THE title of "Our Lady" first came into general use in the days of chivalry; for she was the Lady "of all hearts," whose colors all were proud to wear. Hundreds upon hundreds had enrolled themselves in brotherhoods vowed to her especial service, or devoted to acts of charity to be performed in her name.
GO TO Our Lady, whose love is as the sea; pray her to
your faults, to obtain for you never to commit a deliberate fault,
to offend God. She will not only make you very good but very
happy. -----FATHER DIGNAM, S.J.
BEAR this in mind: it was because of His mother, His "being moved with mercy toward her" [Luke vii. 13] that Jesus raised the dead man at the gate of Naim. Be careful, when you desire any great favor, to implore the intercession of your Mother, of Mary. Ask for great favors and for all graces in the name of Christ's Mother, remind Our Lord of her agony, when, her soul pierced with a sword of sorrow, she stood at the foot of the Cross. Have the most unbounded confidence in Mary's intercession. -----IBID.
O LADY, thou art the Mother of Him Who pardons and of those who are pardoned; of Him Who justifies and of those who are justified; of Him Who saves and of those who are saved. O blessed confidence! O safe refuge! The Mother of God is our Mother; the Mother of Him in Whom alone we hope, and Whom alone we fear, is our Mother; the Mother of Him Who alone can save or destroy is our Mother. -----ST. ANSELM
When we have handled something fragrant, our hands
they touch, let our prayers pass through the Blessed Virgin's hands,
she will give them fragrance.
THE MEANINGS OF THE NAME MARY
Ave Maria. As we have said above, this name was inserted here not by the Angel, but by the devotion of the faithful. The Blessed Evangelist Luke says significantly: "And the name of the Virgin was Mary." [Luke I, 27] This most holy, sweet, and worthy name was eminently fitting to so holy, sweet, and worthy a virgin. For Mary means a bitter sea, star of the sea, the illuminated or illuminatrix. Mary is interpreted lady. Mary is a bitter sea to the demons; to men she is the star of the sea; to the Angels she is illuminatrix, and to all creatures she is lady.
Mary is interpreted: "a bitter sea;" this is excellently suited to her power against the demons. Note in what way Mary is a sea, and in what way she is bitter, and how she is at once a sea and bitter. Mary is a sea by the abundant overflow of her graces; and Mary is a bitter sea by submerging the devil. Mary is indeed a sea by the super abounding Passion of her Son; Mary is a bitter sea by her power over the devil, in which he is, as it were, submerged and drowned.
Consider, first, that Mary is called a sea because of the abundance of her graces. It is written in Ecclesiasticus: "All rivers flow into the sea." [I, 7] The rivers are the graces of the Holy Ghost, wherefore Jesus saith: "He who believeth in Me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." This He said of the Spirit, which they were about to receive. [John VII, 38] All the rivers flow into the sea because the graces of all the Saints flow into Mary. For the river of the grace of the Angels enters into Mary; and the river of the grace of the patriarchs enters into Mary; and the river of the grace of the Apostles enters into Mary; and the river of the grace of the Martyrs enters into Mary; and the river of the grace of the confessors enters into Mary; and the river of the grace of the virgins enters into Mary. All rivers enter into the sea, that is, all graces enter into Mary. Therefore, she above all can say that word of Ecclesiasticus: "In me is all grace of the way and of the truth, and in me is all hope of life and of virtue." [XXIV, 25] What wonder if all grace flowed into Mary, through whom such grace flowed forth upon all! For St. Augustine says: "Mary, thou art full of grace, which thou hast found with the Lord and hast merited to pour forth upon the whole world."
Consider, secondly, that Mary in the Passion of her Son was filled with bitterness when the sword of sorrow passed through her soul. Well could she say with Ruth: "Call me not Noemi, that is fair, but call me Mara, that is bitter, for the Most High hath filled me exceedingly with bitterness." [Ruth I, 20] Noemi, who was at once beautiful and bitter, signified Mary, beautiful indeed by the sanctification of the Holy Spirit, but bitter by the Passion of her Son.
The two sons of Mary are the God-Man, in His Divinity, and man, in his humanity. Mary is the Mother of one in the body, of the other in the spirit. Wherefore St. Bernard saith: "Thou art the Mother of the King, thou art the Mother of the exile; thou art the Mother of God, the Judge, and thou art the Mother of God and of man; as thou art the Mother of both, thou canst not bear discord between thy two sons." St. Anselm exclaims: "O blessed confidence, O safe refuge, Mother of God and our Mother!" The two sons of Mary were both slain in the Passion; the one in body, the other in mind; the one by the bitter death of the Cross, the other by infidelity of mind. And, therefore, Mary's soul was filled with exceeding bitterness, as St. Augustine testifies, saying: "That loving Mother crying out with intensity of pain, beating her enfeebled breast, had so fatigued her body and all its members, that, tottering in her walk, she could scarcely drag herself to the obsequies of Christ." Thou seest now how Mary was a sea of the Holy Spirit; thou seest in what manner she was a bitter sea in the death of her Son.
