MARY IS THE MOTHER OF REPENTANT SINNERS
Our Blessed Lady told St. Bridget that she was the Mother not only of the just and innocent, but also of sinners, provided they were willing to repent. 0, how prompt does a sinner (desirous of amendment, and who flies to her feet) find this good Mother to embrace and help him, far more so than any earthly mother! But whoever aspires to be a child of this great Mother must first abandon sin, and then may hope to be accepted as such. So long, then, as a sinner is obstinate, Mary cannot love him; but if he (finding himself chained by some passion which keeps him a slave of hell) recommends himself to the Blessed Virgin, and implores her, with confidence and perseverance, to withdraw him from the state of sin in which he is, there can be no doubt but this good Mother will extend her powerful hand to him, will deliver him from his chains, and lead him to a state of salvation. The doctrine that all prayers and works performed in a state of sin are sins, was condemned as heretical by the sacred Council of Trent. St. Bernard says, that although prayer in the mouth of a sinner is devoid of beauty, on account of its being unaccompanied by charity, nevertheless it is useful, and obtains grace to abandon sin; for, as St. Thomas teaches, the prayer of a sinner, though without merit, is an act which obtains the grace of forgiveness, since the power of impetration is founded not on the merits of him who asks, but on the divine goodness, and the merits and promises of Jesus Christ, who has said, ‘ Every one that asketh receiveth.’ The same thing must be said of prayers offered to the Divine Mother. ‘If he who prays,’ says St. Anselm, ‘ does not merit to be heard, the merits of the Mother, to whom he recommends himself, will intercede effectually.’ Therefore, St. Bernard exhorts all sinners to have recourse to Mary, invoking her with great confidence; for though the sinner does not himself merit the graces which he asks, yet he receives them, because this Blessed Virgin asks and obtains them from God, on account of her own merits. ‘If a mother,’ continues the same Saint, ‘ knew that her two sons bore a mortal enmity to one another, and that each plotted against the other’s life, would she not exert herself to her utmost in order to reconcile them? This would be the duty of a good mother. And thus it is, the Saint goes on to say, that Mary acts for she is the Mother of Jesus, and the Mother of men. When she sees a sinner at enmity with Jesus Christ, she cannot endure it, and does all in her power to make peace between them. This most benign Lady only requires that the sinner should recommend himself to her, and purpose amendment. When Mary sees a sinner at her feet, imploring her mercy, she does not consider the crimes with which he is loaded, but the intention with which he comes; and if this is good, even should he have committed all possible sins, the most loving Mother embraces him, and does not disdain to heal the wounds of his soul ; for she is not only called the Mother of Mercy, but is so truly and indeed, and shows herself such by the love and tender ness with which she assists us all. And this is precisely what the Blessed Virgin herself said to St. Bridget: ‘ However much a man sins, I am ready immediately to receive him when he repents; nor do I pay attention to the number of his sins, but only to the intention with which he comes; I do not disdain to anoint and heal his wounds; for I am called, and truly am, the Mother of Mercy.’ Mary is the Mother of sinners who wish to repent, and as a Mother she cannot do otherwise than compassionate them; nay more, she seems to feel the miseries of her poor children as if they were her own. When the Canaanitish woman begged our Lord to deliver her daughter from the devil who possessed her, she said, ‘ Have mercy on me, 0 Lord, thou Son of David, my daughter is grievously troubled by a devil.’ But since the daughter, and not the mother, was tormented, she should rather have said, ‘Lord,’ take compassion on my daughter; and not, Have mercy on me; but no, she said, ‘Have mercy on me,’ and was right; for the sufferings of children are felt by their mothers as if they were their own. And it is precisely thus, says Richard of St. Lawrence, that Mary prays to God when she recommends a sinner to Him who has had recourse to her; she cries out for the sinful soul, ‘Have mercy on me !’ My Lord,’ she seems to say, ‘ this poor soul that is in sin is my daughter, and therefore, pity, not so much her, as me, who am her Mother.’ Would that all sinners had recourse to this sweet Mother; for then certainly all would be pardoned by God! ‘0 Mary,’ exclaims St. Bonaventure, in rapturous astonishment, ‘ thou embracest with maternal affection a sinner despised by the whole world, nor dost thou leave him until thou hast reconciled the poor creature with his judge;’ meaning, that the sinner whilst in a state of sin is hated and loathed by all, even by inanimate creatures; fire, air, and earth would chastise him, and avenge the honour of their outraged Lord. But if this unhappy creature flies to Mary, will Mary reject him? 0, no: provided he goes to her for help, and in order to amend, she will embrace him with the affection of a mother, and will not let him go, until, by her powerful intercession, she has reconciled him with God, and reinstated him in grace.
In Turin, in the year 1610, there was an obstinate heretic, who even on his death-bed would not renounce his errors, notwithstanding all that was said to him by many priests who attended upon him during eight successive days. At length one of them almost forced him to have recourse to Mary, with these words: ‘Mother of Jesus, help me.’ The heretic, as if awaking from a profound sleep, then said, ‘ I wish to die a Catholic:’ he was thereupon reconciled with the Church, and in two hours expired.
0 my sovereign Queen and worthy Mother of my God, most holy Mary: I, seeing myself, as I do, so despicable, and loaded with so many sins, ought not to presume to call thee Mother, or even to approach thee; yet I will not allow my miseries to deprive me of the consolation and confidence that I feel in calling thee Mother; I know well that I deserve that thou shouldst reject me; but I beseech thee to re member all that thy Son Jesus has endured for me, and then reject me if thou canst. I am a wretched sinner, who, more than all others, have despised the infinite majesty of God: but the evil is done. To thee have I recourse; thou canst help me: my Mother, help me. Say not that thou canst not do so ; for I know that thou art all powerful, and that thou obtainest whatever thou desirest of God; and if thou say est that thou wilt not help me, tell me at least to whom I can apply in this my so great misfortune. Either pity me, will I say, with the devout St. Anselm, ‘ 0, my Jesus, and forgive me, or do thou pity me, my mother Mary, by interceding for me, or at least tell me to whom T can have recourse, who is more compassionate, or in whom I can have greater confidence than in thee.’ 0, no; neither on earth, nor in heaven, can I find anyone who has more compassion for the miserable, or who is better able to assist me. Thou, 0 Jesus, art my Father, and thou, Mary, art my Mother. You both love the most miserable, and go seeking them in order to save them. I deserve hell and am the most miserable of all. But you need not seek me, nor do I presume to ask so much. I now present myself before you ‘with a certain hope that I shall not be abandoned. Behold me at your feet; my Jesus, forgive me; my Mother Mary, help me.
MONTH OF OUR BLESSED LADY – FOURTEENTH DAY
St. Alphonsus Liguori – The Glories of Mary