Chapter 1


Our Confidence in Mary Should Be Great, Because She Is a Queen

THE glorious Virgin was raised to the dignity of Mother of the King of Kings. Accordingly the Church honors her with the radiant title of Queen and asks us to do the same.

St. Athanasius says: "If the Son is a King, then the Mother who bore Him should be looked upon as a queen and sovereign."

St. Bernardine of Siena adds: "No sooner had Mary consented to be Mother of the Eternal Word than she merited by His consent to have dominion over the whole world and over every creature."

St. Arnold the Abbot declares further: "Since the flesh of Mary was no different from that of Jesus, how can we deny to the Mother the same royal dignity we find in the Son? . . . So I would consider the glory of the Son not as something shared with His Mother, but as her glory too."

If Jesus is the King of the universe, then Mary is its Queen. And as Queen, she possesses by right the whole Kingdom of her Son. 1

St. Bernardine of Siena argues this way: There are just as many creatures serving Mary as there are serving God. For since Angels and human beings, all things in Heaven and earth, are under God's dominion, so they are at the same time under Mary's dominion.

The Abbot Guerricus turns to the Mother of God and exclaims: "O Mary, dispose with confidence of your Son's riches! Go on acting boldly as Queen, Mother, and Spouse of the King, for you have dominion and power over all creation!"

So Mary is a Queen. And, for our consolation, we ought to remember that she is a most tender and kind Queen, eager to help us in our miseries. So much so that the Church wants us to call her in this prayer a Queen of Mercy. Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy!

The title of queen implies compassion and charity for the poor. The title of empress implies severity and rigor. 2
So the greatness of kings and queens consists in relieving the wretched. 3

Tyrants have their own good in view. Kings should have their subjects' good in view. That is why kings, when they are consecrated, have their hands anointed with oil --- since oil is the symbol of mercy.

Kings then should spend themselves chiefly in works of mercy. However, they should never neglect punishing the guilty.

But it's not that way with Mary. She is a Queen, but not the Queen of Justice, punishing the guilty. She is the Queen of Mercy, full of compassion and pardon for sinners. This is why the Church makes us call her expressly "the Queen of Mercy ."

John Gerson, Grand Chancellor of Paris, observes that the Kingdom of God, which is based on justice and mercy, was divided by our Lord. He kept the Kingdom of justice for Himself and gave the Kingdom of mercy to Mary. At the same time, He arranged that all mercies dispensed to human beings should pass through her hands and be disposed just as she pleases.

St. Thomas Aquinas confirms this. He says: "When the Blessed Virgin conceived the Eternal Word in her womb and gave Him birth, she obtained half the Kingdom of God. She became Queen of Mercy and her Son remained King of Justice."

   Is it likely that God will refuse her anything? Is there anyone who has never heard of the power of Mary's prayers? The law of clemency is on her tongue (Prv. 31:26). Every prayer of hers is like an
established law for our Lord, obliging Him to be merciful to everyone for whom she intercedes.

St. Bernard asks why the Church calls Mary the Queen of Mercy. And his answer is: "Because we believe that she throws open the abyss of God's mercies to anyone she pleases, when she pleases, and as she pleases. Hence, there are no sinners who will be lost --- no matter how great their crimes --- when this most holy Lady intercedes for them."

But maybe you fear that Mary simply will not intercede for certain sinners because their crimes are so terrible. Or maybe we ought to feel awe before a Queen so holy and exalted!

This is not the case at all, says St. Gregory the Great. The holier she is, the greater is Mary's compassion for sinners who come to her with the determination to do better.

Kings and queens, because they are invested with majesty, do inspire awe and make their people fear to come near them. But how can any poor sinner fear to approach this Queen of Mercy? She inspires no terror, shows no severity to anyone, but is so tender and gentle! 4

The Roman historian Suetonius relates of the Emperor Titus that he could never refuse a favor, and sometimes even promised more than he was asked. When someone blamed him for this, he said that no ruler should ever send anyone away unsatisfied when he had admitted that person to audience.

Of course, Titus must often have made promises he did not really intend to keep, or at any rate found it impossible to keep.

But our Queen can never make false promises, and certainly she has the power to obtain for her clients anything she wants. Then St. Bernard asks: "Who are the most logical candidates for mercy if not the miserable? And since you are the Queen of sinners, it follows that I am the first of your subjects. So how can you help showing me mercy, O Lady?"

