Jesum, benedictum Fructum ventris tui nobis post hoc exilium ostende.
AND AFTER THIS OUR EXILE SHOW UNTO US THE
BLESSED FRUIT OF THY WOMB, JESUS.
delivers her Clients from Hell.
It is impossible for a client of Mary, who is faithful in honoring and
recommending himself to her, to be lost. To some this proposition may
appear, at first sight, exaggerated; but any one to whom this might seem
to be the case I would beg to suspend his judgment, and, first of all,
read what I have to say on this subject.
When we say that it is impossible for a client of Mary to be
lost, we must not be understood as speaking of those clients who take
advange of this devotion that they may sin more freely. And therefore,
those who disapprove of the great praises bestowed on the clemency of this
most Blessed Virgin, because it causes the wicked to take advantage of it
to sin with greater freedom, do so without foundation, for such
presumption people deserve chastisement, and not mercy, for their rash
confidence. It is therefore to be understood of those clients who, with a
sincere desire to amend, are faithful in honoring and recommending
themselves to the Mother of God. It is, I say, morally impossible that
such as these should be lost. And I find that Father Crasset
(Vιr. Dιv. p. 1, t. 1, q. 7),
in his book on devotion towards the Blessed Virgin Mary, says the same
thing. As did also Vega, before him, in his Marian Theology, Mendoza, and
other theologians. And that we may see that they did not speak at random,
let us examine what other saints and learned men heave said on this
subject; and let no one be surprised if many of these quotations are
alike, for I have wished to give them all, in order to show how unanimous
the various writers have been on the subject.
St. Anselm says, "that as it is impossible for one who is not
devout to Mary, and consequently not protected by her, to be saved, so is
it impossible for one who recommends himself to her, and consequently is
beloved by her, to be lost" ("Sicut, O
Beatissima! omnis a te aversus et a te despectus necesse est ut intereat,
ita omnis ad te converses et a te respectus impossibile est ut pereat"Orat.
51). St. Antoninus repeats the same thing and almost in the same
words: "As it is impossible for those from whom Mary turns her eyes of
mercy to be saved, so also are those towards whom she turns these eyes,
and for whom she prays, necessarily saved and glorified"
("Sicut impossibile est, quod illi, a
quibus Maria oculos suae misericordiae avertit, salventur; ita necessarium
quod hi, ad quos convertit oculos suos, pro eis advocans, justificentur et
glorificentur"P. 4, tit. 15, c. 14, #7). Consequently the
clients of Mary will necessarily be saved.
Let us pay particular attention to the first part of the
opinions of these saints, and let those tremble who make but little
account of their devotion to this divine Mother, or from carelessness give
it up. They say that the salvation of those who are not protected by Mary
is impossible. Mary others declare the same thing; such as Blessed
Albert, who says, that "all those who are not thy servants, O Mary, will
perish" ("Gens quae non servierit tibi
peribit"Bibl. Mar. Is. n. 20). And St. Bonaventure: "He
who neglects the service of the blessed Virgin will die in his sins"
("Qui neglexerit illam, morietur in
peccatis suis"). Again, "He who does not invoke thee, O Lady, will
enver get to heaven" ("Qui te non invocat
in hac vita, non perveniet ad regnum Dei"). And, on the 99th
Psalm the saint even says, "that not only those from whom Mary turns
her face will not be saved, but that there will be no hope of their
salvation" ("A quibus averteris vultum
tuum non erit spes ad salutem"Psalt. B. V. ps. 116, 86, 99).
Before him, St. Ignatius the martyr said, "that it was impossible for any
sinner to be saved without the help and favor of the most Blessed Virgin;
because those who are not saved by the justice of God are with infinite
mercy saved by the intercession of Mary"
("Impossibile est aliquem salvari peccatorem, nisi per tuum, O Virgo!
auxilium et favorem; quia, quos non salvat Dei justitia, salvat sua
intercessione Mariae misericordia infinita"Ap. Lyr. Tris. Mar. l.
ii. m. 45). Some doubt as to whether this passage is truly of St.
Ignatius, but, at all events, as Father Crasset remarks, it was adopted by
St. John Chrysostom. It is also repeated by the Abbot of Celles (Cont.
de V. M. in prol.). And in the same sense does the Church
apply to Mary the words of Proverbs, All that hate me, love death
("Omnes qui me oderunt, diligent mortem"Prov.
viii. 36): that is, all who do not love me, love eternal death.
For, as Richard of St. Laurence says on the words of the same book, She
is like the merchant's ship ("Facta
est quasi navis institoris"Prov. xxxi. 14), "All those who
are out of this ship will be lost in the sea of the world"
("In mare mundi submergentur omnes illi, quos non suscepit Navis ista"De
Laud. V. l. 11). Even the heretical Oecolampadius looked upon
little devotion to the Mother of God as a certain mark of reprobation: and
therefore he said, "Far be it from me ever to turn from Mary"
("Nunquam de me audietur, quasi averser
Mariam, erga quam minus bene affici, reprobatae mentis certum existimem
indicium"S. de Laud. D. in M.).
But, on the other hand, Mary says iin the words applied to her
by the Church, He that harkeneth to me shall not be confounded
(Qui audit me non confundetur"Ecclus.
xxiv. 30); that is to say, he that listeneth to what I say shall
not be lost. On which St. Bonaventur says, "O Lady, he who honors thee
will be far from damnation" ("Qui praestat
in obsequio tuo, procul fiat a perditione"Psalt. B. V. ps. 118).
And this will still be the case, St. Hilary observes, even should the
person during the past time have greatly offended God. "However great a
sinner he may have been," says the saint, "if he shows himself devout to
Mary, he will never perish" ("Quantumcumque
quis fuerit peccator, si Mariae devotus exstiterit, nunquam in aeternum
For this reason the devil does his utmost with sinners in
order that, after they have lost the grace of God, they may also lose
devotion to Mary. When Sarah saw Isaac in company with Ismael, who was
teaching him evil habits, she desired that Abraham would drive away both
Ismael and his mother Agar: Cast out this bond-woman and her son
("Ejice ancillam hanc et filium ejus"Gen.
xxi. 10). She was not satisfied with the son being turned out of
the house, but insisted on the mother going also, thinking that otherwise
the son, coming to see his mother, would continue to frequent the house.
