Carissimi; Today’s Mass: First Sunday of Advent
The servants of Mary are protected by her, and their names are written in the Book of Life. St. John Damascene says that God gives the grace of devotion to His Mother only to those whom He will save. This is also clearly expressed by our Lord in St. John: He that shall overcome … I will write upon him the Name of my God, and the name of the city of my God (Apoc. iii. 12). And who but Mary is this city of God? observes St. Gregory on the words of David: Glorious things are said of thee, O city of God (Ps. lxxxvi. 3).
Oh, what an evident sign of predestination have the servants of Mary! St. Bonaventure says the gates of Heaven open to all who confide in Mary’s protection. St. Ambrose prays: “Open to us, O Mary, the gate of Paradise, for thou hast its keys!” And Holy Church prays to Mary: “Gate of Heaven, pray for us!”
St. Bernard calls the Blessed Virgin “the heavenly Chariot.” St. John Geometra salutes her: “Hail! resplendent car!” signifying that she is the car in which her clients mount to Heaven. “Blessed are they who know thee, O Mother of God,” says St. Bonaventure; “for the knowledge of thee is the high road to everlasting life, and the proclaiming of thy virtues is the way of eternal salvation.”
O Christian, lift up your eyes, and behold your Jesus dead on the gibbet of the Cross. Look at His body full of wounds and streams of blood flowing. Faith teaches you that He is your Creator, your Saviour, your Life, your Deliverer; and that He, Whose love for you exceeds the love of all others, is the only Being that can make you happy.
O my Jesus, by that humiliation which Thou didst practise in washing the feet of Thy disciples, I pray Thee to bestow upon me the grace of true humility, that I may humble myself to all, especially to such as treat me with contempt.
Jesus Crucified! Oh, what a spectacle to the Angels in Heaven to behold a God Crucified! And we? What sentiments should we conceive when we behold the King of Heaven hanging on a gibbet, covered with wounds, agonising, dying of pure unmitigated pain! O death of Jesus! O love of Jesus, take possession of all my thoughts and affections!
St. Thomas of Villanova gives us excellent encouragement, saying: “What art thou afraid of, O sinner? … How shall He reject thee if thou desirest to retain Him Who came down from Heaven to seek thee?” Let not the sinner, then, be afraid, provided he will be no more a sinner, but will love Jesus Christ; let him not be dismayed, but have full trust; if he abhor and hate sin, and seek God, let him not be sad, but full of joy: Let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord (Ps. civ. 3).
We must pray with humility. St. James says: God resisteth the proud and giveth grace to the humble (Jas. iv. 6). God rejects the prayers of the proud, and does not listen to them; their pride is a wall that hinders the Lord from hearing their petitions. But, on the other hand, Ecclesiasticus says that the prayer of him that humbleth himself shall pierce the clouds … and he will not depart till the Most High behold (Ecclus. xxxv. 21). The prayer of a soul that esteems itself unworthy of being heard penetrates the Heavens, and is presented at the throne of God; and it departs not till God beholds and hears the petition.
It will be the very Paradise of the Blessed to rejoice in the joy of the Lord. Thus he who in this life rejoices in the blessedness that God enjoys, and will enjoy for all eternity, can say that even here below on earth, he enters into the joy of the Lord and begins to share in the bliss of Paradise.