TO THE READER.
In order that my present work may not be condemned by the over-critical, I
think it well to explain certain propositions that will be found in it,
and which may seem hazardous, or perhaps obscure. I have noticed some,
and should others attract your attention, charitable reader, I beg that
you will understand them according to the rules of sound theology and the
doctrine of the holy Roman Catholic Church, of which I declare myself a
most obedient son.
In the Introduction, page ,
referring to the fifth chapter of this work, I say that it is the will of
God that all graces should come to us by the hands of Mary. Now, this is
indeed a most consoling truth for souls tenderly devoted to our most
Blessed Lady, and for poor sinners who wish to repent.
Nor should this opinion be looked upon as contrary to sound
doctrine, since the Father of theology, St. Augustine, in common with most
writers, says, that Mary co-operated by her charity in the spiritual birth
of all members of the Church ("Mater
quidem spiritu, non capitis nostril, quod est ipse Salvator, ex quo magis
illa spiritaliter nata est; quia omnes, qui in eum crediderint, in quibus
et ipsa est, recte filii Sponsi appellantur; sed plane mater membrorum
ejus, quod nos sumus, quia cooperata est charitate, ut fideles in ecclesia
nascerentur, quae illius capitis membra sunt." —Lib. De Santa
Virginitate, cap. vi.) A celebrated writer, and one who cannot
be accused of exaggeration or of misguided devotion, says, "that it was,
properly speaking, on Mount Calvary that Jesus formed his Church"
(Nicole, Instr. Sur la Sal. Ang. ch.
2); and then it is evident that the Blessed Virgin co-operated in a
most excellent and especial manner in the accomplishment of this work.
And in the same way it can be said, that though she brought forth the Head
of the Church, Jesus Christ, without pain, she did not bring forth the
body of this Head without very great suffering; and so it was on Mount
Calvary that Mary began, in an especial manner, to be the Mother of the
whole Church. And now, to say all in a few words: God, to glorify the
Mother of the Redeemer, has so determined and disposed that of her great
charity she should intercede in behalf of all those for whom his divine
Son paid and offered the superabundant price of his precious blood in
which alone is our salvation, life, and resurrection"
("In quo est salus, vita et resurrection
nostra." —Off. De Exalt. SS. Cruc.).
On this doctrine, and on all that is in accordance with it, I
ground my proposition (In chapters vi.,
#2; vii.; viii., #2; ix.)—propositions which the saints have not
feared to assert in their tender colloquies with Mary and fervent
discourses in her honor. Hence St. Sophronius says, as quoted by the
celebrated Vincent Contenson, that "the plenitude of all grace which is in
Christ came into Mary, though in a different way"
(In Christo fuit plenitude gratiae, sicut
in capite influente; in Maria vero, sicut in collo transfundente"—Theol.
Ment. Et cord. 1. 10, & 6. c. I. SD. 2); meaning that the
plenitude of grace was in Christ, as the Head from which it flows, as from
its source; and in Mary, as in the neck through which it flows. This
opinion is clearly confirmed and taught by the angelic Doctor, St. Thomas,
who says: "Of the three ways in which the Blessed Virgin is full of grace,
the third is that she is so for its transfusion into all men; and then he
adds: "This plenitude is great in any saint when there is as much grace as
would suffice for the salvation of many, but it is in its highest degree
when there is as much as would suffice for the salvation of the world; and
it was in this degree in Christ and in the Blessed Virgin: for in all
dangers thou canst obtain salvation of this glorious Virgin; and therefore
it is said in the sacred Canticles that a thousand bucklers, that
is to say, means of protection against dangers, hang upon it.
Also, in every work of virtue thou canst have her for thy helper, for she
says in the words of Ecclesiasticus, In me is all hope of life and
virtue ("Dicitur autem beata Virgo
plena gratiae, quantum ad tria . . . Tertio, quantum ad refusionem in
omnes hominess. Magnum enim est in quolibet sancto, quando habet tantum
de gratia, quod sufficit ad salutem multorum: sed quando haberet tantum,
quod sufficeret ad salutem omnium hominum de mundo, hoc esset maximum, et
hoc est in Christo et in Beata Virgine. Nam in omni periculo potes
salutem obtinere ab ipsa Virgine gloriosa. Unde Canticorum iv. 4, 'mille
clypei,' id est, remedia contra pericula, 'pendent ex ea.' Item, in omni
opera virtutis potes eam habere in adjutorium, et ideo dicit ipsa
Ecclesiastici xxiv. 25: 'In me omnis spes vitae et virtutis.'"—Expos.
In Salul. Ang.).