"Ah!" Mother, "behold, I cannot speak" to yon, or to your Son, "for I am a child" - Jeremiah 1:6
The grand, the only secret of the spiritual life is prayer, by the aid of which, were we deprived of all other helps, we are sure of salvation. Prayer is always within my reach; chains, illness, persecution may deprive me of the Sacraments; I cannot every hour apply to these great means of salvation and life; but in whatever situation I may be, I can each instant, without even interrupting my occupations, descend into the oratory of my heart, and invoke that divine succour which the Lord has solemnly pledged Himself shall be granted to all who solicit it. "Amen, I say to you .... whatsoever you shall ask the Father in My name, that will I do."
This invincible weapon, prayer, renders us strong against the devil, against our passions, against the Omnipotent Himself. What did that mysterious wrestle, in which the Angel vanquished by Jacob conferred upon him the name of Israel - strong against God - denote? The strength, the efficacy of prayer. If an angry Deity wills to be disarmed of His wrath, what does He inspire to nations, as well as to individuals? To pray. If He desires to make His arm weigh heavily, what does He do? He turns men from prayer; and such is the power of this means of salvation, that it seems as though He feared being prayed to; for when one of His servants pleaded with Him of old for an ungrateful and rebellious people, He said, "Let Me alone, that My wrath may be kindled against them, and that I may destroy them." Moses persists, and notwith- standing His indignation, the Lord suffers Himself to be appeased. Why, then, is prayer so powerful? It is because to pray is to humble yourself, to confess your impotency, to render the homage of your nothingness to the almightiness of God; and He has said, "A contrite and humble heart I will not despise a heart that, despairing of self, expects all from Me.
Of the power, the efficacy of prayer, we are fully convinced, Christians and children of Mary; but how often are we tempted to forget it, to give up this victorious weapon! Then it is that Mary comes to our aid; she smoothes the difficulties that discourage us; she herself inspires this spirit of prayer, of perseverance in prayer; she calms our imagination, and causes us to find in this holy exercise delights unknown to those who have not experienced them. Let our brethren led back to the fold by the hand of Mary tell us - What is the chief want of their heart, the first science in which Mary instructed them? Is it not prayer? And how may we go to Mary herself? What is the spell that draws her towards us? Prayer! Let us, then, pray, ever pray to Mary, pray through Mary, and never cease. Should our ingratitude, our unworthiness seal our lips in presence of the thrice holy God, of Whom we have contemned the benefits, outraged the power, let us venture to address Mary, let us always dare to invoke Mary; should we have laid aside all other prayer, let us, as a last plank in shipwreck, pray to Mary; let us beware of yielding to the importunity of the enemy, who would fain snatch this plank from us; let us persist in supplication to Mary, and we shall escape the imminent danger which threatens us, and shall even have it in our power also to say - Blessed be the Lord Who hath given me to persevere in calling upon the name of Mary, and hath preserved me a place in her tender compassion!
Mary not alone teaches us how to pray, but she prays with and for us; there is not a sigh of our heart, an invocation of our mouth, but elicits a prayer from our Mother in Heaven. Faith imparts to us this consoling truth, private revelations confirm it. One day, whilst they sang at Mass these words, Ora Virgo - "Pray, O Virgin," Saint Gertrude saw Mary turn towards her Son with a suppliant look, her hands joined, in order to beseech Him in favour of those who were invoking her on earth; and forthwith our Lord blessed all these souls by forming the sign of the Cross over them. On another occasion, at the verse, Audi nos - "Hear us," Mary appeared to the same Saint, seated on a very lofty throne, and Gertrude having said to her - "Why, O Mother of Mercy, why do you not pray for us?" the Blessed Virgin replied - "I speak for you with all my Heart to the Heart of my beloved Son."
O Mary! you are the only one whose lamp was never extinguished during the night of this life. Your Heart ever beat in response to the loving Heart of your Divine Son; the hours of rest even interrupted not your prayer, and you could truly say, "I sleep, but my heart watcheth."On the contrary, what are our prayers? A spiritual slumber hardly intermitted by a few turnings to God. Alas! my Mother, I cannot speak to you or your Son - Open then my mouth - teach me to praise you; and should I be incapable thereof, speak to me yourself, speak, pray, implore for me! Teach me to hear your voice, the voice of your inspirations, and to follow it with inviolable fidelity.
We usually pray without preparation, consequently without fruit. We shall not find strength in this holy exercise, if we are not resolved to apply to it as seriously as to a temporal affair, the success of which we have really at heart.
1. Banish resolutely every idea foreign to our prayer. "Worldly solicitudes, thoughts of temporal affairs, remain here," Saint Bernard used to say when taking holy water; "come not to distract me in this holy place, I will resume you at my departure hence."
2. Be sorry for faults committed, which raise, as it were, a wall of separation between God and us.
3. Impress ourselves with a lively sense of the presence of God; ask the grace to make our prayer well; invariably begin prayer by calling on Mary, that she may be as a rampart around our soul.
Mary, teach us to pray!
Magdalen Morice - born the 31st July, 1736, and departed this life 17th March, 1769 - was the daughter of a farmer in the diocese of Saint Malo. From her earliest years she was led into paths of the most eminent sanctity, amid the laborious occupations of her mean condition. About the age of nine, having lost her father, to whom she was tenderly attached, she could not be consoled till the Blessed Virgin, to whom she had a singular devotion, came herself to alleviate her sorrow. The following is Magdalen's account of the occurrence as inserted in her Life, which she wrote under obedience.
