Novena to St. Joseph - January 15th

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Dear Friends and Family,

Please join us in our annual re-consecration to St. Joseph which is to be prayed from January 15th to the 23rd. For those who are members of Apostoli Viae, we ask you to join with our community intentions. It is always best to state them out loud and then offer our own intentions in the chat below this post so we can all pray for one another.

  • For the repose of the souls of Cardinal Pell and Pope Benedict XVI.
  • For the Holy Father, that he would truly be a holy father both for his salvation and that of the Church.
  • For the Synod on Synodality, that it would be directed by God through faithful leadership to become a holy exercise that honors the authentic magisterium and unity in the Church.
  • For our diocesan fathers, our bishops and priests, that they would be men of deep prayer and union with God and His Church and that the faithful would be protected and nourished, and the unfaithful be brought to repentance and healing.
  • For our earthly fathers that we would all follow Jesus in His prayer and self-giving for the salvation of our families and the Church.
  • For those who have suffered fatherlessness or have been wounded by those who should have been better fathers that they would find healing and help in the Catholic Church.
  • For those without spiritual directors that would find help in St. Joseph until they find a suitable spiritual father.
  • For our High Calling priestly formation and discernment program that it would expand and prepare the hearts of all the men to be exemplary fathers as priests.

MEMORARE TO SAINT JOSEPH (Repeated at the End of Each of the Prayers for the Day)
Remember, O most chaste spouse of the Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who implored thy help and sought thy intercession were left unassisted. Full of confidence in your power I fly unto thee and beg thy protection. Despise not, O Guardian of the Redeemer, my humble supplication, but in thy bounty, hear and answer me. Amen.

Day One: Saint Joseph, Powerful Intercessor

Dearest Saint Joseph, after Mary, you are the most powerful intercessor before God. I know with all my heart that Jesus will listen to you with special interest as you bring my intentions to Him. Because of this, I especially want to entrust myself to your fatherly care, as did Jesus Himself. While in the past, I may have brought to you one of my intentions here or there, from this day forward, I want to give you my all. I want to forever entrust to you all of my needs and cares, trusting that you will bring them, with Mary, to your Son, Jesus. Beloved Saint Joseph, as the best of fathers, the one whom God chose to be the virginal father of His Only Son, Jesus, I am confident that you know my needs better than I ever could. I give you permission, and ask you to care for me as your child. I trust that you will do everything in your power to make my life beautiful for God. I trust that you will watch over me, and that your prayers will guide, bless, and protect me. I know in my heart that you will care for me with the same love and tenderness with which you cared for Jesus. Saint Joseph, Powerful Intercessor, please pray for me and all my intentions. 

Day Two: Saint Joseph, Loving Spouse of Mary

Beloved Saint Joseph, when the angel told you, “Do not be afraid to take Mary for your wife,” (Mt 1:20) you weren’t afraid. You trusted God, and now you truly are the husband of Mary. After Jesus, you are the dearest person to her heart. Saint Joseph, as my spiritual father, I ask you to bring my petitions and my life to Mary. You are truly my spiritual parents. Just as any good father wants to see his children love their mother, I know you will help me know and love my spiritual mother more. By your powerful prayers, I ask you to help me realize what a gift I have in Mary. Pray for me that I will better appreciate her motherly role in my life. Saint Joseph, I know that you love her. I know it makes you happy to see her children love her with all their heart. Therefore, as I prepare to consecrate or re-consecrate myself totally to your fatherly care, I beg you to help me fully appreciate my Mother Mary. Saint Joseph, Loving Spouse of Mary, please help me to love my spiritual mother even more.

Day Three: Saint Joseph, Good Provider

Dearest Saint Joseph, as the foster father of Jesus, you provided for his human needs. Through the work of your hands, he had food to strengthen him, a house to give him shelter, and clothes to keep him warm. Still, from heaven, you continue to work. Indeed, the loving labor of your prayers provides for all the members of the Body of your Son. As I prepare to consecrate or re-consecrate myself completely to you, I ask you to please provide for me and my loved ones. Through your prayers, please make sure that we always have food to eat, a roof over our heads, and clothes to wear. Please pray that in times of abundance or need, we will never forget God, that we will always be grateful for His gifts, and that we will never be a slave to things like food or money, pleasure or power. Finally, help us always to remember and be generous with the poor. Saint Joseph, with you as my spiritual father, I will do my best not to give in to useless anxiety about my job, money, or material things. I believe you will always make sure I have what I need, and as a good father, I ask that you indulge me a bit by even providing for my material wants, provided they don’t take me away from Jesus. Saint Joseph, Good Provider, please provide for my needs through your powerful prayers. 

Day Four: Saint Joseph, Strong Guard

Beloved Saint Joseph, when I think that God gave me my guardian angel and Saint Michael to protect and defend me, I am not afraid. When I think that you, who are even more powerful before God, are my spiritual father, the Terror of Demons, who protected the Baby Jesus from Herod, then I am completely at peace. Saint Joseph, please pray that I will have the peace that comes from trusting in your fatherly protection. I believe that you will protect me from my enemies, seen and unseen. I believe that you will protect me from bodily and spiritual harm. I trust in your fatherly care. Saint Joseph, I will do my best not to give in to fear, knowing that you are praying for me as with a child who has formally consecrated himself to your fatherly care. Saint Joseph, Strong Guardian, please defend me with your prayers. 

