To read the article check out this link: http://www.chantcafe.com/2011/08/vigor-energy-freshness-in-extraordinary.html
Our parish observance for the feast of Our Lady of Czestochowa will be as follows:
6:20 PM: Exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament followed by Confessions
6:50 PM – 6:55 PM: Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament
7:00 PM: Tridentine High Mass in honor of Our Lady of Czestochowa
We will not be having devotions in honor of St. Philomena on Sunday, August 21 as was originally scheduled.
We will have the devotions to St. Philomena with veneration of the relic on Sunday, August 28th.
You are invited to participate in a private novena of prayer in honor of Our Lady of Czestochowa. You may find the prayers at this link: http://stjosaphat.wordpress.com/our-lady-of-czestochowa-black-madonna-novena-page/. This novena begins on August 17 and ends on August 25. The Feast of Our Lady of Czestochowa is August 26.
If you wish to include public devotions as part of your devotion, you can attend the regularly scheduled 12 Noon English Ordinary Form Mass at St. Josaphat on Thursday. This Mass includes the Perpetual Novena to the Black Madonna with Benediction.
Please pray in a special way for St. Josaphat and the parish cluster that through the intercession of Our Blessed Mother, many blessings both spiritual and temporal may be brought about.
The following message and photos concern the historic Tridentine Mass that was held on August 9, 2011 at the Shrine of St. Joseph in Brooklyn, MI.
I am happy to report that this morning, August 9th, Fr. Tom Wasilewski, Diocese of Lansing Ordinand, 2010, celebrated his first ever Extraordinary Form Mass at the historic St. Joseph Shrine in Brooklyn, Michigan. This was also the area’s first public Traditional Latin Mass since the 1960s. Despite this fact, or perhaps because of it, the tiny church was packed for the occasion, with an estimated 100 souls in attendance.
Offering his first of hopefully many EF Masses, Fr. Wasilewski demonstrated impressive mastery of the Latin and competency in the rubrics. He delivered an inspiring sermon, relating how time put into studying the older form opens the gateway to experiencing its richness. In the future, Father hopes to incorporate the TLM into the regular Mass schedule of the Shrine.
One year ago, the Diocese of Lansing had only two Extraordinary Form Mass sites. The recent debuts of the TLM at St. Mary Cathedral Crypt in Lansing, Old St. Patrick in Ann Arbor, and now St. Joseph Shrine in Brooklyn have, by the grace of God and support of His Excellency Most Rev. Earl Boyea, increased this number to five!
Attached are some pictures of the Mass. Feel free to post or re-send them as you like.
RECENT PHOTO HIGHLIGHTS
Solemn High Mass of Ste. Anne
Feast of the Assumption
St. Philomena Devotions on August 28
Please keep checking this blog for photos, news updates, devotional posts and other material for your interest. Let others know about this blog. Thanks and God Bless.
“Honoring Saint Philomena we proclaim the power of God in the strength of His Martyrs, and His Infinite Goodness in the favors He concedes to the prayers of His Saints. This was the theology of the Holy Cure of Ars, and this will be ours also.” (Father Luis Petit Founder of the Universal Archconfraternity of Saint Philomena, Paris, France, 1859)
On Sunday, August 28 we will hold devotions in honor of St. Philomena Virgin and Martyr. These devotions will take place after the 9:30 AM Mass. We will have prayers in honor of the saint and veneration of her relic.
Let us join together and ask God through the intercession of this powerful wonderworker to intercede on our behalf for the needs of the Tridentine Community, the parish and cluster. Let us ask her to intercede for our nation in this time of economic hardship. Let us ask her to also pray for our various intentions, both spiritual and temporal.
Let us also thank God for the graces we have received through the intercession of this saint.
To learn more about the saint, visit: www.philomena.org
(The quote and image are form the Living Rosary Association)
The Blessing of Herbs and Fruits for the Assumption
Next Sunday, August 14, all are invited to bring fruits, herbs, and flowers before Mass to St. Josaphat and Assumption-Windsor for the Blessing for the Feast of the Assumption. This tradition is associated with Our Lady because she is seen in biblical imagery as a vine; flowers represent her virtue; and Our Lord is her fruit.
Masses for the Feast of the Assumption
The Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary will be celebrated at St. Josaphat Church with a High Mass on Monday, August 15 at 7:00 PM.
