"The Most High hath sanctified His tabernacle" - Psalm 45:5
Mary was conceived without sin, that is to say, that, from the first moment of her existence, she presented herself to the eyes of God pure and spotless, and in virtue of the foreknown merits of her Divine Son, exempt from original guilt. Of all the children of Adam she alone could say - "'The Lord possessed me in the beginning of my ways.' His love entered my soul with life; never did He reckon me among those who have outraged His divine bounty." And only to Mary could God say - "'Thou art all fair, O My beloved, and there is not a spot in thee.' As the lily among thorns, so art thou among My other creatures."
To the children of Mary, zealous to revere, to honour above all her other privileges, that of her Immaculate Conception, we shall not stop to prove how just and meet it was that the dwelling of the Most High should never have been for a single day the abode of His enemy; that the Mother of God should never have been the enemy of her God; that the Terror of the demon , she who was to crush his head, should never for one instant have owned his sway; that the Mediatrix of the human race should not have shared in the universal prevarication; that the Queen of Angels, created and preserved in innocence, should herself be pure and unspotted.
Besides, after the glorious Definition of the 8th of December, 1854, the children of Mary have no more to do to defend their Mother's honour, they have but to felicitate her and congratulate themselves, repeating with transports of joy - "Rome has spoken, the cause is ended; Glory be to God, glory be to Mary."
What immeasurable torrents of grace were poured into Mary's soul, to what degree of holiness and love did she attain, in virtue and by consequence of this unique and incomparable privilege which prepared her for the divine Maternity! We shall never be able to comprehend it in this life. God is admirable in His Saints. He bent down towards them with inconceivable condescension, treated them with surprising familiarity, made them participate in His riches, so as to render them in some degree all-powerful; and when we read their own account of those favours, in as far as they have been able to describe them, it only remains for us to exclaim with the royal Prophet - "God is wonderful in His Saints. . . . To me Thy friends are exceedingly honourable, their principality is exceedingly strengthened."
If already we are at a loss for terms in which to speak of the Saints, weak creatures, and conceived in iniquity, and who not unfrequently have added to the original stain so many grave and voluntary faults, how shall it be with us when we have to treat of Mary? It is an acknowledged maxim among theologians that there is no gift, no favour granted to the servants, but the Queen of Heaven possessed it in its sublimest degree. When God created Mary, whom He destined to be His living and animated tabernacle, He began this work at a point surpassing the highest perfection attainable even by His elect; He created her in an innocence, in a perfection, a degree of love superior to that of the Seraphim themselves; and thence her lights, her ardours continually increased. What, therefore, shall we say of this Queen of Sanctity? "Of Mary we can never say enough." "Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God!" And yet how comes it that despite all the holy Fathers have endeavoured to reveal to us, your Heart is still unsatisfied? Ah! it is that your greatness, your perfection, the stupendous liberalities of God in your regard, O Mary, bring you so near to God Himself, that silence is our only fitting tribute of praise to exalt your sanctity; this holiness is a mystery of grandeur and humility, whose glory is inclosed in the bottom of your heart. "All the glory of the King's daughter is from within." It is a secret which the King has reserved for Himself, and to the knowledge of which none but His most privileged servants are admitted; an abyss whose depths they may imperfectly sound in the stillness of prayer, but which it is neither allowable or possible for them to reveal. O Jesus, what do we but lisp when we attempt to speak of you, of your divine Mother? From the midst of our darkness, of our helplessness, we praise you, O Jesus, through Mary - Mary, we praise you through Jesus.
Mary would have preferred exemption from that sad law by which we become enemies to God even before our birth, to the divine Maternity; hence she is pleased to reward her servants who zealously honour and exalt her Immaculate Conception. Among all her Feasts, let the 8th of December be with you a special day of devotion; act so that you may inspire others with a like confidence in your Immaculate Mother.
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.
