Spiritual Reading for Friday – Eleventh Week After Pentecost

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Spiritual Reading



In Judea victories were gained by means of the ark. Thus it was that Moses conquered his enemies, as we learn from the Book of Numbers. And when the ark was lifted up, Moses said: Arise, O Lord, and let thine enemies be scattered (Num. x. 35). Thus was Jericho conquered; thus also the Philistines; for the Ark of God was there (1 Kings xiv. 18). It is well known that this ark was a figure of Mary. Cornelius a Lapide says, “In time of danger Christians should fly to the most Blessed Virgin, who contained Christ as manna in the ark of her womb, and brought Him forth to be the food and salvation of the world.” For as manna was in the ark, so is Jesus (of whom manna was a figure) in Mary; and by means of this ark we gain the victory over our earthly and infernal enemies. And thus, St. Bernardine of Sienna well observes, when Mary, the ark of the New Testament, was raised to the dignity of Queen of Heaven, the power of hell over men was weakened and dissolved.

The infernal spirits tremble at the very thought of Mary, and of her august name, says St. Bonaventure. “Oh, how terrible is Mary to the devils!” The Saint compares these enemies to those of whom Job speaks: He diggeth through houses in the dark … If the morning suddenly appear, it is to them the shadow of death (Job. xxiv. 16, 17). Thieves go and rob houses in the dark; but as soon as morning dawns they fly, as if they beheld the shadow of death. “Precisely thus,” in the words of the same St. Bonaventure, “do the devils enter the soul in the time of darkness”; meaning when the soul is in the obscurity of ignorance. They dig through the house of our mind when it is in the darkness of ignorance. But then, he adds, “if suddenly they are overtaken by the dawn, that is, if the grace and mercy of Mary enters the soul, its brightness instantly dispels the darkness, and puts the infernal enemies to flight, as if they fled from death.” Oh, blessed is he who always invokes the beautiful name of Mary in his conflicts with hell!

In confirmation of this, it was revealed to St. Bridget that “God had rendered Mary so powerful over the devils, that as often as they assault a devout client who calls on this most Blessed Virgin for help, she at a single glance instantly terrifies them, so that they fly far away, preferring to have their pains redoubled rather than see themselves thus subject to the power of Mary.”

The Divine Bridegroom, when speaking of this His beloved bride, calls her a lily: As the lily is amongst the thorns, so is my beloved amongst the daughters (Cant. ii. 2). On these words, Cornelius a Lapide makes the reflection: “As the lily is a remedy against serpents and venemous things, so is the invocation of Mary a specific by which we may overcome all temptations, and especially those against purity, as all find who put it in practice.”

St. John Damascene used to say: “While I keep my hope in thee unconquerable, O Mother of God, I shall be safe. I will fight and overcome my enemies with no other buckler than thy protection and thy all-powerful aid.” And all who are so fortunate as to be the servants of this great Queen can say the same thing. O Mother of God, if I hope in thee, I most certainly shall not be overcome; for, defended by thee, I will pursue my enemies, and oppose them with the shield of thy protection and thy all-powerful help; and then without doubt I shall conquer. For, says St. James the Monk (who was a Doctor amongst the Greeks), addressing our Lord: “Thou, O Lord, hast given us in Mary arms that no force of war can overcome, and a trophy never to be destroyed.”

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