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CHAPTER VI.

 Eia ergo, Advocata nostra!

O GRACIOUS ADVOCATE.

MARY, OUR ADVOCATE.

I.

Mary is an Advocate who is able to save all.

So great is the authority that mothers possess over their sons, that even if they are monarchs, and have absolute dominion over every person in their kingdom, yet never can mothers become the subjects of their sons.  It is true that Jesus now in heaven sits at the right hand of the Father, that is, as St. Thomas (De Human. F. C. a. 23) explains it, even as man, on account of the hypostatical union with the Person of the divine Word.  He has supreme dominion over all, and also over Mary; it will nevertheless be always true that for a time, when he was living in this world, he was pleased to humble himself and to be subject to Mary, as we are told by St. Luke: And He was subject to them ("Et erat subditus illis"—Luke, ii. 51).  And still more, says St. Ambrose, Jesus Christ having deigned to make Mary his Mother, inasmuch as he was her Son, he was truly obliged to obey her.  And for this reason, says Richard of St. Laurence, "of other saints we say that they are with God; but of Mary alone can it be said that she was so far favored as to be not only herself submissive to the will of God, but even that God was subject to her will" ("Cum de caeteris Sanctis dicatur, eos esse cum Deo, Maria majus aliquid sortita est, ut non solum ipsa subjiceretur voluntati Domini, sed etiam Dominus voluntati ipsius").  And whereas of all other virgins, remarks the same author, we must say that they follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth ("Sequuntur Agnum quocumque ierit"—Apoc. xiv. 4), of the Blessed Virgin Mary we can say that the Lamb followed her, having become subject to her ("De Virgine autem Maria secure potest dici, quod Agnus sequebatur eam, quocunque ivit; unde Lucas: Erat subditus illis"—De Laud. B. M. l. i. c. 5).  `

            And here we say, that although Mary, now in heaven, can no longer command her Son, nevertheless her prayers are always the prayers of a Mother, and consequently most powerful to obtain whatever she asks.  "Mary," says St. Bonaventure, "has this great privilege, that with her Son she above all the saints is most powerful to obtain whatever she wills" ("Grande priviletgium Mariae, quod apud Deum potentissima est"—Spec. B. M. V. lect. 6).  And why?  Precisely for the reason on which we have already touched, and which we shall later on again examine at greater length, because they are the prayers of a mother.

            Therefore, says St. Peter Damian, the Blessed Virgin can do whatever she pleases both in heaven and on earth.  She is able to raise even those who are in despair to confidence; and he addresses her in these words: "All power is given to thee in heaven and on earth, and nothing is impossible to thee who canst raise those who are in despair to the hope of salvation" ("Data est tibi omnis potestas in coelo et in terra; Nihil tibi impossibile, cui possible est desperatos in spem beatitudinis relevare").  And then he adds that "when the Mother goes to seek a favor for us from Jesus Christ" (whom the saint calls the golden altar of mercy, at which sinners obtain pardon), "her Son esteems her prayers so greatly, and is so desirous to satisfy her, that when she prays it seems as if she rather commanded than prayed, and was rather a queen than a handmaid" ("Accedis enim ante illud humanae reconciliationis Altare, non salum rogans, sed imperans; Domina, non ancilla; Nam Filius, Nihil negans, honerat te"—In Nat. B. V. s. 1).  Jesus is pleased thus to honor his beloved Mother who honored him so much during her life by immediately granting all that she asks or desires.  This is beautifully confirmed by St. Germanus, who addressing our Blessed Lady says: "Thou art the Mother of God, and all-powerful to save sinners, and with God thou needest no other recommendation; for thou art the Mother of true life" (In Dorm V. M. s. 2).   

            "At the command of Mary, all obey, even God."  St. Bernardine fears not to utter this sentence; meaning, indeed, to say that God grants the prayers of Mary as if they were commands ("Imperio Virginis omnia famulantur, etiam Deus"—Pro Fest. V. M. s. 5, c. 6).  And hence St. Anseml addressing Mary says: "Our Lord, O most holy Virgin, has exalted thee to such a degree that by his favor all things that are possible to him should be possible to thee" ("Te, Domina, Deus sic exaltavit, et omnia tibi secum possibilia esse donavit."—De Excell. Virg. c. 12).  "For thy protection is omnipotent, O Mary" ("Omnipotens auxilium tuum, O Maria!"—Hymn 6), says Cosmas of Jerusalem.  "Yes, Mary is omnipotent," repeats Richard of St. Laurence; "for the queen by every law enjoys the same privileges as the king.  And as," he adds, "the power of the son and that of the mother is the same, a mother is made omnipotent by an omnipotent son" ("Eisdem privilegiis secundum leges gaudent Rex et Regina.  Cum autem eadem sit potestas Matris et Filii ab omnipotente Filio omnipotens Mater est effecta"—De Laud B. M. l. 4).  "And thus," says St. Antoninus, "God has placed the whole Church, not only under the patronage, but even under the dominion of Mary" ("Sub protectione ejus et dominio"—P. 4, t. 15, c. 20, #2). 

            Since the Mother, then, should have the same power as the Son, rightly has Jesus, who is omnipotent, made Mary also omnipotent; though, of course, it is always true that where the Son is omnipotent by nature, the Mother is only so by grace.  But that she is so is evident from the fact, that whatever the Mother asks for, the Son never denies her; and this was revealed to St. Bridget, who one day heard Jesus talkinig with Mary, and thus address her: "Ask of me what thou wilt, for no petition of thine can be void" ("Pete quod vis a me; non enim inanis potest esse petition tua").  As if he had said, "My Mother, thou knowest how much I love thee; therefore ask all that thou wilt of me; for it is not possible that I should refuse thee anything."  And the reason that he gave for this was beautiful: "Because thou never dist deny me anything on earth, I will deny thee nothing in heaven" ("Quia tu mihi Nihil negasti in terra, ego tibi Nihil negabo in coelo"—Rev. l. 6, c. 23; l. 1, c. 24).  My Mother, when thou wast in the world, thou never didst refuse to do anything for the love of me; and now that I am in heaven, it is right that I should deny thee nothing that thou askest.  Mary, then, is called omnipotent in the sense in which it can be understood of a creature who is incapable of a divine attribute.  She is omnipotent , because by her prayers she obtains whatever she wills.

            With good reason, then, O great advocate, does St. Bernard say, "Thou willest, and all things are done" ("Velis tu, et omnia fient").  And St. Anselm: "Whatever thou, O Virgin, willest can never be otherwise than accomplished" ("Tantummodo salutem nostram, et vere nequamquam salvi esse non poterimus"—Excell. V. c. 12).  Thou willest, and all is done.  If thou art pleased to raise a sinner from the lowest abyss of misery to the highest degree of sanctity, thou canst do it.  Blessed Albert the Great, on this subject, makes Mary says: "I have to be asked that I may will; for if I will a thing, it is necessarily done" ("Roganda est, ut velit; quia, si vult, necesse est fieri"—De Laud B. M. l.2, c. 1).