Day Five: Saint Joseph, Who Did God’s Will

Dear Saint Joseph, you were profoundly docile to God's will, even in the most difficult of circumstances. I want to also do God’s most perfect will, but I know that, on my own, I will fail. I need your help. I trust that with you as my spiritual father, you will guide me to always do God’s most perfect will. I want to reach the degree of glory that God has prepared for me in heaven. I want to bear fruit that will last. I want to be a saint. Help me, Saint Joseph. You see how weak and sinful I am. Teach me, good father. Help me to follow the commandments, and make my heart sensitive to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit. I know that as I entrust myself to your care, you will guide me and show me how to always do God’s will. Redirect the stream of my life if it ever departs from God’s most perfect will. Saint Joseph, who did God’s will, please always keep me in God’s most perfect will. 

Day Six: Saint Joseph, Who Suffered with Love

As the day draws closer when I will fully consecrate (or reconsecrate) myself to you, Saint Joseph, I cannot help but notice how you suffered with love. You suffered darkness and confusion when Mary was found with child. You suffered the sacrifice of your flesh as you lovingly offered up the absence of bodily intimacy in marriage. You suffered a sword in your heart, with Mary, when Simeon foretold the passion of your Son. You suffered stress and uncertainty when you had to escape with your family to Egypt and lived as a foreigner. You suffered crushing anxiety when your Son was lost for three days. You daily suffered fatigue and bodily aches from your manual labor. Worst of all, your fatherly heart grieved at knowing that you could not be there for Jesus and Mary when their darkest hour would one day come. Saint Joseph, thank you for what you suffered in God’s service, in union with your Son, for my salvation. I love you, Saint Joseph. Thank you for your yes. Please help me to suffer with love as you did. When I suffer, help me not to complain. Help me not to forget love. Help me not to forget others. Dear Saint Joseph, through my suffering, watch over my weak heart: may it not harden but rather become more merciful. Help me to remember all of God’s children who are suffering in the world, and help me to offer my suffering for them and for the good of the Church. I am counting on you, Saint Joseph. I know you will be with me, helping me to suffer with love. Saint Joseph, who suffered with love, please help me to suffer with a love like yours.

Day Seven: Saint Joseph, Pure of Heart

Purest Saint Joseph, I want to be a saint, and saints need to be pure of body and soul. Guard me, protect me, and defend me from temptations against purity. I rely on you, Saint Joseph. Don’t let me fall. Don’t let my eyes or thoughts wander. If they do, please bring them back to Jesus. I trust in you, Saint Joseph. You lived purely with Mary, despite her beauty. Help me to see the beauty of others with your own pure vision. If I fall, help me to find God’s mercy and free me from any bondage to such sin. Purify my intentions in all that I do. Help me do everything, not to please myself or others, but to please God alone. Give me this grace as my dear spiritual father. I trust in you, Saint Joseph. Saint Joseph, Pure of Heart, please lend me your own purity of heart.

Day Eight: Saint Joseph, Man of Peace and Joy

Saint Joseph, although the Bible doesn’t speak directly of your joy, you lived in the presence of Jesus and Mary. How could you not be joyful? I beg of you to pray that I will also find my joy by living in their presence. Please pray that I keep my joy and not give in to desolation, sadness, laziness, or discouragement. Having lived with Jesus and Mary, you also must have been a man of tremendous peace. Please ask your Son to help me keep my peace of soul and not hold on to anger and bitterness in my heart. Help me to be merciful to everyone by offering forgiveness that I might also, like you, be afilled with true peace and joy. Saint Joseph, Man of Peace and Joy, please put me at peace and help me find joy. 

Day Nine: Saint Joseph, Who Died So Beautifully

Beloved Saint Joseph, I know that I am going to die. When I do, I ask that you be there to greet me with Jesus and Mary. For my part, I will not to be afraid of death, and I will live my life in preparation for it. I will even do my best to look forward to it as the time when I will can meet you, face to face. Prepare me for my death, whenever it may be. If it is sudden, please make sure that my soul is prepared and please make sure I will not be lost. Dearest Saint Joseph, obtain this grace for me as I consecrate myself to your fatherly care. I am fully yours. I give you permission to take me home to my Father’s house when the day of my death comes. Saint Joseph, who died so beautifully, please prepare my soul for death. 

