Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Return to the Basics

Sometimes, in the spiritual life, one is well advised to return to the basics.

That is, I think, what I've been doing: remembering Our Saviour's dying words of commendation, "This is thy Mother," I have returned to a stronger Marian devotion - not that I ignored the Holy Mother of God! - and readjusted my prayer life accordingly, according to the short formula of consecration ad Jesum per Mariam: "I am all Thine, and all that I have is Thine, O most loving Jesu, through Mary, Thy Holy Mother."

[It just struck me - in the framed painting of the Madonna and Child with St Philip Neri, that I have hanging here before me, is not St Philip gesturing with one hand to me, and with the other to Jesus and Mary? Is he not recommending me to them?]

For this reason, I feel that the daily recitation of her Little Office has borne fruit, focussing on a doable and beneficial cycle of psalms; and I resolve to be constant again in daily Rosary (something I've badly let slide) - as its Collect says, may we meditate on its mysteries, and obtain their promises. Meditation I need: the Rosary brings before one the central mysteries of our salvation. Little things, too, I aim at: not just the thrice-daily Angelus (as almost always), but a Memorare, a Sancta Maria succurre, and Our Lady's Litanies. Wearing the Scapular, carrying my Rosary with miraculous medal, trusting in the Blessed Virgin's tender care: this is right.

When all other help fails, Mary aids. "As a child has rest in its mother's arms, even so my soul."

I close with the Sancta Maria succurre miseris, since it isn't as well known as it ought be, considering how it is one of the major indulgenced Marian prayers; once attributed to St Augustine, it is now known to be part of a longer prayer by Fulbert, Bishop of Chartres; it occurs at first Vespers for sundry Marian feasts, and in mediæval times was the standard Magnificat anthem in the Hours of the Virgin:

Sancta Maria,
succurre miseris,
juva pusillanimes,
refove flebiles,
ora pro populo,
interveni pro clero,
intercede pro devoto femineo sexu.
Sentiant omnes tuum juvamen,
quicumque celebrant tuam sanctam commemorationem.

(Holy Mary,
succour the miserable,
help the fainthearted,
comfort the sorrowful,
pray for the people,
plead for the clergy,
intercede for consecrated women.
May all feel thine aid,
whosoever celebrate thy holy commemoration.)

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