Thirdly, consider that Mary is a bitter sea to the devil and to his Angels, oppressed by him, as the Red Sea was bitter to the Egyptians submerged in it, of whom we read in Exodus: "The Lord drew back upon them the waters of the sea." [Ex. XV, 19] Oh, how bitter and full of fear is this sea to the Egyptians! Oh, how bitter and full of fear is this Mary to the demons! Therefore, St. Bernard saith: "Visible enemies fear not so greatly an immense multitude of hosts in battle array, as the powers of the air fear the name, the patronage, and the example of Mary; they flow and melt like wax before the fire, wherever they find frequent recollection of this holy name, devout invocation of Mary, and diligent imitation of her. Thou seest now in what manner Mary is a sea by the abundance of her overflowing graces, how she is bitter by the vehemence of the Lord's Passion, and how to the devils Mary is a bitter sea by the power she has of quelling them.
Now we must consider how Mary is interpreted "Star of the sea." This name is most suitable to Mary, for she fulfills the office that a star does to mariners at sea. We read, and it is true, that sailors, when they propose to sail to some distant land, choose a star by whose guiding light they may, without going astray, make their way to the land of their desire. Such is certainly the office of Mary, our Star, who directs those who sail through the sea of the world in the ship of innocence or penance, to the shore of the Heavenly country. Well, therefore, doth Innocent say: "By what aids can ships pass among so many dangers to the shore of the fatherland? Certainly," he replies, "chiefly by two. By the wood and by the star; that is, by faith in the Cross, and by virtue of the light which Mary, the Star of the sea, hath brought forth for us." Very properly is Mary compared to a star of the sea, because of her purity, her radiance, and her utility. For Mary is a most pure star, a most radiant star, and a most useful star. She is a most pure star by living most purely; a most radiant star by bringing forth eternal light; a most useful star by directing us to the shores of our true home country.
First consider that Mary is a most pure star by living purely and without sin. Therefore doth Wisdom say of her: "She is more beautiful than light, than the sun, and above all the arrangement of the stars, and being compared to light, she is found more pure." Some read here, "before" instead of "more pure," but either phrase is fitted to our Star. For Mary is indeed prior, or before, that is, she is most worthy, most great; Mary is purer than the sun, and the stars, and the light. For both in dignity and purity she surpasses the sun, the stars, and the light, yea, even every spiritual and angelic creature, of whom it is said: "God divides light from darkness," that is, the Angels who stood firm from those who fell. Mary is prior to and purer than this Angelic light. Hence Saint Anselm exclaims: "O Blessed among women, who surpassest the Angels in purity, and the saints in piety!" Behold how Mary is a most pure Star by the purity of her life.
Secondly, consider that Mary is a most radiant star by emitting eternal light and bringing forth the Son of God. For she is that star of whom it is said in Numbers: "A star shall rise out of Jacob, and a rod shall arise in Israel." The rod is the Son of God, who is the ray of Mary, our star; this is that ray of whom it is sung: "As the ray of a star." St. Bernard says: "A ray from a star does not diminish its brightness, neither does the Son of the Virgin lessen the virginity of His Mother." O most truly blessed, O most truly radiant Star, Mary, whose ray has penetrated not only the world, but also Heaven, and even Hell, as St. Bernard says: "She is that glorious and beautiful Star arisen out of Jacob, whose ray illuminateth the whole world, whose splendor shines forth in the highest, and penetrates even into Hell." As Mary was a most pure star, by living most purely, so is she a most radiant one, by bringing forth the Son of God.
Thirdly, consider that Mary is a most useful star, by guiding us to our Heavenly country, by leading us through the sea of this world to the grave of her Son, as to the gates of Paradise. She is as that radiant star which led the Magi most surely to Christ. Mary is that star which in the waves of the present life is most necessary to us. St. Bernard says: "Turn not away thine eyes from the splendor of this star, if thou wilt not be overwhelmed by storms. If the winds of temptation arise, if thou strikest on the rocks of temptation, tribulation, look upon the star, call on Mary." Therefore, lest thou shouldst be submerged in the sea of this world, follow the star, imitate Mary. It is the safest of paths to follow her, as St. Bernard says: "Following her, thou strayest not, praying to her, thou shalt never despair; thinking of her, thou shalt never err; if she upholdeth thee, thou shalt not fall; under her protection thou shalt not fear; if she is thy guide, thou shalt not grow weary; with her favor thou shalt attain thy end; and so in thyself thou shalt experience how truly it is said: And the name of the virgin was Mary."
Mary is also interpreted illuminatrix or lightgiver. For this virgin was wonderfully illuminated by the presence of the Lord, according to that word of the Apocalypse: "I saw another Angel coming down from Heaven, having great power, and the earth was enlightened by the glory of Him . . . The Son of God is the Angel of Great Counsel; the earth illuminated by the glory of Him is Mary, who, as she was illuminated by His grace in the world, is now illuminated by His glory in Heaven, that, being thus illuminated, she may become a light-giver in the world and in Heaven. Therefore, we must consider that Mary, the illuminated, is a light-giver by her example, her benefits, and her rewards. She giveth light by the example of her life, by the benefits of her mercy, and by the rewards of her glory.
Mary is the light-giver by the example of her most luminous life. For it is she who by her glorious life giveth light to the world. She it is whose glorious life enlightens all the churches. She is the lamp of the Church, enkindled by God for this very purpose that by her the Church might be enlightened against the darkness of the world. Let the Church, therefore, pray, let the faithful soul pray: "For Thou lightest my lamp, O Lord, my God, enlighten my darkness." The Lord hath lit this lamp most radiantly, and by this light he puts to flight the darkness of our souls. St. Bernard felt this when he said: "O Mary, by the magnificent example of thy virtues thou stirrest us up to the imitation of thee, and thus dost enlighten our night. For he who walketh in thy ways, walketh not in darkness, but has the light of life."
