42. TO UNITE THE MERITS OF THE ACTIVE LIFE AND THE CONTEMPLATIVE LIFE
Alba, Mother House, Piazza S. Paolo, August 15, 1947
Mary is very glad when you put in order the chapel, prepare beautiful vestments, change the altar linens, adorn the altar, because she enjoys to see Her Jesus well dressed and what serves Her Jesus.
She took care of everything needed by her Divine Son with great diligence. She served him not with extravagance, but appropriately. Jesus was neat and clean in his dress, well-cared by his Mother with great delicateness.
Since Jesus was properly clothed by Mary, in her turn, Mary Most Holy was clothed with splendour in glory, as we are to consider today, the day of the celebration of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in heaven.1
The beautiful pictures and descriptions which represent this mystery all tell the same thing: that Jesus clothed Mary with light, fineness, impassibility, with every gift reserved to the glorious body.
Today's Gospel1 recalls to us the union of the active life and the contemplative life. The Church applies to Our Lady this passage of the Gospel, which narrates how the Divine Master was welcomed by the two sisters who loved each other very much, although each one showed to be somehow attached to her own ideas.
The Divine Master often went to Bethany with his Apostles to take meals and to rest. It was here that Jesus received many expressions of devotion, affection and where he spent the last days of his life.
Knowing that the Divine Master had arrived, Martha began to occupy herself with the preparation of the meal.
Mary did the honours of the house by welcoming the Master, inviting him to a secluded room to retire with him in sweet conversation. The Gospel does not say what were the topics of that conversation. However, we cannot but think how Mary cried over her sins, asked and obtained pardon, made reparation, promised to change and improve her conduct. And she was faithful!
There should not be many general confessions but only one general conversion! Change life! It is worth more than many accusations, letters, advices and words.
Certainly, to receive grace is much, but to correspond to it is worth much more. Let grace bear fruit. At the point of death, we will not cry over the graces which were lacking, but over those to which we did not correspond.
While Mary was seated at the feet of Jesus, Martha was busy. At a certain point, as she could not bear it anymore, with some repugnance and perhaps a bit of jealousy also...she appeared at the door of the room where the Master was staying with Mary, and Lord, are you not concerned that my sister has left me to do the household tasks all alone? Jesus gave an answer which does not disapprove of Martha's activity, but which at the same time, justified Mary's action: Martha, Martha, you are anxious and upset about many things; one thing only is required. Mary has chosen the better portion and she shall not be deprived of it.
Mary had chosen the intimate life; she chose to think of her soul, to dedicate herself to that which is required.
The contemplative life has its benefits and so with the active life.
The Holy Virgin knew how to accept and reconcile the two methods of life; she knew how to unite the merits and the glory of these two kinds of life. She was the person nearest to her Son and at the same time, she was the one more than any other who worked to give him to the world. Therefore, today she is glorified above all the Virgins and all the Saints.
Ave, gratia plena!1 She had the fullness of grace and she deserved well to precede us in Paradise also with the body.
She was the one who followed the Divine Master better than anyone in the practice of his teachings. Thus, today, Gaudeamus omnes in Domino, diem festum celebrantes sub honore beatae Mariae Virginis; de cuis Assumtione gaudent Angeli et collaudant Filium Dei2 (Let us rejoice in the Lord and celebrate this feast in honor of the Virgin Mary, at whose assumption the angels rejoice, giving praise to the Son of God).
The Church takes the words from the Book of Wisdom and brings them again in the Epistle3 of today's Mass, applying them to the Blessed Virgin: in hereditate Domini morabor...qui creavit me requievit in tabernaculo meo, et dixit mihi:...in electis meis mitte radices... Ninc, in plenitudine Sanctorum detentio mea...(In the beloved city he has given me rest...I have taken root in a privileged people, in the Lord's property in, his inheritance...).
Today is the exaltation of the religious life, especially the religious life that unites and combines the two lives: the contem-plative and the active.
1. Thank the Lord for the vocation, not in general, but particularly for your special vocation. It is a treasure of which value we would understand only on Judgment Day.
2. Ask during your Adoration the grace: that the attraction to and practice of perfect chastity, of holy virginity may spread in the world. May there be many souls who would diffuse the perfume of the lily as they live in this world; who would call and draw to salvation many persons who are on the way to damnation.
3. Ask forgiveness if someone did not correspond at all to the vocation. Cultivate a love which is united closely to the fear of offending God and not corresponding sufficiently to his graces.
4. Be incline to recollection and promote it.
The person who by his own will often changes duty, place, confessor, resolution, reading book, etc. is difficult to become holy.
The one who goes here and there, and yet citing good reasons, deceives herself.
Mutatio locorum multos fefellit 1 (The illusion of changing places has deceived many). The desire to do novelties even in spiritual matters is distraction and dissipation; it is a way of doing our own will and keeping away from God's will.
The true love of God consists in the perfect fulfilment of his will, of his consent.
5. Ask the Most Blessed Virgin the grace to be able to imitate her, to know how to imitate her, both in personal holiness and in carrying out of the apostolate.
The Blessed Virgin was always ready with her fiat;1 always docile, without exception, without seeking for changes, without desiring personal comfort, without longing for adventures. She lived in the generous and unceasing practice of a most devoted yes to God's will.
Therefore, give oneself to God and do not put in the will, in the heart the impossibility of being in union with Him.
Ask Our Lady her spirit of prayer: Domina, doce nos orare (Lord, teach us to pray).1
Be persons who pray, persons of perfect contemplative life, imitating Our Lady. Ask her how to carry out the apostolate: Teach us also how to work.
Be apostolic persons, following the Apostle(Our Lady).
You will receive a great reward if you will rightly give hospitality to Jesus in your heart, in your houses, in your chapels; if
you will give hospitality and will serve Jesus present in his Priests well.
You will have a great reward if you will correspond to your vocation, which holds the merits and glory of both the active life and contemplative life.
1 The theme of this meditation was taken by Fr. Alberione from the formulary of the Mass on the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, August 15. It was the formulary used until the definition of the dogma of the Assumption of Mary Most Holy on November 1, 1950; then, it was completely changed.
1 Lk. 10, 38-42.
1 Lk. 1, 28.
2 Missale Romanum, Die XV Augusti, in Assumptione Beatae Mariae Virginis, Introitus (formulario anteriore al 1 novembre 1950).
3 The Epistle was from the Book of Ecclesiasticus 24, 11-13 and 15-20.
1 The Imitation of Christ, I, Chap. IX, 1.
1 Cf. Lk. 1, 38.
1 Cf. Lk. 11, 1: Domine, doce nos orare.