The Glories Of Mary – Part 4

The Glories Of Mary

by ST. ALPHONSUS LIGUORI

SECTION IV
MARY IS ALSO MOTHER OF PENITENT SINNERS.

MARY assured St. Bridget tbat she was mother not only of the just and innocent, but also of sinners, provided they wish to amend. When a sinner becomes penitent, and throws himself at her feet, he finds this good mother of mercy more ready to embrace and aid him than any earthly mother could be. This St. Gregory wrote to the princess Matilda: Desire to cease from sin, and I confidently promise you you will find Mary more prompt than an earthly mother in thy behalf.” But whoever aspires to be the son of this great mother, must first leave off sinning, and then let him hope to be accepted as her son. Richard, commenting upon the words, “Then rose up her children, ” remarks, that first comes the word rose up, surrexerunt, and then children, jilii; because he cannot be a son of Mary who does not first rise from the iniquity into which he has fallen.

For, says St. Peter Chrysologus, he who does works contrary to those of Mary, by such conduct denies that he wishes to be her son. Mary is humble, and will he be proud? Mary is pure, and will he be impure? Mary is full of love, and will he hate his neighbor? He proves that he is not, and does not wish to be the son of this holy mother, when he so much disgusts her with his life. The sons of Mary, repeats Richard of St. Laurence, are her imitators in chastity, humility, meekness, mercy. And how can he who so much disgusts her with his life, dare to call himself the son of Mary? A certain sinner once said to Mary, “Show thyself a mother;” but the Virgin answered him, “Show thyself a son.” Another, one day, invoked this divine mother, calling her mother of mercy. But Mary said to him, “When you sinners wish me to aid you, you call me mother of mercy, and yet by your sins make me the mother of misery and grief.” “He is cursed of God that angereth his mother.” His mother that is, Mary, remarks Richard. God curses every one who afflicts this his good mother, by his bad life or his wilfulness.

I have said wilfulness, for when a sinner, although he may not have left his sins, makes an effort to quit them, and seeks the aid of Mary, this mother will not fail to assist him, and bring him to the grace of God. This St. Bridget once learned from Jesus Christ himself, who, speaking with his mother, said: “Thou dost aid those who are striving to rise to God, and dost leave no soul without thy consolation.” While the sinner, then, is obstinate, Mary cannot love him; but if he finds himself enchained by some passion which makes him a slave of hell, and will commend himself to the Virgin, and implore her with confidence and perseverance to rescue him from his sin, this good mother will not fail to extend her powerful hand, she will loose his chains, and bring him to a state of safety. It is a heresy, condemned by the sacred Council of Trent, to say that all the prayers and works of a person in a state of sin are sins.

St. Bernard says that prayer is the mouth of a sinner, although it is without supernatural excellence, since it is not accompanied by charity, yet is useful and efficient in obtaining a release from sin; for, as St. Thomas teaches,f the prayer of the sinner is indeed without merit, but it serves to obtain the grace of pardon; for the power of obtaining it is based not upon the worth of him who prays, but upon the divine bounty, and upon the merits and promise of Jesus Christ, who has said, “Every one that asketh receiveth.” The same may be said of the prayers offered to the divine mother. If he who prays, says St. Anselm, does not deserve to be heard, the merits of Mary, to whom he commends himself, will cause him to be heard. Hence St. Bernard exhorts every sinner to pray to Mary, and to feel great confidence in praying to her; because if he does not deserve what he demands, yet Mary obtains for him, by her merits, the graces which she asks of God for him. The office of a good mother, says the same saint, is this: if a mother knew that her two sons were deadly enemies, and that one was plotting against the life of the other, what would she do but endeavor in every way to pacify him ?

Thus, says the saint, Mary is mother of Jesus, and mother of man; when she sees any one by his sin an enemy of Jesus Christ, she can not endure it, and makes every effort to reconcile them. Our most indulgent lady only requires the sinner to commend himself to her, and have the intention to reform. When she sees a sinner coming to implore mercy at her feet, she does not regard the sins with which he is laden, but the intention with which he comes. If he comes with a good intention, though he have committed all the sins in the world, she embraces him, and this most loving mother condescends to heal all the wounds of his soul; for she is not only called by us the mother of mercy, but she really is such, and shows herself such by the love and tenderness with which she succors us. The blessed Virgin herself expressed all this to St. Bridget, when she said to her, However great may be a man s sins, when he turns to me, I am immediately ready to receive him; neither do I consider bow much he has sinned, but with what intention he comes; for I do not disdain to anoint and heal his wounds, because I am called, and truly am, the mother of mercy.

Mary is the mother of sinners who desire to be converted, and as a mother she cannot but compassionate them, and it even seems that she regards the woes of her poor children as her own. When the woman of Chanaan implored Jesus Christ to liberate her daughter from the demon which tormented her, she said: “Have mercy on me, oh Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously troubled by a devil.”f But as the daughter, not the mother, was tormented by the devil, it would seem that she should have said, “Oh Lord, have mercy on my daughter,” not “have mercy upon me ;” but no, she said: ” Have mercy upon me,”and with reason, for all the miseries of children are felt as their own by their mothers. Exactly thus Mary prays God, says Richard of St. Laurence, when she commends to him a sinner who has recommended himself to her “Have mercy upon me.”

