On one ocassion as the community over which St.Gertrude presided,recited the Great Psalter for the souls of the faithful departed,the Saint prepared herself for Holy Communion,and prayed for these souls with great fervor.She then asked Our Lord why this Psalter was so acceptable to Him,and why it obtained such great relief for the souls,since the immense number of psalms which were recited and the long prayers after each caused more weariness than devotion.Our Lord replied:”The desire which I have for the deliverance of the souls makes it acceptable to Me,even as a prince who had been obliged to imprison one of his nobles to whom he was much attached,and was compelled by his justice to refuse him pardon,would most thankfully avail himself of the intercession and satisfaction of others to release his friend,thus do I act toward those whom I have redeemed by My death and Precious Blood,rejoicing in the opportunity of releasing them from their pains and bringing them to eternal joys.””But” continued the Saint,”is the labor of those who recite this Psalter more acceptable to Thee”?He replied,”My love renders it most agreeable to Me;and if a Soul is released thereby,I accept it as if I had been Myself delivered from captivity,and I will assuredly reward this act at a fitting time according to the abundance of my mercy.”Then she inquired:”How many souls are released by these prayers?”He answered:”The number is proportioned to the zeal and fervor of those who pray for them”.He added:”My love urges Me to release a great number of souls for the prayers of each religious.”
A short offering which may be made each morning for the souls in Purgatory:
O my God,deign to accept my every thought,word,and action as a loving petition to Thy mercy on behalf of the suffering souls in Purgatory,particularly ______________.I unite to Thy Sacred Passion the trials and contradictions of this day,which I purpose to bear with patience,in expiation for the sins and infidelities which retain Thy children in the purifying flames of Purgatory.Amen.
Saint Gertrude Sees How Even the Most Vilest of Sinners Are Saved When They Come to Mary
St. Gertrude one day saw Mary with her mantle extended, beneath which many wild beasts, lions, bears, and tigers had sheltered themselves; and Mary not only did not cast them from her, but received them with pity and caressed them. And by this the saint understood, that the vilest sinners, when they flee to Mary, are not cast out, but welcomed and saved from eternal death. Let us enter, then, into this ark, and seek refuge under the mantle of Mary; for she certainly will not reject us, and will surely save us.
One of the greatest means of salvation and one of the surest signs of predestination, is unquestionably, the devotion to the Most Blessed Virgin. All the holy doctors of the Church are unanimous in saying with St. Alphonsus of Liguori: “A devout servant of Mary shall never perish.” The chief thing is to persevere faithfully until death in this devotion.
Numerous examples show how agreeable the three Hail Marys Devotion is to the Divine Mother and what special graces it draws, during life and at the hour of death, on those who never omit it for a single day.
“The first Hail Mary will be in honor of God the Father, Whose omnipotence raised my soul so high above every other creature that after God I have the greatest power in heaven and on earth. In the hour of your death I will use that power of God the Father to keep any hostile power far from you.
“The second Hail Mary will be said in honor of the Son of God Who communicated His inscrutable wisdom to me. In the hour of your death I will fill your soul with the light of that wisdom so that all the darkness of ignorance and error will be dispelled.
“The third Hail Mary will be in honor of God the Holy Ghost Who filled my soul with the sweetness of His love and tenderness and mercy. In your last hour I will then change the bitterness of death into divine sweetness and delight.”
Our Blessed Mother also revealed to St. Gertrude the Great: “To any soul who faithfully prays the Three Hail Marys, I will appear at the hour of death in a splendor so extraordinary that it will fill the soul with heavenly consolation.”
St. Leonard of Port Maurice, the celebrated missionary, had the Three Hail Marys recited morning and evening in honor of Mary Immaculate, to obtain the grace of avoiding all mortal sins during the day or night; moreover he promised in a special manner eternal salvation to all those who proved constantly faithful to this practice. He gave this devotion of Three Hail Marys as a penance in the confessional, especially for those who were struggling with sins of impurity.
Practice: Recite morning and evening, three Hail Marys in honor of the three great privileges bestowed upon Our Blessed Mother by the most Blessed Trinity with this invocation at the end: for the morning: “O my Mother preserve me from mortal sin during this day.” For the evening: “O my Mother preserve me from mortal sin during this night.”
(Pope St. Pius X gave his Apostolic Blessing to this practice and the devotion was raised to an Archconfraternity by Pope Benedict XV.)
One of the first to say the three Hail Mary’s and to recommend them to others was the illustrious St. Anthony of Padua. His special aim in this practice was to honor the spotless Virginity of Mary and to preserve a perfect purity of mind, heart and body in the midst of the dangers of the world. Many, like him, have felt its salutary efforts.
After the example of those two great Franciscan Saints, St. Alphonsus of Liguori adopted this pious practice and gave it his most ardent and powerful support. He counseled its use and even imposed it as a penance on those who had not adopted this good habit.
The holy Doctor exhorts, in particular, parents and confessors to watch carefully that children be faithful in reciting each day their three Hail Mary’s, morning and evening. Or rather, like St. Leonard of Port-Maurice, he earnestly recommends it to all, “to the devout and to sinners, to the young and old.”
Even persons consecrated to God will derive from this practice much precious and salutary fruit. Numerous examples may show how agreeable the three Hail Mary’s are to the Divine Mother and what special graces they draw, during life and at the hour of death, on those who never omit them for a single day.
This practice has been revealed to St. Melchtilde (13th Century) with the promise of a good death, if she was faithful to it, every day.
It is written, also, in St. Gertrude’s revelations: “While this Saint sang the Hail Mary, at the matins of the Annunciation, she suddenly saw spring out from the Heart of the Father and the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, three bright flames which penetrated the Heart of the Holy Virgin.” Then she heard the following words: “After the Power of the Father, the Wisdom of the Son and the merciful Tenderness of the Holy Spirit, nothing approaches the Power, the Wisdom and the merciful Tenderness of Mary.”
His Holiness Benedict XV has raised the Confraternity of the Three Hail Mary’s to an Archconfraternity by according it precious indulgences with the power to aggregate to itself all Confraternities of the same kind, and to communicate them its own indulgences.
Practice: Recite, morning and evening, three Hail Mary’s in honor of the three great privileges, with this invocation at the end: for the morning: “O my Mother, preserve me from mortal sin during this day,” for the evening: “O my Mother, preserve me from mortal sin during this night.”
(Indulgences of 200 days granted by Leo XIII, 300 days for the members of the Archconfraternity of the Three Hail Mary’s by Benedict XV, and Apostolic Benediction by Pius X.)
ACT OF CONSECRATION TO OUR LADY OF THE BLESSED TRINITY
With all my heart I praise Thee, Most Holy Virgin above all angels and saints in Paradise, Daughter of the Eternal Father, and I consecrate to Thee my soul with all its faculties.
With all my heart I praise Thee, Most Holy Virgin above all angels and saints in Paradise, beloved Mother of the Son of God. I consecrate to Thee my body with all its senses.
With all my heart I praise Thee, Most Holy Virgin above all angels and saints in Paradise, beloved Spouse of the Holy Ghost, I consecrate to Thee my heart, with all its affections and beseech Thee to obtain for me from the Most Holy Trinity all the graces necessary for salvation.
*Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with Thee! Blessed art Thou among women and blessed is the fruit of Thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen
Imprimatur: February 7, 1963
†FRANCIS CARDINAL SPELLMAN
Archbishop of New York