On Sunday, August 14 at 2:00 PM, Assumption Church in Windsor will offer a High Mass for the External Solemnity of the Assumption, the patronal feast of the parish. The rubrics of the Extraordinary Form permit the moving of a parish’s patronal feast to the nearest Sunday. Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament will follow the Mass.
- Excerpts taken from Tridentine Community News 8/7/2011
The small statue in the picture comes from Sainte-Anne de Beaupre. It was put on display for the feast.
Following the Mass, Fr. Johnson blessed everyone present with the first class relic of Ste. Anne and offered the relic for veneration.
VENERATION OF ST. ANNE
The body of St. Anne was buried outside the gates of Jerusalem. There, in the first days of her bereavement we can imagine Mary going to weep beside the tomb, before she retired to her little home at Nazareth. There, in after years she would have come, accompanied by Joseph, and later by Jesus Himself, when they came to visit the Temple. Later still, widowed and child-less, she would linger beside her mother’s grave after she had revisited the scenes of her Son’s Passion. We may suppose then that the tomb of St. Anne was an object of great veneration to all the disciples of Our Lord. They would have been horrified at the idea that those sacred remains should be desecrated by profane hands. Yet they knew, because of Our Lord’s prophecy that the destruction of Jerusalem was at hand. Lazarus, Martha and Mary and some others determined to leave the doomed city before the judgment of God fell upon it, but they would not leave the body of Our Lady’s mother to be profaned by the brutal soldiery of Titus. They carried it away with them, over the seas. They landed in the south of France, and tradition relates that they buried St. Anne’s body in a cave at a place called Apt in the south of France. Later on, a church was built over the spot, but owing to wars and religious persecutions the faithful were so harassed that they could not practise their devotions there, so it fell into decay, and even the place of St. Anne’s sepulture was forgotten. When peace returned to France and Catholics could breathe once more, a magnificent church was erected on the site of the old one, but the cave or crypt where the holy remains lay could not be found. During the consecration of the new church however, God chose, by a wonderful miracle, to disclose the resting-place of the grandmother of Jesus Christ, according to the flesh.
At the most solemn part of the ceremonies a boy of fourteen, who was among the congregation was noticed as becoming very excited. He was blind, deaf and dumb, and usually quiet and impassive. What was the surprise of everybody when he suddenly rose from his seat, walked up to the altar steps, and struck his stick several times upon one of them. His friends and others thinking he had suddenly gone mad tried to remove him, but in vain. He became still more violently excited, and kept on striking on the same spot. The Emperor Charlemagne was present in the church, and all eyes were turned upon him seeking advice or orders what to do. He, doubtless inspired by God, gave orders that workmen were to be summoned to remove the steps. This was done, and a subterraneous passage was discovered. The afflicted boy jumped into it, followed by the Emperor, and made signs that they were to break down a wall which impeded their progress. This was done, and at the end of a long narrow corridor another crypt was discovered, and, in front of a walled recess they saw a lamp burning, which sent forth an unearthly radiance. At that moment the light went out, while at the same moment the afflicted boy was given to see, to hear and to speak. He called out ” It is she.” Charlemagne echoed his words, and the cry was taken up by the crowds who sank on their knees, overcome by emotion. In the casket, when dug out, they found a winding sheet, enclosing the relics, and bearing the inscription : “Here lies the body of St. Anne, mother of the glorious Virgin Mary.” The winding sheet was found to be of Eastern design and texture, such as would be likely to be used in the Holy Land. Charlemagne, after venerating the sacred remains of St. Anne, thus unexpectedly and miraculously brought to light had an exact narrative of the occurrence drawn up by a Notary, and a copy of the same sent to the Pope with a letter from the Emperor. These documents and the Pope’s reply are still extant.