The devil, also, is not satisfied with a soul turning out Jesus Christ,
unless it also turns out his Mother: Cast out this bond-woman and her
son. Otherwise he fears that the Mother will again, by her
intercession, bring back her Son. "And his fears are well grounded," says
the learned Paciucchelli: "for he who is faithful in serving the Mother of
God will soon receive God himself by the means of Mary"
("Qui Dei Genitrici perseveranter
obsequitur, non multa mora, et Deum ipsum in se recipient"In Salv. Reg.
St. Ephrem, then, was right in calling devotion to our Blessed
Lady "a charter of liberty" ("Charta
libertatis"Or. de Laud.), our safeguard from hell
("Patrocinatrix damnatorum"). The
sasme saint also calls the divine Mother "the only hope of those who are
in despair." That which St. Bernard says is certain true, "that neither
the power nor the will to save us can be wanting to Mary"
("Nec facultas ei deesse poterit, nec
voluntas"In Assumpt. s. 1); the power cannot be wanting,
for it is impossible that her prayers should not be heard; as St.
Antoninus says, "It is impossible that a Mother of God should pray in
vain" ("Impossibile erat Deiparam non
exaudiri"P. 4, tit. 15, c. 17); and St. Bernard says the
same thing: "that her requests can never be refused, but that she obtains
whatever she wills" ("Quod quaerit,
invenit; et frustrari non potest"De Aquaed.). The will to
save us cannot be wanting, for Mary is our Mother, and desires our
salvation more than we can desire it ourselves. Since, then, this is the
case, how can it be possible for a client of Mary to be lost? He may be a
sinner, but if he recommends himself to this good Mother with perseverance
and purpose of amendment, she will undertake to obtain him light to
abandon his wicked state, sorrow for his sins, perseverance in virtue,
and, finally, a good death. And what mother would not deliver her son
from death if it only depended on her asking the favor to obtain it from
the judge? And can we think that Mary, who loves her clients with a
mother's most tender love, will not deliver her child from eternal death
when she can do it so easily?
Ah! devout reader, let us thank our Lord if we see that he has
given us affection for the Queen of Heaven, and confidence in her: "for,"
says St. John Damascene, "God only grants this favor to those whom he is
determined to save." The following are the beautiful words of the saint,
and with which he rekindles his own and our hope: "O mother of God, if I
place my confidence in thee, I shall be saved. If I am under thy
protection, I have nothing to fear, for the fact of being thy client is
the possession of a certainty of salvation, and which God only grants to
those whom he intends to save" (Crasset,
Vιr. Dιv. p. 1, tr. 1, q. 6). Therefore, Erasmus salutes the
Blessed Virgin in these words: "Hail! O terror of hell; O hope of
Christians; confidence in thee is a pledge of salvation"
("Salve, inferorum Formido, Christianorum
Spes! quo major est tua praecellentia, hoc certior est nostra fiducia"Paean
O, how enraged is the devil when he sees a soul persevering in
devotion to the divine Mother! We read in the Life of Blessed Alphonsus
Rodriguez, who was very devout to Mary, that once when in prayer, finding
himself much troubled by the devil with impure thoughts, this enemy said,
"Give up thy devotion to Mary, and I will cease to tempt thee."
We read in Blosius that God revealed to St. Catherine of
Sienna, "that in his goodness, and on account of the Incarnate Word, he
had granted to Mary, who was his Mother, that no one, not even a sinner,
who devoutly recommends himself to her should ever become the prey of
hell" ("Mariae, Filii mei Genitrici, a
bonitate mea concessum est, propter incarnate Verbi reverentiam, ut
quicumque etiam peccator, ad eam cum devota veneratione recurrit, nullo
modo diripiatur a daemone infernali"Conc. An. fid. p. 2, c. 1).
Even the Prophet David prayed to be delivered from hell, for the sake of
the love he bore to Mary. I have loved, O Lord, the beauty of Thy
house . . . take not away my soul, O God, with the wicked"
("Domine, dilexi decorum Domus tuae . . .:
ne perdas cum impiis, Deus, animam meam"Ps. xxv. 8). He
says of "Thy house," for Mary was the house that God himself constructed
for his dwelling on earth, and in which he could find repose on becoming
man, as it is written in the Book of Proverbs, Wisdom hath built
herself a house ("Sapientia
aedificavit sibi Domum"Prov. ix. 1).
"No," says St. Ignatius the martyr; "he who is devout to the
Virgin Mother will certainly never be lost"
("Numquam peribit, qui Genitrici Virgini
devotus, sedulusque exstiterit"Lohner, Bibl. t. 70, #3).
And St. Bonaventure confirms this, saying, "Thy lovers, O Lady, enjoy
peace in this life, and will never see eternal death"
("Pax multa diligentibus te, Domina: anima
eorum non videbit mortem in aeternum"Psalt. B. V. ps. 67).
The devout Blosius assures us, "that the case never did and never will
occur in which a humble and attentive servant of Mary was lost"
("Fieri non potest, ut pereat, qui Mariae
sedulous et humilis cultor fuerit"Par. An. fid. p. 1, c. 18).
"O, how many would have remained obstinate in sin, and have
been eternally lost," says Thomas ΰ Kempis, "if Mary had not interposed
with her Son, that he might show them mercy!"
("Quot fuissent aeternaliter condemnati,
vel in desperatione permansissent obstinate, nisi benignissima Virgo Maria
pro eis interpellasset ad Filium!"Ad Nov. s. 23). It is
also the opinion of many theologians, and of St. Thomas
(Suppl. q. 71, a. 5) in
particular, that for many who have died in mortal sin the divine Mother
has obtained from God a suspension of their sentence and a return to life
to do penance.
Trustworthy authors give us many instances in which this has
occurred (In view of these examples and of
those that we read farther on, there arises the twofold question, De jure
et de factor. Question de jure: Can God hiner, and can the Blessed Virgin
obtain by her prayers, that condemnation to hell be not put inexecution?
With these theologians, and notably with St. Alphonsus, there is no one
who could not answer, Yes. Question de facto: Has it happened, thanks to
the prayers of the Blessed Virgin, that sinners condemned to hell have not
been plunged into it, and that by a good confession they have effaced the
sentence of their condemnation? Yes; for the facts that I cite, says St.
