The Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is celebrated annually on November 21, does unnoticed by most people, including most Catholics, in the world. Most people do not give a thought about Our Lady nor, of course, to honor her with the oblation of their hearts and souls
We know, however, that to dishonor the Blessed Mother is dishonor her Divine Son. It cannot be this way with us. We must honor Our Lady as we pray to her, especially by means of her Most Holy Rosary, that she will present us to her Divine Son at the moment of our deaths.
Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., wrote the following about the history of this great feast day in his The Liturgical Year, teaching us that the King of France, Charles V, understood that nations must give public honor and glory to the Mother of God:
The East had been celebrating for seven centuries at least the entrance of the Mother of God into the temple of Jerusalem, when in 1372 Gregory XI permitted it to be kept for the first time by the Roman court at Avignon. Mary in return broke the chains of captivity that had bound the Papacy for seventy years; and soon the successor of St. Peter returned to Rome. The feast of the Visitation, as we saw on July 2, was in like manner inserted into the Western calendar to commemorate the re-establishment of unity after the schism which followed the exile.
In 1373, following the example of the Sovereign Pontiff, Charles V of France introduced the feast of the Presentation into the chapel of his palace. By letters dated November 10, 1374, the masters and students of the college of Navarre, he expressed his desire that it should be celebrated throughout the kingdom: "Charles, by the grace of God king of the Franks, to our dearly beloved: health in Him who ceases not to honour His Mother on earth. Among other objects of our solicitude, of our daily care and diligent meditation, that which rightly occupies our first thoughts is, that the blessed Virgin and most Holy Empress be honoured by us with very great love and praise as becomes the veneration due to her. For it is our duty to glorify her; and we, who raise the eyes of our soul to her on high, know what an incomparable protectress she is to all, how powerful a mediatrix with her blessed Son, for those who honour her with a pure heart. . . . Wherefore, wishing to excite our faithful people to solemnize the said feast, as we ourselves propose to do by God's assistance every year of our life, we send this Office to your devotion, in order to increase your joy."
Such was the language of princes in those days. Now just at the very time the wise and pious king, following up the work begun at Bretigny by our Lady of Chartres, rescued France from its from its fallen and dismembered condition. In the State, then, as well as in the Church, at this moment so critical for both our Lady in her Presentation commanded the storm, and the smile of the infant Mary dispersed the clouds. (Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., The Liturgical Year.)
Imagine if we had such rulers today as France had in the glories of Christendom! Public honor and glory given to the Mother of God on her feast days.
That would be something worth praising!
Dom Gueranger explained the mystical significance of this day:
Through the graceful infant now mounting the temple steps He takes possession of that temple whose priests will hereafter disown Him; for this child whom the temple welcomes to-day is His 'throne.' Already His fragrance precedes and announces Him in the Mother in whose bosom He is to be 'anointed with the oil of gladness' as the Christ among His brethren; already the angels hail her as the Queen whose fruitful virginity will give birth to all those consecrated souls who keep for the divine Spouse the 'myrrh' and the incense of their holocausts, those 'daughters of kings' who are to form her court of honour.
But our Lady's Presentation also opens new horizons before the Church. On the Cycle of the saints, which is not so precisely limited as that of the Time, the mystery of Mary's sojourn in the sanctuary of the Old Covenant is our best preparation for the approaching season of Advent. Mary, led to the temple in order to prepare in retirement, humility, and love for her incomparable destiny, had also the mission of perfecting at the foot of the figurative altar the prayer of the human race, of itself ineffectual to draw down the Saviour from heaven. She was, as St. Bernardine of Siena says, the happy completion of all the waiting and the supplication for the coming of the Son of God; in her, as in their culminating-point, all the desires of the saints who had preceded her found their consummation and their term.
