"Behold your Mother" - John 19:27
The most precious good we possess in the order of Nature, the gift of God transcending all human gifts - is it not that of a mother? A mother, is this heart, this soul, that lives more in her child than in herself, who loved it before it could return her love; who loves it for the pangs and tears it cost her; is not repulsed by the natural defects, nor even by the faults of her child. A mother! she is the most secure haven in the storms of life, the sweetest consolation in its bitterness. Would it not have seemed as though something were wanting to the Christian in the spiritual order, had not religion presented him a Mother's aid? He who framed the heart of man is too well acquainted with its movements not to attach it to Him by this link - the sweetest of all human ties. "I will draw thee with the cords of Adam, with the bands of love." (Hosea 9:4) Jesus, Who took upon Him our nature to compel our love; Jesus, Who had already given us His Father, commanding us to call Him daily our Father. Jesus well knew the necessity of a Mother. And He has given us a Mother; He has given us to His own Mother, but under what circumstances? On the Cross, at death, at the moment when friends take pleasure in giving to those they love the most tender marks of friendship, their most precious gifts. Jesus, looking around Him, beholds His Mother standing immoveable, offering, for the salvation of mankind, the most painful sacrifice a mother could make. And as impressions received in grief are the most penetrating and most durable, He chose the moment when Mary's Heart was crushed with, and her maternal tenderness wound to, the highest pitch, to cast us into her Heart, and give her for our Mother. He says to all in the person of the Beloved Disciple, "Behold thy Mother," and ta Mary, "Behold thy son." O fresh and incomprehensible pang! "Oh!" cries out Saint Bernard, "what an exchange; John substituted for Jesus, the servant for the Lord, the disciple for the Master, the son of Zebedee for the Son of God, a mere mortal for the true God! O Mary, how comes it that your loving Heart is not transpierced by this word, seeing that even our adamantine hearts are rent by the sole remembrance?"
Could you ever forget, O Mary, the children of your sorrow? Alas! we entered your Heart by a wound that knows no healing. In effect, since Jesus, from the summit of the Cross, bequeathed us to Mary as her children, never did she forget the obligations imposed upon her by this legacy of her dying Son. We behold her ever occupied with our interests, ever in motion from Heaven to earth, from earth to Heaven; above, soliciting grace for her poor children; below, bestowing it on them continually. Let us, then, cry out with Saint Anselm - "Precious hope, assured refuge, the Mother of my God is my Mother! Say, then, in all security, O my soul, I will exult, I will leap for joy, since, whatever judgment I merit, my sentence depends on my Brother and Mother." - Saint Bonaventure
Children delight in being told they are worthy of their parents, that they resemble them. Let a similar sentiment animate you, child of Mary; endeavour so to retrace in you the virtues of your Mother, that none can doubt the links that bind you to her. A sweet and easy means of effect- ing this is, to ask yourself before each action - "How would Mary act, how pray, work, converse, study, suffer, etc., were she in my place?"
Precious hope, assured refuge, the Mother of my God is my Mother. - Saint Anselm
Victoria Fornari, born at Genoa in the year 1562, of noble and virtuous parents, was a child of benediction from her tenderest years. The pastimes of her infancy were prayer, retreat, and the study of the divine law. At the age of seventeen she married Angelo Strata, a Genoese noble, who far from opposing her in works of piety, gave her himself the example. When any one asked him why Victoria never appeared in worldly society, he was accustomed to reply - "My wife is good for nothing but praying and taking care of her family." God blessed their union with six children, four boys and two girls, each of whom she consecrated to the Blessed Virgin at the moment of its birth. Mary Victoria lost her husband at the age of twenty-five. Resigned, but inconsolable, she turned in her distress to the Comfortress of the Afflicted - "Holy Virgin," said she, bathed in tears. "Virgin all-compassionate, take these little ones that I present to you, adopt them as your children since they are fatherless; so far as I am concerned they are orphans, since I am incapable of fulfilling the duties of a mother." This touching prayer was heard on the spot. The Blessed Virgin appeared to her and addressed her in these words, which the pious widow afterwards committed to writing by order of her confessor - "Victoria, my daughter, take courage, fear nothing, I will place both mother and children under my protection; let me act, I will take special care of your household. Therefore banish all anxiety, live contented. I only ask you to trust to my bounty, and henceforth devote yourself exclusively to love God above all things."
The vision disappeared, but not so the consolation it imparted. Mary Victoria then made a vow of chastity and bound herself to a life of complete seclusion. Protected by the Blessed Virgin, and sustained by frequent Communion, she frustrated the temptations of the demon and the seductions of the world. Of her six children, one died at the age of ten, after a lingering illness borne with the most admirable patience. The remaining five embraced a Religious life, and arrived therein to eminent sanctity. In 1604, she herself having converted a house she had purchased in Genoa into a monastery, retired thither, with some companions who were resolved to lead a similar kind of life. The end of this new institute, which still exists, is to honour the Holy Virgin in the mystery of the Annunciation and to imitate the hidden life.
Visit to the Blessed Sacrament
"Where is your faith?"
Where is my faith? Oh, where? People sometimes dare to say, "O my God, had You addressed to me one of those sweet words You sometimes ^peak to the Saints, did You give me one of those proofs of love which astonish and confound, then would my heart and flesh rejoice in You, then would I awake from this afflicting torpor." My dear Lord, where is my faith? Truly I am aware of the danger of these extraordinary favours, I desire them not. What afflicts my soul, what exasperates me against myself is, that faith does not produce in me, in Holy Communion, in the visits which I pay You, those wonderful effects operated in the Saints. I have reason to think that I approach You without respect, without fear, with heart and mind drowsy, if not asleep. In this Sacrament I have as much, even more, than You can give Your friends in the other communications of Your love, and 1 do not think of It, I do not appreciate It. For me only, as for Mary, as for the Saints, even the most privileged, You have taken a body. O God, O Jesus! whence comes it You are so powerful in them, so impotent in my soul? In Communion the miracle is worked for me alone. Oh, why, having created me to know, to love You in this mystery of condescension and love, why have You left me so stolid in sounding their depth, so cowardly in tracing in myself their humiliations, so stiff in acknowledging them by love and devotedness? Ah, Lord, I ask but faith alone, but one as entire, as lively, as active as it can be here below.
Mary, give me a ray of that light which illumined your soul, and I shall no longer be in darkness!
- taken from The Month of May Consecrated to the Glory of the Mother of God, The Queen of Heaven