Blessed Virgin Mary: April 2010 Archives

Give it all to Mary

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Friends, readers of Vultus Christi, and others often write me asking for intercessory prayer for a particular intention, for the resolution of a crisis, or for the healing of an affliction of soul or body. I take these requests seriously. They can, however, become overwhelming at times. I have, however, found a solution. I entrust them all to Our Blessed Lady. She is our Mother of Good Counsel, ever ready to guide us into the best way of interceding, the wisest way of intervening, the purest way of loving. She is also our Mother of Perpetual Help; that means that she is available everywhere and all the time. She is never far from us, never otherwise occupied. The other evening as I was praying for the many intentions recommended to me, this prayer rose in my heart. I' happy to share it with my readers.

O Mother of Good Counsel,
Mother of Perpetual Help,
I turn with confidence to thy maternal Heart,
and I renew my total and irrevocable consecration to thee.

I am all thine, Most Holy Mary,
and all that I have is thine.
I give thee my past with its burdens.
I give thee this present moment with its anxieties and fears.
I give thee my future and all that it holds.

There is no part of my life that is not open to thee,
no place so secret, or so darkened by sin
that thy presence and thy influence
are not wholly and ardently desired there.

I want to be completely transparent with thee,
utterly simple, guileless, and childlike.
Thou knowest, O Mother,
all my preoccupations,
all my intentions,
and all those recommended to my prayer.
Take them, I beseech thee, to thy Immaculate Heart
and, as my Advocate, my all-powerful intercessor, and my Mediatrix,
present them to thy Son.
Seeing them presented by thee
and held in thy maternal Heart,
there is nothing that He will not do
to give to each intention the one response
worthy of the infinite mercy and love of His Sacred Heart.

Praying in this way, I can be at rest,
for thou art my Mother,
and all that I entrust to thee will be,
I am sure,
received, and considered, and cared for
with a Mother's love.
Amen.

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Why do I prefer Father Faber's translation of Saint Louis Grignion de Montfort's Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary?

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A long time ago when I first read Father Faber's introduction to the book, I was smitten by it. After that, no other translation of True Devotion touched me in quite the same way. Read this excerpt from Faber's introduction and you will understand why.

The Remedy
One man has been striving for years to overcome a particular fault, and has not succeeded. Another mourns, and almost wonders while he mourns, that so few of his relations and friends have been converted to the Faith. One grieves that he has not devotion enough; another that he has a cross to carry which is a peculiarly impossible cross to him; while a third has domestic troubles and family unhappiness which feel almost incompatible with his salvation; and for all these things prayer appears to bring so little remedy.
Mary Is Not Half Enough Preached
But what is the remedy that is wanted? What is the remedy indicated by God Himself? If we may rely on the disclosure of the saints, it is an immense increase of devotion to the Blessed Lady; but, remember, nothing short of an immense one. Here in England, Mary is not half enough preached. Devotion to her is low and thin and poor. It is frightened out of its wits by the sneers of heresy. It is always invoking human respect and carnal prudence, wishing to make Mary so little of a Mary that Protestants may feel at ease about her.

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The Withering and Dwindling of Saints
Its ignorance of theology makes it unsubstantial and unworthy. It is not the prominent characteristic of our religion which it ought to be. It has no faith in itself. Hence it is that Jesus is not loved, that heretics are not converted, that the Church is not exalted; that souls which might be saints wither and dwindle; that the Sacraments are not rightly frequented, or souls enthusiastically evangelized.
Greater, Wider, Strong Devotion to Mary
Jesus is obscured because Mary is kept in the background. Thousands of souls perish because Mary is withheld from them. It is the miserable, unworthy shadow which we call our devotion to the Blessed Virgin that is the cause of all these wants and blights, these evils and omissions and declines. Yet, if we are to believe the revelations of the saints, God is pressing for a greater, a wider, a stronger, quite another devotion to His Blessed Mother. I cannot think of a higher work or a broader vocation for anyone than the simple spreading of this peculiar devotion of the Venerable Grignion De Montfort.
Incredible Efficacy
Let a man but try it for himself, and his surprise at the graces it brings with it, and the transformations it causes in his soul, will soon convince him of its otherwise almost incredible efficacy as a means for the salvation of men, and for the coming of the Kingdom of Christ. Oh, if Mary were but known, there would be no coldness to Jesus then! Oh, if Mary were but known, how much more wonderful would our faith, and how different would our Communions be! Oh, if Mary were but known, how much happier, how much holier, how much less worldly should we be, and how much more should we be living images of our sole Lord and Saviour, her dearest and most blessed Son!