Through her wonderful understanding of the Scriptures, and her conformity, daily and hourly, to the minutest teachings and prescriptions of the Mosaic ritual, Mary everywhere found and adored the Messias hidden under the letter; she united herself to Him, immolated herself with Him in each of the many victims sacrificed before her eyes; and thus she rendered to the God of Sinai the homage hitherto vainly expected of the Law understood, practised, and made to fructify in all the fullness that beseemed its divine Legislator. Then could Jehovah truly say: 'As the rain and the snow come down from heaven and return no more thither, but soak the earth and water it, and make it to spring: . . . so shall My word be. . . it shall not return to Me void, but it shall do whatsoever I please.
Supplying thus for the deficiencies of the Gentiles as well as of the Synagogue, Mary behold in the bride of the Canticle of the Church of the future. In our name she addressed her supplications to Him whom she recognized as the Bridegroom, without, however, knowing that He was to be her own Son. Such yearnings of love, coming from her, were sufficient to obtain from the divine Word pardon for the infidelities of the past and the immorality into which the wandering world was plunging deeper and deeper. How well did this ark of the New Covenant replace that of the Jews, which had perished with the first temple! It was for her, though he knew it not, that Herod the Gentile and continued the construction of the second temple after it had remained desolate since the time of Zorobabel; for the temple, like the tabernacle before it, was but the home of the ark destined to be God's throne; but greater was the glory of the second temple which sheltered the reality, than of the first which contained but the figure. (Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., The Liturgical Year.)
The readings for Matins in today’s Divine Office teach us about the generosity of Saints Joachim and Anne and the holy purity of their daughter, the very fairest flower of the human race:
Joachim took to wife that most eminent and praiseworthy woman, Anne. And even as the ancient Hannah, being stricken with barrenness, by prayer and promise became the mother of Samuel, so likewise this woman also through prayer and promise received from God the Mother of God, that in fruitfulness she might not be behind any of the famous matrons. And thus grace (for such is the signification of the name of Anne) is mother of the Lady (for such is the signification of the name of Mary.) And indeed she became the Lady of every creature, since she hath been mother of the Creator. She first saw the light in Joachim's house, hard by the Pool of Bethesda, at Jerusalem, and was carried to the Temple. There planted in the Lord, the dew of His Spirit made her to flourish in the courts of her God, and like a green olive she became a tree, so that all the doves of grace came and lodged in her branches. And so she raised her mind utterly above the lust of life and the lust of the flesh, and kept her soul virgin in her virgin body, as became her that was to receive God into her womb. (Saint John of Damascus, “From the Book Upon the Orthodox Faith,” as found in Matins, Divine Office, Feast of the Presentation of Blessed Virgin Mary.)
Such was Mary that her single life offereth an example to all. If then the doer displease us not, let us applaud the deed; if any other woman seek like reward, let her follow after like works. In the one Virgin how many glorious examples do shine forth. Her's was the hidden treasure of modesty, her's the high standard of faith, her's the self-sacrifice of earnestness, her's to be the pattern of maidenhood at home, of kinswomanhood in ministry, of motherhood in the Temple. O to how many virgins hath she been helpful, how many hath she taken in her arms and presented unto the Lord, saying Here is one who, like me, hath kept stainlessly clean the wedding -chamber, the marriage -bed of my Son!
Why should I go on to speak of the scantiness of her eating, or of the multiplicity of her work? how her labour seemed above human capacity, and her refreshment insufficient for human strength, her toil never missing a moment, her fasting taking two days together. And when she was fain to eat, she took not dainties, but whatsoever food came first to hand that would keep body and soul together. She would not sleep till need was, and even then, while her body rested, her soul watched, for she often talked in her sleep, either repeating things that she had read, or going on with what she was doing before sleep interrupted her, or rehearsing things executed, or talking of things projected. (Saint Ambrose, “The Book Upon Virgins,” as found in Matins, Divine Office, Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.)
It is plain that this was a woman of great earnestness and faith. The Scribes and Pharisees were at once tempting and blaspheming the Lord, but this woman so clearly grasped His Incarnation, and so bravely confessed the same, that she confounded both the lies of the great men who were present, and the faithlessness of the heretics who were yet to come. Even as the Jews then, blaspheming the works of the Holy Ghost, denied the very Son of God Who is of one substance with the Father, so afterwards did the heretics, by denying that Mary always a Virgin did, under the operation of the Holy Ghost, supply flesh to the Only begotten One of God, when He was about being born in an human Body, even so, I say, did the heretics deny that the Son of Man should be called a true Son, Who is of one substance with His Mother.
