The Blessings of Mary
Taken from
Irish Ursulines, 1920 with IMPRIMATUR


The Dignity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

St. John the Evangelist, rapt in ecstasy on the Island of Patmos, beheld a most wondrous vision. He tells us that he saw "a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars" (Apoc. xii, 1). And who is this woman? St. Ambrose and St. Augustine, and other leading commentators, declare her to be no other than Our Blessed and Sovereign Lady herself. She is, indeed, declared to be "fair as the moon and glorious as the sun," while her devoted servant, St. Bernard, tells us that her twelve special gifts and prerogatives may be fittingly symbolised by the glittering stars encircling her brow.

Of all pure creatures she is the most excellent and the most exalted. Her throne in Heaven is set above, not only those of the greatest of the Saints, but even above those of the highest of the Angels. "He that is mighty," she exclaims, "hath done great things to me." In very truth has the Almighty done for her great things, and immeasurably greater than He has done for any other whomsoever. But what Our Blessed Lady especially referred to when she broke out into those inspired words was, no doubt, the fact that God had chosen her to be His Mother.

Such a dignity surpasses every other that could be conferred on a pure creature, since it brings the creature into the most intimate and direct relationship with the dread Creator. So that, even though God might have given Our Lady yet greater graces and a yet greater beauty than she now possesses (for it is impossible to exhaust the resources of the Infinite), yet even God Himself could not have made her a greater or a more admirable Mother; for the dignity of maternity, or motherhood, is measured by the dignity of the offspring, and in Our Lady's case, God the Infinite could not have given her a child of greater excellence and worth, since that Child is the Eternal and Uncreated. Hence St. Thomas teaches that, in respect to her maternity, her dignity belongs to a Divine order, and is of an infinite degree.

But other consequences follow. Since God's counsels are eternal, He must have determined from the very beginning to make her His Mother; and, therefore, from the first He must have prepared and fitted her for this unspeakably sublime position. With this end clearly in view, He preserved her absolutely from the stain of Original Sin, and filled her "full of grace" from the very moment of her conception in the womb of St. Anne, her privileged Mother.

And note that this was no ordinary grace, such as the grace which beautifies, purifies, and sanctifies every Christian child in holy Baptism; it was a grace apart. Indeed, so special, so immense, and so wholly exceptional was it, that, according to the learned and devout theologian Suarez, it surpassed that conferred upon the very highest and most glorious of the Cherubim and the Seraphim, and, according to St. Alphonsus, even exceeded the sum total of all the graces conferred upon all men throughout all time. Thus it would seem that Our Lady entered into life in the actual enjoyment of a greater degree of grace than that which other Saints possess when they depart out of life.

But there is yet another circumstance which we must not forget if we are to estimate Our Lady's sanctity aright, viz., this grace was never suffered to lie idle in her soul. By her perfect correspondence to it she kept it continually increasing till it exceeded all calculation. For we must bear in mind that though the Blessed Virgin was once an infant, in many respects she was not like other infants. By a tremendous miracle of God's Providence she possessed the full use of reason from the moment of her conception, together with a supernatural knowledge of God; so that, from the earliest dawn of her existence, she began to acquire greater and greater graces as the days and the weeks and the months went by, and continued thus to advance in sanctity till the last day of her life upon earth. Some learned and grave theologians even go so far as to opine that this growth was never interrupted even by sleep, applying to her immaculate soul the words of the Canticle of Canticles, "I sleep, but my heart watches." If, then, we consider that the initial graces which she received as a child in the womb were more abundant and richer than those which other Saints have acquired during the whole course of their lives; and if we further remember that this store, so measureless to begin with, was unceasingly doubling and trebling and quadrupling all her life long, to her last breath, we may possibly form some faint and inadequate notion of its stupendous and inconceivable total amount.

We, poor mortals, alas! often abuse grace, or forfeit it by our negligence. And, even when we correspond with it, this is often only imperfectly and very partially; but she turned every opportunity to account, and corresponded with each grace, as it came, with the utmost fidelity and perfection. The well-known preacher, Padre Segneri, very truly observes that, even had her degree of grace been but small to begin with, so perfect a use of it would have increased it to inconceivable proportions by the end of her earthly career. But, since it was wholly measureless from the very outset, no one can so much as imagine its accumulated results when at last she was assumed into Heaven.

Well may we, her children, praise her; well may churches by erected and altars built and sanctuaries decorated and adorned in her honour. Well may painter and poet, preacher and sculptor vie with one another in setting forth her virtues and in proclaiming her matchless sanctity. No wonder the Church of God institutes feasts in her honour, and sounds her praises, and bids all her children glorify and thank God Who has so honoured one of their own race -bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh.

