Confidence in the Patronage of Mary.
“He that shall find me, shall find life, and shall have salvation from the Lord.” – Prov. viii. 35.
Power of Mary.
Power of Mary.
Oh! how great will be our thankfulness to the mercy of God, for having given us for our advocate, Mary, who, by her prayers, can obtain for us all the graces we stand in need of. “Truly wonderful,” exclaims St. Bonaventure, “is the bounty of our God, who has given thee, O Lady, to his guilty subjects as their advocate, so that thou art able to obtain for them by thy assistance whatever thou wilt.”1 Sinners, brethren, if we find ourselves debtors to the divine justice, and condemned to hell by our sins, let us not despair; let us have recourse to this divine mother; let us put ourselves under her protection, and she will save us. But we must have a sincere purpose of amending our lives. If we have such a purpose, and place confidence in Mary, we shall be saved. And why? Because Mary is a powerful advocate, a merciful advocate, an advocate that desires to save all.
In the first place, let us consider that Mary is a powerful advocate, who can obtain from the Judge all graces for her servants. This is a singular privilege, given to her by the Judge himself, who is her Son. “It is a great privilege, that Mary is most powerful with her Son.”2 John Gerson says that the Blessed Virgin asks nothing from God with an absolute will, which she does not obtain; and that, like a queen, she sends the angels to enlighten, to purify, and to perfect her servants. Hence, to inspire confidence in this great advocate, the Church makes us invoke her under the title of Powerful Virgin. Powerful Virgin, pray for us.3 And why is the patronage of Mary so powerful? Because she is the Mother of God. “The prayer of the divine Mother,” says St. Antoninus, “partakes of the nature of a command, and therefore it is impossible for her not to be heard.”4 The prayers of Mary are the prayers of a mother, and are therefore regarded by Jesus Christ, in a certain manner, as commands; hence it is impossible that her petitions should be rejected. St. George, Archbishop of Nicomedia, says that the Redeemer, as if to discharge the obligation which he owes to his mother for having given to him his human nature, hears all her prayers. Hence, St. Theophilus, Bishop of Alexandria, has written, “The Son is pleased that his Mother should pray to him, because he wishes to grant her whatsoever she asks, in order to repay her for the favor received from her in giving him flesh.”5 Hence the martyr St. Methodius exclaimed: Rejoice, rejoice, O Mary! thou hast for a debtor thy Son. We are all debtors to him; but he is a debtor to thee alone.”6
Hence Cosmas of Jerusalem says that the intercession of Mary is omnipotent.7 Yes, her prayers are omnipotent, because, as Richard of St. Laurence says, it is but just that the Mother should partake of the power of the Son. The Son, then, who is omnipotent, has made the Mother omnipotent.8 The Son is omnipotent by nature; the Mother is omnipotent by grace—that is, she obtains by her prayers whatsoever she asks, as is happily expressed in the celebrated verse: “What God doeth by right, thou, O Virgin, dost by prayer.”9 This was revealed to St. Bridget, who one day heard Jesus Christ addressing his mother in the following words: “Ask from me what you wish; for your petition cannot be fruitless.”10 My mother, ask as much as you please; for I shall hear all your prayers. He then subjoins the reason. “Because you refused me nothing on earth, I will refuse nothing to you in heaven.”11 You refused me nothing when I lived on earth; it is just that I should refuse nothing to you now that you are with me in heaven.
In fine, there is no sinner, however abandoned, whom Mary cannot save by her intercession. “You have,” says St. George of Nicomedia, “insuperable strength, lest the multitude of our sins should overcome your clemency. Nothing resists your power; for the Creator regards your glory as his own.”12 O Mother of God, nothing can resist thy power, since thy Creator regards thy glory as his own.”13 “Nothing, then,” says St. Peter Damian, “is impossible to thee, who can raise even those who are in despair to a hope of salvation.”14
Affections and Prayers.
