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in his imagination, and he will be apt to fall into rigorism or indiffe. rence, according as he may or may not have courage to judge for himself, and distinguish that which is in reality sinful per se, from that which can only become so under certain circumstances.

In France, which may be called the very cradle of dancing, to anathematize balls seems like an attempt on the part of the clergy to array against themselves, in a matter of downright personal collision, the freshest and fairest part of the entire population : to condemn theatrical entertainments is, in like manner, to run counter to the determined tastes and habits of the whole nation. It is not for us to raise the long vexata questio of the moral legality of dramatic performances ;we shall only make bold to express our own opinion, that under due restrictions they may be made to contribute, not only to the entertain. ment, but the improvement of mankind. In England, the profession of an actor does not exclude him from the communion of the Catholic Church; in France, all stage-players are ipso facto excommunicated, shut out from the sacraments in life, and deprived at their death of the rites of Christian burial. This stringent regulation, a remnant of the old Gallican Church system, appears harsh towards a large body of persons who are driven to evil courses of life from the very circumstance of feeling themselves without the pale of Christian men, and therefore aloof from, or careless of, restraint. A curious anomaly in connection with this subject deserves to be recorded. From the interdict fulminated against all stage-players, are especially excepted the artists of the Royal Academy of Music,-in other words, the grand French Opera. The hypothesis that protects them from Church censures is, that under princely patronage they are devoting themselves to the cultivation of musical art. Now whoever has visited “ l'Académie Royale de Musique” of Paris, can decide how far, in point of decorum and morality, the performers at that magnificent establishment are entitled to the reservation in their favour we have signalised; the whimsical but actual result of which is, that while the actress who enacts Racine's Andromaque at the Théâtre Français is excommunicated, the danseuse that braves the libertine gaze of the whole town at l'Académie Royale stands exempt from any such religious obloquy! Such apparent inconsistencies challenge remark. We cannot but express a belief that a compromise might with mutual advantage be entered into, by virtue of which the right of inspecting dramatic works previously to their representation, with a view to expunging from them all that was contrary to religion and morals, should on the one hand be vested in discreet and competent commissioners, while on the other the stigma of ecclesiastical censure should be removed from actors whose performances were confined to such authorised pieces. We believe that a system of this kind virtually exists in the Roman and Italian states, and other Catholic countries of Europe. Its introduction in France would clearly be a public benefit, for it must be confessed that, constituted as the stage now is in that country, it less often becomes a school of morals than of corruption.

C.

The Catholic Magazine.

THOUGHTS AND REFLECTIONS ON THE LIFE AND

VIRTUES OF MARY, THE MOTHER OF GOD.
[Chiefly from St. Bonaventure's Life of Christ, and written on that plan

for the use of young children.]

No. I.

“On Mary, Conceived WITHOUT SIN, PRAY FOR ME WHO HAVE RECOURSE TO Thee."

This is the festival of the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and I think I cannot better employ it than by writing a history of her life, so easy and simple, that even little children may be able to understand it; and I fervently pray this most dear Mother to assist me so to write about her, that the smallest of

my
readers

may

be induced to love her more truly, and to try to deserve her love by following her example as far as they can. I am the more anxious to do this, because the virtues of Mary are in a particular manner those which little children should try to copy and to love. Mary was meek, humble, gentle, and obedient. She was submissive to her superiors, sweet and gentle to her inferiors, never murmuring or disputing the will of those around her, but always diligent at her employments and fervent at her prayers. My little readers will see how easy it would be for them to try and copy Mary in all these things; and I confidently assure them, that, by doing so, they will very much increase her love for them ; nor do I doubt, that, in return, this, their dear heavenly Mother will take care of them during their lives, and will greatly assist them in the hour of their death.

Mary was by birth a descendant of the King of Juda, but her family had long since lost their claim to the crown, and their father and mother were poor and humble, but

very virtuous people. Our Blessed Saviour chose that His mother should be poor and humble, because He wished to show us that virtue only is pleasing in His eyes; and that He has no regard for those riches and honours which men are too often so anxious to obtain. He also wished to be born poor and humble NO. XI.-VOL. II.-Nov. 1843.

17

Himself, in order that by this means we might be induced to love and cherish all poor people, and, indeed, it would be difficult for us not to feel kindly towards them, if we did but reflect that Mary, the Mother of God, was a poor, simple Virgin, and that Jesus, our divine Saviour, was born in a cold stable, with scarcely clothes enough to cover him and without a bed on which to lay his little head.

Mary was born without sin, she was always pure and holy before God, and from the first moment of her life she performed all her actions in the manner most pleasing to Him, and avoided even the least stain of sin. She was never vexed, never impatient at contradiction, but always full of sweetness and of grace, pleasing to her heavenly Father, and delightful to her parents, and to those around her. I cannot repeat it too often, that in all these things even very little children may try to follow her example, and if they do so, I promise them that this divine Mother will always be ready to assist and console them.