The cathedral built over the crypt holding the remains of St. Anne is dedicated to St. Auspice, the bishop who received the saint’s body from the disciples, and who interred it in this place, deep in the earth to save it from profane hands. From the time of the above-mentioned discovery this cathedral at Apt became the goal of devout pilgrims from all parts of France and Europe, who flocked thither to pay their homage to the blessed “grandmother” of Jesus Christ. The clergy and people of Apt, fully alive to the importance of the charge committed to them by God, have carefully guarded St. Anne’s relics all down the centuries, and, though some of them have been bestowed upon various churches, etc., the major portion of those relics still repose at Apt. Pilgrims to St. Anne’s shrine in the venerable cathedral will find piles of ex-votos, which testify to the gratitude of other pilgrims helped by good St. Anne during the past eleven hundred years. Many devout clients of Our Lady and St. Anne who visit Lourdes and St. Anne d’Auray will be surprised to learn that, not so very far away from Lourdes rests the body of Our Lady’s own beloved mother.
What historical associations cluster around this shrine at Apt ! Charlemagne bowed low before it, kings and queens have prayed there since his time. Crusaders have knelt there to invoke St. Anne’s blessing upon their pious undertaking. Men and women prominent in the history of Europe during the Middle Ages left rich offerings at the feet of Our Lady’s mother. The great King of France, Louis XIV, was a gift from St. Anne to his mother, Queen Anne of Austria. Like St. Anne herself, this queen, wife of Louis XIII, had arrived at an advanced age without bearing a child to be heir to France. She invoked St. Anne, sending chosen messengers to Apt to pray there. The birth of a son and heir was the extraordinary favour granted to her in return. The queen’s intense gratitude added a side-chapel to the Sanctuary, and thither the body of the saint was removed.
Many valuable gifts presented by Anne of Austria and other wealthy clients of the saint vanished during the stormy period of the French Revolution; fortunately the sacred relics remained untouched. Papal Bulls have over and over again asserted the genuineness of St. Anne’s relics at Apt, and so keen became the demand for them that at length they could only be obtained by permission of the king. An arm of the saint is enshrined in the basilica, of St. Paul’s outside the Walls, Rome; her right hand is venerated in the church of St. Anne in Vienna. Countless cures and conversions have taken place at Apt, the first, if not the most famous shrine of St. Anne.
ST. ANNE D’AURAY
Less ancient than Apt, but even better known and more popular is the Sanctuary of St. Anne d’Auray in Brittany, chosen by the Mother of Mary herself as a place where she wished to be specially honoured. It was to a Breton peasant that she made her desire known in a series of wonderful visions. The Bretons were always remarkable for their intense devotion to St. Anne, whom they regard as their Protectress and Patroness, and whom they address with tender familiarity as their “bonne-mere,” the Breton child’s term of endearment for its grandmother. The saint showed her appreciation of this attitude in a striking manner a little over three hundred years ago. She appeared several times to a humble peasant, named Yres Nicolazie, who lived outside the small village of Keranna (named in honour of St. Anne). There was nothing remarkable about this man. He had reached his fortieth year, and was just a sincere pious Catholic, going regularly to the sacraments, and constantly to be seen with his Rosary beads in his hands. Like every Breton he was devoted to St. Anne, speaking of her always as his “good mistress.” One pious habit he especially had, which doubtless was particularly pleasing to his holy Patroness. He was accustomed to visit frequently and to pray upon a certain piece of ground where tradition said that an ancient chapel of St. Anne had stood. Perhaps as he prayed there he longed that Holy Mass would be celebrated there once more in honour of Our Lady’s mother. His simple pious neighbours neither wondered nor laughed at Yres. He seems to have been generally respected, but taken very much for granted, until St. Anne picked him out as the person best fitted to accomplish her design of restoring her chapel at Keranna. One night, in August 1623, he saw in his room a hand holding a lighted wax torch. He was naturally startled, even frightened by this strange experience. It was repeated several times in his own field, called the “Bocenno” where the ancient chapel had stood. There was one part of this field which could never be ploughed, the oxen always refusing to pass over it. The mysterious torch-bearing hand hovered over this spot in particular, and it was seen by many of the villagers besides Nicolazie himself. St. Anne evidently thought that the poor peasant’s mind needed to be very gently and gradually prepared for his mission. At length she appeared to him in the form of a stately and venerable lady, clad in a snow-white robe, with the now familiar torch in her right hand and a luminous cloud beneath her feet. This happened one evening when he and his brother were driving home their cows, and the men were first made aware of a supernatural presence by the unaccountable behaviour of the beasts, which suddenly stood motionless, and could not be persuaded to stir. Nicolazie and his brother-in-law who saw the vision together fled from it in terror. They regretted their cowardice presently, and returned, but the lady had disappeared.
