Spiritual Reading for Saturday – Eleventh Week After Pentecost

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Spiritual Reading



It is said in the Old Testament that God guided His people from Egypt to the Land of Promise, by day in a pillar of a cloud, and by night in a pillar of fire (Exod. xiii. 21). This stupendous pillar, at one time as a cloud, at another as fire, says Richard of St. Laurence, was a figure of Mary fulfilling the double office she constantly exercises for our good: as a cloud she protects us from the ardour of Divine justice; and as fire she protects us from the devils. “Behold the twofold object for which Mary is given to us; as a cloud, to shelter us from the heat of the sun of justice, and, as fire, to protect us all against the devil.” She protects us as a burning fire: for, St. Bonaventure remarks: “As wax melts before the fire, so do the devils lose their power against those souls who often remember the name of Mary, and devoutly invoke it; and still more so, if they also endeavour to imitate her virtues.”

The devils tremble even if they only hear the name of Mary. St. Bernard declares that in “the name of Mary every knee bows; and that the devils not only fear but tremble at the very sound of that name.” And as men fall prostrate with fear if a thunderbolt falls near them, so do the devils if they hear the name of Mary. Thomas a Kempis thus expresses the same sentiment: “The evil spirits greatly fear the Queen of Heaven, and fly at the sound of her name, as if from fire. At the very sound of the word Mary, they are prostrated as by thunder.”

Oh, how many victories have the clients of Mary gained by only making use of her most holy name! It was thus that St. Anthony of Padua was always victorious; thus the Blessed Henry Suso; thus so many other lovers of this great Queen have conquered. We learn from the history of the missions in Japan, that many devils appeared under the form of fierce animals to a certain Christian, to alarm and threaten him; but he thus addressed them: “I have no arms that you can fear; and if the Most High permits it, do whatever you please with me. In the meantime, however, I take the holy Names of Jesus and Mary for my defence.” At the very sound of these tremendous names, the earth opened, and the proud spirits cast themselves headlong into it. St. Anselm declares that he himself “knew and had seen and heard many who had invoked the name of Mary in time of danger, and were immediately delivered.”

” Glorious, indeed, and admirable,” exclaims St. Bonaventure, “is thy name, O Mary; for those who pronounce it at death need not fear all the powers of hell”; for the devils on hearing that name instantly fly, and leave the soul in peace. The same Saint adds that “men do not fear a powerful hostile army as much as the powers of hell fear the name and protection of Mary.” “Thou, O Lady,” says St. Germanus, “by the simple invocation of thy most powerful name, givest security to thy servants against all the assaults of the enemy.” Oh, were Christians but careful in their temptations to pronounce the name of Mary with confidence, never would they fall; for, as Blessed Allan remarks: “At the very sound of these words, Hail Mary! Satan flies, and hell trembles.” Our Blessed Lady herself revealed to St. Bridget that the enemy flies even from the most abandoned sinners, and who consequently are the farthest from God, and fully possessed by the devil, if they only invoke her most powerful name with a true purpose of amendment. “All devils on hearing this name of Mary, filled with terror, leave the soul.” But at the same time our Blessed Lady added that “if the soul does not amend and wipe out its sins by sorrow, the devils almost immediately return and continue to possess it.”

In Reichersperg, in Bavaria, there was a Canon Regular of the name of Arnold, surnamed the Pious on account of the sanctity of his life, who had the most tender devotion to our Blessed Lady. When at the point of death, and having received the last Sacraments, he summoned his Religious brethren, and begged that they would not abandon him in his last passage. Scarcely had he uttered these words, when, in the presence of all, he began to tremble, to roll his eyes, and, bathed in a cold sweat, with a faltering voice, he said: “Ah, do you not see the devils who are endeavouring to drag me to hell?” He then cried out, “Brothers, implore the aid of Mary for me; in her I confide; she will give me the victory.” On hearing this his brethren recited the Litany of our Blessed Lady, and as they said “Holy Mary, pray for him,” the dying man exclaimed, “Repeat, repeat the name of Mary, for I am already before God’s tribunal.” He was silent for a moment, and then added, “It is true that I did that, but I have done penance for it.” And then turning to our Blessed Lady, he said: “O Mary, I shall be delivered if thou helpest me.” Again the devils attacked him; but he defended himself with his Crucifix and the name of Mary. Thus was the night spent; but no sooner did morning dawn than Arnold exclaimed with the greatest calmness, and full of holy joy: “Mary, my sovereign Lady, my refuge, has obtained me pardon and salvation.” Then casting his eyes on that Blessed Virgin who was inviting him to follow her, he said: “I come, O Lady, I come!” and making an effort to do so even with his body, his soul fled after her to the realms of eternal bliss, as we trust, for he sweetly expired.

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