Updated: Sep 22, 2020
"The Fifteen Saturdays of the Holy Rosary"by Blessed Bartolo Longo
Bartolo Longo, the apostle of the Rosary, is also the apostle of the Fifteen Saturdays, which he in his times spread throughout the world, pouring an alluring spirituality into the pages complied by himself.
What are the “Fifteen Saturdays”?
The practice of the Fifteen Saturdays consists in pledging oneself to live, for fifteen consecutive Saturdays, the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary, which, in synthesis, are the story of our salvation, the Gospel we pray along with the Mother of God.
That which above all emerges in this holy practice is participation in the Eucharist, in memory of the Son of God, having become incarnate, having died, having risen; therefore, deep meditation of a mystery is reserved to each Saturday, along with the reciting of the entire Rosary.
It is understood that, should there be the need, sacramental confession is to precede participation in the Eucharist.
Each mystery is to be honored by the practicing of a virtue in imitation of our Lord and of the Holy Virgin.
Those person who receive communion once a week can in the course of seven days prolong the fruits of the mystery which they have celebrated, reliving the mystery in their prayers, in penance, in offerings. Each day they may repeat the prayer and exercise themselves in that virtue which was meditated upon on the preceding Saturday. In this way, in fifteen weeks (or even in fifteen days), they will have celebrated the principal mysteries of our holy Religion which the Church celebrates in the course of a year.
This practice wishes to be an aid in experiencing a special spiritual atmosphere, by growing in the love of God and of the Divine Mother.
In this atmosphere, the soul is easily led toward making great progress and most surely discovers new horizons in the spiritual field.
With the exercise of the Fifteen Saturdays, the soul assumes such a love for the Rosary that it becomes desirous of reciting it in its entirety every day.
When, furthermore, we are faced with difficult situations or particular needs, and there is a more pressing need to seek divine help, the Fifteen Saturdays are a means discovered by Christian spirituality for the purpose of obtaining answers from Heaven.
We shall offer evidence at the end of the meditations of each Saturday, reporting the authentic narrations of the Blessed.
The value of practicing the “Fifteen Saturdays”
The excellent practice of the Fifteen Saturdays does not only contain what is most holy and most efficacious in the Rosary, that is, the memory of Jesus’ actions; it also includes participation in the sacraments, above all, Communion done in memory of that which our Savior did on our behalf, perseverance in prayer and the intercession of the Most Holy Virgin.
Moreover, to all these things this practice joins a particular concern: that we become pleasing to God and sanctified during this period of fifteen weeks.
In which period of the year is the devotion of the "Fifteen Saturdays" practiced?
Any period of the year is suitable for this pious devotion, however, at the Shrine of Pompeii, it is custom to have it precede the two very important days of May 8th, and the first Sunday of October, when, at 12 noon, at Pompeii and simultaneously in many churches throughout the world, there is the reciting of the Petition to the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary.
Those who are not able to begin on Saturday may do so on a Sunday. They would therefore be doing the Fifteen Sundays.
Finally, in special cases, the holy practice may be summed up in fifteen consecutive days.
Where to practice the “Fifteen Saturdays”?
It is better that the devotion of the Fifteen Saturdays be practiced in a church or public chapel where the image of the Virgin of Pompeii may be displayed.
The First Saturday: The First Joyful Mystery - The Annunciation of the Lord
Gospel Reading: Luke 1:26-55
1. At last the heavens open and He whom the Prophets call the just one, the desired of the Patriarchs, the expectation of the nations, the one sent from God, descends into the world. The weeks of Daniel are accomplished, the prophecies of Jacob are fulfilled, for the scepter of Judah has already passed into the hands of Herod, a foreign king. A maiden, remaining a virgin, is to bring forth to the world a Man, who is the Son of the Most High.
My soul, do you understand what this means: the Word is made man?… O the endless goodness and mercy of the Lord! This God thus loved you so much as to wish his only begotten Son to humble himself taking the form of a servant (Phil 2:7)?
And this, in order that He might suffer and die on a cross, to redeem you from hell and open the gates of heaven to you! To offer himself in sacrifice every day on the altars and be with you always, giving himself as food in the holy Eucharist!
Holy Trinity, I humbly adore you, and thank you for such great love. The Father gives his Son to humanity: the Word consents to be made Man, and the Holy Spirit offers to bring about this great mystery. What is my answer in return for such great love?
My soul, consider on one hand the highest dignity and the sublime favors of the Blessed Virgin, and on the other, her perfect humility. God creates her Immaculate, who was to be his Mother; and from the first moment of her conception He raises her holiness beyond the highest peak. Hear the Lord’s words in the Song of Solomon: “There are… maidens without number. My love, my perfect one, is only one…” (Song 6:8-9).
And this was the Mother of God, chosen for the highest humility which shined forth in Her.
In the Song Mary is likened to a fragrant spikenard: for, as St. Antoninus comments, the small and fragrant spikenard plant represents Mary’s humility, the smell of which ascended to heaven, and drew the divine Word into her virginal womb. Because, adds the same holy Dominican Archbishop, the humility of the Virgin was the most perfect and the closest disposition for becoming the Mother of God. St. Bernard concludes: “If Mary pleased God through her virginity, it was through humility that she conceived the Son of God.” The Virgin herself, appearing one day to St. Bridget, said: How is it that I deserved such grace as to be made my Lord’s Mother, unless because I recognized my nothingness, and humbled myself? And to attest it to all nations she had expressed it in her most humble Canticle: For he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden,… he who is mighty has done great things for me… (Lk 1:48-49). The most humble eyes of Mary, as of a simple and humble dove, with which she forever admired the divine greatness, never lost sight of her own nothingness. And such violence did they do to God himself that the Almighty was drawn into her womb: “Behold, you are beautiful, my love, behold, you are beautiful! Your eyes are doves” (Song 4:1).