My dear Queen and Mother, Mary, I will address thee in the words of St. Germanus: “Thou art omnipotent in saving sinners; thy prayers are all-powerful with God, because thou art the mother of true life.”15 Then, O my mistress, if I have recourse to thee, all my sins cannot make me despair of salvation. Thou obtainest by thy prayers whatever thou wishest. If thou prayest for me I shall certainly be saved. I will then say to thee with St. Bernard: Pray for me, who am so miserable, O great Mother of God, for thy Son hears thee, and grants whatsoever thou askest.16 I am indeed a sinner; but I wish to amend my life, and I glory in being specially devoted to thee. I am, it is true, unworthy of thy protection; but I know that thou hast never abandoned any one who has placed his trust in thee. Thou art able and willing to save me, and I trust in thee. When I was in the state of perdition, and forgetful of thee, thou didst think of me, and didst obtain for me the grace to enter into myself. How much more ought I to trust in thy mercy now that I am dedicated to thy service, and that I recommend myself with confidence to thy prayers! O Mary! pray for me, and obtain for me the grace to be a saint. Obtain for me holy perseverance; obtain for me a great love of thy Son, and of thee, O my amiable mother! I love thee, O my Queen! and hope to love thee always. Do thou also love me, and obtain for me the grace that I may be transformed from a sinner into a saint.
Mercy of Mary.
Mercy of Mary.
Let us consider, in the second place, that Mary is an advocate as merciful as she is powerful, and that she knows not how to refuse her protection to any soul that has recourse to her. The eyes of the Lord, says David, are upon the just; and this mother of mercy, says Richard of St. Laurence, keeps her eyes upon the just and upon sinners, that she may preserve them from falling into sin, or that, should they fall, she may raise them up.17 St. Bonaventure used to say that, in looking at Mary, he seemed to behold mercy itself.18 Hence St. Bernard exhorts us to recommend ourselves with great confidence in all our necessities to this powerful advocate, who is all sweetness and benignity to those who invoke her intercession.19 Hence Mary is called an olive-tree. As a fair olive-tree in the plains.20 As from the olive-tree nothing comes forth but oil, the symbol of mercy; so from the hands of Mary nothing flows but the graces and mercies which she dispenses to all who take shelter under her protection. Hence Denis the Carthusian has justly called her the “advocate of all sinners who have recourse to her.”21 O God! how great will be the remorse of the damned Christian in thinking that, during life, he could have saved his soul with so much facility by invoking the intercession of this mother of mercy; that he had not done so; and that there will be no more time to do it! The Blessed Virgin said one day to St. Bridget: I am called, and I really am, the Mother of mercy; for such God has made me.22 “I am called by all the Mother of mercy, and truly his mercy has made me merciful.”23 And who, but God in his mercy, because he desires our salvation, has given us this advocate to defend us? “Therefore,” adds Mary, “miserable will he be, who, while it is in his power, has not recourse to me, who am merciful.”24 Miserable is the man, and miserable for eternity, who, though he could, during life, have recommended himself to me, who am so benign and merciful to all, has neglected to have recourse to me, and is lost.
Perhaps, says St. Bonaventure, we are afraid that in asking Mary’s intercession she will refuse it to us? No, says the saint: “Mary does not refuse, and never has refused pity and aid to any sinner who has invoked her intercession.”25 She has not done so, and she cannot do so; because God has made her the queen and the mother of mercy; and as queen of mercy she is bound to attend to the care of the miserable. “Thou,” says St. Bernard, “art the queen of mercy; and who but the miserable are the subjects of mercy?”26 Hence the saint through humility adds: Since then, O Mother of God! thou art the queen of mercy, thou must have a special care of me, who am the most miserable of sinners.27 As mother of mercy it is her duty to deliver from death her sick children, to whom her mercy makes her a mother. Hence, St. Basil calls her a public hospital.28 Public hospitals are erected for the poor; and they who are in the greatest poverty have the best claims to be admitted into them. Hence, according to St. Basil, Mary ought to receive with the greatest tenderness and care the greatest sinners who have recourse to her.