Have pity on us then, Queen of Mercy, and remember our salvation.

Accordingly St. Gregory of Nicomedia exclaims: "O Blessed Virgin, never say that, because our sins are too numerous, you cannot help us. No matter how numerous they are, they can never outweigh your power and your compassion.

"Nothing resists your power. For God the Father looks upon your glory as if it were His own. And God the Son, taking delight in glorifying you, grants your every petition as if He were paying a debt."

Mary is under an infinite obligation to the Son because He chose her to be His Mother. At the same time, it must also be allowed that the Son is under great obligation to her because she gave Him His humanity.

Hence, Jesus, to pay (so to speak) what He owes to Mary, and glorying in her glory, honors her in a special manner. He listens to all her requests and grants them.

Our Blessed Lady once said to St. Bridget in a revelation: "I am the Queen of Heaven and the Mother of Mercy. I am the joy of the just and the door through which sinners come to God.

"There are no sinners on earth so unfortunate as to be beyond my mercy. For even if they receive nothing else through my intercession, at least they receive the grace of being less tempted by the devils than they would otherwise be.

"Unless the last irrevocable sentence (of damnation) has been pronounced against them, there are no persons so abandoned by God that they will not return to Him and find mercy, if they invoke my aid. I am called by all the Mother of Mercy. It is my Son's mercy toward human beings that has made me merciful too.

"I am compassionate toward all and eager to help sinners. Those who have it in their power here on earth to invoke me and yet refuse to do so are foolish. In failing to call upon me, they incur damnation and will be miserable for all eternity."

Always turn to this most tender Queen and you will certainly be saved. Are you alarmed and discouraged at the thought of your sins? Remember that Mary was made Queen of Mercy to save the most abandoned sinners who recommend themselves to her.

These will be her crown in Heaven, according to the words which her Divine Spouse addresses to her: Come from Lebanon, My Bride, come from Lebanon, come! You shall be crowned . . . from the dens of lions, from the mountains of the leopards (Song. 4:8).

"From the dens of lions:" what does that mean but poor sinners who have made of their souls a lair for sin? For sin is, after all, the most hideous of monsters.

Our Confidence Should Be Still Greater, Because She Is Our Mother

WHEN Mary's clients call her Mother , they are not using empty words, or just speaking at random. In fact, they seem incapable of using any other name and never tire of calling her Mother.

She is our Mother --- not by the flesh, of course, but spiritually; the Mother of our souls, of our salvation.

Whenever sin strips the soul of Divine grace, it deprives it of life. Our Blessed Redeemer, out of an excess of mercy and love, came among us to win back this life by His own Death on the Cross. I have come that they may have life, and may have it more abundantly (Jn. 10: 10).

He says "more abundantly," for theologians tell us that the benefit of the Redemption far exceeded the injury done by Adam's sin. Thus, by reconciling us with God, He made Himself the Father of our souls in the new law of grace.

But if Jesus is the Father, Mary is the Mother of our souls. She gave us Jesus and, with that gift, gave us supernatural life. Later, when she offered the life of her Son on Calvary for our redemption, she gave us birth in the life of grace.

On two occasions, then, according to the Fathers of the Church, Mary became our spiritual Mother .

The first is mentioned by St. Albert the Great. It occurred when Mary merited to conceive the Son of God in her virginal womb.

St. Bernardine of Siena says the same thing even more distinctly. At the time of the Annunciation, our Blessed Lady gave the consent which the Eternal Word was waiting for before He would become her Son. At the same time, she asked with all her heart [and obtained] the salvation of all the elect.

Along with her consent, Mary gave herself so completely to the matter of the salvation of all human beings that there and then she began to carry us all in her womb. And she did so with far greater love than any other mother could ever feel for the child within her.

In the second chapter of St. Luke, the Evangelist tells us that Mary "brought forth her first-born Son." Must we suppose that she had other children afterward? No, because it is an article of Faith that Mary had no other child than Jesus. But she did have other children --- spiritual ones; and we are those children.

Our Lord said this very thing to St. Gertrude one day when she was reading the text from St. Luke and was puzzled by it. God explained it to her. Jesus was Mary's first-born according to the flesh, but all humankind was her second-born according to the spirit.