Consecration to Saint Joseph

Dear Saint Joseph, On this day, before God and your Immaculate Spouse, Mary, I ___________________, choose you as my spiritual father forever. I formally entrust myself to your fatherly care. I love you, and I trust in your prayers for my life. As your spiritual child, I give you full permission to act in my life, especially by... Praying for me constantly, bringing me even deeper into the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, providing for all my loved ones and me, Guarding and protecting me from bodily and spiritual evil, guiding me always to do God’s most perfect will, helping me to suffer with love and without complaint, Giving me purity of body and of soul, Forming me into a person of peace and joy, Preparing me for a beautiful and happy death. From this day forward, Saint Joseph, you are my spiritual father, and I am your child. I trust you and love you, and I look forward to meeting you someday in heaven. I ask all of this in Jesus’ name and for the glory of God, who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen

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That the Lord would bless Apostoli Viae and the Avila Foundation with sufficient funding to expand our priestly formation and worldwide formation of laity, deacons, and religious and particularly for our new center for formation at the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Retreat Center. Daily Prayers ACT OF REPENTANCE I believe in You, O my God. Strengthen, O Lord, my faith. I hope in You, O my God. Affirm, O Lord, my hope. I love You, O my God; increase, O Lord, my love. I repent of having offended You. O my God, help me to have contrition, so that with the help of Your grace and the powerful patronage of Holy Mary of Buen Suceso of the Purification, I may never sin again. O Lord, have pity and mercy on me. Amen.   OPENING PRAYER O most Excellent and Immaculate Queen of Heaven, Holy Mary of Buen Suceso of the Purification, most favored Daughter of the Eternal Father, most beloved Mother of the Divine Son, most cherished Spouse of the Holy Spirit, sublime Throne of the Divine Majesty, August Temple of the Holy Trinity, in whom the Three Divine Persons have placed the treasures of Their Power, Wisdom and Love!  Remember, Virgin Mary of Buen Suceso of the Purification, whom God has made so great so that you can give succor to miserable sinners; remember that you have often promised to show yourself a merciful Mother to those who have recourse to you. I come to you then, Mother most merciful, and I beg you, for your love of the Most High, that you should obtain for me from God the Father a lively Faith that never loses sight of the eternal truths; from the Son, a firm Hope that always aspires to reach that glory that He won for me with His Blood; and from the Holy Spirit, a charity so inflamed that I will always live loving the Supreme Goodness and you, Most Holy Virgin, until through your intervention I will love and enjoy You eternally in glory. Amen. I salute You Mary, as the Favored Daughter of God the Father. Hail Mary...  I salute You Mary, as the Chosen Mother of the Divine Son. Hail Mary...  I salute You Mary, as the Singular Spouse of the Holy Spirit. Hail Mary... Glory be...    ACT OF THANKSGIVING TO THE BLESSED VIRGIN O Virgin blessed among all women! I lack the words to give you thanks for the innumerable blessings that I have received from your hand. The day of your birth is a day of thanksgiving, happiness, and consolation. You are the honor of mankind, the joy of paradise, the beloved gift of God, and the well-being of our country. What merit do I have, Blessed Virgin of Buen Suceso of the Purification, to deserve to have you as my Mother? May God be forever blessed Who has desired it so! Blessed also are you, Virgin Mary, because despite my ingratitude, you show me Your propitious favor. Thus are you, most clement Mother, my consolation on earth, my refuge, my help, and my protection in both my public and private needs. Safeguard me from war, pestilence, hunger, storms, earthquakes, and all the calamities that I merit by my guilt. Pray for the Holy Church and for her visible head. Hear the supplications of those who invoke You. Be my advocate, my mother, as I place my confidence in you. To you I have recourse, and through your intercession, I hope to achieve from your Son pardon for my sins and perseverance in grace until death. Amen.  Here privately offer your petitions.    PRAISES TO THE HOLY VIRGIN O Virgin Mary, my Mother preeminent above all on earth.  Come to my assistance and show me mercy, because you are my Mother.  Above all others, you were attentive to the Word of the Father, Who does great things in your honor.   You are the most worthy temple of the Most Holy Trinity.   In you is that same purity the Angels enjoy.    The Christian world proclaims that you reign on the right side of the King of Kings.  O Mother of Grace, my Hope! Port of the shipwrecked and star of the sea.   Gate of Heaven, health of the sick, light in the darkness.   Through you, I will find myself before God in the court of the Saints, where He lives and reigns forever.   Guide my steps and help me, O sweet Mary, in my last hours.    Receive this praise from my tender lips, which cannot express your singular grandeur.    Holy Mary, save the miserable, help the weak, intercede for the afflicted, plead for the people, intercede for the clergy, petition for the faithful. Permit all those who celebrate your holy memory to experience Your favor and assistance.  Pray for me, O Virgin of Buen Suceso of the Purification, that I may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Day One Consider how great and incomparable are the wonders of the omnipotent God Who manifests the treasures of His mercy for those He redeemed. Therefore, if I admire the excesses of His goodness in the many benefits with which He has enriched me, how much more should I marvel at and be filled with gratitude for the greatest blessing of His Right Hand, that most excellent and privileged creature, Mary Most Holy, whom He gave me for my consolation, especially to those who serve and love Him with all their hearts under the diverse titles and invocations that honor her. Through these devotions, I receive great favors by means of her succor and protection.  