Pray Always

"Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you.
For every one that asketh, receiveth: and he that seeketh, findeth: and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened." -Matthew 7:7-8

“We ought always to pray.” –Luke 18:1

“Pray always” –Romans 12:12

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Novena to Our Lady of Lourdes - Day 5

Day 5 – February 6 – Feast of Saint Titus and Saint Dorothy



O Mary Immaculate, Mother of God and our mother, from the heights of your dignity look down mercifully upon us while we, full of confidence in your unbounded goodness and confident that your Divine Son will look favorably upon any request you make of Him in our behalf, we beseech you to come to our aid and secure for us the favor we seek in this novena. (make your request)  O Brilliant star of purity, Mary Immaculate, Our Lady of Lourdes, glorious in your assumption, triumphant in your coronation, show unto us the mercy of the Mother of God, Virgin Mary, Queen and Mother, be our comfort, hope, strength, and consolation. Amen.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.

Saint Bernadette, pray for us.

By thine Immaculate Conception, O Mary, make my body pure and my spirit holy. Ave Maria…

O God, Who adorned blessed Titus, Your Confessor and Bishop, with the virtues of an apostle, grant, through his merits and intercession, that by living justly and piously in this world, we may be found worthy to enter heaven. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. 

May blessed Dorothy, Virgin and Martyr, who was ever pleasing to You by the merit of her chastity and by her trust in Your power, implore for us Your forgiveness, we beseech You, O Lord.  Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.  Amen.

Reading – 


Taken from the first part of the Discourse on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception by Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church


In the first place, it was befitting that the Eternal Father should preserve Mary from the stain of original sin, because she was his daughter, and his first-born daughter, as she herself declares: I came out of the mouth of the Most High, the first-born before all creatures ("Ego ex ore Altissimi prodivi, primogenita ante omnem creaturam"—Ecclus. xxiv. 5).  For this text is applied to Mary by sacred interpreters, the holy Fathers, and by the Church on the solemnity of her Conception.  For whether she be the first-born inasmuch as she was predestined in the divine decrees, together with the Son, before all creatures, according to the Scotists; or the first-born of grace as the predestined Mother of the Redeemer, after the prevision of sin, according to the Thomists; nevertheless all agree in calling her the first-born of God.  This being the case, it was quite becoming that Mary should never have been the slave of Lucifer, but only and always possessed by her Creator; and this she in reality was, as we are assured by herself:  The Lord possessed me in the beginning of His ways ("Dominus possedit me in initio viarum suarum"—Prov. viii. 22,).  Hence Denis of Alexandria rightly calls Mary "the one and only daughter of life" ("Una et sola, Filia vitae"—Ep. Contra Paul. Sam.).  She is the one and only daughter of life, in contradistinction to others who, being born in sin, are daughters of death.

Besides this, it was quite becoming that the Eternal Father should create her in his grace, since he destined her to be the repairer of the lost world, and the mediatress of peace between men and God; and, as such she is looked upon and spoken of by the holy Fathers, and in particular by St. John Damascene, who thus addresses her: "O Blessed Virgin, thou wast born that thou mightest minister to the salvation of the whole world" ("In vitam prodiisti, ut orbis universi Administram te praeberes"—De Nat. B. V. s. 1).  For this reason, St. Bernard says "that Noah's ark was a type of Mary; for as, by its means, men were preserved from the deluge, so are we all saved by Mary from the shipwreck of sin: but with the difference, that in the ark few were saved, and by Mary the whole human race was rescued from death" ("Sicut per illam omnes evaserunt diluviam, sic per istam peccati naufragium; per illam paucorum facta est liberation, per istam humani generic salvation"—S. de B. M. Deip).  Therefore, in a sermon found amongst the works of St. Athanasius, she is called "the new Eve, and the Mother of life" ("Nova Eva, Mater vitae"—In Annunt.); and not without reason, for the first was the Mother of death, but the most Blessed Virgin was the Mother of true life.  St. Theophanius, of Nice, addressing Mary, says, "Hail, thou who hast taken away Eve's sorrow!" (Salve, quae sustulisti tristitiam Evae"—Men. Grac. 9 Jan. Od. 8).  St. Basil of Seieucia calls her the peace-maker between men and God:  "Hail thou who art appointed umpire between God and men!" and St. Ephrem, the peace-maker of the whole world: "Hail, reconciler of the whole world!" ("Ave, totius orbis Conciliatrix!"—De Laud. Dei Gen).  

