TURN, THEN, MOST GRACIOUS ADVOCATE
SO great is the authority that mothers possess over their sons, that even if they are monarchs, and have absolute dominion over every person in their kingdom, yet never can mothers become the subjects of their sons. It is true that Jesus now in Heaven sits at the right of the Father, enjoying that distinction even as Man because of the hypostatic union with the Person of the Divine Word.
He has supreme dominion over all and also over Mary; nevertheless, it can always be said that for a time at least, when He was living in this world, He was pleased to humble himself and be subject to Mary. Says St. Ambrose, Jesus Christ having deigned to make Mary His Mother, inasmuch as He was her Son, He was truly obliged to obey her. And for this reason, says Richard of St. Laurence, "Of other Saints we say that they are with God; but of Mary alone can it be said that she was so far favored as to be not only herself submissive to the will of God, but even that God was subject to her will.
Therefore we say that, even though Mary can no longer command her Son, since they are not on earth any more, still her prayers are always the prayers of a Mother and are therefore most powerful in obtaining whatever she asks.
At the command of Mary all obey, even God. 38
She is omnipotent, for the queen, according to all laws, enjoys the same privileges as the king; and since the son's power also belongs to the mother, this Mother is made omnipotent by an omnipotent Son. 39
Therefore, to use the words of St. Antonine, God has put the whole Church not only under the patronage, but even under the power and authority, of Mary.
Since, then, the Mother must have the same power as the Son, Mary became omnipotent because Jesus is omnipotent. Of course, the Son is omnipotent by nature, where Mary is omnipotent only by grace. This is proved by the fact that the Son never refuses the Mother anything she seeks, as St. Bridget learned in a revelation.
One day this Saint heard Jesus saying to Mary: " Ask Me for anything; your request can never be in vain." And this is the beautiful reason He gave: "Because you never refused Me anything on earth, I will refuse you nothing in Heaven."
From the time that Mary came into the world, her one thought, along with seeking the glory of God, was to help the helpless. And even then, while here on earth, she enjoyed the privilege of being heard in all her requests.
Consider what happened at Cana. When the wine failed, the Blessed Virgin was touched with pity for the trouble and embarrassment of the bridal couple, and she asked her Son to help them with a miracle. She simply said to her Son: "They have no wine."
But Jesus answered: "Woman, how does this concern of yours involve Me? My hour has not yet come. " In other words, "It is not time yet for Me to work miracles; that will be when I begin to preach and will need miracles to confirm My doctrines."
Yet, to content His Mother, He changed the water into the best of wines. How could it be that, against His own predetermined plans, He worked this miracle?
Actually, there was no violation of His own decrees; for although, generally speaking, the time for miracles had not yet come, still from all eternity He had established another decree to the effect that, when His Mother asked for anything, she was not to be refused.
St. Thomas comments on the expression, "My hour has not yet come." He says: Here Christ wished to indicate that, if anyone else had asked for the miracle, He would not have granted it; but since it was His Mother who asked, He performed it.
Valerius Maximus tells how,
was besieging Rome, all the pleas of friends and citizens together were
powerless to make him stop; but when his mother Veturia appeared on the
But Mary's prayers to Jesus are far more powerful than Venturia's, because Jesus' loving gratitude to His dear Mother is far greater than that of Coriolanus.
One time St. Dominic commanded the devil to speak through the mouth of someone who was possessed, and these were the devil's words: "A single sigh from Mary is worth more in God's eyes than the prayers of all the Saints combined."
The prayers of our Lady, being the prayers of a Mother, have in them something of a command; so it is impossible for her not to be heard. 40
Hence the famous dictum: What God can do by commanding, you can do by praying, O Blessed Virgin!
Is it not what we would expect of God's great goodness, to uphold His Mother's honor as He does, when after all He came not to break the Law but to keep it --- One law being that we should honor our parents? 41
We are all under obligation to God for whatever we have, because everything is but a gift from Him; but by taking flesh from Mary and becoming Man, God was pleased to put Himself under obligation to her. 42
WE have so many reasons for loving this truly lovable Queen that, if Mary were praised all over the world, if all preachers spoke about her alone, and if all human beings laid down their lives for her, it would be little compared with the honor and thanks we owe her for the tender love she feels for all, even for the most desperate sinners who happen to have the slightest spark of devotion to her.
