Saturday, March 04, 2006

Saturday - Day of Our Lady

"The Glories of Mary" by St. Alphonsus of Liquori
'Of Fasting'
There are many devout clients of Mary who, to honour her, fast on bread and water on Saturdays, and the vigils of her feasts. It is well known that Saturday is dedicated by the Holy Church to Mary, because, as St. Bernard says, on that day, the day after the death of her Son, she remained constant in faith (De Pass. Dom. cap.ii). Therefore Mary's clients are careful to honour her on that day by some particular devotion, and especially by fasting on bread and water, as did Saint Charles Borromeo, Cardinal Tolet, and so many others. Nittardo, Bishop of Bamberg, and Father Joseph Arriaga, of the Society of Jesus, took no food at all that day. The great graces which the Mother of God has dispensed to those who do this are recorded by Father Auriemma in his little book (Tom.i.cap.17). Let one example suffice: it is that of a famous captain of brigands, who, on account of this devotion, was preserved in life after his head was cut off, and was thus enabled to make his confession; for the unfortunate creature was in a state of sin. After confession he declared that, on account of this devotion, the Blessed Virgin had obtained him so great a grace, and immediately expired (Ap. Auriemma, loc.cit). It would not, then, be anything very great, for a person who pretends to be devout to Mary, and particularly for one who has perhaps already deserved hell, to offer her this fast on Saturdays. I affirm that those who practise this devotion can hardly be lost; not that I mean to say that if they die in mortal sin the Blessed Virgin will deliver them by a miracle, as she did this bandit: these are prodigies of Divine mercy which very rarely occur, and it would be the height of folly to expect eternal salvation by such means; but I say, that for those who practice this devotion, the Divine Mother will make perseverance in God's grace easy, and obtain them a good death. All the members of our little congregation, who are able to do so; for if our health does not permit it, at least we should on Saturdays content ourselves with one dish, or observe an ordinary fast, or abstain from fruit, or something for which we have a relish. On Saturdays we should always practise some devotion in honour of our Blessed Lady, receive Holy Communion, or at least hear Mass, visit an image of Mary, wear a hair-cloth, or something of that sort. But on the vigils of her seven principal festivals, at all events, her clients should offer her this fast either on bread and water, or otherwise as best they can.