It is as if she said to him, My Lord, this poor creature, who is in sin, is my child; have pity on him, not so much on him as on me who am his mother. Oh, would to God that all sinners would have recourse to this sweet mother, for all would certainly be pardoned by God. Oh Mary, exclaims St. Bouaventure, in wonder; thou dost embrace, with maternal affection the sinner who is despised by the whole world! neither dost thou leave him until he is reconciled to his Judgelf The saint here intends to say that the sinner who remains in sin is hated and rejected by all men; even insensible creatures, fire, air, the earth would punish him, and inflict vengeance upon him in order to repair the honor of their insulted Lord. But if this wretch has recourse to Mary, does she banish him from her presence? No: if he comes asking for help, and intending to amend, she embraces him with the affection of a mother, and does not leave him until she has reconciled him to God by her powerful intercession, and re-established him in his grace.

We read in the 2d book of Kings, that the wise woman of Thecua said to David: “My Lord, I had two sons, and for my misfortune one has killed the other; so that I have already lost a child; justice would now take from me my other and only son; have pity on me a poor mother, and do not let me be deprived of both my children.” Then David had compassion on this mother, and liberated the criminal, and restored him to her. It appears that Mary offers the same petition when God is angry with a sinner, who has recourse to her: Oh my God, she says to him, I had two sons, Jesus and man; man has killed my Jesus on the cross; thy justice would now condemn man; my Lord, my Jesus is dead; have mercy upon me, and if I have lost one, do not condemn me to lose the other also. Ah, God assuredly does not condemn those sinners who have recourse to Mary, and for whom she prays; since God himself has given these sinners to Mary for her children.

The devout Lanspergius puts these words into the mouth of our Lord: I have commended sinners to Mary as her children. Wherefore she is so watchful in the performance of her office that she permits none to be lost who are committed to her care, especially those who invoke her, and uses all her power to lead them back to me. And who can describe, says Blosius, the goodness, the mercy, the fidelity, and the charity with which this our mother strives to save us, when we invoke her aid? Let us prostrate ourselves, then, says St. Bernard, before this good mother, let us cling to her sacred feet, and leave her not until she gives us her blessing, and accepts us for her children. Who could distrust the goodness of this mother? said St. Bonaventure.

Though she should slay me, I will hope in her; and, confident in my trust, I would die near her image, and be saved. And thus should every sinner say who has recourse to this kind mother: Oh my Lady and mother, I deserve for my faults that thou shouldst banish me from thy presence, and shouldst punish me for my sins; but even if thou shouldst cast me off and slay me, I shall never lose confidence in thee and in thy power to save me. In thee I entirely confide, and if it be my fate to die before some image of thine, re commending myself to thy compassion, I should have a certain hope of my salvation, and of going to praise thee in heaven, united to all thy servants who called upon thee for aid in death, and are saved. Let the following example be read, and let the reader judge if any sinner can distrust the mercy and love of this good mother, if he has recourse to her.

EXAMPLE

It is narrated by Belluacensis that in Ridolio, a city of England, in the year 1430, there lived a young nobleman named Ernest, who gave all his patrimony to the poor, and entered a monastery, where he led so holy a life that he was greatly esteemed by his superiors, particularly for his special devotion to the most holy Virgin. It happened that a pestilence prevailed in that city and the citizens had recourse to that monastery to ask the prayers of the monks. The abbot ordered Ernest to go and pray before the altar of Mary, and not to quit it until she had given him an answer. The youth remained there three days, and received from Mary, in answer, some prayers, which were to be said. They were said, and the plague ceased. It happened afterwards that this youth became less ardent in his devotion to Mary; the devil assailed him with many temptations, especially to impurity, and to a desire to flee from the monastery; and having neglected to recommend himself to Mary, he resolved to take flight by casting himself from the wall of the monastery; but passing before an image of the Virgin which stood in the corridor, the mother of God spoke to him, and said: “My son, why do you leave me?”

Ernest was overwhelmed with surprise, and, filled with compunction, fell on the earth, saying: “My Lady, behold, I have no power to resist, why do you not aid me?” and the Madonna replied: “Why have you not invoked me? If you had sought my protection, you would not have been reduced to this; from this day commend yourself to me, and have confidence.” Ernest returned to his cell ; but the temptations were renewed, yet he neglected to call upon Mary for assistance. He finally fled from the monastery, and leading a bad life, he went on from one sin to another, till he became an assassin. He rented an inn, where in the night he murdered unfortunate travellers and stripped them of all they had. Pne night, among others, he killed the cousin of the governor of the place, who, after examination and trial, condemned him to the gallows. But during the examination, a young traveller arrived at the inn, and the host, as usual, laid his plans and entered his chamber to assassinate him: but on approaching the bed, he finds the young man gone and a Christ on the cross, covered with wounds, in his place. Our Lord, looking compassionately at him, said: “Is it not enough that I have died once for thee? Dost thou wish to slay me again? Do it, then; lift thy hand and kill me!”

Then the poor Ernest, covered with confusion, began to weep, and exclaimed: “Oh Lord, behold me ready to return to thee, who hast shown me so much mercy.” He immediately left the inn to go back to the monastery and do penance; but the officers of justice overtook him on the way, he was carried before the judge, and in his pres ence confessed all the murders he had com mitted. He was at once condemned to death, without even being allowed time for confession. He commended himself to Mary. He was hung upon the gallows, but the Virgin prevented his death. She herself released him, and said to him: “Return to the monastery; do penance; and when you shall see in my hand a paper containing the pardon of thy sins, then prepare to die. Ernest returned, and having related all to the abbot, did great penance. After many years, he saw in the hand of Mary the paper containing his pardon; he then prepared for his last end, and died a holy death.