She came again soon, and after that often appeared to Nicolazie. At last she spoke to him, and bade him tell his parish priest that she wished her chapel to be rebuilt on the spot in the Bocenno field where she had been honoured long ago. He obeyed very unwillingly, but met with a decided rebuff. The Rector (or parish priest) would scarcely listen to him. The Catholic clergy so far from encouraging superstition as Protestants accuse them of doing, always take a severely critical view of alleged supernatural occurrences, realizing the harm that may be done in a community by one impostor or visionary, and the weakening of faith in the miraculous that may follow on exposure of fraud or insanity. But the Rector and Curate of Keranna carried this commendable caution to excess. Even when an ancient statue of St. Anne was discovered in the Bocenno field, under the guidance of the heavenly vision, they remained incredulous, and treated Nicolazie with harshness and contempt. In punishment of their obstinacy they were both afflicted with illness. The Rector on being cured through the intercession of St. Anne at once ceased his opposition to Nicolazie, did all in his power to hasten the erection of the chapel, and laboured during the rest of his life to spread devotion to the saint who had so generously forgiven his disobedience. The Curate also repented, but continued to suffer until his death a few years later. The news of the miraculous finding of the statue spread like wildfire through the country. Pilgrims came in crowds to Keranna, which gradually dropped that name, and became known as St. Anne d’Auray. Subscriptions poured in, and the chapel was speedily erected. St. Anne had repeatedly told Nicolazie that Keranna would become the most famous of her shrines, and one of the most renowned places of pilgrimage in the world. He lived to see the fulfilment of this prophecy of his ” good mistress.” To avoid publicity he retired from Keranna to Pluneret. He received no extraordinary favours himself from St. Anne, except the gift, after fifteen years of married life of two children, a son and a daughter. Nor was he again favoured by a vision of St. Anne until a short time before his death, which occurred in 1645, at the age of sixty-three. The Bretons have always venerated him as a saint but it is only recently that his Cause has been introduced at Rome.
Countless miracles have been wrought and extraordinary conversions have taken place during three centuries at the shrine of St. Anne d’Auray, and the pilgrimages thereto never ceased even during the terrors of the French Revolution. Nothing could stamp out the devotion in Brittany, and it is safe to prophesy that it will last as long as the Breton race. A glorious cathedral now replaces the old church in the Bocenno field, and hundreds of thousands of pilgrims visit it each year.
ST. ANNE BEAUPRE
In addition to Apt and Auray there is yet a third famous Sanctuary dedicated to St. Anne, that of Beaupré in Canada. The first French settlers in that part of the American continent were chiefly Bretons, and they did not leave their love of St. Anne behind them in their home country. According to the legendary account of the origin of Beaupré some Breton sailors when caught in a storm on the St. Lawrence river besought, as of custom the aid of their Patroness good St. Anne, and promised, if rescued, to build a chapel in her honour wherever they should land. When after a night of misery they reached in safety the north bank of the river at Beaupré they did not forget their vow. In haste they erected a little wooden chapel, which was soon enlarged by the generosity of an old mariner resident in Beaupré. From that time, about the middle of the seventeenth century, the usual wonders associated with the devotion to St. Anne started, and drew the attention of the people of Canada to the spot. The first little chapel had expanded by 1876 into a great basilica, of which the Redemptorist Fathers took charge. It was unfortunately destroyed by fire in 1922. The statue and relics of St. Anne were untouched by the flames, and the speedy restoration of the church was set on foot immediately, owing to the fervour of the French Canadians. Rome sent to this shrine at the end of the nineteenth century the wrist bone of St. Anne, now venerated as the great Relic of Beaupré. The Church of St. Jean Baptiste in New York contains a portion of the saint’s forearm, bestowed by Pope Leo XIII. The pilgrimages to Beaupré increase year by year. Devotion to St. Anne, wherever planted, strikes its roots deeply, and spreads with astonishing rapidity. This is not surprising when we consider how abundantly St. Anne showers favours on those who have recourse to her. No other saint seems to have more influence at the Court of Heaven than the Mother of the Mother of God.