Thus St. Peter Damian, reflecting on the great power of Mary, and begging her to take compassion on us, addresses her, saying: "O let thy nature move thee, let thy power move thee; for the more thou art powerful, the greater should thy mercy be" ("Moveat te natura, potential moveat; quia quanto potentior, tanto misericordior esse debebis"—In Nat. B. V. s. 1).  O Mary, our own beloved advocate, since thou hast so compassionate a heart, that thou canst not even see the wretched without being moved to pity, and since, at the same time, thou hast so great power with God, that thou canst save all whom thou dost protect,—disdain not to undertake the cause of us poor miserable creatures who place all our hope in thee.  If our prayers cannot move thee, at least let thine own benign heart do so; or, at least, let thy power do so, since God has enriched thee with so great power, in order that the richer thou art in power to help us, the more merciful thou mayest be in the will to assist us.  But St. Bernard reassures us on this point; for he says that Mary is as immensely rich in mercy as she is in power; and that, as her charity is most powerful, so also it is most clement and compassionate, and its effects continually prove it to be so.  He thus expresses himself: "The most powerful and merciful charity of the Mother of God abounds in tender compassion and in effectual succor: it is equally rich in both" ("Potentissima et piissima charitas Dei Matris, et affectu compatiendi, et subveniendi abundant effectu; aeque locuples in utroque"—In Assumpt.) 

            From the time that Mary came into the world, her only tought, after seeking the glory of God, was to succor the miserable.  And even then she enjoyed the privilege of obtaining whatever she asked.   This we know from what occurred at the marriage feast of Cana in Galilee.  When the wine failed, the most Blessed Virgin, being moved to compassion at the sight of the affliction and shame of the bride and bridegroom, asked her Son to relieve them by a miracle, telling him that they had no wine.  Jesus answered: Woman, what is that to thee and Me?  My hour is not yet come ("Vinum non habent.  Quid mihi et tibi est, mulier?  Nondum venit hora mea"—John, ii. 3).  And here remark, that although our Lord seemed to refuse his Mother the favor she asked, and said, What is it to thee, O woman, and to me, if the wine has failed?  This is not the time for me to work a miracle; the time will be when I begin to preach, and when miracles will be required to confirm my doctrines.  And yet Mary, as if the favor had already been granted, desired those in attendance to fill the jars with water, for they would be immediately satisfied.  And so it was; for Jesus, to content his mother, changed the water into the best wine.  But how was this?  As the time for working miracles was that of the public life of our Lord, how could it be that, contrary to the divine decrees, this miracle was worked?  No; in this there was nothing contrary to the decrees of God; for though, generally speaking, the time for miracles was not come, yet from all eternity God had determined by another decree that nothing that she asked should ever be refused to the divine Mother.  And therefore Mary, who well knew her privilege, although her Son seemed to have refused her the favor, yet told them to fill the jars with water, as if her request had already been granted.  That is the sense in which St. John Chrysostom understood it; for, explaining these words of our Lord, Woman, what is it to thee and Me?  he says, that "though Jesus answered thus, yet in honor of his Mother he obeyed her wish" ("Et licet ita responderit, maternis tamen precibus obtemperavit"—In Jo. Hom. 21).  This is confirmed by St. Thomas, who says that by the words, My hour is not yet come, Jesus Christ intended to show, that had the request come from any other, he would not then have complied with it; but because it was addressed to him by his Mother, he could not refuse it ("Per illa verba, 'nondum venit hora mea,' ostendit se dilaturum fuisse miraculum, si alius rogasset; quia tamen rogabat Mater, fecit").  St. Cyril and St. Jerome, quoted by Barrada (T. ii l. 3, c. 1), say the same thing.  Also Gandavensis, on the foregoing passage of St. John, says, that "to honor his mother, our Lord anticipated the time for working miracles" ("Quo matrem honoraret, praevenit tempus miracula faciendi"—In Conc. Ev. c. 18)

            In fine, it is certain that no creature can obtain so many mercies for us as this tender advocate, who is thus honored by God, not only as his beloved handmaid, but also as his true Mother.  And this, William of Paris says, addressing her, "No creature can obtain so many and so great favors as thou obtainest for poor sinners; and thus without doubt God honors thee not only as a handmaid, but as his most true Mother" ("Nulla creatura et tot et tanta impetrare posset apud Filium tuum miseris, quanta tu impetras eisdem; in quo procul dubio non tamquam Ancillam, sed tamquam Matrem verissimam te honorat"—De Rhet. Div. c. 18).  Mary has only to speak, and her Son executes all.  Our Lord conversing with the spouse in the sacred Canticles,—that is Mary,—says, Thou that dwellest in the gardens, the friends hearken; make me hear thy voice ("Quae habitas in hortis, amici auscultant; fac me audire vocem tuam"—Cant. viii. 13).  The saints are the friends, and they, when they seek a favor for their clients, wait for their Queen to ask and obtain it; for, as we said in the fifth chapter, "no grace is granted otherwise than at the prayer of Mary."  And how does Mary obtain favors"  She has only to let her voice be heard,—make me hear thy voice.  She has only to speak, and her Son immediately grants her prayer.  Listen to the Abbot William explaining, in this sense, the above-mentioned text.  In it he introduces the Son addressing Mary: "Thou who dwellest in the heavenly gardens, intercede with confidence for whomsoever thou wilt; for it is nor possible that I should so far forget that I am thy son as to deny anything to thee, my Mother ("Quae habitas in hortis coelestibut, fiducialiter pro quibuscumque volueris intercede; non enim possum oblivisci me Filium tuum, ut Matri quidpiam denegandum putem").  Only let thy voice be heard; for to be heard by a son is to be obeyed" ("Tantum vocem proferat, a Filio audiri, exaudiri est"—Paciucch. In Sal. Ang. exc. 20).  The Abbot Godfrey says, "that although Mary obtains favors by asking, yet she asks with a certain maternal authority, and therefore we ought to feel confident that she obtains all she desires and asks for us" ("Virgo Maria, ex eo quod ille Homo est, et natus ex ea, quasi quodam Matris imperio, apud ipsum impetrare quidquid voluerit, pia fide non dubitatur"—In Fest. B. M. s. 8)

            Valerius Maximus (Ex mir. l. 5, c. 4) relates that when Coriolanus was besieging Rome, the prayers of his friends and all the citizens were insufficient to make him desist; but as soon as he beheld his mother Veturia imploring him, he could no longer refuse, and immediately raised the siege.  But the prayers of Mary with Jesus are as much more powerful than those of Veturia as the love and gratitude of this Son for his most dear Mother are greater.  Father Justin Micoviensis says that "a single sigh of the most Blessed Mary can do more than the united suffrages of all the saints" ("Unicum suspirium ab ea oblatum superat omnium Sanctorum preces"—Super Litan. s. 270).  And this was acknowledged by the devil himself to St. Dominic, who, as it is related by Father Paciucchelli (In Sal. Ang. exc. 3), obliged him to speak by the mouth of a possessed person; and he said that "a single sigh from Mary was worth more before God than the united suffrages of all the saints."   