Impossible Things

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Benedictine Wisdom

I have been studying the Rule of Saint Benedict and trying to live it (however badly) for nearly forty years. This, however, is one instance where familiarity has not bred contempt. On the contrary, as I grow in age, so too does my admiration for the Holy Rule grow apace. Saint Benedict, in addition to being an astute observer of human nature and of social relationships, was steeped in that wisdom that the world does not understand: the wisdom of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. "Now, we have received not the spirit of this world, but the Spirit that is of God, that we may know the things that are given us from God" (1 Cor 2:12).

Daily Chapter

This morning, as we do every morning after Lauds, we read the appointed chapter of the Holy Rule. Today it was Chapter 68: "If A Brother Be Commanded to Do Impossible Things." I offered a little commentary on it. Here is something of what I said.

Something Hard or Impossible

If it happen that something hard or impossible be laid upon any brother, let him receive the command of his superior with all docility and obedience.

First off, implicit in this verse, and illuminating it from within, are the words of the Lord Jesus: "Come to me, all you that labour, and are burdened, and I will refresh you. Take up my yoke upon you, and learn of me, because I am meek, and humble of heart: and you shall find rest to your souls. For my yoke is sweet and my burden light" (Mt 11:28-30). The father of the monastery (abbot or prior) is bound to imitate the meekness of Jesus in all things. He needs to knows his sons, their strengths, their weaknesses, and their need to be stretched in some areas without, of course, risking that they should snap under the strain of stretching.

When the father of the monastery gives a brother a particular obedience (monastic word for area of responsibility, a project, or a job) he does so meekly and humbly, taking care to adapt the obedience to the brother to whom it is given, and so adjusting the yoke to him, that it is sweet rather than oppressive, and light rather than burdensome. The father of the monastery must be prudent lest he break the bruised reed, extinguish the smouldering wick, or ruin the vessel while trying to remove the rust.

The brother, for his part, must ask himself, "What can I learn from this obedience? In what way will it stretch my possibilities and allow me to grow beyond my self-imposed limitations?" His initial response is always positive. Only if, after trying to carry out the obedience, he finds it more than he can manage, does he approach the father of the monastery and ask to be relieved of it.

Calmly and in Due Season

But if he see that the weight of the burden altogether exceeds the measure of his strength, let him explain the reasons of his incapacity to his superior calmly and in due season, without pride, obstinacy, or contentiousness.

If the weight of the burden altogether exceeds the measure of his strength, the brother is right to express his difficulties to the father of the monastery. He does this in due season, that is to say, at the appropriate moment. Not everything can be said at all hours. The brother is to make his representations calmly, says Saint Benedict. No histrionics. No carrying on. No grand scenes inflating one's difficulty into a major vocational crisis.

Saint Benedict mentions three attitudes that are incompatible with the monastic way of making even legitimate representations. These are pride ( I knew all along!); obstinacy (I will never give in on this!); and contentiousness ( Good! At last I have a reason to pick a fight with him!) Even with my own mercurial temperament, I have learned the diplomatic value of reasonable understatement. A monk speaks gently, calmly, humbly, and peacefully. If he is incapable of doing this, he needs to replenish his interior resources in prayer, asking Our Lord to replace harshness with meekness, violence with calm, pride with humility, and agressivity with peace.

Obedience, Love and Trust

If after his representations the superior still persist in his decision and command, let the subject know that it is expedient for him, and let him obey out of love, trusting in the assistance of God.

The father of the monastery, listening to the brother's representations may find them altogether reasonable and so adapt the obedience or change it altogether. He may also see that this is a salutary crisis, an opportunity for spiritual growth, and an occasion of pushing beyond certain self-imposed limitations. Thus, he may persist in his decision and command, helping the brother to see it as an opportunity to grow in virtue. Should this be the father's discernment, the brother needs to say, "I will trust you on this and, relying on the grace of Christ, obey to the best of my ability. Somehow this will work out for my good." Saint Benedict says, "Let him obey out of love, trusting in the assistance of God."

Our Mother of Good Counsel

The fact that Chapter 68 of the Holy Rule falls on April 26th, the feast of Our Mother of Good Counsel, suggests that a monk in crisis (or anyone else in crisis, for that matter) will do well to seek out the guidance and direction of the very best of counselors, the Blessed Virgin Mary. She who told the servers at the wedding feast of Cana to do whatsoever her Son would say to them, still seeks to foster obedience in us. Our Lady knows that obedience, more than anything else, effectively breaks through the limitations imposed by our pride, vanity, fear, and selfishness. The fruit of that obedience is, as Saint John tells us (Jn 2:11), a manifestation of the glory of Christ, and a wonderful increase of faith.

Every moment of crisis is an opportunity to confide our perplexities, worries, fears, and griefs to the maternal Heart of Mary. She is capable of listening to all with a benevolent silence. Her Immaculate Heart discerns what is best for each of us. And if we are silent enough, childlike enough, and even a little humble, she will counsel us and restore our troubled hearts to a peace that the world (and all its professional counselors) cannot give.

