Mary is the Hope of All (PART II)

In the Book of Proverbs Mary herself tells us that she possesses all the riches of God, that is to say, His mercies, that she may dispense them in favour of her lovers: “With me are riches . . . and glorious riches . . . that I may enrich them that love me.” And therefore Saint Bonaventure says, “That we ought all to keep our eyes constantly fixed on Mary’s hands, that through them we may receive the graces that we desire.” 

O, how many who were once proud have become humble by devotion to Mary! How many who were passionate have become meek! How many in the midst of darkness have found light! How many who were in despair have found confidence! How many who were lost have found salvation by the same powerful means! And this she clearly foretold in the house of Elizabeth, in her own sublime canticle: “Behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.” And Saint Bernard, interpreting her words, says, “All generations call thee blessed, because thou hast given life and glory to all nations, for in thee sinners find pardon, and the just perseverance in the grace of God.”

Hence the devout Lanspergius makes our Lord thus address the world:

“Men, poor children of Adam, who live surrounded by so many enemies and in the midst of so many trials, endeavour to honour my Mother and yours in a special manner: for I have given Mary to the world, that she may be your model, and that from her you may learn to lead good lives; and also that she may be a refuge to which you can fly in all your afflictions and trials.  I have rendered this, my Daughter, such that no one need fear or have the least repugnance to have recourse to her; and for this purpose I have created her of so benign and compassionate a disposition, that she knows not how to despise anyone who takes refuge with her, nor can she deny her favour to anyone who seeks it. The mantle of her mercy is open to all, and she allows no one to leave her feet without consoling him.”

May the immense goodness of our God be ever praised and blessed for having given us this so great, so tender, so loving a Mother and Advocate. O God, how tender are the sentiments of confidence expressed by the enamoured St. Bonaventure towards Jesus our most loving Redeemer, and Mary our most loving Advocate! He says,

“Whatever God foresees to be my lot, I know that He cannot refuse Himself to anyone who loves Him and seeks for Him with his whole heart. I will embrace Him with my love; and if He does not bless me, I will still cling to Him so closely that He will be unable to go without me. If I can do nothing else, at least I will hide myself in his wounds, and, taking up my dwelling there, it will be in Himself alone that He will find me.”

And the Saint concludes,

“If my Redeemer rejects me on account of my sins, and drives me from His sacred feet, I will cast myself at those of His beloved Mother Mary, and there I will remain prostrate until she has obtained my forgiveness; for this Mother of Mercy knows not, and has never known, how to do otherwise than compassionate the miserable, and comply with the desires of the most destitute who fly to her for succour; and therefore,” he says, “if not by duty, at least by compassion, she will engage her Son to pardon me.”  “Look down upon us, then,” let us exclaim, in the words of Euthymius, “look down upon us, O most compassionate Mother; cast thine eyes of mercy on us, for we are thy servants, and in thee we have placed all our confidence.”

EXAMPLE

In the fourth part of the treasury of the Rosary, at the eighty-fifth miracle, it is related that there was a gentleman who was tenderly devoted to the Divine Mother. He had erected an oratory in his dwelling, and there he used often to remain in prayer before a beautiful statue of Mary, and this not only during the day, but frequently at night he rose for the purpose of honouring his beloved Lady. His wife (for he was married), who was otherwise a person of great piety, perceiving that her husband rose from his bed in the silence of the night, left his room, and did not return for a considerable time, became jealous, and suspected that all was not right.

One day, in order to deliver herself from her anxiety, she asked her husband if by chance he loved another. The gentleman replied, with a smile, “You must know that I love the most delightful lady in the world. To her I have given my heart, and I could rather die than cease to love her; and did you but know her, you would tell me to love her still more.” He was, of course, speaking of the most Blessed Virgin, whom he loved thus tenderly.

His wife, however, became more and more uneasy, and again questioned him, that she might assure herself of the correctness of her suspicions: she asked him if by chance it was to visit this lady that he rose every night and left his room. That gentleman, quite unaware of the troubled state of his wife’s mind, answered in the affirmative.  The lady then felt certain of that which she had falsely suspected, and, blinded by passion, one night that her husband, as usual, left the room, took a knife, and in despair cut her throat, and shortly expired.

The gentleman, after finishing his devotions, returned to his room, but, getting into bed, he found it wet. He called his wife, but received no answer. He shook her, but in vain. He then got a light, and saw the bed saturated with blood, and his wife with her throat cut, and a corpse. In an instant the truth flashed across his mind, and he perceived that in a fit of jealousy she had destroyed herself. He instantly locked the door of the room, returned to the chapel, and there prostrate before the image of Mary, sobbing bitterly, he cried out: “My Mother, see, see my affliction. If thou dost not relieve me, to whom can I have recourse? Consider that by coming to honour thee I have incurred the misfortune of seeing my wife dead and eternally lost. My Mother, thou canst remedy this; O do so.”

And who ever invoked this Mother of mercy with confidence without obtaining what he asked? For scarcely had he finished his prayer when he heard a servant calling him: “Sir, go to your room; for your lady wants you.”  The gentleman, in the excess of his joy, could scarcely believe the servant. “Return,” he said, “and see again if she really wants me.” The servant came back, repeating, “Go quickly, for my mistress is waiting for you.” He went, opened the door, and beheld his wife alive.

She immediately threw herself at his feet, and in tears asked his pardon, saying, “Ah, my husband, the Mother of God, through thy prayers, has delivered me from hell.” They then went together to the oratory, weeping for joy, to return thanks to the most Blessed Virgin. On the following morning the husband gave a grand feast to all his relations, and made his wife herself relate the whole history; and she showed the mark of the wound, which still remained; and thus all were more and more inflamed with love towards the Divine Mother.

PRAYER

O Mother of holy love, our life, our refuge, and our hope, thou well knowest that thy Son Jesus Christ, not content with being Himself our perpetual advocate with the eternal Father, has willed that thou also shouldst interest thyself with Him, in order to obtain the Divine mercies for us. He has decreed that thy prayers should aid our salvation, and has made them so efficacious that they obtain all that they ask.

To thee, therefore, who art the hope of the miserable, do I, a wretched sinner, turn my eyes. I trust, O Lady, that in the first place through the merits of Jesus Christ, and then through thy intercession, I shall be saved. Of this I am certain; and my confidence in thee is such, that if my eternal salvation was in my own hands, I should place it in thine, for I rely more on thy mercy and protection than on all my own works.

My Mother and my hope, abandon me not, though I deserve that thou shouldst do so. See my miseries, and, being moved thereby with compassion, help and save me. I own that I have too often closed my heart, by my sins, against the lights and helps that thou hast procured for me from our Lord. But thy compassion for the miserable, and thy power with God, far surpass the number and malice of my sins.

It is well known to all, both in heaven and on earth, that whosoever is protected by thee is certainly saved. All may forget me, provided only that thou dost remember me, O Mother of an omnipotent God. Tell Him that I am thy servant; say only that thou defendest me, and I shall be saved. O Mary, I trust in thee; in this hope I live; in it I desire and hope to die, repeating always, “Jesus is my only hope, and after Jesus the most Blessed Virgin Mary.”

This article is taken from a chapter in The Glories of Mary by St. Alphonsus Liguori which is available from TAN Books.

St. Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787) was an Italian bishop and Doctor of the Church who was canonized in 1839.  In his day he was a prolific writer who produced great works on a vast array of subjects, including moral and spiritual theology.  TAN Books has published a great many of his books in English.