If we shall say that the Flesh, Wherewith the Son of God was born in the flesh, was something outside of the flesh of the Virgin His Mother, without reason should we bless the womb that bore Him, and the paps which He hath sucked. But the Apostle saith: "God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law", Gal, iv. 4., and they are not to be listened to who read this passage: "Born of a woman, made under the law." He was made of a woman, for He was conceived in a virgin's womb, and took His Flesh, not from nothing, not from elsewhere, but from the flesh of His Mother. Otherwise, and if He had not been sprung of a woman, He could not with truth be called the Son of man. Let us therefore, denying the doctrine of Eutyches, lift up our voice, along with the Universal Church, whereof that woman was a figure, let us lift up our heart as well as our voice from the company, and say unto the Saviour: Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked. Blessed Mother, of whom one hath said thou art His Mother, Who reigns over earth and over heaven for ever.
Yea, rather, blessed are they that hear the Word of God and keep it. How nobly doth the Saviour say "Yea" to the woman's blessing, declaring also that not only is she blessed who was meet to give bodily birth to the Word of God, but that all they who spiritually conceive the same Word by the hearing of faith, and, by keeping it through good works, bring it forth and, as it were, carefully nurse it, in their own hearts, and in the hearts of their neighbours, are also blessed. Yea, and that the very Mother of God herself was blessed in being for a while the handmaid of the Word of God made Flesh, but that she was much more blessed in this, that through her love she keepeth Him for ever. (Homily by the Venerable Bede, as found in Matins, Divine Office, Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.)
At a time when even fully believing Catholics to look to Protestant and/or secular “conservative” commentators for ways to understand the problems of the world, we must never look to anyone for "advice" on First or Last Things who cannot make these words of Dom Prosper Gueranger his own, who cannot make his own this prayer uttered by the great Benedictine of the Nineteenth Century:
'Congratulate me, all ye that love the Lord, because when I was a little one I pleased the Most High.' Such is the invitation thou addressed to us, O Mary, in the Office chanted in thy honour; and on what feast couldst thou do so more appropriately?
When, even more little in thy humility than by thy tender age, thou didst mount, in thy sweet purity, the steps of the temple, all heaven must have owned that it was henceforth just for the Most High to take His delight in our earth. Having hitherto lived in retirement with thy blessed parents, this was thy first public act; it showed thee for a moment to the eyes of men, only to withdraw thee immediately into deeper obscurity. But as thou wast officially offered and presented to the Lord, He Himself doubtless, surrounded by the princes of His court, presented thee not less solemnly to those noble spirits as their Queen. In the fullness of the new light that then burst upon them, they understood at once thy incomparable greatness, the majesty of the temple where Jehovah was receiving a homage superior to that of their nine choirs, and the august prerogative of the Old Testament to have thee for its daughter, and to perfect, by its teachings and guidance during those twelve years, the formation of the Mother of God.
Holy Church, however, declares that we can imitate thee, O Mary, in this mystery of thy Presentation, as in all others. Deign to bless especially those privileged souls who, by the grace of their vocation, are even here below dwellers in the house of the Lord; may they be like that fruitful olive enriched by the holy Spirit, to which St. John Damascene compares thee. But is not every Christian, by reason of his Baptism, an indweller and a member of the Church. God's true sanctuary, prefigured by that of Moriah? May we through thy intercession, follow thee so closely in thy Presentation even here in the land of shadows, that we may deserve to be presented after thee to the Most High in the temple of His glory. (Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., The Liturgical Year.)
We must offer up our prayers and our sacrifices and humiliations and mortifications and penances to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, praying as many Rosaries each day as our states-in-life permit, so that every human being on the face of this earth will recognize in the Mother of God the Singular Vessel of Devotion without whose intercession we cannot get to Heaven and whose Immaculate Heart will indeed triumph in the end.
