In preparation for the Feast of St. Anne, patroness of the Archdiocese of Detroit, we will present a special series of posts devoted to the life of St. Anne and the history of devotion to her.
MANY if not most of the saints have had holy mothers, mothers who understood the tremendous responsibility of Christian motherhood, and who strove to instil into their children’s minds the truths of religion from the first moment of the dawn of reason. We read of the mother of St. Louis, King of France, that she repeated to him constantly, “My son, I would rather see you dead at my feet than guilty of one mortal sin.” We read of the mother of the sainted Curé d’Ars that she had consecrated him to God even before his birth, and never allowed him to forget that he belonged in a special manner to the Most High. We read of the mother of St. Nicholas of Tolentino that she kept repeating the names of Jesus and Mary into his infant ears. We know of St. Monica’s life-long struggle with Satan for the soul of her son, afterwards the great St. Augustine, of the saintly mother of the “Little Flower,” St. Therésè, in our own times, and of hosts of others. What a privilege and what a responsibility is a mother’s? It would almost seem as though she could make her child a saint if she set her mind to it, if she began with the infant, with the tender sapling, training it to grow in the right way while it is capable of being trained. Surely no commendation is too high for a good mother.
And if the mothers of saints and all good mothers deserve to be praised and honoured what praise and honour are great enough for her who was worthy to be mother of the Queen of Saints, good St. Anne, grandmother according to the flesh of Our Saviour Jesus Christ? Devotion to St. Anne is the spontaneous warm and hearty outpouring of the true Catholic heart which loves Mary. One feels how Mary must have loved and reverenced her mother. The Immaculate Virgin obeyed and practised in their utmost perfection the commandments of the Law. Next to Jesus Christ Himself none other ever honoured and obeyed parents as she did, and with that honour and obedience went the most intense filial love. What must have been the holiness of that parent who was made the mother of the only one among the descendants of Adam conceived and born without stain of sin ? God fashioned St. Anne to be the perfect mother of a still more perfect daughter. He trained her in the school of humiliation, of hope deferred, of prayers unanswered, of years of disappointment borne with perfect meekness and resignation, and then, in her old age the miracle was wrought, the prayers of years were answered, and oh ! what an answer ! The Immaculate Mary was conceived in her womb. She became the mother of her who was to be ” the glory of Jerusalem, the honour of our people, the joy of Israel, above all women upon the earth.” In a word St. Anne was the mother of the Mother of God. She was not alone to bring forth a pure, beautiful and glorious child, but she was further given the charge of preparing and educating her daughter for the sublime dignity which awaited her. When one meets a virtuous and amiable girl it is natural to say, “that girl has been well brought up. She must have had a good mother.” But what a girl was Mary! Of her St. Ambrose says “What more noble than the Mother of God. She was a virgin in body and mind, whose candour was incapable of deceit or disguise, humble in heart, grave in words, wise in her resolutions, she spoke seldom and little, read assiduously, and placed her confidence not in inconstant riches but in the prayers of the poor. Being always employed with fervour, she would have no witness of her heart but God alone. She injured no one, was beneficent to all, honoured her superiors, envied not equals, shunned vain-glory, followed reason, and ardently loved virtue. Her actions had nothing unbecoming, her gait nothing of levity, her voice nothing of overbearing assurance. Her exterior was so well regulated that in her body was seen a picture of her mind. Her charities knew no bounds, temperate in her diet she prolonged her fasts several days, and the most ordinary meats were her choice, not to please the taste but to sustain nature. It was not her custom to go out of doors except to the house of prayer, and this always in the company of relatives.”
What a model for young girlhood was Mary, and what a testimony to a good mother’s care and example. Of that mother St. Jerome says: ” Anne is the glorious tree from which bloomed a twig under Divine Influence. She is the consecrated ground which brought forth the Burning Bush. She is the sublime Heaven from whose heights the Star of the Sea neared its rising. She is the blessed barren woman, happy mother among mothers, from her pure womb came forth the shining temple of God, the sanctuary of the Holy Ghost, the Mother of God.” Mary is the Treasurer of all graces. How great then the privilege and dignity conferred by God upon St. Anne when God chose her for Mary’s mother ? ” Blessed, thrice blessed, art thou, St. Anne ! ” exclaims St. John Damascene, the great Doctor of the Church, ” who didst receive from God and bring forth the blessed Child from whence proceeded Christ, the Flower of Life.” Even her beautiful name Anne (grace) signifies gracious, —loving,—and refers to her sublime destiny. She too had been selected from all eternity like her beloved child. To her may be applied the words of St. Bernardine of Siena regarding St. Joseph
“In the Kingdom of God the universal rule is ‘ If God elects anyone for a special privilege and a sublime state He bestows on that chosen person all the gifts necessary for its adornment.’ ”
“Anne was the most chaste of virgins,” wrote Mary of Agreda in the ” City of God.” “From her very childhood she possessed the fullness of every virtue. She was being continually enlightened, and was constantly engaged in devout meditation. Her unceasing prayer was that the Redeemer might come quickly. Had Anne not been adorned with angelic purity she could never have become the mother of the Virgin of Virgins. Without purity the great miracle of Mary’s Immaculate Conception could never have taken place in her womb.”
Anne Catherine Emmerich in her visions saw St. Anne in ecstasy, enveloped in heavenly splendour, and surrounded by hosts of angels at the moment of Mary’s Immaculate Conception. She beheld the Heavens open, and the Blessed Trinity and angels rejoicing. Equally great was the Heavenly jubilation at Mary’s birth. St. Anne shares in the glory of Mary in a special manner on the great feasts of the Immaculate Conception and Nativity, they are her feasts also, on which her clients should rejoice with her.
To be Continued…..
REMINDER: External Solemnity of Saint Anne this Sunday, July 24th. 9:30 AM Solemn High Mass followed by veneration of the relic. A reception will follow the Mass. Invite your family and friends.