            Saint Antoninus says that "the prayers of the Blessed Virgin, being the prayers of a Mother, have in them something of a command; so that it is impossible that she should not obtain what she asks" ("Oratio Deiparae habet rationem imperii; unde impossibile est eam non exaudiri"—P. 4, tit. 15, c. 17, #4).  St. Germanus, encouraging sinners who recommend themselves to this advocate, thus addresses her: "As thou hast, O Mary, the authority of a Mother with God, thou obtainest pardon for the most enormous sinners; since that Lord in all things acknowledges thee as his true and spotless Mother, he cannot do otherwise than grant what thou askest" ("Tu autem maternal in Deum auctoritate pollens, etiam iis qui enormiter peccant, gratiam concilias; non enim potes non exaudiri, cum Deus tibi, ut verae et intemeratae Matri, in omnibus morem great"—In Dorm. Deip. s. 2).  And so it was that St. Bridget heard the saints in heaven addressing our Blessed Lady: "O most blessed Queen, what is there that thou canst not do?  Thou hast only to will, and it is accomplished" ("Domina benedicta! quid est quod non poteris?  Quod enim tu vis, hoc factum est"—Rev. l. 4, c. 74).  And this corresponds with that celebrated saying, "That which God can do by his power, that canst thou do by prayer, O sacred Virgin" ("Quod Deus imperio, tu prece Virgo, potes").  "And perchance," says St. Augustine, "it is unworthy of the benignity of that Lord to be thus jealous of the honor of his Mother, who declares that he came into the world, not to break, but to observe the law: but this law commands us to honor our parents" ("Numquid non pertinet ad benignitatem Domini, Matris honom servare, qui Legem non solvere venerat, sed adimplere?"—Lib de Assumpt. B. V. c. 5).  St. George, Archbishop of Nicomedia, says that Jesus Christ, even as it were to satisfy an obligation under which he placed himself towards his Mother, when she consented to give him his human nature, grants all she asks: "the Son, as if paying a debt, grants all thy petitions" ("Filius quasi exsolvens debitum, petitiones tuas implet"—Or. de Ingr. B. V.).  And on this the holy martyr St. Methodius exclaims: "Rejoice, rejoice, O Mary, for thou has that Son thy debtor, who gives to all and receives from none.  We are all God's debtors for all that we possess, for all is his gift; but God has been pleased to become thy debtor in taking flesh from thee and becoming man" ("Euge, euge, quae debitorem habes Filium, qui omnibus mutuatur!  Deo enim universi debemus; tibi autem etiam ille debitor est"—Or. de Sim. Et. Anna)

            Therefore St. Augustine says, "that Mary, having merited to give flesh to the divine Word, and thus supply the price of our redemption, that we might be delivered from eternal death; therefore is she more powerful than all others to help us to gain eternal life" ("Neque enim dubium, quae meruit pro liberandis proferre pretium, posse, plus Sanctis omnibus, liberates impendere suffragium"—Serm. 208, E. B. app.)  St. Theophilus, Bishop of Alexandria, in the time of St. Jerome, left in writing the following words: "The prayers of his Mother are a pleasure to the Son, because he desires to grant all that is granted on her account, and thus recompense her for the favor she did him in giving him his body" (Salazar. In Prov. viii. 18).  St. John Damascene, addressing the Blessed Virgin, says, "Thou, O Mary, being Mother of the most high God, canst save all by thy prayers, which are increased in value by the maternal authority" ("Potes quidem omnes salvare, ut Dei altissimi Mater, precibus maternal auctoritate pollentibus"—Men Grac. 20 Jan. Ad Mat).

            Let us conclude with St. Bonaventure, who, considering the great benefit conferred on us by our Lord in giving us Mary for our advocate, thus addresses her: "O truly immense and admirable goodness of our God, which has been pleased to grant thee, O sovereign Mother, to us miserable sinners for our advocate, in order that thou, by thy powerful intercession, mayest obtain all that thou pleasest for us" ("O certe Dei nostril mira benignitas, qui suis reis te Dominam tribuit, Advocatam, ut a Filio tuo, quod volueris valeas impetrare!")  "O wonderful mercy of our God," continues the same saint, "who in order that we might not fly on account of the sentence that might be pronounced against us, has given us his own Mother and the patroness of graces to be our advocate" ("O mirabilis erga nos misericordia Dei nostril, qui, ne fugeremus pro sentential, voluit Matrem suam ac Dominam gratiae, nostram instituere Advocatam"—Stim. Div. am. p. 3, c. 19).

 

EXAMPLE

In Germany a man fell into a grievous sin; through shame he was unwilling to confess it; but, on the other hand, unable to endure the remorse of his conscience, he went to throw himself into a river; on the point of doing so, he hesitated, and weeping, he begged that God would forgive him his sin without his confessing it.  One night, in his sleep, he felt some one shake his arm, and heard a voice which said, "Go to confession."  He went to the church, but yet did not confess.  On another night, he again heard the same voice.  He returned to the church; but when he arrived there, he declared that he would rather die than confess that sin.  But before returning home he went to recommend himself to the most Blessed Virgin, whose image was in that church.  He had no sooner knelt down than he found himself quite changed.  He immediately arose, called a confessor, and weeping bitterly, through the grace which he had received from Mary, made an entire confession of his sins; and he afterwards declared that he experienced greater satisfaction than if he had obtained all the treasures of the world (Auriemma, Aff. p. 2, c. 7).

 

Prayer

I will address thee, O great Mother of God, in the words of St. Bernard:  "Speak, O Lady, for thy Son heareth thee, and whatever thou askest thou wilt obtain" ("Loquere, Domina, quia audit Filius tuus; et quaecumque petieris, impetrabis"—Depr. Ad gl. V.)  Speak, speak, then, O Mary, our advocate, in favor of us poor miserable creatures.  Remember that it was also for our good that thou didst receive so great power and so high a dignity.  A God was pleased to become thy debtor by taking humanity of thee, in order that thou mightest dispense at will the riches of divine mercy to sinners.  We are thy servants, devoted in a special manner to thee; and I am one of these, I trust, even in a higher degree.  We glory in living under thy protection.  Since thou dost good to all, even to those who neither know nor honor thee, nay, more, to those who outrage and blaspheme thee, how much more may we not hope from thy benignity, which seeks out the wretched in order to relieve them, we who honor, love, and confide in thee?  We are great sinners, but God has enriched thee with compassion and power far exceeding our iniquities.  Thou canst, and hast the will to save us; and the greater is our unworthiness, the greater shall be our hope in order to glorify thee the more in heaven, when by thy intercession we get there.  O Mother of mercy, we present thee our souls, once cleansed and rendered beautiful in the blood of Jesus Christ, but, alas, since that time, defiled by sin.  To thee do we present them; do thou purify them.  Obtain for us true conversion; obtain for us the love of God, perseverance, heaven.  We ask thee for much; but what is it? perhaps thou canst not obtain all?  It is perhaps too much for the love God bears thee?  Ah, no! for thou hast only to open thy lips and ask thy divine Son; he will deny thee nothing.  Pray, then: and we shall with the same certainty obtain the kingdom of heaven.

