Dear Friends and Benefactors,
“Have always before your eyes the all pure life and holy life of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is a divine mirror wherein you may behold the sparkling beauty of all virtues and the perfect model for your life and conduct. Upon this model you should regulate your actions, making it your rule and guide. See herein the faults you should avoid and the virtues you ought to practice, in careful imitation of the example of this divine Virgin.”
These holy words of wisdom from the Father and Doctor of the Church, Saint Ambrose, provide an excellent introduction to our brief description of Our Lady’s childhood years at home and in the Temple. Everything concerning Our Lady’s life on earth is of great importance – even her childhood years. Unfortunately, most Catholics know almost nothing about Our Lady’s childhood. The more we know the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the more we will be able to love her and serve her, and become truly devoted to her Immaculate Heart, hastening her Universal Triumphant over Satan and his kingdom now dominating the Church and the world through his agents – the modernists, the communists, the freemasons, etc.
The Blessed Virgin Mary declared to Saint Bridget of Sweden that before her parents had presented her in the Temple, and while she still lived with them, she had already vowed virginity and poverty. In addition, Our Lady told Saint Mechtilde that she had always lived in so great an obedience to her father Saint Joachim and to her mother Saint Anne as never to have caused them the slightest displeasure, for she knew very well that they held God’s place in her regard, and that the Divine Will, for which she had so great love, was manifested to her through her parents.
Speaking to Saint Bridget of Sweden, Our Lady told her: “From the time I began to know God, that is, from the very commencement of my life, I began to fear very much whatever was contrary to His honor and to my salvation and I endeavored with great care to perform my duties towards His Divine Majesty. Knowing He was my Creator and the Sovereign Judge of all my actions, I consecrated to Him, from that moment, my Heart and all my affections, and I conceived a great desire to exercise over myself unceasing vigilance in order to avoid in word and action whatever might displease Him. I knew, moreover, that He had given His Law and His Commandments to His people and the many prodigies He had wrought in their favor, and my Heart was inflamed with an ardent desire to love Him only. Thus, everything here below had for me only bitterness. It being also known to me that He was to redeem the world and be born of a virgin, I was so transported with love that my mind was altogether occupied in thinking of His excessive goodness and my will attached to His alone. In order to enjoy conversation with my Creator, I separated myself, as much as possible, from the conversation of creatures, even of my parents and friends; and to disengage myself from all things, I gave to the poor all I could, reserving nothing save what was absolutely necessary for life, for I took no pleasure in anything outside of God. My Heart was consumed with the desire to live until that time when the Son of God was to be born into the world, and to be the handmaid of her who should be His Mother, although I knew myself to be unworthy of such a favor. I made in my Heart a vow to observe perpetual virginity and to possess nothing in this world, according to the Divine Will, for all I desired in the world was that His Holy Will should be accomplished in all things. I believed firmly that nothing is impossible to God, and that He is so excessively bountiful that He willed nothing save what was most advantageous to me. I annihilated entirely my will and my desires at His feet, not willing anything apart from Him and leaving Him to desire for me what should be most agreeable in His sight. The time being come for the virgins to be presented to God in the Temple, I was presented there by my parents, and I lived there in perfect confidence that God Who is all powerful, and Who knew well my only desire was to please Him, would Himself preserve my virginity, if the vow I had made was agreeable to Him, or else He would do what should be most pleasing to Himself.”
On another occasion speaking to Saint Bridget, Our Lady said: “I am she whom God so loved that He carried me in His Heart from all eternity, that is, in an extraordinary manner, and with whom the Holy Ghost has dwelt from my infancy. And in the measure in which I advanced in age, and my body attained to maturity, the Holy Ghost filled me more and more, and with a plenitude so abundant, that there was in me no void nor place for sin. Therefore, have I never committed any sin, mortal or venial. I was so possessed with love for God that I could take no delight in anything in this world save the accomplishment of His most Holy Will. For, as God, Who had created me by His power, and replenished me by the virtue of His Holy Spirit, was all inflamed with love towards me, so my Heart in return was burning with the fire of His Divine love.”
Saint John Eudes briefly summarizes for us what the Holy Fathers of the Church teach us how Our Lady passed those young years (from age 3 until age 12) during which she dwelt in the Temple of Jerusalem.
Saint Jerome thus speaks: “When the Blessed Virgin, being still in her childhood, went to dwell in the Temple with the other young girls of her age, she led a most wonderful life. From early morning to the hour of Terce, she conversed with God in prayer. From the hour of Terce to that of None, she applied herself to manual work. From None until evening, she again prayed, until the Angel, who daily carried her repast, appeared. She, thus, advanced more and more in the love of God.”
Saint Bonaventure, quoting partly from Saint Jerome, and partly from the revelations of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, says, that the Blessed Virgin ordinarily rose at midnight, and prostrating herself before the Ark of the Covenant, remained for a long time in prayer, giving thanks to God, praising and blessing Him, and making many acts of faith, hope, charity, and religion.
Afterwards, Our Lady was accustomed to ask of God seven principal things. The first was the grace to love Him with all her Heart and with all her strength. The second, the grace to love her neighbor as God required, and that all He desired her to love for the pure love of Him. The third, strength to hate whatever is displeasing to God. Fourth, humility, patience, kindness, and the other virtues she should possess to render herself pleasing in God’s sight. The fifth favor she asked was that she might have the honor to see with her eyes, to hear with her ears, and to serve with her hands, her who was destined to be the Mother of the Redeemer, of whom she had learned in the Holy Scriptures. Her sixth prayer was for the grace necessary to obey punctually all the wishes of her superiors. In her seventh prayer she recommended to God the sanctuary He had chosen, the officers and ministers of the Temple, and all His people, beseeching Him to preserve them, and augment in them zeal for His holy service.
