MARY, OUR MOTHER

Wednesday, February 28, 2007



THE FIRST ADORERS

5. The Mother with the Child.
The Gospel says that they found the Child with its Mother, Mary. This detail must not be overlooked. The Gospel reminds us again that the Child is with Its Mother. Here Mary is shown for the first time instructing the Gentiles. she shows Jesus to the Magi and through them She shows Christianity to the pagan world. To Mary we all owe our faith. Let us through Her offer our gifts and especially the gifts of our heart to the beloved Child.

Moreover remember that in your own life there is also a star. You have to follow your vocation inspite of all difficulties. should its light be eclipsed, should you be unable to see the end of your journey, you have still a vocation to follow. Be faithful to it, be constant in trial. Never disregard an inspiration from Heaven. many graces may be linked to it.

Finally, consider that for you there is still another star that is always shining. A star that will never disappear. You can always follow it. This star is Mary, Our Beloved Mother. she will guide you and comfort you in your difficult moments. But lift your eyes and look at Her and realize that She is ever shining upon the steps of your life and guiding the movements of your heart. Repeat with St. Bernard: "Look at the star; always invoke Mary."

[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


THE FIRST ADORERS

4. Arrival in Bethlehem.
See them now in Bethlehem. The victory has been complete. The star is shining again leading them up to the very dwelling of the Child Jesus. But there is another difficulty. Should not they, people of noble birth, find it below their dignity to enter such a poor place and address a small child surrounded by such poverty? Here lies the merit of faith. Faith is not deceived by appearances but goes deep to the root and sees what the eye cannot distinguish. The magi see God despite the poverty of the stable and falling on their knees they adore Him.

See them offering their gifts. Meditate on the significance. Here everything suggests sacrifice: the gold represents sacrifice through love, incense symbolizes sacrifice through prayer, myrrh signifies sacrifice through mortification and penance. We can find Jesus only through sacrifice. Sacrifice is a gift most pleasing to Him.


[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]

Monday, February 26, 2007


NEW MEDJUGORJE MESSAGE


Message of February 25, 2007

"Dear children! Open your heart to God’s mercy in this Lenten time. The Heavenly Father desires to deliver each of you from the slavery of sin. Therefore, little children, make good use of this time and through meeting with God in confession, leave sin and decide for holiness. Do this out of love for Jesus, who redeemed you all with His blood, that you may be happy and in peace. Do not forget, little children: your freedom is your weakness, therefore follow my messages with seriousness. Thank you for having responded to my call."
How wonderful that Our Lady is still appearing at Medjugorje and giving us these Messages for our spiritual journey to Heaven. Here She reminds of of what Lent is all about; spiritually house-cleaning our souls with a good confession, and meditating on the Precious Blood of Jesus, shed for our sins. Love Jesus, and be happy and be in peace because God is merciful and He has Redeemed us through His life, death and Resurrection! And remember that we are weak and because of our freedom, we can fall into sin or become lukewarm, so Our Lady wants us to take Her Messages seriously and to live them! Let us all give thanks to God for Our Lady's guidance and maternal love!
Deacon John



THE FIRST ADORERS

3. The Magi.
A special divine revelation drives them to Bethlehem. A star has appeared in the sky and an inspiration has arisen in their hearts. the magi, docile to this call, start on their journey. see their docility and the readiness of their obedience. They leave everything at once, country, home, family, comfort, in order to embark upon a long and extremely hard journey. Humanly speaking, this is sheer madness. You must be convinced that to the world and to the prudence of the flesh the things of God look fantastically mad. However, you must love and seek this divine madness. Remember the moment when the star disappeared. A terrible moment of doubt and of hesitation. Had they perhaps made a mistake? Would it not be better to retrace their steps? Think how different would have been the story of the Magi if they had yielded. What an immense pity would it have been to be on the threshold of success, almost at the end of their journey, and then go back losing it all at the last moment. This is a perfect image of the inconstant. Do not forget that it is only the one who perseveres that secures victory. Do not forget that perseverance is the touch-stone of love.

[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]







Our Lady of Fatima requested, through the First Saturday Devotions, that we Catholics go to confession at least once a month! Now that it is Lent, I think it would be a great time to get into this holy habit! Fr. John Zuhlsdorf posted this guideline on his Blog and I thought I would post it also!


Fr. Z’s 20 Tips For Making A Good Confession
We should…

1) ...examine our consciences regularly and thoroughly;
2) ...wait our turn in line patiently;
3) ...come at the time confessions are scheduled, not a few minutes before they are to end;
4) ...speak distinctly but never so loudly that we might be overheard;
5) ...state our sins clearly and briefly without rambling;
6) ...confess all mortal sins in number and kind;
7) ...listen carefully to the advice the priest gives;
8) ...confess our own sins and not someone else’s;
9) ...carefully listen to and remember the penance and be sure to understand it;
10) ...use a regular formula for confession so that it is familiar and comfortable;
11) ...never be afraid to say something "embarrassing"... just say it;
12) ...never worry that the priest thinks we are jerks…. he is usually impressed by our courage;
13) ...never fear that the priest will not keep our confession secret… he is bound by the Seal;
14) ...never confess "tendencies" or "struggles"... just sins;
15) ...never leave the confessional before the priest has finished giving absolution;
16) ...memorize an Act of Contrition;
17) ...answer the priest’s questions briefly if he asks for a clarification;
18) ...ask questions if we can’t understand what he means when he tells us something;
19) ...keep in mind that sometimes priests can have bad days just like we do;
20) ...remember that priests must go to confession too … they know what we are going through.

And let me add that you should offer your confession in reparation for the offences committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary, receive Holy Communion, pray five decades of the Rosary, meditate for 15 minutes on the Mysteries of the Rosary, and pray for the Holy Father, for the Five First Saturday Devotion. Our Lady promises that She will assist us at the hour of our death with Her maternal presence if we do this for five First Saturday's in a row! What a gift! Why not use it!

Sunday, February 25, 2007



THE FIRST ADORERS

2. The Joy of Our Lady.
What joy would flood the heart of Our Lady when She saw and heard their story! In order to reward the faith and simplicity of those humble shepherds Mary takes Jesus and shows Him to them and hands Him over to their affectionate embrace and caresses. To possess Jesus is the reward of simplicity and obedience. Note, however, that Mary is the one who gives them Jesus.

