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  • Marian Reflections

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Marian thought for March

“Let us go full of confidence to Our Lady, because She has brought us to God, and is in a certain way an aqueduct from which we will easily draw the heavenly water of Christ to our gardens; She is a very rich and generous queen. What safer place than in the wounds of Jesus, and the arms of the Queen of Angels?” (Saint John Berchmans).

Saint John Berchmans was born in Belgium on March 13, 1599, to a good catholic family. He was one of five children, 3 of whom consecrated themselves to the Lord. He always behaved well at home, helping his mother as much as he could. He studied at the seminary in Mechelen and then entered the Jesuit novitiate of the same city. John was distinguished by his charity, study and piety. He had a great devotion to the Blessed Virgin whom he wanted to love with a very affectionate love, not wanting to stop until he achieved such love. He always lived under the gaze of this sweet Mother. During his life he was a defender of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, and in the last year of his life, John had committed himself, signing with his own blood, to "affirm and defend the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception wherever it is found". He wanted to practice all the virtues and made an effort to observe perfectly his obligations, without excuses. He took advantage of his daily crosses, worked passionately for the glory of God, did everything by supernaturalizing the intention. He said "when you have to pray, pray with all love; when you have to study, study with all interest; when you have to practice a sport, practice it with all enthusiasm." He wanted to do things always with more love. He studied thinking about the future apostolate he would have and the souls he would meet. He died young saying that his greatest consolation was never having broken, in his religious life, any rule or order of his superiors and never having committed a venial sin. Before dying he pressed close to his chest a crucifix, a rosary and the book of the Rules, saying "these are my three most beloved garments, with them I die happy." He died on August 13, 1621. His last words were: Jesus, Mary.

Saint Clare of Assisi

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"May you cling to his most sweet Mother, who gave birth to the kind of Son whom the heavens could not contain, and yet, she carried him in the tiny enclosure of her sacred womb."

Saint Clare of Assisi was born in Assisi in 1194. Very little is known about her infancy and adolescence. The first written information about her tell us that at the age of 18 she cut her hair and took on the dark habit worn by the order of St. Francis, wanting to follow Christ in poverty, humility and charity. She began to live a life of radical poverty and founded to the second franciscan order: the Poor Ladies. St. Clare lived St. Francis' ideal, but from inside the convent, where she spent 43 years of her life. She gave her soul up to God in a convent called Saint Damian on the 11th of August, 1253. Her last words were: "Oh God, blessed are you for having created me."

 

Saint Therese of Lisieux

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"What a joy to remember that she [Mary] is our Mother! Since she loves us and knows our weakness, what have we to fear?."

Saint Therese of the Child Jesus was born in Alençon, France on January 2, 1873. Therese, the youngest of five children, lost her mother at the age of five. She was educated by her sisters and her father, who taught her to love the poor and to pray. Her sister, who was like a mother to her, entered the Carmelite Order. This new cause of suffering for Therese brought with it the certainty of her own call to Carmel, and she desired to enter the monastery as well. Due to the fact that she was only 15 years old, she decided to ask for the Pope's permission while on a pilgrimage to Rome. She pleaded before the Pope and he answered, "You will enter if God wills it." She was finally able to enter the Carmelite monastery, where she lived her spiritual childhood very intensely. She knew how to offer up the seemingly little everyday things to the Lord. She lived in self-denial and offered herself as instrument in God's hands. She contracted tuberculosis when she was 23 years old, and died a year later on September 30, 1897. She was beatified by Pope Pius XI in 1922 and canonized two years later. Her feast day is October 1st.

 

Saint Cyril of Alexandria

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"We salute you, O Mary, Mother of God, treasure of the universe, inextinguishable flame, crown of virginity (…) We salute you who in your virginal womb enclosed the Immense and Incomprehensible One."

Saint Cyril was patriarch of Alexandria (Egypt). Saint Cyril lived between 376-444 and is famous for his battle against several heresies, above all against nestorianism. He presided the Council at Ephesus (431), in which the dogma that defines that Mary is the Mother God was proclaimed. He defended the doctrine that gives Mary the name "Theotokos" (Mother of God). This defense led to imprisonment and many battles out of which he emerged victorious.