But now, it certainly would not be becoming to choose an enemy to treat of peace with the offended person, and still less an accomplice in the crime itself.  St. Gregory (Past. P. 1, c. 11) says, "that an enemy cannot undertake to appease his judge, who is at the same time the injured party; for if he did, instead of appeasinghim, he would provoke him to greater wrath."  And therefore, as Mary was to be the mediatress of peace between men and God, it was of the utmost importance that she should not herself appear as a sinner and as an enemy of God, but that she should appear in all things as a friend, and free from every stain. 

Still more was it becoming that God should preserve her from original sin, for he destined her to crush the head of that infernal serpent, which, by seducing our first parents, entailed death upon all men: and this our Lord foretold:  I will put enemities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head ("Inimicitias ponam inter te et mulierem, et semen tuum et semen illius; ipsa conteret caput tuum"—Gen. iii. 15).  But if Mary was to be that valiant woman brought into the world to conquer Lucifer, certainly it was not becoming that he should first conquer her, and make her his slave; but it was reasonable that she should be preserved from all stain, and even momentary subjection to her opponent.  The proud spirit endeavored to infect the most pure soul of this Virgin with his venom, as he had already infected the whole human race.  But praised and ever blessed be God, who, in his infinite goodness, pre-endowed her for this purpose with such great grace, that, remaining always free from any guilt of sin, she was ever able to beat down and confound his pride, as St. Augustine, or whoever may be the author of the commentary on Genesis, says: "Since the devil is the head of original sin, this head it was that Mary crushed: for sin never had any entry into the soul of this Blessed Virgin, which was consequently free from all stain" ("Cum subjection originalis peccati caput sit diaboli, tale caput Maria contrivit; quia nulla peccati subjection ingressum habuit in animam Virginis, et ideo ab omni macula immunis fuit").  And St. Bonaventure more expressly says, "It was becoming that the Blessed Virgin Mary, by whom our shame was to be blotted out, and by whom the devil was to be conquered, should never, even for a moment, have been under his dominion" ("Congruum erat ut Beata Virgo Maria, per quam aufertur nobis opprobrium, vinceret diabolum, ut nec ei succumberet ad modicum"—In Sent. iii. d. 3, p. 1, a. 2, q. 1).

But, above all, it principally became the Eternal Father to preserve this his daughter unspotted by Adam's sin, as St. Bernardine of Sienna remarks, because he destined her to be the Mother of his only begotten Son: "Thou wast preordained in the mind of God, before all creatures, that thou mightest beget God himself as man" ("Tu ante omnem creaturam in mente Dei praeordinata fuisti, ut Deum ipsum hominem procreares"—Pro Fest. V. M. s. 4, a. 3, c. 4).  If, then, for no other end, at least for the honor of his Son, who was God, it was reasonable that the Father should create Mary free from every stain.  The angelic St. Thomas says, that all things that are ordained for God should be holy and free from stain: "Holiness is to be attributed to those things that are ordained for God" ("Sanctitas illis rebus attribuitur, quae in Deum ordinantur"—P. 1, q. 36, a. 1).  Hence when David was planning the temple of Jerusalem, on a scale of magnificence becoming a God, he said, For a house is prepared not for man, but for God ("Nec enim homini praeparatur habitation, sed Deo"—1 Par. xxix. 1).  How much more reasonable, then, is it not, to suppose that the sovereign architect, who destined Mary to be the Mother of his own Son, adorned her soul with all most precious gifts, that she might be a dwelling worthy of a God!  Denis the Carthusian says, "that God, the artificer of all things, when constructing a worthy dwelling for his Son, adorned it with all attractive graces" ("Omnium Artifex, Deus, Filio suo dignum habitaculum fabricaturus, eam omnium gratificantium charismatum adornavit"—De Laud. V. l. 2, a. 2).  And the Holy Church herself, in the following prayer, assures us that God prepared the body and soul of the Blessed Virgin so as to be a worthy dwelling on earth for his only-begotten Son:  "Almighty and Eternal God, who, by the co-operation of the Holy Ghost, didst prepare the body and soul of the glorious Virgin and Mother Mary, that she might become a worthy habitation for thy Son" ("Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui gloriosae Virginis Matris Mariae corpus et animam, ut dignum Filii tui habitaculum effici mereretur, Spiritu Sancto cooperante, praeparasti").  

