Tuesday, December 16, 2008

16 December -- Blessed Mary of the Angels, O.C.D.

Blessed Mary was a 17th century Discalced Carmelite nun.

From the 2d nocturn in the old Carmelite breviary:

Mary of the Angels was born in Turin of parents who were equally remarkable for their piety and for their noble blood. she was well grounded in the teachings of a Christian education, and from her earliest youth she gave promise of great and extraordinary things. Turning away from childish games, she used to hide herself in retired chambers, that she might give herself up more completely to prayer; and by constantly reading the deeds of holy men, she was so inflamed with the desire of a more austere life, that she even laid a plan with her brother to run away from their father's house and to betake themselves to a desert place. Even in her early years she drew such a love of suffering from meditating on the torments of Christ the Lord, that she set about making her body suffer by fastings, watchings, and every discomfort. When she was only six years old her strongest desire was to nourish herself with the Sacred Body of Christ; and as soon as she had gained her wish, the flames of divine love burst forth in her heart with greater violence than ever. She speedily saw the dangers to which innocence is exposed, and she determined to with draw under the shadow of the cloister, that she might keep the flower of chastity free from every stain. Her desire was granted, and she hastened promptly and joyfully to Saint Christina's monastery of barefooted Carmelite nuns, in Turin, where she received the holy habit.

When she had made her solemn vows to the Lord, she applied herself wholly to fulfilling them with the utmost fervor of which she was capable. She was rigid in the practice of poverty; she was a wonder of obedience; her chastity was so remarkable that her very conversation, as it seems to me, communicated the fragrance of this virtue in a wonderful way to those about her. Soon afterwards, however, her virtue underwent a long and severe trial, for by God's will she was deprived for six years of all the heavenly joy and light with which the minds of pious persons are usually filled and refreshed. Added to this, she was attached and harassed by many different temptations of the infernal enemy, thus enduring a life more bitter than any kind of physical pain. This great tempest of the mind was stilled at length by the divine mercy, and she was consoled so abundantly with heavenly joys that she seemed to be lifted out of herself as often as she thought of spoke of God. When, in spite of her reluctance, she was called upon again and again to rule over the monastery, she so discharged the duties of her office as to be the teacher and leader of all; of those who were entering on the path of religious perfection, as well as of those who were drawing near to its end. She was conspicuous for her matchless humility, for her singular love of God, for her never-failing practice of prayer, for her exact observance of every rule, and for the unwearied ardor with which she chastised herself. In this she seemed to recall Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, who was closely related to her on the mother's side, for he added the practice of extraordinary penance to the admirable innocence of his life.

In her zeal for the spread of the divine glory, she overcame every difficulty in order to found a monastery of her order at Montcalier. Although she was absent from them, she inspired the holy virgins who dwelt there with the esteem of every virtue, and fostered these virtues by her encouragement. Her charity for her neighbor made her grieve bitterly that there should be so many sinful men in danger of eternal death; and by constant prayer, together with voluntary sufferings, she strove to obtain from the divine mercy that they might return to the path of salvation, with the help of divine grace. She practiced a like charity towards the souls that are undergoing punishment in the cleansing fire, for by prayer and bodily sufferings she labored to shorten the time of suffering allotted to them, and to hasten their entrance into the happiness of Heaven. She showed a singular devotion towards the Blessed Virgn, Mother of God, and towards Saint Joseph, the spouse of the Blessed Virgin, and it was, in fact, through her prayers to them that her country was freed from the attacks and inroads of the enemy. Laden with divine favors, she became celebrated for the gift of prophecy, for the discernment of spirits, the reading of hearts, and even for miracles. She was at length seized with a mortal illness, during which she gave a noble example of Christian patience. Then, yearning for her heavenly espousals, she peacefully sank to rest in the sweet love of the Lord, on the sixteenth day of December, in the year one thousand seven hundred and seventeen. The belief in her holiness, which had gone on increasing, was greatly strengthened, after her holy death, by the frame of the miracles which God performed at her intercession, and which were noised abroad. These miracles were proved in due form, and the Supreme Pontiff [Blessed] Pius IX admitted her to the ranks of holy Virgins.

The text is taken from "Saints of Carmel", a volume first printed in 1896 and translated by "a devoted friend of Carmel". He or she also translated Bl Mary's collect:

O God! who hast made the Blessed Mary, Thy Virgin, to lead a life like unto that of the angels, grant to us, Thy servants; that following in her footsteps, we may overcome the desires of the flesh, and that we may be worthy to enjoy the companionship of the angels. Through our Lord. Amen.