ST. ANNE. PATRONESS OF CHRISTIAN MOTHERS
St. Anne obtains many graces, priceless graces for those who invoke her, but she grants her maternal assistance in particular to Christian mothers. She preserves peace in married life, restores harmony in discord, and wonderfully changes a husband’s bad disposition. She protects the birth of children in an extraordinary manner, bestows blessings that lighten the task of rearing children properly, brings wayward children back upon the right path, obtains restoration of health for the sick mother, preserves her precious life for the helpless children and prevents the loss of husband and father. Once when St. Bridget* was praying, St. Anne, to whom she had a special devotion, appeared to her, and said, ” Behold me, my daughter Bridget. I am Anne, whom you love. Know how full of mercy, goodness and affection I am for all who love me. Those who live chastely and peacefully in the state of matrimony, I will love and protect in a special manner, I will grant their petitions whenever they take refuge in me.”
* St. Bridget of Sweden, who was married, and had a large family.
How necessary, especially in these days, is St. Anne’s assistance for mothers in bringing up their children. That great saint obtains the grace for mothers to look upon their children as God’s greatest blessing, and to spare no pains to train them, from their infancy in the love of God. How beautiful it is to see a mother training the baby lips of her child to utter the Sacred Names, and training the tiny hands to form the Sign of the Cross. We see Anne teaching her daughter the sacred truths of religion, and so also should every mother train her child to read and love pious books. Children, too, should meditate upon the example given them by the youthful Virgin, as she stands at her mother’s side, hanging upon each word uttered by the beloved parent. If a picture of St. Anne with the Holy Virgin beside her were hung in every living-room in Ireland what an incentive and reminder it would be to mothers and daughters so to behave that no word or act of theirs would be unworthy of the presence of Mary and Anne. If it is good mothers who often implant the germs of future saints, it is, alas ! equally true that many souls are lost through the indifference, neglect and conduct of bad mothers.
A French physician who had witnessed the death of more than two thousand mothers once remarked, “I have always found a Christian mother’s death to be most beautiful and edifying.”
The following example is one of many instances which show us the happiness of a Christian mother’s death-bed.
In the forties of the last century a Christian mother lay dying in a village of the Black Forest in Baden. Seven of her children had pre-deceased her. Suddenly she raised herself, and with a cry of joy, exclaimed ” O, my little children!”
” What do you see?” inquired the priest who was beside her.
” All my seven children are there,” was the reply, as she sank back upon the pillow, and went to join her dear ones.
ST. ANNE PATRONESS OF ALL CHRISTIANS
In the glorious ages of Faith, the Middle Ages, St. Anne was fondly called “Comfortress of the Sorrowing, Mother of the Poor, Health of the Sick, Protectress of Widows, Patron of the Labourer, Patroness of the Childless, Help of expectant Mothers.”
St. Anne was spared neither trials nor humiliations, for years she suffered, and therefore understands how to comfort the sorrowful. St. Anne loved the poor, and she and her husband bestowed a third of their property on them. St. Anne continues her charity in Heaven. She helps the poor often in a wonderful manner, and she helps the dying, who are poorest of all.
The number of cures wrought by St. Anne’s intercession is countless, and she has been the Health of the Sick for centuries, and is still the same loving mother. St. Anne was long childless, and often obtains the gift of children for those who invoke her, if such be the Will of God.
She also guards mothers in their hour of danger, and obtains the favour from God that their children may not lose the grace of holy baptism.
She helps those who toil for their daily bread, as she was a toiler herself. In a word there is no limit to the beneficent activity of good St. Anne in Heaven, as all her clients have good reason to know, and having helped us during life, she will not forget us at the hour of our death, as the following experience related by a priest will testify:-
“It happened when I was assistant pastor in the parish of N——. One night I was aroused by the ringing of the door-bell. A strange stately lady called up to me. „Father, please go quickly, and take the Blessed Sacrament to a servant in a house up on the hill, for she will not live through the night. The sexton is awaiting you in the church.‟ The sexton had been awakened by the same person. I took the Blessed Sacrament, and we started for the house to which the lady had directed me. To our surprise we found the house locked, and when we knocked were informed that there was no one ill there. We concluded that some worthless person had deceived us. In order that I would not need to return with the Blessed Sacrament, one of the servants declared her readiness to go to Confession and to receive Holy Communion. Her pious offer was willingly accepted. During her Confession the servant experienced a slight indisposition. She finished her Confession and received Holy Communion. Before long she began to feel worse, and was obliged to take to her bed. Shortly after it was evident that her end was approaching. I administered Extreme Unction, and imparted the Indulgence for the dying. Scarcely was this done when she died. Above her bed hung pictures of many saints, among which was a large decorated representation of St. Anne. The inmates of the house informed me that the pious servant had practised special devotion to St. Anne, and in her honour abstained from milk every Tuesday.