This has been the experience of true devotees of the Mother of God, and especially of those who have recourse to her by means of the marvelous Statue of Buen Suceso of the Purification, which was placed in the Church of the Royal Hospital in the City of Madrid. It was miraculous from its very beginning by virtue of the remarkable and unexpected way that this Treasure was found in the wilderness. As God said to the Prophet Isaiah, He would seek out those who had not come seeking Him, and would put aside those who had not considered His goodness or believed in His largesse. Thus also did the Most High make His Will clear that His Holy Mother is to be honored and venerated under the title of Buen Suceso of the Purification.  O Lord of infinite goodness, by the miraculous making of this image of Mary Most Holy, You have given me a powerful intercessor to whom I might have recourse with total confidence in her amiable protection in my necessity. Grant me the assistance that I am asking with fervor and confidence so that I might know, honor, and serve the Blessed Virgin, and so that by her intercession, I may achieve on this earth my sanctification and afterwards, be happy with her in Heaven. Amen.  Day Two Consider how the providence of the Most High desired to so favor mankind by manifesting the hidden treasure of the precious statue of Holy Mary under the title of Buen Suceso of the Purification. After the death of Brother Bernandine de Obregón, founder of the Brotherhood of the Friars Minors for the Service of the Sick (the Order of St. Francis of Paola), Gabriel de Fontane was elected to replace him. Accompanied by Guillermo Rigosa, he travelled to Rome to ask the Supreme Pontiff for his official approval of the Institute and the habit with the purple cross that distinguishes the order.  As they were passing through the town of Traiguera (under the jurisdiction of Tortosa in the Principate of Cataluña), they were caught in a terrifying hailstorm with lightning and thunder so strong that their hearts were filled with terror. They begged God to provide them with a shelter where they could take refuge so that they might prepare to die in peace, for the unrelenting rigor of the storm had persuaded them that they would not survive it.  However, God in His Divine Mercy so disposed that this search for shelter should be a presage of a good fortune. In a burst of lightning, they were able to discern a turnoff in the path. Following it, they could see the contours of a cave set in the hill above them. Even from the distance, they could see a bright light illuminating its interior and smell a sweet and heavenly aroma, more intense than anything on earth. Their souls were inundated with a great happiness as well as a sentiment of reverent admiration. At the same time, they felt an interior impulse to know the cause of such wonders. O God, admirable in all Thy works! May Thou always convert the most hazardous occurrences of life into proofs of Thy mercies, and in the most desperate storms may Thou show me the preludes to Thy prodigies in my favor, just as Thou didst with the Minorite Brothers by means of that terrifying storm. Grant to me, through the intercession of the Queen of Buen Suceso of the Purification, the virtue of patience, to suffer with a resigned spirit the trials sent me by Thy Divine Will, because at any moment Thou canst change them to consolations in this life and afterwards grant me Thy eternal reward in Heaven, where I will always sing Thy praise and the praise of Holy Mary. Amen. Day Three Consider how the travelers, impelled by grace and attracted by curiosity to examine such astounding wonders, set out for the site offering them refuge. Taking off their shoes, they climbed the hill with great difficulty, helping each other over large boulders and sharp cliffs. When they reached the cave, which they were able to see in the flashes of lightening, how great was their astonished joy and admiration! For they saw that this cave had been delicately carved by nature as a large temple. It protected a beautiful Statue of the Holy Virgin holding the child Jesus in her left arm and carrying a scepter in her right hand. A precious crown rested on her forehead. Her dress, like that of the Infant, was simple but elegant, and both were made in the same material and style.  The site, adorned with various types of flowers that carpeted the floor and climbed on the walls, filled the air with an exquisite fragrance for the Queen of Heaven. Set in the rock was a lamp so expertly crafted that it gave off the illumination of many lights. Such beauty and delight to honor such an admirable Lady! Such surprise and admiration for the overwhelmed travelers! The ecstatic pair contemplated this little piece of Heaven and calmed their overwrought hearts in the presence of their Mother, who after the terrible storm had come to them so unexpectedly, radiant with beauty and tender of countenance, to provide them with refuge and consolation at that desperate and difficult moment.  So also my soul is calmed before the image of Mary. When the burdens of life and its imminent dangers bring me close to despair, let me go to her with tranquility and confidence, thanking God Who in His Omnipotence permitted this portentous statue to be miraculously found in that hidden place for the honor of the Immaculate Virgin so that all might venerate Her under that precious title of Buen Suceso of the Purification. O God of Mercy, Who never leaves desolate one who faithfully and fervently serves You amid the misfortunes and dangers of life, and Who leads me to find my Mother and advocate as a refuge in my adversities, grant me a tender and fervent heart to search for Mary and find her, always loving and protective, so that I might serve her and merit, through her intercession, to lead a good and Christian life and afterwards be with her forever in Heaven. Amen. Day Four Consider the indescribable joy of the good Minorite Brothers on contemplating these prodigies. The Statue of my beloved Mother shone before them like a resplendent star, and they reverently prostrated themselves before her to praise and thank her for a gift so unique and an event so extraordinary. Their thoughts and sentiments were raised to heavenly considerations and they believed themselves to be favored by something supernatural. For everything they saw and felt within those walls of such inaccessible rock so far from any other houses seemed made by more than human hands. They repeated their prayers of thanksgiving with fervor.  