PRAYER

Oh Mary, sovereign queen, and worthy mother of my God, most holy Mary! Finding myself so vile, so laden with sin, I dare not approach thee and call thee mother. But I cannot let my miseries deprive me of the consolation and con fidence I feel in calling thee mother. I know that I deserve to be rejected by thee, but I pray thee to consider what thy son Jesus has done and suffered for me; and then cast me from thee if thou canst. I am a poor sinner, who, more than others, have despised the divine Majesty; but the evil is already done. To thee I have recourse: thou canst help me; oh, my mother, help me. Do not say that thou canst not aid me, for I know that thou art omnipotent, and dost obtain whatever thou desireth from thy God. If then thou sayest that thou canst not help me, at least tell me to whom I must have recourse for succor in my deep distress. With St. Anselra, 1 will say to thee, and to thy Son : Have pity on me, oh thou, my Redeemer, and pardon me, thou my mother, and recommend me to pardon; or teach me to whom I may have recourse, who is more compassionate than you, and in whom I may have more confidence. No, neither in heaven nor on earth can I find one who has more compassion for the miserable, or who can aid me more than you. Thou, oh Jesus, art my father, and thou, oh Mary, art my mother. You love those who are the most wretched, and you seek to save them. I am worthy of hell, and of all beings the most miserable; you need not to seek me, neither do I ask you to seek me; I present my self to you with a sure hope that I shall not be abandoned by you. Behold me at your feet; my Jesus, pardon me; my Mary, help me.

The Glories Of Mary – Part 3

HOW GREAT IS THE LOVE OF OUR MOTHER FOR US.

by ST. ALPHONSUS LIGUORI

If, then, Mary is our mother, let us consider how much she loves us. The love of parents for their children is a necessary love, and for this reason, as St. Thomas observes, children are commanded in the divine law to love their parents; but there is no command, on the other hand, given to parents to love their children, for love towards one s own offspring is a love so deeply planted in the heart by nature herself, that even the wild beasts, as St. Ambrose says, never fail to love their young.

It is said that even tigers, hearing the cry of their whelps when they are taken by the hunters, will plunge into the sea to swim after the vessels where they are confined. If, then, says our most loving mother Mary, even tigers cannot forget their young, how can I forget to love you, my children ? And, she adds, even if it should happen that a mother could forget her child, it is not possible that I can forget a soul which is my child.

Mary is our mother, not according to tHe flesh, but by love: “I am the mother of fair love. ” Hence she becomes our mother only on account of the love she bears us; and she glories, says a certain author, in being the mother of love; because, having taken us for her children, she is all love towards us. Who can describe the love of Mary for us miserable creatures?

Arnold of Carnotensis says that, at the death of Jesus Christ, she ardently desired to die with her Son for our sake. So that, as St. Ambrose adds, when her Son hung dying on the cross, Mary offered herself to his murderers, that she might give her life for us.

But let us consider the reasons of this love, for thus we shall better understand how this good mother loves us. The first reason of the great love that Mary bears to men, is the great love she bears to God. Love to God and man is contained in the same precept, as St. John has written: “This commandment we have from God, that he who loveth God, love also his brother ;” so that one increases as the other increases. Hence what have the saints not done for love of the neighbor, because they have loved God so much? They have gone so far as to expose and lose liberty and even life for his salvation.

Let us read what St. Francis Xavier did in India, where, for the sake of the souls of those barbarians, he climbed mountains, and exposed himself to in numerable dangers to find those wretched beings, in the caverns where they dwelt like wild beasts, and to lead them to God. St. Francis de Sales, to convert the heretics of the province of Chablais, risked his life by crossing a river every day for a year, on his hands and knees, upon a frozen beam, that he might go to the other side to preach to those stubborn men. St. Paulinus became a slave, to obtain liberty for the son of a poor widow. St. Fidelis, to bring the heretics of a cerrtain place back to God, willingly consented, in preaching to them, to lose his life. The saints, then, because they have loved God so much, have done much for love of the neighbor. But who has loved God more than Mary? She loved God more, in the first moment of her life, than all the saints and angels have loved him in the whole course of theirs; as we shall consider at length, when we speak of the virtues of Mary.

She herself revealed to sister Mary of the Crucifixion, that the fire of love with which she burned for God was so great, that it would in a moment inflame heaven and earth; and that, in comparison to it, all the flames of the burning love of the seraphim were as cool breezes. Therefore, as there is none among the blessed spirits who loves God more than Mary; so there is, and can be none, except God, who loves us more than this our most loving mother. If the love of all mothers for their children, of all husbands for their wives, and of all saints and angels for their devoted servants, were united, it would not be so great as the love that Mary bears to one soul alone. Father Nierembergh says that the love which all mothers have borne to their children is a shadow when compared with the love which Mary bears to any one of us. Truly she alone loves us more, he adds, than all the angels and saints united.