“I have no doubt that the woman who called the sexton and me, was St. Anne herself, as she desired to obtain for her client this last great favour. Without the good saint‟s gracious intervention this would not have been possible.”
Let this example move us to practise special devotion to St. Anne to obtain a happy death, on which depends our eternity.
We conclude the series on the life and devotion to Ste. Anne with this post.
Please consider incoroporating St. Anne in your prayer/devotional life. Honor her on Tuesdays, visit her statues/shrines, name your daughters after her, pray her chaplet and above all, imitate her virtues.
Ask her to pray for the Archdiocese of Detroit that it may grow in holiness and experience a deep spiritual renewal.
Prayer to St. Anne
Good St. Anne, faithful witness to the expectation of the Lord’s coming, you watched tenderly over Mary, who was to become the Mother of our Savior and of us all. Throughout the history of Detroit, established as a colony on your feast day, you have been present as a powerful intercessor.
Now, as patroness, extend your kindness to our Archdiocese in this time. Remind us of God’s faithfulness. Share with us the faith, hope and love that made your life a tribute of praise to the Lord God almighty. Intercede for us so that we may have the strength to perform our daily duties and to bear the crosses that we are given.
Good St. Anne, pray for us.
(From the Archdiocese of Detroit)
In the time of Pope Liberius, there lived at Rome a certain nobleman named John and a noble lady his wife, who had no children to whom to leave their substance. Then they vowed that they would make the most holy Virgin Mother of God their heiress, and earnestly besought her in some way to make known to them upon what godly work she would that the money should be spent. The blessed Virgin Mary graciously listened to their prayers and heartfelt earnestness, and by a miracle assured them of her will.
On the 5th day of August, which is that time when the heat of summer waxeth greatest in Rome, a part of the Esquiline Hill was covered by night with snow. And on this same night the Mother of God appeared in a dream to John and his wife separately, and told them that on that spot, which in the morning they should see clad with snow, they should build a Church, to be dedicated in the name of the Virgin Mary, for that this was the way in which she chose that they should make her their heiress. John went and told it to Pope Liberius, who declared that he also had been visited by a like dream.
Therefore he came in a solemn procession of Priests and people to the snow-clad hill, and traced upon that spot the plan of a Church which was built with the money of John and his wife. It was afterwards rebuilt by Sixtus III. At the beginning it was called by divers names, sometimes the Liberian Basilica, sometimes the Church of St. Mary-at-the-Manger. Howbeit, since there are in Rome many Churches called after the Holy Virgin Mary, and this Church doth excel them all, both in honour, and because of the strange sign wherewith it was dedicated, it hath come to be called the Church of St. Mary Major. The memory of the dedication thereof is kept every year by a Feastday that taketh name from the wonderful fall of snow which on this day took place.
- Taken from the Roman Breviary, http://www.breviary.net
For your viewing interest, here are photos from the Basilica of St. Mary Major taken during my pilgrimage to Rome in December 2010.
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known, tat any one who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, and sought thy intercession, was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother. To thee I come before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.
Our Lady of the Snows, Pray for Us!
ST. ANNE’S LIFE ON EARTH
All that we know about St. Anne has been derived from what is called “Apocryphal” literature. There were certain writings of the apostles and other holy people of the early ages of the church, which though not accepted as the inspired Word of God, were yet regarded with respect and veneration, and as of historical importance. They related many details about Our Lord’s family connections, which are not to be found in the Gospels. These writings were called “Apocryphal.” One of them is called the “Proto-Gospel of St. James” and it tells us what we are here to relate regarding the parents of Our Blessed Lady. St. Joachim was descended from the great king and prophet David, although at the time of Our Lady’s birth that family had sunk into poverty and comparative obscurity. His wife Anna belonged to the tribe of Aaron, the High Priest, brother of Moses the great law-giver. The tribe of Aaron had always been set apart for the priestly office. Thus, both parents of Our Lady were of the very flower of the Jewish race. In purity of life and nobility of character they far exceeded all who had preceded them. But to outward seeming Joachim and Anna were like their neighbours. They had to work hard, because the family of David had not prospered in the worldly sense; and though they possessed a little bit of land it needed constant labour to wrest a living from it. The women of the East help their men in the fields, and so did St. Anne help St. Joachim. She drew water from the well at eventide when the day’s work was over, she helped to grind the corn which she afterwards made into bread, she made butter, and no doubt kept bees and gathered the honey, as all the peasant women did in the little town of Nazareth where she dwelt with her husband. All the garments which she and her husband wore, and all the furnishings of her little home were spun and fashioned by her own industrious hands. The “Lesson” for St. Anne’s Feast is taken from “Proverbs 31.” It describes a “valiant woman” and is eminently suitable to the mother of Mary.