Then, asking light and grace from Heaven to know what they should do, they decided to try to discover the origin of that sanctuary and Statue by seeking the pious persons or community who were caring so prodigiously for this cult. Even though it seemed impossible to them that such magnificence was the work of men in a place so retired and inaccessible, prudence and piety cautioned them to first make a careful investigation about the matter. They inquired at the hamlets nearest the cave, which were more than three leagues in distance, but found no one who could give them even the least information about the Statue. Not even the persons they questioned who were 80 and 100 years old had ever heard about the statue or any such devotion in those outlying woods or any other place near the region.  Consider, then, the astonishment and holy joy of the Brothers, now the owners of the extraordinary finding, as they humbled themselves again before the Holy Statue, offering her their warmest thanks with embraces and warm emotion, choosing her as their special patron and Mediatrix under the very significant title of Mother of Buen Suceso of the Purification. The heart is moved by sentiments of pious gratitude and admiration for such a prodigious favor as this that was granted to the Holy Brothers. Let me unite with them in their tender embraces of Mary, loving her and lavishing her with generous resolutions, because I also have mercifully found her on the dangerous pathway of life amidst the horror of the storm of my passions. O God of infinite love! You have given me in my Mother a precious shelter and consolation, placing her in the pathway of my hazardous life so that she might be a shield to defend me in persecutions and dangers as My Mother of Buen Suceso of the Purification. Thankful for Your goodness, may I correspond with the practice of virtue and a tender and constant devotion to Mary Most Holy, so that through her intercession I might find Heaven. Amen. Day Five Consider how the holy travelers, now convinced that their precious discovery belonged to them, placed the Statue in a basket, and with this so amiable and powerful companion, they continued easily and happily on their trip to Rome, where they were received by His Holiness Paul V, a very chaste and pious man. They informed him of how they had found the Statue of the Virgin. Seeing her so precious and radiating with a supernatural presence, he prostrated himself before her, and hung his precious gold and enamel pectoral around her neck, granting graces and indulgences to all who venerated her.  He charged the fortunate religious who had found the image in such a marvelous way to honor the statue and zealously spread devotion to her in all corners. They saw in this, and even in the name of Our Lady of Buen Suceso of the Purification that the Pope gave her, all the signs that this was a supernatural discovery. This prodigious gift soon became an inexhaustible source of graces and wonders, which were experienced by the inhabitants of the city of Valencia where the religious brothers took her. Later the Statue was transferred with solemn splendor to the magnificent Church of Madrid, the capitol of Spain, where the venerated Statue continues to work wonders, her cult extending throughout Europe and even to the farthest regions of America.  Animate yourself, my soul, in the presence of Mary, that this encounter might carry you through the most difficult junctures of life, with her sweet and smiling visage offering consolation. See, then, the Holy Father of the faithful prostrate in her presence, offering you this most priceless treasure and charging you to be devout and faithful in the service of Mary. Be content with the state in which God has placed you because you have Mary, who serves you as companion and protectress. Praise her, bless her, and present her with the pectoral of your love, placing at her feet your dominant passion, offering your efforts to overcome yourself with determination and constancy in order to obtain the exceptional favors that so many pious people have received from this Holy Statue of Buen Suceso of the Purification. O Sovereign God! You have given me Your highest counsel, the Most Holy Virgin of Buen Suceso of the Purification, as a companion to accompany me in my pilgrimage, so that she might serve me as guide, guard, and protectress in its conflicts. I go, then, to her, filled with confidence and finding the way easily on the journey to the dwelling of my Eternal Father, where all that I desire will be granted. Enflame my heart with love for the Most Holy Virgin of Buen Suceso of the Purification so I might offer it to this Holy Mother with the gift of gratitude, a firm and constant love, and the conquering of my passions by means of the great graces received from Your merciful Hands. Thus might I always have her favor in this life and her sweet assistance at death so that I might merit eternal salvation. Amen. Day Six Consider how the city of Quito and its oldest Convent, the Convent of the Conceptionists, also experienced the special favor of the glorious Mother of Buen Suceso of the Purification, who appeared prodigiously to Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres, a Spaniard and one of the Founding Mothers of this Convent, in the year 1610, after the Convent had already been founded for 33 years. This fortunate and pious sister was praying alone with tender devotion, imploring the help of Mary under the title of Buen Suceso of the Purification for the needs of her own soul, for her sisters in the cloister, and for all mankind. In the fervor of her pleas, made with such profound faith and confidence, she raised her eager eyes to Heaven, calling on her Mother to come and save her and grant what she humbly asked with sincere interest for the good of her convent and for all the Catholic Church.  Suddenly a refulgent light flooded the church, and the good sister fell into ecstasy. Her mind was overcome by a sudden astonishment and her heart was moved by an inexplicable joy. Her faith grew and her devotion increased as the light diffused before her astonished and dazzled gaze. A singular joy entered her heart, and she redoubled her pleas in an ecstasy of unlimited confidence. Thus is the soul invited to leave the mean earth and look to Heaven with the eyes of a lively and penetrating faith. Heaven opens a path for it to the light of divine clarity and inundates it with the splendors of divinity. “The just live by faith.” So indeed do the just make their Heaven here on the lowly earth, attracting by their faith the light that does nothing to diminish the morning stars.  