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ENTRANCE ANTIPHON

MR
I called upon God and the spirit of wisdom came to me;
I learned without guile
and I impart without grudging;
I do not hide her riches, alleluia (Wis 7:7b, 13).

COLLECT

O Lord who know
that the thoughts of mortals are full of fear and uncertainty,
through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
from whom your Son took flesh,
grant us your counsel
that we may be made to recognize
the things that are pleasing to you
and be directed in all our works.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

GENERAL INTERCESSIONS

That the gaze of people of every race and culture
may come to rest upon the Face of Christ
and upon His open Heart,
to the Lord we pray: Christ, hear us.
R. CHRIST, GRACIOUSLY HEAR US.

That civil authorities may humbly seek good counsel in prayer,
so as to govern wisely, justly, and mercifully,
to the Lord we pray: Christ, hear us.
R. CHRIST, GRACIOUSLY HEAR US.

That those in doubt and perplexity may be enlightened;
that those in affliction and adversity may be comforted;
and that those suffering persecution and calumny may be consoled,
to the Lord we pray: Christ, hear us.
R. CHRIST, GRACIOUSLY HEAR US.

That the faith of those weakened by sickness and infirmity may grow stronger ;
and that those who are at the hour of death
may be blessed by the presence of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
to the Lord we pray: Christ, hear us.
R. CHRIST, GRACIOUSLY HEAR US.

That those who seek the intercession of the Mother of Good Counsel today
may receive the guidance and direction they seek,
to the Lord we pray: Christ, hear us.
R. CHRIST, GRACIOUSLY HEAR US.

COLLECT AT THE GENERAL INTERCESSIONS

O God,
who gave us the Mother of your Son for our Mother,
[and were pleased by a wondrous apparition
to glorify a beauteous image of her;]
grant, we beseech you,
that ever hearkening to her counsels,
we may be enabled to live according to your Heart,
and happily to reach our heavenly homeland.
Through Christ our Lord.

OFFERTORY ANTIPHON

GR
Be mindful, O Virgin Mother,
to speak good things in the presence of God on our behalf,
that he may turn away his anger from us, alleluia (cf. Jer 18:20).

PRAYER OVER THE OFFERINGS

Let the Spirit of Counsel, O Lord,
who so wondrously overshadowed the Blessed Virgin, your handmaid,
make these gifts reverently offered
acceptable to you.
Through Christ our Lord.

PREFACE

Truly it is right and just, our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God.

How abundantly you filled the most blessed Virgin Mary
with the gifts of the Holy Spirit
to make her the worthy
mother and companion of the Redeemer!

Formed by these gifts
she sought your will unceasingly
and faithfully carried it out;
she joyfully magnified your mercy
and held fast to the counsel of your lovingkindness
to restore all things in Christ.

Through whom the ranks of Angels adore your majesty,
rejoicing in eternity before your face.
We pray you let our voices blend with theirs
singing with exultant praise:

COMMUNION ANTIPHON

MR
The Mother of Jesus said to the servants:
"Do whatsoever he tells you," alleluia (cf. Jn 2:5).

PRAYER AFTER COMMUNION

We have been made partakers of your mysteries, O Lord,
as we celebrate the memorial
of Holy Mary, the Mother of Good Counsel;
grant that we may learn what is pleasing to you
and become worthy of being saved by the Wonderful Counselor whom you gave us through the Blessed Virgin:
your Son who lives and reigns forever and ever.

Secundum Cor Tuum Vivere

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Our Lady of Good Counsel

Tomorrow, April 26th, is the liturgical memorial of Our Mother of Good Counsel. The shrine church of Our Mother of Good Counsel in Genazzano, Italy was entrusted in 1356 to the Augustinian Fathers. It remains a place of pilgrimage to this day. In the changes and chances of my own life, I have often had recourse to the Blessed Virgin under this most consoling title.

The Scapular

In 1893 the Congregation of Sacred Rites approved the form for blessing and investiture with the scapular of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Good Counsel. The scapular is made in the usual way of two pieces of white wool joined by cords or bands. One part bears the image of the Blessed Virgin with the inscription, Mater Boni Consilii. The other part bears the papal arms (tiara and keyes) and an inscription of the words of Pope Leo XIII, "Son, follow her counsel."

Old and New

The Collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary has a fine new Mass with a proper Preface. For my part, I have often found solace in the texts of the Mass given in the 1962 Roman Missal among the Masses By Special Grant In Certain Places.