Secondly, consider how Mary is light-giver by the benefits of her gracious mercy, by which so many in the night of this world are spiritually illuminated, as the Israelites in olden days were by a pillar of fire, according to the Psalm: "Thou didst lead them forth in a pillar of cloud." Mary is to us a pillar of cloud, for she protects us like a cloud from the fiery heat of the Divine indignation. She also protects us from the heat of diabolical temptation, as it is also said in the Psalm, "He spread a cloud."
Mary is a pillar of fire. What would become of us wretched beings, so full of darkness, in the light of this world, if we had not so lucid a lamp, so luminous a pillar? What would become of the world without the sun? St. Bernard says: "Take away this lightsome body, the sun, what will give light to the world, and where is day? Take away Mary, this Star of the Sea, and what remains save an enveloping cloud, the shadow of death, and the densest darkness?" Thou hast seen how Mary is a lightgiver by her most transcendently luminous life, thou shalt now see how Mary is an illuminatrix by her most resplendent mercy.
Thirdly, consider that Mary is also illuminatrix by her most resplendent glory, which illuminates the whole of Heaven, as the sun doth the world, according to Ecclesiasticus: "The sun giving light hath looked upon all things, and full of the glory of the Lord is his work." [XLII, 16] The work of the Lord is full of His glory; the most excellent work of the Lord is Mary. This work, as it was full of the grace of the Lord in this world, is full of the glory of the Lord in Heaven. Thus, therefore, Mary, giving light by her glory, hath looked upon all things, because through all the Angels and all the Saints she spreadeth the illumination of her glory. What wonder if the presence of Mary illuminates the whole of Heaven, who also doth illuminate the whole earth? For St. Bernard saith: "The presence of Mary lights up the whole world, and the very Heavenly country itself glows more brightly from being irradiated by the splendor of that virginal lamp." So thou seest how Mary is illuminatrix by her light-giving life and also by her resplendent glory.
Now we have to consider how Mary is interpreted "lady." Such a title well becometh so great an empress, who is in very deed the sovereign lady of the inhabitants of Heaven, of the dwellers upon earth and in Hell. She is, I say, the Lady of Angels, the Lady of men, the Lady Sovereign in Heaven, on earth, and in Hell.
First, consider that Mary is the Lady of Angels; for it was she who was foreshadowed by the Lady Esther, of whom we read that she leaned delicately on one of her handmaids, and another maid followed her mistress, bearing up the train of her garment.
By Esther the Queen we understand Mary our Queen; the two servants, the lady of whom is Mary our Queen, are all creatures, men and Angels. Oh, what a joy to us miserable men that the Angels have their Lord and their Lady from among us men. Truly is Mary Queen of the Angels. St. Augustine, addressing her, says: "If I call thee Heaven, thou art higher. If I call thee the mother of nations, thou art above this praise. If I style thee Lady of Angels, thou art truly proved to be so; if I call thee the type or form of God, thou art worthy of this name." Now the soul of man is the handmaid who in this world follows its Lady, Mary. It follows her, bearing up the train of the garment of its Lady, that is, gathering up the virtues and the example of Mary. But the Angelic intelligences are the handmaids on whom Mary, their Lady, as it were, leans in Heaven. She leans upon them by familiarly associating with them; she leans upon them most delicately by taking her delight in them; she leans upon them most fully and entirely by communicating herself in her plenitude to the Angels; she leans upon them as one most powerful by commanding them. Mary leans upon all the Angels by her power. St. Augustine says: "Michael, the prince and leader of the Heavenly militia, with all his ministering spirits obeyeth, O Virgin, thy commands; by defending in the body and by receiving the souls of the faithful, especially by presenting to thee, O Lady, those who day and night commend themselves to thee."
Now consider how Mary is the Lady of men in this world. Of this Lady it is said in the Psalm: "As the eyes of the handmaid ,are on the hands of her mistress," etc. The handmaid of the Lady Mary is every human soul, yea, the universal Church. The eyes of this handmaid should be ever on the hands of her mistress, for the eyes of the Church, the eyes of every one of us, should always look upon the hands of Mary, so that by her hands we may receive some good, and that we may offer to the Lord, by those same hands, whatever good we do." For it is by the hands of this Lady we have whatever good we possess, as St. Bernard testifies, saying: "God would have us obtain nothing which did not pass through the hands of Mary." By the hands of this Lady we should also offer to God whatever good we do, as St. Bernard exhorts, saying: "What little thou offerest, take care to commend it to those hands most pleasing and worthy of all acceptance, the hands of Mary, if thou wouldst not be repulsed. Well for us, beloved, it is indeed well for us, that we have such a Lady, who hath towards us such liberal hands, and is so powerful for us with her Son, that every one of us may have secure access to her." The devout Anselm saith: "O great Lady, to whom the joyful multitude of the just giveth thanks, to whom fleeth the terrified crowd of evil-doers, to thee, O all-powerful and merciful Lady, I, an anxious sinner, have recourse."