Let me also strengthen my faith in the revealed mysteries. Following the example of true religious souls, let me see with the eyes of intelligence all the actions of my life, leaving aside all thoughts of this lowly material life and focusing my understanding with efforts of faith on the ways of Divine Providence. It is principally by prayer that I leave this earth and think instead on matters of Heaven, where the Omnipotent God and Mary, His Daughter, Mother, and Spouse, dwell, awaiting my humble entreaties as pilgrims who, prostrate at their feet, implore the graces that I need. O, inaccessible Light of Supernatural Truth that illuminates my being with its Celestial Splendor and leads me to You, having for guide and protection Your predilect creature Mary Most Holy, illuminate my mind with the light of a firm and living faith. It was such a faith that moved My Mother of Buen Suceso of the Purification to appear before the eyes of that blessed Conceptionist religious, Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres. Because I am anxious to enjoy supernatural goods, help me to be less concerned about the things of this earth. With the protection of Holy Mary and a constant and sure faith in the revealed mysteries, help me to live contemplating the brilliance of my final end and anticipating the joy of seeing You and Mary Most Holy for all eternity. Amen. Day Seven Consider how the fortunate religious, in the fervor of her pleas and illuminated by that bright light that inundated her, fixed her eyes upon the source of that brilliance, finding before her a Lady of extraordinary beauty and kindness of face. As the light dissolved, she saw that the Lady was carrying in her left arm a Child, bright and shining like a morning star, full of grace and goodness, His features tender and kind. In her right hand she held a beautiful scepter of shining gold and precious stones, and around her forehead was a magnificent crown with dazzling stones. She wore a garment similar to that of the Statue (in Spain) of Mary of Buen Suceso of the Purification, whose miraculous discovery was recounted earlier and to whom the pious Conceptionist sister had been praying when she received the favor of this vision.  The good religious was at the same time transported with joy and confused to be thus visited by her Celestial Mother. Her soul was filled with a joy and gratitude without limit, and her heart flooded by holy sentiments. As thoughts of lively faith and valiant love and confidence overwhelmed her being, she asked, “Who are You? And what do You desire?”  Then, O marvel of goodness! In a sweet and suave voice, the Lady responded: “I am Mary of Buen Suceso of the Purification whom you invoked with such tender affection. Your prayer has pleased me very much. Your faith has brought me here. Your love has invited me to visit you.”  Ponder, O my soul, the singular privilege of this blessed sister, who merited by her faith, devotion, and fervor in prayer to attract the presence of Mary Most Holy and to thus contemplate her so lovely, so pure, and so beautiful, to be dazzled by her splendors, to enjoy her intimacies, and to hear her most amiable voice. Ah! Fortunate creature! How great was your love for your Celestial Mother! How strong your inclination to humble yourself and praise her! How ardent your desire to be with her! How continuous, attentive, and devout your prayers!  This goodness of Mary should thus encourage me to invoke her with deep faith under the title of Buen Suceso of the Purification and to pray always with attention and confidence, considering that only a living faith and vigilant attention in prayer will make me deserve to be heard and favored by the Holy Virgin, not with privileged visions, but with other gifts of grace that will help me triumph over my passions and the enemies of religion. O God of goodness, Who deigns to reward the faith and zealous sentiments of piety of Your chosen souls with visits of Mary Most Holy, hear also my prayers that the presence of this Statue of Buen Suceso of the Purification might illuminate my faith and increase my confidence that she will benignly hear my prayers. Grant me an ever-increasing faith in Your paternal goodness; make me ever more confident that I will receive what I ask for. Make me also ever more fervent in my prayers, so that supported by the great valor of my powerful Patroness, I might be freed from the dangers that threaten me, serve You better, and win the honor of being in Your company and that of Mary Most Holy in Heaven for all eternity. Amen. Day Eight Consider that the Holy Virgin, on appearing to the sister, did not desire to favor her alone with a single transitory grace, for God does not bestow His special gifts except with the providential plan of increasing the piety, stimulating the moral progress, and improving the religious discipline of all the members of a community, a country, or the whole Church. For this reason, Mary Most Holy of Buen Suceso of the Purification told the Conceptionist sister, “It is the Will of God that I command you to have a statue made that will represent this apparition in all its details, so that it might be placed directly above the Abbess’ chair in the choir where all the religious pray, so that they might consider this memorable Statue as their principal Abbess.” Thus would this Statue stimulate perpetual gratitude, special attentiveness in prayer, perfect obedience, a firm faith, a confident hope, and an ardent love for Mary Most Holy who thus offered herself to preside over and govern this Convent.  Ah, if I had a living faith! With what veneration and respect would I place myself before that Statue! How keenly I would recall her apparition so full of goodness and her promises and favors! How confident would I be in my supplications, how attentive in my prayers, how fervent in my devotions, how spontaneous in my obedience, how regular in my observance of the Commandments and the duties of my state of life!  