But some of the Israelites continued to love and to serve the Lord in humility and detachment from the world, for they knew that the Saviour would come to free men from the oppressor within their own hearts.
It was from these pure families that, by His grace, God developed and guided the ancestors of His future Mother. They were extremely simple and devout persons, very gentle and peace-loving and charitable. Out of love for God, they always lived a very mortified life. Often the married couples practiced continence over long periods of time, particularly during holy seasons, for their highest ideal was to raise saintly children who in turn would contribute toward bringing salvation to the world. They lived in small rural communities, and they did not engage in business. They worked on the land and tended flocks of sheep; they also had gardens and orchards. They were very conscientious in fulfilling their religious duties. Whenever they had to go to Jerusalem to offer their sacrifices in the Temple, they prepared themselves by prayer and fasting and penance. When traveling, they always helped as best they could any sick persons or paupers whom they met. And because they led such an austere and detached life, these good people had to endure the scorn of many of the other Jews.
Thus Mary’s grandparents inherited from their ancestors a love of humility, chastity, mortification and the simple life. Her mother, St. Ann, and father, St. Joachim, were the very finest products of this long line of pure and holy servants of God.
–The Life of Mary as Seen By the Mystics (compiled by Raphael Brown)
* * *
It’s a very different season of life in contrast to those I’ve ever been before. Last year, I posted on the feast of St. Anne, and how amusing and amazing it is to go back and read over something you’ve written a year (or more) ago and marvel how much has changed, and how much has stayed the same!
On a similar whim, I flipped through an old journal, attempting to find something from July 26th of a previous year. 2014 (I was 17 at the time!) reads as follows:
I promised to journal. Now I have done it. Life has been rolling delightfully along with music & fiction & recording & website & more fiction & more music. And other serendipity. Tonight is “chess night with Mr. Wemmick” – or, rather, LOTR with Lena. So tally ho!!! End.
Not too much about St. Anne. Alas. (I have always been a horrid journaler. Not that I needed to tell you that.)
This season of life, this time of courtship, has given me so much: so much joy and beauty and grace! But it’s also asked much (“to whom much is given, much is expected”)–it’s asked for what I’m increasingly realizing to be valiance. Not that I’m a valiant person by any means . . . but I’m having to strive for that, all the same.
- boldly courageous; brave; stout-hearted: a valiant soldier.
- marked by or showing bravery or valor; heroic: to make a valiant effort.
- worthy; excellent.
As you may have gathered from an earlier blog post, I’m in the middle of a 54-day Rosary Novena to Our Lady of Pompeii for numerous private intentions. (Currently I’m on day 22 . . . and even though it takes effort some days, it’s amazingly beautiful and a total gift to whoever prays it!)
But of course, I still had to make time for St. Anne’s novena. And for whatever reason, while I had a few people I wanted to pray for specifically, my main intention for this novena surfaced as, “That St. Anne would intercede for me, and obtain the necessary graces for me to grow in all the feminine virtues, but especially the ones I most stand in need of in this courtship.” Not that I had particularly anything in mind . . . but as the way it often happens with novenas (and prayers in general), my prayers were actually answered. (Gasp!)
Current faults (that I’d been mostly blind to) and corresponding virtues to strive for were, by the end of the novena, illuminated in my mind–and the path ahead was made clear to me. Humbling but beautiful . . . you know the routine. I am so grateful for this, and for good St. Anne’s intercession! (I suppose the prayers you pray for self-knowledge are the prayers answered more quickly than any others!)
I’ll be turning 22 before long . . . but although I guess one could say I might possess some nice qualities and some relative maturity (like so many other people!) . . . becoming a valiant woman is an end still very much in need of attaining. Worthy and excellent. Brave and stout-hearted. Daily doing battle against the world, the flesh and the Devil with virtue and with strength.
St. Anne, pray for us that we may grow in all the virtues, especially those most needed in our current state in life!
Who shall find a valiant woman? Far and from the uttermost coasts is the price of her. The heart of her husband trusteth in her, and he shall have no need of spoils. She will render him good, and not evil, all the days of her life . . . Many daughters have gathered together riches: thou hast surpassed them all. Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain: the woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.
God bless you all, and a very happy feast of St. Anne! 🙂