Alphonsus, are affirmed by trustworthy authors as real and public
facts.ED). Amongst others, Flodoardus, who lived about the ninth
century, relates in his Chronicles, that a certain deacon named Adelman,
who was apparently dead, and was being buried, returned to life, and said
"that he had seen hell, to which he was condemned, but that, at the
prayers of the Blessed Virgin, he had been sent back to this world to do
penance" (Chron. Eccl. Rem. Anno
Surius relates a similar case
(4 Dec. S. Ann. l. 1, c. 35) of a Roman citizen named
Andrew, who had died impenitent, and for whom Mary obtained that he should
come to life again, that he might be pardoned. Pelbertus
(Stellar. B. V. l. 12, p. 2, a. 1)
says, "that in his time, when the Emperor Sigismund was crossing the Alps
with his army, a voice was heard coming from a skeleton, asking for a
confessor, and declaring that the Mother of God, for whom he had
devotion when a soldier, had obtained that he should thus live until he
had been able to make his confession; and, having done so, the soul
departed" (This is undoubtedly a very
strange fact. However, who will dispute it, either by limiting the power
of God or the influence of the Blessed Virgin, or by refusing to believe
the authority of a writer such as Father Pelbart, who, in a book dedicated
to Pope Sixtus IV., relates in detail this prodigy as having happened at
his time in the presence of an illustrious emperor and the members of his
court, several of whom, as they were yet living, could have convicted him
of falsehood, if he had not told the truth! This reflection is made by
Father Crasset: it may also be applied to other examples not less
wonderful. Moreover, the miracle of which there is question here is
affirmed by a great number of most respectable authors; among them Lyraeus
is distinguished by his most circumstantial narrative in his Trisagion
Marianum, l. 1, son. 31.ED).
These, and other such examples, however, must not encourage
rash persons to live in sin, with the hope that Mary will deliver them
from hell even should they die in this state; for as it would be the
height of folly for any one to throw himself into a well with a hope that
Mary would preserve his life because she has occasionally preserved some
under similar circumstances, still greater folly would it be to run the
risk of dying in sin, in the hope that the Blessed Virgin would save him
from hell. But these examples serve to revive our confidence with the
reflection, that if the divine Mother has been able to deliver from hell
even some who have died in sin, how much more will she be able to preserve
from a similar lot those who, during life, have recourse to her with a
purpose of amendment, and who serve her faithfully.
"What, then, will be our lot, O tender Mother," let us ask
with St. Germanus, "who are sinners, but desire to change, and have
recourse to thee, who art the life of Christian?"
("Quid autem de nobis fiet, O Sanctissima
Virgo, O Vita Christianorum!"De Zona Virg.) As Anselm
says, "that he will not be lost from whom thou once prayest"
("Aeternum vae non sentiet ille, pro quo
semel oraverit Maria"). O, pray, then, for us, and we shall be
preserved from hell. "Who," exclaims Richard of St. Victor, "will presume
to say, if I have thee to defend me, O Mother of mercy, that the Judge
will be unfavorable to me when I am presented before the divine tribunal!"
("Si accedam ad judicium, et Matrem
misericordiae in causa habuero mecum, quis Judicem denegabit propitium?"In
Cant. c. 39) Blessed Henry Suso used to say, "that he had
placed his soul in the hands of Mary, and that if he was condemned, the
sentence must pass through her hands" ("Si
Judex servum suum damnare voluerit, per manus tuas piissimas noc taciat"Hor.
Sap. aet. l. 1, c. 16); being confident that if it was in such
hands, this tender Virgin would certainly prevent its execution. The same
do I hope for myself, O my own most holy Queen; and therefore I will
always repeat the words of St. Bonaventure: "In thee, O Lady, have I
placed all my hopes; and thus I confidently trust that I shall never be
lost, but praise and love thee forever in heaven"
("In te, Domina, speravi; non confundar in
aeternum"Psalt. B. V. ps. 30).
In the year 1604, in a city of Belgium, there were two young men,
students, but who, instead of attending to their studies, gave themselves
up to a life of debauchery. One night they were both in the house with an
evil companion, when one of them, named Richard, returned home, leaving
his companion there. After he had reached home, and had begun to undress,
he remembered he had not that day said some "Hail Marys," that he was in
the habit of reciting. Feeling very sleepy he was loth to say them; he
did himself violence, and repeated them, though without devotion, and half
asleep. He then lay down, and had fallen into a sound slumber, when he
was suddenly roused by a violent knocking at the door, and without its
opening he saw his companion, deformed and hideous, standing before him.
"Who art thou?" he cried out. "What! Dost thou not know me?" "Ah, yes!
but how thou art changed; thou seemest to me a devil." "Truly," he
exclaimed, "poor unfortunate creature that I am, I am damned; and how?
When I was leaving that wicked house, a devil came and strangled me; my
body is in the street, and my soul in hell; and thou must know," added he,
"that the same fate awaited thee, had not the Blessed Virgin preserved
thee in consideration of that little act of homage of the 'Hail Mary.'
