St. Alphonsus recalls how the Memorare prayer rescued St. Francis de Sales from despair.
When St. Francis de Sales was about seventeen, he was pursuing his studies in Paris. At the same time he devoted himself to spiritual exercises and to the holy love of God, in which he found the joys of paradise. Our Lord, in order to try him, and to strengthen the bands that united him to himself, allowed the Devil to persuade him that all he did was in vain, as he was already condemned in the eternal decrees of God. The darkness and spiritual dryness in which God was pleased at the same time to leave him caused the temptation to have greater power over the heart of the holy youth. Indeed, it reached such a pitch that his fears and interior desolation took away his appetite, deprived him of sleep, and made him pale and melancholy.
One evening Francis entered a church and saw a plaque hanging on the wall with the well-known prayer called the Memorare: “Remember, O most pious Vir- gin Mary, that never has it been heard of in any age, that anyone having recourse to your protection was abandoned.” Falling on his knees before the altar of the Mother of God, he recited the prayer with tender fervor, renewed his vow of chastity, promised to say the Rosary every day, and then added: “My Mother, if I am so unfortunate as not to be able to love my Lord in the next world, whom I know to be so worthy of love, at least obtain that I may love him in this world as much as possible.”
IN GOD’S PRESENCE, CONSIDER . . .
What does it say about St. Francis de Sales that he would pray for the grace to love Jesus in this world even if, in his despair, he couldn’t hope for heaven? Could I pray such a prayer?
From the Memorare: Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.
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