The second occasion when Mary became our spiritual Mother was on Calvary. Here she offered to the Eternal Father --- with such bitter sorrow and suffering --- the life of her beloved Son.

In that hour, declares St. Augustine, she cooperated through her love in the supernatural birth of the faithful. She became the spiritual Mother of all who are members of the one Head, Christ Jesus.

Mary exposed her own soul to death to save many other souls. 5

That is to say, to save us she sacrificed the life of her Son --- because Jesus was the soul of Mary; He was her life and her love.

Simeon prophesied that a sword of sorrow would one day pierce her own most blessed soul. And this was precisely the lance which pierced the side of Jesus, Who was her very soul.

It was then that this most Blessed Virgin brought us forth to eternal life by her own sorrows. We can call ourselves the children of the sorrows of Mary. Our most loving Mother was always, and in all things, united to the vvill of God.

Listen to St. Bonaventure: "Mary saw that the love of the Eternal Father for human beings was so great that lie willed the Death of His Son to save them. She also saw that the Divine Son loved human beings so much that He freely submitted to this Death.

"Therefore, she joined her own heart to this excessive love of Father and Son for the human race. With all her vvill she offered, and submitted to, the Death of her Son for our salvation."

True, Jesus chose to be alone in dying for the redemption of human beings, as Isaiah foretold: "The wine press I have trodden alone" (Is. 63:3). But when He saw Mary's burning desire to help in human redemption, He so arranged matters that she should cooperate in our redemption by the offering and sacrifice of her Son's life, and in this way become the Mother of our souls.

Our Lord manifested this intention when He looked down from the Cross at His Mother and St. John and said to Mary: "There is your son" (Jn. 19:26). This amounted to saying: "There is the whole human race, which right now is being born to the life of grace because you are offering My life for the salvation of all."

Then He turned toward the disciple with the words: "There is your mother" (Jn. 19:27). With those words (says St. Bernardine of Siena) Mary became the Mother of all human beings, and not only of St. John, because she loved all of them so much.

How fortunate is everyone who lives under the protection of a Mother so loving and so powerful! David the prophet sought salvation from God by calling himself a son of Mary, even though she was not yet born: "Save the son of Your handmaid" (Ps. 86:16).

"Of what handmaid?" asks St. Augustine. "Of her who said: 'I am the handmaid of the Lord' (Lk. 1:26)."

How good it is for us to be in the keeping of such a Mother! Who would dare to snatch us from her bosom? What temptation or tribulation can master us, when we trust in the patronage of one who is God's Mother and ours? 6

Mother most loving! O most compassionate Mother! Thanks to you forever! And may God too be thanked, Who gave you to us for a Mother and a perfect refuge in all the dangers of this life!

Be of good heart, then, all you children of Mary. Remember that she accepts all those who want to be her children. Why be afraid of losing your soul, when such a Mother defends and protects you?

"I will rejoice," says St. Bernard, "for whatever judgment is pronounced on me, it depends on, and must come from, my Brother and my Mother."

The same feeling makes St. Anselm cry out with joy: "O happy confidence! O perfect refuge! The Mother of God is my Mother. What firm trust we should have, then, since our salvation depends on the judgment of a good Brother and a tender Mother!"

So it is our Mother who calls us in these words of Sacred Scripture: "Let whoever is simple come to me" (Prv. 9:4). Children always have their mother's name on their lips, and when they are frightened, or in danger, they cry out immediately, Mother! Mother!

O most tender Mary, most loving Mother! This is just what you desire. You want us to become children and call out to you in every danger. For you long to help and save us, as you have saved all your children who had recourse to you.

Our Blessed Lady herself in a vision addressed these words to St. Bridget" As a mother, on seeing her son in the midst of the swords of his enemies, would use every effort to save him, so do I, and will do for all sinners who seek my mercy." Thus it is that in every engagement with the infernal powers, we shall always certainly conquer by having recourse to the Mother of God, who is also our Mother, saying and repeating again and again:" We fly to thy patronage, O Holy Mother of God."