 

 

II.

Mary is so tender as Advocate that she does not refuse to defend the Cause even of the most miserable.

So many are the reasons that we have for loving this our most loving Queen, that if Mary was praised throughout the world, if in every sermon Mary alone was spoken of; if all men gave their lives for Mary; still all would be little in comparison with the homage and gratitude that we owe her in return for the tender love she bears to men, and even to the most miserable sinners who preserve the slightest spark of devotion for her.

            Blessed Raymond Jordano, who, out of humility, called himself the Idiot, used to say, "that Mary knows not how to do otherwise than love those who love her; and that even she does not disdain to serve those who serve her; and in favor of such a one, should he be a sinner, she uses all her power in order to obtain his forgiveness from her Blessed Son" ("Maria diligit diligentes se, imo sibi servientibus servit; ipso benedicto Filio suo irato potentissime reconciliat servos et amatores suos").  And he adds, "that her benignity and mercy are so great, that no one, however enormous his sins may be, should fear to cast himself at her feet: for she never can reject any one who has recourse to her" ("Tanta est ejus benignitas, quod nulli formidandum est ad eam accedere; tantaque misericordia, ut nemo ab ea repellatur").  "Mary, as our most loving advocate, herself offers the prayers of her servants to God, and especially those who are placed in  her hands; for as the Son intercedes for us with the Father, so does she intercede with the Son, and does not cease to make interest with both for the great affair of our salvation, and to obtain for us the graces we ask" ("Ipsa preces servorum suorum, maxiome quae sibi exhibentur, repraesentat in conspectus divinae Majestatis; quia est Advocata nostra apud Filium, sicut Filius apud Patrem; imo apud Patrem et Filium procurat negotia et petitiones nostras"—Cont. de V. M. in prol)

            With good reason, then, does Denis the Carthusian call the Blessed Virgin "the singular refuge of the lost, the hope of the most abandoned, and the advocate of all sinners who have recourse to her" ("Singulare Refugium perditorum, Spes miserorum, Advocata omnium iniquorum ad eam confugientium"—De Laud. V., 1. 2, a. 23).

            But should there by chance be a sinner who, though not doubting her power, might doubt the compassion of Mary, fearing perhaps that she might be unwilling to help him on account of the greatness of his sins, let him take courage from the words of St. Bonaventure.  "The great, the special privilege of Mary is, that she is all-powerful with her Son" ("Grande privilegium Mariae, quod apud Deum potentissima est").  "But," adds the saint, "to what purpose would Mary have so great power if she cared not for us?" ("Sed, quid tanta Mariae potential prodesset nobis, si ipsa Nihil curaret de nobis?")  "No," he concludes, "let us not doubt, but be certain, and let us always thank our Lord and his divine Mother for it, that in proportion as her power with God exceeds that of all the saints, so is she in the same proportion our most loving advocate, and the one who is the most solicitous for our welfare" ("Carissimi, sciamus indubitanter, et pro hoc gratias agamus incessanter, quia, sicut ipsa apud Deum omnibus Sanctis est potentior, ita pro nobis omnibus est sollicitior"—Spec. B. V. lect. 6)

            "And who, O Mother of mercy," exclaims St. Germanus, in the joy of his heart, "who, after thy Jesus, is as tenderly solicitous for our welfare as thou art?" ("Quis, post tuum Filium, curam gerit generic humani, sicut tu?")  "Who defends us in the temptations with which we are afflicted as thou defendest us?  Who, like thee, undertakes to protect sinners, fighting, as it were, in their behalf?" ("Quis ita nos defendit in nostris afflictionibus?  Quis pugnat pro peccatoribus?")  "Therefore," he adds, "thy patronage, O Mary, is more powerful and loving than anything of which we can ever form an idea" ("Propterea, patrocinium tuum majus est quam comprehendi posit"—De Zona Deip).     

            "For," says the Blessed Raymond Jordano, "whilst all the other saints can do more for their own clients than for others, the divine Mother, as Queen of all, is the advocate of all, and has a care for the salvation of all" ("Caeteri Sancti, jure quodam patrocinii, pro sibi specialiter commissis plus possunt prodesse quam pro alienis; Beatissima vero Virgo, sicut est omnium Regina, sic et omnium Patrona et Advocata; et cura est illi de omnibus"—Cont. de V. M. in prol).

            Mary takes care of all, even of sinners; indeed she glories in being called in a special manner their advocate, as she herself declared to the Venerable Sister Mary Villani, saying: "After the title of Mother of God, I rejoice most in that of advocate of sinners."

            Blessed Amadeus says, "that our Queen is constantly before the divine Majesty, interceding for us with her most powerful prayers" ("Adstat Beatissim aVirgo vultui Conditoris, prece potentissima, simper interpellans pro nobis").  And as in heaven "she well knows our miseries and wants, she cannot do otherwise than compassionate us; and thus, with the affection of a mother, moved to tenderness towards us, pitying and benign, she is always endeavoring to help and save us" ("Videt enim nostra discrimina, nostrique Clemens et dulcis Domina materno affectu miseretur"—De Laud. V. hom. 8).  And therefore does Richard of St. Laurence encourage each one, however bad he may be, to have recourse with confidence to this sweet advocate, being assured that he will always find her ready to help him ("Inveniet simper paratam auxiliary"—De Laud. V. hom. 8); "for," says the Abbot Godfrey, "Mary is always ready to pray for all" ("Ipsa pro universo mundo paratissima est ad precandum"—In Fest B. M. s. 8).  

            "Oh, with what efficacy and love," says St. Bernard, "does this good advocate interest herself in the affair of our salvation!" ("Advocatam praemisit peregrination nostra, quae tanquam Judicis Mater et Mater misericordiae, suppliciter et efficaciter salutis nostrae negotia pertractabit"—In Assumpt. s. 1).  St. Bonaventure, considering the affection and zeal with which Mary intercedes for us with the divine Majesty, in order that our Lord may pardon us our sins, help us with his grace, free us from dangers, and relieve us in our wants, says, addressing the Blessed Virgin, in the words of an ancient writer: "We know that we have as it were but one solicitous in heaven for us, and thou art this one, so greatly does thy solicitude for us exceed that of all the saints" ("Te solam, O Maria! pro Sancta Ecclesia sollicitam prae omnibus Sanctis scimus"—Ap. S. Bonav. Spec. B. V. l. 6).  That is, "O Lady, it is true that all the saints desire our salvation, and pray for us; but the love, the tenderness that thou showest us in heaven, in obtaining for us by thy prayers so many mercies from God, obliges us to acknowledge that in heaven we have but one advocate, and that is thyself; and that thou alone art truly loving and solicitous for our welfare."