Viva Cristo Rey! Vivat Christus Rex!
Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.
Saint John the Evangelist, pray for us.
Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us.
The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary as found in The New English Edition of The Mystical City of God
412. Among the types which foreshadowed most holy Mary in the written law none was more expressive than the Ark of the Covenant, not only due to the material of which it was constructed and its contents, but also due to the purposes for which it served and the effects which the Lord wrought through it and in connection with it in the ancient synagogue. It was all a prototype of this Lady and of what She was to do in the new Church of the Gospel. The incorruptible setim wood of which it was made (Ex. 25:10), not by chance but by divine arrangement, typified clearly our mystical ark Mary, free from the corruption of actual sin and from the hidden worminess of original guilt with its inseparable ferment of disorderly passions. The finest and purest gold (Ib. 11) which covered it on the outside and inside certainly indicated the most perfect and exalted graces and gifts which shone forth in her heavenly thoughts, her works and activities, and her habits and the operations of her faculties, so in no exterior or interior part of this mystical Ark could anything be discerned which at any moment of time was not entirely covered by gold of the most exquisite and finest carat.
413. The stone tablets of the law, the vase of manna, and the miraculous staff (Heb. 9:4) which that ancient Ark contained and preserved cannot be surpassed in expressive significance of the eternal and incarnate Word enclosed within that living Ark, most holy Mary, for He was her Onlybegotten Son, the living foundation stone of the evangelical Church (I Cor. 3:11). In this virginal ark of Mary was placed the corner stone (Eph. 2:20) which was to join the Gentiles and the Jews, and was cut from the mountain of his eternal generation (Dan. 2:34), so in Him would be written by the finger of God the new law of grace; thus it is understood this great Queen was to be the Depositary of all God provided and operated for his creatures. She also enclosed within Herself the manna of the Divinity and of grace, and the power and staff of prodigies and wonders; hence this heavenly and mystical Ark alone contained the fountain of grace, which is the being of God himself, overflowing onto the rest of mortals, that in Her and through Her would be worked the marvels and prodigies of the arm of God. In Mary therefore all the Lord desired to operate and manifest is contained and deposited.
414. Thus the Ark of the Testament (not of itself, but due to the truth which it foreshadowed) served as the seat and footstool of propitiation (Ex. 26:34), where the Lord was seated in the tribunal of his mercies to listen to his people, answer them, and distribute his gifts and favors, for the ancient Ark typified most holy Mary, the throne of grace and the true mystical propitiatory which He had expressly made for his indwelling. Thus it seems the tribunal of the divine justice remains in God himself, while the propitiatory and the tribunal of his mercy was placed in Mary, in order that to Her, as to a throne of grace,* we can approach in assured confidence to present our petitions for those benefits, graces and mercies which outside of the great Queen Mary are unheard of and unattainable by the human race.
415. Such a sacred and mysterious Ark, constructed by the hands of the Lord himself for his habitation and as the propitiatory of his people, could not remain with propriety outside of his temple where was preserved that other material Ark, which was only a figure of this spiritual and true Ark of the New Testament. Therefore its Author ordained for Her to be placed in his house and temple as soon as the first three years of her infancy would be completed. But I am astonished to find a wonderful difference in regard to that which happened with the primitive and figurative Ark and that which came to pass with the second and true Ark of the Covenant; for though the ancient Ark had no other importance than that of presignifying most pure Mary and the mysteries connected with Her, when king David transferred it to different places, and when afterwards Solomon his son placed it in the temple as in its proper place of rest, all was done with great festivities and rejoicings of that ancient people, as is shown by the solemn processions arranged by David from the house of Abinadab to the house of Obededom (II Kg. 6:10), and thence to the tabernacle of Sion, his own city (Ib. 12); likewise when Solomon transferred it from Sion to the new temple (III Kg. 8:5) which he had built as the house of God and of prayer by the command of the Lord.