Enliven, O my soul, your faith, and if you are lacking in it, ask God and Mary of Buen Suceso of the Purification to grant it to you. Thus, by taking advantage of the special gift and singular privilege of having Mary of Buen Suceso of the Purification as my intercessor, I may not be responsible for a disdain or lack of appreciation for the gift that Providence has given me to increase my piety and encourage me in the practice of the virtues of faith, confidence, charity, obedience and the fulfillment of all my duties and obligations. O God, loving guardian of pious persons, families, and Communities, Who in Your Providence, guard and protect them because of their attention to prayer and fulfillment of their duties of life, hear now my prayers. Be attentive to my cries, enflame the light of my faith in Your powerful protection so that I do not fear my enemies. For if You assist me, nothing can harm me. Grant me an unlimited confidence in Mary Most Holy of Buen Suceso of the Purification and the grace of obedience to and observance of my Rule [or to the fulfillment of the duties of my particular state of life], so that I might be worthy of a Mother so holy and a Protectress so powerful. May I always be Your grateful and docile subject, so that one day I may sing with glory Your praises in Heaven, You Who have favored Mary as Daughter, Mother and Spouse of the Most Holy Trinity, the one God Who lives forever and ever. Amen. Day Nine Consider how the humble sister felt on hearing the command of Holy Mary, to have a statue made of the same size and appearance as the apparition. She excused herself saying that it would be impossible, that no sculptor could reproduce such rare beauty or render with precision its proper proportions. The beautiful Lady, with a most amiable forbearance, replied to her, “Do not fear for this reason. Take off the cord around your waist and measure my height.”  Since, from a natural fear, the religious did not dare to touch Mary with her hands, the Heavenly Queen herself took the end of the cord and held it to her head, while the sister touched it to her feet to measure the exact height of the marvelous vision. Then Holy Mary said: “Here, as I told you, you have the height for the statue that you should order to be made, and the rest of the measurements should be in proportion to it. Place the statue in the place I have indicated with a crosier and the keys of the cloister in my right hand, for I desire to be Advocate and Protectress of this Convent.” Having said this, the vision disappeared.  The heart of the sister who had just received such a signal favor and so pleasing a mission was penetrated, filled with gratitude and warm sentiments for Mary Most Holy! O my soul, search in your heart for those sentiments, and be dissolved in gratitude for Mary of Buen Suceso of the Purification, my Advocate and Protectress. Let me venerate her Image with the most tender gratitude and the vehement desire of corresponding to such singular benefits by leading a life that is holy, obedient, and observant of all the duties of my state of life.  Then the holy sister who had been favored with this vision made efforts to find an accomplished sculptor to begin the work on this statue that Mary herself had ordered to be made. Thus this statue, full of sweetness and majesty, will last until the end of time. Venerated in the upper choir of this Convent, the religious there always have recourse to her in their most grave conflicts. So also has she been the refuge of all people who come to her in their necessities, and through her intercession many portentous favors and special graces have been obtained.  The measurements given by Mary symbolize the measure of her humility, obedience, and love of God and neighbor, which she gives to us so that we might strive to reproduce them. Imitate her, and you will carry an image of the Virgin Most Holy in your heart. Strive like that holy sister to make the moral image of your Virgin Mother in your customs and sentiments, in your bearing and way of acting, in your fidelity to your daily duties and prayers, in your meekness and candor, in your purity and detachment from earthly things, thus aspiring only to heavenly goods. Oh God! Tender Father of Your creatures Who in every manner demonstrate Your paternal care and guidance for me, principally by giving me Mary Most Holy as my advocate, protectress, and model ideal of virtue, infuse my heart with a constant desire to imitate my Mother and Queen, modeling my thoughts, desires, and actions after those of Mary Most Holy so that I might be like Her in all that my fragile nature permits. Assisted by Your Divine Grace, may I conquer my passions and receive the choicest graces that my Mother grants to her children who confidently come to her as Advocate in their pressing needs. May I find her ready to assist me in the last difficult moment of life, and afterward enjoy the pleasure of her company in Heaven forever and ever. Amen. FINAL PRAYER I ask Thee, my Lord and God, that Thou grant me health of soul and body through the intercession of the glorious Virgin Mary. Through her merits and those of her sovereign Child, Jesus, I hope to be freed from present evils and to attain eternal happiness. Amen.   Image: Bruno Piglhein, Star of Bethlehem​
31
The Expectation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph
When I was about seven years old, I remember one Christmas opening my Christmas gifts. As a kid you expected to get gifts from Santa, and sometimes you got what you asked for and sometimes you did not and that was okay. I was inundated that Christmas morning with various gifts and toys, and I was filled with joy, wonder, and excitement. Later, when I visited my grandparents on both sides of the family, I remember getting less toys and more clothes. Boy, did I let my disappointment be made known! Little did I realize the love and care that was placed in the gifts that were given to me and how even though they were not what I expected, they were exactly what I needed. I would later apologize to my parents and family for the outburst and the lack of gratitude for the gifts that were given and the love that was shown toward me.  