14 Mar

During a visit which we made to a learned and pious friend, writes a religious, we found among the books which lay on his table, “The Glories of Mary,” by St Alphonsus de Liguori, and as we were looking at it, he remarked to us:

“That is my spiritual thermometer. When I am faithful to grace, a page of this book enlightens me, animates me, makes me happy; when I am careless or lukewarm, it scarcely suits me at all; it becomes, as it were, too much for me; it wearies me; I no longer understand it; it is not the brilliancy of the light which has become less, it is rather the eye of my soul which can no longer bear it. I labour then to restore to that eye its purity and its strength, and soon the thermometer rises, or rather my soul mounts and finds itself in unison with the praises of the Blessed Virgin.”


How precious are these words! Is it not well to be able to discern “where the life of our poor heart is?” These hours of weakness are so long and so alarming.

This we may know through “the love we feel for Mary.” It grows or lessens in proportion as innocence increases or diminishes in our hearts.

As long as we remain pure, there exists a close relation between us and the Blessed Virgin, which manifests itself by a thrill of joy each time that our mind can ponder on her goodness, or our lips murmur a prayer in her honour.

Then we search for all that recalls Mary to us; the prayers which we prefer are those addressed to Mary; books please us less if they do not speak a little of Mary. The rosary is for us a special source of peace, and the joy of our heart is even manifested in our countenance.


Should we become “less pure”, even though we do not sink into real sin, we feel a coldness towards Mary; we find it very irksome to say our rosary; the pious practices of others who love her more than we do, appear exaggerated; we leave off some of our accustomed prayers – “we no longer have time for them…”

This condition, if we do not relieve our heart of its encumbrances, cannot remain long a state of innocence… The priest trembles when a soul tells him, “I have ceased to say my rosary.” The rosary is the first prayer one abandons.

It is your care or negligence in reciting it which specially serves as a thermometer to indicate the life of the soul.


The rosary is more even than all this – it is a “safeguard.” As long as you recite it, despite your weariness, your distaste, your occupations, you will never wander entirely away. You will either cease to say it, or you will end by being touched and frightened; you will be LED to the priest in order to make to him the confession of your faults and commence a new life.

Devotion to Mary is like a beacon-light erected on the road which leads to God. It reassures and encourages; withdraw it, and though you know with certainty where God is, and the road which leads to Him, yet you are timid and have no longer the courage to follow that path.

Thus the devotion to Mary is not a “simple ornament or embellishment” of Catholicism, nor even “a help” among many others, of which we may avail ourselves or not, as we will: it is an integral part of our religion. Jesus Christ deigned to come to us only through Mary. It is through her that we should go to Him. As one seeks the heart’s pulsations in order to assure himself that there is life, so in like manner, in order to find if a soul still lives, seek to discover whether the name of the Blessed Virgin thrills it or is heard with indifference.

– From: Golden Grains, Eighth Edition, H.M. Gill and Son, Dublin, 1889


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