416. On all these occasions the ancient Ark of the Testament was borne along in public veneration and most solemn celebrations, amid the strains of music, dancing, sacrifices, the rejoicings of the kings and of the whole people of Israel, as is related in the sacred history of books II and III of Kings and I and II of Paralipomenon. But our true and mystical Ark, most holy Mary, although She was the most precious, the most estimable and venerable of all the creatures, was not brought to the temple with such solemn show and public ostentation; during the transferring of this mysterious Ark the sacrifice of animals and the royal pomp and majesty were missing. She was carried from the house of her father Joachim in the arms of her humble mother Anne, who though she was not very poor wanted to bear her beloved Daughter on her arms in order to present Her in the temple without ostentation of riches, alone and unnoticed by the people. All the glory and majesty of this procession the Most High desired to be divine and invisible. All the sacraments and mysteries of most holy Mary are so exalted and hidden that according to the inscrutable decrees of the Lord many of them are concealed to this day. He it is who holds in his hands the time and the hour for the revelation of all things and of each one in particular.
417. Lost in admiration of this wonder, prostrate in the presence of the Most High and in the praise of his high judgments, I was favored by His Majesty with the following explanation: “Understand, soul, that if I provided that the Ark of the Old Testament be venerated with so much festivity and outward show, it was because it was an express figure of Her who was to be the Mother of the incarnate Word. The first Ark was material and irrational, and this ostentation and celebrity could be arranged for it without difficulty; but during her life on earth in mortal flesh I would not permit such celebration in connection with the true and living Ark, for thou and the rest of the souls are to look upon Her as an example during thy pilgrimage. I do not desire those who are written in my memory for eternal election to expect honors and the inconsiderate praise and applause of men as a part of their reward for working in my honor and service during mortal life; nor must they be put in danger of dividing the love of their God, who justifies them and makes them saints, with those who praise them as such. One is the Creator who has made them and sustains them, illumines and defends them; therefore one must be their love and attention, and it must not be partitioned or divided, even though it be to repay and give thanks for the honors which with pious zeal are given to the just. The love of God is delicate, while the human will is most frail and limited; if it is divided it can only be small and very imperfect in its activity, swiftly losing all. Because of this doctrine I did not desire Her, the exemplar of what was most holy, and who due to my protection could not fall, to be renowned or specially honored during her life, nor was She to be brought to the temple amid the outward show of honor.
418. “Beyond this, I have sent my Onlybegotten from heaven and have created Her who was to be his Mother for the very purpose of drawing the world from its error and undeceiving mortals, among whom is the most iniquitous law established by sinners that the poor are to be despised and the rich esteemed; that the humble are to be cast down and the proud extolled; the virtuous are to be harshly criticized and the sinner accredited; the timorous and shy are to be considered as foolish and the arrogant to be held as valiant; poverty should be considered as ignominious and unfortunate, while riches, fortunes, ostentation, pomposity, honors, and perishable pleasures should be sought and prized by ignorant and carnal men. All this the incarnate Word and his Mother in coming among them were to reprove and condemn as deceitful and false, so mortals could perceive the formidable danger of loving and devoting themselves so blindly to the deceitful lie of the sensible and delightful. Through this insensate love it happens that they sopersistently flee from humility, meekness and poverty, and evade all that pertains to the true virtue of penance and abnegation of self; yet these virtues are truly acceptable in my eyes and according to my justice, for the holy, the honorable, and the just actions are to be rewarded with eternal glory, whereas the contrary ones are to be visited with everlasting punishment.