To have recourse to Mary in every necessity was a maxim which Blessed Alphonsus Rodriguez instilled into all with whom he came in contact: nor did he neglect any opportunity of pronouncing her eulogium and upholding her privileges. He honoured with special devotion the Immaculate Conception of the Queen of Virgins and her glorious Assumption into Heaven, the pious belief in which he defended with equal zeal and solidity, persuaded that the honour of the Mother and of the Son are alike involved in Mary's having been all pure from her Conception, and her virginal body being now glorified in Heaven. Mary seemed to take complacency in the ardour with which Alphonsus defended the interests of her glory. She twice commanded him to commit to writing all the prayers he was accustomed to address to her. On another occasion, she expressed to him how sensibly she felt herself honoured by his devotion to her Immaculate Conception, and inspired him with the firm resolution to be everywhere its panegyrist and apostle; so that Alphonsus, otherwise so reserved, became all on fire whenever this prerogative of Mary was in question. He declared openly, that to believe his Blessed Mother was conceived without stain, and to honour her in this quality, was a sure means of pleasing Jesus Christ. Not content with reciting the Office of the Immaculate Conception, he wrote copies of it, which he distributed among the students of the College, declaring that this prayer would be useful toward preserving purity of heart. He feared not even to say that the Society of Jesus was founded partly in order to defend and propagate this Devotion, adding that if the Father Rector permitted him, he would go and preach it in the streets and public places; in fine, hearing two Fathers one day debating this question, he drew near, and taking part in the conversation, said, in a confident tone - "I know the Mother of God was conceived without original sin." "And from whom did you learn it?" asked one of the Fathers. "From Mary herself," was the reply.
The Blessed Virgin was pleased to testify her appreciation of Alphonsus' zeal by a marvellous prodigy. In the year 1586, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception was celebrated at Majorca with much pomp. The same day, a hurricane, such as occasionally devastates the Antilles, suddenly burst over the city; and such was the violence of wind, that on all sides were heard lamentations and wailings, in the anticipation of the most terrible accidents. One of the College walls had just fallen, burying several persons beneath its ruins. As more serious disasters were apprehended, the Religious hastened to leave the house, which might be destroyed at any moment. Father Rector, per- ceiving Alphonsus behind him, going away with the others, said to him, u What brings you here, Brother? Go quickly to the church, and deprecate the anger of the Lord." Alphonsus obeyed, and he had scarcely bent his knees before the altar, when the storm suddenly sudsided, so that they were in time to draw forth from beneath the ruins those whom they had deemed victims of this fearful disaster.
Visit to the Blessed Sacrament
"I thirst." - John 19:28
I approach You, my Jesus, and seem to hear from the depth of the tabernacle Your voice, still repeating "I thirst". I thirst for your love, for the sacrifices you ought to impose on yourself. O beloved soul, will you never tell Me that you also thirst for Me? Up to this you have given Me but tepid progress and imperfect sacrifices in return for the ardour that consumes Me.
"O my God, say once again to my heart this word uttered on the Cross. Yes, for me as for Your souls of predilec- tion, say - I thirst I thirst for you! Oh, what love! make me understand it. Oh, give me this thirst corresponding to Your own, this thirst that makes Your true friends. What is that fountain of living water, that spring whence issue impetuously those waters that quench the thirst of those who languish with this desire? "Wells of water flowed."
It is Your Heart, O Jesus, inclosed within this tabernacle, fatigued with following, weary waiting for my soul so long, and saying to me, Oh, "if thou didst know the gift of God!" The Gift of God is He Whom the Father hath given us in the excess of His love - "For God so loved the world as to give His only-begotten bon." And is not He Who gives pleased to see His gifts well received, made much of, taken possession of? My God, I receive You from the hands of Your Father; You are mine, since this is Your Father's desire, this is Your own gracious will. I come, I prostrate myself before You, I approach Your Sacred Heart, I receive You into mine, and I also say - "Give me to drink" for I thirst for You, only for You, and the oftener I receive You, the more do I thirst.
O Mary, you who lived and died incessantly of this thirst, perpetually renewed, perpetually satisfied, give me your eagerness, give me of your fullness!
- taken from The Month of May Consecrated to the Glory of the Mother of God, The Queen of Heaven