Thirdly, consider how Mary is the Lady of the demons in Hell, so powerfully subjugating them that of her we may understand that saying of Psalm 100: "The rod of his power the Lord shall send forth." The rod of power is the Virgin Mary. She is the rod of Aaron, flowering by her virginity and fruitful by her fecundity. She is that rod of which it is said in Isaias: "There shall spring forth a rod from the root of Jesse." This rod is the Virgin Mary, a rod of power against the infernal enemies, whom she dominates by her great power. So great a Lady, of such great power, deserves to be loved by us, to be praised by us, to be prayed to by us, that she may protect us against our enemies. St. Anselm gives us the example, when, speaking to this Lady, he says: "Thee, O Lady so very great, my heart desireth to love, my mouth to praise, my mind longeth to venerate, my soul desireth to beseech, because the whole of my being commends itself to thy protection."
Now thou seest how Mary is the Lady of Angels in Heaven, of men in this world, and of the demons in Hell. Also how Mary is a bitter sea, the Star of the Sea, the Light-giver, the Lady. Mary is the Star of the sea to converted men; she is the Light-giver to the faithful Angels; she dominates all creatures.
Let us pray, let us pray most devoutly to Mary and say: "O Mary, Bitter Sea, help us, that we may be plunged into the bitter sea of penance! O Mary, Star of the Sea, help us, that we may be guided rightly through the sea of this world! O Mary, Lightgiver, help us, that we may be eternally illumined in glory ! O Lady Mary, help us that by thy government and empire we may be filially governed. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen." -----ST. BONAVENTURE
A NOVENA OF MEDITATIONS ON THE
FEAST OF THE PURIFICATION
I. "HOLY MARY, pray for us." Since, in the Litany of our Blessed Lady, the Church teaches us to ask this good Mother so many times to pray for us, it will be well before meditating upon the titles by which she is invoked, to consider the great power, which her prayers have with God. Blessed is that person for whom Mary prays. Jesus rejoices when His most beloved Mother prays to Him, that He may have the pleasure of granting her all she asks. One day Saint Bridget heard Jesus speak to Mary and say, '"My Mother, thou well knowest that I cannot do otherwise than grant thy prayers; therefore ask of Me what thou wilt."  And He then added, "Since thou, when on earth, didst deny Me nothing, it is becoming, now that I am in Heaven, that I should deny thee nothing that thou askest Me."  Saint Bernard says, "To be heard by the Son is to be graciously heard."  Mary has only to speak, and her Son grants her all that she asks. Let us, therefore, pray to this Divine Mother, without ceasing, if we wish to secure our eternal salvation; and let us address her in the words of Saint Andrew of Crete: "We beseech thee, therefore, O Holy Virgin, to grant us the help of thy prayers with God; prayers which are more precious than all the treasures of the world; prayers which obtain for us a very great abundance of graces; prayers which confound all enemies, and triumph over their strength." 
2. "HOLY MARY." ---- The name of Mary is a name of salvation. This name came not of earth, but from Heaven; hence St. Epiphanius says, that it was not given to Mary by her parents, but was imposed on her by the express will of God. Therefore it is that, after the name of Jesus, the name of Mary is above every other name; for God has filled it with grace and sweetness, that every blessing may be obtained by him who names it. St. Bernard says, "O Mary, thou canst not be named without inflaming the heart of him who does so, with love for thee."  Blessed Henry Suso used to exclaim, "O Mary, what must thou thyself be, since thy very name is so amiable and gracious!"  That name is filled with blessings. Saint Bonaventure says  that the name of Mary cannot be invoked without profit to him who does so. Above all, this name has power to overcome the temptations of Hell. Ah, my Lady, had I always invoked thee in my temptations, I should not have fallen. For the future I will never cease, to invoke thee, saying, "Mary help me: Mary succor me." And do thou obtain me the grace always to invoke thee in time of spiritual danger.
3. "HOLY MOTHER OF GOD." ---- If the
prayers of the Saints are very powerful with God, how great must be the
power of those of Mary! The former are the prayers of servants,
latter the prayers of a mother. Saint Antoninus says, that the prayers
of Mary have the force of a command with Jesus Christ. Hence he
that it is impossible for the Son not to grant a grace for which the
asks.  Saint Bernard, therefore, exhorts us
to ask for every
which we desire from God through Mary: "Let us seek for grace, and seek
it by Mary." And why? "Because she is a mother, and is always
heard." O great Mother of God, pray to Jesus for me. Behold the
of my soul, and pity me. Pray, and never cease to pray, until thou
me safe in Paradise. O Mary, thou art my hope; abandon me not. "Holy
of God, pray for us." 
4. "MOTHER OF DIVINE GRACE." ---- Saint Anselm calls Mary "the Mother of all graces;"  and Blessed Raymond Jordano, "The treasurer of Divine grace."  Hence, Saint Bernardine of Siena writes, that all the gifts and graces which we receive from God are dispensed by the hands of Mary, to whom, when, and as she pleases."  This she herself says: "With me are riches . . . that I may enrich them that love me."  "Our Lord has deposited all the riches of His graces in my hands, that I may enrich those who love me." Then, my Queen, if I love thee, I no longer shall be poor as I now am. After God, I love thee above all things; do thou obtain me greater tenderness and love for thy goodness. Saint Bonaventure tells me that all whom thou willest are saved; therefore will I address thee with the same Saint, "O salvation of all who call upon thee, save me from Hell;" But first of all, save me from sin, which alone can take me to Hell.
