"Better is one day in thy courts, than a thousand in the tabernacles of sinners." - Psalm 83:11
We must not confound devotion to Mary with those many practices of piety which we are free to adopt, or neglect. The Church, the pillar of truth, has established a special worship to honour Mary, a worship less sublime than that due to God, but superior to what we pay to the Saints; a worship necessary to salvation, according to the testimony of the Fathers and Doctors - not of an absolute necessity, Christ being the sole Mediator between God and man, but of a moral necessity originating in the Divine will alone. Saint Bernard says, "God having enclosed the entire price of our redemption and the plenitude of all good in Mary's womb, we have neither hope, nor grace, nor salvation, but through her." Saint Anselm dares to affirm that whoever is forsaken of Mary will inevitably perish. Saint Epiphanius styles Mary the great propitiatory of the world. "Wherefore," asks Saint Peter Damian, "would God secure the consent of Mary, previous to taking flesh in her womb? For two reasons - 1st, That we might owe her a deep debt of gratitude; 2nd, To give us to understand that this most pure Virgin is the arbitratrix of the salvation of mankind." The intercession of the Mother of God is then, not only useful, but even necessary to salvation; to venerate her is indispensable; it honours God, Who regards as done to Himself the homage paid to His Mother.
Hence the Church is especially solicitous to inspire her children with a tender and solid devotion to the Mother of God. She is never wearied in praising her; she honours her special Feasts and all her mysteries; she establishes new titles, new solemnities, to commemorate the benefits received through her mediation; and it is worthy of remark that on the Feasts of the Incarnation of our Lord, His Circumcision, Presentation in the Temple, it is Mary she seems to honour even more particularly than her Divine Son, the Office of these days being consecrated to the praises of this august Queen. It is with her invocation all the Offices of the Church begin and end: sacred orators publicly appeal to her to pour down on their words that celestial dew which alone can fructify them. How many temples and cathedrals have been erected under her patronage? Not contented with these homages, the Church has consecrated a day each week, a month each year, to be more especially devoted to her veneration, and daily at the Holy Sacrifice is her memory recalled several times to the Faithful, and presented to God with the Blood and merits of the Divine Victim.
Let us enter with joy into the spirit of our holy Mother the Church, let us rejoice that she sets no limits to the honours rendered to Mary, and let us say - O holy Virgin! one day passed in your sanctuaries, consecrated to procure your glory, is worth ten thousand, is worth a century spent in the most exalted functions. It is infinitely sweeter, more advantageous, more honourable to be the last of your true servants, than to hold the first rank in the tabernacles of pinners, were they even the kings and masters of the universe. I have chosen to be an abject in the house of my God, rather than dwell in the tabernacles of sinners.
It is not sufficient for the honour of Mary to confess and communicate on her Festivals, you must also enter by meditation and prayer into the spirit of the mystery the Church celebrates, thus imitating this divine Mother, of whom the Gospel says, that after the birth of Christ - "Mary kept all these things in her heart."
I know not with what praises to extol thy dignity, because Whom the heavens could not contain, thou hast borne in thy womb, O Mary!
It is impossible to really love Jesus and not love His holy Mother; accordingly, devotion to Mary was the favourite devotion of Blessed Alphonsus Rodriguez, a Jesuit Lay-brother in the College of Majorca. Words fail to express his affection for this heavenly Queen; she was his Mother, but a celestial Mother whom he cherished in proportion to the ineffable perfection he discovered in her. He was ever devising new expedients to testify his filial devotedness; whenever he could obtain permission he fasted rigidly on Saturdays, and prepared himself for her Feasts by every species of mortification, which obedience alone prevented his carrying to excess. Never was his rosary out of his hands. He had composed several devout prayers to his amiable Mistress, she was constantly present to his mind, he asked nothing of God save through the intercession of Mary, and counselled others to adopt this holy practice. In the year 1652, Father Francis Collin, who has written the life of Blessed Alphonsus in Spanish, being on the point of leaving the College of Majorca, in which he had spent six years with the Saint, went into his chamber to make his adieu; he found the holy Brother so ravished in God that he could kiss his feet with veneration without his at first perceiving him. Alphonsus, returning to himself at this moment, and seeing a Priest in this posture, was filled with confusion, and a modest blush diffused itself over his countenance. Without giving him time to make any reflection, Father Collin said - "My Brother, I am going to set out, leave me a spiritual souvenir to remind me of the years we have passed together." The good old man replied without hesitation - "When you wish to obtain anything of God, ask it with confidence from the Blessed Virgin, and be sure you will obtain it."
Visit to the Blessed Sacrament
Mystery of Hope
"In You, O Lord, have I hoped, let me never be confounded."
How often does hope, our soul's chief support here below, seem to forsake us, O Lord my God! Life is so sad, so painful, its dangers so multiplied, great, and continued, our weakness such, that our heart frequently fails us in the way. There are situations so grievous, so desperate, that we seem ready to allow ourselves to be borne away by the current, not caring to prolong a fruitless struggle; strength, courage, everything fails us at once. Events, mankind, still more ourselves, all seem to cast me into an abyss of indifference and despair. But, my dear Lord, should all fade around me, within me, when I remember You, abiding with me, so constant in bearing me company in this Sacrament, I seem to return to life. No, all is not lost for me, for this miserable world, since You have deigned to dwell in the midst of us, within us, till the end of time. My fellow-creatures and I are, therefore, something great, noble, dignified, that a God should occupy Himself thus with us, descend daily from Heaven into our prison. If such be His assiduity towards His poor creatures in this world, what must be the recompense reserved for them in eternity! O my God, I will keep close to you, hidden in this Sacrament; let the bitter waters of tribulation, temptation, abandonment, come, they will pass over my head, yet I shall be safe.
O Mother of holy hope! keep me day and night, by desire, if not in reality, near you, near Jesus annihilated on our altars; and I shall not be confounded, I will hope against all hope.
- taken from The Month of May Consecrated to the Glory of the Mother of God, The Queen of Heaven