Prayer to the Most Holy Mother

O most Holy Mother Mary, how is it possible that I, having so holy a mother, should be so wicked? A mother all burning with the love of God, and I loving creatures; a mother so rich in virtue, and I so poor? Ah, amiable Mother, it is true that I do not deserve any longer to be thy son, for by my wicked life I have rendered myself unworthy of so great an honor. I am satisfied that thou shouldst accept me for thy servant; and in order to be admitted amongst the vilest of them, I am ready to renounce all the kingdoms of the world. Yes I am satisfied. But still thou must not forbid me to call thee mother. This name consoles and fills me with tenderness, and reminds me of my obligation to love thee. This name excites me to great confidence in thee. When my sins and the Divine justice fill me most with consternation, I am all-consoled at the thought that thou art my mother. Allow me then, to call thee mother, my most amiable mother. Thus do I call thee and thus will I always call thee. Thou, after God, must be my hope, my refuge, my love in this valley of tears. Thus do i hope to die, breathing forth my soul into thy holy hands and sating, my Mother, my Mother Mary, help me, have pity on me! Amen.

This Mother's Great Love for Us

Now, since Mary is our Mother, it might be well to see how great her love for us really is. The love of parents for their children is a natural and instinctive impulse. St. Thomas says that this is why God makes it one of His commandments for children to love their parents, but gives no express command for parents to love their children.

Nature itself has fixed this instinct in all creatures so strongly that, as St. Ambrose remarks, "a mother will expose herself to danger for her children --- and even the most savage beasts cannot help loving their young."

It is said that tigers, when their cubs are captured and they hear their cries, will plunge into the sea and swim out to the boat where they are. If the very tigers, says our loving Mother, cannot forget their young, will I forget to love you, my children?

And even if it were possible for a mother to forget to love her child, I can never neglect to love a soul that has become my child. Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you (Is 49:15).

Mary is our Mother --- not by the flesh, as we remarked before, but by love. "I am the mother of fair love" (Sir. 24:24 --- Vulgate). That is, she is our Mother by love alone. So someone observes that she glories in being the mother of love. She is all love for us, her adopted children.7

The first reason for Mary's great love for human beings is that she loves God so much. Love for God and love for neighbor come under the same commandment, as St. John expresses it: "The commandment we have from Him is this: Whoever loves God must also love his brother" (1 Jn. 4:21). Hence, the one increases along with the other.

Think of what the Saints have done for their neighbor because they loved God. But what Saint's love for God can match Mary's? She loved Him more in the first moment of her existence than all the Saints and angels ever loved Him or will love Him.

Our Lady herself revealed to Sister Mary Crocifissa that the fire of her love was most extreme. If Heaven and earth were placed in it, they would be instantly consumed. And the ardors of the seraphim, compared with it, are like cool breezes. Just as there is not one among all the Blessed who loves God as Mary does, so there is no one, after God, who loves us as much as this most loving Mother does. Furthermore, if we heaped together all the love that mothers have for their children, all the love of husbands and wives, all the love of all the angels and Saints for their clients, it could never equal Mary's love for even a single soul.

Father Nieremberg says that the love all mothers have ever experienced for their children is but a shadow alongside the love Mary has for each one of us. She loves us more than all the angels and Saints together.

Our Mother's love for us is as great as it is for the simple reason that her beloved Jesus commended us to her when He said to her before He died: "Woman, there is your son" (Jn. 19:25). These were His last words to her; and we always treasure the last recommendations of loved ones at the point of death --- we never forget them.

But over and above that, we are exceedingly dear to Mary because we cost her such untold suffering. Normally a mother feels a very special love for a child whose life has been spared only at the price of great suffering and anguish on her part.

We are such children --- because Mary , to obtain the life of grace for us, had to endure a most bitter agony. She offered her beloved Jesus to an ignominious Death, and watched Him die before her eyes in cruel and unexampled torments.

Thus, as it is written of the Eternal Father, that God so loved the world as to give His only-begotten Son (Jn. 3: 16), so also we can say of Mary , that she so loved the world as to give her only-begotten Son. 8

And when did she give Him? When she gave Him permission to deliver Himself to death. She gave Him to us when she might have pleaded with the judges for His life.

It is perfectly conceivable that the words of so wise and loving a Mother would have had great weight, at least with Pilate, who knew Jesus to be innocent anyhow, and had declared as much. But Mary forbore to say one word in favor of her Son, lest she prevent that Death on which our salvation depended.