            Who can ever comprehend the solicitude with which Mary constantly stands before God in our behalf!  "She is never weary of defending us" ("Non est satietas defensionis ejus"—De Zona Deip), says St. Germanus; and the remark is beautiful, meaning that so great is the compassion excited in Mary by our misery, and such is the love that she bears us, that she prays constantly, and relaxes not her efforts in our behalf; that by her prayers she may effectually defend us from evil, and obtain for us sufficient graces.  "She has never done enough."

            Truly unfortunate should we poor sinners be, had we not this great advocate, who is so powerful and compassionate, and at the same time "so prudent and wise, that the Judge, her Son," says Richard of St. Laurence, "cannot condemn the guilty who are defended by her" ("Tam prudens etiam et discreta est Advocata Maria, quod non potest Filius vindicare in eos pro quibus ipsa allegat"—De Laud. B. M. l. 2, p. 1).  And therefore St. John Geometra salutes her, saying, "Hail, O court, for putting an end to litigation" ("Salve Jus dirimens lites"—In V. Deipt. Hymn. 4).  For all causes defended by this most wise advocate are gained.      

            For this reason is Mary called, by St. Bonaventure, "the wise Abigail" ("Abigail sapiens"—Laus B. M. n. 13).  This is thw woman we read of in the second Book of Kings, who by her beautiful supplications knew so well how to appease King David when he was indignant against Nabal; and indeed so far as to induce him to bless her, in gratitude for having prevented him, by her sweet manners, from avenging himself on Nabal with his own hands ("Benedicta tu, quae prohibuisti me hodie, ne . . . ulciscerer me manu mea"—1 Kings, xxv. 33).  This is exactly what Mary constantly does in heaven, in favor of innumerable sinners: by her tender and unctuous prayers, she knows so well how, to appease the divine justice, that God himself blesses her for it, and, as it were, thanks her for having withheld him from abandoning and chastising them as they deserved.

            "On this account it was," says St. Bernard, "that the Eternal Father, wishing to show all the mercy possible, besides giving us Jesus Christ, our principal advocate with him, was please also to give us Mary, as our advocate with Jesus Christ."  "There is no doubt," the saint adds, "that Jesus Christ is the only mediator of justice, between men and God; that, by virtue of his own merits and promises, he will and can obtain us pardon and the divine favors; but because men acknowledge and fear the divine Majesty, which is in him as God, for this reason it was necessary to assign us another advocate, to whom we might have recourse with less fear and more confidence, and this advocate is Mary, than whom we cannot find one more powerful with his divine majesty, or one more merciful towards outselves."  The saint says, "Christ is a faithful and powerful Mediator between God and men, but in him men fear the majesty of God.  A mediator, then, was needed with the mediator himself; nor could a more fitting one be found than Mary" ("Fidelis et praepotenens Mediator Dei et hominum, Christus Jesus, sed divinam in eo reverentur hominess majestate; . . . opus est enim mediatore ad Mediatorem istum, nec alter nobis utilior quam Maria")

            "But," continues the same saint, "should any one fear to go to the feet of this most sweet advocate, who has nothing in her of severity, nothing terrible, but who is all courteous, amiable, and benign, he would indeed be offering an insult to the tender compassion of Mary ("Quid ad Mariam accedere trepidet humana fragilitas? nihil austerum in ea, Nihil terribile; tota suavis est").  And he adds, "Read, and read again, as often as you please, all that is said of her in the Gospels, and if you can find the least trait of severity recorded of her, then fear to approach her.  But no, this you can never find; and therefore go to her with a joyful heart, and she will save you by her intercession ("Revolve diligentius Evangelicae historiae seriem universam et si quid forte durum occurreit in Maria, accedere verearis"—In Sign. magn)

           How beautiful is the exclamation put in the mouth of a sinner who has recourse to Mary, by William of Paris!  "O most glorious Mother of God, I, in the miserable state to which I am reduced by my sins, have recourse to thee, full of confidence, and if thou rejectest me, I remind thee that thou art in a way bound to help me, since the whole Church of the faithful calls thee and proclaims thee the Mother of mercy."  "Thou, O Mary, art that one who, from being so dear to God, art always listened to favorably.  Thy great compassion was never wanting to any one; thy most sweet affability never despised any sinner that recommended himself to thee, however great his sins."  And what!  Perhaps falsely, and for nothing, the whole Church calls thee its advocate, and the refuge of sinners.  "Never, O my Mother, let my sins prevent thee from fulfilling the great office of charity which is thine, and by which thou art, at the same time, our advocate and a mediatress of peace between men and God, and who art, after thy Son, our only hope, and the secure refuge of the miserable.  All that thou possessest of grace and glory, and the dignity even of Mother of God, so to speak, thou owest to sinners, for it was on their account that the divine Word made thee his Mother.  Far be it from this divine Mother, who brought the source itself of tender compassion into the world, to think that she should ever deny her mercy to any sinner who has recourse to her.  Since, then, O Mary, thy office is to be the peace-maker between God and men, let thy tender compassion, which far exceeds all my sins, move thee to succor me" ("Adibo te, imo etiam conveniam, gloriosissima Dei Genitrix, quam Matrem misericordiae et vocat, imo clamitat omnis Ecclesia sanctorum.  Tu, inquam, cujus gratiositas nunquam repulsam patitur; cujur misericordia nulli unquam defuit, cujus benignissima humilitas nullum unquam deprecantem, quantumcumque peccatorem, despexit.  An falso et inaniter vocat te omnis Ecclesia Advocatam suam et miserorum Refugium?  Absit, ut peccata mea possint suspendere te a tam salubri officio pietatis, quo, et Advocata es, et Mediatrix hominum post Filium tuum.  Spes unica et Refugium tutissimum miserorum.  Totum siquidem quod habes gratiae, totum quod habes gloriae, et etiam hoc ipsum quod es Mater Dei, si fas est dicere, peccatoribus debes.  Absit hoc a Matre Dei, quae Fontem pietatis toti mundo peperit, ut cuiquam miserorum suae misericordiae subventionem unquam deneget.  Officium ergo tuum est mediam te interponere inter ipsum et hominess; moveat ergo te gloriosa Dei Mater benignissima misericordia tua, quae major incogitabiliter est omnibus vitiis meis et peccatis"—De Rhet. Div. c. 18)

 

EXAMPLE

In one of our missions, after the sermon on the Blessed Virgin Mary, which it is always customary in our Congregation to preach, a very old man came to make his confession to one of the Fathers.  Filled with consolation he said, "Father, our Blessed Lady has granted me a grace."  "What grace has she granted you?" the confessor asked.  "You must know, Father," he replied, "that for five-and-thirty years I have made sacrilegious confessions, for there is a sin which I was ashamed to confess; and yet I have passed through many dangers, have many times been at the point of death, and had I then died, I should certainly have been lost; but now our Blessed Lady has touched my heart with grace to tell it."  This he said weeping, and shedding so many tears, that he quite excited compassion.  The Father, after hearing his confession, asked him what devotion he had practiced.  He replied that on Saturdays he had never failed to abstain from milk-diet in honor of Mary, and that on this account the Blessed Virgin had shown him mercy.  At the same time he gave the Father leave to publish the fact.