And the Lord for his part, for a greater merit of this mother, does not wish to become her Son without first obtaining her consent. So He sends a heavenly messenger to her, the Archangel Gabriel, the strength of God, to reveal to her the great event of the Incarnation of the Word in her womb.
O great, O holy humility of Mary! You made this mother small unto herself but great before God! Unworthy in her own eyes, yet worthy in the eyes of that great Lord who is not understood by the world! How, my Lady, how, I shall exclaim with St. Bernard, were you able to unite in your heart such a humble opinion of yourself with so much purity, with so much innocence, with such fullness of grace as you possess?
O most humble Queen, God save you; through you and from you the work of our redemption began. I pray, make me a part of your humility, and grant me perfect love of you and of your Son.
2. Behold, O my soul: the Angel has not been sent to the great cities, to the palaces of princes, to the king’s daughters covered in gold, but to Nazareth, a small town, to a Virgin, the wife of Joseph the worker. It is not one’s birth, therefore, nor the gifts of nature which attract the eyes of God; before him true merit is humility, modesty, innocence of habit, love of purity.
Mary was living alone in her poor home, as was revealed to St. Elizabeth, a Benedictine; and was sighing and praying to God more intensely than ever that He might send the promised Redeemer to the world, when the Archangel Gabriel appeared to her.
He bestowed upon her three titles of incomprehensible greatness.
The first regards Mary herself: Hail, full of grace: that is, You are the holiest of all, You are a treasure of all God’s graces and favours. The second regards God: the Lord is with you: that is, You have been protected, accompanied and governed by Him. The third concerns humanity: blessed are you among women: that is, You are privileged, raised above all others… With what respect do we address these same words to Mary when we recite her Rosary?
Mary is disturbed by the words of an Angel who speaks to her about God. The praises upset and frighten her: She refers nothing to herself but all to God. She was troubled, as she revealed to St. Bridget, because, being full of humility, she abhorred his every praise and desired that her Creator and Bestower of all good things alone be praised and blessed.
What a difference between Mary and Lucifer! Lucifer, seeing himself gifted with great beauty, aspired, as Isaiah says, to ascend above the stars and become like God himself. And what would the proud creature have said and pretended had he seen himself adorned with Mary’s virtues? The humble modest Virgin did not do so: the more she was exalted, the more she humbled herself, and this humility was the beauty that inspired the King of kings with love, “and she considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be” (Lk 1:29).
And you, my soul, how do you imitate Mary in the dangerous praises bestowed upon you by others? Alas!, full of pride you believe you deserve them, you take pleasure in them, and if you appear to reject them, it is only to obtain even greater ones! How many shameful falls are caused by flattery!…
O Mary, O divine repairer of all our ills, O worthy Mother of God, how greatly am I confounded by your humility! Behold, for this… “all generations will call you blessed” (Lk 1:48). How I suffer to have so often offended my God, by my pride, and afflicted your sweet and humble Heart. Yet if you look upon me with the merciful eyes of a Mother, I shall soon be reconciled with Him. If I learn to love you, I shall cease being unhappy. All the graces are in your hands: you can save whom you will. O full of grace, save this soul of mine.
3. Finally, assured that she is not to lose her virginity, Mary gives her consent with two words: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38).
O blessed words, which accomplished the mystery of the Incarnation, fulfilled the prophecies and repaired the disobedience of our first parents, and the painful consequences of the sad conversation between Eve and the Angel of darkness! Wonderful words, in which the quickest faith, the deepest humility, the most subdued obedience, the tenderest love and the most perfect abandon to divine will, shine. Words which the Church, out of gratitude, places upon the lips of her children three times a day. My soul, you too must repeat them continuously, and with Mary’s same feelings.
Learn to be humble and resign yourself to what God has planned for you. Be disturbed: you are so wicked and so unlike Mary, and what is worse, you know neither how to cry nor how to pray. Begin at least from this moment to amend your deplorable condition, to detest your disorderly life, to begin devoting yourself to prayer. And, if you feel a heart of stone within you, turn to Mary and ask that she, through love of her Annunciation, exchange your heart with her Heart, so humble and so pure.
O great Mother of God, immense sea of graces and of blessings, I too shall be blessed if I live beneath your protection. Yes, from this day till the day of death I shall never cease greeting you, loving you, invoking you through your favorite prayer, which You yourself have taught to me with the holy Rosary. Every day it reminds me of your great humility, your purity and fullness of grace, your divine maternity, and my redemption and salvation. To us today you have offered a source of grace in the midst of the ruins of the famous Pompeii, in the vicinity of the city of death, to show to sinners who enclose death within their souls how, from you, life will come to all those who invoke you, O Queen of the Rosary of Pompeii; and to reveal to the world having driven Jesus from its bosom, how You, O Queen of the New Pompeii, will restore Jesus to the troubled human family, through a new life of grace and faith. O Mother of mercy, let Jesus reign in my heart; let Him reign in it as king, as its absolute master, as the Lord of my strength and power, so that I may draw life from his life and be consummated in Him, to live of Him and with Him unto eternity!
May you be blessed and loved by all the nations, O Lady of the Valley of Pompeii, O our remedy, our consolation, our glory. Amen.
VIRTUE – Humility
REFLECTION – Humble yourself inwardly at the sight of your miserable condition. Humble yourself externally as well by occupying the last place, giving preference to others. Today bear reproof, whether just or unjust, without seeking excuses for yourself. Stifle pride by always speaking humbly, and never about yourself, either well or badly.