She is the singular Refuge of the abandoned, the Hope of the miserable, and the Advocate of every sinner who turns to her. 43
"It is the great prerogative of Mary to be all-powerful with her Son. But what good would such a prerogative be, as far as we are concerned, if she did not bother about us? No, let us have no misgivings about it; and let us thank our Lord and His Blessed Mother. As she is far more powerful than all the Saints, to the same degree she is more tender and solicitous for our happiness."
But suppose sinners have no doubts about her power, yet do wonder about her compassion, because they fear she will be reluctant to help any whose sins are as great as theirs. They ought to take heart from what St. Bonaventure says: Mary takes care of all, even of sinners. In fact, she glories especially in being called the " Advocate of sinners," as she once declared to the Venerable Sister Mary Villani: " After the title of Mother of God, I glory most in being called the Advocate of sinners."
We would be in a very bad way indeed, sinners as we are, if we did not have this great Advocate, who is so powerful and merciful, so prudent and wise, that the Judge, her Son, cannot condemn the guilty when she defends them. 44
Then all hail, O Court for settling every case! 45
St. Bonaventure calls Mary " Abigail the Wise." Abigail is the woman we read about in the Second Book of Samuel who knew so well how to appease King David with her beautiful prayers when he was angry with Nabal.
She was so successful that David blessed and thanked her for using her gentle persuasion to prevent him from taking personal revenge on Nabal. This is exactly what Mary is always doing in Heaven for countless sinners.
She knows so well how to placate the justice of God with her tender and compelling prayers, that God Himself blesses her for it and thanks her for stopping Him, when He might well abandon sinners and punish them as they deserve.
"So," says St. Bernard, "our Heavenly Father, Who wants to show us all possible mercy, gives us Jesus Christ as our principal Advocate, and then gives us Mary as our Advocate with Jesus.
"It is true, of course, that Jesus Christ is the only Mediator of justice between human beings and God, and that, by virtue of His own merits, He can obtain for us and wants to obtain, pardon and grace as He promised. But in Christ human beings cannot help recognizing and fearing the Divine Majesty, which belongs to Him as God.
"So it was necessary to appoint another Advocate, to whom we can have recourse with less fear and with greater confidence. And this second Advocate is Mary .
"We can find no one with more compelling influence over His Divine Majesty, or with more mercy for us. . . We would insult Mary's mercy if we feared to approach this sweetest of Advocates, who has nothing severe or frightening about her, but is all gentle, all lovable, all benign.
"Read as often as you like all that is said of her in the Gospels, and if you can find the least instance of severity recorded there, then you may fear to approach her . But you will never find such an instance. Then go to her cheerfully, and she will save you by her intercession."
GOD'S grace is every soul's greatest and most desirable treasure. The Holy Spirit calls grace an unfailing treasure, for it raises us to the dignity of friends of God.
For to human beings she is an unfailing treasure; those who gain this treasure win the friendship of God (Wis. 7: 14). It is your crimes, says Isaiah, that separate you from your God (Is. 59:2). Sin changes the soul from a friend into an enemy of God.
Then what can sinners do, who
have become God's enemies? They must find a mediator to obtain pardon
them and help them recover their lost friendship. "Take courage," says
St. Bernard. "God Himself has supplied you with a Mediator
--- His Son Jesus, Who can
"Dear God, how can people consider this merciful Redeemer severe, when He gave His very life to save us ? How can they think Him terrible, when He is all love?
"O despairing sinners, why are you afraid? Is it because you have offended God? But Jesus has fastened your sins to the Cross with His own pierced hands; He has made satisfaction for them to the Divine Justice with His own Death, and has already effaced them from your souls.
"But maybe His infinite Majesty frightens you --- since He did not cease to be God when He became Man --- and you would like another advocate to intercede with Him. Then go to Mary and she will plead with her Son for you. He will certainly listen to her and will then intercede with His Father, Who can deny nothing to such a Son.
