• Marian Reflections

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Marian thought for February

"The Origin of the Way of the Cross:
During the whole of the scene which we have just described, the Mother of Jesus, with Magdalen and John, had stood in a recess in the forum: they were overwhelmed with the most bitter sorrow, which was but increased by all they heard and saw. When Jesus was taken before Herod, John led the Blessed Virgin and Magdalen over the parts which had been sanctified by his footsteps. They again looked at the house of Caiphas, that of Annas, Ophel, Gethsemani, and the Garden of Olives; they stopped and contemplated each spot where he had fallen, or where he had suffered particularly; and they wept silently at the thought of all he had undergone. The Blessed Virgin knelt down frequently and kissed the ground where her Son had fallen, while Magdalen wrung her hands in bitter grief, and John, although he could not restrain his own tears, endeavoured to console his companions, supported and led them on. Thus was the holy devotion of the ‘Way of the Cross’ first practised; thus were the Mysteries of the Passion of Jesus first honoured, even before that Passion was accomplished, and the Blessed Virgin, that model of spotless purity, was the first to show forth the deep veneration felt by the Church for our dear Lord. How sweet and consoling to follow this Immaculate Mother, passing to and fro, and bedewing the sacred spots with her tears. But, ah! Who can describe the sharp, sharp sword of grief which then transfixed her tender soul? She who had once borne the Saviour of the world in her chaste womb, and suckled him for so long,—she who had truly conceived him who was the Word of God, in God from all eternity, and truly God,—she beneath whose heart, full of grace, he had deigned to dwell nine months, who had felt him living within her before he appeared among men to impart the blessing of salvation and teach them his heavenly doctrines; she suffered with Jesus, sharing with him not only the sufferings of his bitter Passion, but likewise that ardent desire of redeeming fallen man by an ignominious death, which consumed him. In this touching manner did the most pure and holy Virgin lay the foundation of the devotion called the Way of the Cross; thus at each station, marked by the sufferings of her Son, did she lay up in her heart the inexhaustible merits of his Passion, and gather them up as precious stones or sweet-scented flowers to be presented as a choice offering to the Eternal Father in behalf of all true believers. The grief of Magdalen was so intense as to make her almost like an insane person. The holy and boundless love she felt for our Lord prompted her to cast herself at his feet, and there pour forth the feelings of her heart (as she once poured the precious ointment on his head as he sat at table); but when on the point of following this impulse, a dark gulf appeared to intervene between herself and him. The repentance she felt for her faults was immense, and not less intense was her gratitude for their pardon; but when she longed to offer acts of love and thanksgiving as precious incense at the feet of Jesus, she beheld him betrayed, suffering, and about to die for the expiation of her offences which he had taken upon himself, and this sight filled her with horror, and almost rent her soul asunder with feelings of love, repentance, and gratitude. The sight of the ingratitude of those for whom he was about to die increased the bitterness of these feelings tenfold, and every step, word, or movement demonstrated the agony of her soul. The heart of John was filled with love, and he suffered intensely, but he uttered not a word. He supported the Mother of his beloved Master in this her first pilgrimage through the stations of the Way of the Cross, and assisted her in giving the example of that devotion which has since been practised with so much fervour by the members of the Christian Church." (St. Anthony of Padua).

St. Manuel Gonzalez

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"Immaculate Mother, teach me to repeat generously, firmly, and peacefully in everything and every moment, the answer you gave to the Angel Gabriel, "Be it done unto me according to your word."

St. Manuel Gonzalez was born in Seville, Spain, on February 25, 1877. Known as "the Bishop of the Abandoned Tabernacle," he tried to instill the great love he had for Jesus in the Eucharist in his faithful and those around him. Before reaching ten years of age, he was a choirboy who sang and danced before the Blessed Sacrament on the feasts of Corpus Christi and the Immaculate Conception. At twelve years of age, he entered the minor seminary and was at the top of all of his classes. He received his doctorate in Theology and his bachelor's degree in Canon Law after fifteen years of studying. He was ordained a priest in 1901 by Cardinal Spinola. He gave his first parish mission shortly after his ordination. He had an experience that convinced him of his mission to defend the Eucharist from abandonment. In a small down in Andalucía, he was shocked to find an abandoned tabernacle. Four years after his ordination, he was named archpriest of Huelva, Spain. In 1916, he was consecrated bishop of Malaga where he exercised his office for almost 20 years. On the night of May 11, 1931, a mass of people set fire to the Bishop's Palace. Miraculously, the bishop, together with his faithful, escaped from the flames. After this, he never returned to Malaga. As if exiled, he moved to Madrid, but in spite of all that had taken place, his zeal for Our Lord in the tabernacle continued. In 1935, he was named bishop of Palencia until 1940 when, after an illness, he passed away in Madrid on January 4, 1940. He was buried in the Cathedral of Palencia in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel as he had requested. "I ask that I may be buried alongside a tabernacle so that after my death, my bones, just like my tongue and my pen during my life, may repeat to those who pass by, 'Jesus is there! He is there! Do not abandon Him!'" He was beatified on April 29, 2001 and canonized by Pope Francis on October 16, 2016.