Again, she gave Him to us over and over during the three hours of His agony. She stood at the foot of His Cross, unceasingly, and sorrowfully, and lovingly offering His life for our benefit.

She did this with such constancy that, if there had been no executioners, she herself would have crucified Him, to fulfill the wish of His Eternal Father. 9

Surely, if Abraham had enough courage to be ready to sacrifice his son with his own hand, then Mary (far holier than Abraham, and more obedient) would have sacrificed her Son with even greater resolution.

This suggests another motive for Mary's love for us. She sees in us something which was purchased by the Death of Jesus Christ.

Suppose a mother knew that her son had ransomed a servant at the cost of twenty years of hard labor and imprisonment. Imagine the regard she would have for that servant on this account alone.

Mary knows only too well that her Son came into the world simply to save poor sinners, as He Himself protested: "The Son of Man has come to search and to save what was lost" (Lk. 19: 10). And to save us He went the length of laying down His life.

If Mary loved us only a little, she would be showing small respect for the blood of her Son, which was the price of our salvation.

Mary is incredibly good to all, even to the ungrateful and indifferent who love her but little and rarely turn to her. Hence, think of the love she must have for those who love her generously and often call upon her!

She "is readily perceived by those who love her and found by those who seek her" (Wis. 6: 13). Though she loves all human beings as her children, she has a special love for those who love her with particular tenderness.

Blessed Raymond Jordano asserts that those who find the most Blessed Virgin Mary find all. She does more than merely love those who love her --- she serves those who serve her.

Sister Domenica del Paradiso, whose life was written by the Dominican Father Ignatius del Niente, was born of poor parents in a village near Florence. From early childhood she began to serve the Mother of God.

She fasted every day in her honor, and on Saturdays gave away her own food to the poor. Every Saturday she gathered all the flowers she could find in the garden and the fields round about, and brought them home to an image of our Lady with the Child in her arms.

How did this most gracious Lady respond to the devotion of her little servant? One day, when Domenica was ten years old, she was standing at the window and saw in the street a noble-looking lady, accompanied by a little child. They were holding out their hands and begging.

Domenica went to get some bread, but suddenly, though the door had not opened, they were standing by her side. She noticed wounds in the child's side and in his hands and feet. She asked the lady who had wounded him. The mother answered: "Love."

Domenica, thrilled by the child's beauty and modesty, asked him if the wounds pained him. His only answer was a smile. They were standing by a statue of Jesus and Mary, and the lady said to Domenica: "Tell me, little one, what makes you bring flowers to those images?" She answered: "My love for Jesus and Mary."

"How much do you love them?" "As much as I can." "How much is that?" " As much as they help me to love them." "Keep loving them," said the lady; "they will more than repay your love in Heaven."

The little girl then perceived a wonderful fragrance coming from the wounds and asked the mother what ointment she had used for them and where she could buy it. The lady replied: "You buy it with faith and good works."

Then Domenica offered them the bread. "Love is my son's food," said the mother . "Tell him you love Jesus and that will satisfy him." At the word "love" the child seemed filled with joy and asked the little girl how much she loved Jesus.

She loved him so much, she answered, that she was thinking of Him night and day and wanted nothing better than to give Him as much pleasure as she could. "Love Him," said the child, "and love will teach you what to do to please Him." The fragrance of the wounds had grown sweeter , and Domenica cried out: "O God, the sweetness makes me die of love . . ."

Then came a sudden change: the Mother was standing there dressed like a Queen and the Child was shining with the beauty of the sun. He took the flowers and scattered them on the head of the little girl --- who was now lying prostrate in adoration, knowing she was in the presence of Jesus and Mary. Then the apparition vanished. The little girl later became a Dominican nun and died in the odor of sanctity in the year 1553.

 "O most dear Mary!" St. John Berchmans exclaimed, "blessed is the person who loves you! If I love Mary I am certain of perseverance, and will obtain from God whatever I want."

 I wish that all who call themselves Children of Mary would consider St. Stanislaus Kostka. So tenderly did he love this dear Mother that all his words about her inflamed others to something like his own love.

He made up new words and titles to honor her. He never did anything without first turning to her image to ask her blessing.

When he said her Office, or the Rosary , or other prayers in her honor, he said them with the same affection he would have shown if he were speaking to her face to face. When the "Hail, Holy Queen" was sung his whole soul and his whole face were lit up with love.

