by Fr Richard Heilman | January 26, 2016 1:00 AM
St. Augustine’s Prayer to the Holy Spirit
Breathe in me O Holy Spirit that my thoughts may all be holy; Act in me O Holy Spirit that my works, too, may be holy; Draw my heart O Holy Spirit that I love but what is holy; Strengthen me O Holy Spirit to defend all that is holy; Guard me then O Holy Spirit that I always may be holy.
Reading: Matthew 1:18-25
Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him “Emmanuel,” which means “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. He had no relations with her until she bore a son, and he named him Jesus.
The sacred writer is careful to point out the virginal state of Mary by relating Joseph’s experience with the angel, as well as quoting the ancient prophecy of Isaiah (7:14) about the “virgin with child.” As head of the family, Joseph was brought into the mystery of Jesus’ birth. To Mary’s heavenly Spouse, the Holy Spirit, is attributed her conception; to her earthly spouse is given the charge to name the child. Meanwhile Mary keeps silence, despite the anguish she must have suffered, and trusts God to explain her situation to her husband.
Right after the Gospels were written, the first Fathers of the Church stressed Mary’s virginity as a keystone of Christian theology. St. Ignatius of Antioch, for example, who was martyred in 116 AD, wrote in his Letter to the Ephesians that Mary’s virginity, along with Jesus’ birth and death, were the three great mysteries crying out to be proclaimed—thus an essential part of the Good News of the Christ, because Mary’s virginity is the convalidation of Jesus’ being the Son of God.
How sad to hear of some theologians who down-play or even deny Mary’s privileges, as if God were limited in his power to arrange His own Son’s birth. And did not the Son have the freedom to make His mother whatever He chose? Did the Holy Spirit set a boundary to His love of His spouse? Those who wish to be totally consecrated to Mary should study her relationships to the Three Divine Persons, come to know her virtues by meditation, and understand her role in salvation as revealed in the Scriptures.
The Words of St. Maximilian
This is why the Immaculata is our mother:
So you, my child, must love her as your mother with all the generosity of your heart. She loved you enough to sacrifice God’s Son for you. In the Annunciation she welcomed you with all graciousness as her child. She will make you like herself, will make you ever more immaculate, will nourish you with the milk of her grace. Just let yourself be guided by her; let yourself be ever more willingly shaped by her. Watch over the purity of your conscience; purify it in her love. Do not get discouraged, even if you sin seriously, repeatedly. An act of perfect love will purify you again. You belong to her as her property. Let her do with you what she wishes. Do not let her feel herself bound by any restrictions flowing from the obligations a mother has towards her own child.
Be hers—her property. Let her make free use of you and dispose of you without any limits for whatever purpose she wishes. Let her be your owner, your Lady and absolute Queen. A servant sells his labor. You, on the contrary, offer yours as a gift: your fatigue, your suffering, all that is yours. Beg her not to pay attention to your free will, but to act towards you always as she desires in full liberty. Be her child, her servant, her slave of love in every way and under whatever formulation yet devised or which can be devised now or in the future. In a word, be all hers.
Be hers to the point of being her soldier, so that others may become ever more perfectly hers, like you yourself and even more than you; so that all those who live and will live all over the world may work together with her in her struggle against the infernal serpent. Belong to the Immaculata so that your conscience, becoming ever purer, may be purified still more; become immaculate, as she is for Jesus, so you, too, may become a mother and conqueror of hearts for her.
Sub Tuum Praesidium Prayer
We fly to thy patronage, O holy Mother of God; despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin. Amen.
Miraculous Medal Prayer
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you, and for all who do not have recourse to you, especially the enemies of the Church and all those recommended to you.
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