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vice of God's material temple, she gradually grew in grace and purity to be herself no unworthy temple for His Most Adorable Divinity. In that sanctuary God alone filled her soul, and satisfied every yearning of her tender heart; her prayers forever ascended like a sweet odor before His eternal Throne; all her actions had Him for their beginning and end; elevated above the influence of sensible ceremonies, she adored Him with a devotion eminently spiritual; in worldly occupations and in the duties of charity, while using her senses from necessity, and not for pleasure, her union with God was never interrupted for an instant, - her soul, freed from the tumults of passion, listened in secret to the whispering voice of her Creator, and imbibed the light of His holy grace, -- she lived beneath the ever-watchful eye of God's sovereign Majesty. Her very slumber was a species of sacred repose, that suspended not for a moment the application of her soul to heavenly contemplation, while creatures, so far from dissipating her thoughts, only served to awaken her spiritual recollections, as effects remind us of the cause, and as the portrait recalls the familiar features of the original. Such was Mary from the moment of her presentation in the temple.
And now, my dear sister, the great question for you to consider on this day is, what lesson are you to learn from the consideration of this remarkable event in the life of Mary? I answer that, since you have, like Mary, consecrated all the future days of your life to the special love and service of God, you should, in imitation of Mary, observe the terms of this consecration with the most ardent devotion and the most unflinching perseverance. Like her, you have offered yourself as a gift to God; like her you have renounced the world and all its pleasures - all its honors and all its vanities, that "you may see the delight of the Lord, and may visit His temple.” Like her, you have knelt before the altar of God in the flower of your youth, and devoted to Him for ever all the energies of your body, and all the faculties of your soul; and God and His holy angels have looked with complacency on the generosity of your sacrifice, and your renunciation of earth has been accepted by Him and recorded in the eternal archives of Heaven.
Oh! see what and how great is your obligation to love and serve God with all your heart and with all your soul. Yours must be no ordinary piety, for you are no ordinary Christian ; you have
renounced the world: take care that nothing of the world remains in your heart or your affections. No longer " of earth, earthy," you are now a child of God, and your thoughts and aspirations ought to be of " Heaven, heavenly.” Every fault of yours is seen magnified in Heaven, as through a microscope ; but be not afraid, for, as you have been generous with God, He, who will be in no one's debt, will be generous with you in return a thousandfold. He will never forget the magnanimous spirit in which you have this day presented yourself to Him; and the unhesitating decisiveness with which you deprived yourself of that liberty so cherished by the daughters of man, in order that you may become the slave and the bondswoman of Christ. Your virtues, no doubt, must be of a very exalted character; but the amount of grace allotted to you far exceeds that meted out to the generality of Christians, and the rewards which await you shall far surpass the glory that is reserved for the common children of the Church ; for, surely, those holy virgins who emulate on earth the virtues of Mary cannot be far removed in Heaven from the glory and majesty of the Queen of Virgins. Even in this world all that man can attain -- and much more than is attainable - you can acquire and enjoy within these convent walls. The children of men are unceasingly employed in the pursuit of pleasure; but as they search for it only in the world, their pursuit, alas ! is vain : their hopes are forever crossed, and their minds are forever miserable. Sometimes in the race they come up, as they fancy, with the delightful object of their pursuit, and fired with ecstasy by the contemplation of its charms, they quicken their pace; they approach nearer and nearer to the enchanting vision -- they
they stretch out their hands to seize it — but oh I it is only a vision — a bodiless phantom, an ignis-fatuus. It eludes their grasp, and leaves them weary and sad, the victims of disappointment and disgust. Not so with you ; you have found out the right road to happiness, and within your sanctuary is found a peace and serenity of soul which all the wealth of kingdoms could not purchase. Worldlings are wont to decry conventual institutions as abodes of gloom and retreats where misery and dejection dwell. With them the convent is a prison and the rocluse a miserable captive ever despondingly brooding over her unhappy fate, and sighing for the freedom and gaiety of the gladsome world without. But they know not that the soul of that cap
tive soars beyond the cloister bars, and mounts to the very throne of God, holding perpetual communion with Him and His holy angels. They paint the world as a bright sea on which the sun is ever shining, and the sparkling waves are ever dancing around the smooth path of the merry voyager; but, alas! they tell you not that the sun goes down, and that the storms arise, and that the sparkling waves become billows; they speak not of the bristling rocks, and the darksome caves, and the miserable wrecks — the struggle for life and the death-shriek of the drowning mariner. They tell of happy homes, and joyous faces — of social mirth and of merry evenings; but oh! not a word do they speak of the homes made desolate by disease and death — not a word of the cheeks made pale by care and by hunger — not a word of the breaking hearts and the aching pulse — not a word of the scalding tears that flow when friends are parting, never again to look on each other's faces. They speak of wedded bliss and the joys of motherhood; but, oh I what do they say of the sad vigils which the lonely wife must keep while her wedded partner revels in the haunts of drunkenness and depravity – what do they say of the mother's anxiety for the welfare of her children, and of the tender hearts broken by the ingratitude, by the errors, or by the loss of those whom they loved more dearly than their own lives? Oh! dear sister, you have done well, very well, to renounce this sinful, sorrowful world. The children of the world are the real captives, pining beneath the chains and manacles of sin and passion, while you exult in all the "holy liberty of the children of God.”
