Devotion to Mary – Part 3 of 8

Jesus Christ our Saviour, true God and true Man, ought to be the last end of all our other devotions, else they are false and delusive.

If, then, we establish the solid devotion to our Blessed Lady, it is only to establish more perfectly the devotion to Jesus Christ, and to put forward an easy and secure means for finding Jesus Christ. If devotion to our Lady removed us from Jesus Christ, we should have to reject it as an illusion of the devil; but on the contrary, so far from this being the case, there is nothing which makes devotion to our Lady more necessary for us, as I have already shown, and will show still further hereafter, than that it is the means of finding Jesus Christ perfectly, of loving Him tenderly, and of serving Him faithfully.

Our best actions are ordinarily stained and corrupted by the ground of evil which is so deeply laid up in us. When we put clean and clear water into a vessel which has a foul and evil smell, or wine into a cask the inside of which has been spoilt by another wine which has been in it, the clear water and the good wine are spoilt, and readily take the bad odour. In like manner, when God puts into the vessel of our soul, spoilt by original and actual sin, His graces and heavenly dews, or the delicious wine of His love, His gifts are ordinarily spoilt and corrupted by the bad leaven and the evil which sin has left within us. Our actions, even the most sublime and virtuous, feel the effects of it. It is therefore of great importance in the acquiring of perfection, which it must be remembered is only acquired by union with Jesus Christ, to empty ourselves of every thing which is bad within us; otherwise our Lord, who is infinitely pure and hates infinitely the least stain upon our souls, will cast us out from His presence, and will not unite Himself to us.

It is more perfect, because it is more humble, not to approach God of ourselves, without taking a mediator. The very foundation of our nature, as I have just shown, is so corrupted, that if we lean on our own works, industries, and preparations, in order to reach God and to please Him, it is certain that our justices will be defiled, or be of little weight before God, to engage Him to unite Himself to us, and to hear us. It is not without reason that God has given us mediators with His Majesty. He has seen our unworthiness and incapacity. He has had pity upon us; and, in order to give us access to His mercies, Ho has provided us with powerful intercessors with His grandeur, insomuch that to neglect these mediators, and to draw near to His holiness directly, and without any recommendation, is to fail in humility. It is to fail in respect towards God, so high and so holy. It is to make less account of that King of kings than we should make of a king or prince of earth, whom we should not willingly approach without some friend to speak for us.

Text from St. Louis-Marie Grignon de Montfort, A Treatise on the True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, trans. Frederick William Faber (London: Burns and Lambert, 1863).

To be continued next Saturday . . .

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St. Richard of Chichester


Richard was born A.D. 1197, in the little town of Wyche, eight miles from Worcester, England. He and his elder brother were left orphans when young, and Richard gave up the studies which he loved, to farm his brother’s impoverished estate. His brother, in gratitude for Richard’s successful care, proposed to make over to him all his lands; but he refused both the estates and the offer of a brilliant marriage, to study for the priesthood at Oxford.

In 1135 he was appointed, for his learning and piety, chancellor of that University, and afterward by St. Edmund of Canterbury, chancellor of his diocese. He stood by that Saint in his long contest with the King, and accompanied him into exile. After St. Edmund’s death, Richard returned to England to toil as a simple curate, but was soon elected Bishop of Chichester .

Young and old loved St. Richard. He gave all he had, and worked miracles, to feed the poor and heal the sick; but when the rights or purity of the Church were concerned, he was inexorable. A priest of noble blood polluted his office by sin; Richard deprived him of his benefice, and refused the King’s petition in his favor. On the other hand, when a knight violently put a priest in prison, Richard compelled the knight to walk round the priest’s church with the same log of wood on his neck to which he had chained the priest.

Richard died A.D. 1253.

Reflection. — As a brother, as chancellor, and as bishop, St. Richard faithfully performed each duty of his state without a thought of his own interests. Neglect of duty is the first sign of that self-love which ends with the loss of grace.

Illustration and text from Pictorial Lives of the Saints With Reflections for Every Day in the Year (New York: Benziger Bros., 1922).

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Works Great and Small

Even little actions are great when they are done well; to that a little action done with desire to please God, is more acceptable to Him, and gives Him more glory, than a great work done with less fervor, We must, then, give particular attention to perform well the little works, which are easiest, and are constantly within our reach, if we wish to advance in friendship with God. -St. Francis de Sales

St. Ignatius said of a lay-brother who was a mason, that he wrought for himself in heaven as many crowns as he laid bricks or gave strokes of the hammer, on account of the pure and upright intention with which he animated these works.

It is told of St. Francis Xavier that he was very careful to do little things well, and that he used to say: “We must not deceive ourselves, for he who does not take pains to excel in little things, will never do so in great.”

Much more is accomplished by a single word of the Pater noster said, now and then, from the heart, than by the whole prayer repeated many times in haste and without attention. -St. Teresa

Text from A Year With the Saints (New York: P.J. Kenedy & Sons, 1891).

