ON THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION
St. Francis Anthony of Lucera
Saint Francis Anthony of Lucera (b. 1681; d.1742 A. D.), is one of the most famous Franciscan preachers in the history of the Order. Like his spiritual father, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Francis Anthony of Lucera had the most ardent devotion to the Mother of God.
From the Mariale of St. Francis Anthony of Lucera
How beautiful are your sandaled feet, O Daughter of the Prince! (Cant. 7,2)
O soul, ponder how, transparent and pure as She was from the very moment of Her Immaculate Conception, Mary came forth from the Most High God as the first-born Daughter of all creation, formed by His creative word.
Her appearance on earth was like the first immaculate ray of light...the sun, the moon, the stars, all of nature, the whole visible and invisible world bowed at Her feet as She walked the earth: How beautiful are your sandaled feet, O Daughter of the Prince!
Oh! so beautiful are the steps of Mary as She walks through life!...And You, O soul, who meditate on them now, what steps have you taken with your feet since reaching the use of reason? Were they meritorious or not?...And from that time, over the course of so many years, what have you accomplished for the good of your soul?...for your growth in holiness? And where are you going now?...Are your steps taking you toward God or away from Him?
O Immaculate Virgin, loveliest Daughter of the Most High Prince, perfect Thou my goings in Thy paths (Ps. 16,5). Direct and keep, we beg You, our steps strictly upon Your paths as we strive to follow in Your sacred footprints!
Ponder, O soul, how Mary is said to progress through life on beautifully sandaled feet. In connection with the Saints, sandaled feet signify their interior affections, perfected and strengthened by the virtues...Mary from the first moment of Her existence was always most pure and perfect. Her thoughts, Her affections, Her desires, and Her plans were always strengthened and embellished by admirable virtues. Like fragrant flowers, they filled all Her surroundings with sweet fragrance, without any foul odor or dark cloud ever to tarnish or diminish their beauty.
And you, O soul who meditate on Her affections, you wander through the impure desert of this earthly pilgrimage with nary a thought as to how you might strengthen yourself with all the necessary virtues.
Courage! Today, lift up your spirit! Away with the impurities surrounding you. Fortify yourself with the shield of holy virtues so that you can walk as Mary did, and attain the blessings awaiting you in Paradise. O Mary, most pure among all creatures, direct our feet, strengthen our affections as we strive to imitate Your holy virtues!
O soul, ponder how Mary who, after Her Son, is the first-born Daughter of the Most High God, is called par excellence Daughter of the Prince, that is, the most beloved, dearest, worthiest of Her Prince Father, God. And this filiation which Mary had by Her Immaculate Conception She always kept inviolate...never did She weaken it by disobedience. Rather, She continued wondrously to enhance it through the complete observance of the Law and absolute conformity to the will of Her heavenly Father.
O Mary, most beautiful, You were always a Daughter and never a slave, always a Daughter of grace and never a slave of sin!
And you, O soul who meditate on Her filiation, how have you treasured the filiation God gave you through grace at your holy Baptism?...Whose son or daughter have you been for so long a time?...And whose child are you now?...In charity recover anew that divine filiation. Never lose it again...Propose now, firmly, nevermore to be a child of Eve, a slave of sin, but a child of Mary, first-born Daughter among all creatures, and Mother of all graces.
This short excerpt gives only a brief introduction to the mind and devotion of this famous Franciscan Priest. It forms part of the Little Marian Library of the Blessed Virgin Mary the Home Page of the Immaculate. This site is maintained by Immaculate Mediatrix, Inc., under the direction of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate.
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