Proceed, therefore, in your course, for you have chosen the better part, and as sure as you are a faithful imitator of Mary, so surely shall you be a sharer of her glory in Heaven, through all the ages of eternity.
But it was not for the selfish pleasures of this holy retreat that you have come hither; it was not that you might be freed from the evils of the world, and that you might revel in the ecstasies of religion ; it was not that you might escape the storms of life and anchor here in the security of indolence and repose. No; for this motive might vitiate the sacrifice you have made, and God, who seeks the heart alone, would reject it. You have come hither because you love God; because you feel that He has called you hither; because
you will do more for Him here than you would do abroad. You have come, not to repose, but to labor; not to do your own will, but the will of Him who has this day made you especially His own. You have heard His voice in your ear and in your heart, inviting you to become His child, and you have not hesitated to come. You have never once looked back. "Hearken, O daughter, and see, and forget thy people and thy father's house, and the King shall greatly desire thy beauty, for He is the Lord thy God.” Oh! the glory of our religion, that every day presents to our eyes so many miracles of grace, fortifying weak mortals with the strength of giants, clothing tender woman in a panoply of might, so that her worth is estimated by more than all the treasures of earth. "Who shall find a valiant woman? Far and from the uttermost coasts is the price of her.” Proceed, then, dear sister, in your hallowed course — follow the blessed light of heaven that illumes your pathway. Mary is looking down on you this moment from the heights of Heaven, and in you she is well pleased. Could you but behold the gentle eyes of that tenderest and sweetest of mothers, how much would the fervor of your devotions be intensified, and the strength of your resolutions increased! May she be your powerful mediatrix before the eternal Throne; that acting all your life with the docility and innocence of a child, you may adorn your soul with those beautifying graces which may make you worthy to be eternally saved by your Eternal Father, the King who shall desire thy beauty, thy Lord and thy God.
SERMON ON THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY,
“Comfortress of the afflicted, pray for us.”
EARLY BELOVED BRETHREN, — There is no sorrow like
that which the heart endures in secret; of which we ourselves alone are conscious, and which oppresses us with gloom and
dejection, while the world thinks us light-hearted and gay. We mix amongst our friends, and, while they see the faint smile that lights our cheek at the passing jest, they little dream of the misery, the untold agony, that wrings our bosoms, and brings us well nigh to the confines of despair. Oh! at such a moment how we long to find some sympathizing friend — some tender-hearted bosom to which we may freely disclose the sad story of our wrongs -- the bitter catalogue of our afflictions. And when, at length, the melancholy tale is told, and the patient listener turns to console us, how sweetly the words of solace fall upon our ear; how the heart expands with love, with gratitude, with courage, and the tears, which, but a few moments before, were the silent interpreters of unutterable woe, are suddenly converted, by the magic touch of sympathy, into the exponents of equally unalterable joy. But where shall we find this sweet consoler, this gentle confidant, this tender heart, before which we may baro our own, and to which we may impart the last secret of our sorrows ? Alas! for the perversity of human nature, such friendship is rare, very rare, in this cold, heartless world. Self-love predominates over every generous impulse of nature, and it has almost passed into a proverb, that hearts which have confided most have been most frequently betrayed. But there is at least one human being to whom we are invited to recur in all our tribulations, into whose sacred bosom no profane thought of self-love ever presumed to