 

Prayer

O great Mother of my Lord, I see full well that my ingratitude towards God and thee, and this too for so many years, has merited for me that thou shouldst justly abandon me, and no longer have a care of me, for an ungrateful soul is no longer worthy of favors.  But I, O Lady, have a high idea of thy great goodness; I believe it to be far greater than my ingratitude.  Continue, then, O refuge of sinners, and cease not to help a miserable sinner who confides in thee.  O Mother of mercy, deign to extend a helping hand to a poor fallen wretch who asks thee for pity.  O Mary, either defend me thyself, or tell me to whom I can  have recourse, and who is better able to defend me than thou, and where I can find with God a more clement and powerful advocate than thou, who art his Mother.  Then, in becoming the Mother of our Savior, wast thereby made the fitting instrument to save sinners, and wast given me for my salvation.  O Mary, save him who has recourse to thee.  I deserve not thy love, but it is thine own desire to save sinners, that makes me hope that thou lovest me.  And if thou lovest me, how can I be lost?  O my own beloved Mother, if by thee I save my soul, as I hope to do, I shall no longer be ungrateful, I shall make up for my past ingratitude, and for the love which thou hast shown me, by my everlasting praises, and all the affections of my soul.  Happy in heaven, where thou reignest, and wilt reign forever.  I shall always sing thy mercies, and kiss for eternity those loving hands which have delivered me from hell, as often as I have deserved it by my sins.  O Mary, my liberator, my hope, my Queen, my advocate, my own sweet Mother, I love thee; I desire thy glory, and I love thee forever.  Amen, amen.  Thus do I hope.

 

 

III.

Mary is the Peace-maker between Sinners and God.

The grace of God is the greatest and the most desirable of treasures for every soul.  It is called by the Holy Ghost an infinite treasure; for by the means of divine grace we are raised to the honor of being the friends of God.  These are the words of the Book of Wisdom:  For she is an infinite treasure to men; which they that use become the friends of God ("Infinitus enim thesaurus est hominibus quo, qui usi sunt, participles facti sunt amici iae Dei"—Sap. vii. 14).  And hence Jesus, our Redeemer and God, did not hesitate to call those his friends who were in grace: You are my friends ("Vos amici mei estis"—John, xv. 14).  O accursed sin, that dissolves this friendship!  But your iniquities, says the prophet Isaias, have divided between you and your God ("Iniquitates vestrae diviserunt inter vos et Deum vestrum"—Isa. lix. 2).  And putting hatred between the soul and God, it is changed from a friend into an enemy of its Lord, as expressed in the Book of Wisdom: But to God the wicked and his wickedness are hateful alike ("Odio sunt Deo impius et impietas ejus"—Wisd. xiv. 9).

            What, then, must a sinner do who has the misfortune to be the enemy of God?  He must find a mediator who will obtain pardon for him, and who will enable him to recover the lost friendship of God.  "Be comforted, O unfortunate soul, who hast lost thy God," says St. Bernard; "thy Lord himself has provided thee with a mediator, and this is his Son Jesus, who can obtain for thee all that thou desirest?  "He has given thee Jesus for a mediator; and what is there that such a son cannot obtain from the Father?" ("Jesum tibi dedit Mediatorem, quid non apud talem Patrem Filius talis obtineat?"—De Aquad)

            But, O God, exclaims the saint, and why should this merciful Savior, who gave his life to save us, be ever thought severe?  Why should men believe him terrible who is all love?  O distrustful sinners, what do you fear?  If your fear arises from having offended God, know that Jesus has fastened all your sins on the cross with his own lacerated hands, and having satisfied divine justice for them by his death, he has already effaced them from your souls.  Here are the words of the saint: "They imagine him rigorous, who is all compassion; terrible, who is all love.  What do you fear, O ye of little faith?  With his own hands he has fastened your sins to the cross" ("Severum imaginantur, qui pius est; terribilem, qui amabilis est.  Quid timetis modicae fidei? Peccata affixit cruci suis minibus"—In Cant. s. 38).  "But if by chance," adds the saint, "thou fearest to have recourse to Jesus Christ because the majesty of God in him overawes thee—for though he became man, he did not cease to be God—and thou desirest another advocate with this divine mediator, go to Mary, for she will intercede for thee with the Son, who will most certainly hear her; and then he will intercede with the Father, who can deny nothing to such a son" ("Sed forsitan et in ipso majestatem vereare divinam, quod licet factus sit homo manserit tamen Deus; advocatum habere vis et ad ipsum?  Ad Mariam recurre; exaudiet utique Matrem Filius, et exaudiet Filium Pater").  Thence St. Bernard concludes, "this divine Mother, O my children, is the ladder of sinners, by which they reascend to the height of divine grace; she is my greatest confidence, she is the whole ground of my hope" ("Filioli, haec peccatorum scala, haec mea maxima fiducia est, haec tota ratio spei meae"—De Aquad)

            The Holy Ghost, in the sacred Canticles, makes the most Blessed Virgin use the following words:  I am a wall; and my breast are as a tower, since I am become in his presence as one finding peace ("Ego murus, et ubera mea sicut turris; ex quo facta sum coram eo quasi pacem reperiens"—Cant. viii. 10); that is, I am the defender of those who have recourse to me, and my mercy towards them is like a tower of refuge, and therefore I have been appointed by my Lord the peace-maker between sinners and God.  "Mary," says Cardinal Hugo, on the above text, "is the great peace-maker, who finds and obtains the reconciliation of enemies with God, salvation for those who are lost, pardon for sinners, and mercy for those who are in despair" ("Ipsa reperit pacem inimicis, salutem perditis, indulgentiam reis, misericordiam desperatis").  And therefore was she called by the divine bridegroom, beautiful as the curtain of Solomon ("Formosa . . . sicut pelles Salomonis"—Cant. i. 4).  In the tents of David, questions of war alone were treated; but in those of Solomon, questions of peace only were entertained; and thus does the Holy Spirit give us to understand that this Mother of mercy never treats of war and vengeance against sinners, but only of peace and forgiveness for them.                     