"I had not yet made the sacrifice of my father, when one morning, as I was engaged keeping the sheep on a heath, I gave way more than ever to grief, and flinging myself on the ground, I wept very bitterly. A lady just then passed, observed my trouble, and drawing near, said with an air of mingled gravity and sweetness, 'What is the matter, my child, that you weep so? Tell me the cause of your grief.'
"'I am weeping, madam, for the death of my father,' I replied. She asked me if he were long dead? I told her about six days.
"'It is time, my child,' rejoined she, 'to make the sacrifice of him.'
"'Ah, madam, I wish I could make it, but I have not the courage.'
"'My daughter, do you not daily say the Our Father? Do you not say, "Thy will be done"? Think, my child, that it is God's will that has bereft you of your father, He desires Himself to hold the place of parent to you. Say then now, My Father is in Heaven! Cast yourself into His arms, address Him with confidence. I promise you that this Father will take greater care of you than the father you have lost ever did.'
"Her words awoke a feeling of consolation within me, I made willingly at the moment - what I had not been able to resolve on doing for six days - the sacrifice of my father. But I felt myself suddenly so attached to this good lady, that I could have wished her to remain with me for ever. Her presence inspired me with such delicious feelings, imparted so much consolation to me, that I felt quite changed. My heart became wholly inflamed with the love of God; I burned with the desire of pleasing Him. To detain this lady, and thus enjoy her presence, I said to her, 'Madam, there is something in the Our Father which I cannot comprehend; will you have the goodness to explain it to me? When I say - "Thy kingdom come," of what kingdom do I speak? Can I hope to obtain it?'
"A sweet smile lit up the features of the good lady, and she said in a tone of kindness, 'That kingdom belongs to the Master of consummate felicity; this Master is your Father; this Father loves you tenderly: why then should you not be entitled to His kingdom? But, as an aspirant to this kingdom, my child, you must attach yourself to the service of God, seeking to please Him alone.'
"'Ah! Madam,' I said, 'to serve this good Master is my only desire; but I do not know the way to reach this beautiful kingdom of which you speak; will you have the goodness to show it me?'
"'You have a long road to travel,' she answered, 'and this road is termed the "Way of the Cross;" beware of seeking to withdraw from it; it is the most secure, leading directly to the kingdom you are inquiring after. You shall have much to suffer, my child; but take courage. Let it sink deep into your mind, that your sufferings are only permitted for God's glory and your own advantage. Nothing shall befall you except at His command; He will sustain you, and proportion His graces to your trials.'
"'Madam,' I said, 'to undertake the journey you have traced for me, I must previously enter on the path of virtue; I feel my weakness, I am too blind to lead myself, yet I have no guide.'
"She began to smile, saying, 'Leave yourself to Providence. It will send you a guide; be docile.' She then presented me with a little image of the Blessed Virgin, which she had with her, saying, 'Remem ber me; be faithful to grace.'
I felt quite beside myself, and remained for a moment without consciousness. On returning to myself, I no longer found my good lady; this grieved me, but I recollected what she had told me, that nothing should happen to me, but by the command of God. I immediately returned home much comforted, and resolved to love God, to attach myself to Him alone, to seek to please Him, cost what it might. I was careful not to display the gift I had received from the lady, but hid it as best I could in my bed; and my greatest pleasure was to shut myself up in my cell with this statue, and many were the consolations I tasted there. I called it my Good Mother, to salute it, telling it that as long as I lived I would recite the little chaplet called 'The Crown of the Holy Virgin.' This little prayer has been of great benefit to me. I passed many a night before my little statue, and would have passed many more, had not God sent me a guide, who, on learning my manner of life, thought proper to retrench many of my practices. It was certainly Providence led me under the care of a director so prudent and virtuous."
Visit to the Blessed Sacrament
"I have compassion on the multitude, for behold they have been with Me three days, and have nothing to eat. - Mark 8:2
My Jesus, hidden in this Sacrament, explain to me what must have been the charm of Your words, the sweetness and majesty of Your countenance, the authority and secret influence of Your love, thus to attract a blind and ignorant multitude, and cause them to forget for days and nights the most imperative wants of nature. What did you not teach them in the desert! With what zeal was Your Heart inflamed, seeing these poor sheep without a shepherd! O my Jesus, repeat to me all the lessons You taught them; tell me how the days and nights passed so rapidly with You. 1 have the same attraction, the same Master as they, here, in Your Sacrament, in prayer, in Holy Communion; I possess the same God, approach yet nearer to Him; I also repose at His feet, I look at Him, I hear Him, I speak to Him - yet more. He comes into my heart; but how ill I employ this time so precious; how incapable I should be of consecrating two whole days and nights without interruption to Him like these poor people. Oh, I am not worthy of Your love, Your looks, Your conversation, Yourself! But if now, O Lord, I also desire to make You King - King of my heart - You will not fly from me, because You desire nothing so much.
Mary, behold I also am a sheep without a pastor whenever I depart from our Lord Jesus. Excite in His Heart the tender compassion with which this poor people animated Him. Implore Him to repeat incessantly to my soul that Misereor - "I have compassion," which creates penitents, saints, elect.
- taken from The Month of May Consecrated to the Glory of the Mother of God, The Queen of Heaven