This, His first manifestation to mankind, Jesus wants done through His Mother. This is the first surrender of Himself to men. But He is given to us through Mary. Eve partook of the forbidden fruit, showed it to Adam, gave it to him and so we were lost. Mary shows the fruit of Her most pure womb to the shepherds and in them to all men. She hands Jesus to them and we are saved.

Jesus is the Savior, but He is so through Our Blessed Lady. Jesus receives us through our Heavenly Mother. There is no other way to Him than through Mary. "You will never find Jesus without Mary," says St. Bonaventure. You cannot, therefore, put Jesus and Mary asunder. We shall find Him in the arms of Mary, just as the shepherds did. When we fall as they did at the feet of Jesus we shall find that we have also fallen at the feet of Mary.

[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]

Saturday, February 24, 2007


Meditation 42

THE FIRST ADORERS

1. The Shepherds.
God chose them to represent mankind and be the first to whom the mystery of Jesus was revealed. Why were they chosen? On account of their simplicity. The Child Jesus shows Himself to those who are child-like in their simplicity. Simplicity is the straight road to God. Simplicity is the ingenuous faith possessed by those shepherds. Simplicity is blind obedience just as their obedience was.

The shepherds did not take pride in it. Having heard the voice of the Angels, they simply accepted their invitation to go to the crib. Self-love, on the contrary, must ponder over and make its own calculations beforehand. An injection of our self-love into the heart of the shepherds would probably have caused them to give up the idea of going to Bethlehem. "One never knows," they might have said, "people will laugh at us. It might be a bluff. Suppose there is nothing, then we shall cut such a poor figure!" This is the language of self-love. How different is the faith, the obedience and the humility proper of simplicity. What place does this virtue occupy in your heart?

[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]

Friday, February 23, 2007



THE DIVINE BIRTH

4. Cradle Prayer.
Before closing this consideration, approach Mary and ask Her to let you hold Her Son in your arms for a few moments. Entertain Him. Press Him against your heart and tell Him that He is enthroned there forever. Ask Him to leave His cradle and the manger for the palace of your soul where you will give Him warmth and comfort. Ask Him to teach you how to love His Mother and ask His Mother to teach you how to love Her Son.
Remember that the life of Jesus began with a glance at Mary, as it ended on the cross with a glance at Her. Do you not think that this is a hint for you, telling you that the whole of your life should unfold itself under Her eyes? Learn how to look at Her and remember that you are under Her constant watch.

Thursday, February 22, 2007



THE DIVINE BIRTH

3. The First-Born.
The Gospel says that Mary gave birth to Her first-born. Jesus was indeed Her first born. He is our Elder Brother. Then came we, who are also children of Mary. What happiness is ours! The Mother of God is our Mother also. Jesus is our Brother. Each one of us is a brother of Christ's. Have you ever reflected upon this? Have you ever paused to consider what all this means, on the part of God, on the part of men? This is the climax of bounty and love. This is the greatest glory and dignity to which you can aspire. A title so sweet that God would not even give it to His own angels. Mary is, indeed, the Queen of angels, but the angels cannot call Her Mother as we can whenever we kneel before the cradle of Jesus. In the presence of this Mother, think and relish these most sweet truths.



Wednesday, February 21, 2007

His Presence

The place was lonely, Bare and cold Despondent I felt, As I sat alone. Come, Lord Jesus, Sit here with me Come and keep me company. Suddenly, a wave of joy And happiness did flow. Jesus came And He wanted me to know.

Sr. Rose M. Scirghi
















THE DIVINE BIRTH

2. The Birth.
If oblivion, neglect and even contempt was all that His own brought to the arrival of Jesus, instead look at Mary. Enter that grotto and observe with holy curiosity all that is taking place there. Enlightened by the Holy Spirit, Mary has come to know that the moment of the birth of Her divine Son is already at hand and tired though She is by the long wearisome journey, yet She has no desire to rest.

Now, more than ever, She draws Herself into most fervent prayer. Her ardent desires and sighs do irresistible violence to the Heart of God. He lets Himself be conquered by Mary's prayer, and when She reaches the peak of ecstasy, the Holy Spirit in a miraculous manner acts and Mary opening Her eyes, finds lying on Her mantle, as white as a snowflake, more beautiful than the angels, the Son of God, Her Son. Mary, Virgin before His birth, is also Virgin without blemish in His birth. Just as a sunbeam goes through a crystal without breaking or staining it, so also was the Son of Mary born.

Draw closer confidently and watch that scene. Jesus is about to receive the first adoration and with it the first caresses of a mother. Mary addresses Her God, living there, really and physically present. But as Mother, She is entitled to lift that little Child and imprint on His delicate cheeks the first kiss. With what ardent love She would kiss Him. What a warm embrace, what tender caresses!

Jesus does not feel the poverty of that stable, nor does He feel the cold of the night because the first thing His eyes have seen on opening was the face of His Mother. Have you ever witnessed the charming smile of a little child when it rested its eyes on something pleasant, then try to picture the smile of Jesus on seeing His Mother, so pure, so beautiful, so tender. A Mother and Son do not grow tired of looking at each other. That glance of Mary is joy and consolation for Jesus as the glance of Jesus is an increase of grace and sanctity for Mary.

With what respect and devotion and at the same time with what tenderness and delicacy did Mary wrap the little body of Her Son in the clean though poor swaddling clothes! With what profound sorrow did She place Him on the straw in the manger. God so closely embraced poverty that He had neither house or hut to dwell in. How great, then, is the value of poverty, since the Son of God seems to have associated Himself with it. Ask Mary the grace to know the value of this virtue in order to love and practice it.


[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]

Tuesday, February 20, 2007



Meditation 41

THE DIVINE BIRTH

1. The Ingratitude of His Own People.
See how literally the words of the Gospel are fulfilled: They who were His own gave Him no welcome. What ignorance of the things of God! If only those people had suspected what was going to happen that blessed night! When there is a real submission to the Will of God, we should not care as to the why and wherefore of God's dispositions.

On the other hand if those people of Bethlehem could find an excuse in their ignorance, have not we ourselves been granted a thousand proofs to enable us to know the things of God and so ascertain Who He is and where He can be found?

