Spiritual crusade – Day 6

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This is day 6 of Voice of the Family’s spiritual crusade. 

Intention: to obtain from God, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, that Ireland may be entirely delivered from the evil of abortion and that the bishops may be granted the grace to preach the gospel fearlessly and to defend unborn children with all their strength.

Prayer: Glorious Mysteries of the Holy Rosary

Daily spiritual reflection

“Full of grace”

“The Blessed Virgin was superior to any of the angels in the fullness of grace, and as an indication of this the angel showed reverence to her by saying: ‘Full of grace.’ This is as if he said: ‘I show you reverence because you dost excel me in the fullness of grace.’

“The Blessed Virgin is said to be full of grace in three ways. First, as regards her soul she was full of grace. The grace of God is given for two chief purposes, namely, to do good and to avoid evil. The Blessed Virgin, then, received grace in the most perfect degree, because she had avoided every sin more than any other saint after Christ. Thus it is said: ‘You are fair, My beloved, and there is not a spot in you’ [Sg 4:7]. St. Augustine says: ‘If we could bring together all the saints and ask them if they were entirely without sin, all of them, with the exception of the Blessed Virgin, would say with one voice: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”[1 Jn 1:8]. I except, however, this holy Virgin of whom, because of the honour of God, I wish to omit all mention of sin’ [De natura et gratia 36]. For we know that to her was granted grace to overcome every kind of sin by Him whom she merited to conceive and bring forth, and He certainly was wholly without sin.”

“The Blessed Virgin is the exemplar of all the virtues. In her is the fullness of the virtue of humility: ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord” [Lk 1:38]. And again: ‘He has looked on the humility of his handmaid’ [Lk 1:48]. So she is also exemplar of the virtue of chastity: ‘Because I know not man’ [Lk 1:34]. And thus it is with all the virtues, as is evident. Mary was full of grace not only in the performance of all good, but also in the avoidance of all evil. Again, the Blessed Virgin was full of grace in the overflowing effect of this grace upon her flesh or body. For while it is a great thing in the saints that the abundance of grace sanctified their souls, yet, moreover, the soul of the holy Virgin was so filled with grace that from her soul grace poured into her flesh from which was conceived the Son of God. Hugh of St. Victor says of this: ‘Because the love of the Holy Spirit so inflamed her soul, He worked a wonder in her flesh, in that from it was born God made Man.’ ‘And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God’ [Lk 1:35].

“The plenitude of grace in Mary was such that its effects overflow upon all men. It is a great thing in a saint when he has grace to bring about the salvation of many, but it is exceedingly wonderful when grace is of such abundance as to be sufficient for the salvation of all men in the world, and this is true of Christ and of the Blessed Virgin. Thus, ‘a thousand bucklers,’ that is, remedies against dangers, ‘hang therefrom’ [Sg 4:4]. Likewise, in every work of virtue one can have her as one’s helper. Of her it was spoken: ‘In me is all grace of the way and of the truth, in me is all hope of life and of virtue’ [Sir 24:25]. Therefore, Mary is full of grace, exceeding the angels in this fullness and very fittingly is she called ‘Mary’ which means ‘in herself enlightened’: ‘The Lord will fill your soul with brightness’ [Is 48:11]. And she will illumine others throughout the world for which reason she is compared to the sun and to the moon.”

– St Thomas Aquinas, Exposition on the Angelic Salutation