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Diligence

We read in Ecclesiastical History that the Abbot Pambo, seeing a dancing girl gaily dressed and adorned, began to weep. Being asked why he did so, he answered: “Because, alas! I do not use as much care and diligence in seeking to please God by my works, as this girl employs in adorning herself to please men.”

What are the works upon which all our profit and all our perfection depends? All those which it is our lot to perform, but especially the ordinary ones that we do every day. These are the most frequent, and therefore upon these, more than upon others, we ought to fix our eyes, and to employ our attention and diligence. The measure of their perfection will be the measure of our own. If we do them perfectly, we shall be perfect; if imperfectly, imperfect. -Rodriguez

It is said of St. Stanislaus Kostka, that though he did only the same things that others did, yet the excellence with which he did them, made it seem that he did more.

Text from A Year With the Saints (New York: P.J. Kenedy & Sons, 1891).

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St. Antony of Padua


In 1221 St. Francis held a general chapter at Assisi; when the others dispersed, there lingered behind, unknown and neglected, a poor Portuguese friar, resolved to ask for and to refuse nothing. Nine months later, Fra Antonio rose under obedience to preach to the religious assembled at Forli, when, as the discourse proceeded, “the Hammer of Heretics,” “the Ark of the Testament,” “the eldest son of St. Francis,” stood revealed in all his sanctity, learning, and eloquence before his rapt and astonished brethren.

Devoted from earliest youth to prayer and study among the canons regular, Ferdinand de Bulloens, as his name was in the world, had been stirred, by the spirit and example of the first five Franciscan martyrs, to put on their habit and preach the faith to the Moors in Africa. Denied a martyr’s palm, and enfeebled by sickness, at the age of twenty-seven he was taking silent but merciless revenge upon himself in the humblest offices of his community. From this obscurity he was now called forth, and for nine years France, Italy, and Sicily heard his voice, saw his miracles, and men’s hearts turned to God.

One night, when St. Antony was staying with a friend in the city of Padua, his host saw brilliant rays streaming under the door of the Saint’s room, and on looking through the keyhole, he beheld a little Child of marvellous beauty standing upon a book which lay open upon the table, and clinging with both arms round Antony’s neck.

In 1231, our Saint’s brief apostolate was closed, and the voices of children were heard crying along the streets of Padua, “Our father, St. Antony, is dead.” The following year, the church-bells of Lisbon rang without ringers, while at Rome one of its sons was inscribed among the Saints of God.

Reflection. — Let us love to pray and labor unseen, and cherish in the secret of our hearts the graces of God and the growth of our immortal souls. Like St. Antony, let us attend to this, and leave the rest to God.

Illustration and text from Pictorial Lives of the Saints With Reflections for Every Day in the Year (New York: Benziger Bros., 1922).

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Common Actions Done Well

Endeavor not to appear singular, but to be so. This is done by leading, in all respects, the common life, doing all things that are enjoined, but with exactness in the time, place, and manner prescribed. We must do common things not in a common manner, but in a manner more sublime and perfect than that in which they are commonly done. This is to appear externally like all the rest, and to be interiorly singular, which is a great virtue and a treasure of merit. -St. Bernard

When St. Bernard was assisting one night at Matins, he saw some angels who were carefully noting down the merit of each of the monks. The merit of those who were praying with much fervor, they set down in golden characters; of those with less fervor, in silver characters; of those with good-will, but without affection, in ink; of those with sloth and drowsiness, in water; but as to those who were in mortal sin or voluntarily distracted, they wrote nothing, but, standing motionless, they lamented their blindness.

Text from A Year With the Saints (New York: P.J. Kenedy & Sons, 1891).

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St. Barnabas


We read that in the first days of the Church, “the multitude of believers had but one heart and one soul; neither did any one say that aught of the things which he possessed was his own.” Of this fervent company, one only is singled out by name, Joseph, a rich Levite, from Cyprus. “He having land sold it, and brought the price and laid it at the feet of the Apostles.” They now gave him a new name, Barnabas, the son of consolation.

“He was a good man, full of the Holy Ghost and of faith,” and was soon chosen for an important mission to the rapidly-growing Church of Antioch. Here he perceived the great work which was to be done among the Greeks, so hastened to fetch St. Paul from his retirement at Tarsus. It was at Antioch that the two Saints were called to the apostolate of the Gentiles, and hence they set out together to Cyprus and the cities of Asia Minor. Their preaching struck men with amazement, and some cried out; “The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men,” calling Paul Mercury, and Barnabas Jupiter.

The Saints travelled together to the Council of Jerusalem, but shortly after this they parted. When Agabus prophesied a great famine, Barnabas, no longer rich, was chosen by the faithful at Antioch as most fit to bear, with St. Paul, their generous offerings to the Church of Jerusalem.

The gentle Barnabas, keeping with him John, surnamed Mark, whom St. Paul distrusted, betook himself to Cyprus, where the sacred history leaves him; and here, at a later period, he won his martyr’s crown.

Illustration and text from Pictorial Lives of the Saints With Reflections for Every Day in the Year (New York: Benziger Bros., 1922).

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