Ask pardon from Our Lord for the very many times you barred your heart against His entrance; for the many times He wanted to perform some good through you and you hindered Him.


[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]

Monday, February 19, 2007


ON THE ROAD TO BETHLEHEM

3. Bethlehem.
At last they have arrived. It is time to rest. Joseph goes around looking for a decent place in keeping with their poverty. But here again the hand of God tries them with suffering and trial. No inns, no friends, all doors are closed to them. How trying! After several days hard travelling and on the eve of giving birth to Her Son, Mary has no where to stay. Do you not think that in Her place we would have given vent to bad temper or despair?

But not a word of complaint from Our Lady. Again She trusts Herself into the arms of God, awaits the manifestation of God's Holy Will. In the end God's Will must always prevail.Why then should we not accept it with more resignation and joy especially when something unpleasant happens to us? Look at Mary; see Her enter that miserable stable. Her delicate sentiments, Her maternal love must have been hurt. How repugnant is everything around. How could She spend the night in that place? Could She possible give birth to Her Son in such a den? Yet Mary is serene and joyful. If this is the will of God then it is Hers also.

Throw yourself at the feet of that Most Pure Virgin and beg pardon for your pride, for that self-love of yours which so often goes against the Holy Will of God. Implore from Her a submission, an obedience like Hers, that you may learn how to obey and submit even joyfully without uttering a word not only your will but also your judgement to your superior, even when you are convinced of being perfectly right.

[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]

Sunday, February 18, 2007



ON THE ROAD TO BETHLEHEM

2. The Journey.
It was rather long, about five days. It was hard, because the road is poor and the beast of burden is not of much help. It was unpleasant, for December has its biting cold and merciless winds, its rains and even snow. Try to accompany Our lady for a little while. See Her wrapped in a dark mantle; a veil over Her face. St. Joseph by Her side, does not take his eyes from Her and sees to it that the humble beast treads the best portion of the road. Imagine the sweetness of the face hidden under the veil; Her purity, modesty and recollection: all harmony and heavenly beauty; all sanctity.

Other travellers who can do the journey faster and more comfortably overtake and pass the little group. They go by criticising and cursing mighty Caesar's order but Mary proceeds rapt in ecstasy, all transfigured, thinking of the treasure She is carrying within Herself. On the road as well as at home the passing life around Her does not touch Her soul. She lives every moment with Jesus and for Jesus.

How beautiful Our Lady's prayer would be during that journey! See the angels vying with each other to have the honor of accompanying Her. You also should try to accompany your Mother during the stages of that journey. Would you not like to help Her to alight, to find Her shelter in the shade of some palm tree, to bring Her some water. Place yourself at Her service and even though you do all these services in a clumsy way, ask Her not to despise you but rather to take you into Her company. Refuse Her nothing, since She deserves everything.

[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]

Saturday, February 17, 2007


Meditation 40

ON THE ROAD TO BETHLEHEM

1. The Register.
The degree of Augustus enjoining a general registration in the whole of his empire gave the occasion for this journey to Bethlehem, enabling Our Lady to exercise those most beautiful and difficult virues, submission and obedience. Contemplate Mary in the company of St. Joseph in their poor dwelling of Nazareth. Poor indeed, but nothing in wanting to them. With the greatest love She had prepared, down to the minutest detail, th ethings required for Her Son's birth so near approaching. The little cradle had been made by Joseph. The swaddling clothes have been stitched and embroided by Her. It is true, there is poverty in everything but there is much love. And love has such a store of ingenuity and inventiveness: love has taught Her how best to comfort and receive Her dear Divine Child.

All of a sudden a rumor going round the village reaches the humble couple. Soon they have the confirmation of that rumor. Everybody is to be compelled to go and get registered in his place of origin. And since She and Joseph belong to the clan of David, there is no choice: they must undertake the journey to the royal city of Bethlehem. What a set-back! How can they undertake such a journey now, just when the divine birth is expected? And that too just at the whim of a proud man, who tyranically decrees that it should be so. Is there no means of evading the order? Could it, at least, be deferred? Why not wait just a little at least until the happy event has taken place?

Yet Our Heavenly Mother speaks not a word, utters no citicism, no protest. Although with a heavy heart, She submits to the divine will, trusts in God, thrusts Herself into His Arms and sets Herself to obey. Was there at any time any person anywhere with better reason to disregard an order than Our Blessed Lady then? If She had not submitted to the order or had just ignored it, who could have blamed Her? Would we not have said that She had done very well; that it would have been a great imprudence to embark on such a journey at such a time? And yet Mary does not listen to the prudence of the worldly wise. She thinks only of obedience ignoring all else. What a submission of will and of judgement!

Note this well, because this is the hardest point of obedience. She had ample reasons to excuse Her; but with Mary obedience comes first. For above obedience there is nothing. A hard, painful and practical lesson is thus given to us by Mary!

[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]


JABALPUR, India - February 16, 2007 - CathNews - Jabalpur, India Bishop Gerald Almeida has called on Catholics to engage in "soul searching" after the eyes of a life-size statue of the Sacred Heart in a church yard began to ooze a blood-like substance. UCA News reports Church people in the central Indian diocese say that on Monday they started noticing bloodlike substance oozing from the eyes of a statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus kept in an open yard.
"I am convinced it is a miracle," Fr. Paul Pappachan, the assistant parish priest, told UCA News. The red substance tasted like blood, he said. "I just can't understand it."
Bishop Gerald Almeida of Jabalpur celebrated Mass at the parish a day after the incident. On his return, he told UCA News that the bloodlike substance was still visible on the statue. The phenomenon is "a powerful indication for us to mend our ways," he concluded. Bishop Almeida said he wants his flock to engage in "soul searching" and ask if they have been living according to God's plan. There could be "something lacking in our service, or people may have performed certain 'incorrect' actions," he said. "There needs to be some reforms in our lives." The prelate added that he will send an official letter to all Church workers in the diocese to explain the incident and to invite them to reflect on why the statue apparently shed blood.
According to Fr Pappachan, the first person who witnessed the phenomenon is Chandrawati Armo, an assistant nurse at a local dispensary. Armo, 20, told UCA News that when she routinely cleaned the statue on the morning of 12 February, she noticed that the statue displayed a "sad expression" and she wondered why it seemed so sad that day. After cleaning the statue, she went to get a new garland for it, she said, "but when I turned back and looked at the statue, it began to shed blood from both eyes." She said she burst into tears and rushed to tell Fr Pappachan. "I raced to the statue and found blood oozing out of its eyes," Fr Pappachan said. The priest said he then ascended the statue's concrete lotus-shaped pedestal and dipped his finger into the red liquid. "After smelling it, I tasted it," he recalled. He repeated this action four times, he said, and every time he did so, he sensed the smell and taste of "real blood."
According to parish priest, Fr Florentius Kujur, blood clots are also visible on the statue's hands. He told UCA News that people of all faiths now visit the statue and offer prayers, and about 400 parishioners have been praying inside the church ever since the phenomenon occurred. The news has also attracted many priests and nuns from other areas, he added.
Fr Anand Muttungal, spokesperson of the Catholic Church in Madhya Pradesh, told UCA News that the substance will be sent for DNA testing.