5. "MOTHER MOST PURE." ---- This Virgin Mother, all fair and pure, renders all her servants pure and chaste. Saint Ambrose writes, that "When Mary was on earth her presence alone inspired all those who looked at her with a love of purity.  She was called a lily amongst thorns: "As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters."  "All other virgins," says Denis the Carthusian, "were thorns either to themselves or to others; but the Blessed Virgin was so neither to herself nor to others, for she inspired all those upon whom she looked with pure and holy affections." 
Frigenius, who wrote the life of Saint Thomas Aquinas, relates that it was an ordinary saying of the Saint, that "even the images of this chaste turtle-dove extinguish sensual desires in those who look at them with devotion." The venerable John D'Avila says, "that many who were tempted against purity had preserved themselves chaste by devotion to our Blessed Lady."  O, how especially powerful is the name of Mary in conquering all temptations to this vice! O most pure Mary, deliver me from it. Grant that in my temptations I may always have recourse to thee, and invoke thee as long as the temptation lasts.
6. "MOTHER UNDEFILED." ---- Mary was that spotless woman who always appeared beautiful and without stain in the eyes of God: "Thou art all fair, O my love, and there is not a spot in thee."  Hence she was made the sinner's peacemaker, as she is called by Saint Ephrem, "Hail, peacemaker of the whole world!"  This she also says herself in the sacred Canticles, "I am become in His presence as one finding peace."  Saint Gregory says,  "that if a rebel appeared before his offended king to appease him, instead of doing so, he would provoke him to greater anger." Hence, Mary being destined to treat of peace between God and men, it was not becoming that she should appear as a sinner and as an accomplice in Adam's sin; and therefore our Lord preserved her from every stain. Ah, my Immaculate Queen, fair dove, and the beloved of God, disdain not to cast thine eyes on the many stains and wounds of my soul; see me, and pity me. God, who loves thee so much, denies thee nothing; and thou knowest not how to refuse thee who have recourse to thee. O Mary, to thee I have recourse; pity me. "Mother inviolate, pray for us."
7. "MOTHER MOST AMIABLE." ---- Richard of Saint Lawrence says, "that Mary was amiable in the eyes of God Himself."  Mary was so beautiful in the eyes of God that He was enamored of her beauty. "How beautiful art thou, my love! how beautiful art thou!"  Hence He called her His only dove, His only perfect one: "One is my dove; my perfect one is but one."  "It is certain," as Father Suarez says,  "that God loved Mary more than all the other Saints together; and with reason; for she alone loved God more than all men, and all Angels have ever loved Him." O most beautiful Mary, O most amiable Mary, thou hast gained the heart of God; take also my poor heart, and make me a Saint. I love thee; in thee is my confidence. "Most amiable Mother, pray for us."
8. "MOTHER OF OUR REDEEMER." ---- Saint Bonaventure calls Mary "the Mediatress of our salvation;"  and Saint John Damascene "the Savior in a certain manner of the world."  For two reasons Mary can be called the Savior of the world and our Mediatress; that is, the mediatress of grace, as Jesus Christ is the mediator of justice. First, on account of the consent which she gave at the Incarnation of the Eternal Word; for by that consent, Saint Bernardine says, "she procured us salvation."  Secondly, by the consent which Mary gave to the death of her Son, in which she expressed her willingness that He should be sacrificed on the Cross for our salvation. I remind thee, then, O Mother of my Savior, that thou didst once offer the life of thy Son to God; save me now by thy intercession.
9. "VIRGIN MOST VENERABLE." ---- Saint Anselm says, "that when we say that Mary is the Mother of God, we speak of a dignity which is above every other dignity that can be named or thought of, after that of God;" therefore he says, "O Lady, nothing equals thee; for all is either above thee, and this is God alone, or beneath thee, and this is all which is not God."  In fine, Saint Bernardine writes, "that God alone can know the greatness of Mary."  Blessed Albert the Great says, that Mary could not be more closely united to God without becoming God. This great Mother of God is, then, indeed worthy of our veneration, since God Himself could not have made her greater than He did when He made her His Mother. O Mother of God, my Mother Mary, I venerate thee, and would wish thee to be venerated by all hearts, as that exalted Lady, which thou art. Pity a poor sinner who loves thee, and trusts in thee. "Virgin most venerable, pray for us."
10. "VIRGIN MOST RENOWNED." ---- The Holy Church proclaims that this Divine Mother is "most worthy of every praise;"  for, as Saint Ildephonsus says, "all praise which is given to the Mother redounds to the honor of the Son."  With reason, then, did Saint George of Nicomedia declare, "that God accepts the praises which are lavished on Mary, as if they were bestowed on Himself."  The Blessed Virgin promises Paradise to him who endeavors to make her known and loved: "they that explain me, shall have life everlasting."  Therefore, Richard of Saint Lawrence writes, that "all who honor her in this world, will be honored by her in the next."  Saint Anselm says, "that as Mary, by becoming the Mother of God, was the means of the salvation of sinners, so are sinners saved by proclaiming her praises."  All cannot be preachers, but all can praise her, and speak to relations and friends in familiar conversation of the merits of Mary, of her powers and mercy, and thus lead them to devotion towards this Divine Mother. O Queen of Heaven, from this time forward I am determined to do all that I can to cause thee to be venerated and loved by all. Accept my desire, and help me to execute it; in the mean time inscribe me in the number of thy servants, and never permit me again to become a slave of Lucifer.