Moreover, our mother loves us much, because we have been commended to her as children by her beloved Jesus, when, before expiring, he said to her: “Woman, behold thy son;” signifying by the person of John, all men, as we have before remarked. These were the last words of her Son to her. The last remembrances left by beloved friends at the moment of their death are greatly valued, and the memory of them is never lost. Moreover, we are children extremely dear to Mary, because we cost her so much suffering. Those children are much dearer to a mother whose lives she has preserved; we are those children, for whom, that we may have the life of grace, Mary suffered the pain of sacrific ing the dear life of her Jesus; submitting, for our sake, to see him die before her eyes in cruel torments.

By this great offering of Mary we were then born to the life of divine grace. So, then, we are children very dear to her, because we were redeemed at such a cost of suffering. Accordingly, as we read of the love which the eter nal Father has manifested for men by giving his own Son to death for us, “God so loved the world as to give his only-begotten Son :” as St. Bonaventure remarks, it may be said of Mary also, that she so loved us as to give her only-begotten Son And when did she give him to us? She gave him to us, says Father Nieremberg, when first she consented to his death; she gave him to us, when others deserted him through hatred or through fear, and she alone could have defended, before the judges, the life of her Son. We can easily believe that the words of so wise and tender a mother would have had a great power, at least with Pilate, to induce him to abstain from condemning to death a man whom he knew and declared innocent. But no, Mary would not utter even one word in favor of her Son, to prevent his death, upon which our salvation depended; finally, she gave him to us again at the foot of the cross, in those three hours when she was witnessing his death; because then, at every moment, she was offering up for us his life, with the deepest grief, and the greatest love for us, at the cost of great trouble and suffering, and with such firmness, that if executioners had been wanting, as St. Anselm and St. Antoninus tell us, she herself would have crucified him in obedience to the will of the Father, who had decreed he should die for our salvation.

And if Abraham showed a similar fortitude in consenting to sacrifice his son with his own hands, we must believe that Mary would certainly have done the same, with more resolution, as she was holier, and more obedient than Abraham. But to return to our subject. How grateful should we be to Mary, for an act of so much love! for the sacrifice she made of the life of her Son, in the midst of so much anguish, to obtain salvation for us all! The Lord, indeed, re warded Abraham for the sacrifice he was prepared to make to him of his son Isaac; but what can we render to Mary for the life of her Jesus, as she has given us a Son more noble and beloved than the son of Abraham? This love of Mary, says St. Bonaventure, greatly obliges us to love her, seeing that she has loved us more than any other created being loves us, since she has given for us her only Son, whom she loved more than herself.

And from this follows another reason why we are so much beloved by Mary: because she knows that we have been purchased by the death of Jesus Christ. If a mother should see a servant redeemed by a beloved son of hers, by twenty years of imprisonment and suffering, for this reason alone how much would she esteem that servant! Mary well knows that her Son came upon earth solely to save us miserable sinners, as he himself declared: “I have come to save what was lost.” And to save us he has consented to lay down his life for us: “Becoming obedient unto death.”

If Mary, then, had little love for us, she would slightly value the blood of her Son, which was he price of our salvation. It was revealed to St. Elizabeth, the nun, that Mary, from the time she was in the temple, was always praying that God would quickly send his Son to save the world. Now, how much more certainly must we believe that she loves us, after she has seen us so greatly prized by her Son, that he deigned to purchase us at such a cost!

And because all men have been redeemed by Jesus, Mary loves and favors all. She was seen by St. John clothed with the sun: “And there appeared a great wonder in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun.” She is said to be clothed with the sun, because, as “There is no one that can hide himself from his heat,” so there is no one living on the earth who is deprived of the love of Mary. From the heat of the sun, as it is explained by the venerable Raymond Jordan, who through humility called himself the Idiot, that is, from the love of Mary. And who, says St. Anthony, can comprehend the care which this loving mother has of us all? Therefore, to all she offers and dispenses her mercy. For our mother has desired the salvation of all, and has co-operated with her Son in the salvation of all.

It is certain that she is concerned for the whole human race, as St. Bernard affirms ;| hence the practice of some devout servants of Mary is very useful, who, as Cornelius a Lapide relates, have the habit of praying our Lord to grant them those graces which the blessed Virgin is seeking for them, using these words: “Oh Lord, give me what the most holy Virgin Mary is asking for me.” And this is well, as à Lapide adds, for our mother desires greater things for us than we think of asking for ourselves.

The devout Bernardine de Bustis says, that Mary is more desirous to do us good, and bestow favors upon us, than we are to receive them. There fore blessed Albertus Magnus applies to Mary the words of wisdom: ” She preventeth them that covet her, so that she first showeth herself unto them.” So great is the love, says Richard of St. Laurence, which this good mother bears us, that when she perceives our neces sities, she comes to relieve them. She hastens before she is invoked.

If Mary, then, is good to all, even to the ungrateful and negligent, who have but little love for her, and seldom have recourse to her, how much more loving must she not be to those who love her and often invoke her! “She is easily seen by them that love her. ” Oh, how easy it is, exclaims the same blessed Albertus, for those who love Mary to find her, and find her full of love and pity!

I love them that love me,”she assures us, and declares that she can not but love those who love her. And although our most loving lady loves all men as her chil dren, yet, says St. Bernard, she recognizes and loves especially those who most tenderly love her. Those happy lovers of Mary, as the Idiot asserts, are not only loved, but served by her.