EJACULATION – O Mary, beautiful and immaculate Virgin, make my heart pure and humble like yours.
The Second Saturday: The Second Joyful Mystery - The Visitation of Blessed Mary
Gospel Reading: Luke 1:39-56
1. The grace of the Holy Spirit does not allow delay: it seeks a faithful answer and demands ready action. And Mary, obedient to the motions of the Holy Spirit, immediately offers her reply to God.
As soon as she has conceived the Redeemer of mankind in her womb, she is prompt in satisfying His desire, that of helping the human race and of destroying sin.
God desired to sanctify John the Forerunner fettered by original sin, to manifest the glory and power of his Son from the very moment of his Incarnation, and to fill the two courageous mothers with new joy and new grace. Mary, full of love of God and of her neighbour, notwithstanding the hard journey, the difficult roads, her young age, the fragility of her sex, her present condition of Mother of God’s son, promptly sets out from her humble home of Nazareth in Galilee and undertakes this long and rough journey all the way to the mountains of Judea.
My soul, how many worthy inspirations have you smothered in yourself, to which the special designs of God were perhaps bound, for his glory, your salvation and the good of your neighbour.
Behold: Elizabeth, already advanced in years, is expecting a child. She is in need of a friend who may assist and comfort her. And the loving Virgin who in love and beauty surpasses the Seraphim, does not delay in responding, does not sluggishly set out on her journey, but in haste. Love of her neighbour strongly urges her on. God’s love, when it reigns in our heart, is never idle. It always excites the soul to doing good for others, without regard for our own apprehensions; for indeed, love of God and of one’s neighbour is one and the same love, which turns now to the cause, now to the effects; now to the creator, now to the creature.
This virtue alone guides and animates Mary, and not love of pleasure or distraction, not the desire to see and be seen, that curiosity and ostentation which, to say the least, are often the reasons behind the visits we make. O my soul, imitate this true and fervent love of Mary; become humbled and confess that you possess not the true love of God.
O my divine Mother, Mother of love, show your abundant love to me also; have pity on me, a most miserable creature, who have so often resisted God. Inflame me with your holy love, force me with your chains to love God above all things, and my neighbour as myself.
2. O how many virtues along this journey of Mary’s! Observe her profound humility which does not permit her to consider the importance of her dignity and the infinite difference between the Son whom she bears and Elizabeth’s! The Handmaid of the Lord knows not those reservations of the nobility, those bizarre laws which the world’s vanity wishes to scrupulously observe and which love of self has imagined and introduced, and demands with such severity.
Observe how Mary greeted Elizabeth. True love anticipates the other’s wishes without any worldly interest. If divine love had not preceded us, and did not precede us every day, would we have known God? Would we think of Him?…
To Mary’s greeting, to this voice which has become the organ of God’s Word, there follows the greatest of all miracles: Jesus, from his Mother’s womb, sanctifies the soul of John who leaps for joy in the womb of his mother, and fills Elizabeth with the Holy Spirit. Christ displayed the power of his divinity first through his own Mother, and then through himself. Likewise the presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar works the most wondrous effects on true believers.
Learn, my soul, that through Mary alone may you receive what you are expecting from Heaven. The first grace communicated to humanity by the Incarnate Word was done from Mary’s womb and at her voice.
O Mother of graces, however powerful is your voice! Let it be heard in my heart, or at least let it be heard by your Son on my behalf! O Holy Virgin, how may I worthily praise and celebrate you? I shall learn from Elizabeth, and with her shall loudly exclaim as long as I live: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb” (Lk 1:42).
How dare heresy condemn the honours we offer to the Mother of God, honours inspired by the Holy Spirit and inseparable from those we must offer to the Son?
3. Elizabeth continues: “And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Lk 1:43).
Elizabeth recognizes the greatness of Mary’s Son and calls him her Lord… Have we the same feelings for Jesus Christ, when He visits us? Do his divine presence and his grace in the beloved Sacrament of his Body and Blood impress on us the same transports of joy, of faith and of humility?
Elizabeth then recognizes the Mother of God in Mary through divine enlightenment, and adds: “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (Lk 1:45). All shall come to pass at the proper time.
It was then that Mary, full of light and grace, of gratitude and love, possessing a soul truly humble and faithful to the grace of her God, having been penetrated by his mercy, sang that divine song of gratitude and love, of prophecy and perfect praise of God’s attributes. She instructs us concerning the present, and prophesies what will take place with future generations regarding herself: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed” (Lk 1:46-48). She recalls the good done by God in the past: “He has shown strength with his arm, he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts” (Lk 1:51).
She foretells the future and trust in the duration of the promises to the people of God, for centuries and centuries, till the end of time: “…from generation to generation his mercy is on those who fear him… as he spoke to Abraham and to his posterity for ever” (Lk 1:50 and 55).
My Soul, when false splendor and the illusion of human greatness allure you, acknowledge God alone as great, and attribute everything to his glory. When the enticements of pleasure attempt to seduce you, remember that in God alone there is steadfast certainty, and pure and lasting pleasure. When the poison of praises, or the tricks of self-love beguile you, return to your nothingness, and recall in your heart what Mary did not need to recall, the humiliating memory of your sins.
O Mary, from that moment you showed yourself as the true Mother of graces, and from this moment I hope, through the power of this Mystery of your Rosary, that you grant me the grace to love Jesus Christ greatly and to save my soul; for you are the universal Dispenser of graces, and therefore the Hope of everyone, and my Hope. I thank God for having made me understand that I must be saved principally through the merits of Jesus Christ and then through your intercession.