Friday, February 16, 2007



THE EXPECTATION OF CHRIST'S BIRTH
4. Your Own Life.
Here is the model for your own life. Real living is living with Jesus. A real life is one of total surrender to Jesus and to Mary. No one suspects the sweetness, the charm and the perfection that is hidden in the interior life. Learn from Jesus and Mary what interior life is. Compare yourself with them. Do you enjoy silence; do you relish living hidden and unknown? Do you welcome its external simplicity? In your heart is there that fervor, that love for Mary which leads you to see and speak with Jesus in the intimacy of your soul?

How is it that this contact with Jesus, this presence of Jesus, so similar to His life hidden in the womb of His Mother, does not bring forth in you especially at Holy Communion the sanctity it begot in Her? To this end you must watch over your senses, mortify them, concentrate on your interior, compel your powers to see Jesus within you, grow accustomed to deal with Him in the intimate recesses of your soul.

Lastly, consider that you have here a most perfect model of Marian slavery. Jesus is the first voluntary slave of Mary. His life depends on Her. So must your life be one of entire surrender and dedication to Mary. Hence nothing without Her.


[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]

Thursday, February 15, 2007


THE EXPECTATION OF CHRIST'S BIRTH

3. The Life of Her Son.
Contemplate the life of Jesus in those moments, hidden, like in a Tabernacle, in the bosom of Mary. What darkness and silence beset His life! What helplessness and weakness are His! He depends on Her for everything. He must receive everything from Her. And yet meanwhile He is governing the world. From there He continues to be the joy of the angels. But, above all, from there with His divine presence, He is through His divine contact with His beloved Mother sanctifying Mary more and more. What an active intimacy, oneness of life and interior activity between Mary and Her Son, between the Son and His Mother.


[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]


Wednesday, February 14, 2007



THE EXPECTATION OF CHRIST'S BIRTH

2. Her External Life.
How admirable is Our Mother in every detail! In spite of Her most intense and divine interior life She lets nothing appear outwardly. Her external demeanour showed a sweet calm, a lovable simplicity, an amiable serenity. No one at all suspects what is happening interiorly. Not even St. Joseph. How closely guarded is the treasure of Mary! How jealously She keeps it from human eyes! Neither ambition, nor pride, nor self-love, nor craving for praise can move Her a fraction to share Her secret. She will never lend Herself importance in front of Her neighbor. She will never esteem Herself superior to anybody, although She was superior to all. What practical humility, what precious simplicity! How often our scanty merits evaporate because we lay them open in front of all and are unable to keep our secrets only for God. How often we endanger our merits because we imprudently expose them to the eyes of men, longing, more or less directly, for some word of praise, some appreciation.


[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Meditation 39

THE EXPECTATION OF CHRIST'S BIRTH

With a feast especially dedicated to the mystery during the holy season of Advent the Church celebrates Our Lady's expectation of the birth of Christ. This feast was probably started by St. Alphonsus, Archbishop of Toledo, who, during the midnight Matins of this feast was favored with an apparition of Our Heavenly Mother Who clothed him with a precious chasuble brought by angels.

1. The Life of Our Lady during this period.
Consider this life under two aspects, one interior, the other external. Under the interior aspect the life of Mary was one of absolute compenetration with Her divine Son. We should not say that Mother and Son were leading similar lives; no, rather they were having the one identical and same life. We cannot imagine a greater dependency than that of Jesus in the most pure womb of Mary. He was receiving all His life from Her. He was dependent on Her for everything. What a mystery! God depending on a creature. Probe the profundity of this divine intimacy between Mary and Her Son and first of all learn the lesson of recollection. Through the virtue of recollection Mary entirely concentrated on Jesus. Learn fervor and love, for through these virtues Mary was living only for Jesus. Through the eyes of Her Son She would see much better than through Her own. She would love with the heart of Her Son. Her only pleasure was to give pleasure to Him. What a perfect and powerful love would She not feel towards that God Who had enclosed Himself in Her bosom! Hers was a life of untold joy, because all things divine are joyful and the possession of God which Mary was enjoying equalled in fact the glory of the Blessed in Heaven.

Finally, Her life was one of intense desire which She would give vent to in prayer, doing violence to the Heart of God that He would hasten as quickly as possible the hour of His manifestation to the world. The Hour of Redemption! This was the thought which transfixed the whole life of Mary in those days. It was sweet to think that as a result of this sublime and fervent prayer the Eternal Father anticipated the hour of the redemption of the world and sent His Son to save us.

[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]

Monday, February 12, 2007


THE MAGNIFICAT

3. Summary and Conclusion.
The Magnificat is a sublime canticle. How beautiful is Mary's prayer, how many things it embraces! What a canticle of gratitude to God! It is the canticle of redemption that broadcasts the marvelous works achieved by the all-powerful, all merciful arm of God. It is the canticle of humility. Its "leit motif" clearly shows the path we must follow. It is the same path followed by Jesus and Herself.
They found no other way, They took no other.
Generously, then, start on this road. Throw yourself whole-heartedly into this project. Imitate Jesus and Mary in their humility. Have a tender and fervent devotion to this sublime canticle; say it daily to render thanks to God. And whilst uttering the canticle of humility examine yourself how you keep your promise to faithfully follow your models on the path of humility.