Leonard the Dominican, as we read in the chronicles of his order, who was accustomed to recommend himself two hundred times a day to this mother of mercy, when he was on his death-bed, saw one beautiful as a queen by his side, who said to him: Leonard, do you wish to die and come to my Son and me? ” “Who are you? ” answered the religious. “I am the mother of mercy,” replied the Virgin; “you have many times invoked me, and now I come to take you: let us go to paradise.” On that same day Leonard died, and we hope that he followed her to the kingdom of the blessed.

“Ah, most sweet Mary, blessed is he who loves you the venerable brother John Berchmans, of the society of Jesus, used to say: “If I love Mary, I am sure of perseverance, and I shall obtain from God whatsoever I wish.” And this devout youth was never satisfied with renewing his intention, and often repeated to himself : “I will love Mary, I will love Mary.”

Oh,how much this our good mother exceeds all her children in affection, even if they love her to the extent of their power! “Mary is always more loving than her lovers,”says St. Ignatius, martyr. Let us love her as much as St. Stanislaus Kostka, who loved this his dear mother so tenderly, that when he spoke of her, every one who heard him desired to love her also; lie invented new titles hy which he honored hef name; he never commenced an action without first turning to her image and asking her blessing; when he recited her office, her rosary, and other prayers, he repeated them with such affectionate earnestness,that he seemed speaking face to face with Mary; when he heard the Salve Regina sung, his soul and even his countenance was all on fire; when asked one day hy a father of the society, as they were going together to visit an altar of the blessed Virgin, how much he loved her,”Father,” he answered, “what can I say more than she is my mother ? ” And that father tells us how the holy youth spoke these words with such tender emotion of voice, countenance, and heart, that he appeared not a man,but an angel discoursing the love of Mary.

Let us love her as much as blessed Hermann, who called her his beloved spouse, whilst he also was honored by Mary with the same name. As much as St. Philip Neri, who felt wholly consoled in merely thinking of Mary, and on this account named her his delight. As much as St. Bonaventure, who not only called her his lady and mother, but, to show the tender affection he bore her, went so far as to call her his heart and his soul: Hail, lady, my mother; yea, my heart, my soul.” Let us love her as much as her great lover St. Bernard, who loved his sweet mother so much, that he called her “the ravisher of hearts:” f whence the saint, in order to express to her the ardent love he bore her, said to her, “Hast thou not stolen my heart? ”

Let us name her our beloved mistress, as St. Bernardine of Sienna named her, who went every day to visit her before her sacred image, in order to declare his love in the tender colloquies he held with his queen. When he was asked where he went every day, he answered that he went to find his beloved. Let them love her as much as St. Louis of Gonzaga, who burned continually with so great love of Mary, that as soon as he heard the sound of the sweet name of his dear mother, his heart kindled, and a flame perceptible to all, lighted up his countenance. Let us love her like St. Francis Solano, who, distracted by a holy passion for Mary, sometimes went with a musical instrument to sing of love before her altar, saying that, like earthly lovers, he was serenading his beloved queen.

Let us love her as so many of her servants have loved her, who had no way left of manifesting their love to her. Father Jerome of Trexo, of the Society of Jesus, delighted in calling himself the slave of Mary, and as a mark of his servitude went often to visit her in a church: and what did he do there? He watered the church with the tears of that tender love which he felt for Mary; then he wiped them with his lips, kissing that pavement a thousand times, remembering that it was the house of his beloved mistress. Father Diego Martinez, of the same society, who, on account of his devotion to our Lady, on the feasts of Mary, was carried by angels to heaven, that he might see with how much devotion they were celebrated there, said, “Would that I had all the hearts of the angels and the saints to love Mary as they love her. Would that I had the lives of all men, to devote them all to the love of Mary!”

Let others love her as Charles the son of St. Bridget loved her, who said that he knew of nothing in the world which gave him so much consolation as the thought of how much Mary was beloved by God; and he added, that he would accept every suffering rather than that Mary should lose, if it were possible for her to lose it, the least portion of her greatness; and if the greatness of Mary were his, he would renounce it in her behalf, because she was more worthy of it. Let us desire to sacrifice our life in testimony of our love to Mary, as Alphonso Rodriguez desired to do. Let us, like Francesco Binanzio, a religious, and Radagunde, wife of King Clotaire, engrave with sharp instruments of iron upon our breast the sweet name of Mary. Let us, with red-hot iron, impress upon our flesh the beloved name, that it may be more distinct and more enduring, as did her devoted servants Battista Archinto and Agostino d Espinosa, both of the Company of Jesus.

If, then, the lovers of Mary imitate, as much as possible, those lovers who endeavor to make known their affection to the person beloved, they can never love her so much as she loves them. I know, oh Lady, said St. Peter Damian, how loving thou art, and that thou lovest us with un conquerable love. The venerable Alphonso Rodriguez, of the Society of Jesus, was once standing before an image of Mary; and there burning with love for the most holy Virgin, broke forth into these words: “My most amiable mother, I know that thou lovest me, but thou dost not love me so much as I love thee.” Then Mary, as if wounded in her love, spoke to him from that image and said: “What dost thou say what dost thou say, oh Alphonso? Oh, how much greater is the love I bear thee than the love thou bearest me! Know that the distance from heaven to earth is not so great as from my love to thine.”