Fortunate art thou if only thou knowest how to take advantage of this
warning sent thee by the Mother of God." With these words he opened his
mantle, and, showing the flames and serpents by which he was tormented, he
disappeared. Richard immediately burst into sobs and tears, and, casting
himself prostrate on the ground, he returned thanks to Mary, his
protectress; and, whilst thinking how to change his life, he heard the
bell of the Franciscan monastery ringing for matins. "Ah! it is there,"
says he, "that God calls me to do penance." He went immediately to the
convent, and implored the Fathers to admit him. But they were hardly
willing to do so, knowing his wicked life; but he, sobbing bitterly, told
all that had taken place; and two Fathers being sent to the street, and
having found the strangled body, which was as black as a coal, they
admitted him. From that time forward Richard led a most exemplary life,
and at last went to preach the Gospel in the Indies, and thence to Japan,
where he had the happiness of giving his life for Jesus Christ, being
burnt alive for the faith" (Lyraeus,
Tris. Mar. l. 3). (In the church of Ham-sur-Heure, in Hainault, there
is a picture of the martyrdom of F. Richard of St. Anne with the following
inscription: "The Blessed F. Richard of St. Anne, born at Ham-sur-Heure in
1589, made his religious profession as a Recollect at Nivelles, April 13,
1605, and having been ordained Priest in the Philippine Isles, was
martyred at Nagasaki, September 10, 1622, being put to death by a slow
fire." He was beatified in 1867. (See Annals of the Franciscan Missions,
O Mary, my most dear Mother, in what an abyss of evils should I not now
be, if thou hadst not so many times delivered me with thy compassionate
hand! How many years ago should I not have been in hell, hadst thou not
saved me by thy powerful prayers! My grievous sins already drove me
there; divine justice had already condemned me; the devils already longed
to execute the sentence; and thou didst fly to my aid, and save me without
being even called or asked. And what return can I make to thee, O my
beloved protectress, for so many favors and for such love? Thou also
didst overcome the hardness of my heart, and didst draw me to thy love and
to confidence in thee. And into how many other evils should I not have
fallen, if with thy compassionate hand thou hadst not so often helped me
in the dangers into which I was on the point of falling! Continue, O my
hope, to preserve me from bell, and from the sins into which I may still
fall. Never allow me to have this misfortuneto curse thee in hell. My
beloved Lady, I love thee. Can thy goodness ever endure to see a servant
of thine that loves thee lost? Ah! then, obtain that I may never more be
ungrateful to thee and to my God, who for the love of thee has granted me
so many graces. O Mary, tell me, shall I be lost? Yes, if I abandone
thee. But is this possible? Can I ever forget the love thou has borne
me? Thou, after God, art the love of my soul. I can no longer trust
myself to live without loving thee. O most beautiful, most holy, most
amiable, sweetest creature in the world, I rejoice in thy happiness. I
love thee, and I hope always to love thee both in time and in eternity.
succors her Clients in Purgatory.
Fortunate, indeed, are the clients of this most compassionate Mother; for
not only does she succor them in this world, but even in purgatory they
are helped and comforted by her protection. And as in that prison poor
souls are in the greatest need of assistance, since in their torments they
cannot help themselves, our Mother of mercy does proportionately more to
relieve them. St. Bernardine of Sienna says, "that in that prison, where
souls that are spouses of Jesus Christ are detained, Mary has a certain
dominion and plenitutde of power, not only to relieve them, but even to
deliver them from their pains" ("Beata
Virgo in regno purgatorii dominium tenet"Pro Fest. V. M. s. 3, a.
2, c. 3).
And, first, with respect to the relief she gives. The same
saint, in applying those words of Ecclesiasticus, I have walked in the
waves of the sea ("In fluctibus maris
ambulavi"Ecclus. xxiv. 8), adds "that it is by visiting and
relieving the necessities and torments of her clients, who are her
children" ("Scilicet, visitans et
subveniens necessitatibus et tormentis devotorum meorum: quia filii ejus
sunt"). He then says "that the pains of purgatory are called
waves, because they are transitory, unlike the pains of hell, which never
end; and they are called waves of the sea, because they are so bitter.
The clients of Mary, thus suffering, are often visited and relieved by
her." "See, therefore," says Novarinus, "of what consequence it is to be
the servant of this good Lady, for her servants she never forgets when
they are suffering in those flames: for though Mary relieves all suffering
souls in purgatory, yet she always obtains far greater indulgence and
relief for her own clients" ("Vides
quantum referat hic Virginem colore, cum cultorum suorum, in purgatorii
flammis existentium, non obliviscatur; et licet omnibus opem ac
refrigerium ferat, id tamen praecipue erga suos praestat"Umbra Virg.
The divine Mother once addressed these words to St. Bridget:
"I am the Mother of all souls in purgatory; for all the pains that they
have deserved for their sins are every hour, as long as they remain there,
in some way mitigated by my prayers" ("Sum
Mater omnium qui sunt in purgatorio; quia omnes poenae, quae debenture
purgandis pro peccatis suis, in qualibet hora propter preces meas
quodammodo mitigantur"Rev. l. 4, c. 138). The
compassionate Mother even condescends to go herself occasionally into that
holy prison, to visit and comfort her suffering children. St.
Bonaventure, applying to Mary the words of Ecclesiasticus, I have
penetrated into the boom of the deep, says, "the deep, that is,
purgatory, to relieve by my presence the holy souls detained there"
("Abyssi, id est, purgatorii, adjuvans
illas sanctas animas"). "O, how courteous and benign is the most
Blessed Virgin," says St. Vincent Ferrer, "to those who suffer in
purgatory! through her they constantly receive comfort and refreshment"
("Maria bona animabus purgatorii; quia per
eam habent suffragium"In Nat. B. V. s. 2).
And what other consolation have they in their sufferings than
Mary, and the relief they receive from this Mother of mercy? St. Bridget
once heard Jesus say to his holy Mother, "Thou art my Mother, the Mother
of mercy, and the consolation of souls in purgatory"
("Tu es Mater mea, tu Mater misericordiae,
tu Consolatio eorum qui sunt in purgatorio"). The Blessed Virgin
herself told the saint, "that as a poor sick person, bedridden, suffering,
and abandoned, is relieved by words of encouragement and consolation, so
are the souls in purgatory consoled and relieved by only hearing her name"
("Qui in purgatorio sunt, gaudent, audito
nominee meo, tanquam aeger in lecto jacens, si audierit ab aliquibus
verbum solatii"Rev. l. 1, c. 16, 9). The mere name of
Mary, that name of hope and salvation, and which is frequently invoked by
her beloved children in their prison, is a great source of comfort to
them; "for," says Novarinus, "that loving Mother no sooner hears them call
upon her than she offers her prayers to God, and these prayers, as a
heavenly dew, immediately refresh them in their burning pains"
("Virginis nomen illarum poenarum
refrigerium est. Addit Virgo preces, quibus veluti supero quodam rore,
cruciatus illi magni mitigantur"Umbra Virg. exc. 86).
Mary not only consoles and relieves her clients in purgatory,
but she delivers them by her prayers. Gerson says, "that on the day of
her assumption into heaven purgatory was entirely emptied"
(Super Magn. tr. 4).
Novarinus confirms this, saying, "that it is maintained by many grave
authors, that when Mary was going to heaven, she asked as a favor from her
Son to take all the souls then in purgatory with her"
("Ferunt quipped bonae notae auctores
Virginem, in coelum ituram; a Filio hoc petiisse, ut omnes animas, quae in
purgatorio detinebantur, secum ad gloriam ducere posset"Loco supra cit.).