Expectations are a driving force within every human life. Sometimes when our expectations are mired in sin and selfishness they can blind and enslave us, distorting us from seeing the subtle action of grace that is working around us and despite us. They become like the hardened winter ground, unable to receive or bear life. When our expectations are rooted in the presence of Divine Grace working in us through prayer, the sacraments, and our own yes to Jesus then our hearts become receptive and a new tabernacle, the new Manger for Jesus to abide in us. The seed of the mysteries of Jesus life then begins to bear the fruit of sanctity within our hearts just as the Blessed Virgin Mary’s womb bore him. This is what the Church urges us to meditate upon in these closing days of Advent as we inch ever closer to the coming of Jesus with His birth in the manger of Bethlehem at Christmas. This is the cry of the great Advent hymn and Antiphon Rorate Caeli, “Drop down dew, you heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just one: let the earth be opened, and bud forth a savior” (Isaiah 45:8). This same cry is also echoed similarly in the O Antiphons prayed at Vespers between December 17th through 23rd as well as the hymn O Come, O Come Emmanuel.  There is an ancient feast that was common in Spain during the Middle Ages known as the Feast of the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin Mary which occurred on December 18th. The Bishops of Spain implemented this feast at the Council of Toledo in 656AD. Since the Annunciation occurred in Lent when the focus was on Our Lord’s Passion, they wanted to highlight its focus in closer proximity to the mystery of Jesus’ Birth eight days before Christmas. Dom Prosper Guéranger notes that overtime this Feast would be discontinued, yet still during this time of Advent “the faithful were requested to consider, with devotion, what must have been the sentiments of the Holy Mother of God during the days immediately preceding her giving him birth.” (The Liturgical Year, Vol 1. - December 18th) The connections of Mary’s expectations to the radical “yes” to God shows us how God’s strength, love, and saving plan can be brought about in the unlikeliest ways when we freely surrender ourselves and expectations to His actions in our life. At the Annunciation (cf. Lk 1:26-38 - Gospel of the Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year B), Mary gives a radical yes to God’s plan for her life which included her becoming the Mother of God, the Mother of the Messiah whom all Israel eagerly expected and awaited. The one who would fulfill God’s promise of salvation would take from Mary his own human nature uniting it to his divine nature through her yes, her fiat. Mary’s yes was one that knew how to listen, be receptive, and give of oneself to a mystery that was made known to her, that she knew would define her entire life and all human history. Her radical yes shows how when I grow in the interior life, it isnot enough to love God merely out of duty alone, or on our own terms through an immature willful desire like a child fixated on giving or receiving a Christmas gift in a certain way from their family.  To grow in intimacy with Jesus means to accept an invitation he freely gives me to offer my life to him in a total act of oblation of love that is more than my understanding, expectations, and desires can give me.  Mary’s fiat to God before St. Gabriel the Archangel at the Annunciation represented a personal prayer of absolute, unreserved, giving of self before God. This was a n an interior release of her soul with all her mere human expectations to be from then onward to be at the complete disposal of His saving plan. Fr Donald Haggerty states that “the “yes” of her fiat placed her already in union with God, aligned the future of her life already in oneness with God’s desires.” (Conversion, 159-160) Her words and actions became one at this moment, thus enabling Jesus the Eternal Word, the Son of God, to become incarnate in her womb as her own son.  This response of a radical yes that is emblematic of the second conversion is also seen in Saint Joseph’s response to his dream where he follows the commands of the Angel not to be afraid at Mary’s news of being pregnant with a son and to her as his wife into his own home (cf. Mt 1:18- 24 - Gospel of the Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year A & Christmas Eve Vigil Mass) Joseph’s humble reverential hesitation before the dream shows us that when God’s expectations and invitation to a greater love of Him, there is a hidden grace not to fear, despite the intimidating prospects that may lay ahead in the unknown and that which is outside our control. Fr. Donald Haggerty here makes the following observation: We can never see ahead what God may do with a total surrender of our soul to him. And God sometimes does ask much from a soul that loves him much. It is not surprising, then, that the act may provoke an anxious hesitation before it is fully embraced…Although there may be an initial fear of this act of total surrender, the question should be raised whether anyone who became holy ever regretted a complete surrender to God. Surely the saints in heaven would testify that this offering took them to a depth of closeness to Our Lord that they had not known previously. They were free henceforth to listen to him more subtly and receive from him the endless stream of his requests for love and sacrificial offering. (Conversion, 160-161) Both Mary and Joseph show us how their yes fosters a state of obedience in their souls toward God that gives them freedom. This is because their hearts are now one with His in love and that their yes to Him is a home, a path, and a shield of love. They now know in their prayer that whatever joy or difficulty they face, God is with them to strengthen, guide, and care for them along the way of salvation. Their receptivity and expectations being animated by divine love give them a human awareness and availability of faith that is real, humble, and free of all resentment and entitlement. The joys and crosses of their lives are seen as moments to love with the very heart of their son, the promised Messiah, with eager and hopeful expectation. We turn to the Blessed Virgin Mary asking her to give us the gift a heart free from all sin and joyfully receptive and eager to see the to the mystery of salvation be birthed from her. May she also help us obtain the grace to renew our own fiat, our own yes to Jesus in our lives so we may be transformed by His birth into our hearts anew this Christmas season no matter what way or time He may come to us. - Fr. Matthew MacDonald  -Photo taken by Fr. Matthew in November 2019 at The Chruch of the Milk Grotto, Bethlehem, Israel