O Mary, pray for me, and recommend me to your Son. Your prayers cannot be rejected: they are the prayers of the Mother to a Son who so loves you. And furthermore you know my misery and my needs better than I, and the graces I am most in need of.
I give myself up to you, I trust in you; You must save me. Amen.
VIRTUE – Charity.
REFLECTION – Practice charity towards your neighbour by visiting hospitals or places of suffering, or sick persons or prisoners, or by helping a poor person.
In recreation and visits of courtesy speak about God. Especially help the Souls of Purgatory, by applying to them Rosaries, Communions, Masses, Indulgences, offerings and acts of mortification.The so-called “heroic act” is very useful for you and for these Souls, that is, forever offering God the merits of all of your good works, as relief for souls in purgatory.
EJACULATION – O Mary, blessed among women, visit and save my soul.
The Third Saturday: The Third Joyful Mystery - The Birth of Jesus Christ
Gospel Reading: Luke 2:1-14
1. The hour arrived in which the incarnate Word was to be born of a Virgin and appear in the world. The onrush of his joy was so great that the Prophet compares it to the first efforts of a giant about to engage in a great venture: He leaped, he says, like a giant to devour his path. Here is the story of the Evangelist Saint Luke.
“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first enrolment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.” (Lk 2:1-5).
Mary and Joseph therefore obey the authorities of this world also.
The road was long and rough, and in the grips of winter. And exhausted from the trip, Mary and her holy Spouse entered Bethlehem. How great was their patience, how perfect their acceptance before the refusals they suffered in the city of David! Not a single home or inn to welcome them for a few nights.
They proceed into the city and go about its quarters; every place is occupied by strangers. They turn back, they pray and implore: it is useless. Relatives, friends, acquaintances, all remain deaf to their pleas: they receive only refusals.
O holy poverty! Are you so uncommon that you find no one to receive you in this miserable world? That even the Mother of God herself adorned by you is repudiated? Poverty is shameful and despicable in the eyes of humanity, yet immeasurably dear to the eyes of God.
“And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered” (Lk 2:6). Mary is aware of the approaching delivery, not through pain as with other women, but through the growth of her love and her desire to see with her own eyes, and to hold in her own arms, this only Son of God and of herself.
But what a state she is in! What tribulations for Joseph! The cold, the night, the darkness, the gathering of so many strangers and the confusion increase their suffering, their bewilderment, their exhaustion.
And yet not a word of complaint escapes from them.
Better instructed than others in the secrets of God’s conduct, they know well that those whom He chooses for his great works must be prepared to meet the hardest trials.
2. Admire their poverty, my soul. Shut out from all homes on account of the multitude of guests, going here and there through the rugged and uneven streets, they reach the countryside, and the only refuge for the greatest persons on earth is a stable! To this place God leads these two holiest and dearest persons He has created, Mary and Joseph. They recognize the hand guiding them, they worship it with love and submission. To reward their faithfulness the Lord bestows the most remarkable favours upon them, and He grants them the consolation of being the first to gaze upon the Word of God made Flesh.
Therefore, in a corner of this refuge, fitting for the birth of a Child destined to one day die upon a cross, Mary enters into deep contemplation, and while remaining as she was, a Virgin and Immaculate, she truly becomes a Mother by delivering to the world her Son, the Head, Heir and Firstborn, according to the flesh, of the House of David.
The Incarnate Word through its own divine power, like a ray of sunlight passing through glass without breaking it, enters the world through Virgin Mary in a tiny but infinitely beautiful body. Who can describe the words and feelings of Mary and Joseph in that moment! The Angels recognize and adore the new-born Child as their Lord and, having called the shepherds, they sing: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased” (Lk 2:14).
Behold the Queen of Heaven and Earth, my soul. She wraps the Creator of all things in poor clothes and places him in the manger, which serves as his crib. She calls her virgin Spouse, and together they offer him the first and purest adoration ever rendered to him on earth! Let us rejoice with this divine Mother and with St. Joseph; let us join our praises to theirs! Above all may we imitate their poverty, their resignation, their patience, submission and faithfulness to the designs of Divine Providence.
O Holy Divine Providence, how splendid you are in your designs, though they may seem the results of chance to the foolish world! The Roman Emperor, who by his edict carries out the designs of his policies and vanity, is the occasion for which Mary goes to Bethlehem and there gives birth to Jesus, to fulfil the prophecy which indicated this town as the place of his birth. Jesus is enrolled in the registers of the Empire, so that the place and time of his birth, and that He is the Son of Abraham and the Heir of David, remain manifest to the nations of the earth. Jesus is born in a stable, He is placed in a manger, to become the founder of an eternal empire that must subject everyone to the laws of humility and detachment from riches. To the eyes of the flesh everything appears as the result of chance, because man as animal does not rise from visible things to the invisible; he is therefore unaware of the ultimate reason of things and does not notice that it is God who governs the world.
Lord, I recognize and adore your wonderful Providence! Man is blind in his judgements. As for me, in whatever state of hardship, of humiliation, of contradiction I may find myself, I shall always recognize that these things come from you or are permitted as the result of your ineffable providence, which disposes all things for my good and your glory.
3. Then who is this Jesus born in a manger? He is our God, but a truly hidden God, as Isaiah called him: equal to the Father in his divinity, and like me in his humanity, except for sin. O most charming Infant, faith reveals you to my heart as my Saviour and model! Very early on You teach me obedience, humility, mortification, detachment, holy poverty, true disdain for all that the world esteems, and true esteem for all that the world disdains.