"And from that time forward," says Gerson, "Mary had the privilege of
delivering her servants" ("Ab ils
tormentis liberat Beata Virgo maxime devotos suos"Pro Fest. V. M.
s. 3, a. 2, c. 3). St. Bernardine of Sienna also positively
asserts "that the Blessed Virgin has the power of delivering souls from
purgatory, but particularly those of her clients, by her prayers, and by
applying her merits for them." Novarinus says, "that by the merits of
Mary, not only are the pains of those souls lessened, but the time of
their sufferings is shortened through her intercession"
("Crediderim omnibus qui in illis flammis
purgantur, Mariae meritis, non solum leviores fuisse redditas illas poenas,
sed et breviores, adeo ut cruciatuum tempus contractum Virginis ope illis
sit"Loco cit.). She has only to ask, and all is done.
St. Peter Damian relates, "that a lady named Marozia appeared
after her death to her godmother, and told her that on the feast of the
Assumption she, together with a multitude exceeding the population of
Rome, had been delivered by Mary from purgatory"
(Opusc. 34, c. 3). Denis
the Carthusian says, "that on the feasts of the Nativity and Resurrection
of Jesus Christ Mary does the same thing; for on those days, accompanied
by choirs of angels, she visits that prison and delivers very many souls
from their torments" ("Beatissima Virgo
singulis annis, in festivitate Nativitatis Christi, ad purgatorii loca cum
multitudine angelorum descendit, et multas inde animas eripit; etiam in
nocte Dominicae Resurrectionis, solet descendere ad purgatorium, pro
eductione animarum"In Assumpt. s. 2). Novarinus says,
"that he can easily believe that on all her own solemn feasts she delivers
many souls from their sufferings" ("Facile
autem crediderim, in quocumque Virginis solemni festo plures animas ab
illis poenis eximi"Loco cit.).
The promise made by our Blessed Lady to Pope John XXII is well
known. She appeared to him, and ordered him to make known to all that on
the Saturday after their death she would deliver from purgatory all who
wore the Carmelite scapular. This, as Father Crasset
(Vιr. Dιv. p. 2, tr. 6, pr. 4)
relates, was proclaimed by the same Pontiff in a Bull, which was
afterwards confirmed by Alexander V., Clement VII, Pius V., Gregory XIII.,
and PaulV.; and this latter, in a Bull of the year 1613, says, "that
Christian people may piously believe that the Blessed Virgin will help
them after death by her continual intercession, her merits, and special
protection; and that on Saturdays, the day consecrated by the Church to
her, she will in a more particular manner help the souls of the brethren
of the Confraternity of our Blessed Lady of Mount Carmel who have departed
this life in a state of grace, provided they have worn the habit, observed
the chastity of their state, and recited her office: or, if they could not
recit it, if they have observed the fasts of the Church, and abstained
from meat on all Wednesdays except Christmas-day." In the solemn office
of our Blessed Lady of Mount Carmel we read, that it is piously belileved
that the Blessed Virgin comforts the brethren of this confraternity in
purgatory with maternal love, and that by her intercession she soon
delivers themn, and takes them to heaven
("Materno plane affectu, dum igne purgatorii expiantur, solari ac in
coelestem patriam obtentu suo quantocius pie creditor efferre"Die
16 jul. lect. 6).
Why should we not hope for the same graces and favors, if we
are devout clients of this good Mother? And if we serve her with more
special love, why can we not hope to go to heaven immediately after death,
without even going to purgatory? This really took place in the case of
Blessed Godfrey, to whom Mary sent the following message, by Brother
Abondo: "Tell Brother Godfrey to endeavor to advance rapidly in virtue,
and thus he will belong to my Son and to me: and when his soul departs, I
will not allow it to go to purgatory, but will take it and offer it to my
Son" (Men. Cist. 2 Oct.).
Finally, if we wish to relieve the holy souls in purgatory,
let us do so by imploring the aid of our Blessed Lady in all our prayers,
and especially by offering the Rosary for them, as that relieves them
greatly, as we shall see in the following example.
A noble lady, who had an only son, was informed one day that he had been
killed. The murderer had by chance taken refuge in her own palace. She
then began to reflect that Mary had forgiven the executioners of her Son;
and therefore determined that she also would pardon that criminal for the
love of the sorrowful Mary. She not only did this, but also provided him
with a horse, money and clothes, that he might escape. Her son then
appeared to her, and told her that he was saved, and that for her generous
conduct to his enemy the divine Mother had delivered him from purgatory,
in which otherwise he would have had to suffer for a long time, and that
he was then going to Paradise (Tausch.
De Matre Dol. 1, 2, c. 8).
O Queen of heaven and earth! O Mother of the Lord
of the world! O Mary, of all creatures the greatest, the most exalted and
the most amiable! it is true that there are many in this world who neither
know thee nor love thee; but in heaven there are many millions of angels
and blessed spirits, who love and praise thee continually. Even in this
world, how many happy souls are there not who burn with thy love, and live
enamoured of thy goodness! O, that I also could love thee, O Lady worthy
of all love! O that I could always remember to serve thee, to praise thee,
to honor thee, and engage all to love thee! Thou hast attracted the love
of God, whom, by thy beauty, thou hast, so to say, torn from the borom of
his Eternal Father, and engaged to become man, and be thy Son. And shall
I, a poor worm of the earth, not be enamoured of thee? No, my most sweet
Mother, I also will love thee much, and will do all that I can to make
others love thee also. Accept, then, O Mary, the desire that I have to
love thee, and help me to execute it. I know how favorably thy lovers are
looked upon by God. He, after his own glory, desires nothing more than
thine, and to see thee honored and loved by all. From thee, O Lady, do I
expect all; through thee the remission of my sins, through thee
perseverance. Thou must assist me at death, and deliver me from
purgatory; and finally, thou must lead me to heavn. All this thy lovers
hope from thee, and are not deceived. I, who love thee with so much
affection, and above all other things, after God, hope for the same
leads her Servants to Heaven.
Oh, what an evident mark of predestination have
the servants of Mary! The holy Church, for the consolation of her
clients, puts into her mouth the words of Ecclesiasticus, In all these
I sought rest, and I shall abide in the inheritance of the Lord
("In his omnibus requiem quaesivi, et in
haereditate Domini morabor"Ecclus. xxiv. 11). Cardinal
Hugo explains these words, and says, "blessed is he in whose house the
most Holy Virgin finds repose" ("Beatus, in cujus domo Beata Virgo requiem
invenerit"). Mary, out of the love she bears to all, endeavors to excite
in all devotion towards herself; many either do not admit it into their
souls, or do not preserve it. But blessed is he that receives and
preserves it. And I shall abide in the inheritance of the Lord.