[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Pope: From Lourdes to Seoul, I entrust the world’s sick and suffering to Mary

 
VATICAN
Recalling the apparition of Our Lady of Lourdes and the World Day of the Sick, which this year is being celebrated in Seoul, Benedict XVI exhorted health workers and relatives of sick people to offer "human support" and "spiritual accompaniment", especially those who are terminally ill.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – On the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, now also the World Day of the Sick, the pope did not stop at talking about miracles and healing. Thanking health workers and relatives of sick people, he called for the "development of palliative care that offers holistic support", giving "terminally ill people the human support and spiritual accompaniment that they badly need."

Benedict XVI recalled the "prodigious event" of "the first apparition of the Virgin Mary to St Bernadette, which took place on 11 February 1858 in the grotto of Massabielle in Lourdes". This event, continued the pope, made "the location, situated in the French slopes of the Pyrenees, a global center for pilgrimages and intense Marian spirituality. In this place, for nearly 150 years now, the call of Our Lady to prayer and repentance still reverberates powerfully, a quasi permanent echo of the invitation with which Jesus inaugurated his preaching in Galilee: 'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.' (Mk 1:15)."

Although miracles and healings confirmed by a team of doctors often take place at Lourdes, the pope saw fit to draw attention to a more profound miracle: "Moreover, the shrine has become a destination of many sick pilgrims who, putting themselves in a position to listen to the Most Holy Mary, are encouraged to accept their sufferings and to offer them for the salvation of the world, uniting them with those of the crucified Christ."

Benedict XVI explained the connection between the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and the World Day of the Sick: "It was precisely because of this link between Lourdes and human suffering that, 15 years ago, the beloved John Paul II wanted the World Day of the Sick to be celebrated on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. This year, the focus of this feast is in the city of Seoul, capital of South Korea, where I sent Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán, President of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Health Care to represent me. I send an affectionate greeting to him and to all those gathered there."

The pope continued: "I would like to extend my thoughts to health workers across the world, well aware of the importance of their service to sick people in our society. In particular, I want to express my spiritual closeness and my affection for our sick brothers and sisters, especially those who are afflicted by more serious and painful illnesses. On this Day, our attention is turned towards them in a special way. It is necessary to support the development of palliative care that offers holistic support and gives terminally ill people the human support and spiritual accompaniment that they badly need."

Before the Angelus prayer, the pope reminded his audience about a Eucharistic Celebration that will be held this afternoon in St Peter's Basilica, with many sick people and pilgrims. Mass will be presided over by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, Vicar of the diocese of Rome.  Benedict XVI said: "At the end of Holy Mass, I will have the joy, like last year, of spending some time with them, reliving the spiritual climate experienced at the grotto of Massabielle. With this Angelus prayer, I would like to entrust to the maternal protection of the Immaculate Virgin all those in the world who are sick and suffering in body and spirit."

 
 
 
 
"There is a God in heaven. He will prevail." (St. Gerard Majella)
 
Deacon John


THE APPARITION OF
OUR LADY OF LOURDES

During the year 1858 our Blessed Lady appeared eighteen times from February 11 to July 16 to Bernadette Soubirous, the fourteen-year-old daughter of a destitute day laborer of Lourdes in France. Through this humble child, the Mother of God announced to the world her sublime title of the Immaculate Conception and a special message of penance and love.
Mary of the Immaculate Conception is the national patron of the Church in the United States of America, and so we should develop a special interest in helping to fill the treasury of graces that our compassionate Mother distributes so freely for the conversion of sinners to God.
TRADITIONAL MASS PRAYER
O God, You prepared a fitting dwelling place for Your Son by preserving the Blessed Virgin immaculate at the moment of her conception. Grant health of mind and body to all of us who celebrate the feast of Blessed Mary's apparition today. Through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord . . .

THE MAGNIFICAT

2. According to the Promise Which He made to Our Forefathers Abraham and His Posterity for Ever More.
How well did God keep His word! He had made a promise to Abraham and to his sons, the other great Patriarchs of the Old Testament, and He fulfilled His word. He was well aware what they would do with His benefits. Nevertheless, He does not go back on His word nor does He cancel His promise. God is faithful.

But as Our Lady says, God's fidelity and exactitude is for ever more; in other words, as He abode by His promise, so will He keep His word in His subsequent promises. In fact, according to St. Paul this fidelity of God shines forth in three things:

a) In not letting the devil tempt us above our strength, since it is clear that if He gave him a free hand, the devil, such being his shrewdness, his power and knowledge, would conquer us;

b) He is faithful by not abandoning us in temptation. It is not so in human friendships. Earthly friends leave us in the lurch in the trials of life and especially in the most frightful trial, that of death. Then we are alone. They are of no help. But with God it is not so. The greater the temptation and the trial, the more loving and effective His help and grace. He gives us grace to the measure of our needs. He never fails us, although we have so many times failed Him.

c) Finally, He is faithful in giving us His eternal reward once we have, with the help of His grace, accomplished our fight and achieved victory. In this fidelity of God lies our hope. Heaven will be ours. We shall possess God most certainly, because His word never falters. What encouragement and consolation flows into our daily life from a look at God, from a glance at Heaven.

What should you say to God in front of the example of fidelity given you by His Holy Mother? Is it not a shame that you should have been so many times unfaithful, inconstant in your promises to God? If you had kept just half of the promises that you have so often made Him, how great would your present sanctity be! Ask Our Lady the grace of being faithful and exact; the grace to fulfill your promises made to God.


[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]

Saturday, February 10, 2007


Meditation 38

THE MAGNIFICAT

1. He Has Protected His Servant Israel Keeping His Merciful Design in Remembrance.
Here Our Lady recalls the great mercy God showed Israel. They were a people enslaved by the Pharaohs, and God released them from that slavery, led them across the desert, fed them there with manna from Heaven and after having brought them out triumphant from their enemies, installed them in the rich Promised Land. Finally He made them His own possession, His chosen people, and with a touching affection and an admirable providence, looked after them as though they were members of His own family.

Now apply all this, point by point, to all the wonders that God has done to you, and you will see the shadow of reality.

He took you away from the slavery of the devil, who is infinitely worse than the Pharaohs. He constantly shelters you in the desert of this life, He feeds you on the truly divine Manna of His Body and Blood. He lovingly leads you by His hand to the promised land of Heaven.