How eloquent are the voices of this stable and this manger! O great God! The Eternal has become an infant one day old! The Word Creator, who spoke, and it was done, has become a wordless creature! Witness, my soul, how this tender tiny body is being offended by the harshness of the manger. His delicate limbs already suffer the rigours of the cold; his loving eyes filled with tears, not to bemoan his sufferings but to wash your sins! And you so love worldly comforts and seek them with such anxiety? Jesus Christ treated his body so pure and innocent, and so perfectly submissive to divine will, with such roughness, while you seek such softness for yours that it has become a body of sin and the enemy of your happiness! He desired that his body, though holy and delicate, be placed on the ground on a bit of straw, because He knew how the love of our flesh and the false peace we derive from its depraved yearnings endanger our salvation.
They make us lose all the fruits of the pain which our Saviour endured for us, and the merits He acquired for us. Alas! St. Bernard moaned, we shall never be completely free of self-love if not in Heaven alone. Indeed if self-love, without the weakness of the flesh, cast so great a number of Angels into hell, what will it not do to creatures fashioned with mud who abandon themselves to their passions?
I adore you, O Incarnate Word! I adore you, O Son of the living God! I adore you, O true God, dressed in my flesh and willingly subject to my pains. Come into my soul with your grace, and be my true Saviour. How those first tears of yours which you shed at the sight of the world’s many sins do pierce me! I have already sacrificed a great part of my life to the cares of the world and of my body; what remains is not very much in order to gain Heaven. May I at least begin now, O my God, to serve you. I have been penetrated by the pain of my sins, and I sincerely wish to lament over them along with you. But it is up to you, O powerful tears which open Heaven, it is up to you to open my eyes in order to heal the blindness of my soul. O sweet tears, wash all the stains of my heart. O tears that penetrate the heart of the Eternal Father, penetrate my heart as well, and inflame it with love of God and hatred of profane love.
O Mary, O Joseph, I am unworthy of being heard; but through your intercession I hope to obtain everything.
VIRTUE – Poverty.
REFLECTION – Love poverty, frugality in your meals, being content with simple food; seek simplicity in your dress, leaving off pomp and vanity.
Suffer a lack of even the necessary things with patience, and become used to neither yearning after riches, nor suffering their loss greatly.
EJACULATION – O Mary, true Mother of God, remember that you are my Mother also.
The Fourth Saturday: The Fourth Joyful Mystery - Presentation of Jesus in the Temple
Gospel Reading: Luke 2:22-35
1. Love of sacrifice marks the first gesture of our Redeemer’s life and the entire life of his Blessed Mother. Barely forty days have elapsed from the moment of his birth, and already the Son and the Mother have accomplished two great sacrifices. Jesus, after eight days, offers the first drops of his Blood to his Father on the day of the Circumcision; and Mary, after the forty days required by the Law, offers her Firstborn Son to God.
On the day of the Circumcision the name Jesus was given to the Child, which means Saviour: a sublime name which had already been revealed by the Angel Gabriel even before the Word descended to become Mary’s son. The Circumcision was a humiliating ceremony! Jesus, the Holy of Holies, is confused with sinners! and receives upon himself the mark of the faith Abraham had in him, as a manifestation of his true humanity and as an example of obedience and humility, quite the opposite of our pride. My soul, he has thus compelled you to accept spiritual mortification, that is, a cutting away of all the evil and obstinate thoughts of your spirit, of all the unruly and wilful passions of your heart, of your eagerness to forever speak about yourself and criticize your neighbour.
O Jesus, You shed your Blood to save me and yet for the sake of my salvation I wish to bear nothing? You are so prompt to shed it, and yet I still hesitate to give you my heart? O Joseph! O Mary! You two alone on earth know the price of this divine Blood. What a wound it was for your Heart when you saw it dripping!
O Jesus, so strong and powerful a name, the only one through which humanity can be saved, at whose invocation God grants every grace; that name which opened up Heaven, closed hell, chained the devil, overturned idols and banished idolatry; O name pure and holy, which came by means of an Angel from Heaven, and was given by Mary and Joseph, those virgin Spouses. O gracious and sweet name, relieve my pain, strengthen me in misfortune and comfort me with the hope of Paradise in the hour of my death. May the sweetest name of Jesus be for ever in my heart and on my lips.
2. “And when the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every firstborn male shall be called holy to the Lord’)” (Lk 2:22-23).
Observe, my soul, Mary’s obedience. She, the Mother of God and for ever a virgin, is not subject to this humiliating law for she differs from other mothers in everything. And yet, in this Mystery she generously accomplishes three great sacrifices.
First, the sacrifice of her honour. In the eyes of man she sacrifices her virginity, of which she had been so jealous in the eyes of the Angels and before God, ready to renounce the honour of becoming the Mother of God rather than ceasing to be a virgin. She is holy in the eyes of God, she is all pureness, and for her this is enough; human judgement does not trouble her. Oh how different are we! Hateful in the eyes of God, we long to appear pure in the eyes of man. Deserving hell, we yearn to be honoured and esteemed by everyone. Woe to those who dare to insult us… we immediately want to seek revenge.
The second sacrifice: to show herself poor. According to the law the mother had to offer a lamb; the poor would present two turtledoves or two young pigeons. Mary, the Queen of Heaven and of earth, the Mother of the world’s Creator, is not ashamed to appear poor in the eyes of the world and in the house of the Lord. She knew that the poor were scorned, and that all men and women take pains by their dress to appear rich, even when they are not. Even in the house of God the rich want the best places! Precisely in this holy place we often display our vanity with even greater pomp and ostentation! So great is our shame in appearing poor in the midst of the world that we may even neglect the divine Sacrifice of the Mass and the other obligatory religious services, solely because we lack suitable clothes! What rigorous account shall we give to God for the scandal we offer by our flaunting of pompous dress, which is an insult to the sufferings of the hungry poor?
