HOW GREAT SHOULD BE OUR CONFIDENCE IN MARY, WHO IS THE QUEEN OF MERCY
As the glorious Virgin Mary has been raised to the dignity of Mother of the King of kings, it is not without reason that the Church honors her, and wishes her to be honored by all, with the glorious title of Queen. ‘If the Son is a King,’ says an ancient writer, ‘ the Mother who begot him is rightly and truly considered a Queen and Sovereign.’ ‘No sooner had Mary,’ says St. Bernardine of Sienna, ‘ consented to be Mother of the Eternal Word, than she merited by this consent to be made Queen of the world and of all creatures ; hence as many creatures as there are who serve God, so many there are who serve Mary: for as angels and men, and all things that are in heaven and on earth, are subject to the empire of God, so are they also under the dominion of Mary.’ Mary then is a Queen: but, for our common consolation, be it known that she is a Queen so sweet, clement, and so ready to help us in our miseries, that the holy Church wills that we should salute her under the title of Queen of Mercy. The title of Queen, remarks Blessed Albert the Great, ‘differs from that of Empress, which implies severity and rigor, in signifying compassion, and charity towards the poor.’ ‘The greatness of kings and queens,’ says Seneca, consists in relieving the wretched; and whereas tyrants, when they reign, have their own good in view, kings should have that of their subjects at heart. Kings should then occupy themselves principally in works of mercy, but not so as to forget the just punishments that are to be inflicted on the guilty. It is however not thus with Mary, who, although a Queen, is not a queen of justice, intent on the punishment of the wicked, but a queen of mercy, intent only on commiserating and pardoning sinners. And this is the reason for which the Church re quires that we should expressly call her the Queen of Mercy. But perhaps we may fear that Mary would not deign to interpose for some sinners, on account of their being so overloaded with crimes? Or perhaps we ought to be over awed at the majesty and holiness of this great Queen? No, says St. Gregory, ‘ for the higher and more holy she is, the greater is her sweetness and compassion towards sinners, who have recourse to her with the desire to amend their lives. Kings and queens, with their ostentation of majesty, inspire terror, and cause their subjects to fear to approach them: but what fear, says St. Bernard, can the miserable have to approach this Queen of Mercy, for she inspires no terror, and shows no severity, to those who come to her; but is all sweetness and gentleness. How great then should be our confidence in this Queen, knowing her great power with God, and that she is so rich and full of mercy, that there is no one living on the earth who does not partake of her compassion and favor. This was revealed by our Blessed Lady herself to St. Bridget, saying, ‘I am the Queen of heaven and the Mother of Mercy; I am the joy of the just, and the door through which sinners are brought to God. There is no sinner on earth so accursed as to be deprived of my mercy, for all, if they receive nothing else through my intercession, receive the grace of being less tempted by the devils than they would otherwise have been. No one, she adds, unless the irrevocable sentence has been pronounced’ (that is the one pronounced on the damned), is so cast off by God, that he will not return to Him, and enjoy His mercy, if he invokes my aid. I am called by all the Mother of Mercy, and truly the mercy of my Son towards men has made me thus merciful towards them; and she concludes by saying, and therefore miserable will he be, and miserable will he be to all eternity, who, in this life, having it in his power to invoke me, who am so compassionate to all, and so desirous to assist sinners, is miserable enough not to invoke me, and so is damned. Let us then fly, and fly always to the feet of this most sweet Queen, if we would be certain of salvation; and if we are alarmed and disheartened at the sight of our sins, let us remember, that it is in order to save the greatest and most abandoned sinners, who recommend themselves to her, that Mary is made the Queen of Mercy.
A noble youth, named Eschylus, was sent by the prince, his father, to Hildesheim, a city of Saxony, to study, but he gave himself up to a disorderly life. He afterwards fell so dangerously ill that he received Extreme Unction. While in this state he had a vision: he found himself shut up in a fiery furnace, and believed himself already in hell; but he then seemed to escape from it by a hole, and took refuge in a great palace, in an apartment of which he saw the most Blessed Virgin Mary, who said to him, Presumptuous man that thou art, dost thou dare to appear before me? Depart hence, and go to that fire which thou hast deserved. The young man then besought the Blessed Virgin to have mercy on him; and then addressed himself to some persons who were there present, and entreated them to recommend him to Mary. They did so, and the Divine Mother replied, But you do not know the wicked life which he leads, and that he does not even deign to salute me with a Hail Mary. His advocates replied, ‘But, Lady, he will change his life;’ and the young man added, Yes, I promise in good earnest to amend, and I will be thy devout client. The Blessed Virgin’s anger was then appeased, and she said to him, Well, I accept thy promise; be faithful to me, and meanwhile, with my blessing, be delivered from death and hell. With these words the vision disappeared. Eschylus returned to himself, and blessing Mary, related to others the grace which he had received; and from that time he led a holy life, always preserving great devotion to our Blessed Lady. He became archbishop of Lund, in Sweden, where he converted many to the faith. Towards the end of his life, on account of his age, he renounced his archbishopric, and be came a monk in Clairvaux, where he lived for four years, and died a holy death. Hence he is numbered,’ by some authors, amongst the Cistercian Saints.
0, Mother of my God, and my Lady Mary: as a beggar, all wounded and sore, presents himself before a great queen, so do I present myself before thee, who art the Queen of heaven and earth. From the lofty throne on which thou sittest, disdain not, I implore thee, to cast thine eyes on me, a poor sinner. God has made thee so rich that thou mightest assist the poor, and has constituted thee Queen of Mercy, in order that thou mightest relieve the miserable. Behold me then, and pity me: be hold me, and abandon me not, until thou seest me changed from a sinner into a saint. I know well that I merit nothing; nay more, that I deserve, on account of my ingratitude, to be deprived of the graces that, through thy means, I have already received from God. But thou, who art the Queen of Mercy, seekest not merits, but miseries, in order to help the needy. But who is more needy than I?
0, exalted Virgin, well do I know that thou, who art Queen of the universe, art also my queen; but am I determined to dedicate my self more especially to thy service, in order that thou mayest dispose of me as thou pleasest. Therefore do I address thee in the words of St. Bonaventure, ‘ Do thou govern me, 0 my Queen, and leave me not to myself. Command me; employ me as thou wilt, and chastise me when I do not obey; for the chastisements that come from thy hands will to me be pledges of salvation. I value more the being thy servant, than being ruler of the earth. I am thine save me. Accept me, 0 Mary, for thine own, and as thine take charge of my salvation. I will no longer be mine; to thee do I give myself. If, during the time past, I have served thee ill, and lost so many occasions of honoring thee, for the future I will be one of thy most loving and faithful servants. I am determined that from this day forward no one shall surpass me, in honoring and loving thee, my most amiable Queen. This I promise; and this, with thy help, I hope to execute. Amen.