Daily Devotional for March 25-31
Luke 1: Now after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived; and she hid herself five months, saying, 25 “Thus the Lord has dealt with me, in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”
26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!
29 But when she saw him she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. 30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”
35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.
When you are about to pray to Our Lady the Holy Virgin, be firmly assured, before praying, that you will not depart from Her without having received mercy. To think thus and to have confidence in Her is meet and right. She is, the All-merciful Mother of the All-merciful God, the Word, and Her mercies, incalculably great and innumerable, have been declared from all ages by all Christian Churches; She is, indeed, an abyss of mercies and bounties, as is said of Her in the canon of Odigitry.  Therefore to pray to Her without such assurance would be foolish and audacious, for doubt would offend Her goodness, just as God’s goodness is offended when people pray to Him without hoping to receive what they pray for. How do people hurry for alms to any great and rich man whose kindness is well known, and has been proved on many occasions? Generally with the most perfect assurance and hope of receiving from Him that which they desire. Likewise, in praying we must neither doubt nor be faint-hearted.
In order not to be in daily bondage to the passions and the Devil, you must set yourself an object to aim at, have this object constantly in view, and endeavour to attain it, conquering all obstacles by the name of the Lord. What is this object? The Kingdom of God, the Divine palace of glory, prepared for believers from the creation of the world. But as this object can only be attained by certain means, it also is necessary to have such means at one’s disposal. And what are these means? Faith, hope, and love, especially the last. Believe, hope, and love, especially love, disregarding all obstacles; love God above everything and your neighbour as yourself. If you have not sufficient strength to preserve in your heart these inestimable treasures, fall down oftener at the feet of the God of Love. “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you”  –for He Who has promised is true. Walking, sitting, lying down, conversing, or working, at every time, pray with your whole heart that faith and love may be given to you. You have not yet asked for them as you should ask–fervently and instantly, with the firm purpose
It is good, very good indeed, to be virtuous; the virtuous man is at peace himself, is pleasing to God and agreeable to other people. The virtuous man involuntarily attracts everyone’s attention. Why is it so? Because fragrance involuntarily attracts attention and makes everyone wish to breathe it. Look upon the very appearance of the virtuous man, upon his countenance. What sort of a countenance is it? It is the face of an angel. Meekness and humility overspread it, and involuntarily captivate everyone by their beauty. Pay attention to his speech; from it there comes still greater fragrance: here you are as if face to face with his soul, and are enraptured with his sweet converse.
All the material world is as nothing before God; only spiritual beings–that is, angels and men–are something. Only those creatures have a lasting existence who are near to God, and have His image and likeness; the remainder pass away like shadows–“Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away.” We must always remember that the Devil is continually trying to choke our soul with the dust of hell, of which there is already too much within us, and which is small and various; and thus, whether your heart be obscured by animosity, or impatience, or irritability, or by grudging your material possessions to your brother or yourself–that is, avarice- -or by love of gain, or love of money, or by the quarrelsome and offensive words of others, or by despondency and despair, or by envy, doubt, or incredulity, or by open unbelief, or by vanity, or by slothfulness in prayer or in any good work, and in general in the performance of your duty…
Unite your soul to God by means of hearty faith and you will be able to accomplish everything. Do powerful, invisible, ever-watchful enemies wage war against you? You will conquer them. Are these enemies visible, outward? You will conquer them also. Do passions rend you? You will overcome them. Are you crushed with sorrows? You will get over them. Have you fallen into despondency? You will obtain courage. With faith you will be able to conquer everything, and even the Kingdom of Heaven will be yours. Faith is the greatest blessing of the earthly life; it unites the man to God, and makes him strong and victorious through Him. “He that is joined unto the Lord is one Spirit.”  God in His goodness has granted to us, undeserving as we are, to see the sun and its light, and allows us to enjoy it. He will grant to us also to enjoy His own inaccessible light. Let the light of the sun be a pledge to us of this, but especially the tranquil light of the holy glory of the Heavenly Father, His only Son, given to us, and the spirit of love bestowed upon our hearts.
It is easy to die, and does not take long; but are you prepared for death? Remember that after death the judgment of your whole life will follow You are not prepared for death, and if it were to come to you, you would shudder all over. Therefore do not waste words in vain. Do not say: “It is better for me to die,” but say rather, “How can I prepare for death in a Christian manner?” By means of faith, by means of good works, and by bravely bearing the miseries and sorrows that happen to you, so as to be able to meet death fearlessly, peacefully, and without shame, not as a rigorous law of nature, but as a fatherly call of the eternal, heavenly, holy, and blessed Father unto the everlasting Kingdom.