1. Consider, my soul: for Mary also the hour of departure from this valley of darkness has arrived. Finally, after so many torments, she too can repeat the words of her Beloved: All is fulfilled: the prophecies, the spread of the Church of Jesus Christ, the heroism of all the virtues.
After the Ascension of her divine Son, she lived in Jerusalem with St. John the Evangelist, with whom she then retired into Ephesus. She later returned to Jerusalem where she lived until her death.
As in every other place, here too her life was dedicated to the love of God, to uninterrupted prayer and to the perfect practice of every virtue, especially that of most ardent charity towards her neighbour. She would often visit the places sanctified by the Mysteries and the presence of her divine Son, and was the consolation, Teacher and Mother of his Church.
The moment finally came which she so ardently desired, that of being for ever united to the Sovereign Good. Her spirit rejoiced in the love and desire of its Lord, and most wholeheartedly offered itself to happily return to its principle.
And you, my soul, bound to the misery of this earth, why do you not aspire to your homeland? Why do you so greatly fear leaving this life? What does this world offer you? What enchants you in this valley of tears? Pray to Mary, that she obtain for you detachment from the earth and the desire of everlasting treasures, and prepare you for death by the ardour of her holy examples!
When John heard from the Blessed Virgin that she was about to depart from this life, we read that her relatives and friends, and the Disciples, came in a great number to Mount Sion where the Mother of God then was, to contemplate her yet another time, express their love to her, listen to her last memories and recommend themselves to her prayers. Indeed, by divine providence, as St. Dionysius the Areopagite tells us, the holy Apostles too were there, who at that time were scattered throughout the world to preach the faith of Jesus Christ. All were weeping over the loss of so gracious a Mother, and so powerful an Advocate and Teacher, as the Damascene writes, and the Blessed Virgin was consoling everyone with her sweetest love, promising them all her help and intercession.
May you too draw near this most gracious Lady, express your needs to her, seek her help, and through the merits of those holy Disciples ask that she obtain for you all the graces you desire. Have confidence, do not doubt, that our dear Mother will hear you. But remember the love of neighbour and the saving of souls, helping them as much as possible by your good example, by suitable warning, by patience, by charity and by praying to God for all the world. If you pay this homage to Mary, you can be sure that she will always be favourable to you.
O my sweet Mother, if only it had been my lot to be present at your felicitous passage! If only I could have kissed your sacred feet and recommended myself to your protection! However, because I did not have the pleasure of beseeching you then, I now kneel before the throne of your Majesty and recommend myself to you, glorious and immortal.
May you be present, I pray, at my bitter death and assist me in that tremendous moment on which depends my eternity, for the sake of this adored hour of your passage and triumph.
2. Consider how, the hour of Mary’s passage having arrived, her Divine Son came down from heaven accompanied by innumerable hosts of Seraphim. Think how He must have whispered the words of the Canticle “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; for lo, the winter is past…” (Song 2:10). Quit the valley of tears where you have so greatly suffered for my sake. The voice of the turtledove, of your yearning heart, is heard in our land (cf. Song 2:12). Mary rejoiced exceedingly at this loving apparition, and her spirit was glad in Jesus her divine Son. And after receiving the Most Holy Eucharist from the very hands of Jesus, as St. John Damascene says, full of joy she said: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me once again according to your word. Into thy hands, O Son, I commit my spirit.” (ck. Lk 1:38; Lk 23:46). You gather to yourself this soul whom You created in your image and preserved from sin.
Behold, my soul, Mary is already departing for heaven; turning to those before her, she gives them her dear maternal blessing. You too draw near her feet and seek her blessing.
O dear Mother, I rejoice with you over your destiny and happiness, your glory and greatness. You well deserved, O Mary, to be so highly loved and glorified by God, for throughout life you thought only of loving and glorifying God.
However, I shall not quit this place till you will have blessed me. This is the last memory of the Mother who is about to leave her children orphaned and downcast. Recommend me to Jesus Christ, and have mercy on my misery. A loving glance from you, a kind recommendation, a word, a sound is sufficient to obtain every grace for me. Have pity on my mortal life, and at the hour of my death do not forget me, rush to my aid and assist me in my bitter agony.
My soul, if in death you wish to experience Mary the Mother of love, in life be a faithful child of Mary’s love. And if you desire that your death be accompanied by Jesus’ assistance, do not sever your heart from Jesus. Happy am I, should I love Jesus and Mary throughout my life! Blessed am I, should I die in their arms!
I promise you, O my God, to love no one but you, to think of no one but you alone. I recommend to you, O Mary, the tremendous passage of my soul.