“Who shall find a valiant woman? from afar, and the utmost bounds is her price. The heart of her husband trusteth in her, and he shall not want for spoil. She will render him good, and not evil all the days of her life. She hath put out her hands to strong things, and her fingers have taken hold of the spindle. She hath opened her hand to the needy, and stretched out her hands to the poor-strength and beauty are her clothing, and she shall laugh in the latter day. She hath opened her mouth to wisdom, and the law of clemency is on her tongue, She hath looked well to the paths of her house, and hath not eaten her bread idle. Her children have risen up and called her blessed, her husband, and he praised her. Many daughters have gathered riches, thou hast surpassed them all. Favour is deceitful and beauty vain. The woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.”
Such was Anna, beloved and cherished spouse of Joachim. Surely these two were happy! They were certainly very happy in each other, but one thing was wanting to complete their happiness to make their home a paradise. That one thing was a child. This virtuous and noble pair were childless. In most cases the lack of offspring is disappointing to a good, happily-wedded couple, but under the Jewish dispensation it was more than disappointing, it was a tragedy—a disgrace. Sterility was considered by the Jews to be a judgment of God on the woman for some sin. Motherhood was a sign of God’s blessing on the righteous, and Jewish women longed for children because each one hoped that the expected and promised Redeemer, the Messiah— would come of her family. For a childless woman there could be no such hope. In such a case it was even permitted to her husband to put her away. Joachim and Anna had been wedded for over twenty years. All that time they had prayed that God might bestow offspring upon them, but in vain. They beheld themselves growing old. Humanly speaking there was no hope that Anna would become a mother, but Joachim never thought of deserting her. Rather he loved her the more, and shared in her humiliation. They were both resigned to God’s Will, and prayed together that the Messiah would come quickly. They did not guess that He was to be, their own grandson, according to the flesh. At length the biggest humiliation of his life came to Joachim. He was refused entrance into the temple on a feast-day. The High Priest told him that being childless his sacrifice would not be acceptable to God. But both he and his wife turned to God for comfort, and Anne promised that if the Lord took away her reproach she would dedicate her child to His service. The faith of the pious couple was rewarded by the apparition of an angel who assured them that they would have a child “whom all the world should bless.” The promise was fulfilled when Anne became the mother of a daughter, Mary, known to after ages as “Blessed among women.”
The devout clients of St. Anne may learn from this brief recital to have confidence in her who lived such a perfect life, and yet experienced humiliation and disappointment for so many years. She will not be deaf to the prayers of those who are still in this Vale of Tears. And as Mary was the great gift sent to Anne to console her for all she had endured, so will she lead us also to Mary, and obtain for us the aid of her Blessed Child. On the day of her purification St. Anne thanked the Lord for all His mercies, and promised to bring her daughter to the temple when she should be of suitable age. This done, the pious little family returned to Nazareth. In representations of St. Anne we always see her with her blessed child beside her, while a book lies open upon the mother’s knee. It is the book of the Holy Scriptures. According to the Fathers of the Church Mary’s reason shone forth from her earliest years, and she understood without difficulty all that her mother taught her from the inspired pages, which she soon learned to read herself. With particular reverence and love would the holy Virgin study those passages which spoke of the Redeemer to come, and in her humility she longed to be even the handmaid of the Virgin who was to bring forth the Messiah. Did Anne guess from the angel’s message to her what was to be the sublime destiny of her daughter? If so, with what reverence and love combined must she not have gazed upon that daughter’s lovely face, how carefully did she not train and teach her. Dutifully and lovingly the little Mary listened to her mother, drinking in every word, and learning to love her mother more and more as she realized that mother’s virtues. How Anne must have advanced on the Way of Perfection because of this close contact with Mary, the “Mystical Rose”!