11. "VIRGIN MOST POWERFUL." ---- And who amongst the Saints is as powerful with God as His most holy Mother? She obtains all that she pleases. "Thou willest," says Saint Bernard, "and all is done." Saint Peter Damian even says, "that when Mary asks graces from God, she does not ask, but, so to say, commands; for her Son honors her by refusing her nothing."  Thus does the Son honor His beloved Mother by granting her whatever she asks, even in favor of sinners. Hence, Saint Germanus says, "Thou, O Mother of God, art omnipotent to save sinners, and needest no other recommendation with God, for thou art the Mother of true life."  O Mary, thou canst make me a Saint; I rely on thee.
12. "VIRGIN MOST MERCIFUL." ---- Mary
is as clement and merciful towards those who have recourse to her
as she is powerful with God. Saint Bernard says, "that since the power
to save us cannot be wanting to Mary, as she is the Mother of God, so
can the will be wanting to her, for she is our Mother." 
that ever had recourse to Mary and was abandoned? "Let him cease to
thy mercy" says the same Saint Bernard, "who remembers having ever
thee without being graciously heard."  Saint
Mary has so great a desire to be invoked by us, that she may dispense
favors to us in greater abundance, that she is not only offended by
who speak ill of her, but also by those who neglect to ask her for
 Thus, to obtain her help, we are not obliged to
of Mercy much; it is enough to ask for it with confidence. "Her mercy,"
says Richard of Saint Victor, "comes to our aid before we invoke it;"
he tells us why: "It is because she cannot know and see our miseries
relieving them."  See, then, O Mary, see my
miseries, and help me.
"Virgin most merciful, pray for us."
13. "VIRGIN MOST FAITHFUL." ---- Blessed is he who by his prayers watches at the gates of Mary, as the poor wait at the door of the rich to obtain relief. "Blessed is the man," Mary says, "that heareth me, and that watcheth daily at my gates."  O that we were as faithful to serve this Divine Mother, as she is faithful to relieve us when we pray to her! Mary promises that all who serve and honor her shall be free from sin and obtain eternal life: "They that work by me shall not sin. They that explain me shall have life everlasting."  She invites all to have recourse to her, and promises them every grace which they desire: "In me is all grace of the way and of the truth; in me is all hope of life and of virtue; come over to me, all ye that desire me."  Saint Lawrence Justinian applies to Mary that other text of Ecclesiasticus, "her bands are a healthful binding;"  and then adds, "wherefore bands, unless to bind her servants, that they may not stray in the fields of sin."  Mary binds her servants, that they may not give themselves too much liberty, which would cause their ruin. O Mother of God, in thee do I place all my confidence; thou must preserve me from falling any more into sin. My Lady, abandon me not, obtain me the grace rather to die than to lose the grace of God.
14. "CAUSE OF OUR JOY." ---- As the dawn is a cause of joy, after the darkness and gloom of night, so was the birth of Mary, who is our dawn, a cause of joy to the world, which, before the coming of Jesus Christ, had been, for four thousand years, immersed in the darkness of sin. A holy father says, "that in the birth of Mary the dawn appeared."  The dawn is the forerunner of the sun, and Mary was the precursor of the Incarnate Word, the Sun of Justice, the Redeemer, Who, by His death, delivered us from eternal death. With reason the Church sings, on the nativity of Mary, "Thy birth, O holy Mother of God, announced joy to the whole world." And as Mary was the beginning of our joy, so is she also its completion; for Saint Bernard says, "that Jesus Christ deposited the whole price of our redemption in the hands of Mary; that every grace which we receive, we may receive it from her."  O Mother of God, thou art my joy and my hope; for thou deniest thy graces to no one, and thou obtainest all that thou wilIest from God.
15. "VESSEL OF SINGULAR DEVOTION." ---- Devotion, as Saint Thomas  teaches, consists in the readiness with which our will conforms itself to the will of God. This was the principal virtue which rendered His most Holy Mother so dear to God. This also was the signification of the answer which our Lord gave to the woman who called the womb which bore Him blessed: Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it."  By this, according to Venerable Bede, our Lord meant that Mary was more blessed by the union of her will with that of God than by being His Mother. That flower which always turns towards the sun is a real type of Mary. The Divine will was alone the aim and satisfaction of the heart of Mary; as she herself proclaimed, "My spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior." O blessed art thou, my Lady, who wast always, and in all, united to the Divine will. Obtain me the grace to spend the rest of my life in constant uniformity with the will of God.