Consider then, my soul, the weight of this sacrifice Mary accomplished, against that other idol of the world, which is wealth.
The third sacrifice, the greatest, most ineffable and priceless, was offering her Only Begotten Son unto death for us sinners.
Who can completely understand the value of so great a sacrifice? Mary and Joseph hold this Child in their arms to satisfy their love and share their happiness. “Behold, O Father,” Mary had to say then, “here is your Son and mine; I offer him to you in thanksgiving, because You gave him to me and to humanity; I offer him to you to appease your justice and make you merciful toward all humankind…”
Oh! how many favours the divine Mother obtained for us through Jesus Christ in this supreme offering! What a sight this holy oblation was for Heaven! In that moment God received in his Temple an offering worthy of Him and equal to Him.
Observe: at the price of a few silver coins the divine Jesus is ransomed, He who was to ransom us from hell at the price of his Blood that would flow from the five Wounds of his innocent Body!... My soul, present yourself before the heavenly Father in the company of Mary, and with her and Jesus offer all the thoughts of your mind and all the affections of your heart to your most high Creator.
3. The righteous Simeon looks upon this heavenly sight, and believes in the revelation of the Holy Spirit. He sees the Child and acknowledges him as the true God, and he inwardly worships him. He then takes him up in his arms, presses him to his heart, and manifests his joy and his gratitude by glorifying God. Why do I not have Simeon’s burning faith, I who shall have the chance this very day to more intimately embrace this same Jesus, and to possess him in the holy Communion in a more absolute way?
Notice, my soul, how Simeon blesses Mary and foretells her sufferings and the death of Jesus: “a sword will pierce through your own soul” (Lk 2:35). Mary must witness the heart of her Son transfixed by a spear, and must suffer that her own heart be transfixed by the pain… O great God! Was it not enough that Mary was destined to this cruel torment without having it announced to her thirty-three years in advance?
Nourish this dear Son with care, O Holy Virgin; your troubles shall grow along with him. Your martyrdom shall last for the length of his life; indeed, it shall increase day by day, as this tender Lamb slowly approaches the hour destined for his sacrifice. He is set for the fall and the rising of many, and as a sign of contradiction. Ah! If only my life too, along with yours, could be passed in retirement, in sorrow, in tears, in the remembrance of my Saviour’s suffering! From this day you deserve the noble title of Queen of Martyrs for you surpass them all with your sacrifice. They offer their life while you offered the life of your Only-Begotten Son, whom you loved and cherished far more than life itself. For them the sacrifice was momentary; for you it lasted your entire life, because you offered him to the Eternal Father in every moment, while always thinking of your Son’s future afflictions.
The Virgin revealed to St. Bridget that this sorrow foretold by Simeon remained with her till her death. From this day, St. Bernard says, though living, she began to slowly die by bearing deep within a pain crueler even than death.
Nevertheless, she accepted that painful message with heroic strength, perfectly submitting to the will of God. From this day, St. Augustine says, she became the Restorer of humankind; and, according to St. Ambrose, the Mother of all believers; and, as St. Epiphane calls her, the Redeemer of slaves; for she had but one wish, that of her Son: to save us.
O Queen of Martyrs, sea of sorrows, do not forsake me when, beneath the burden of suffering, I feel my strength and virtue weakening. From God obtain for me the strength and virtue to endure the trials and pain that He destines for me, with that peace, submission and love which He deserves. Let not the Wounds and the Blood of your most beloved Son be of no use to this soul.
My purest Mother, save me, and obtain Paradise for me. Give me the strength to truly begin this day to offer God an acceptable sacrifice of all my words, thoughts, desires, will, actions and passions.
May the example of your suffering comfort me in my moments of grief; may the example of your sacrifice inspire me to the sacrifice of my predominant passion.
O great saint, foster Father of Jesus and my Father, St. Joseph, your heart too was transfixed from this day till the end of your life: be my special guide in the paths of God, my protector throughout life, my comfort in the hour of death. Amen.
VIRTUE – Sacrifice.
REFLECTION – Offer God the sacrifice that is most acceptable to him, that is, the mortifying of your dominant passion. Therefore, for love of Mary’s heroic sacrifice, mortify yourself in those things which are most frequently the cause of your failings or falls. Or, force yourself to do what is most repugnant to your self-love, your own pleasures and satisfactions.
EJACULATION – O Mary, fountain of sweetness, help me in the anguish of my agony.
The Fifth Saturday: The Fifth Joyful Mystery - The Finding of Jesus in the Temple
Gospel Reading: Luke 2:22-51
1. Jesus is only twelve years old… yet how much suffering He has borne till this day! The Purification completed, the Angel of the Lord in a dream commands Joseph to flee to Egypt, to save the Child and the Mother from the murderous hands of Herod. Here is yet another sign of obedience. While still dark the holiest, most obedient, poorest and humblest family on earth takes flight. It lives in poverty and obscurity in Egypt, a land immersed in superstition, idolatry and sin. The Innocent have been cut down by Herod, who spares not even his own son, and who in the end dies, gnawed by worms and steeped in an unbearable stench. The prophecies regarding the birth of the Messiah have been fulfilled. The exile comes to an end and Joseph receives the Angel’s order to return in Israel. And Joseph is always the head of the family. Jesus and Mary are silent and allow themselves to be guided, as they observe the laws of most perfect obedience. What countless difficulties there are in this second voyage! What trials and privations! O holy Patriarch Joseph, true model of the interior soul, let my soul share that inner silence of yours, that peace produced by perfect obedience to God’s commandments, and that pureness of heart and mind, that I may fully fulfil his divine plans, his holy inspirations, and his words being spoken to me through my superiors and through the duties of my condition.