            Mary was prefigured by the dove which returned to Noah in the Ark with an olive branch in its beak (Gen. viii. 11), as a pledge of the peace which God granted to men.  And on this idea St. Bonaventure thus addresses our Blessed Lady: "Thou art that most faithful dove; thou wast a sure mediatress between God and the world, lost in a spiritual deluge ("Tu enim es illa fidelissima Columba Noe, quae inter Deum ei mundum, diluvio spirituali submersum, Mediatrix fidelissima extitisti"—Spec. B. M. V. lect. 9); thou, by presenting thyself before God, hast obtained for a lost world peace and salvation.  Mary, then, was the heavenly dove which brought to a lost world the olive-branch, the sign of mercy, since she in the first place gave us Jesus Christ, who is the source of mercy; and then, by his merits, obtained all graces for us ("Nam ipsa Christum nobis detulit, Fontem misericordiae"—Spinelli, Mar. Deip. c. 16).  "And as by Mary," says St. Epiphanius, "heavenly peace was once for all given to the world ("Per te pax coelestis donate est"—Hom. In Laud. B. M.), so by her are sinners still reconciled to God."  Wherefore Blessed Albert the Great makes her say: "I am that dove of Noah, which brought the olive-branch of universal peace to the Church" ("Ego sum Columba Noe.  Ecclesiae ramum olilvae et pacis deferens universalis"—Bibl. Mar. Cant. 16)

            Again, the rainbow seen by St. John, which encircled the throne of God, was an express figure of Mary:  And there was a rainbow round about the throne ("Et iris erat in circuitu sedis"—Apoc. iv. 3).  It is thus explained by Cardinal Vitalis: "The rainbow round the throne is Mary, who softens the judgment and sentence of God against sinners" ("Iris in circuitu sedis est Maria, quae mitigate Dei judicium et sententiam contra peccatores"—Spec. S. Script. De B. V. M.); meaning, that she is always before God's tribunal, mitigating the chastisements due to sinners.  St. Bernardine of Sienna says, "that it was of this rainbow that God spoke when he promised Noah that he would place it in the clouds as a sign of peace, that on looking at it he might remember the eternal peace which he had covenanted to man."  I will set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be the sign of a covenant between Me and between the earth . . . and I shall see it, and shall remember the everlasting covenant ("Arcum meum ponam in nubibus, et erit signum foederis inter me and inter terram; videbo illum, et recordabor foederis sempiterni"—Gen. ix. 13).  "Mary," says the saint, "is this bow of eternal peace ("Ipsa est Arcus foederis sempiterni"—Pro Fest. S. M. s. 1, a. 1, c. 3); "for, as God on seeing it remembers the peace promised to the earth, so does he, at the prayers of Mary, forgive the crimes of sinners, and confirm his peace with them" ("Fructus iridis est recordation divini foederis; et per Virginem gloriosam, offense reis remittitur, foedus stringitur"—In Apoc. iv). 

            For the same reason Mary is compared to the moon, in the sacred Canticles: Fair as the moon ("Pulchra ut luna"—Cant. vi. 0).  "For, says St. Bonaventure, "as the moon is between the heavens and the earth, so does Mary continually place herself between God and sinners in order to appease our Lord in their regard, and to enlighten them to return to him" ("Sicut luna inter corpora coelestia et terrene est media et, quod ad illis accipit ad inferiora refundit; sic et Virgo Regina inter nos et Deum est media, et gratiam ipsa nobis refundit"—Spann. Plyanth. litt. M. t. 6).

            The chief office given to Mary, on being placed in this world, was to raise up souls that had fallen from divine grace, and to reconcile them with God.  Feed thy goats ("Pasce haedos tuos"—Cant. i. 7), was our Lord's command to her in creating her.  It is well known that sinners are understood by goats, and that as at the last judgment, the just, under the figure of sheep, will be on the right hand, so will the goats be on the left.  "These goats," says the Abbot William, "are intrusted to thee, O great Mother, that thou mayest change them into sheep; and those who by their sins deserve to be driven to the left, will by thy intercession be placed on the right" ("Pasce haedos tuos, quos convertis in oves, ut, qui a sinistris in Judicio errant collocandi, tua intercessione collocentur a dexteris").  And therefore our Lord revealed to St. Catherine of Sienna, "that he had created this his beloved daughter to be as a most sweet bait by which to catch men, and especially sinners, and draw them to God" ("Ipsa est a me velut esca dulcissima electa pro capiendis hominibus, et animabus praecipue peccatorum"—Dial. c. 139).  But on this subject we must not pass over the beautiful reflection of William the Angelical on the above text of the sacred Canticles, in which he says, "that God recommended her own goats to Mary;" "for," adds this author, "the Blessed Virgin does not save all sinners, but those only who serve and honor her.  So much so indeed, that those who live in sin, and neither honor her with any particular act of homage, nor recommend themselves to her in order to extricate themselves from sin, they certainly are not Mary's goats, but at the last judgment will, for their eternal misery, be driven to the left hand with the damned" ("Suos vocat, quia non omnes haedi vocantur Mariae, sed qui Mariam colunt ac venerantur, licet sceleribus contaminate.  Qui vero peccatis irretiti sunt, nec Beatam Virginem speciali obsequio prosequeentur, nec preces fundunt in ejus cultum, ut aliquando resipiscant, haedi profecto sunt, non Mariae, sed ad sinistram Judicis sistendi")

            A certain nobleman, despairing of his salvation, on account of his many crimes, was encouraged by a monk to have recourse to the most Blessed Virgin, and, for this purpose, to visit a devout statue of Mary in a particular church.  He went there, and, on seeing the image, he felt as if she invited him to cast himself at her feet and to have confidence.  He hastened to prostrate and kiss her feet, when Mary extended her hand, gave it him to kiss, and on it he saw written these words: "I will deliver thee from those who oppress thee" ("Ego eripiam te de affligentibus te"); as though she had said, my son, despair not, for I will deliver thee from the sins and sorrows that weigh so heavily on thee.  On reading these sweet words, this poor sinner was filled with such sorrow for his sins, and, at the same time, with so ardent a love for God and his tender Mother, that he instantly expired at the feet of Mary.

            O, how many obstinate sinners does not this loadstone of hearts draw each day to God!  For thus did she call herself one day, saying to St. Bridget, "As the loadstone attracts iron, so do I attract hearts" ("Sicut magnes attrahit ferrum, sic ego attraho Deo dura corda"—Rev. l. 3, c. 32).  Yea, even the most hardened hearts, to reconcile them with God.  We must not suppose that such prodigies are extraordinary events; they are every-day occurrences.  For my own part, I could relate many cases of the kind that have occurred in our missions, where certain sinners with hearts harder than iron, continued so through all the other sermons, but no sooner did they hear the one on the mercies of Mary, than they were filled with compunction and returned to God.  St. Gregory (Moral. l. 31, c. 13) says, that the unicorn is so fierce a beast, that no hunter can take it; at the voice only of a virgin crying out, will this beast approach, and without resistance allow itself to be bound by her.  O, how many sinners; more savage than the wild beats themselves, and who fly from God, at the voice of this great Virgin Mary approach and allow themselves to be sweetly bound to God by her!

