabee. "But a greater than Solomon is here"; and we are
addressing His Mother. With what confidence then may we say our _Salve
Regina_! She has pledged herself to speak to the King for us, and her
Royal Son will give her all that she asks. She is the Queen of
Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Martyrs, Confessors, Virgins--yes, Queen
of _all_ Saints. Why? Because when they were "poor banished children" on
earth they recognised her as their Queen, and did not address their
_Salve_ to her in vain.

MATER. Not only is she Queen of Heaven and my Queen, but also she is the
Mother of each one of the banished children. "I will not leave you
orphans," JESUS said when He was leaving the sorrowing disciples; and a
little later, when His last moment drew near, He showed them their
Mother, saying to St John, who represented the whole human race: "Behold
thy Mother!" and to her: "Behold thy son," and in him all thy banished

What a consolation it would be to me if I realised more that I have a
Mother in Heaven! My first thought in any trouble, difficulty, or
perplexity would be: "Salve sancta Parens!"

MISERICORDIÆ. She is the Mother of so many virtues--of fair love, of
knowledge, of good counsel, of holy hope, of divine grace--yes, and the
Mother of Sorrows too; but here her children love to call her "Mother of
_mercy_," of _pity_, for they are exiles, and it is she who can effect
their ransom. _Mercy_--this is what they who say the _Salve Regina_
need. They are poor, banished, weeping children, and they need the pity,
the mercy, the sympathy of their Mother. How comes it that there is no
sorrow with which the Heart of Mary cannot sympathise? How is it that
"never is it heard of that her children turn to her in vain"? Because
the "sword pierced her own heart also." No heart except that of her
Divine Son can sympathise like the seven-times pierced heart of Mary. It
is because she understands so well the sorrows of a bleeding heart, that
not the smallest need of any one of her smallest children, who appeals
to her, is overlooked. How merciful should they be who have such a
merciful Mother! "Go thou and do in like manner," was our Blessed Lord's
injunction when He had been telling of the mercy of the Good Samaritan.
(St Luke x. 37.) Am I merciful in my judgments of others; merciful when
I am talking of them; merciful to those who have wronged me; merciful to
those who come to me for pardon; merciful in my thoughts? O Virgin most
merciful, pray for me!

VITA. She is our _life_, for it was she who gave life to our Redeemer.
It was from Mary's veins that He took the Blood which He shed for our
salvation. She did not spare her Son, her only Son, (Gen. xxii. 16), but
offered Him up for a sacrifice for us. In every truth she can say: "In
me is all hope of life." (Ecclus. xxiv. 25.)

DULCEDO. Our sweetness. Think of her sweetness all through her
life--when the Angel came to her; during the three months that she
helped Elizabeth; when there was no room for her in the inn at
Bethlehem; when her Son seemed to take no notice of her during His
ministerial work; when she met Him on the Way of Sorrows; when she stood
by the Cross; when she gently bathed His wounds and prepared His Body
for the grave; when she consoled the mourning disciples; when He
appeared to her on Easter Day; when she kissed His footprints as He
ascended to Heaven; when the Holy Ghost came down upon her. Even from
her body after the soul had left it, and even from her grave after the
body had left it, there came a delicious odour, reminding all who
enjoyed it of the _sweetness_ of the Mother who had left them. And this
sweetness her children must try to copy. Is my sweetness for ever
proclaiming itself to all with whom I come in contact--by my patience
under the little trials of everyday life, by the kind word with which I
meet the sharp, sarcastic one, by my extreme care of the feelings of
others, by my universal kindness, by the humility with which I bear
humiliations, by the ready way in which I prefer everybody else to
myself? O my Mother, pray for thy child, and teach me how to copy thee!

ET SPES NOSTRA. How necessary is _hope_ to the poor banished children!
Without it they would indeed be in a desperate condition; but Mary is
ever inspiring them with hope. _Ego Mater sanctæ spei._ (I am the Mother
of holy hope.) And her hope is all for her children: she has no need of
it for herself. She is a true Mother--always hopeful of her children,
never giving them up.

It is impossible for a child of Mary not to share her Mother's holy
hope. A child of Mary _cannot_ despair! When we think about death and
final perseverance, what holy hope at once fills our hearts as we
remember that we have put that terrible moment into the hands of our
Mother! _Ora pro nobis, nunc et in hora mortis nostræ._ (Pray for us now
and at the hour of our death.) "Hail, our hope!" Before these words all
fears disappear. For never has it been known that those who appeal to
the Mother of holy hope appeal in vain.

SALVE. We repeat our salutation. We do not want her to forget us.

The importunate are ever dear to the heart of Mary as they are to the
Heart of her Divine Son. Let us constantly greet her with our
_Salve_--it will be enough to appeal to her Mother-heart, and she will
give us whatever we are needing.

AD TE. To _thee_. To whom should we go if not to the Mother whom JESUS
has given us. "Behold thy Mother!" It is only natural that we should
turn to thee. _Monstra te esse matrem._ Show thyself to be a mother by
hearkening to our cry.