2. “And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom; and when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it” (Lk 2:42-43).
This happened not through his fault but through the design of divine Wisdom. Jesus remained behind, to manifest himself to the Jewish teachers, to reaffirm the idea of his divinity to Joseph and Mary, and to make them both the model, refuge and consolation of troubled souls. Only those souls in love with Jesus, who no longer feel the sweetness of his presence and devotion, and who find themselves plunged into the dark night of the senses and passions, of aridity, temptations and abandonment… these souls alone can understand the overwhelming grief that oppressed the holy hearts of Mary and Joseph! They ask around and search for him; but no one has seen him.
O Mary, O Joseph, what was your anguish in that moment? How great was your grief? How did you pass those cruel nights? How many fears! How many thoughts! How many reproaches against yourselves you each made! The furies of Herod and the dangers of Egypt made you suffer nothing in comparison to this: then you had Jesus by your side, while now He is no longer with you.
My God, my God, how often have I lost you without feeling any sorrow! How often have I lived without you, untroubled? What would have become of me had You yourself, through your kindness, not sought me first?
3. “After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions… And he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them” (Lk 2:46-51).
These are the only words of Saint Luke which reveal what Jesus did until the thirtieth year of his life. And the other Evangelists said nothing, because He did not want us to know anything of his first thirty years, other than that He was obedient to those whom his Father had given him as his superiors.
This obedience is a summary of all his life and teachings, and, according to the Apostle St. Paul, the origin of all his glory. “He humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name…” (Phil 2:8-9).
In fact, his first words reported in the Gospel are words of obedience. “Did you not know,” he said to his Mother when found by her in the temple, “that I must be in my father’s house?” (Lk 2:49). In his private life Jesus appeared to others simply as a son obedient to his wise and moderate parents.
Consider here, my soul, with what great sorrow, humility and perfection Mary and Joseph commanded and received obedience from such a Son… whom they knew to be their Creator. Joseph as head of the family was respected by the Mother and the Son of God, and this superiority infinitely humbled him: to witness God submissive and obedient to a mere carpenter. Mary knew that when commanding her Son she was only obeying God’s wishes. Jesus obeyed both parents in silence with respect and gladness, as being those who held the place of God his Father. Behold, this is the most perfect obedience ever offered here on earth. O sweet model of a hidden life! They were precisely observing God’s law, and were living according to their condition by the work of their hands! At the end of their labour they would retire to pray. And what prayer! And how many heavenly gifts!
In his public life too Jesus showed himself as obedient to the will of his Father. Here is his teaching: He had descended from heaven in order to do his Father’s will, and this was his nourishment. His teaching was not his, but his Father’s. The cup He had to drink for us was the one given to him by his Father.
He summed up in charity the complete observance of the Law; however, complete proof of charity is found in the practice of obedience. “If you love me” he says “you will keep my commandments” (Jn 14:15). “He who does not love me does not keep my words” (Jn 14:24).
Therefore, we cannot please God if we do not love, and he who loves, obeys. Indeed, love and obedience reconcile and unite our souls with God, and gain paradise.
In fact, with perfect submission He obeyed unjust judges, an idolatrous leader and cruel ministers, as superiors given to him by his Father in that moment. Therefore, in offering obedience we must not consider, in those who command us, age or suitability, merit, genius or affability, or even virtue or holiness. We must only consider Him whose place they hold. Jesus raised obedience to its highest perfection. The Son of God served in a humble home, to the point of tiring his very delicate body, without hope of reward. On the contrary, He well knew that by obeying his Father he eventually would have given up his serenity and honour, his life and blood, in exchange for a most ignoble death between two thieves.
And that his last words might be in conformity with the beginning and course of his life, when dying on the cross he cried out: “It is finished. Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!” (Jn 19:30; Lk 23:46).
Therefore, the wisdom of the Christian lies in obedience; thus, David often would ask of God: “Lord, teach me to do thy will, for thou art my God” (Psalm 142:10). “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life”(Psalm 27:4). As a faithful servant who knows and does the will of his master.
O eternal Incarnate Wisdom, I adore you. Everything is naturally submitted to you: the Angels and the worms, the earthly and celestial bodies. Nevertheless, to confound my pride you hide your greatness, you even subject yourself to your cruel and unjust creatures. What need have you of Mary and Joseph’s guidance for thirty years, compelling them to command you, that you may offer them your obedience, you who are the true light and infinite Wisdom, who govern those obeying? You see my constant rebellion, the result of presumption and self-love! I therefore am endlessly restless and full of a thousand errors, low spirits, contradictions and anger.
O divine Master, make my spirit and flesh submissive to you, and let not this filth ever oppose your will.
Infuse my wretched soul with the virtue of obedience, and reform it of all error and of its mean faults.
O purest Mother of God, O glorious Patriarch Saint Joseph, the humblest and most obedient of all creatures, have mercy on the pitiable transgressions of my pride. From your most obedient Son obtain for me the grace of always doing his will. Amen.
VIRTUE – Obedience.
REFLECTION – Do today the will of others, without offering opposition. Restrain the idea that you must always be right in everything, and that your advice must be taken. Be persuaded that God is more pleased with us when we obey another, even if not the best person, than when we follow our own judgement. Obedience, the Wise Man says, is worth more than sacrifices.