"The Mother of God is the ladder of sinners, on which they mount to the heights of God's grace. She is my greatest confidence. She is the whole ground of my hope."
Beautiful as the curtains of Solomon (Song. l:4 --- Vulgate): thus the Divine Spouse speaks of Mary. Only war was discussed behind the curtains of David's tent; but peace alone was discussed behind Solomon's curtains.
Thus the Holy Spirit gives us to understand that this merciful Mother never treats of war and vengeance against sinners, but only of peace and pardon.
The rainbow which St. John saw about the throne of God (Rv. 4:3) was an express figure of Mary. St. Bernardine of Siena says that this was the rainbow God meant when He promised Noah He would place His bow in the clouds as a symbol of peace, so that when He looked at it He might remember the eternal covenant of peace He had made with the human race.
Again, Mary is compared to the moon in the Song of Songs (6: 10). The moon is between Heaven and earth; so Mary puts herself between God and sinners to appease Him, and to give sinners light to return to Him. 46
When our Lady was created, the principal duty given her was to raise sinners from their state and reconcile them with God. "Feed your goats, " God said when He made her (Song. 1:8). We know that sinners are represented as goats, just as the elect are represented as sheep. At the last judgment the sheep will be on the right hand, the goats on the left.
"The goats, O great Mother," says William of Paris, "are entrusted to you, to change them into sheep. By their sins they deserve to be driven to the left, but your intercession lets them stand at the right."
Our Lord revealed to St. Catherine of Siena that He had made this best beloved of daughters like some "sweet-tasting bait to catch human beings, and particularly sinners, and draw them to God."
But here we ought to consider what William the Englishman has to say about the text, Feed your goats. "God recommended her own goats to Mary, for she does not save all sinners indiscriminately, but only those who serve and honor her.
"Those who live in sin and never honor her with any particular devotion, never pray for help to break away from sin, are goats indeed, but not Mary's. At the last judgment they will be driven to the left with the damned."
There was a certain nobleman who despaired of salvation because of his many sins. But a monk prevailed on him to visit a statue of our Lady in a particular church and pray to her there.
When he saw the statue he felt as if our Lady were inviting him to kneel at her feet and trust in her. He knelt down to kiss her feet, and at that instant Mary put out her hand to be kissed, and on it he saw these words written: "I will deliver you from your enemies."
He was filled with such sorrow for his sins and such overpowering love for God and His tender Mother, that he died on the spot, there at Mary's feet.
How many obstinate sinners are drawn to God every day by this magnet of hearts! " As the magnet attracts iron," our Lady once said to St. Bridget, "I attract hearts." Even the most obdurate hearts she draws to God.
And we must not imagine such prodigies are rare; they are everyday occurrences. I myself could relate many cases that have occurred during our [RedemptoristJ missions when some sinners, who remained harder than steel through the sermons, were finally touched and brought back to God after hearing the sermon on the mercies of Mary.
Another purpose behind our Lady's being made the Mother of God was that those sinners who, in the rigorous justice of God, could never be saved because of their wicked lives, might still have a chance for salvation through her sweet mercy and powerful intercession. 47
Mary was raised to the dignity of Mother of God more for sinners than for the just, since Jesus Himself protested that He came to call, not the just, but sinners. 48
If you are afraid that Mary will refuse to take your part when you come to her with your sins, you should remember that she can never turn you away, because God Himself has laid on her the duty of helping the miserable. 49
O sinner, whoever you are, sunk in sin, grown old in sin, never give way to despair.
In His eagerness to show you mercy God has given His Own Son as your Advocate. And then, to make your confidence even stronger, He has given another Advocate, who obtains through her prayers whatever she asks.
Go to Mary, and you will see
FOOTNOTES:<>38. St. Bemardine
39. Richard of St. Lawrence
40. St. Antonine
41. St. Augustine
42. St. Methodius
43. St. Denis the Carthusian
44. Richard of St. Lawrence
45. St. John Geometra
46. St. Bonaventure
47. St. John Chrysostom
48. St. Anselm
49. St. Bonaventure