“Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you.” (Saint Matthew 7:7). The friends of God should never be discouraged when the Almighty seems to rebuke them or ignore their petitions. Any apparent delay from God allows his servants to practice greater virtue in many ways. Such was the case with Saint Joachim and Saint Ann.
According to Saint John Eudes, it was for this reason that God deferred for twenty years to hear the prayers of Saints Joachim and Ann. In the end, God accorded them more than they had asked of Him. For they prayed only to be delivered from the confusion caused by their barrenness, and He honored them with the most glorious fecundity ever known upon earth. They asked of God but one child, and He gave them an innumerable multitude, making them father and mother of all the faithful. They besought of God a child, who would comfort and sustain their declining years, and He gave them a daughter who would be the honor, the joy, the love and delight of all Heaven and earth. They asked for a child, like unto all other children of Adam, and He granted them a daughter like unto the Angels in purity and sanctity – one who, from the first moment of her life, should be more ardent in her love for God than the highest Seraph. They asked of God a child to bring up in His holy fear, that might become a worthy servant of the Most High, and they received a daughter who would be Mother of the Son of God and Queen of all creation. O blessed Saints, who for twenty years prayed, wept and fasted, God, in His admirable goodness, deferred to grant your request, in order that it might be known to all throughout the ages that this incomparable Child, whom you so longed for and desired, was the fruit of your entreaties and your prayers, and that all the universe might feel itself eternally grateful to you for having obtained from God, her who is the treasure, the reparation and the glory of our race.
The prayers of Saint Joachim and Saint Ann were accompanied by almsgiving, fasting and tears, and the exercise of all the virtues, particularly most holy resignation to the Divine Will, diffidence in themselves, and entire confidence in the infinite goodness of God, and that profound humility which made them endure with patience the opprobrium of their barrenness. In a word, Saint Joachim and Saint Ann excelled in all virtues, as implied in the signification of their names – Joachim meaning “the preparation of the Lord” and Ann, meaning “grace”. It was suitable, says Saint Peter Chrysologus, that the dwelling of Him Who is the Saint of Saints and Sanctity itself, should have been prepared a long time in advance, even in the person of the father and mother of her who was to conceive Him and give Him birth.
It was, then, these holy works and this exercise of virtue that begot our admirable Child, Most Holy Mary. For it was proper, where there was question of bringing into this world her who was to be the Mother of grace, that nature should be aided and prevented by grace, and that her parents should dispose themselves to give her birth by the practice of heroic virtue and, above all, by a singular affection for chastity, as the Blessed Virgin Mary herself revealed to Saint Bridget of Sweden, in these words: “My Son loved me before I could love Him, because He was my Creator. He rendered the marriage of my parents more pure and chaste than any marriage ever had been before. For they willed to live together as married persons should, only conformably to the end for which this state was established; to give to God children who should serve Him in this world and bless Him eternally in Heaven. And when, on the part of God, the Angel promised them a daughter, who, remaining always a virgin, should be Mother of the world’s Redeemer, they would have preferred to die rather than to use marriage through the motive of carnal love, which was dead in them. But they were obliged thereto by the command of Heaven, contrary to their own desires. Divine love had over them a power which carnal love could never have, so that the body was formed, not by the will of the flesh, but by the instinct of divine charity.”
In this way, was our blessed Child, Most Holy Mary, the marvelous fruit of the prayers and tears, the mortifications and holy deeds of Saint Joachim and Saint Ann.
If you, then, wish to participate in his signal favor of God towards Saint Joachim and Saint Ann; if you wish that their amiable daughter, who is already your sister and your mother, should be also your daughter, as her Divine Son Jesus wills to be your son – since He says that he who does the will of His Father in Heaven is His brother, His sister, and mother – labor, by the fervor of your prayers, by your instructions and the holy example of your life, to make Jesus live in the hearts and souls where He is dead. Where the Son is dead, the Mother also is dead, and there where you cause the Son to be born and to live, you also cause the Mother to be born and to live. The Son and the Mother will be the fruit of your prayers and labors. And all the Angels and Saints will regard you, will honor and love you eternally as the father or mother of their King and their Queen.
AVE MARIA !
Father Joseph Poisson
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