            St. John Chrysostom says, "that another purpose for which the Blessed Virgin Mary was made the Mother of God was, that she might obtain salvation for many who, on account of their wicked lives, could not be saved according to the rigor of divine justice, but might be so with the help of her sweet mercy and powerful intercession" ("Ideo mater Dei praeelecta es ab aeterno, ut quos justitia Filii salvare non potest, tu per tuam salvares pietatem").  This is confirmed by St. Anselm, who says, "that Mary was raised to the dignity of Mother of God rather for sinners than for the just, since Jesus Christ declares that he came to call not the just, but sinners" ("Scio illam magis propter peccatores, quam propter justos, esse factam Dei Matrem; dicit enim ipse bonus Filius ejus, se non venisse vocare justos, sed peccatores"—De Excell. V. c. 1).  For this reason, the holy Church sings, "Thou dost not abhor sinners, without whom thou wouldst never have been worthy of such a Son" ("Peccatores non exhorres, sine quibus nunquam fores tali digna Filio"—Crasset. Vιr. Dιv. p. 1, tr. 1, q. 10).  For the same reason William of Paris, invoking her, says: "O Mary, thou art obliged to help sinners for all the gifts, the graces, and high honors which are comprised in the dignity of Mother of God that thou hast received; thou owest all, so to say, to sinners; for on their account thou wast made worthy to have a God for thy Son" ("Totum quod habes, si fas est discere, peccatoribus debes; omnia enim haec propter peccatores tibi collate sunt"—De Rhet. Div. c. 18).  If then, Mary," concludes St. Anselm, "was made Mother of God on account of sinners, how can I, however great my sins may be, despair of pardon?" ("Si ipsa propter peccatores facta est Domini Mater, quomodo immanitas peccatorum meorum cogere me poterit desperare veniam?"—De Excell. V. c. 1)

            The holy Church tells us, in the prayer said in the Mass of the vigil of the Assumption, "that the divine Mother was taken from this world that she might interpose for us with God, with certain confidence of obtaining all" ("Quam idcirco de praesenti saeculo transtulisti, ut pro peccatis nostris apud te fiducialiter intercedat").  Hence St. Justin calls Mary an arbitratrix:  "The eternal Word uses Mary," he says, "as an arbitratrix" ("Verbum usum est Virgine sequestra"—Expos. Fid. de Trin.).  An arbitrator is one to whose hands contending parties confide their whole case; and so the saint meant to say, that as Jesus is the mediator with the Eternal Father, so also is Mary our mediatress with Jesus; and that he puts all the reasons that he has for pronouncing sentence against us into her hands.

            St. Andrew of Crete calls Mary "a pledge, a security for our reconciliation with God" ("Fidejussio divinarum reconciliationum, quae dato pignore fit"—In Dorm. B. V. s. 2).  That is, that God goes about seeking for reconciliation with sinners by pardoning them; and in order that they may not doubt of their forgiveness, he has given them Mary as a pledge of it, and therefore he exclaims, "Hail, O peace of God with men!" ("Salve, Divina hominibus Reconciliatio"—In Deip. Annunt).  Wherefore St. Bonaventure encourages a sinner; saying: "If thou fearest that on account of thy faults God in his anger will be avenged, what hast thou to do?  Go, have recourse to Mary, who is the hope of sinners; and, if thou fearest that she may refuse to take thy part, know that she cannot do so, for God himself has imposed on her the duty of succoring the miserable" ("Si contra te, propter tuas nequitias, Dominum videris indignatum, ad Spem peccatorum confugias; sibi pro miseris satisfacere ex officio commissum est"—Stim. Div. am. p. 3, c. 12).  The Abbot Adam also says, "Need that sinner fear being lost to whom the Mother of the Judge offers herself to be Mother and advocate?" ("Timerene debet ut pereat, cui Maria se Matrem exhibit et Advocatam?")  "And thou, O Mary," he adds, "who art the Mother of mercy, wilt thou disdain to intercede with thy Son, who is the judge, for another son, who is a sinner?  Wilt thou refuse to interpose in favor of a redeemed soul, with the Redeemer who died on a cross to save sinners?"  No, no, thou wilt not reject him, but with all affection thou wilt pray for all who have recourse to thee, well knowing that "that Lord who has appointed thy Son a mediator of peace between God and man, has also made thee mediatress between the Judge and the culprit" ("Rogabis plane; quia, qui Filium tuum inter Deum et hominess oosuit Mediatorem, te quoque inter reum et Judicem posuit Mediatricem"—Marial. s. 1)

            "Then, O sinner," says St. Bernard, "whoever thou mayest be, imbedded in crime, grown old in sin, despair not; thank thy Lord, who, that he might show thee mercy, has not only given his Son for thy advocate, but, to encourage thee to greater confidence, has provided thee with a mediatress who by her prayers obtains whatever she wills ("Age gratias ei, qui talem tibi Mediatricem providit"—In Sign. Magn.).  Go then, have recourse to Mary, and thou wilt be saved."

 

EXAMPLE.

In Braganza there was a young man, who, after giving up the confraternity, abandoned himself to so many crimes that one day, in despair, he went to drown himself in a river; but before doing so, he addressed our Blessed Lady, saying: "O Mary, I once served thee in the confraternity; help me."  The most Blessed Virgin appeared to him and said: "Yes, and now what are you going to do?  Dost thou wish to lose thyself both in soul and body?  Go, confess thy sins, and rejoin the confraternity."  The young man, encouraged hereby, thanked the Blessed Virgin, and changed his life (Auriem. Aff. p. 2., c. 4).  

 

Prayer.

O my most sweet Lady, since thy office is, as William of Paris says, that of a mediatress between God and sinners ("Officium tuum est, mediam te interponere inter Deum et hominess"—De Rhet. Div. c. 18), I will address thee in the words of St. Thomas of Villanova: "Fulfil thy office in my behalf, O tender advocate; do thy work ("Eja ergo advocate nostra . . . officium tuum imple, tuum opus exerce"—In Nat. B. V. con. 3). Say not that my cause is too difficult to gain; for I know, and all tell me so, that every cause, no matter how desperate, if undertaken by thee, is never, and never will be, lost.  And will mine be lost?  Ah no, this I cannot fear.  The only thing that I might fear is, that, on seeing the multitude of my sins, thou mightest not undertake my defence.  But, on seeing thy immense mercy, and the very great desire of thy most sweet heart to help the most abandoned sinners, even this I cannot fear.  And who was ever lost that had recourse to thee?  Therefore I invoke thy aid, O my great advocate, my refuge, my hope, my mother Mary.  To thy hands do I entrust the cause of my eternal salvation.  To thee do I commit my soul; it was lost, but thou hast to save it.  I will always thank our Lord for having given me this great confidence in thee; and which, notwithstanding my unworthiness, I feel is an assurance of salvation.  I have but one fear to afflict me, O beloved Queen, and that is, that I may one day, by my own negligence, lost this confidence in thee. And therefore I implore thee, O Mary, by the love thou bearest to Jesus, thyself to preserve and increase in me more and more this sweet confidence in thy intercession, by which I hope most certainly to recover the divine friendship, that I have hitherto so madly despised and lost; and having recovered it, I hope, through thee, to preserve it; and preserving it by the same means, I hope at length to thank thee for it in heaven, and there to sing God's mercies and thine for all eternity.  Amen.  This is my hope; thus may it be, thus will it be.

 


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