The Glories Of Mary
by ST. ALPHONSUS LIGUORI
OF THE PRAYER OF MARY
No soul on this earth has ever followed so perfectly as the blessed Virgin that great lesson of our Saviour: We ought always to pray, and not to faint: "Oportet semper orare, et non deficere." From no other, says St. Bonaventure, can we better take example, and learn the necessity of persevering in prayer, than from Mary. Mary gave an example, that we ought to follow and not faint. For the blessed Albertus Magnus asserts, that after Jesus Christ, the divine mother- was the most perfect in the virtue of prayer, of all who ever have lived or ever will live: "Virtus orationis in B. Virgine excellentissima fuit." First, because her prayer was continual and persevering. From the first moment in which she had life, and with life the perfect use of reason, as we have said above in the Discourse on her Nativity, she began to pray. And, moreover, that she might devote herself more to prayer, she wished, when a child of only three years, to shut herself up in the retirement of the temple; where, as she herself revealed to St. Elizabeth (virgin), among the other hours that she allotted to prayer, she was accustomed to rise at midnight and go to pray before the altar of the temple. And, in order to meditate on the sufferings of Jesus, according to Odilone, she also frequently visited the places of our Lord's nativity, passion, and burial. Moreover, her prayer, as St. Denis the Carthusian has written, was wholly recollected, free from all distractions, and every irregular inclination.
Therefore the blessed Virgin, through her love of prayer, had so great a love of solitude, that, as she said to St. Bridget, when she lived in the temple she even abstained from intercourse with her holy parents. St. Jerome, meditating on the words of Isaias "Behold a Virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel" says, that in Hebrew the word virgin properly signifies a retired virgin; so that Mary's love of solitude was already predicted by the prophet. Richard says that the angel addressed her in the words, The Lord is with thee: "Dominus tecum," on account of her great love of solitude. And St. Vincent Ferrer asserts that the divine mother never went from home, except to go to the temple, and then she went entirely recollected, having her eyes always cast down. When going to visit St. Elizabeth, She went with haste: "Abiit cum festinatione;" and from this St. Ambrose says virgins should learn to shun the public eye. St. Bernard teaches that Mary, through her love of prayer and solitude, was always careful to avoid conversation with men. Hence she is called by the Holy Spirit the turtle-dove: Thy cheeks are beautiful as the turtle-dove's: "Pulchrae sunt genae tuae sicut turturis." Which words Vergello thus explains: The turile-dove is a lover of solitude, and is an emblem of the unitive power of the soul. So the Virgin always lived solitary in this world, as in a desert, and therefore it was said of her: Who is this that goeth up by the desert, as a pillar of smoke? "Quae est ista, quae ascendit per desertum sicut virgula fumi?" On which words Rupert the Abbot says: Thus thou didst ascend by the desert, having a solitary soul: Talis ascendisti per desertum animam habens solitariam."
Philo said that God speaks to souls only in solitude: "Dei sermo amat deserta." And God himself declared this by the prophet Osee, when He said: I will lead her into the wilderness, and I will speak to her heart: "Ducam eam in solitudinem, et loquar ad cor ejus." And hence St. Jerome exclaims: Oh solitude, in which God familiarly converses with his servants. Yes, says St. Bernard, because the quiet and the silence that is enjoyed in solitude, force the soul to leave the earth in thought, and to meditate on the things of heaven. Oh, most holy Virgin, obtain for us a love of prayer and solitude, that detaching ourselves from the love of creatures, we may aspire only afler God and heaven, wnere we hope one day to see thee, to praise and love thee with thy Son, Jesus, forever and ever. Amen. "Come over to me, all ye that desire me, and be filled with my fruits." The fruits of Mary are her virtues.
None has appeared like unto thee, in all time before or after thee.
Thou alone, oh woman without equal, hast been pleasing to Christ.