Ave Maria Mediations
Jesus, our Savior, true God and true man, must be the ultimate end of all our other devotions; otherwise they would be false and misleading. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and end of everything. ‘We labor,” says Saint Paul, “only to make all men perfect in Jesus Christ.”
For in him alone dwells the entire fullness of the divinity and the complete fullness of grace, virtue, and perfection. In him alone we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing; he is the only teacher from whom we must learn; the only Lord on whom we should depend; the only Head to whom we should be united and the only model that we should imitate. He is the only Physician that can heal us; the only Shepherd that can feed us; the only Way that can lead us; the only Truth that we can believe; the only Life that can animate us. He alone is everything to us and he alone can satisfy all our desires.
We are given no other name under heaven by which we can be saved. God has laid no other foundation for our salvation, perfection, and glory than Jesus. Every edifice which is not built on that firm rock is founded upon shifting sands and will certainly fall sooner or later. Every one of the faithful who is not united to him is like a branch broken from the stem of the vine. It falls and withers and is fit only to be burnt.
If we live in Jesus and Jesus lives in us, we need not fear damnation. Neither angels in heaven nor men on earth, nor devils in hell, no creature whatever can harm us, for no creature can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. Through him, with him, and in him, we can do all things and render all honor and glory to the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit; we can make ourselves perfect and be for our neighbor a fragrance of eternal life.
SAINT LOUIS DE MONTFORT
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart
June is dedicated to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, which is deserving of our special veneration, because it is the sensible origin and seat of all the affections of our Divine Redeemer, and especially that of His burning Love; likewise, His Heart is the center of all the interior Sorrows which He suffered during His mortal Life. Moreover, the adorable Heart of Jesus, united to His Sacred Humanity, is thus inseparably united to the Divine Word, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity.
The importance of the veneration of these beautiful truths was first revealed to St. Gertrude the Great (d. 1302), which she recorded in her book The Herald of Divine Love. Later, Jesus showed His Heart to St. Margaret Mary, surrounded with thorns, with a cross on top, and in a throne of flames, saying: “Behold this Heart which has loved men so much, and has spared nothing for love of them, but which receives from the majority of men no other recompense but ingratitude and insults towards the Sacrament of love; and what grieves Me most is, that these hearts are consecrated to Me.”
It is only fitting that the Blessed Virgin Mary is also honored during this month under the title of “Our Lady of the Sacred Heart.” For it was from her most pure and sinless body that Our Divine Lord took His own Flesh and Blood, and thus she gave to Him that Most Sacred Heart, the physical organ which was not only the primary fountain of His own natural life, but the actual seat of the burning love of the very Son of God, which was finally to be pierced upon the Cross, and so pour forth the last drops of His most Precious Blood, in order to give supernatural life to all those who would love Him in return.
St. Gertrude understood this incomparable prerogative of Our Lady, and justly endeavored to honor her under the beautiful title, “The Immaculate Lily of the Most Holy Trinity.”
St. Bede the Venerable (673-735) convincingly refutes those who, while claiming to accept and truly believe in the Divinity of the Redeemer, deny this singular privilege of His Mother, which also necessitates her Immaculate Conception. “Heretics of a later day”, he writes, “denying that by the power and operation of the Holy Ghost, Mary, ever a Virgin, did verily give of her own flesh and blood in bringing forth the human Body of the Only-begotten Son of God, have maintained that He ought not to be acknowledged as the true Son of Man, consubstantial with His Mother.”
For if the very “Flesh of the Word of God”, he argues, “had no connection with the flesh of His Virgin-Mother, without reason do we call ‘blessed the womb that bore Him, and the breasts that nursed him’. But the Apostle says: ‘For God sent His Son, made of a woman, made under the law’. Neither are we to listen to them who would interpret the passage thus: ‘Born of a woman, made under the law’; but: ‘Made of a woman’; for being conceived in the womb of a virgin, He took not flesh from nothing, nor from elsewhere, but He partook of His Mother’s flesh. Otherwise he could not truly have been called the Son of man, since he would have had no origin from mankind.”
“For the Mother of God was blessed indeed, in that she gave flesh to the Word of God in time, but still more blessed, in that she ever keeps that same Word in her love, throughout all eternity.”
(From the Homily of St. Bede the Venerable,
Book 4, chap. 49, on the Gospel of St. Luke, chap. 11)