— Council of Vienne ♰♰♰

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Consideration on St. Anne by Bishop Challoner, 1807


Consider first, that what gives us the highest idea of the supereminent sanctity of St. Anne, and of her blessed husband St. Joachim, is that they were chosen by the decrees of heaven to be the parents of that Immaculate Virgin who was to bring forth the Saviour of the world, and to be the mother of God. O what grace did they not receive, to qualify them to furnish this virgin spouse to the Spirit of God, and this virgin mother to the Son of God! What a saint-like, what a heavenly education did they not give to their blessed child! How perfectly did they make good thereby that sentence of their divine grandson, that 'the tree is to be known by its fruit!' What reverence then, what esteem, what affection, what devotion do we not owe to this blessed couple! All the time children of Christ have ever loved His mother and considered her as their mother; how then can we do otherwise than love also these two great saints to whom we stand indebted for such a mother!


Consider 2ndly, from the lesson or epistle that is read on the feast of St. Anne, (out of Prov. xxxi.,) the properties of a valiant, that is, of a wise and virtuous woman, as all perfectly agreeing in this great saint: particularly her perpetual attention to do good, and not evil, all the days of her life; her unwearied industry in acquiring the spiritual riches of all virtues, and storing up a treasure for eternity; her diligence in the exercise of works of mercy and charity, &c. 'Strength and beauty are her clothing,' saith the wise man, speaking of her interior, 'and she shall laugh in the last day:' even in that day when the foolish admirers of worldly vanities shall all be sad and sorrowful. 'She hath opened her mouth to wisdom, and the law of clemency is on her tongue:' by her being ever prudent in her words, and charitably compassionate in excusing the defects of her neighbours. 'She hath looked well to the paths of her house, and hath not eaten her bread idly:' by a serious application to keep herself always well employed, and to see that all under her charge are orderly. Such was St. Anne, such ought all Christian matrons to be: of such as these the Spirit of God adds, in the conclusion of the chapter, 'Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain:' the woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates. Yes, the Lord himself shall give her the eternal reward of the fruit of her hands and the gates of the heavenly Sion shall resound with her praises for ever.

Consider 3rdly, from the gospel of this day, that excellent treasure which St. Anne found and made her own, by giving up all things else to purchase it for herself. 'The kingdom of heaven,' says our Lord, Matt. xiii. 44, 'is like unto a treasure hidden in a field, which when a man hath found he hideth it, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.' The kingdom of heaven, in this and other passages of the gospel, is understood of the kingdom of God within us, by His grace in the soul; that kingdom by which he lives and reigns in our interior, by faith, hope, and love, and the spirit of recollection and prayer. Now this kingdom of God in our souls is a treasure indeed, of infinite value, which enriches us by the possession of God Himself, here by grace and hereafter in glory. This treasure is hidden from the children of the world, who are strangers to the value of it, and have a very mean idea of the happiness of a spiritual and internal life; but the children of God, whose eyes are open to the truth, discover this inestimable treasure: and spare neither pains nor cost to get it into their own possession; they even sell all they have to purchase it; that is, they give up their humours, their passions, their worldly affections, their sensual inclinations, their own will, and everything else that opposes so great a happiness; and thus they themselves become God's kingdom. Thus they begin to enjoy a heaven upon earth.

Conclude to seek first the kingdom of God in thy soul, above all things, and all other things shall be added unto thee: thou shalt also be reimbursed, with infinite advantage, whatever thou hast expanded in the purchase of it; and all good things shall come to thee along with it.

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