When the little Mary was only three years of age, her holy Mother brought her up to Jerusalem, and left her in the care of the priests of the temple of God, in order that she might learn more perfectly from them all that would make her pleasing to Him. We are told that Almighty God sent one of His own bright Angels to take care of her there, and we may imagine this blessed Child sitting with her angelic guardian, and conversing with a gravity and sweetness beyond her years. A very holy Saint tells us that this Angel used to bring Mary her daily meals, and to wait upon her while she partook of them; and the provisions sent to her by the priests of the temple Mary always took care to bestow on the poor; so you see that even in her childhood Mary loved the poor, and was very charitable to them. In this, also, all little children should try and do as she did.

My dear little children, God has given you also an Angel to take care of

you, and though you cannot see him as Mary could, yet you should remember that in reality he is always beside you. You should, therefore, often thank him for the care he takes of you, and beg him to continue it; but, above all things, you should try and act always as if you really saw and heard him, for, then you would never be disobedient, or cross, or greedy at meals, or idle at prayers;

because you know that he

prays

for

you, and rejoices with you, when you are good, but he is grieved, when, by your naughtiness, you offend God, whom he loves above all things.

When Mary was about fifteen years of age, she had become so pleasing to God by her great humility, purity, and sweetness, that He

loved her better than any other of His creatures upon earth. He therefore sent His Angel to tell her, that He had chosen her to be the mother of His only Son, who was about to come into the world for the Salvation of mankind.

Mary had by this time returned to her parents at Nazareth, and she was alone, praying in her little chamber, when the angel entered and saluted her, saying, “ Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.” These are the same words you repeat every day when you say the “Hail Mary," and they mean that God loved her very much, and was always with her on account of her goodness. Mary was used to seeing Angels, therefore she was not frightened at the appearance of Gabriel, (that was the name of the Angel God sent to her), but she was so humble that she was ashamed of hearing herself so highly praised, and she did not answer Gabriel directly. He saw that humility made her afraid to answer, so he said, “ Fear not, Mary, for

you
have found

grace

before God, and He has chosen you to be the mother of His only Son, and you

shall call His name Jesus.” Mary had resolved always to remain a pure virgin, and when she learned from the Angel that her intention was pleasing to God, and that He had chosen her to be the mother of His Son, she submitted with great humility to His Holy will, and Gabriel left her in a rapture of devotion.

After this announcement of the intentions of Almighty God in her regard, the parents of Mary espoused her by His divine command to a holy old man called Joseph. Thenceforward, Joseph always took care of our Blessed Lady, and accompanied her wherever she went; he had thus the happiness of being present at the birth of Jesus, and of assisting Mary in all her tender cares of this divine Infant.

Mary now went to pay a visit of charity to her cousin St. Elizabeth, a very holy woman, who being inspired (that is taught) by the Holy Ghost, knew that Mary was chosen to be the mother of God, and met her with much holy joy, wondering at the honour she received by this visit. Mary was the humblest of God's creatures, and she answered Elizabeth by giving all the glory to God, who, she said, had exalted her on account of her humility. Mary remained with St. Elizabeth about three months, and during this time St. John the Baptist was born. Elizabeth, who was his mother, had the happiness of often seeing her little son in the arms of the Blessed Virgin, for, without doubt, Mary often took charge of this holy child, and petted and fondled him tenderly in her arms. John afterwards became a great Saint. He told the Jews of the coming of Jesus, and was put to death by a wicked king who hated him for his great virtue. After the birth of St. John, Mary returned to her own poor home at Nazareth, but she had scarcely recovered from the fatigues of this journey, when she was obliged to begin another. I will tell you how this happened. A king whose name was Augustus, at that time ruled over the world. He wanted to know the exact number of his subjects, so he commanded them all to go to certain towns, where people appointed for that purpose took down their names and the places where they lived. For this reason, Mary was obliged to go to Bethlehem, which was at some distance from Nazareth, the place where she usually lived. She travelled to Bethlehem sitting on an ass which Joseph led. When they reached Bethlehem there was a great crowd of people there already, all the inns were full, and the inhabitants were so uncharitable that none of them would give this holy pair shelter for the night. This should teach us how careful we should be always to be charitable to the poor whenever we have the power to be so.

The people of Bethlehem, when they refused to give shelter to Joseph and Mary, thought they were only refusing it to common poor people, and instead of that, they were refusing it to the mother and the adopted father of God. If they had received Mary into their houses, they would have been honoured by the birth of the Son of God beneath their roof, and perhaps, even they would have been sometimes permitted by His holy mother, to hold her divine Infant Jesus in their

So you see all the great happiness and honour which they lost by their unkindness and want of charity to these apparently poor people.

When St. Joseph found that no one would receive them into their house, the good old man was very much distressed, for Mary was wearied with the long journey she had taken, and he knew not how to obtain her even food or rest. But tired and perplexed as they were, not a murmur of complaint, not a whisper of vexation at the rebuffs they had met with, escaped from the lips of this holy couple. They wandered for some time patiently up and down the streets, and at last they were forced to seek refuge for the night in a poor stable. No doubt St. Joseph tried to make it as comfortable as he could for the young and delicate virgin, but still with all his care it must have been very uncomfortable, and ill calculated to afford shelter from the cold air of a winter night.

And now the hour being come which had been appointed by God from the beginning of time, in the midst of the darkness and silence

arms,

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