I do realize it’s most typical to get birthday gifts for the birthday girl—or, if one is the lucky birthday guy or gal, to receive gifts on the special natal day. But luckily for us, Our Lady already has every good thing in abundance, and as the quintessential mom, she’s happy to share her gifts with us on her birthday as well as on ours. So although this article is in honor of Our Blessed Mother’s birthday, open wide your heart because this is the occasion on which she wants to spoil you!
If you look at the picture that tops this page, you’ll see the most obvious gift she has for you, and yet wonder of wonders, as many times as she gives Our Lord to us, He is always doing something new.
The next gift Our Lady has is her Good Counsel. A friend recently asked me if there was a picture of Mary that I particularly loved. She hadn’t yet found one that was just right, and I replied that this image of Our Lady of Good Counsel (also known as Mother of Good Counsel) is the one for me. I never get tired of gazing at Mary’s beautiful face, though I must admit little Jesus gives her a good run for the money—I love gazing at Him in this image too!
But since this Mary is Our Lady, Mother of Good Counsel, she has more than her serene and pacifying beauty to share, more than her Divine Son to share. She has, too, the best of motherly advice and wisdom no matter what situation we find ourselves in or what difficulties we are facing.
Our Lady’s most famous good counsel comes in the gospel of John when she tells us, “Do whatever He tells you.” But beyond that, I find her most wonderful counsels to me in the pages of the Vietnamese Servant of God Marcel Van’s Conversations.
Because I’ve not been the personal recipient of heavenly locutions (thanks be to God, I always say, since in that case I’d have to get a serious spiritual director and really find out what’s going on before I fall into the deep end and drag others with me!) – I’ve been befriended by our little brother Marcel, who did receive such heavenly locutions from Jesus, Mary, and even St. Therese. His spiritual director and novice master Fr. Antonio Boucher (“bearded Jesus” in the Conversations) confirmed Jesus’ request that Marcel write His words (and Marcel’s responses) down, and thanks to Fr. Boucher’s tireless work translating Marcel’s writings from Vietnamese to French, and the later dedicated efforts of our friend Jack Keogan translating from French to English, we now have easy access to the most delightful conversations a lover of Jesus and Mary and Therese could desire.
For Our Lady’s birthday, then, I’m happy to share some of her words with you, words originally spoken in the 1940’s to Marcel Van, but as fresh and true today as when she spoke them. Think of these as the sparkly ribbons and wrapping paper that you can open to find the birthday gifts Our Blessed Mother has for you on the feast of her nativity. She wants to share every good thing with you, and these passages will get you off to a good start.
First Gift of Our Lady’s Good Counsel:
“My dear child, if you wish to please little Jesus, accept cheerfully things which inconvenience you slightly; by that you will be able to stop the stones that sinners, today, throw at Jesus . . . Little Jesus is your true friend; if you love Him, try to protect Him by your sighs of love. . .” (383)
“My child, continue to tell me quite simply your little problems; by that you please me, and I, I can only love you more. My child, I love you a lot . . .” (383)
“My child, candour is a natural characteristic of children. The naive child is simple and sincere; he shows himself as he is; he does not know how to distinguish between good and evil since, being still too young, he does not have the use of reason. . . My child, if your soul possesses this candour, it will be closer to me. In the same way that the young child remains always with its mother, you will remain always close to me. I wish that there may be more souls like yours, so as to be able to freely imprint the lips of little Jesus on the forehead of each of them; so as to be able to unite their hearts to that of little Jesus and, at the same time, be at peace with Him.” (384)
“My dear little one. You have been looking at me. It is not surprising therefore that I hasten to ask you this question. It is something really astounding. My child, by a simple glance you have drawn to yourself my compassionate gaze. So, what do you want and what is it that little Jesus has just said to you? Are you very troubled? That is very unfortunate, my child. I am very sorry for you. Today, the recreation day, when you should be relaxing, all you do is worry yourself. It is very painful. But, my child, why trouble yourself in this way? I was once in the same situation as you; my soul also needed to believe, to hope and to love like you. Although aware of the wonders that God was working in me, I had, nevertheless, to believe, since I had no conception of the graces that the divine Father was granting to me. If, at that time, I had not had the need to call on the virtue of faith, I would no longer have been a humble creature like you, my children. If, therefore, I still had need to believe, with much greater reason have you, my child . . . (426)
“My dear child, remain in peace, all right? Little Jesus has not scolded you; neither have I. Our sole intention, both of us, is to get rid of your troubles. Do not worry, I love you dearly. See, I have more pity for you than for little Jesus. In that case, it is He who should be sad; but you, what reason have you to be sad? Come, my child, I am kissing you, I am giving you twice as many as I am giving little Jesus, nevertheless, little Jesus is very happy with that.” (426)
“Do whatever He tells you . . . ” (John 2:5)
And what does Jesus tell us through our dear little brother Marcel? Ah, the icing on the birthday cake is right here:
“How many times have I told you not to get so perturbed, and you still have this defect. Come, little brother, since you do not wish to cause me any pain in anything, what is there to trouble you? I tell you that I am happy with all that you do; why do you not believe what I say? All your actions, all your sighs, all the feelings of your heart, you have offered them to me already. All that is my property and no longer yours, so why trouble yourself? . . . Little brother, remain tranquil. I am giving you a kiss and another to our Mother. Regarding Jesus with the ginger beard, has he not said these very true words to you: ‘Since you have Mary for your real Mother, you should never disconcert yourself.'” (385)
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Incidentally, those parenthetical numbers are the original page numbers of Marcel’s sheets of paper, and they serve to indicate where in Conversations one can find the above words. These numbers go up to 773, so you can imagine that Our Lady has a lot more Good Counsel in the pages of my favorite book! If you need more presents, Our Blessed Mother and I suggest you get yourself a copy of Conversations for her birthday – or if you already have enough copies, just flip one open to find more of this her heavenly wisdom, tenderness, and consolation. Our sweet Mary never tires of our reading the words of love written by her dear Marcel at her and Jesus’ bidding.
Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Good Counsel, may this birthday of yours on September 8, 2021 be your happiest yet because we, your little ones, hearken to your counsels and snuggle nearer than ever with Jesus on your Immaculate Heart!