419. “This truth earthly and carnal eyes do not see, nor do they desire to attend to the light which teaches them. But thou, soul, listen to it and write it in thy heart by the example of the incarnate Word and his Mother, and imitate them in all things. She was holy, and in my estimation and pleasure first after Christ; to Her was due all the veneration and honor of men, and even more than they could give; yet I provided and ordained in her regard that She receive no honor or recognition at that time in order to place in Her the most holy, the most perfect, the most estimable and secure example for my elect to have in order to imitate and learn from the Mistress of truth, this example being her humility, obscurity, retirement, contempt for the deceitful and formidable vanity of the world, her love of labors, tribulations, insults, afflictions,and dishonors inflicted by creatures. And because all of this is incompatible with and improper for the applause, honors and estimation of the worldly, I decreed most pure Mary would not have them, nor do I desire my friends to receive or allow them. If for my glory it sometimes happens that they become known to the world, it is not because they have desired it or looked for it, but because they, always remaining in the humility and sentiment proper to their state, resign themselves to my disposition and will. For themselves and as far as they are concerned they seek and love that which the world despises and which the incarnate Word and his most holy Mother strove after and have taught.” This was the answer which the Lord gave to my wondering inquiry, and thus did He instruct me in regard to what I should seek and strive after.
420. The three years decreed by the Lord having been completed, Joachim and Anne set out from Nazareth accompanied by a few of their kindred and bringing with them the true living Ark of the Covenant, most holy Mary, borne on the arms of her mother in order to be deposited in the holy temple of Jerusalem. The beautiful Child, by her fervent and loving aspirations, hastened after the ointments of her Beloved (Cant. 1:3), seeking in the temple Him whom She bore in her Heart. This humble procession was scarcely noticed by earthly creatures, but it was invisibly accompanied by the angelic spirits, who in order to celebrate this event had hastened from heaven in greater numbers than usual as her bodyguard, and were singing in heavenly strains the glory and praise of the Most High. The Princess of heaven heard and saw them as She hastened her beautiful steps along in the sight of the highest and the true Solomon. Thus they pursued their journey from Nazareth to the holy city of Jerusalem, and also the parents of the holy child Mary felt in their hearts great joy and consolation of spirit.
421. They arrived at the holy temple, and St. Anne, in order to enter into it with her Daughter and Lady, took Her by the hand, St. Joachim giving particularly assistance to them. All three offered a devout and fervent prayer to the Lord, the parents offering to God their Daughter, and the most holy Child, in profound humility, adoration and worship, offering up Herself. She alone perceived that the Most High received and accepted Her, and amid divine splendor which filled the temple She heard a voice saying to Her: “Come, my Beloved, my Spouse, come to my temple, where I desire to hear thy voice of praise and worship.” Having offered their prayers they rose and went to the priest. The parents consigned their Child into his hands and he gave them his blessing. Together they conducted Her to the portion of the temple buildings where many young girls lived to be brought up in retirement and virtuous habits until old enough to assume the state of matrimony. It was a place of retirement specially selected for the first-born daughters of the royal tribe of Juda and the sacerdotal tribe of Levi.
422. Fifteen stairs led up to the entrance of these apartments. Other priests came down these stairs in order to welcome the blessed child Mary. The one who had received them, being according to the law one of a minor order, placed Her on the first step; She, with his permission, turned and knelt down before her parents Joachim and Anne, asked their blessing and kissed their hands, and recommended Herself to their prayers before God. The holy parents in most tender tears gave Her their blessing, whereupon She ascended the fifteen stairs without any assistance. She hastened upward with incomparable fervor and joy, neither turning back, nor shedding tears, nor showing any childish regret at parting from her parents. To see Her in so tender an age so full of strange majesty and firmness of mind excited the admiration of all those present. The priests received Her among the rest of the maidens, and St. Simeon consigned Her to the teachers, one of whom was the prophetess Anne. This holy matron had been prepared by the Lord by special grace and enlightenment in order to take charge of this Child of Joachim and Anne, and thus she did by divine disposition, meriting by her holiness and virtue to have Her as a disciple who was to be the Mother of God and Mistress of all the creatures.
423. Sorrowfully her parents Joachim and Anne retraced their journey to Nazareth, now poor since deprived of the rich Treasure of their house. But the Most High consoled and comforted them in their affliction. The holy priest Simeon, though he did not at this time know of the mystery enshrined in the child Mary, obtained great light regarding her sanctity and special selection by the Lord; also the other priests looked upon Her with great reverence and esteem. In ascending the fifteen stairs the Child brought to fulfillment that which Jacob saw happening in sleep (Gen. 28:12), for here too were Angels ascending and descending, the ones accompanying, the others meeting their Queen as She hastened up, whereas at the top God was waiting in order to welcome Her as his Daughter and Spouse. She also felt by the effects of her overflowing love that this truly was the house of God and the portal of heaven.