With how much reason, then, did St. Bonaventure exclaim: Blessed are those whose lot it is to be faithful servants and lovers of this mosl loving mother! For this most grateful queen is never surpassed in love by her devoted servants. Mary, in this respect, imitating our loving Redeemer Jesus Christ, makes by her favors a twofold return to him who loves her. I will exclaim, then, with the enamored St. Anselm: May my heart languish, may my soul melt with your never-failing love. May my heart always burn and my soul be consumed with love for you, oh Jesus, my beloved Saviour, oh my dear mother Mary. Grant then, oh Jesus and Mary, since without your grace I cannot love you, grant to my soul, not through my merits, but through yours, that I may love you as you deserve. Oh, God! the lover of men, thou hast died for thy enemies, and canst thou deny to him who asks it, the grace of loving thee and thy mother?

EXAMPLE.

It is narrated by Father Auriemma,] that a. poor shepherdess loved Mary so much that all her delight was to go to a little chapel of our Lady, on a mountain, and there in solitude, while her sheep were feeding, to converse with her beloved mother and pay her devotion to her. When she saw that the figure of Mary, in relief, was unadorned, she began, by the poor labor of her hands, to make a drapery for it.

Having gathered one day some flowers in the fields, she wove them into a garland, and then ascending the altar of that little chapel, placed it on the head of the figure, saying: “Oh, my mother, I would that I could place on thy head a crown of gold and gems; but as I am poor, receive from me this poor crown of flowers, and accept it as a token of the love I bear thee.” Thus this devout maiden always endeavored to serve and honor her beloved Lady. But let us see how our good mother, on the other hand, rewarded the visits and the affection of her child. She fell ill, and was near her end. It happened that two religious passing that way, weary with travelling, stopped to rest under a tree; one fell asleep and the other watched, but both had the same vision.

They saw a company of beautiful virgins, and among them there was one who, in loveliness and majesty, surpassed the rest. One of the brothers addressed her, and said: “Lady, who art thou? and where art thou going?” “I am the mother of God,” she replied, “and I am going to the neighboring village, with these holy virgins, to visit a dying shepherdess, who has many times visited me.” She spoke thus and disappeared. These two good servants of God proposed to each other to go and visit hei also. They went towards the place where the dying maiden lived, entered a small cottage, and there found her lying upon a little straw. They saluted her, and she said to them: “Brothers, ask of God that he may permit you to see the company that surrounds me.” They were quickly on their knees, and saw Mary, with a crown in her hand by the side of the dying girl, consoling her. Then those holy virgins began to sing, and with that sweet music the blessed soul was released from the body. Mary crowned her, and took her soul with her to paradise.

PRAYER

Oh Lady, Ravisher of hearts I would ex claim with St. Boriaventure; who, with the love and favor thou dost bestow upon thy servants, dost ravish their hearts; take my miserable heart also, which desires so earnestly to love thee. Thou, oh my mother, with thy beauty hast enamored a God, and hast drawn him from heaven into thy bosom, and shall I live without loving thee? No. I will say to thee with thy loving child John Berchmans: “I will never rest until I have attained a tender love for my mother Mary.” No, I will not rest until I am certain of having obtained a love a constant and tender love for thee, my mother, who hast loved me with so much tenderness even when I was so ungrateful towards thee. And where should I now be if thou, oh Mary, hadst not loved me, and obtained so many favors for me? If then thou hast loved me so much when I did not love thee, how much more may I confide in thy goodness, now that I love thee?

I love thee, oh my mother, and would wish for a heart capable of loving thee, for all those unhappy beings who do not love thee. Would that my tongue could praise thee with the power of a thousand tongues, in order to make known thy greatness, thy holiness, thy mercy, and thy love, with which thou lovest those who love thee. If I had riches, I would employ them all for thy honor; if I had subjects, I would make them ail thy lovers; for thee and for thy glory I would give my life, if it were required. I love thee, oh my mother, but at the same time I fear that thou dost not love me, for I have heard that love makes lovers like those they love. If then I find myself so unlike to thee, it is a proof that I do not love thee. Thou so pure, I so unclean; thou so humble, I so proud; thou so holy, I so sinful. But this, oh Mary, is to be thy work; since thou lovest me, make me like unto thyself. Thou hast the power to change the heart; take then mine and change it. Let the world see what thou canst do for those who love thee. Make me holy make me worthy of thy Son. Thus I hope; thus may it be.

The Glories Of Mary – St. Alphonsus Part 2

HOW MUCH GREATER SHOULD BE OUR CONFIDENCE IN MARY BECAUSE SHE IS OUR MOTHER.

Not by chance, nor in vain, do the servants of Mary call her mother, and it would seem that they cannot invoke her by any other name, and are never weary of calling her mother; mother, indeed, for she is truly our mother, not according to the flesh, but the spiritual mother of our souls and of our salvation. Sin, when it deprived our souls of divine grace, also deprived them of life.

Hence, when they were dead in misery and sin, Jesus our Redeemer came with an excess of mercy and love to restore to us, by his death upon the cross, that lost life, as he has himself declared : “I am come that they may have life, and may have it more abundantly.” More, abundantly, because, as the theologians teach us, Jesus Christ by his redemption brought us blessings greater than the injury Adam inflicted upon us by his sin; he reconciled us to God, and thus became the father of our souls, under the new law of grace, as the prophet Isaiah predicted: “The Father of the world to come, the Prince of peace.” But if Jesus is the father of our souls, Mary is the mother; for, in giving us Jesus, she gave us the true life; and offering upon Calvary the life of her Son for our salvation, she then brought us forth to the life of divine grace.