"That is," adds the Cardinal, "Blessed is he whose interior offers the
Blessed Virgin Mary a place of repose." Devotion towards the Blessed
Virgin remains in all who are the inheritance of our Lord; that is to say,
in all who will praise him eternally in heaven. Mary continues, speaking
in the words of Ecclesiasticus: He that made me rested in my
tabernacle, and He said to me: Let thy dwelling be in Jacob, and thy
inheritance in Israel, and take root in My elect
("Qui creavit me, requievit in tabernaculo
meo, et dixit mihi: In Jacob inhabita, et in Israel haereditare, et in
electis meis mitte radices"). That is, my Creator has condescended
to come and repose in my bosom, and his will is, that I should dwell in
the hearts of all the elect (of whom Jacob was a figure, and who are the
inheritance of the Blessed Virgin), and that devotion and confidence in me
should take root in all the predestined.
O, how many blessed souls are now in
heaven who would never have been there had not Mary, by her powerful
intercession, led them thither: I made that in the heavens there should
rise light that never faileth ("Ego feci
in coelis ut oriretur lumen indeficiens"Ecclus. xxiv. 6).
Cardinal Hugo, in his commentary on the above text of Ecclesiasticus,
says, in the name of Mary, "I have caused as many lights to shine
eternally in heaven as I have clients;" and then he adds, "There are many
saints in heaven through her intercession, who would never have been there
but through her" ("Multi Sancti sunt in
coelis intercessione ejus, qui nunquam ibi fuissent nisi per eam").
St. Bonaventure says, "that the gates
of heaven will open to all who confide in the protection of Mary"
("Qui speraverit in illa, porta paradise
reserabitur ei"Psalt. B. V. ps. 90). Hence, St. Ephrem
calls devotion to the divine Mother "the unlocking of the gates of the
heavenly Jerusalem" ("Reseramentum
coelesti Jerusalem"De Laud. Dei gen.). The devout Blosius
also, addressing our Blessed Lady, says, "To thee, O Lady, are committed
the keys and the treasures of the kingdom of heaven"
("Tibi regni coelestis claves thesaurique
commissi sunt"Par. An. fid. p. 2, c. 4). And therefore we
ought constantly to pray to her, in the words of St. Ambrose, "Open to us,
O Mary, the gates of paradise, since thou hast its keys"
("Aperi nobis, O Virgo, coelum, cujus
claves habes"). Nay more, the Church says, that "thou art its
gate" ("Janua coeli").
For the same reason, again, is this
great Mother called by the Church the Star of the Sea, "Hail, Star of the
Sea!" "For," says the angelical St. Thomas, "as sailors are guided by a
star to the port, so are Christians guided to heaven by Mary"
("Stella maris, quia, sicut per stellam
maris navigantes diriguntur ad portum, ita Christiani diriguntur per
Mariam ad gloriam"Exp. In Sal. Ang.).
For the same reason, finally, is she
called by St. Fulgentius, "the heavenly ladder." "For," says the saint,
"by Mary God descended from heaven into the world, that by her men might
ascend from earth to heaven" ("Scala
coelestis, quia per ipsam Deus descendit ad terras, ut per ipsam hominess
mereantur ascendere ad coelos"In Annunt. s. 1). "And thou,
O Lady," says St. Athanasius, "wast filled with grace, that thou mightest
be the way of our salvation, and the means of ascent to the heavenly
kingdom" ("Ave, gratia Plena, quod facta
sis nobis salutis Via, Ascensusque ad superos"In Annunt. s. 1).
St. Bernard calls our Blessed Lady
"the heavenly chariot" ("Vehiculum ad
coelum"De Aquaed.). And St. John Geometra salutes her,
saying, "Hail, resplendent car!" ("Salve
clarissime Currus"In V. Deip. h. 1). signifying that she
is the car in which her clients mount to heaven. "Blessed are they who
know thee, O Mother of God," says St. Bonaventure; "for the knowledge of
thee is the high road to everlasting life, and the publication of thy
virtues is the way of eternal salvation"
("Scire et cognoscere te, est radix immortalitatis; et enarrare virtutes
tuas, est via salutis"Psalt. B. V. ps. 85).
Denis the Carthusian asks, "Who is
there that is saved? who is there that reigns in heaven?" And he answers,
"They are certainly saved and reign in heaven for whom this Queen of mercy
intercedes" ("Quis salvatur? quis regnat
in coelo? Illi sane pro quibus Regina misericordiae interpellat"Paciucch.
Sup. Salve Reg. exc. 1). And this Mary herself confirms in the
book of Proverbs, By me kings reign
("Per me reges regnant"Prov. viii. 15); through my
intercession souls reign, first in this mortal life by ruling their
passions, and so come to reign eternally in heaven, where, says St.
Augustine, "all are kings" ("Quot cives,
tot reges"). "Mary, in fine," says Richard of St. Laurence, "is
the mistress of heaven; for there she commands as she wills, and admits
whom she wills." And applying to her the words of Ecclesiasticus, And
my power was in Jerusalem ("In
Jerusalem potestas mea"Ecclus. xxiv. 15), he makes her say,
"I command what I will, and introduce whom I will"
("Imperandi scilicet, quod volo, et, quos
volo, introducendi"De Laud. Virg. l. 4, c. 4). Our Blessed
Lady, being Mother of the Lord of heaven, it is reasonable that she also
should be sovereign Lady of that kingdom, according to Rupert, who says,
"that by right she possesses the whole kingdom of her Son"
("Totum jure possidens Filii regnum"In Cant. l. 3).
St. Antoninus tells us "that this
divine Mother has already, by her assistance and prayers, obtained heaven
for us, provided we put no obstacle in the way"
("Coeleste nobis regnum, suo interventu,
auxiliis, et precibus, impetravit"Paciucch. Sup. Salve Reg. exc.
