“O Lord, give me the fire that you sent forth when coming on earth. Enable me to be aflame with the ardor of charity, to glow with the splendor of obedience, and to grow ardent with love. Help me to be saved from destruction amid dangers, to escape all perils, and to hasten toward Your goodness. Grant me to come peacefully into Your presence, to be satiated forever by its manifestation, and to praise You unceasingly for all eternity.”
Today, January 23, we celebrate the feast of Saint Ildephonsus of Toledo (607-667), Doctor of the Virginity of Mary, Archbishop of Toledo, and recipient of a blessed priestly vestment from Our Blessed Mother, in reward for his zeal and love for her. Saint Ildephonsus is highly venerated in Spain, and considered a precursor in establishing the later official Vatican doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Our Blessed Mother. He was the first to establish the feast of the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Saint Ildephonsus is a favorite saint of medieval artists, hymnographers, and poets, largely due to two famed events which occurred during his life. In one occasion, Saint Ildephonsus was praying before the relics of Saint Leocadia. It is said that during his prayers, the martyred saint rose from her grave, thanking him for the devotion he showed towards the Blessed Virgin Mary.
"Thou art my chaplain and faithful notary. Receive from me this chasuble, which my Son sends you from His treasury." Having said this, the Immaculate Virgin clothed Ildephonsus in the chasuble, and instructed him to wear it for the Holy Sacrifice on her festivals.
Through the Holy Spirit your flesh conceived Jesus;
to possess Jesus,
and to bring him into the world.
Through the Holy Spirit may I too come to know your Jesus.
Imbued with the Spirit,
Mary, you could say:
"I am the handmaid of the Lord,
be it done unto me according to your word";
in the Holy Spirit,
lowly as I am,
let me proclaim the great truths about Jesus.
In the Spirit you now adore Jesus as Lord
and look on Him as Son;
in the same spirit,
Mary, let me love your Jesus
Below, a Prayer of Saint Ildephonsus to Our Blessed Mother. Taken from his work, “On the Perpetual Virginity of the Blessed Mother,” it is one of the Church’s earliest expressions of total consecration to Mary.
The Abundance of the Sweetness of Thy Son
I come to thee, only Virgin Mother of God,
and fall prostrate before thee,
who alone didst cooperate in the Incarnation of God.
I humble myself before thee,
who alone wert found to be the Mother of my Lord.
I pray thee, who alone wert found to be the handmaid of thy Son:
obtain that my sins be wiped away;
command that I be cleansed of the wickedness of my deeds,
and, that I may love the glory of thy virtue,
reveal to me the abundance of the sweetness of thy Son.
Thou Art His Co-Worker in My Redemption
Bestow upon me the gift of proclaiming the true faith of thy Son,and of defending it.
Grant that I may cleave to God and to thee,
that I may serve thy Son and thee,
that I may be His bondsman and thine;
His, because He is my Creator,
and thine, because thou art the Mother of my Creator;
His, because He is Lord of the angelic powers,
and thine, because thou art the handmaid of the Lord of All;
His, because He is God,
and thine because thou art the Mother of God;
His, because He is my Redeemer,
and thine because thou art His co-worker in my redemption.
The Body by Which He Healed My Wounds
That which He wrought for my redemption,
verily He formed in thine own person.
That He might be my Redeemer,
He became thy Son.
That He might be the price of my ransom,
He became incarnate of thy flesh.
The Body by which He healed my wounds,
He took from thee so that He, in it, might be wounded.
The mortal Body by which He took away my death,
He took from thy mortality.
The Body by which He brought my sins to nought,
He received sinless from thee.
This nature of mine that ahead of time, in Himself,
He placed above the angels in the glory of His Father's right hand,
He assumed -- humbling Himself -- out of thine own true body.
I Am Thy Slave
Therefore, I am thy slave,
because Thy Son is my Master.
Therefore thou art my Lady,
because thou art the handmaid of my Lord.
Therefore I am the slave of the handmaid of my Lord,
because thou, my Lady, didst become the Mother of my Lord.
Therefore I have become thy slave,
because thou didst become the Mother of my Maker.
By the Holy Spirit
I pray thee, I pray thee, holy Virgin,
may I, by the Spirit through Whom thou didst give birth to Jesus,have Jesus and hold Him.
By that Spirit through Whom
thou didst conceive this same Jesus in thy flesh,
may my soul receive Jesus.
Let the Spirit gift me with the knowledge of Jesus,
this Spirit by Whom it was given Thee to bear Jesus and to give Him birth.
Let the Spirit in Whom thou didst declare thyself the handmaid of the Lord,
choosing that it should be done unto thee according to the Angel's word,
grant me to proclaim the heights of Jesus with lowliness.
To Love Jesus and to Fear Him
In the Spirit thou didst adore Jesus as thy Lord
and gaze upon Him as thy Son;
in that same Spirit may I love Him.
And may I fear this same Jesus,
with that reverence by which He, truly being God,
became subject to His parents
Why pray the Rosary every day for a year?
Each time the Blessed Virgin has appeared-- whether it be to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes; to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco at Fatima; or to Mariette Beco at Banneux-- she has asserted the importance, saving grace, and power of praying the Holy Rosary on a daily basis. Based upon her words, the Rosary is penance and conversion for sinners, a pathway to peace, an end to war, and a powerful act of faith in Jesus Christ. Pope Paul VI presented the Rosary as a powerful means to reach Christ "not merely with Mary but indeed, insofar as this is possible to us, in the same way as Mary, who is certainly the one who thought about Him more than anyone else has ever done."
To show us how this is done, perhaps no one has been more eloquent than the great Cardinal Newman, who wrote: "The great power of the Rosary consists in the fact that it translates the Creed into Prayer. Of course, the Creed is already in a certain sense a prayer and a great act of homage towards God, but the Rosary brings us to meditate again on the great truth of His life and death, and brings this truth close to our hearts. Even Christians, although they know God, usually fear rather than love Him. The strength of the Rosary lies in the particular manner in which it considers these mysteries, since all our thinking about Christ is intertwined with the thought of His Mother, in the relations between Mother and Son; the Holy Family is presented to us, the home in which God lived His infinite love."
As Mary said at Fatima, "Jesus wants to use you to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish the devotion to My Immaculate Heart throughout the world. I promise salvation to whoever embraces it; these souls will be dear to God, like flowers put by Me to adorn his throne."