Next, Holy Mary took a little repose, after which she again returned to her prayer, and then occupied herself in the manual work which she had been ordered to do for the service of the Temple. This she executed with marvelous perfection.
In the afternoon, she gave herself up once more to prayer and spiritual reading, continuing thus until evening, when the Angel carried to her some corporal refreshment.
Having finished her repast, she blessed and adored God, and spent some time entertaining herself with the Blessed Spirits who visited her. She then allowed herself some short interval for sleep, which, however, did not interrupt her affectionate colloquies with God, as we are assured by several of the Holy Church Fathers.
This blessed Child in her occupations in the Temple of Jerusalem, employed excellently well all the means by which God may be honored in this life.
We may learn from Our Lady’s example to speak to God in prayer with humility, respect, and attention; to listen to God speaking to us, by His inspirations, through holy books, by His divine Commandments, by the mouth of superiors and preachers and by all creatures, which are so many tongues crying out to us to love our Creator and theirs. “Heaven and earth,” says Saint Augustine, “and all things therein, never cease inviting me to love God.”
In our recreations and pleasures, we should, after the example of Mary, love to hear and speak of God. All our actions should be done for God and with a pure intention of giving Him pleasure. Our sole will and contentment should rest in willing or not willing whatever He wills or does not will. We should be prepared to leave all, especially ourselves, for the love of God. We should give and sacrifice all to Him. Like Blessed Mary, we should cheerfully suffer for God and even to disposed to die for Him, if such be His good pleasure.
For in all these ways did our admirable Child glorify God most perfectly whilst she dwelt in His holy Temple. In the first place, she spent most of her time communing with God in prayer, with incomparable humility, respect, and devotion. She was constantly attentive to the voice of God, speaking through His inspirations, His Commandments, His representatives, and the Sacred Books. She obeyed with wonderful alacrity and profited by all that was said to her on the part of God. The recreation which she took after finishing her repast was spent conversing of God in company with the holy Angels, and had she followed the sentiments of her Heart and of her zeal, she would have spoken of God to all, and would have traversed the whole earth preaching and making known her Creator to all mankind.
In all that Our Lady did during her sojourn in the Temple, her only intention was to please God. Her will was inseparably united to that of God, and she placed all her felicity and happiness in leaving it to His good pleasure to ordain for her and for all other creatures what should be most agreeable to Him. She renounced all for God – her father, her mother, and her country (town), her relatives, even herself, all, without exception. All her powers, all her possessions, all her being, she offered unreservedly in sacrifice to God.
She knew that the Son of God was to come into the world to save mankind, and learning from the writings of the Prophets of the atrocious sufferings He should endure for the children of Adan, and for her in particular, the ardent love she already bore this amiable Savior caused her inconceivable sorrows, and she desired to take upon herself all the pains destined for Him, if such were His good pleasure.
As little Mary had learned in the Sacred Scriptures, of which, according to Saint Augustine, she knew the secrets, that the Son of God should undergo a most cruel death for the love of all mankind, and for love of her, the unspeakable love she had for God induced her to offer herself with a generous heart to suffer all imaginable deaths in place of this adorable Redeemer, Whom she loved infinitely more than herself. Oh, with what a full heart, with what abundance of tears and love and sorrow unimaginable did she utter those words she was to use at the time of her Son’s Passion, considering Him no longer as her Son, but as her Redeemer and Spouse: “Amor unice, Redemptor carissime, quis dabit mihi ut moriar pro te, sponse dilectissime? O my only love, my well-beloved Redeemer, my most dear Spouse, who will give me that I may die for Thee?”
Let us summarize the holy childhood of Our Lady with the following words of Saint Ambrose: “She was a virgin not only in body, but in mind and heart, full of simplicity and sincerity. She was humble, slow to speak, grave and serious in word, full of prudence and wisdom, fond of reading, a lover of poverty and the poor. Her work was performed diligently, her speech reserved, and her intention in everything was to please God rather than men. She never gave offense, but was gracious towards all, respectful to superiors and without envy towards her equals. She fled boasting, followed reason and loved virtue. When was she ever a cause of discontent to her parents? When was she ever seen in dissension or coldness with her neighbor? When did she ever disdain the simple, despise the weak, or shun the company of the poor? There was no haughtiness in her glance, nor displeasure in her words, nor unreasonableness in her actions; nothing free in her gestures nor affected in her gait; nothing petulant in her voice; and her whole exterior bore the impress of interior piety and sanctity. What shall I say of her rigorous abstinence and frequent fasts? of the charity with which she rendered service to all, although she thereby exceeded the limits of her natural strength? She took neither refreshment nor repose for the satisfaction of nature, but only through necessity; and while her body slept, her Heart watched, filled with holiest emotions. She desired always to live under the guidance of another, although there could be no more faithful guide than she herself, seeing that all her steps were so many acts of virtue. And, although her entire life was an example of perfection to all who beheld it, she was, nevertheless, ready to learn from everyone, and to receive instruction from all. She was extremely loved by her parents, esteemed by her neighbors, and replete with sanctity such as to render her worthy to be the Mother of God.”
Therefore, let us thank God for the wondrous Childhood of Mary who was a splendid mirror of the Holy Childhood of Jesus. Moreover, let us imitate her virtues and help others to do likewise.
AVE MARIA !
Father Joseph Possion
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