The Recollection of Mary1. It is believed that when the Angel Gabriel visited the Blessed Virgin in order to tell her that she was to be the Mother of God, she was in a quiet corner of her home, absorbed in prayer. She had no love for the noise and confusion of the world, but preferred to be recollected in the company of God. This was to be the pattern of her whole life. In the midst of her domestic duties, on her journey to St. Elizabeth, and on her travels in Galilee and Judea in the wake of her divine Son, her mind and heart were always concentrated on God.
Interior recollection is a wonderful thing. It helps us to hear God's voice more clearly. It keeps us removed from the temptations of the world and assists us in sanctifying every moment of our lives.
“The cell continually dwelt in groweth sweet,” (Bk. 1, C. 20:5) says “The Imitation of Christ,” and goes on to ask: “What canst thou see elsewhere that thou dost not see here? Behold the heavens, and the earth, and all the elements; for out of these are all things made.” (Ibid. C. 20: 8) “As often as I have been amongst men,” it exclaims, “I have returned less a man.” (Ibid. C. 20:2) When we move around chattering with different people, we have lost something of ourselves by the time we return home. Perhaps we have wasted a good deal of time in useless conversation or, worse still, have seen or heard unpleasant or disturbing things. When we go about in the world, we do not often see much that is edifying or instructive and rarely meet people whose conversation does us good. For this reason, even when we cannot remain apart, we should carry in ourselves as Mary did a spirit of interior recollection and communication with God.
2. We cannot all be monks or hermits, however. Most men have to live in the world and look after their daily business. They have to deal with all kinds of people and are subject to the tremendous influences of the modern world. How can they be recollected? It is difficult, but it is possible. Most of the Saints lived in the heart of the world while still maintaining close contact with God. St. Paul the Apostle and St. John Bosco are two examples which come to mind.
St. Paul traversed the greater part of the known world. He preached in the temple of Jerusalem and on the Areopagus of Athens, in the Synagogues, squares, courtrooms, and prisons of countless cities. Through it all his heart remained united with God so that he could exclaim: “It is now no longer I that live, but Christ lives in me.” (Gal. 2:20) “For to me to live is Christ,” he said, “and to die is gain. But if to live in the flesh is my lot this means for me fruitful labour, and I do not know which to choose. Indeed I am hard pressed from both sides—desiring to depart and to be with Christ, a lot by far the better; yet to stay on in the flesh is necessary for your sake.” (Phil. 1:21-23)
The superhuman industriousness of St. John Bosco is well known. He never rested, but his extraordinary activity derived entirely from his close and loving union with God. We also should try and preserve an oasis of silence in our hearts while we are making our way through the noisy uproar which prevails around us. We shall draw from this oasis of interior recollection the power to conquer the temptations of the world and to accomplish all the good work which God wishes us to do.
3. Holy Mary, you who are constantly close to God, obtain for me also this interior spirit of prayer. Then I shall be able to raise my thoughts to God in the midst of worldly confusion and I shall not surrender to the enchantment of worldly pleasures. Under your protection I shall always remain united to God, Who is my only true good. Amen.