16. "MYSTICAL ROSE." ---- Of Mary it is said, in the sacred Canticles, that she was the enclosed Garden of God, " My sister, my spouse, is a garden enclosed."  Saint Bernard writes, "that our Lord planted all the flowers which adorn the Church in this garden; and amongst others the violet of humility, the lily of purity, and the rose of charity."  "A rose is red, and of a fiery color," says Blessed Raymond Jordano; "which denotes love of God and our neighbor;"  therefore, on account of the ardent love with which the heart of Mary was always inflamed towards God and us, she is called a rose. And where can we find an advocate who is more earnest in the affair of our salvation, or who loves us more than Mary? "We acknowledge," says Saint Augustine of her, "that one alone is solicitous for us in Heaven."  O my dear Mother, could I but love thee as thou lovest me! I will not, however, cease to do all that I can to honor and love thee. My most sweet Lady, do thou obtain me grace to be faithful to thee.
17. "TOWER OF DAVID." ---- Mary is called in the sacred Canticles the Tower of David: "Thy neck is as the tower of David; a thousand bucklers hang upon it; all the armor of valiant men."  Saint Bernardine says, that the tower of David stood on high, that is, on Sion; therefore Mary is called the Tower of David, to denote the height of the perfection of this great creature: "As Sion was a very elevated spot, so was the Blessed Virgin most exalted."  Therefore of Mary it is said in the Psalms, that the very beginning of her sanctity was more exalted than the mountains: "The foundations thereof are in the holy mountains."  Saint Gregory  explains it to mean that the Divine Mother was more holy in the first moment of her life than any of the Saints were at the moment of their death. Ah, my Queen and Mother, I rejoice in thy greatness, and am willing rather to sacrifice my life than that thy glory should be diminished in the least degree, were such a thing possible. O, that I could only by shedding every drop of my blood cause all nations of the earth to venerate and love thee as the great Lady which thou art!
18. "TOWER OF IVORY." ---- Thus is Mary also called, "Thy neck is as a tower of ivory."  Mary is called a neck; for she is the mystic neck through which the vital spirits, that is, the Divine help which preserves in us the life of grace, are transmitted from Jesus Christ the Head to us the faithful, who are members of the mystic body of the Church. Saint Bernardine says, "The life-giving graces flow from Christ the Head, through the Blessed Virgin, into His mystic body."  The Saint then adds, "that from the time when Mary conceived the Incarnate Word, she received the great honor from God, that no one should receive any grace otherwise than through her hands." In fine, ivory is greatly esteemed, and is strong. Hence the Abbot Rupert writes of Mary, "that as a tower of ivory she is beloved by God, and terrible to the devil."  Then, O my sovereign Lady, because thou art so beloved of God, thou canst obtain us every grace; and because thou art terrible to the evil spirits, thou canst deliver us from all their snares. Have mercy on us, who glory in living under thy protection.
19. "HOUSE OF GOLD." ---- Gold is a symbol of love. Therefore Blessed Albert the Great calls Mary "a golden temple of charity."  And with reason; for Saint Thomas says, that "as all in the temple was covered with gold, so was everything in the beautiful soul of Mary filled with sanctity."  Mary was the house of gold which Eternal Wisdom, that is, the Divine Word, chose for His dwelling on earth: "Wisdom hath built herself a house."  "This House of God," says Richard of Saint Lawrence, "is so rich that it can relieve all our wants."  O Mary, thou lovest God so much, and therefore thou desirest to see Him loved by all. This is the grace which above all others I ask of thee, and which I hope from thee: obtain me great love for God.
20. "ARK OF THE COVENANT." ---- Hesychius calls Mary "an ark more spacious than that of Noah;"  for in the ark of Noah only two animals of every kind were received, but under the mantle of Mary the just and sinners find place. This was one day revealed to Saint Gertrude;  for she saw a multitude of wild beasts, lions, leopards, and the like, who took refuge under the mantle of Mary; and she not only did not drive them away, but with her benign hands caressed them, that they might not fly away. The animals which entered the ark remained animals; but sinners who are received under the mantle of Mary do not remain sinners. She is certain to change their hearts, and to render them dear to God. The Blessed Virgin herself said to Saint Bridget, "However much a man may have sinned, if he returns to me with a real purpose of amendment, I am ready at once to receive him; neither do I pay attention to the sins with which he is laden, but only to the good disposition in which he comes; and then I do not disdain to anoint and heal his wounds, for I am called and truly am the Mother of Mercy."  O Mother of Mercy, will I then say to thee, in the words of Saint Bernard, "Remember that it has never been heard of in any age, that any sinner who had recourse to thee was rejected by thee." I, a miserable sinner, have recourse to thee and trust in thee.
21. "GATE OF HEAVEN." ---- Mary is called the "Gate of Heaven," because, as Saint Bonaventure declares, "no one can enter Heaven unless by Mary, as through a door."  Our Queen says, "My power is in Jerusalem." [7l] Richard of Saint Lawrence adds: "commanding what I will, and introducing whom I will."  I can obtain whatever I please for my clients, and introduce all whom I please into Paradise. Hence, Saint Bonaventure writes, that "those who enjoy the favor of Mary are recognized by the citizens of Heaven; and those who bear her stamp, that is, have the grace to be her servants, are inscribed in the Book of Life."  For this reason, Bernardine de Bustis  calls Mary "the Book of Life," and says that whoever, by his devotion, is written in this book, is certain to be saved. Ah, my Mother, in thee do I repose my hope of eternal salvation. I love thee; do thou save me; never allow a servant of thine who loves thee to go to blaspheme thee in Hell.