A sweet melody resounded in the air accompanied by an angelic song which said: “Mary has been taken up into heaven amidst the rejoicing of Angels, who bless the Lord for having glorified their Queen. Open, O eternal gates, for the King of glory enters, and is leading his Beloved and our Queen.” The others were saying: “Who is she who comes from Lebanon leaning on her Beloved, like the Dawn appearing, beautiful as the Moon, shining as the Sun? She is a perfume sending out the fragrance of every virtue. She is a majestic olive tree, radiant in grace and beauty.”
Understand then, my soul: the Blessed Virgin, being free of original sin and any trace of present fault, does not lose her beauty; and the Lord wished that she rise into heaven, not by her own power, as Jesus, but by the power of God.
The glorification of her body in advance was a seal of the privileges of God’s Mother and of her Immaculate Conception. She was conceived in the blood of Adam, but through a very special grace without a shadow of his sin, completely pure, completely beautiful and immaculate. She became a mother while remaining the purest Virgin, a unique privilege granted to no other woman. It was therefore even more just that the glorification of her immaculate body be anticipated, this living temple of the Holy Spirit, with all the qualities of glorious bodies: agility, lightness, impassability and luminosity.
3. The light could not be divided from the sun. The light was Mary’s soul, rich in grace from the very moment of its creation; and the sun was her immaculate body, in which the Holy Spirit had formed the humanity assumed by the Word. The Church calls the Virgin choice as the Sun because she was privileged above all other creatures. And as the sun when setting leaves behind a golden light, so Mary at the setting of her mortal journey left to us the light of her examples, in all the theological and cardinal virtues, and especially in her fourfold purity: 1st. Purity of her body, by which she became the Mother of God. 2nd. Purity of her heart, by which she was the delight of the Holy Spirit in all the purest affections of her soul. 3rd. Purity in her faith in God which she preserved inviolate and fervent, and consequently she was teacher to the Apostles, consolation to new Christians and the seat of wisdom. 4th. Purity of intention, by which she directed everything to God and received everything from his hands, as a faithful handmaiden: joys and sorrows, humiliations and triumphs. She is therefore compared to the Cedar of Lebanon and to the Cypress of Mount Sion with its trunk towering towards heaven, and to the Palm in Cades.
Purity does not only regard the body, which is called chastity, but is the whole of all the virtues, which excludes any vice. As a result it belongs more to the soul, as the Psalmist says: “O Lord, who shall sojourn in thy tent? Who shall dwell on thy holy hill? He who walks blamelessly, and does what is right, and speaks truth from his heart” (Psalm 15:1-2).
In fact, God’s blessing has been promised to the one who keeps his or her conscience pure: “Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false, and does not swear deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the Lord, and vindication from the God his salvation” (Psalm 24:3-5).
All of Mary’s glory, therefore, proceeds from her being Immaculate and from being from the very first moment superior to the very Angels. And from that moment God was looking towards our age, when after nineteen centuries the dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and her Assumption into Heaven were to be defined.
O holy immaculate Virginity of Mary, together with the Church I too shall exclaim that I know not with what words I may praise you!
O my sweetest Lady, you have already left earth, and have arrived in your kingdom where you reign Queen over all the choirs of Angels. I congratulate you for the very lofty privilege of your Assumption into Heaven. But remember, it was on behalf of us sinners that you were raised to such dignity and glory; you therefore have not lost, indeed have increased, your compassion towards us poor children of Adam. And so, from the great throne upon which you reign turn your merciful gaze upon me too, O Mary, and have pity on me. See me, help me. Observe what storms and dangers I must encounter until arriving at my life’s end. Through the merits of your blessed death, therefore, obtain for me love of perfection with purity of faith, of conscience, of heart and intention, that I may end my days in the grace of God. And on the day of the Lord may my body too rise glorious and come to kiss your feet in paradise, as I join the blessed Spirits in praising you and in singing your glories, as You deserve. Amen.
VIRTUE – Purity.
REFLECTION – The best way to glorify Mary on earth is to imitate her virtues, especially purity of conscience, avoiding every offence against God. To obtain this, for ever struggle against the most frequent and deliberated venial sin, and make every effort to avoid it. Strive to overcome your passions and acquire perfection, thinking that you will gain Mary’s special protection and love. This is the way to go straight to heaven and avoid purgatory. Pray to her every day to obtain for you her fourfold purity; that is, purity of the body, purity of the heart, purity of intention and purity of faith.
EJACULATION – O Mary, Mother of divine love, let me die to the world and live only for You.
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A FAVOUR OF THE VIRGIN OF THE ROSARY OF POMPEII
IN MALTA: The conversion of a Protestant woman, Anna Charles, through the Fifteen Saturdays to the Virgin of Pompeii.
Anna Charles, of the Protestant faith, had been living in Malta for over twenty years. She married a teacher, Giuseppe Misued, who was Catholic, and they had a son.
