Discourse of the Visitation of Mary

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Discourse of the Visitation of Mary

by St. Alphonsus De Liguori

Mary is the Treasurer of all Divine Graces; therefore, whoever desires Graces must have recourse to Mary; and he who has recourse to Mary may be certain of obtaining the Graces he desires. 

Fortunate does that family consider itself which is visited by a royal personage, both on account of the honour that redounds from such a visit, and the advantages that may be hoped to accrue from it. But still more fortunate should that soul consider itself which is visited by the Queen of the world, the most holy Virgin Mary, who cannot but fill with riches and graces those blessed souls whom she deigns to visit by her favours. The house of Obededom was blessed when visited by the ark of God: “And the Lord blessed his house.” But with how much greater blessings are those persons enriched who receive a loving visit from this living ark of God, for such was the Divine Mother! ‘Happy is that house which the Mother of God visits,’ says Engelgrave. This was abundantly experienced by the house of Saint John the Baptist; for Mary had scarcely entered it when she heaped graces and heavenly benedictions on the whole family; and for this reason the present feast of the visitation is commonly called that of ‘our Blessed Lady of Graces.’ Hence we shall see in the present discourse that the Divine Mother is the treasurer of all graces. We shall divide it into two parts. In the first we shall see that whoever desires graces must have recourse to Mary. In the second, that he who has recourse to Mary should be confident of receiving the graces he desires.
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The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

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The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Archangel Gabriel, while announcing to the Blessed Virgin Mary the mystery of the Incarnation, informed her also of the fact that her cousin Elizabeth, who, advanced in years, had long been barren, was about to be blessed with a son. Mary rejoiced greatly at this news, and having given thanks to the Almighty for the priceless grace of the Incarnation of the Eternal Word, she hastened to visit her cousin. This, however, was not done, as some heretics maintain, because she doubted the words of the Angel; for, Elizabeth herself, when already filled with the Holy Ghost, proved the contrary by the words with which she received the Virgin: “Blessed art thou that hast believed.” Quite different were the reasons which led Mary to make this visit. I shall here give two of them, taken from the holy Fathers of the Church. The first is from St. Chrysostom, who says: “The Son of God, who came into the world to save mankind, desired, immediately on His entering the world, to prove His love for man, and fulfil the divine office of Redeemer. Hence He moved the heart of His holy mother, in whose virginal womb He was concealed, to visit her cousin Elizabeth, in order that by His presence He might cleanse His fore-runner, John, whom his mother still carried in her bosom, from original sin. He could have done this while absent, but He intended to give us a glorious example of humility, in visiting one who was so infinitely below Him. “The greater,” says St Ambrose, “went to the lesser: Jesus to John.” Continue reading

SS. Processus and Martinian

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SS. Processus and Martinian, Martyrs

BY the preaching and miracles of SS. Peter and Paul at Rome, many were converted to the faith, and among others several servants and courtiers of the emperor Nero, of whom St. Paul 1 makes mention. 2 In the year 64 that tyrant first drew his sword against the Christians, who had in a very short time become very numerous and remarkable in Rome. A journey which he made into Greece in 67, seems to have given a short respite to the Church in Rome. He made a tour through the chief cities of that country, attended by a great army of singers, pantomimes, and musicians, carrying instead of arms, instruments of music, masks, and theatrical dresses. He was declared conqueror at all the public diversions over Greece, particularly at the Olympian, Isthmian, Pythian, and Nemæan games, and gained there one thousand eight hundred various sorts of crowns. Yet Greece saw its nobility murdered, the estates of its rich men confiscated, and its temples plundered by this progress of Nero. He returned to Rome only to make the streets of that great city again to stream with blood. The apostles SS. Peter and Paul, after a long imprisonment were crowned with martyrdom. And soon after them their two faithful disciples Processus and Martinian gained the same crown. Their acts tell us that they were the keepers of the Mamertine jail during the imprisonment of SS. Peter and Paul, by whom they were converted and baptized. St. Gregory the Great preached his thirty-second homily on their festival, in a church in which their bodies lay, at which he says, the sick recovered their health, those who were possessed by evil spirits were freed, and those who had foresworn themselves were tormented by the devils. Their ancient church on the Aurelian road being fallen to decay, Pope Paschal I. translated their relics to St. Peter’s church on the Vatican hill, as Anastasius informs us. Their names occur in the ancient Martyrologies. See Tillemont, Hist. Eccl. t. 1. p. 179. and Hist. des Emp. Crevier, &c. 1

Note 1. 1 Phil. iv. 20. [back]
Note 2. Nero reigned the first five years with so much clemency, that once when he was to sign an order for the death of a condemned person, he said, “I wish I could not write.” But his master Seneca, and Burrhus, the prefect of the prætorium, to whom this his moderation was owing, even then discovered in him a bent to cruelty, to correct which they strove to give his passions another turn. With this view Seneca wrote and inscribed to him a treatise On Clemency, which we still have. But both Seneca and Burrhus connived at an adulterous intrigue in which he was engaged in his youth: so very defective was the virtue of the best among the heathen philosophers. If the tutors imagined that by giving up a part, they might save the rest, and by indulging him in the softer passions they might check those which seemed more fatal to the commonwealth, the event showed how much they were deceived by this false human prudence, and how much more glorious it would have been to have preferred death to the least moral evil, could paganism have produced any true martyrs of virtue. The passions are not to be stilled by being soothed: whatever is allowed them is but an allurement to go farther, and soon makes their tyranny uncontrollable. Of this Nero is an instance. For, availing himself of this indulgence, he soon gave an entire loose to all his desires, especially when he began to feel the dangerous pleasure of being master of his own person and actions. He plunged himself publicly, and without shame or constraint, into the most infamous debaucheries, in which such was the perversity of his heart, that, as Suetonius tells us, he believed nobody to be less voluptuous and abandoned than himself, though he said they were more private in their crimes, and greater hypocrites; notwithstanding, at that very time, Rome abounded with most perfect examples of virtue and chastity among the Christians.
There is a degree of folly inseparable from vice. But this in Nero seemed by superlative malice to degenerate into downright phrenzy. All his projects consisted in the extravagances of a madman; and nothing so much flattered his pride as to undertake things that seemed impossible. He forgot all common rules of decency, order, or justice. It was his greatest ambition to sing or perform the part of an actor on the stage, to play on musical instruments in the theatre, or to drive a chariot in the circus. And whoever did not applaud all his performances, or had not the complaisance to let him carry the prize at every race or public diversion, his throat was sure to be cut, or he was reserved for some more barbarous death; for cruelty was the vice which above all others has rendered his name detestable. At the instigation of Poppæa, a most infamous adulteress, he caused his mother Agrippina to be slain in the year 58, and from that time it seemed to be his chief delight to glut his savage mind with the slaughter of the bravest, the most virtuous, and the most noble persons of the universe, especially of those who were the nearest to him. He put to death his wife Octavia after many years ill-usage, and he cut off almost all the most illustrious heads of the empire.

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume VII: July. The Lives of the Saints. 1866. July 2.