1). Hence, says the Abbot Guerric, "he who serves Mary, and for
whom she intercedes, is as certain of heaven as if he was already there"
("Qui Virgini famulatur, ita securus est
de paradise, ac si esset in paradise"). St. John Damascene also
says, "that to serve Mary and be her courtier is the greatest honor we can
possibly possess; for to serve the Queen of heaven is already to reign
there, and live under her commands is more than to govern"
("Summus honor, servire Mariae, et de ejus
esse familia; eternim ei servire, regnare est; et ejus agi fraenis, summa
libertas"). On the other hand, he adds, "that those who do not
serve Mary will not be saved; for those who are deprived of the help of
this great Mother are also deprived of that of her Son and of the whole
court of heaven" ("Gens quae non servierit
illi, peribit; gentes destitutae tantae Matris auxilio, destituuntur
auxilio Filii et totius curiae coelestis"De Laud. B. M. l. 4).
"May the infinite goodness of our Lord
be ever praised," says St. Bernard, for having been pleased to given us
Mary as our advocate in heaven, that she, being at the same time the
Mother of our Judge and a Mother of mercy, may be able, by her
intercession, to conduct to a prosperous issue the great affair of our
eternal salvation" ("Advocatam praemisit
peregrination nostra; quae, tamquam Judicis Mater et Mater misericordiae,
suppliciter et efficaciter salutis nostrae negotia pertractabit"In
Assumpt. s. 1). St. James, a Doctor of the Greek Church, says,
"that God destined Mary as a bridge of salvation, by using which we might
with safety pass over the stormy sea of this world, and reach the happy
haven of paradies" ("Eam tu Pontem fecisti,
quo a mundi fluctibus trajicientes, ad tranquillum portum tuum perveniamus"Or.
in Nat. Dei gen.). Therefore St. Bonaventur exclaims, "Give
ear, O ye nations; and all you who desire heaven, serve, honor Mary, and
certainly you will find eternal life" ("Audite,
omnes gentes; qui ingredi cupitis regnum Dei, Virginem Mariam honorate, et
invenietis vitam et salutem perpetuam"Psalt. B. V. ps. 48).
Nor should those even who have
deserved hell be in the least doubtful as to obtaining heaven, provided
they are faithful in serving this Queen. "O, how many sinners," says St.
Germanus, "have found God and have been saved by thy means, O Mary!"
("Peccatores per te Deum exquisierunt, et
salvi facti sunt"In Dorm. V. M. s. 2). Richard of St.
Laurence remarks, that St. John in the Apocalypse says that Mary was
crowned with stars: And on her head a crown of twelve stars
("Et in capite ejus corona stellarum
duodecim"Apoc. xii. 1). On the other hand, in the sacred
Canticles, she is said to be crowned with wild beasts, lions, and
leopards: Come from libanus, my spouse, come from Libanus, come; thou
shalt be crowned . . . from the dens of the lions, from the mountains of
the leopards" ("Coronaberis . . . de
montibus pardorum"Cant. iv. 8). How is this? He answers,
that "these wild beasts are sinners, who by the favor and intercession of
Mary have become stars of paradise, better adapted to the head of this
Queen of mercy than all the material stars of heaven"
("Et quid est hoc, nisi quod ferae, per
gratiam et orations Mariae, fiunt stellae, ut convenient capiti tantae
Reginae?"De Laud. B. M. l. 3).
We read in the life of the servant of
God, Sister Seraphina of Capri, that once during the novena of the
Assumption of Mary she asked our Blessed Lady for the conversion of a
thousand sinners, but afterwards thought that she had asked too much; and
then the Blessed Virgin appeared to her, and corrected her for her
ungrounded anxiety, saying, "Why dost thou fear? Is it that I am not
sufficiently powerful to obtain from my Son the conversion of a thousand
sinners? See, I have already obtained the favor." With these words, she
took her in spirit to heaven, and there showed her innumerable souls which
had deserved hell, but had been saved through her intercession, and were
already enjoying eternal happiness.
It is true that in this world no one
can be certain of his salvation: Man knoweth not whether he be worthy
of love or hatred, says Ecclesiastes
("Nescit homo, utrum amore an odio dignus sit; sed omnia in futurum
servantur incerta"Eccles. ix. 1). But St. Bonaventure, on
the words of King David, Lord, who shall dwell in Thy tabernacle?
("Domine, quis habitabit in tabernaculo
tuo?"Ps. xiv. 1) and on the preceding quotation, answers,
"Sinners, let us follow Mary closely, and casting ourselves at her feet,
let us not leave them until she has blessed us; for her blessing will
insure our salvation" ("Amplectamur Mariae
vestigial peccatores, et ejus beatis pedibus provolvamur; teneamus eam
fortiter, nee dimittamus, donec ab ea meruimus benedici"Psalt. B. V.
"It suffices, O Lady," says T. Anselm,
"that thou willest it, and our salvation is certain"
("Tantummodo veils salutem nostram, et
vere nequaquam salvi esse non poterimus"De Excell. Virg. c. 6).
And St. Antoninus says that "souls protected by Mary, and on which she
casts her eyes, are necessarily justified and saved"
("Necessarium est quod hi, ad quos
convertit oculos suos, justificentur et glorificentur"P. 4, tit. 15, c.
"With reason, therefore," observes St.
Ildephonsus, "did the most Holy Virgin predict that all generations would
call her blessed" ("Beatam me dicent omnes
generations"); "for all the elect obtain eternal salvation through
the means of Mary" ("Beata jure dicitur,
quia omnes ex ea beatificantur"De Assumpt. s. 3). "And
thou, O great Mother," says St. Methodius, "art the beginning, the middle,
and the end of our happiness" ("Tu
festivitatis nostrae principium, medium, et finis"De Sim. et Anna);the
beginning, for Mary obtains us the pardon of our sins; the middle, for she
obtains us perseverance in divine grace; and the end, for she finally
obtains us heaven. "By thee, O Mary, was heaven opened," says St.
Bernard; "by thee was hell emptied; by thee was paradise restored; and
through thee, in fine, is eternal life given to so many miserable
creatures who deserved eternal death"
("Per te, coelum repletum, infernos evacuatus est, instauratae ruinae
coelestis Jerusalem; expectantibus miseris vita perdita data"In
Assumpt. s. 4).