Nay, there is still something more: to Israel He granted the title of servant and this was indeed a great distinction, since serving God is a privilege. But to you He gives the honor of being His own child. He calls you "brother of Christ," "heir of His throne." What a sublime reality! Do not doubt that although Mary speaks about the mercy of God towards Israel, yet She was also thinking of God's mercy towards you.

Our Lady does not mention how Israel corresponded to the Lord. But you know it well: hardness of heart, mistrust in Him in the Desert, total forgetfulness of God in the delights of the promised land, defection and idolatry, looking for other gods to adore, and finally rejection of the Son of God when He came down to save them, the cruel sentence of death on the Cross for their Redeemer. This is the return made to God by His people.

But is this not, also, perhaps, a figure of your own behavior? Have not you, also, perchance, imitated Israel in this enormous, black ingratitude? Could not God say also of you that from His chosen vineyard He harvested only sour and bitter fruit? On some occasions, at least, it was so. Acknowledge it with humility and shame. But promise that it will never be so again.

[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]

Friday, February 09, 2007


THE MAGNIFICAT

2. He Has Filled the Hungry with Good Things and Sent the Rich Away Empty-handed.
Furthermore, Our Lady seems to find endless praise for humility. These words are just, being indeed a confirmation, a repetition of the previous ones. Here She speaks about another manifestation of humility, namely poverty, and of another shape of pride, namely, abundance and comfort. There is actual and real poverty and there is poverty of the spirit. Jesus wanted to be born, to live and to die embracing poverty. If we knew how much Jesus loves it then we would certainly appreciate it a little more.

However, we must at least look for, and desire poverty of spirit; to be detached from all; never to covet or envy, nor desire the comfort of riches; to rejoice when something is wanting to us or when things are not going fully according to our plans.

Finally by being anxious to be detached of all, we should also be detached from ourselves. A detached heart, shorn of anything that is not God, is so very pleasing to Him. God wants us to be detached of ourselves in order to be filled with God. When you pour plaster into a mold you make sure that the mold is perfectly clean and free from all foreign substances so that it may receive all the details of the original. In like manner, Mary and Jesus want to shape your heart so as to make it a faithful copy of their own. Consequently, they want you to admit no foreign element. You must, therefore, keep your heart clean, keep it detached. You must be ready to root out, no matter how painfully, all that is not of Jesus and Mary.

Think of this, especially at the moment of Holy Communion and do not forget that there is no place for Jesus and self at the same time. If you want Him to come in, self-love must go. This is the hunger to which Mary refers in the Magnificat when She sings that He has filled the hungry with good things. Approach Jesus with true hunger and you too will see those words fulfilled. And do not forget that the rich, the satisfied and self-sufficient are left with what is theirs; and since what is theirs is nothingness, they are sent empty-handed away.

[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]

Thursday, February 08, 2007


Meditation 37

THE MAGNIFICAT

1. He Has Put Down the Mighty from their Seat and Exalted the Lowly.
Just as in the previous verse Our Lady states how God behaves with the proud of mind and heart, so in like manner She now tells us how that pride is manifested by way of vanity, haughtiness, craving for power, ambition, reluctance to obey. This is why obedience is the inseparable sister of humility. Both agree in this spirit of submission and simplicity, which is so pleasing to God. How many of these mighty ones were there on earth! Through an inspiration from Heaven Our Lady could see them in their places, issuing orders to their kneeling servants and slaves as if they were gods.

But now listen to the forceful expression of Mary: God will put down those mighty men from their seat of vanity . . . and will put them aside with contempt. How unexpected do those hard expressions sound on the sweet and compassionate lips of Mary! But the fact is that we cannot fathom the hatred that God has for pride. God does not deign to glance on the hollow vanities of this earth. When God is looking for a mother, He does not seek Her among the proud of the earth but among the humble. When He is born in Bethlehem He sends His angels to announce the great tidings to simple shepherds. He disregards the proud and mighty. How terrible must be God's contempt, how frightful His punishments which merit the forcible words of Mary.

Examine whether you also have any such worldly spirit no matter in how small a degree. Look at your soul and by your readiness to obey, from the degree of your submission and humility, gauge your abhorrence for pride and vanity. Thus you will see if you deserve, or not, the great reward that Mary announces for the humble. For them exaltation, glorification, a lofty throne in Heaven. Check and compare these two expressions of Mary: the one threatening with the punishment of contempt the proud ones of earth, the other, glorification for the humble and simple.

[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


THE MAGNIFICAT

2. He has driven the Proud astray in the conceit of Their Hearts.
Here you have another token of the might of His arm. His omnipotence shines forth in His works of mercy and bounty, but also in His works of justice. Just as His mercy embraces the humble, so does His justice reach the proud. Our Heavenly Mother would certainly recall the difference between Her exaltation to the Throne of God in order to be Empress of Heaven, and the miserable fall of Lucifer from the heights of Heaven to the abysses of Hell. She was exalted for for Her humility, he fell on account of his pride.

Note this expression: The proud in their conceit of their heart. She is clearly referring to the internal pride, not to the external, which is rather a fatuous vanity. the inner pride is more refined. Outwardly it appears humble whereas inwardly the pride of heart and mind is deeply rooted. And the worst of it is that this pride is so subtle that it penetrates to the most intimate recesses of our heart almost unnoticed by us.

Pay attention to the distinction between pride of mind and pride of heart. By pride of mind we, firmly convinced of being right, stick to our opinion, refuse to yield. We must always be right, we can stand no contradiction,we never give way. Pride of the heart is that accursed self-love which strikes deep roots in our hearts.

Ask Our Lady to free you from such double pride of mind and heart so that through Her intercession we may escape that Divine Justice which, according to Our Lady Herself, deals out such dire punishment to interior pride.

[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]

Tuesday, February 06, 2007



Meditation 36

THE MAGNIFICAT

1. He has done Valiantly with the Strength of His Arm.
Here Our Blessed Lady is extolling the power of God as shown forth especially in certain of His works. All His works are the fruit of His infinite power. But of them this omnipotence shines forth more clearly in some than in others.

