Do little if you will in Mary's honour, but be constant. - Blessed Berchmans
In the Revelations of Saint Bridget, Mary is styled "Harbinger of the Sun", which gives to understand that when a soul begins to feel devotion to the Blessed Virgin, it is a certain sign that God will speedily come to enrich her with His graces.
"Mary, Mother of my God," used Saint John Damascene to say, "if I confide in you, my salvation is assured; under your protection I have nothing to fear, for devotion to you is a powerful weapon, which God places in the hands of those He desires to save." Christian soul, if you discover in yourself a true sentiment of affection and reverence for the Queen of Heaven, bless the Lord a thousand times, but guard sedulously this pledge of salvation; ask Mary herself to preserve it to you, and neglect nothing to keep so precious a treasure. For we carry this grace in frail vessels; it may be weakened, we may render ourselves unworthy of it. How many souls now groaning in the eternal abyss have loved Mary, served her, been objects of her special favour! How, then, came these brilliant stars to fall from the height to which their ardent devotion to Mary had raised them? Alas! they tired of this way of salvation, they abandoned first one exercise, then another; little infidelities led on to great; and they ran in the path of iniquity even more swiftly than they had run in that of justice. They had begun well, they ended badly, therefore their lot is in the pool of fire and brimstone.
What is to be done to escape a like misfortune? To determine what practises of devotion you shall prescribe for yourselves in honour of Mary, and be inviolably faithful to them in every state and vicissitude of spirit: in fervour and aridity, in consolation and desolation, in the turmoil of business, and the calm of repose and solitude; should you even fall into sin, into disorder, lay not aside your invincible arms - the love, the invocation of Mary; persist but the more resolutely in their exercise, not for a month, for a certain time, on special Feasts, but every day of your life - you will thus baffle all the wiles of your enemy.
It is related of Blessed John Berchmans that, being interrogated by his Brethren on his death-bed on the practices of devotion by which they could best please Mary and obtain her protection, he replied, "The least things, provided you be constant" - Minimum, sed constans . Follow this counsel, whose practice has saved so many souls; do but little if you will, but let nothing prevail on you to omit what you have once imposed. Some in a moment of fervour go beyond the bounds of discretion; then, when grace is withdrawn, they abandon even the most ordinary practices. As to you, be convinced that love is proved more by an abiding fidelity, than by passing transports of fervour. Father Claude de la Columbine regulated each retreat what he would perform for the glory of Mary, and so became annually renovated in his devotion to the Mother of God. Do the same every year during the month of May; examine at the feet of Mary what has been your fidelity in her sendee; ask pardon of your Mother, repair your want of ardour in praising her during the year which has just elapsed, and devoting yourself anew to her love, say in the words of the royal Prophet, "Now I will begin" - Nunc ccepi. Yes, O Mary! now, from this day, I will strive to become one of your most zealous servants; now I will begin to love you. Alas! hitherto I was not in earnest in my attempts, or if I did put my hand to the task, ere long, looking back, I yielded to tepidity and negligence. O Mary! O my Mother! confirm the change you have wrought in me. Let devotion to you - the devotion of the elect - take so deep root in me, that it may never be effaced. Grant me this favour, O Mary! for the glory of Him Who loved me and delivered Himself for me.
Among the numerous exercises in Mary's honour, at your selection, there are some you should be faithful to observe.
Recitation of the Memorare, the Beads, the Litany, or some other prayer at your choice.
On Saturday, the day consecrated to her, you may propose to honour Mary by some mortification, alms, prayer, or special visit to one of her statues, chapels, etc.
To assist at Mass on the first Saturday, really or in spirit; communicate thereat, whether spiritually or sacramently; to visit the sick, the poor; to instruct the ignorant in her honour, etc.
To make the month of May with renewed fervour.
It would be advisable to determine which you will adopt, even to arrange the time of day for perfonning them, that so indecision may not furnish a pretext for their omission.
Mary, I have sworn, and am determined to keep the law of your love; be yourself my security, for without you I can do nothing!
The venerable Thomas a Kempis evinced from childhood quite a special devotion to the Blessed Virgin. He had imposed on himself a daily tribute of praise in her honour, which he was exact to fulfil. Nevertheless, his devotion cooled insensibly; he omitted his accustomed exercises, one day, two days, an entire week, and finally discontinued them altogether. It was then that a mysterious dream made him sensible of the gravity of his fault. He appeared to be in the class-room with his fellow-students, listening attentively to the lecture. He thought he saw the Queen of Heaven descend upon clouds, her countenance radiant, her garments of dazzling white. She appeared to make the round of the apartment, stopping beside each Religious engaged in the instruction of youth, speak to them kindly, and giving them the sweetest tokens of her maternal affection. Thomas seeing this, awaited with the most lively impatience the approach of the Holy Virgin; he cast on her looks that bespoke the ardour of his desires. He said to himself - "I confess that I am undeserving of these testimonies of affection from the Mother of God; I hope, however, I hope." He hoped but he was much deceived in his expectation! Mary presented herself before him, appeared to regard him with a severe eye; and, far from giving him marks of tenderness, she reproached him for his culpable negligence, his base docility to the suggestions of the devil. "Where," she said, are the prayers so fervent, those Rosaries and Offices recited with so tender devotion? And yet you presume to expect testimonies of my love? Go! Depart from me! You are unworthy of my tenderness, seeing that you neglect to offer exercises so easy to her whom heretofore you loved." At these words she vanished, leaving him in consternation. Awaking from sleep, he examined his conscience, humbly acknowledged his fault, and promised to amend. He resumed his pious exercises with so great fervour and constancy, that never till his dying hour did he omit them for a single day. O blessed rebuke! it reinstated in the right path a soul that had just begun to withdraw therefrom, and stopped him perhaps on the brink of the precipice.
Visit to the Blessed Sacrament
O God, be merciful to me a sinner! - Luke 18:13
O good and compassionate Jesus, in Heaven Your greatness affrights me; but in this Sacrament Your incomprehensible abasement reassures me and gives me the hardihood to speak to You heart to Heart.
My Lord and my God, what would become of me if, calling me before Your tribunal, You compared my life, not to Your own, but only to that of Your Saints? Oh, what would I do, what present to You? Barren desires - no actions. How should I act? What do You desire of me? Have You exhausted all the treasures of Your charity on the Saints? My Lord and my God, I will not have the boldness to demand the gold and precious stones with which You enrich Your faithful spouses. Oh, give to this wretched beggar, who waits in silence and confusion, turning towards You many imploring looks; give the mendicant a little bread, a drop of water; give, not the crumbs of Your Divine Table - of that Table, at which Your dear friends are satiated - but some of the bread reserved for the domestics, the animals. Provided I obtain it from Your hands, I shall be but too honoured. Give me for the refreshment of my heart one of Your tears; a drop of that water that issued from Your wounded Side.
Oh, hold me by the hand without my feeling it; look at me without my perceiving it; love me through compassion, without my knowledge; carry me in Your arms, unconsciously to me; but save me, "be merciful to me a sinner," to me, the least of Your creatures, because the most ungrateful.
O Mary, the more compassionate as we are more miserable, pray for me a poor sinner, now, always, and especially at the hour of my death.
- taken from The Month of May Consecrated to the Glory of the Mother of God, The Queen of Heaven