But that which above all should
encourage us to hope with confidence for heaven, is the beautiful promis
made by Mary herself to all who honor her, and especially to those who, by
word and example, endeavor to make her known and honored by others:
They that work by me shall not sin; they that explain me shall have life
everlasting ("Qui operantur in me, non peccabunt; qui elucidant me,
vitam aeternam habebunt"Ecclus. xxiv. 30). "O happy they who
obtain the favor of Mary!" exclaims St. Bonaventure; "they will be
recognized by the blessed as their companions, and whoever bears the stamp
of a servant of Mary is already enrolled in the Book of Life"
("Qui acquirit gratiam Mariae, agnoscetur
a civibus paradise; et qui habuerit characterem ejus, adnotabitur in libro
vitae"Psalt. B. V. ps. 91).
Why, then, should we trouble ourselves about the opinions of
scholastics as to whether predestination to glory precedes or follows the
prevision of merits? If we are true servants of Mary, and obtain her
protection, we most certainly shall be inscribed in the Book of Life; for,
says St. John Damascene, "God only grants devotion towards his most Holy
Mother to those whom he will save." This is also clearly expressed by our
Lord in St. John: He that shall overcome . . . I will write upon him
the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God
("Qui vicerit . . . scribam super eum
nomen Dei mei, et nomen Civitatis Dei mei"Apoc. iii. 12).
And who but Mary is this city of God? observes St. Gregory on the words of
David: Glorious things are said of thee, O city of God
("Gloriosa dicta sunt de te, Civitas Dei"Ps.
Correctly, then, can we here say with St. Paul, Having this
seal, the Lord knoweth who are His ("Habens
signaculum hoc, cognovit Dominus qui sunt ejus"2 Tim. ii. 19);
that is to say, whoever carries with him the mark of devotion to Mary is
recognized by God as his. Hence St. Bernard writes, that devotion to the
Mother of God is a most certain mark of eternal salvation"
("Servire Mariae, est signum salutis
aeternae consequendae"Stell. B. V. l. 12, p. 2, a. 1).
Blessed Alan, speaking of the "Hail Mary," also says, that "whoever often
honors our Blessed Lady with this angelical salutation has a very great
mark of predestination" ("Habentibus
devotionem ad hanc, signum est praedestinationis permagnum ad gloriam").
He says the same thing of perseverance in this daily recital of the
Rosary, "that those who do so have a very great assurance of salvation"
("Signum sit tibi probabilissimum aeternae
salutis, si perseveranter in dies eam in suo Psalterio salutaveris"De
Psalt. p 2, c. 11,4,
c. 24). Father Nieremberg says, in the tenth chapter of his book
on Affection for Mary, that "the servants of the Mother of God are
not only privileged and favored in this world, but even in heaven they are
more particularly honored." He then adds: "that in heaven they will be
recognized as servants of its Queen, and as belonging to her court, by a
distinguishing and richer garment," according to the words of the
Proverbs, All her domestics are clothed with double garments
("Omnes enim domestici ejus vestiti sunt
St. Mary Magdalen of Pazzi saw a vessel in the midst of the
sea: in it were all the clients of Mary, and this Blessed Mother herself
steered it safely into the port. By this the saint understood, that those
who live under the protection of Mary are secure, in the midst of the
dangers of this life, from the shipwreck of sin, and from eternal
damnation; for she guides them safely into the haven of salvation. Let us
then enter this blessed ship of the mantle of Mary, and there we can be
certain of the kingdom of heaven; for the Church says: "O holy Mother of
God, all those who will be partakers of eternal happiness dwell in thee,
living under thy protection" ("Sicut
laetantium, omnium nostrum habitation est in te, sancta Dei Genitrix"Off.
The Fransiccan Chronicles relate that a certain Brother Leo saw in a
vision two ladders the one red, the other white. On the upper end of the
red ladder, stood Jesus and on the other stood His holy Mother. The
brother saw that some tried to climb the red ladder; but scarcely had they
mounted some rungs when they fell back, they tried again but with no
better success. Then they were advised to try the white ladder and to
their surprise they succeeded for the Blessed Virgin stretched out her
hand and with her aid they reached heaven
(Wadding, Ann. 1232 n. 28).
(Note: This apparition is by no means
incredible; nor is it right to say that it makes the power of Mary
superior to that of Christ. The symbolic significance of the vision must
be borne in mind. The idea has been expressed repeatedly in the words of
St. Bernard, and more recently by Popes Leo XIII, and Benedict XV: "As we
have no access to the Father except through the Son, so no one can come to
the Son except by the Mother. As the Son is all powerful by nature, the
Mother is all powerful in so far that by the merciful disposition of God
she is our mediatrix of graces with Christ. Therefore says Eadmer:
"Frequently our petitions are heeded sooner when we address ourselves to
Mary the Queen of Mercy and Compassion than when we go directly to Jesus
who as King of Justice is our Judge"
(De Excell. V. c. 6).
O Queen of heaven, Mother of holy love! since thou art the most amiable of
creatures, the most beloved of God, and his greatest lover, be pleased to
allow the most miserable sinner living in this world, who, having by thy
means been delivered from hell, and without any merit on his part been so
benefited by thee and who is filled with love for thee, to love thee. I
would desire, were it in my power, to let all men who know thee not know
how worthy thou art of love, that all might love and honor thee. I would
desire to die for the love of thee, in defence of thy virginity, of thy
dignity of Mother of God, of thy Immaculate Conception, should this be
necessary, to uphold these thy great privileges. Ah! my most beloved
Mother accept this my ardent desire, and never allow a servant of thine,
who loves thee, to become the enemy of thy God, whom thou lovest so much.
Alas! poor me, I was so for a time, when I offended my Lord. But then, O
Mary, I loved thee but little, and strove but little to be beloved by
thee. But now there is nothing that I so much desire, after the grace of
God, as to love and be loved by thee. I am not discouraged on account of
my past sins, for I know that thou, O most benign and gracious Lady, dost
not disdain to love even the most wretched sinners who love thee; nay
more, that thou never allowest thyself to be surpassed by any in love.
Ah! Queen most worthy of love, I desire to love thee in heaven. There,
at thy feet, I shall better know how worthy thou art of love, how much
thou hast done to save me; and thus I shall love thee with greater love,
and love thee eternally, without fear of ever ceasing to love thee. O
Mary, I hope most certainly to be saved by thy means. Pray to Jesus for
me. Nothing else is needed; thou hast to save me; thou art my hope. I
will therefore always sing O Mary, my hope, thou hast to save me.