At two different times, then as the holy Fathers show us, Mary became our spiritual mother; the first when she was found worthy of conceiving in her virginal womb the Son of God, as the blessed Albertus Magnus says.

St. Bernardine of Sienna more distinctly teaches us that when the most holy Virgin, on the annunciation of the angel, gave her consent to be come mother of the eternal Word, which he awaited before making himself her Son, she by this consent even from that time demanded of God, with lively affection, our salvation; and she was so earnestly engaged in obtaining it, that from that time she has borne us, as it were, in her womb, as a most loving mother.

St. Luke says, speaking of the birth of our Saviour, that Mary “brought forth her first-born son.”J Therefore, says a certain writer, if the evangelist affirms that Mary brought forth her first-born, is it to be supposed that she afterwards had the children? But the same author adds; If it is of faith that Mary had no other children according to the flesh except Jesus, then she must have other spiritual children, and these we are. Our Lord revealed this to St. Gertrude, who, reading one day the passage of the Gospel just quoted, was troubled, not knowing how to un derstand it, that Mary being mother of Jesus Christ alone, it could be said that he was her first-born. And God explained it to her, by tell ing her that Jesus was her first-born according to the flesh, but men were her second-born according to the spirit.

And this explains what is said of Mary in the holy Canticles: “Thy belly is as a heap of wheat, set about with lilies.” St. Ambrose explains this and says: Although in the pure womb of Mary there was only one grain of wheat, which was Jesus Christ, yet it is called a heap of grain, because in that one grain were contained all the elect, of whom Mary was to be the mother. Hence, William the Abbot wrote, Mary, in bringing forth Jesus, who is our Saviour and our life, brought forth all of us to life and salvation.

The second time in which Mary brought us forth to grace was, when on Calvary, she offered to the eternal Father with so much sorrow of heart the life of her beloved Son for our salvation. Wherefore, St. Augustine asserts, that, having then co-operated by her love with Christ in the birth of the faithful to the life of grace, she became also by this co-operation the spiritual mother of us all, who are members of our head, Jesus Christ.

This is also the meaning of what is said of the blessed Virgin in the sacred Canticles: “They have made me the keeper in the vineyards; my vineyard I have not kept.”f Mary, to save our souls, was willing to sacrifice the life of her Son,J as William the Abbot remarks. And who was the soul of Mary, but her Jesus, who was her life and all her love?

Wherefore St. Simeon announced to her that her soul would one day be pierced by a sword of sorrow ; which was the very spear that pierced the side of Jesus, who was the soul of Mary. And then she in her sorrow brought us forth to eternal life; so that we may all call ourselves children of the dolors of Mary. She, our most loving mother, was always and wholly united to the divine will; whence St. Bonaventure remarks, that when she saw the love of the eternal Father for men, who would have his Son die for our salvation, and the love of the Son in wishing: to die for us, she too, with her whole will, offered her Son and consented that he should die that we might be saved, in order to conform herself to that exceeding love of the Father and Son for the human race.

It is true that, in dying for the redemption of the world, Jesus wished to be alone. I have trodden the wine-press alone, “Torcular calcavieolus.” But when God saw the great desire of Mary to devote herself also to the salvation of men, he ordained that by the sacrifice and offering of the life of this same Jesus, she might co-operate with him in the work of our salvation, and thus become mother of our souls.

And this our Saviour signified, when, before expiring, he saw from the cross his mother and the disciple St. John both standing near him, and first spoke to Mary: Behold thy son, “Ecce filius tuus;” as if he said to her: Behold the man who, by te offering thou hast made of my life for his salva tion, is already born to grace. And then turning to the disciple, he said: Behold thy mother, “Ecce mater tua.” By which words, says St. Bernardino of Sienna, Mary was then made mother not only of St. John, but of all men, for the love she bore them.

On this account, as Silveira observes, St. John himself, when recording this fact in his Gospel, wrote, “After that he said to the disciple: “Behold thy mother.” Let it be remarked that Jesus Christ did not say this to John, but to the disciple, to signify that the Saviour appointed Mary for common mother of all those who, being Christians, bear the name of his disciples.

I am the mother of fair love, “Ego sum mater pulchrse dilectionis,” said Mary; because her love, as an author remarks, which renders the souls of men beautiful in the eye of God, prompts her, as a loving mother, to receive us for her children. And as a mother loves her children, and watches over their welfare, so thou, oh our most sweet queen, lovest us, and dost procure our happiness, says St. Bonaventure.

Oh, happy those who live under the protection of a mother so loving and so powerful! The prophet David, although Mary was not yet born, besought of God salvation, by dedicating himself to Mary as her son, and thus prayed; “Save the son of thy handmaid.” Whose handmaid?” asks St. Augustine, “she who says: Behold the handmaid of the Lord.” And who, says Cardinal Bellarmine, who would dare to snatch these children from the bosom of Mary, where they have taken refuge from their enemies?