Greatly do we Catholics dwelling on earth reverence and honour Mary. Yet it must be confessed, not only are all the veneration and homage and love which we show her on earth less than her due, but they are insignificant as compared to what she receives from the countless myriads of the Blessed who are gathered around her in the heavenly courts. There the vast host of glorious spirits that no man can number joyfully acknowledge her as their peerless Mistress and their sovereign Queen. There is none above her, there is none to equal her; there is none so exquisitely fair, none so surpassingly beautiful, none so absolutely perfect, none so ravishingly attractive and joy-giving among all God's creatures.

God Himself, of course, is a Being apart; for He is the Infinite and the Uncreated, and no creature, however exalted, is worthy to be mentioned in the same breath. There has always been, there is, and there ever will be, an infinite distance between Him and her; for He belongs to another order of beings
-----or rather, the Godhead and the Blessed Trinity constitute an order of Their Own. But, among mere creatures, Our Lady occupies the very highest pinnacle, and stands absolutely without a rival, whether among men or Angels.

And if Angels and Archangels, Cherubim and Seraphim, delight to show her honour, how much more the Saints, who share with her the self-same human nature, and who, like her, have lived and laboured and suffered and wept as exiles upon earth! Who shall say with what grateful, loving hearts they gather around her, who has reversed the curse of Eve, who has borne within her chaste womb the world's Redeemer, who suffered at the foot of the ignominious Cross more than a Martyr's pangs, and whose presence now in Heaven in one of the sources of intensest joy and delight to the elect! St. Bernardine of Siena declares that if God did not utterly destroy the world after Adam's disobedience, it was owing to the greatness of the love which He bore to this most holy Virgin, whose unrivalled beauty and innocence and purity captivated His all-seeing Eyes even before the creation of the world.

And if the Saints and Angels love her with such ardour, what shall we say of her love of them and of us? Except God's infinite love of us, there is no love that bears any comparison to the love with which Our Blessed Lady loves us. And, furthermore, if her heart goes out to all those of her spiritual children who are at this moment gathered around her safe and secure in their heavenly home, neither is she unmindful of us, who are still struggling and battling and ,suffering amid innumerable dangers in this valley of tears. Her love for her children, even for the least worthy of them, is incomparably greater than any human love to which we can point. And why? Because she knows and realises far better than any other what our salvation has cost her Divine Son, and all that He suffered in securing it; the priceless value of His Passion and of His Death for us upon the Cross, and the torments and humiliations that accompanied it.

Her love for Jesus Christ exceeded all thought. She loved Him immeasurably more than herself; she loved Him as her own Son, as her only Son, and as the most perfect and affectionate of sons; but she loved Him also as her Creator, her Benefactor, her Lord, her Redeemer, and her God. Yet she beheld this same Son, Whom she so loved, ruthlessly seized, stripped of His garments, and roughly thrown down on the Cross, and foully murdered, with every refinement of cruelty and indignity, before her very eyes. And as, with broken heart, she gazed, she fully realised that He endured all willingly and gladly for our salvation; that no one could touch a hair of His head without His sanction; that no power could hold Him down to the hard wood; that no power could drive in the cruel nails; and that no power on earth or in Heaven, save the power of His insatiable love, could extinguish the pure flame of His human life, or separate His Soul from His Body. His love, and His love only, could exercise so wondrous a power, could produce so stupendous an effect. Such was the greatness of Christ's love.

And, as no one approaches our Divine Lord so closely in other respects as Mary, so no one approaches Him so closely in this. She loves us because of His great love of us, and because of what He did to prove it; and consequently, her love of us exceeds that of all other creatures, and is surpassed only by that of God Himself.

Oh, what a joy to possess such an advocate in Heaven! However weak and miserable, who will despond or lose courage when he knows he can claim the most powerful and efficacious aid of Mary Immaculate, and reckon her as a friend and protectress! Let us resolve to be devout to her, and to place ourselves under her guidance; let us lay our petitions in her stainless hands that she may offer them to her Divine Son Who will refuse her nothing. Let us pray to her devoutly and constantly, and invoke her name at all times, but more especially in the hour of conflict and amid the darkness of temptation. "Pray for us now and at the hour of our death."

The above image, which is cropped by the table is for wallpaper of 1600 x 1200 resolution, and  is for
personal use only.


HOME-------------------------------MARY'S INDEX