22. "MORNING STAR." ---- Saint John Damascene calls Mary "the Star which indicates the rising of the sun."  As the morning star precedes the sun, so does devotion towards the most Blessed Virgin precede the sun of Divine grace; for Saint Germanus says  that "devotion in a soul towards Mary is a sign either that it is already in a state of grace, or that it will very soon be so." Our Lady is also called "the Star of the Sea" by the Church; for, as Saint Thomas explains it, "as mariners, in tempestuous weather, are guided by the star of the sea into port, so are souls guided by Mary over the sea of this world into Paradise."  Hence Saint Bernard warns us, saying, "If you do not wish to be lost in the storm of temptations, turn not your eyes from this star of salvation." He then continues, "if you follow Mary, you will not go astray; if Mary protects you, you cannot fear to be lost; if Mary favors you, you will reach Paradise." 
23. HEALTH OF THE WEAK." ---- Mary is called by Saint Simon Stock "the medicine of sinners;" and by Saint Ephrem, not only medicine, but health itself: "Robust health for those who have recourse to her."  Hence those who have recourse to Mary, not only find in her a remedy, but health itself; and this she herself promises to all who seek her: "He that shall find me shall find life, and shall have salvation from the Lord."  Neither let us fear that, on account of the bad odor of our wounds, she may refuse to take care of us: she is our Mother; and as a mother does not shrink from dressing the wounds of her child, neither does this celestial physician refuse to heal her servants who have recourse to her. Wherefore Saint Bernard says, "O Mother of God, thou dost not disdain a sinner, however loathsome he may be: if he sends up his sighs to thee, thou wilt deliver him with thine own hand from despair." 
24. "REFUGE OF SINNERS." ---- Thus is Mary called by Saint Germanus; he says, "She is the ever-ready refuge of sinners."  Yes, of all sinners; for as the Abbot of Celles says, "she can despise no sinner, but receives all, and welcomes all, the moment they have recourse to her."  Hence Saint John Damascene affirms, that Mary is not only the refuge of the innocent, but also of the wicked, who implore her protection: "I am a city of refuge to all who fly to me."  Therefore Saint Anselm exclaims, "Thou embracest with maternal affection a sinner who is even despised by the whole world, nor dost thou cease thine embrace until thou hast reconciled him with his Judge." By this the Saint gives us to understand, that a sinner being hated by God is also odious and abominable to all creatures; but if he has recourse to Mary, the refuge of sinners, not only she does not despise him, but embraces him with affection, and does not leave him until her Son Jesus Christ, Who is our Judge, has forgiven him. Since, then, O my Lady, thou art the refuge of all sinners, thou art also my refuge. Thou, who despisest no one who has recourse to thee, despise me not, who recommend myself to thee: "Refuge of sinners, pray for us." O Mary, pray for us, and save us.
25. "COMFORTRESS OF THE AFFLICTED." ---- Saint Germanus says, "O Mary, who, after thy Son, is as solicitous for the whole human race as thou art? Who protects us in our trials as thou dost?"  Who, O Mary, watches over our interests as thou dost? Who is solicitous as thou art for us in our afflictions? "No," replies Saint Antoninus: "no Saint can be found who compassionates us in our miseries as does this most tender Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary."  And as the miseries which afflict us the most are disorders of the soul, blessed Henry Suso calls Mary "the most faithful comfortress of sinners."  We need only show Mary the wounds of our souls, and she immediately heals them by her prayers, and consoles us. Nay, even as Richard of Saint Victor writes, her compassion anticipates our wants, and she relieves us before ee invoke her.  Let us, say, then, with Saint Bonaventure, "O Mary, console us always, but especially at the hour of our death; come at that last hour and receive our souls, and present them thyself to thy Son, Who will judge us."
26. "HELP OF CHRISTlANS." ---- Saint John Damascene calls Mary "the prepared and always ready-help of Christians, by which they are delivered from dangers."  The help of Mary is, as Saint Cosmas of Jerusalem  writes, "all powerful to deliver us from sin and Hell." Saint Bernard,  addressing Mary, says, "Thou art an invincible warrior in defense of thy servants, fighting against the devils who assail them." For this reason she is called an army in the sacred Canticles: "thou art . . . terrible as an army set in array."  Ah, my Queen, had I always had recourse to thee, I should never have been conquered by my enemies; from henceforth thou shalt be my strength; in my temptations I will always have recourse to thee; from thee do I hope for victory.
27. "QUEEN OF MARTYRS." ---- With reason
is Mary called the Queen of Martyrs, for her martyrdom in the death of
her Son on the Cross exceeded the sufferings of all the Martyrs. "There
stood by the Cross of Jesus His Mother." Mothers fly from their
when they see them dying and are unable to help them. Mary did not fly,
but remained with Jesus until she saw Him expire. "She stood by the
and whilst Jesus was in His agony she offered the life of her Son to
Eternal Father for our salvation; but in doing so she also was in an
and experienced a torment greater than any death. O my afflicted
be graciously pleased, by the merit of the sorrows which thou didst
at the foot of the Cross, to obtain me true sorrow for my sins, and
for Jesus my Redeemer; and by the sword which transpierced thy heart
thou didst see Him bow down His head and expire, I beseech thee to help
me at the hour of my death, and then to obtain me eternal salvation,
I may love thee with thy Jesus forever.
1. Rev. lib.
iii. c. 24.
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