Mary would look up to the boundless Heavens, would watch the countless stars, so shining, so incalculable, so lively and swift in the midst of the harmony of Creation. How the starry sky reflects as in a mirror the omnipotence of God. And what about the earth, with its plants and animals, with its valleys and hills, its seas and rivers?

All these works of God would pass before Her mind and She would ask herself: is not this an achievement of the mighty Arm of God? Who but He could have conceived and achieved the like?

She would look at humanity, at the angels. She would contemplate the shining splendor of the heavenly court surrounding the throne of God; She would especially look at Her own soul. Where could She see better the strength of the Mighty Arm of God than in the work achieved in Her own heart, in Her own most pure soul?

Ponder over what all this means. God created all these wonders, as it were, without any effort, by just a mere word, by a mere wish. But to accomplish the work of the Incarnation God had, so to say, to display all His omnipotence and to exert, as it were, all His power.

When creating the world He met no resistance for all came from nothingness. The greater the resistance we meet in our work the greater the effort required. In the case of Creation the resistance was nil, since there was nothing before the Creation, but in the case of the Incarnation it was not so. God had, so to say, to exert His divinity, God had to exert violence over Himself, in order to reduce divinity to the smallness, to the nothingness of humanity and to be enclosed in a human wrapping and then be hidden away in the bosom of Mary.

God had to perform a unique and never repeated operation, namely, that of choosing a woman and making her His Mother; to assemble in Her all the marvels of the whole Creation; to render Her Immaculate, Virgin and Mother at the same time. Does this not entail an immense strain on the mighty arm of God? So great was this effort that He, so to say, reached the limit of His power. God could make another thousand universes, create untold millions of beings, multitudes of angels, myriads of stars and skies, much more shining, much more beautiful than the present ones, but He could not achieve a work of greater grandeur than the Mother of God. Apply all this also to Holy Communion. Is not the Eucharist another effort of His mighty arm? Does It not exhaust the wisdom, the power, and even the love of God? Could even so powerful a God give you anything greater than He gives you in the Holy Eucharist?



Monday, February 05, 2007


THE MAGNIFICAT


2. He has mercy upon those who fear Him, from generation to generation.
Here is another delicate touch of humility. Mary rejoices that God's Mercy shed on Her should also be shed on others. All that God has done in Her soul, He will likewise do to all who fear Him. She does not want to be the only one. She is pleased to announce that everyone can have a share in God's bounty.

How human it is to want to be the first, and much more to be unique! But true humility is never exclusive, never ambitious, never jealous of the good of one's neighbor. All this might be quite human, but Mary is God-like and consequently She does not act that way. She does not think that way.

Moreover, She says that this mercy and bounty of God will reach far out to all those who fear the Lord. She does not here speak of servile fear which is that of slaves but rather that of reverential and loving fear shown by children. She refers to that holy fear of God mentioned in the Holy Writ as the beginning of wisdom, and therefore the beginning of sanctity and the foundation of love. Fear and love; both are inseparable when referring to God. We must fear with love and we must love with fear. Fear of yourself, of your sins, of your relapses, of your miseries, of your little gratitude, of your want of correspondence to grace. How good is God towards those who fear Him! How good must He be towards those who love Him!

Fear His justice, but, above all, love His bounty. Trust in His mercy and you will see the words of Mary fulfilled in yourself.

Rejoice at having a God so merciful, Who out of mercy refuses nothing to any one. Strive with all your might in order that through your penance, through your love you may be able to spread this Kingdom of Bounty and Mercy not only within your own soul but to the whole world, including in it all the just, the lukewarm and even the greatest sinners, in whose souls the light of God's infinite mercy is not still shining.

[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]

Sunday, February 04, 2007


Meditation 35

THE MAGNIFICAT

1. Because He whose Name is Holy has wrought for me His Wonders.
How badly we misunderstand humility! We think it consists in loudly speaking ill of ourselves, in not acknowledging anything good in anything we do, in not seeing the graces God bestows on us. Humility is far from that.

Just listen to Mary. All generations will call Me blessed. The Almighty has wrought His wonders for Me. And yet these are expressions of humility. Do not forget that humility is truth, simplicity, sincerity. Acknowledge whatever good is in you not to praise yourself for it, since this would be pride, but to acknowledge the immense and magnificent work of God operated in your heart, in order to praise Him the more, in order to correspond to His grace the better, in order to love Him with greater fervor and enthusiasm every day, as a natural outcome of your gratitude. What was Mary hinting at when She said that God had wrought wonders in Her? Of what was She thinking when She uttered these words? Try to find out by going over the favors and gifts She had received from God.

Think of Her predestination from eternity. Think how pleasant and sweet was the thought of Mary in the Divine Mind. Think of the ineffable privilege of Her Immaculate Conception. Think of all the infinite graces inherent in it. The list of these graces would pass through Her memory when intoning the Magnificat. She would recall all the wonders which God wished to place in her heart. She would recall the salutation of the Angel, the mystery of the Incarnation. She would be struck by that miracle of miracles, that She, a creature, a handmaid of the Lord should be at the same time really and truly the Mother of Her God. Then She would realize how God in order to put His plan into execution, had done something great and unknown to both Heaven and earth, namely, that She should be a Mother without ceasing to be a Virgin. At the sight of all this, and burdened by the realisation of all these wonders, She exclaims with all fervor: "He has wrought for me His wonders."

Do you now see the point? Everything is attributed to the power of God, to the immensity, to the sanctity of God, to His Holy Name. God with His sanctity and bounty and infinite mercy decreed all, it was His infinite power that achieved all.

Now apply these same words to your own soul. Cannot you see that great things have also been done in you by the bounteous power of God? Is it not because of His bounty that God should have so tenderly and lovingly and without and merits on your part heaped so many graces on you? Recall too how, from your birth up to this very day, the Lord has gone on forgiving your sins, taking you from the abyss of misery into which you had fallen, carrying you into an abyss of grace. Acknowledge it. This is not pride. Praise Him as Mary did. Bless His power. Extol His bounty. Lovingly adore His Holy Name.

[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]

Saturday, February 03, 2007


THE MAGNIFICAT

2. Behold from this day forward All Generations will call Me Blessed.
This is just a confirmation of the foregoing. The humble soul enamours the Heart of God. God spares no means to raise him and exalt him. How much has God exalted all His saints! But He has done so especially with Mary. Who of us more humble than She? On account of that all generations will call Her blessed. She humbles Herself and God exalts Her.