Never Depart From Her Counsels

The petition of the Collect is especially beautiful. We beseech God to grant that we may never depart from the counsels of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and by this means order our lives after His own Heart:

O God, who hast given the Mother of Thy Beloved Son
to be likewise unto us a mother,
and hast made famous this her beauteous image,
by causing it miraculously to appear in our midst:
grant unto us, we beseech Thee, never to depart from her counsels and,
by this means ordering our lives after Thine own Heart,
one day happily to reach our heavenly fatherland.

Our Hope

One who seeks counsel of the Mother of God is never disappointed and never without hope. She is the most compassionate and effective of all counselors. The liturgy takes a wonderful promise from the book of Proverbs, and places it in Our Lady's mouth: "He that shall find me shall find life, and shall have salvation from the Lord" (Prov 8:35).

Discernment of Spirits

The verse that follows is also significant: "But he that shall sin against me, shall hurt his own soul. All that hate me love death" (Prov 8:36). One who sins against Mary, hurts his own soul. One who hates Mary loves death. The place given -- or not given -- to the Virgin Mother of God is a fundamental criterion in the discernment of spirits. The love of Mary is a wellspring of healing and of life. Love Mary, then, and all the rest will be given you besides.

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A group of the Spiritual Mothers of Priests of the Diocese of Tulsa gathered in the oratory of the monastery this morning at 10:00 to pray a scriptural rosary on the Mysteries of Our Lord's Eternal Priesthood. They offered their prayer for all priests and, in a special way, interceded for our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI in this moment of assault from below.

The Mysteries of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Eternal High Priest:
A Rosary for Priests

First Mystery: The Incarnation

1. Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Eternal High Priest, we recall that mystery by which the Word entered thy virginal womb, overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, to make it the first sanctuary of His priesthood on earth, and to offer Himself therein as a sacrificial Victim to the Eternal Father.

Mother of Priests and their Advocate, we offer the prayers of this mystery, imploring thee to obtain for every priest the grace of a deeper identification with Jesus in His obedience and self-offering to the Father.

Second Mystery: The Presentation in the Temple

2. Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Eternal High Priest, we recall the prophecy of Simeon that a sword of sorrow would pierce thy soul, which prophecy was fulfilled on Calvary. The Infant, already offered to the God of Israel in thy arms, was to become the Victim raised high on the cross, the Host lifted to the Father in every Mass by the hands of the priest, and the immolated Lamb in the glory of heaven and in the tabernacles of the Church on earth.

Mother of Priests and their Advocate, we offer the prayers of this mystery, imploring thee to obtain for every priest the grace of a spotless chastity so that, in the joy that springs from purity of heart, he might follow the Lamb wheresover He goeth.

Third Mystery: The Cenacle

3. Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Eternal High Priest, we recall thy Son's institution of the Priesthood and of the Most Holy Eucharist in the Cenacle on the night before He suffered. There His sacrifice was consummated in mystery; the next day it would be consummated in His Blood.

Mother of Priests and their Advocate, we offer the prayers of this mystery, imploring thee to obtain for every priest the grace of a holy awe in the daily celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, so that he might know by faith the blessed presence of the Lamb and, lost in wonder, adore Him truly present in the Holy Sacrament of the Altar.

Fourth Mystery: The Sacrifice on Calvary

4. Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Eternal High Priest, we recall the Sacrifice in His Blood, offered from the altar of the Cross on Calvary. With thee, we want to receive the outpouring of the Spirit from His mouth; with thee we want to gaze upon His pierced side; with thee we want to intercede for all priests, but especially for the weakest and most wounded among them.

Mother of Priests and their Advocate, we offer the prayers of this mystery, imploring thee to obtain for every priest the grace of a tender and filial relationship with thee, that in the valley of the shadow of death, thou wouldst be to them a fountain of life; that in bitterness, thou wouldst be their sweetness; and that in hours of despair, thou wouldst be their hope.

Fifth Mystery: The Ascension

5. Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Eternal High Priest, we recall the glorious Ascension of thy Son into the sanctuary of heaven where He stands forever before the Father, displaying His radiant wounds, and interceding for us.

Mother of Priests and their Advocate, we offer the prayers of this mystery, begging thee to obtain from the Eternal Father an abundance of priestly vocations from the rising of the sun to its setting and, in particular, for this diocese, that the earth may be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, and that His Sacrifice may be offered in every place by men of holy life, ablaze with the fire of the Holy Spirit.

Hail, Holy Queen.

V. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.

O God, by Whose will, the Blessed Virgin Mary
became the Mother of Thy Son, the Eternal High Priest,
and was associated most intimately to Him in the Work of Redemption,
grant that by pondering with her the mysteries of His Priesthood,
we may, through her who is our Mother in the order of grace,
so contribute to the sanctification of Thy priests,
that they more worthily represent Jesus Christ
the Head, Shepherd, and Spouse of His Church,
who is Lord forever and ever.
R. Amen.

About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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