 

Blessed Paul VI

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"The Blessed Virgin's role as Mother leads the People of God to turn with filial confidence to the one who is ever ready to listen with a mother's affection and efficacious assistance. Thus the People of God have learned to call on her as the Consoler of the afflicted, the Health of the sick, and the Refuge of sinners, that they may find comfort in tribulation, relief in sickness and liberating strength in guilt."

Blessed Paul VI was born in Concesio, near Brescia (Italy), on September 26, 1897. He felt the call to the priesthood and at 19 years of age entered the seminary in Brescia. He was ordained a priest on May 29, 1920. In Rome, he studied at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy and later served as a member of the Secretariat of State. He had several important positions in Nunciatures and in the Secretariat of State until he was named Archbishop of Milan in 1954. Pope John XXIII named him Cardinal in 1958 and in 1963 he succeed John XXIII as Pope. He continued the labor of the Second Vatican Council. He wrote several encyclicals, apostolic exhortations, and letters, amongst which is the apostolic exhortation Marialis Cultus for the right ordering and development of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, which he signed on February 2, 1974. He died August 6, 1978 on the Feast of the Transfiguration.

 

Blessed Jacinta Marto

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"Tell everyone that God grants us His grace through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. They should turn to Her to obtain the graces they seek. The Sacred Heart of Jesus wants Mary’s Immaculate Heart to be venerated next to His. People should ask for peace from the Immaculate Heart of Mary because God has placed it in Her hands."

Jacinta Marto was born on March 11, 1910. She was one of the visionaries of Fatima, where Our Blessed Mother appeared in 1917. Sr. Lucia spoke of her saying that she had a very mature spirit despite her young age. Jacinta loved the Heart of Mary and wanted to make reparation for the many offenses She receives. She had a great spirit of self-denial, and sacrifices for poor sinners did not frighten her. She always prayed for the conversion of sinners. She also prayed and offered sacrifices for the Pope, whom she loved dearly. In 1918, she fell ill during the influenza epidemic which later developed into purulent pleurisy. At first she hid the pain caused by the illness, offering it up in reparation for the sins committed against Our Lady. She eventually had to go to the hospital and suffered greatly there, although she never complained. During that time she continued to receive visits from the Blessed Virgin. The last sacrifice she was asked to make was to die all alone. Our Lady came down to take her to Heaven when Jacinta was only 9 years old. She was beatified on May 13, 2000.

 

St. Angela of the Cross

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"My mother, my lady, my queen, teacher of meekness and humility, teach me to desire nothing more than to learn from you: most pure, most clean, most beautiful, most white, most beautiful, Holy Mary, my hope, my consolation, my happiness, my joy."

Angela was born in Seville, Spain on January 30, 1846. Her family was large, poor, hardworking, and pious. At home she learned to pray the rosary, the prayers of the month of May, and attended the dawn rosary with her father. From a young age she worked in a shoe shop, making shoes and serving the poor and marginalized. She felt called to the religious life but couldn’t find her place. In 1875, while she was in prayer, she saw Mount Calvary with a bare cross in front of Christ Crucified. She understood that she was to be crucified on that other cross. Guided by her confessor, Fr. Torres, she discovered that the Lord was calling her to found a new congregation, Institute of the Sisters of the Company of the Cross. The statutes of the Institute were approved in 1879. The Sisters of the Cross would live in great austerity while attending to the sick and needy. Though Sister Angela was relatively uneducated, she left us writings of great spiritual value. In her beatification, John Paul II said that: “The austere life of the Sisters of the Cross is fruit of their union with the redemptive mystery of Jesus Christ… Their example is a permanent sign of a charity which does not pass away.” Sister Angela of the Cross died in Seville on March 2, 1932. She was beatified November 5, 1982, and later canonized in 2003, by John Paul II.

 
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