CLAMAMUS--_do we cry_. It is a direct cry for help now--we make no
secret of it--the children are calling aloud for their Mother--their
need is so great that they care not who hears them.

EXULES. At last we describe ourselves; one word is sufficient--_exules_.
We are _exiles_; we are not at home; we are banished from our country.
There is something so pathetic about an exile. How he cherishes any news
of his dear country! How he writes every little detail of his life and
of the strange land to his mother at home! How he longs for her letters!

Mary is my Mother, and I am an exile. Do I love to hear about my own
country? Do I tell my Mother of all the difficulties of the way and
allow her to console me with stories of the Homeland? "How shall we sing
in a strange land?" It _is_ possible, by keeping in touch with Mary. She
will so inspire us with hope and with love for our heavenly country that
we shall often find our hearts light enough to soar beyond this land of
exile, and to join in the ceaseless praises of those who have reached

Queen of Heaven, give me a _real_ desire for Heaven.

FILII EVÆ. We account for our exile by explaining that we are children
of _Eve_. We had another mother once, and she brought misery on all her
children, and they were all with her "driven out from Paradise," and an
angel with a flaming sword was put at the entrance to prevent their
getting back. Poor children! Is there any use in crying for
re-admittance? Yes, for before the justice of GOD drove out Eve and her
children, He spoke of another Mother, who was, through her Divine Son,
to undo all the harm that Eve had done, and to "open the Kingdom of
Heaven to all believers." To whom, then, is it more natural for the poor
banished children of Eve to turn than to the Mother whose one idea is to
get them back?

And with our cries are joined those of other banished children whose
cry: "How long!" is ever ascending to Heaven. It is their Mother Mary
whom they long to see; for as the turn of each one's banishment expires,
she it is who comes to open the gate and bring them to the "better
country" which they have so long desired.

When we say our _Salve_, let us remember those souls who, though they
are holy, are still banished children, and let us intercede with their
Mother for them.

AD TE SUSPIRAMUS. To thee do we send up our sighs. The idea is that each
breath is a sigh, and a sigh meant for our Mother to hear. Well would it
be for us if this were true! It would change the character of our exile.
A sigh meant for Our Blessed Lady could not be one of discontent and
murmuring and rebellion against our lot. The very fact that it is
intended for her would make it full of love and hope and submission to
GOD'S will. It would be like the sigh of a child whose mother has
promised it some little pleasure. The time seems very long to the little
one, and as she sits patiently by her mother's side, a sigh escapes her
now and then--a very marked and intentional sigh! What does it mean? It
means that though she will not speak or do anything that her mother
might not like, yet she would remind her mother of her presence and let
her know that she is feeling the time very long. Does the mother mind
the sighs? Oh no, for each one tells her of the love of her child, and
makes her anxious to shorten the time of waiting if she can.

GEMENTES ET FLENTES. The sighs become more audible--_groaning_ and
_weeping_--the exiles are _mourning_ the loss of things they can never
have again till they get home. It is one of the times when they feel
that the harps must be hung up, (Ps. cxxxvi.), when mirth and joy are
altogether out of place. Such times will come in our land of exile; and
these are the times when we shall do well to cry out to our Mother.

O Mary, look upon thy weeping children, and as the great wail of
suffering humanity rises up to thee, "show thyself a Mother," the Mother
of Consolation. Come to the suffering hearts that cry for thee, and make
them understand that joy and gladness is for them, even in the land of
their exile ever since the Sun of justice has risen over it "with
healing in His wings." Whisper to each heartbroken one, words of hope
and consolation; tell of reparation, of mortification, of detachment, of
the immense value of suffering, till the sorrowing heart is willing, yea
_glad_, to suffer.

IN HOC LACRYMARUM VALLE. In this _vale_. Our land of exile is a Valley
of Humiliation. It was here that JESUS came to stay, when He _humbled_
Himself even to the death of the Cross; and here it is that He would
have each one of His children wait till the humiliations of the valley
have taught them to conquer self-love. "Be you humbled, therefore, under
the mighty hand of GOD, that He may exalt you in the time of
visitation." (1 Pet. v. 6.)

It is a vale of _tears_--a vale where JESUS wept; a vale which has been
sanctified by the tears of a Magdalen, and a Peter, and of multitudes of
others who have learnt here to be saints; a vale where every tear shed
by His children is treasured by GOD. "Thou hast set my tears in Thy
sight." (Ps. lv. 9.)

We read of two occasions on which JESUS wept--once for the sorrows of
His friends (St John xi. 35), and once for the sins of His enemies. (St
Luke xix. 41.) I need not then be ashamed of tears--not even if I have
to say with the Psalmist: "My tears have been my bread day and night."
(Ps. xli. 4.) But I must be careful that they resemble those of JESUS,
that the cause of them is never self-love or self-pity, but sorrow for
my own sins and those of others, and for anything which grieves the
Heart of JESUS. "They that sow in tears shall reap in joy," for He
Himself "will wipe away all tears from their eyes." (Ps. cxxv. 5, and
Apoc. vii. 17.)