The good Giuseppe and his sisters, also very fervent Catholics, had done everything in their power to persuade Anna to abandon her sect and embrace the Catholic religion, but she did not want to hear of it; indeed, she held their religion in contempt, and in particular the Sacraments of Confession and of Communion.
Quite a few learned priests were concerned about her conversion, in particular the late Fr. Alfonso Micalles of the Capuchins who worked for her conversion for years and years, but in vain.
In 1887 Anna became very ill. It was hoped that her very grave condition, the loving and concerned cares of those surrounding her, and the endless prayers addressed to God for her conversion would lead her to wiser counsel.
Since her health did not improve, the doctors ordered a very painful operation. In the Central Hospital of Malta Anna underwent a horrible amputation. She was reduced to an extreme state.
Once the wound was healed she left the hospital and passed several months of convalescence at home, still tenaciously clinging to her false religion.
Then, at the end of August of 1888, she became sick once again.
Therefore Giuseppe’s family begged the priest Andrea Debono, of Misida, a great devotee of the Virgin of Pompeii, to come and visit the poor sick woman and speak to her about religion.
He went, and had several conversations with her about this subject, but from what the obstinate woman asserted he understood that speaking with her was impossible. She demonstrated an implacable hatred toward her own husband and his family, toward the Maltese and their religion; in particular, she despised the Sacraments of Confession and Communion. Furthermore, her hatred became so diabolic that as soon as someone began speaking to her about religion, she would immediately break off all conversation.
Notwithstanding this, the pious Priest did not lose all hope, trusting in the power of the Virgin of the Rosary honoured in her very dear Shrine of Pompeii. He therefore recommended to his penitents to pray for this woman, to make Novenas to the Virgin of Pompeii, and to apply many Communions on her behalf.
A sister-in-law of Anna’s, Maria Misued, a woman of strong faith, asked Rev. Debono to celebrate a Mass in order to obtain the desired conversion. It was established that the mass would be celebrated on the following Saturday, September 15th, during the ceremony of the Fifteen Saturdays which were practiced there.
Meanwhile they wrote to Avv. Bartolo Longo in the Valley of Pompeii, asking him to have the young Orphans of the Rosary in the Shrine of Pompeii pray, to obtain the greatly desired conversion.
The days of the Novena made by these young orphans passed, and September 29th arrived, the fourteenth of the Fifteen Saturdays, on which Mary’s blessed death was commemorated, or better, her happy passage from this to eternal life. That was the day chosen by the merciful Queen of Pompeii to save from Satan’s clutches this soul for whom so many of Mary’s children were endlessly praying.
All that Saturday night Anna was not able to close her eyes in sleep. Mary’s eye was upon her, grace was working on that unhappy heart. Then came dawn of Sunday, the day of the Lord, and this Protestant woman, having hit the very bottom, was already changed into another. Quite suddenly and to everyone’s surprise she asked:
“Where is that priest? Hurry and call him, I want to see him as soon as possible!”
And then, as if a blindfold had fallen from her eyes, serene in countenance but with a certain urgency in her soul:
“I want to be baptized,” she cried, “I want to die a Catholic!”
At these unexpected words everyone burst into tears of consolation, and almost did not believe what they were seeing with their own eyes.
Fr. Debono was immediately sent for; however, he was on the point of ascending the pulpit in Misida. He answered that he would come immediately after his sermon.
But Anna, prompted by Mary’s grace, did not want to wait and so had him called a second time.
Meanwhile the Rev. Provost of the Birchircara Collegiate Church was sent. With indescribable feelings he received the abjuration of the Protestant convert, and immediately baptized her in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
“Amen”, all those present responded, with warm tears of tenderness and compunction.
At that moment the reverend Debono entered the house. At first glance she no longer appeared a mortal creature, but an angel.
She received him with extraordinary joy and asked his pardon for not having awaited him.
They began preparing her for Confirmation, without delay. The Excellent Msgr. Antonio Maria Buhagiar, as a loving father, came that night to the bedside of the dying woman, and as the Lord’s anointed laid his hands on the newly baptized woman: upon this soul which the baptismal waters had purified the Sanctifying Spirit descended.
There now only remained the final Sacrament of Extreme Unction to make the soul of Anna Charles blissful unto eternity. This too was administered to her with the holy Indulgences and all the other blessings of the Catholic Religion.
After fifteen hours of the sweetest agony, perfectly resigned to God’s most holy will, with the Beads of the Holy Rosary in her hands and embracing the Crucifix, Anna peacefully gave up her soul to her Creator.
Our great Queen of Heaven and of the earth never denies a grace of any sort, when honoured with the efficacious practice of the Fifteen Saturdays, and at the same time invoked by the title so pleasing to her maternal Heart, the title of the Queen of the Rosary, of the Valley of Pompeii.
(From the magazine IL ROSARIO E LA NUOVA POMPEI)