Watch this divine competition: God vying with Mary: Mary is determined to humble Herself before God and God is determined to raise Her above all the angels to the very highest secrets of divinity. Nobody as humble as Mary and nobody so exalted as Her. If you study Her humility you will get lost since you cannot reach the depths of Her self-abasement. If you meditate on Her exaltation you cannot follow since here also our sight fails and the mind cannot pursue Her in Her flight to God.

What must, then, humility be? What does God see in humility which makes it the essential condition to please Him? If Mary had not rendered Herself a handmaid, She would not now be the Queen and Mother of God.

The conclusion is that as pride and vanity are unreasonable, in so far as they have no foundation whatsoever, so they are also useless and fruitless. The proud soul achieves nothing. The humble achieves all.

It is, then, in your own interest to work at the acquisition of humility and at getting rid of any trace of that revolting pride.

St. Bernard was right when he said that the Magnificat was Mary's ecstasy of humility. Humility was the root of all the other grandeurs and marvels.

Lastly, think of the prophecy contained in these words: All generations will call Me blessed. The future is unknown and yet She speaks of it with the utmost certainty. How consoling it is for us to find that these words of Mary have been fulfilled to the very letter. Count the titles of Mary, number the shrines and temples raised in Her honor. Does not every Church and Chapel contain a Marian altar? Is there any town, big or small, which does not cherish one of Her images; which does not celebrate Her feasts with joy and splendor? Think of the month of Our Lady; think of the feasts of the Assumption, of the Immaculate Conception, recall the principal solemnities of Our lady. Watch Christian people flocking to the feet of Our Heavenly Mother. Then climb up to Heaven and contemplate the Saints, acknowledging that their sanctity is Mary's gift. See the angels who, together with mankind, never cease to call Her blessed. How magnificently has Mary's prophecy been fulfilled!

[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]

Friday, February 02, 2007



Meditation 34

THE MAGNIFICAT

1. Because He has Looked Graciously upon the Lowliness of His Handmaid.
How marvelous and practical is the lesson of humility which Our Lady thus gives us. She has just been greeted by the Angel on behalf of God. she has just been raised to the dignity of God's Mother. she has just been blessed among all women by St. Elizabeth, and yet She pledges to lower Herself in the depths of humility, stating that She is just a mere handmaid of the Lord.

Thereby She tells us that whatever can be found in Her is God's gift, since everything in Her comes from that God Who has looked upon Her. And "to look upon," in Biblical language, means "to watch with satisfaction," "to look with good eyes," "to be pleased with and to love." So everything for Her springs from that look of love which God bestowed upon Her, otherwise She would be merely one of so many daughters of Eve.

Think deeply over all these words; imbibe this truth, because if it is correct when applied to Mary, it is much more so when applied to you. What are you, indeed, and, above all, what are you in the presence of God? In whatever you have, what is yours and what is God's? Were God to demand back all that He has given you and that belongs to Him in the order of nature and of grace, of earthly and spiritual things, of internal and external gifts, what would be left you? One thing, and one thing only; sin. That is exclusively yours. The rest is God's. Cannot you, therefore, say, that God has looked also upon you with good eyes and has therefore filled you with good things and has given you all that you possess?

Learn then that much more rightly than Our Blessed Lady, you must not only know but practice humility, since this is the only just and rational attitude that you can take.

Consider also how Our Lady shows us that the foundation of all the heavenly blessings and graces of God lies precisely in humility. That is why Mary says that She praises God and rejoices in Her Savior because He has looked graciously upon the lowliness of His handmaid.

If you do so, far from praising yourself for any virtue or achievement, as did the Pharisee of the Gospel who claimed so many merits for all his works in front of God, you will, on the contrary, at every instant acknowledge that it is the bounty and mercy of God which tries to raise you from dust and misery to the height of sanctity. In proportion to your lowering yourself by an acknowledgement of your misery and by a hidden life of humility God will lift you up.


[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]

Thursday, February 01, 2007



MAGNIFICAT

2. My Spirit has found Joy in God My Savior.
Mary rejoices or rather She overflows with an infinite joy. But not for earthly things. It is an intimate, spiritual joy whose object is God Himself. She rejoices in God, in the full and perfect possession of God.

St. Elizabeth had reminded Her of Her great graces and privileges. But although these are sufficient reason for rejoicing, yet Mary does not so much as think of the gifts as of their Author and Giver. St. Augustine used to tell the Lord: "Not Thy gifts, but Thyself." More rightly does Our Lady express this same feeling. We do not know how to look for God. And therefore we never come to the point of enjoying Him. But God has ineffable consolations for those who love Him. What would He have then poured on the Heart of Mary? No wonder, then, that Her most blessed soul should exalt with divine joy!

Note, however, that Mary does not say only "My spirit has found joy in God," but "in God Who is My Savior." Here is the root of the spiritual joy, of the eternal happiness for which we hope. Here is the reason: God is our Savior. We were doomed to the eternal sadness of hell; but thanks to Our Savior, our lot has been reversed. We now hope for the eternal joys of Heaven. What happiness, indeed, will a soul feel on seeing his Creator there? And how much more so, on seeing in God His Savior and Sanctifier! What would indeed have been the use of our creation if God had not equally saved and sanctified us?

At the thought of such a high Redeemer and Savior join in Our Lady's rejoicing. This joy is all spiritual. Even if the body were afflicted by penance and mortification or trial, the spirit will go on rejoicing.

Think also that Mary's rejoicing is centered on God. No selfishness, no self gratification or complaisance; only the joy of love; that joy of loving and of seeing that the object of our love is loved, even if we ourselves have to suffer. Mary was contemplating Jesus within Herself and this contemplation caused Her to rejoice in God.

You also should see God within yourself, realize that he is in your heart. The clearer you thus see Him, the more you will rejoice. Apply this contemplation to Holy Communion. Do you not hold Jesus within yourself just as Mary did? Do you enjoy His Real Presence? Ask Our Lady to teach you how to see Jesus within you; how lovingly to embrace Him, how to rejoice in the sweetness of His presence, how to find bitter all the sweetness of the earth in comparison with this happiness of possessing Jesus.

[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]