The Kingdom of Heaven is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field: which is the least indeed of all; but when it is grown up, it is the greatest of all the herbs. (Mt 13:32)
My dear brethren,
There are three meanings that can be given to the kingdom of heaven:
It is this third meaning of the Kingdom of Heaven that is likened to a mustard seed in the Gospel today. It is likened to a mustard seed because it has small beginnings and then grows and grows to transform us completely.
It is a fact of life that even if we are born and raised in a Catholic family, most of us must undergo a personal conversion. This occurs when we have complete freedom to practice or not practice our faith – often in the face of temptation. At this moment, we are like the child who is let free to walk for the first time. Some have the virtue of faith and fortitude sufficiently formed within them – many have not and battle ensues. Our prayers and acts of virtue are much more difficult to say and do when we are by ourselves (ie. when we are only doing them for God).
If we have the kingdom of heaven within us we must start with small a beginning. So many have embarked upon ambitious plans to obtain sanctity by endless prayers, penances, reading, pilgrimages etc., but after a time have given up on the project because it was too difficult. The reason for this is pride (a lack of humility) or ignorance.
Like the grain of mustard seed we must start with small beginnings. One such small beginning is the devotion of the Three Hail Marys.
The devotion was the subject of revelations made seperately to the Benedictine nuns St. Mechtilde (+1298) and her novice St. Gertrude (+1301). One day Our Lady appeared to St. Mechtilde and assured her: "Dear daughter, I will most certainly grant you the grace that you insistently ask of me, but I request you to say, every day, Three Hail Marys in honour of the power, wisdom and love with which the Holy Trinity deigned to fill my heart. If you do that I promise you final perseverance."
The devotion was specifically recommended by St. Anthony of Padua, St. Alphonsus Liguori, and St. Leonard of Port Maurice.
The devotion was approved by Pope Benedict XV on 20th July 1921. The papal document says "Nothing gives us more joy than helping the Christian people to develop their devotion towards the Virgin Mary, mediatrix of all divine graces .... We raise and constitute into an Arch Confraternity or Primary Society, with all the usual privileges, the Association of The Three Hail Marys, canonically already existing at Blois (on the Loire, in France) in the chapel dedicated to the Most Blessed Immaculate Virgin Mary.
Recite, morning and evening, three Hail Mary’s in honour of the three great privileges (the Power, Wisdom and Love which the Trinity poured into Mary's heart), with this invocation at the end:
(Indulgences of 200 days granted by Leo XIII, 300 days for the members of the Archconfraternity of the Three Hail Mary’s by Benedict XV, and Apostolic Benediction by Pius X.)
This devotion has the power to obtain extraordinary spiritual and material graces. One could hardly dream of giving an adequate number of all the graces granted throughout the centuries.
For those of us who are faithful to the devotion – not just saying it but praying it with mind and heart – the Kingdom, which has such a small beginning (60secs), can grow into a might tree which dominates our lives here below and secures eternal life forever in heaven. May the Blessed Virgin Mary assist us in this devotion towards her and grant us its fruits.