We know that a man's highest honor is to be born of noble parents:  And the glory of children are their fathers ("Gloria filiorum patres eorum"—Prov. xvii. 6).  Hence in the world the reputation of being possessed of only a small fortune, and little learning, is more easily tolerated than that of being of low birth; for, whilst a poor man may become rich by his industry, an ignorant man learned by study, it is very difficult for a person of humble origin to attain the rank of nobility; but, even should he attain it, his birth can always be made a subject of reproach to him.  How, then, can we suppose that God, who could cause his Son to be born of a noble mother by preserving her from sin, would on the contrary permit him to be born of one infected by it, and thus enable Lucifer always to reproach him with the shame of having a mother who had once been his slave and the enemy of God?  No, certainly, the Eternal Father did not permit this; but he well provided for the honor of his Son by preserving his Mother always immaculate, that she might be a Mother becoming such a Son.  The Greek Church bears witness to this, saying, "that God, by a singular Providence, caused the most Blessed Virgin to be perfectly pure from the very frist moment of her existence, as it was fitting that she should be, who was to be the worthy Mother of Christ" ("Providentia singulari perfecit, ut Sanctissima Virgo, ab ipso vitae suae principio, tam omnino existeret pura, quam decebat illam quae Christo digna existeret"—Menol. 25 Mart).

It is a common axiom amongst theologians that no gift was ever bestowed on any creature with which the Blessed Virgin was not also enriched.  St. Bernard says on this subject, "It is certainly not wrong to suppose that that which has evidently been bestowed, even only on a few, was not denied to so great a Virgin" ("Quod vel paucis mortalium constat fuisse collatum, fas certe non est suspicari tantae Virgini esse negatum"—Epist. 174). St. Thomas of Villanova says, "Nothing was ever granted to any saint which did not shine in a much higher degree in Mary from the very first moment of her existence" ("Nihil unquam alicui Sanctorum concessum est, quod non a principio vitae accumulatius perfulgeat in Maria"—De Ass. conc. 1).  And as it is true that "there is an infinite difference between the Mother of God and the servants of God" ("Matris Dei et servorum Infinitum est discrimen"—De Dorm. B. M. or. 1), according to the celebrated saying of St. John Damascene, we must certainly suppose, according to the doctrine of St. Thoams, that "God conferred privileges of graces in every way greater on his Mother than on his servants" ("Quod prae omnibus aliis majora privilegia gratiae acceperit"—P. 3, q. 27, a. 1).  And now admitting this, St. Anselm, the great defender of the Immaculate Mary, takes up the question and says, "Was the wisdom of God unable to form a pure dwelling, and to remove every stain of human nature from it?" ("Impotensne fuit sapientia Dei mundum sibi habitaculum condere, remota omni labe conditionis humanae?")  Perhaps God could not prepare a clean habitation for his Son by preserving it from the common contagion?  "God," continues the same saint, "could preserve angels in heaven spotless, in the midst of the devastation that surrounded them; was he, then, unable to preserve the Mother of his Son and the Queen of angels from the common fall of men?" ("Angelis aliis peccantibus, bonos a peccatis servavit; et Matrem ab aliorum peccatis exsortem servare non valuit?"—De Conc. B. M.).  And I may here add, that as God could grant Eve the grace to come immaculate into the world, could he not, then, grant the same favor to Mary?

Yes indeed!  God could do this, and did it; for on every account "it was becoming," as the same St. Anselm says, "that that Virgin, on whom the Eternal Father intended to bestow his only-begotten Son, should be adorned with such purity as not only to exceed that of all men and angels, but exceeding any purity that can be conceived after that of God" ("Decens erat ut ea puritate, qua major sub Deo nequit intelligi, Virgo illa niteret, cui Deus Pater unicum Filium suum dare disponebat"—De Conc. Virg. c. 18).  And St. John Damascene speaks in still clearer terms; for he says, "that our Lord had preserved the soul, together with the body of the Blessed Virgin, in that purity which became her who was to receive a God into her womb; for, as he is holy, he only reposes in holy places" ("Sic Virginis una cum corpore animam conservasset, ut eam decebat quae Deum in sinu suo exceptura erat; sanctus enim ipse cum sit, in sanctis requiescat"—De Fide Orth. L. 4, c. 15).  And thus the Eternal Father could well say to his beloved daughter, As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters ("Sicut lilium inter spinas, sic Amica mea inter filias"—Cant. ii. 2).  My daughter, amongst all my other daughters, thou art as a lily in the midst of thorns; for they are all stained with sin, but thou wast always immaculate, and always my beloved.


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