But let us not doubt of the mercy of Mary. One day St. Bridget heard the Saviour saying to his mother: “Thou wouldst show compassion to the devil, should he ask it with humility.”29 The haughty Lucifer will never humble himself to ask her prayers; but if he humbled himself to this divine mother, and invoked her help, she, by her intercession, would deliver him from hell. By those words, Jesus Christ wished to give us to understand what Mary herself afterward said to the same St. Bridget—that when a sinner has recourse to her, however enormous his guilt may be, she regards not the sins with which he is charged, but the intention with which he comes. If he come with a sincere desire to amend, she receives him and heals all his wounds.30 Hence St. Bonaventure says: “Poor sinners! do not despair; raise your eyes to Mary, and trust in the mercy of this good mother.”31 Let us then, says St. Bernard, ask the grace we have lost, and let us ask it through Mary.32 The grace which we have lost, she has found, says Richard of St. Laurence;33 we therefore ought to go to her in order to recover it. When the Archangel Gabriel announced to the Most Holy Virgin the divine maternity, he said to her: Fear not, Mary, thou host found grace.34 But, since Mary was never deprived of grace, but was, on the contrary, always full of grace, how could he say that she had found it! In answer to this question, Cardinal Hugo says, that Mary found grace, not for herself, because she had always possessed it, but for us, who have lost it. Hence the same author says, that we ought to go to her and say: O Lady, property ought to be restored to him who has lost it; the grace which thou hast found is not thine, for thou hast always possessed it; it is ours, we have lost it through our own fault; thou shouldst then restore it to us.35 “Let sinners, then, who have lost grace by their sins, run—let them run to the Virgin, and say with confidence: Restore to us our property, which thou hast found.”36
Affections and Prayers.
Behold, O great Mother of God! at thy feet a miserable sinner, who has not once, but several times, voluntarily lost the divine grace, which thy Son had purchased for him by his death. O mother of mercy! I come to thee with a soul covered with wounds and sores; be not angry with me on that account, but have the greater pity on me, and assist me. I do not ask of thee earthly goods; I ask thee to obtain for me the grace of God and the love of thy Son. My mother, pray for me, and never cease to pray for me. It is through the merits of Jesus Christ and thy intercession that I am to be saved. Thy office is to intercede for sinners: I will then say, with St. Thomas of Villanova: “O our advocate, fulfil thy office!” recommend me to God and defend me. No cause, however desperate, is lost, when defended by thee. Thou, after Jesus, art the hope of sinners; thou art my hope. O Mary! I will not cease to serve thee, to love thee, and to have recourse to thee always. Do not then ever cease to pray for me, particularly when thou seest me in danger of again losing the grace of God. O Mary, O great mother of God, have pity on me.
Charity of Mary.
Charity of Mary.
Let us consider, in the third place, that Mary is so merciful an advocate, that she not only assists all who have recourse to her, but also goes in search of the miserable, in order to defend and save them. Behold how she invites us all, and encourages us to hope for every good, if we have recourse to her. In me is all hope of life and virtue. Come over to me all.37 In explaining this passage, the devout Pelbart says: “She invites all, the just and sinners.”38 The devil, according to St. Peter, goes about continually seeking whom he may devour.39 But this divine mother, says Bernard da Bustis, goes about seeking whom she may save.40 Mary is called the mother of mercy; because, like a mother, she cannot see her children in danger of being lost without giving them assistance. Mary pities all our miseries, and constantly seeks our salvation. And, says St. Germanus, who, after Jesus, has greater care of our salvation, than thou, O mother of mercy?41 St. Bonaventure says that Mary is so solicitous about the relief of the miserable, that she appears to desire nothing with greater ardor than to comfort them.42
She certainly assists us as often as we have recourse to her; no one has ever been rejected by her, says the Idiot.43 But this, adds Richard of St. Victor, is not enough for her; she anticipates our supplications, and obtains aid for us before we ask her prayers.44 Moreover, the same author says, that Mary is so full of mercy, that, as soon as she sees misery, she instantly obtains relief, and cannot behold any one in distress without coming to his assistance.45 It was thus she acted when she lived on this earth, as we learn from what happened at the marriage of Cana in Galilee; where, when the wine failed, she did not wait to be asked, but taking pity on the affliction and shame of the spouses, asked her Son to console them, saying: They have no wine.46 Thus she induced him to change, by miracle, water into wine. But, says St. Bonaventure, if Mary’s compassion for the afflicted was so great while she was in this world, her pity for us is certainly much greater now that she is in heaven, where she has a better knowledge of our miseries, and greater compassion for us.47 Novarino adds: If Mary, unasked, shows such readiness to afford relief, how much more careful will she be to console those who ask her prayers!48
Ah! let us never cease to have recourse in all our necessities to the divine mother, who is always ready to obtain relief for all who pray to her. “You will find her ever ready to assist,”49 says Richard of St. Laurence. And Bernardine da Bustis adds, that she desires more ardently to obtain graces for us, than we do to receive them.50 Hence he says that, whenever we have recourse to her, we shall always find her hands full of graces and mercies.51 According to St. Bonaventure, Mary’s desire for our welfare and salvation is so great, that she feels offended not only with those who do her a positive injury, but also with those who neglect to ask favors from her.52 And, on the other hand, the saint affirms that they who invoke Mary’s intercession (that is, with a determination to amend their lives) are saved. Hence he calls her the salvation of those who invoke her.53 Let us, then, always have recourse to the divine mother, and always say to her with the holy Doctor: “In thee, O Lady, have I hoped; may I not be confounded forever.”54 No, O Lady, O mother of God, O Mary! I shall not be lost after having placed my hopes in thee after Jesus.