424. The child Mary when brought to her teacher knelt in profound humility before her and asked her blessing. She begged to be admitted among those under her direction, obedience and counsel, and asked her kind forbearance in the labor and trouble which She would occasion. The prophetess Anne, her teacher, received Her with pleasure and said to Her: “My daughter, Thou shalt find in me a helpful mother, and I will take care of Thee and thy education with all possible solicitude.” Then the holy Child proceeded to address Herself with the same humility to all the maidens who were then present; each one She greeted and embraced, offering Herself as their servant and requesting them, as older and more advanced than She in the duties of their position, to instruct and command Her. She also gave them thanks that without her merit they admitted Her to their company.
INSTRUCTION OF THE MOST HOLY VIRGIN MARY.
425. My daughter, the greatest happiness which can befall any soul in this mortal life is for the Almighty to call her to his house consecrated to his service, for by this benefit He rescues the soul from a dangerous slavery and relieves her of the vile servitude of the world where, deprived of true liberty, she eats her bread in the sweat of her brow (Gen. 3:19). Who is so dull and insipid as not to know the dangers of the worldly life, which is hampered by all the abominable and most wicked laws and customs introduced by the astuteness of the devil and the perversity of men? The best part is religious life and retirement; in it is found security, while outside is a torment and a stormy sea, full of sorrow and unhappiness. Through the hardness of their heart and the total forgetfulness of themselves men do not know this truth and are not attracted by its blessings. But thou, my daughter, be not deaf to the voice of the Most High; attend and correspond to it in thy actions. I desire to remind thee that one of the greatest snares of the demon is to counteract the call of the Lord whenever He seeks to attract and incline the soul to a life of perfection in his service.
426. Even by itself the public and sacred act of receiving the habit and entering religion, although it is not always performed with proper fervor and purity of intention, is enough to rouse the wrath and fury of the infernal dragon and his demons, for they know this act tends not only to the glory of the Lord and the joy of the holy angels, but also that religious life will bring the soul to holiness and perfection. It very often happens that they who have received the habit with earthly and human motives are afterwards visited by divine grace which perfects them and sets all things aright. If this is possible even when the beginning was without a good intention, how much more powerful and efficacious will be the light and influence of grace and the discipline of religious life when the soul enters under the influence of divine love and with a sincere and earnest desire of finding God and serving and loving Him?
427. Before the Most High reforms or advances those who for any reason enter the religious state, it is no more than right that in turning away from the world they avert also their eyes from it and blot out from their memory all its images, forgetting all they have in so praiseworthy a manner left behind. Those who neglect this requirement and are ungrateful and disloyal toward God will undoubtedly fall under the punishment of the wife of Lot (Gen. 19:26), and if due to the goodness of God they do not suffer this punishment in an equally open and visible manner, they nevertheless undergo it interiorly, remaining congealed and full of dryness, without fervor or advance in virtue. Forsaken by grace they thus do not attain the end of their vocation and make no progress in religion, nor find any spiritual consolation in it, and do not merit to be visited by the Lord as children, but rather to be left to their own resources like unfaithful and fugitive slaves. Remember, Mary, that for thee all the world must be crucified and dead; thou must have for it no memory, retain none of its images, pay it no attention, nor have any inclination toward any of its creatures. If sometimes it is necessary to exercise charity with thy neighbor, make sure to ordain it well and safeguard beforehand the good of thy soul, its security and quiet, and its interior tranquility and peace. In these points, as far as possible without sin, I admonish and command thee to go to the greatest extremes if thou dost desire to remain in my school. (As found in The New English Editon of The Mystical City of Good: The Conception: Book 2, Chapter 1.)