EJACULATION – O Mary, Star of the sea, save me from the distress in which you see me.
The Sixth Saturday: The First Sorrowful Mystery - The Agony in the Garden (Jesus sweats blood as He takes on our sin)
1. Consider, my soul, how our divine Saviour, after washing his disciples’ feet, after instituting in their presence the Sacrament of his Body and Blood, and after speaking most tender and sublime words to them, went with them into the garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives, to be more easily found by his enemies.
And He said to them: “Sit here, while I go yonder and pray… Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation” (Mt 26:36 and 41).
Spontaneously He offered himself to the fulfilment of the Eternal Father’s command, for He himself desired it; and He fulfilled it in such a way that his Passion might both satisfy divine justice and inspire us to love him. Here then is the reason for his sorrow: love.
Jesus “began to be sorrowful and troubled” (Mt 26:37).
This loving Son wanted not only to sacrifice his whole body, but his entire soul too, with its powers; indeed, he wanted to begin the sacrifice of Redemption with this nobler part of his Humanity. Consequently, before his enemies appeared, He deprived his holy Humanity of the support it was receiving from the Divinity. And so, at the very moment that He disclosed all that it had to undergo, He reduced it to suffer the agony of a mortal man.
All the torments He was about to undergo in his body were then presented to his soul: the scourging, the thorns, the nails, the cross, the bile and vinegar; the soul’s torments, Judas’ betrayal, the disciples’ shameful flight, Peter’s apostasy, the slander of the priests, the injustice of the judges, the soldiers’ cruelty, the ignominies of his person, contempt for his teachings and miracles, the triumph of his enemies, the blasphemies of the rogues, the abandonment of God on the Cross and the anguishing sight of his sorrowful Mother! Immediately, therefore, fear and fatigue, disgust and bitterness, dejection and sorrow took possession of his soul, to such a degree as to threaten his life. He then said to them: “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death” (Mt 26:38).
O troubled Heart of my beloved Redeemer, how is it that You have come to such desolation? Who has prematurely forced upon you death’s horrors and fears? This torment, the first of your Passion, was without doubt the most violent, for it wrung from you a prayer beseeching your Father to remove such a cup from you. “He fell on his face and prayed, ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me’”. However, You immediately added: “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Mt 26:39).
Observe, my soul: your Jesus turns to his disciples for comfort and finds them dejected because of his distress.
“And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, ‘So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.’ Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, ‘My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, thy will be done.’” (Mt 26:40-42).
And He did so for a third time. And his sorrow increased greatly, till seeming more the agony of a dying man than the ordinary pain of a man suffering. “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly” (Lk 22:44).
The contrast that then appeared between the lower part of his soul full of repugnance, and the upper part full of submission, caused him to sweat blood so abundantly that He not only wet his clothing but also the ground where He was praying.
In this way He who defends everyone gave way to despair: in this way He who comforts everyone was distressed. And in this way the royal Prophet’s words were fulfilled: “I looked for pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none” (Psalm 68:20).
O my most suffering Saviour, shall you thus gain my love? By taking on the same weakness and misery of man? In order to become the true comforter and faithful companion of the afflicted?
Oh how many splendid teachings You offer me in this Mystery!
2. My soul, four were the causes of your Jesus’ mortal sorrow, as He himself revealed to Blessed Battista Varani.
1st. The damnation of so many souls, notwithstanding his most bitter death. “Consider, my daughter,” Jesus said to Blessed Battista, “what sorrow and martyrdom were mine in seeing that so many members were being cut off from me, and so many souls that were to be damned! And each time a soul sins mortally, it is cut off from me.”
The innumerable and almost infinite multitude of the world’s sins were therefore distinctly present to his spirit, as well as a clear vision of divine Majesty being offended by so many crimes, rendered even graver by contempt of his love. Very few people would have profited by that remedy prepared from his love for all.
His only consolation was perfect compliance with his Father’s immutable decrees, who wanted him to suffer even for those who would not profit in the least from such suffering.
2nd. The sins and the sorrows of all the elect. “All the members of the elect who would have mortally sinned” said most benign Jesus “afflicted and crucified me by their separation from me.”
“Yet again, I felt and experienced all their bitterness, torments, repentance, temptations, the shame of their lives and even the sufferings of their Purgatory, as the very members of my body.”
3rd. The Most Holy Virgin, his Mother, whom He loved with an infinite love; his dear and beloved disciples and apostles, whom He loved more than a father loves his children; and the disciple Magdalene who, though she knew less about Jesus than John, nevertheless suffered his Passion and Death more than all the rest.
4th. The ingratitude both of the Jewish people, so blessed and favoured by God with a thousand miracles, as well as that of his dear disciple, Judas the betrayer. Jesus had knelt before this betrayer and washed his feet, and had embraced and kissed them as well with the greatest tenderness, speaking the warmest words of ineffable love. Finally, the ingratitude of all his creatures who, worse than Judas, would have betrayed him with their vile pleasures and even viler interests.
O Lord, how great a share I have had in causing your sorrow! How deeply my sins and transgressions, my infidelity and cowardice, were to pierce your purest and innocent heart! Unhappy creature that I am! Shall I never be the cause of joy and consolation to you? How different are the causes of my suffering in the world than those causing you this mortal sorrow!
O grieving Heart of my God, with this sorrow and sweat of blood you longed to expiate the foolish confidence of the wicked, and the senseless tranquility with which so many sinners slumber in sin, fearing not the least the surprise of sudden and eternal death. You longed to expiate the merriment, relish, pleasures and desires of life, those hopes to which I abandon myself even when they are contrary to your law.