 

Saint Clare of Assisi

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"May you cling to his most sweet Mother, who gave birth to the kind of Son whom the heavens could not contain, and yet, she carried him in the tiny enclosure of her sacred womb."

Saint Clare of Assisi was born in Assisi in 1194. Very little is known about her infancy and adolescence. The first written information about her tell us that at the age of 18 she cut her hair and took on the dark habit worn by the order of St. Francis, wanting to follow Christ in poverty, humility and charity. She began to live a life of radical poverty and founded to the second franciscan order: the Poor Ladies. St. Clare lived St. Francis' ideal, but from inside the convent, where she spent 43 years of her life. She gave her soul up to God in a convent called Saint Damian on the 11th of August, 1253. Her last words were: "Oh God, blessed are you for having created me."

 

Blessed Philip Rinaldi

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"If you do something for the Virgin Mary, she will do much more for you."

Bl. Philip Rinaldi was born on May 28, 1856, in the province of Alessandria, Italy. He had the joy of meeting St. John Bosco who later invited him to become a Salesian. He was ordained a priest in 1882, and a bit later was placed in charge of aspirants to the priesthood. He worked in Spain and Portugal. In 1901, John Bosco's successor named him vicar-general of the congregation. He never allowed his intense work to impide him from exercising his ministry as priest and spiritual guide. He was named Rector Major in 1922 and dedicated himself to the formation of the Salesians. He lived totally committed to his vocation. He fell ill during August 1928 and, realizing its gravity, stated on one occasion, "I have grown old, I must forget about the world." He died in the year 1931, and was beatified on April 9, 1990 by Saint John Paul II..

 

Saint Cyril of Alexandria

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"We salute you, O Mary, Mother of God, treasure of the universe, inextinguishable flame, crown of virginity (…) We salute you who in your virginal womb enclosed the Immense and Incomprehensible One."

Saint Cyril was patriarch of Alexandria (Egypt). Saint Cyril lived between 376-444 and is famous for his battle against several heresies, above all against nestorianism. He presided the Council at Ephesus (431), in which the dogma that defines that Mary is the Mother God was proclaimed. He defended the doctrine that gives Mary the name "Theotokos" (Mother of God). This defense led to imprisonment and many battles out of which he emerged victorious.

 

Saint Louis Marie de Montfort

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"God the Father gathered together of all the waters, and He named it the sea (mare). He has gathered together of all His graces, and He has called it Mary (Maria)."

Saint Louis Marie de Montfort was born in Montfort (France) on January 31st, 1673. He was the eldest of 18 siblings, 3 of which became priests and another 3 religious sisters. Since an early age he was greatly devoted to the Eucharist and to the Blessed Virgin Mary and would often be found spending long periods of time before an image of the Virgin Mary. Ever since he was little he used to go to daily mass even though that meant getting up early in the morning and walking 4 km to get to the Church. He was 20 years old when he felt the call from God to consecrate his life in the priesthood. He was ordained at the age of 27 on June 5th, 1700. His priestly motto was: "Be a slave to Mary". Among his writings we find one of the most well known works written about Our Lady: "True devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary". Saint Louis Marie is venerated as a priest, a missionary, and a founder, but above all as the slave of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He died in Saint Laurent sur Sevre on April 28th, 1716 when he was just 43 years old. He was beatified in 1888 and canonized on July 20th, 1947.

 

Blessed Jacinta Marto

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"Tell everyone that God grants us His grace through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. They should turn to Her to obtain the graces they seek. The Sacred Heart of Jesus wants Mary’s Immaculate Heart to be venerated next to His. People should ask for peace from the Immaculate Heart of Mary because God has placed it in Her hands."

Jacinta Marto was born on March 11, 1910. She was one of the visionaries of Fatima, where Our Blessed Mother appeared in 1917. Sr. Lucia spoke of her saying that she had a very mature spirit despite her young age. Jacinta loved the Heart of Mary and wanted to make reparation for the many offenses She receives. She had a great spirit of self-denial, and sacrifices for poor sinners did not frighten her. She always prayed for the conversion of sinners. She also prayed and offered sacrifices for the Pope, whom she loved dearly. In 1918, she fell ill during the influenza epidemic which later developed into purulent pleurisy. At first she hid the pain caused by the illness, offering it up in reparation for the sins committed against Our Lady. She eventually had to go to the hospital and suffered greatly there, although she never complained. During that time she continued to receive visits from the Blessed Virgin. The last sacrifice she was asked to make was to die all alone. Our Lady came down to take her to Heaven when Jacinta was only 9 years old. She was beatified on May 13, 2000.

 

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