What fury of hell or of passion can. conquer them, if they place their trust in the protection of this great mother? It is narrated of the whale, that when she sees her young in peril, from the tempest or their pursuers, she opens her mouth and receives them into her bowels. Just so, says Novarino, does this compassionate mother of the faithful, when the tempest of the passions is raging; She then, with maternal affection, protects them as it were in her bowels, and continues to shelter them until she has placed them in the secure haven of paradise. Oh, most loving mother! Oh, most compassionate mother, be ever blessed! and may that God be ever blessed, who has given us thee as a mother, and as a secure refuge in all the dangers of this life.

The blessed Virgin herself revealed this to St. Bridget, saying: “As a mother who sees her son exposed to the sword of the enemy, makes every effort to save him, thus do I, and will I ever do for my children, sinful though they be, if they come to me for help.” Behold, then, how in every battle with hell we shall always conquer, and certainly conquer, if we have recourse to the mother of God and our mother, always repeating: “We fly to thy protection, oh holy mother of God; we fly to thy protection, oh holy mother of God.” Oh, how many victories have the faithful obtained over hell, by having recourse to Mary with this short but powerful prayer! That great servant of God, Sister Mary of the Crucifixion, a Benedictine nun, by this means always conquered the evil spirits.

Be joyful then, all ye children of Mary; remember that she adopts as her children all those who wish her for their mother. Joyful; for what fear have you of being lost when this mother defends and protects you? Thus says St. Bonaventure: Every one who loves this good mother and trusts in her protection, should take cour age and repeat: What do you fear, oh my soul? The cause of thy eternal salvation will not be lost, as the final sentence depends upon Jesus, who is thy brother, and upon Mary who is thy mother. And St. Anselm full of joy at this thought, exclaims, in order to encourage us: Oh, blessed confidence!

Oh, secure refuge! The mother of God is my mother also. With what certainty may we hope, since our salvation depends upon the sentence of a good brother and of a kind motherjf Hear, then, our mother who calls us, and says to us; “Whosoever is a little one, let him come to me.” Little children have always on their lips the word mother, and in all the dangers to which they are exposed, and in all their fears, they cry mother, Ah, most sweet Mary! Ah, most loving mother ! this is exactly what thou dost desire; that we become little children, and always call upon thee in our dangers,and always have recourse to thee, for thou wishest to aid and save us, as thou hast saved all thy children who have had recourse to thee.

EXAMPLE

In the history of the foundations of the Company of Jesus, in the kingdom of Naples, is re lated the following story of a noble youth of Scotland, named William Elphinstone. He was a relation of King James. Born a heretic, he followed the false sect to which he belonged; but enlightened by divine grace, which showed him his errors, he went to France, where, with the assistance of a good Jesuit father, who was like himself a Scotchman, and still more by the intercession of the blessed Virgin, he at length saw the truth, abjured heresy, and became a Catholic.

He went afterwards to Rome, where a friend of his found him one day very much afflicted, and weeping. He asked him the cause, and he answered, that in the night his mother had appeared to him and said: “My son, it is well for thee that thou hast entered the true Church; I am already lost, because I died in heresy.” From that time he became more fervent in his devotion to Mary, chose her for his mother, and by her was inspired to become a religious. He made a vow to do so, but being ill, he went to Naples to restore his health by a change of air. But the Lord ordered it so that he should die in Naples, and die a religious; for, having become dangerously ill soon after his arrival there, he by prayers and tears obtained from the superiors admittance, and when about receiving the viaticum, he made his vows in presence of the blessed sacrament, and was enrolled in the society. After this, in the tenderness of his feelings, he gave thanks to his mother Mary for having rescued him from heresy, and brought him to die in the true Church, and in a religious house in the midst of his brethren.

Therefore, he exclaimed: “Oh! how glorious it is to die in the midst of so many angels!” Being exhorted to take a little rest, he answered: “Ah, this is not the time to rest when the end of my life is drawing near.” Before dying, he said to the persons present: “Brethren, do you not see the angels of heaven around me?” One of the religious having heard him murmuring something to himself, asked him what he had said. He answered, that his angel-guardian had reyealed to him that he should be in purgatory but a short time, and would soon enter paradise. Then he began again to talk with his sweet mother Mary, and repeating the word, mother, mother, he tranquilly expired, like a child falling asleep in the arms of its mother. Soon after, it was revealed to a devout religious that he had already entered paradise.

PRAYER

Oh, my most holy mother, how is it possible that, having so holy a mother, I should be so wicked? A mother so inflamed with love to God, and that I should so love creatures? A mother so rich in virtue, and that I should be so poor? Oh, my most amiable mother! I no longer deserve, it is true, to be thy son, because by my bad life I have rendered myself unworthy. I am content if thou wilt accept me as thy servant. I am ready to renounce all the kingdoms of the earth, to be admitted among the lowest of thy servants. Yes, I am content, but do not forbid me to call thee my mother.

This name wholly consoles me, melts me, and reminds me of my obligation to love thee. This name encourages me to confide in thee. When I am the most terrified at the thought of my sins and of the divine justice, I feel myself comforted by the remembrance that thou art my mother, Permit ms, then, to call thee my mother, my sweetest mother. Thus I call thee, and thus I will ever call thee. Thou, next to God, shalt always be my hope, my refuge, and my love, in this valley of tears. And thus I hope to die, commending my soul, at the last moment, into thy sacred hands, saying: “My mother, my mother Mary, help me, have pity on me.” Amen.