One day one of his Jesuit confreres, going with him to a certain shrine of our Lady, asked him how much he loved Mary. "Father," he answered, "she is my Mother. What more can I say ?"

 We ought to love Mary as Blessed Herman did. He called her his heart's spouse --- because Mary herself had called him by the same title. We should love her as St. Philip Neri did. Just to think of her filled him with joy, and so he called her his Delight.

St. Bonaventure called Mary his Lady and Mother --- but added more: "My Lady, my Mother --- or rather, my heart and my soul!" And St. Bernard, that giant among lovers of our Lady, hailed her with the daring words, "Ravisher of hearts!"

Or think of the love of St. Francis of Solano. His love was like a holy madness. He would sing before her picture, and accompany himself on a musical instrument, saying, that like worldly lovers, he serenaded his most sweet Queen . . .

The Blessed Alphonsus Rodriguez, of the Society of Jesus, once prostrate before an image of Mary, felt his heart inflamed with love towards this most Holy Virgin, and burst forth into the following exclamation: "My most beloved Mother, I know that thou lovest me, but thou dost not love me as much as I love thee." Mary, as it were, offended on the point of love, immediately replied from the image: What dost thou say, Alphonsus --- what dost thou say? O, how much greater is the love that I bear thee, than any love that thou canst have for me! Know that the distance between Heaven and earth is not so great as the distance between thy love and mine."

St. Bonaventure, then, was right in exclaiming: Blessed are they who have the good fortune to be faithful servants and lovers of this most loving Mother. "Blessed are the hearts of those who love Mary; blessed are they who are tenderly devoted to her."

Prayer of St. Alphonsus Liguori to Our Lady
Based on St. Bonaventure and St. John Berchmans

O Lady, O Ravisher of Hearts! I will exclaim with St. Bonaventure:

"Lady, who with the love and favor thou showest thy servants dost ravish their
hearts, ravish also my miserable heart, which desires ardently to love thee.

Thou, my Mother, hast enamored a God with thy beauty, and drawn Him
from Heaven into thy chaste womb; and shall I live without loving thee?

"No, I will say to thee with one of thy most loving sons, John Berchmans of the
Society of Jesus, I will never rest until I am certain of having obtained thy love;
but a constant and tender love towards thee, my Mother, who hast loved me
with so much tenderness," even when I was ungrateful towards thee. And what
should I now be, O Mary, if thou hadst not obtained many mercies for me?

Since then, thou didst love me so much when I loved thee not, how much more
may I not now hope from thee, now that I love thee? I love thee, O my Mother, and
I would that I had a heart to love thee in place of all those unfortunate creatures
who love thee not. I would that I could speak with a thousand tongues, that all
might know thy greatness, thy holiness, thy mercy, and the love with which thou
lovest all who love thee. Had I riches, I would employ them all for thy honor.

Had I subjects, I would make them all thy lovers. In fine, if the occasion presented
itself I would lay down my life for thy glory. I love thee, then, O my Mother; but at the
same time I fear that I do not love thee as I ought; for I that love makes lovers like the
person loved. If, then, I see myself so unlike thee, it is a mark that I do not love thee.

Thou art so pure, and I defiled with so many sins; thou so humble, and I so proud;
thou so holy, and I so wicked. This, then, what thou hast to do, O Mary; since thou
lovest me, make like thee. Thou hast all power to change hearts; take, then, mine
and change it. Show the world what thou canst do for those who love thee. Make
me a saint; make me thy worthy child. This is my hope.

Mary Is the Mother of Repentant Sinners

OUR Blessed Lady told St. Bridget that she was the Mother of more than just the saintly and the innocent. She was the Mother of sinners too, if they really wanted to repent.

Those who want to be children of this great Mother must first give up sin --- and then they can expect to be accepted as her children. Persons in mortal sin do not deserve to be considered children of such a Mother.

Mary is humble, and they are proud. Mary is pure, and they are defiled. Mary is full of love, and they hate their fellow human beings. What arrogance that they should want to be called children of Mary, while they go on disgusting her by a life of sin!

A certain sinner once said to Mary: "Show yourself a mother. " But the Blessed Virgin replied: "Show yourself a son." Another sinner invoked our Lady, calling her the Mother of mercy. But she answered: "You sinners call me Mother of mercy when you want my help; at the same time you make me a Mother of sorrows with your sins."