Affections and Prayers.
O Mary! behold at thy feet a miserable slave of hell, who implores thy mercy. I, indeed, deserve no good; but thou art the mother of mercy, and mercy is exercised in favor of those who are unworthy of it. The whole world calls thee the refuge and the hope of sinners; then thou art my refuge and my hope. I am a lost sheep; but to save the lost sheep, the Eternal Word came down from heaven, and became thy Son; he wishes that I have recourse to thee, and that thou assist me by thy prayers. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us, sinners. O great Mother of God! thou prayest for all; pray to thy Son also for me: tell him that I am thy Client, and that thou art my protectress: tell him that in thee, after him, I have placed all my hopes; tell him to pardon me, that I repent of all the insults I have offered to him; tell him to grant me in his mercy holy perseverance: tell him to grant me the grace to love him with my whole heart. In fine, tell him to save me. He does whatsoever thou askest. O Mary, my hope! in thee I trust; have pity on me.
1“O certe Dei nostri mira benignitas, qui suis reis te, Dominam, tribuit Advocatum, ut, quod volueris. pro nobis valeas impetrare” – Stim. am. p. 3, c. 19.
2“Grande privilegium, quod Maria apud Filium sit potentissima.” – St. Bonav. in Spec. lect. vi.
3Virgo potens, ora pro nobis.
4“Oratio Deiparæ habet rationem imperii; unde impossible est eam non exaudiri.” – P. 4, I. 15, c. 17, § 4.
5“Filius. quasi exsolvens debitum, petitiones tuas implet.” – Or. de Ingr. B. V.
6“Euge. euge, quæ debitorem habes Filium! Deo enim universi debemus, tibi autem ille debitor est.” – Or. de Sim. et Ann.
7“Omnipotens auxilium tuum, O Maria.” – Hymn 6 in depr. ad Deip.
8Cum autem eadem sit potestas Matris et Filii, ab omnipotente Filio omnipotens Mater effecta est.
9Quod Deus imperio, tu prece, Virgo, potes!
10“Pete quod vis; non enim inanis potest esse petitio tua.” – Rev. l. 6, c. 23.
11“Quia tu mihi nihil negasti in terra ego tibi nihil negabo in cœlo.” – Rev. l. 1, c. 24.
12Orat. de Exit. B. V.
13“Habes vires insuperabiles, ne clementiam tuam superet multitudo peccatorum. Nihil tuæ resistit potentiæ; tuam enim gloriam Creator existimat esse propriam.” – Or. de Ingr. B. V.
14“Nil tibi impossibile, cui possibile est desperatos in spem beatitudinis relevare.” – De Nat. B. V. s. 1.
15Serm. iii. in Dom. B. V.
16“Loquere, Domina, quia audit Filius tuus; et quacumque petieris, impetrabis.” – Depr. ad glor. V.
17“Sed oculi Dominæ super justos et peccatores, sicut oculi matris ad puerum, ne cadat, vel, si ceciderit, ut sublevet.” – De laud. B. M. l. 5.