EIA ERGO ADVOCATA NOSTRA. _Therefore_, just because of our misery and
need--it is our only plea, and one which appeals more than any other to
a Mother's heart--we appeal to her as _our Advocate_: one who will plead
our cause, who will speak to the King for us and tell Him of our needs,
as she did long ago at Cana of Galilee. Had ever banished children such
an advocate--one to whom the Judge has pledged Himself: "I must not turn
away thy face!"

O _Advocata nostra_, plead for me with thy Son when I stand before Him
to be judged! In that terrible moment remember my _Salve_, for I shall
be unable to say it then.

MISERICORDES OCULOS AD NOS CONVERTE. _Turn thy merciful eyes upon us._
We only ask her to _look_. It is quite enough for a mother to see her
child in trouble. She does not need to be told what to do.

Here we get to the point of the prayer--the sighs, and groans, and
cries, and tears of the banished children are all because they want to
see JESUS. _And after this our exile show unto us the Blessed Fruit of
thy womb, JESUS._ "We would see JESUS" (St John xii. 21), and we come to
ask His Mother to show Him to us. This is her great work; and she turns
to the children and says: "Whatsoever He shall say to you, do ye," and
you shall see His Face one day.

_After this our exile._

    "When the voyage is o'er, O stand on the shore
      And show Him at last to me."

It is because I cannot see JESUS that I am so often in trouble in the
land of exile. If my faith were strong enough I should see Him
continually, and sorrow would flee away. We have not got to wait till
the voyage is o'er before seeing Him. Many and many a glimpse of the
Blessed Fruit of her womb does our Mother give us. To be near her means
that we are near Him too. Each Communion, each absolution--yea, each
humiliation and sorrow is our Mother letting us see JESUS if we will
only look; and when she stands on the shore to show Him _at last_, we
shall see that it is the "same JESUS" Who so often walked with us in the
land of our exile, though our eyes were for the most part holden by our
want of faith, and we did not recognise Him.

O CLEMENS, O PIA, O DULCIS VIRGO MARIA. _O clement, O loving, O sweet
Virgin Mary._ We multiply our words in trying to express to our Mother
something of what we feel towards her, but they all mean the same
thing--that she is a _Mother_. Her sweetness is as ointment poured
forth, and attracts all to it. Her kindness and love, too, have been
known to all since she stood at the Foot of the Cross, and received all
her banished children into her stricken heart. Never in vain can we
appeal to our sweet Mother. And so with renewed confidence we will say
our _Salve_, rejoicing even in this vale of tears because we have a
Mother who knows all about us, and who will never forget us; whose one
desire is to show us the Blessed Fruit of her womb, JESUS; who will
teach us to sing the Lord's song in a strange land, even as she sang her
_Magnificat_; and who will one day, when the days of our exile are over,
sing with us the ever "new song" of Redemption to "Him Who loved us and
washed us in His Blood."

Till then, dear Mother, help us to be patient, and help us to learn the
lessons of the valley, remembering that they will never be learned at
all if they are not learned here.

     _Colloquy._ The _Salve Regina_.


[Footnote 1: _Note._--There are times when we get a little tired of
Preludes and Points, and feel that a change of method would be a help to
our Meditation. St Ignatius knew this, and knew also that to some minds
Preludes and Points would be a positive hindrance; and so he has given
us, in his book of the _Spiritual Exercises_, "Three (other) methods of
prayer." Our Meditation to-day is according to the _Second Method_,
which "consists in considering the signification of each word of a
prayer." (Text of the _Exercises_.) St Ignatius says that if one or two
words give us sufficient matter for thought and spiritual relish and
consolation, we are not to be anxious to pass on, even though the whole
time of the Meditation be spent on _one_ word, but leave the rest till
the next day. So we may take to-day as many words of the _Salve Regina_
as we find spiritual relish for. This method, St Ignatius tells us, may
be applied to "_any other prayer whatsoever_."]

_Dei Genitrix, intercede pro nobis._


       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes:

Obvious spelling and punctuation errors were repaired, but unusual
period spellings and grammar uses were retained. Original placed
punctuation such as semi-colons outside closing quotation marks; this
was retained.

Table of Contents entries do not always agree with chapter headings in
the original; these differences were retained.

Gospel references throughout the main text begin with "St" as in "St
Luke." In two exceptions--P. 23 and 97--the "St" was missing and has
been added by the transcriber for consistency. The preface, by a
different author, does not use "St" before gospel references.

A few uses of "God" were left out of small-caps in the original. These
were placed in small-caps to agree with majority use.

Three uses of "ch." were changed to match three uses of "chap." for

P. 53: Transcriber added a paragraph break between "sacrifices." and (1)
for consistent treatment of numbered paragraphs.

Blocking of numbered paragraphs on P. 70-71 and 73 is faithful to the

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Mater Christi - Meditations on Our Lady" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.