Accursed of his Creator [is] he who angers his mother (Sir. 3: 16). God curses those who afflict this tender Mother by their wicked life ---- or more particularly, by their obstinacy in sin.

I say, by their obstinacy in sin; for if sinners, though they have not yet given up their sins, nevertheless make efforts to do so, and for this purpose seek the help of Mary , this good Mother will not neglect to help them and make them recover the grace of God.

This is exactly what St. Brigid heard one day from the lips of Christ when, speaking to His Mother, He said: "You help anyone who makes an effort to return to Me, and your consolations are never wanting to anyone."

Thus, as long as sinners remain obstinate, Mary cannot love them. However, when they find themselves in the chains of some passion that keeps them slaves of Hell, they should recommend themselves to the Blessed Virgin, and with confidence and perseverance beg her to lift them out of the state of sin.

Then there can be no doubt about it. This good Mother will reach out her strong hand to them, break loose their chains, and lead them to salvation.

The Council of Trent condemned as heretical the doctrine that all prayers and works performed in a state of sin are themselves sin. St. Bernard says that, even though prayer in the mouth of a sinner has no beauty of itself, because it is not elevated by the theological virtue of charity, it is still useful and obtains for the sinner the grace to abandon sin.

Thus too St. Thomas teaches: the prayer of a sinner, without merit in itself, is an act which obtains the grace of forgiveness, since the power of prayer does not depend on the merits of the one praying but on the Divine Goodness and the promises of Jesus Christ Who said: "Whoever asks, receives" (Lk. 11:10).

The same thing must be said of prayers offered to the Mother of God. If those praying do not merit to be heard, the merits of the Mother to whom they pray will intercede effectually ."10

Suppose a mother (says Adam, the Abbot of Perseigne) knew that her two sons had a mortal hatred for each other, and that each was planning the other's murder. Would she not do everything in her power to make peace between them? Any good mother would consider it her duty to do this.

Mary acts in the same way, for she is the Mother of Jesus and the Mother of human beings. When she sees a sinner at enmity with Jesus, she cannot bear such a state of things --- she does all in her power to reconcile them.

This kindest of Ladies demands only one thing --- that sinners recommend themselves to her and be determined to change their ways. When she finds sinners at her feet imploring mercy, she does not fix her attention on their crimes, but she looks only at the motive that brings them to her. If the motive is good, and even though they have committed every conceivable sin, this most loving Mother takes them in her arms to heal the wounds of their soul.

She is not only called the Mother of Mercy. She is the Mother of Mercy. And she proves herself such by the loving tenderness with which she helps us all.

Mary, the Mother of sinners who wish to mend their lives, seems to feel the miseries of her poor children as if they were her own. When the Canaanite woman begged our Lord to deliver her daughter from diabolical possession, she said: "Lord, Son of David, have pity on me! My daughter is terribly troubled by a demon" (Mt. 15:22).

Have pity on me, she said. And she was right to put it that way, for mothers feel the sufferings of their children as if these were their own. And it is thus that Mary too cries out for the sinful soul: "Have pity on me!" 11

In the Second Book of Samuel (14:6) we read how that wise woman of Tekoa addressed King David: "Your majesty, I had two sons, and to my misfortune one killed the other, so that I have now lost one and justice demands the life of the other, the only one that is left. Have mercy on a poor mother and let me not lose both my sons."

In a similar way we may imagine Mary pleading with God, when His justice is directed against a sinner who has recommended himself or herself to her.

"My God, I had two sons, Jesus and Mankind. mankind took the life of Jesus on the Cross, and now your justice would condemn the guilty one. O Lord, my Jesus is already dead. Have pity on me; if I have lost the one, do not let me lose the other also."

It is absolutely certain that God win not condemn those sinners who have recourse to Mary and for whom she prays. For did He not Himself commend them to her as her children?



1. The Abbot Rupert
2. St. Albert the Great
3. Seneca
4. St. Bernard
5. The Abbot William
6. St. Robert Bellarmine
7. Paciucchelli
8. St. Bonaventure
9. Sts. Anselm and Antonine
10. St. Anselm
11. Richard of St. Lawrence

Continued forward.