18“Certe, Domina, cum te aspicio, nihil nisi misericordiam cerno.” – Stim, am. p. 3, c. 19.
19“Quid ad Mariam accedere trepidet humana fragilitas? Nihil austerum in ea, nihil terribile; tota suavis est.” – In sign. magn.
20“Quasi oliva speciosa in campis.” – Ecclus. xxiv. 19.
21“Advocata omnium iniquorum ad se confugientiam.” – De Laud. B. V. l. 2, a. 23.
22“Ego vocor ab omnibus Mater misericordiæ, et vere misericordia Filii mei fecit me misericordem.” – Rev. l. 2, c. 23.
23Rev. lib. I. cap. vi.
24Ideo miser erit, qui ad misericordiam, cum possit, non accedit.
25“Ipsa enim non misereri ignorat, et miseris non satisfacere nunquam scivit.” – Stim. am. p. 3, c. 13.
26Tu es Regina misericordiæ; et qui misericordiæ subditi, nisi miseri?
27“Tu Regina misericordiæ, et ego miserrimus peccator, subditorum maximus; rege nos ergo, O Regina misericordiæ.” – Paciucch. In Salve Reg. exc. 2.
29“Etiam diabolo exhiberes misericordiam, si humiliter peteret.” – Rev. extr. c. 50.
30“Quantumcumque homo peccet, si ex vera emendatione ad me reversus fuerit, statim parata sum recipere revertentem; nec attendo quantum peccaverit, sed cum quali voluntate venit; nam non dedignor ejus plagas ungere et sanare, quia vocor (et vere sum) Mater misericordiæ.” – Rev. l. 2, c. 23; l. 6, c. 117.
31“Respirate ad illam perditi peccatores, et perducet vos ad portum.” – Psalt. B. V. ps. 18.
32Quæramus gratiam, et per Madam quæramus.” – De Aquæd.
33“Cupientes invenire gratiam, quæramus Inventricem gratiæ.” – De Laud. B. M. l. 2. p. 5.
34“Ne timeas, Maria; invenisti enim gratiam.” – Luke, i. 30.
35“Currant igitur peccatores ad Virginem, qui gratiam amiserunt peccando; secure dicant: Redde nobis rem nostram, quam invenisti.” – In Luc. 1.
36“Advocata nostra. officium tuum imple.” – In Nat. B. V. conc. 3.
37“In me omnis spes vita et virtutis; transite ad me omnes.” – Ecclus. xxiv. 25.
38Omnes, justos et peccatores, invitat.
39“Circuit, quærens quem devoret.” – 1 Peter, v. 8.
40“Ipsa semper circuit, quæerens quem salvet.” – Marial. p. 3, s. 1.
41“Quis post tuum Filium ita generis humani curam gerit sicut tu?” – De sona Deip.
42“Undique sollicita de miseris. Solum misereri tu videris appetere.” – Stim. am. p. 3, c. 19.
43“Tanta est ejus benignitas, ut nemo ab ea repellatur.” – De cont. B. V. prol.
44“Velocius occurrit ejus pietas, quam invocetur, et causas miserorum anticipat.” – In Cant. c. 23.
45A Deo pietate replentur ubera tua, ut alicujus miseriæ notitia tacta, lac fundant misericordiæ, nec possis miserias scire et non subvenire.
46Vinum non habent.
47Magna erga miseros fuit misericordia Mariæ adhuc exsultantis in mundo, sed multo major est regnantis in cœlo.
48“Si tam prompta ad auxilium currit non quæsita, quid requisita præstitura est!” – Umbra virg. exc. 72.
49“Invenies semper paratam auxiliari.” – De Laud. B. M. l. 2, p. 1.
50Plus desiderat ipsa facere tibi bonum et largiri gratiam, quam tu accipere concupiscas.
51“Invenies eam in manibus plenam misericordia et largitate.” – Marial. p. 2, s. 5.
52In te, Domina, peccant, non solum qui tibi injuriam irrogant, sed etiam qui te non rogant.
53O salus te invocantium!
54In te, Domina, speravi; non confundar in æternum.