THE VISIT TO MARY
And now as to the Visit to the Most Blessed Virgin, the opinion of St. Bernard is well known and commonly accepted: namely, that God dispenses no graces otherwise than through the hands of Mary: “God wills that; we should receive nothing that does not pass through Mary’s hands.” Hence Father Suarez declares that it is now the sentiment of the universal Church, that the intercession of Mary is not only useful, but even necessary to obtain graces. And we may remark that the Church gives us strong grounds for this belief, by applying the words of the Sacred Scripture to Mary, and making her say: In me is all hope of life and of virtue. Come over to me all ye that desire me–(Ecclus. xxiv. 25, 26). Let all come to me; for I am the hope of all that; you can desire.
Hence she adds: Blessed is the man that heareth me, and that watcheth daily at my gates, and waiteth at the posts of my doors-(Prov. viii. 34). Blessed is he who is diligent in coming every day to the door of my powerful intercession, for by finding me he will find life and eternal salvation: He that shall find me shall find life, and shall have salvation from the Lord-(Prov. viii. 35). Hence it is not without reason that the Church wills that we should call Mary our common hope, by saluting her with the words: “Hail, our hope!”
“Let us then,” says St. Bernard (who went so far as to style Mary “the whole ground of his hope”), “seek for graces, and seek them through Mary.” For, as St. Antoninus says, if we ask for graces without her intercession, we shall be only making an effort to fly without wings, and obtain nothing. “He who asks without her as his guide, attempts to fly without wings.” In Father Auriemma’s little book, Affetti Scambievoli, we read of innumerable favours granted by the Mother of God to those who practised this most profitable devotion of often visiting her in her churches or before her image.
Do you also, then, be careful to ever join to your daily visit to the Most Blessed Sacrament a visit to the most holy Virgin Mary in some church, or at least before a devout image of her in your own house. St. Andrew of Crete says, that Mary always bestows great gifts on those who offer her even the least act of homage.
Spiritual Communion during Visit
As it is suggested in the following visits to the Most Blessed Sacrament to make a Spiritual Communion after each, it will be well to explain what a Spiritual Communion is, and the great advantages of making it. A Spiritual Communion, according to St. Thomas, consists in an ardent desire to receive Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament, and in lovingly embracing Him as if we had actually received Him.
How pleasing Spiritual Communions are to God, and how many graces He bestows through their means, was manifested by Our Lord Himself to Sister Paula Maresca, the foundress of the Convent of St. Catherine of Sienna, in Naples. It is related in her Life that our Lord showed her two precious vessels, one of gold, another of silver. He then told her that in the gold vessel He preserved her Sacramental Communions, and in the silver her Spiritual Communions. He also told Blessed Jane of the Cross that each time she communicated spiritually she received a grace like in kind to that which she received when she really communicated. But for us it will suffice to know that the holy Council of Trent greatly praises Spiritual Communion, and encourages the faithful to practise it.
Hence devout souls are accustomed often to make use of this holy exercise of Spiritual Communion. Blessed Agatha of the Cross did so two hundred times a day. Father Peter Faber, the first companion of St. Ignatius, used to say that it was of the highest utility to make Spiritual Communions, in order to receive the Sacramental Communion well.
All, therefore, who desire to advance in the love of Jesus Christ are exhorted to make a Spiritual Communion at least once in every visit that they pay to the Most Blessed Sacrament, and once at every Mass that they hear. Better still on these occasions to repeat the Spiritual Communions three times; that is to say, at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end. TIlis devotion is far more profitable than some suppose, and at the same time nothing can be easier to practise. The above-named Jane of the Cross used to say that a Spiritual Communion can be made without anyone remarking it, without being fasting, without the permission of our director, and that we can make it any time we please; an act of love does all.