Three enemies, let loose by original sin, are leagued together with our native weakness against us: they accompany us at all times, constituting a perpetual obstacle to the acquisition of the crown for which we are striving. These are the devil with his snares, the flesh with its perverse inclinations, and the world with its allurements. These three enemies wage against us a dire and ceaseless warfare, so that, were it not for a special aid given us from above, it would be impossible to withstand their onset. We should, then, render thanks to the infinite goodness of God, who arms us by the gift of strength with a holy courage, thus giving us hope of escape from all dangers, and a firm assurance of reaching, if we are but faithful, the end of our labors and the goal of our desires.
Rest thyself, O my soul, upon the arm of thy loving Saviour, He who tempers the wind to the downy fledgeling, will give thee patience to support the ills of this life, and strength to overcome the enemies of thy salvation
If we consider, on the one hand, the grandeur of the mission to which Mary was predestined, and, on the other, the innumerable obstacles she had to surmount, not indeed as regards the flesh, since she was immaculate, but on the part of the devil and the world, we perceive that, humanly speaking, this Holy Virgin had much to cause her to lose heart. How will a creature, holy indeed, but of herself feeble, be able to find the necessary strength to accomplish so great an enterprise? How will Mary be able to overthrow the redoubtable foes that beset her on all hands? St. Paul gives us the decisive answer: ‘Through the grace of God, by Jesus Christ our Lord.” [Rom 7:25]
The thought of the divine assistance animated Mary when, foreseeing the sufferings she would have to undergo, she uttered full of confidence the prophetic words: “He hath showed might in His arm: He hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.” [Luke 1:51]
The combats to which we are exposed in this life are indeed hard and unceasing. We must, therefore, arm ourselves with courage and beg the divine assistance, to be able to overcome our spiritual foes, to surmount the obstacles which block our pathway, and to achieve the final goal of our endeavors. By these aids, included in the gift of strength, we may rest sure of victory, provided however we correspond with grace: for we do not fight alone, God having promised to be always with us.
Still, if we have need of the gift of strength to enable us to fight courageously and to resist the enemies of our salvation, it is no less necessary to help us in bearing patiently the ills which fall to our lot from the cradle to the grave. We are worth nothing without the supernatural gift of strength. On the other hand, it is comparatively easy for us to work out our eternal salvation with the help of this gift, and we can repeat with the Apostle: “Who shall separate me from the love of Christ? . . . I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor might, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God.” [Rom 8:35, 38-39]
Text from Alexis M. Lepicier, The Fairest Flower of Paradise (London: Burns, Oates & Washbourne, Ltd., 1922).