The perfect mother and still more perfect child form a beautiful and inexhaustible subject for contemplation and meditation.
At length the time arrived when Anne must fulfil her vow, and part with the treasure of her home. It was the custom of pious Jewish families to have their daughters brought up within the precincts of the temple of Jerusalem, in order that they might benefit by the instructions of the High Priest, and be taught all that it is useful for young girls to know by pious women older than themselves. Joachim and Anne lived at Nazareth. They set out with their daughter to make the long journey to Jerusalem. Great artists have often taken for their theme the Presentation of the youthful Virgin in the Temple. They have painted her as they saw her in their mind’s eye. We see the long flight of steps which the lovely child ascends alone. Her parents stand beneath gazing after her with longing eyes. The High Priest stands above, with hands outstretched, behind him her future companions. But no one can depict the terrible loneliness of the mother and child. Only those who have known such partings can have some faint idea of their feelings. Only the thought that they were doing God’s Will sustained them. It is said that Joachim and Anne in their later days came to live in Jerusalem, in a little house near the Temple so as to be near their daughter Mary. What a consolation it must have been to their declining years to behold her each day increasing in grace and beauty. There is a lovely picture of the youthful Virgin in the Temple, which is venerated under the title of “Mater Admirabilis.” This painting hangs in an oratory in the Sacred Heart Convent of the Trinita dei Monti in Rome. Many wonderful favours have been granted to those who have prayed before it. These, and the interesting history attached to the picture and its title would seem to indicate that Our Lady wishes us to recall those early days in the Temple when she prayed and worked and meditated and prepared herself without knowing it, for the great dignity awaiting her. St. Anne often visited Mary in the Temple, and the good pious daughter often went to help and comfort the parents who were growing old and feeble. Joachim died first, in the arms of the faithful wife whom he had so loved and cherished through all the vicissitudes of life, and in the presence of the daughter who was to be the Mother of God. Only the death of St. Joseph could be more blessed than that of Joachim. As he gazed into the face of his pure and lovely daughter did God reveal the great secret to his soul ? Did he and Anne read the unspoken thought in one another’s eyes ? We do not know. The old man blessed his wife and daughter, and gave up his soul in peace.
Anna did not long survive him. The best traditions tell us that she did not live to behold Our Saviour. It is supposed that she died in Jerusalem some months after the death of Joachim. We can picture to ourselves the beautiful death of St. Anne. She had been a holy and valiant woman all her days. In the last years of her life, in the intimate com-panionship of Mary she had arrived at the most sublime heights of prayer and contemplation. Mary prayed beside her dying bed, soothed her anguish, wiped the sweat of death from her brow. What a union of hearts there was between this mother and child. Who can better help us to draw near to Mary than her mother St. Anne? The good mother breathed her last sigh, and died, blessing Mary with her last breath, while the tears of the loving daughter rained down upon her face. Surely St. Anne must be the Patroness as St. Joseph is the Patron of a happy death. Those who have to grieve for a loving mother should seek consolation from the Blessed Virgin, reminding her of the sorrow and loneliness she felt at the death of St. Anne. Mothers who have reason to fear lest they should be called away from their children while these are yet of tender age, should invoke in a special manner the protection of St. Anne, and implore her, and her Virgin Daughter to protect their little ones.
We may be sure that St. Anne took care to provide faithful and prudent guardians for her child before leaving this world. The little house at Nazareth where Mary had been born was left to her as a patrimony, and there, a few years later the Angel Gabriel announced to her that she was to be the Mother of God.
Check back for the conclusion to this three part Ste. Anne series.
A High Mass for the Feast of the Transfiguration will take place at St. Josaphat on August 6 at 12 Noon.
As many of you know, this blog has promoted and continues to promote devotion to St. Philomena. For those of you who would like to pray the solemn novena, you are invited to download the prayers from this link: http://www.philomena.us/Novena%20Prayer%20to%20Saint%20Philomena.pdf. This is the novena composed by St. John Vianney, the Cure of Ars.