MARY IS OUR LIFE, BECAUSE SHE OBTAINS US THE PARDON OF OUR SINS
If we have had the misfortune to lose the grace of God, we should seek to recover it, but we should do so by Mary, for though we may have lost it, she has found it; and hence St. Bernard calls her ‘the finder of grace.’ The angel Gabriel expressly declared this for our consolation, when he saluted the Blessed Virgin, saying, ‘Fear not, Mary; thou hast found grace.’ But if Mary had never been deprived of grace, how could the archangel say that she had then found it? A thing may be found by a person who did not previously possess it; but we are told by the same archangel, that the Blessed Virgin was always with God, always in grace, nay, full of grace: ‘Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.’ Since Mary then did not find grace for herself, she being always full of it, for whom did she find it? Cardinal Hugo, in his commentary on the above text, replies that she found it for sinners who had lost it. Let sinners then,’ says this devout writer, ‘who by their crimes have lost grace, address themselves to the Blessed Virgin; for with her they will surely find it; let them humbly salute her, and say with confidence, Lady, that which has been found must be restored to him who has lost it; restore us, therefore, our property which thou hast found.’ 0n this subject, Richard of St. Lawrence concludes, ‘That if we hope to recover the grace of God, we must go to Mary, who has found it, and finds it always.’ And as she always was and always will be dear to God, if we have recourse to her, we shall certainly succeed.
Mary says, in the eighth chapter of the sacred Canticles, that God has placed her in the world to be our de fence: ‘I am a wall, and my breasts are as a tower.’ And she is truly made a mediatrix of peace between sinners and God, ‘ Since I am become in His presence as one finding peace.’ On these words St. Bernard encourages sinners, saying, ‘Go to this Mother of Mercy, and show her the wounds which thy sins have left on thy soul; then will she certainly entreat her Son, by the breasts that gave Him suck, to pardon thee all. And this Divine Son, who loves her so tenderly, will most certainly grant her petition.’ In this sense it is that the holy Church, in her almost daily prayer, calls upon us to beg our Lord to grant us the powerful help of the intercession of Mary to rise from our sins: ‘Grant thy help to our weakness, 0 most merciful God; and that we, who are mindful of the holy Mother of God, may by the help of her intercession rise from our iniquities.’ With reason then does St. Lawrence Justinian call her ‘ the hope of malefactors;’ since she alone is the one who obtains them pardon from God. With reason does St. Bernard call her ‘the sinners’ ladder;’ since she, the most com passionate Queen, extending her hand to them, draws them from an abyss of sin, and enables them to ascend to God. With reason does an ancient writer call her ‘the only hope of sinners; for by her help alone can we hope for the remission of our sins. St. John Chrysostom also says ‘that sinners receive pardon by the intercession of Mary alone.’ And therefore the Saint, in the name of all sinners, thus ad dresses her: ‘ Hail, Mother’ of God and of us all, ‘heaven,’ where God dwells, ‘ throne,’ from which our Lord dispenses all graces, ‘fair daughter, Virgin, honor, glory, and firmament of our Church, assiduously pray to Jesus that in the day of judgment we may find mercy through thee, and receive the reward prepared by God for those who love Him.’ No sinner having recourse to the compassion of Mary should fear being rejected; for she is the Mother of Mercy, and as such de sires to save the most miserable. ‘Mary is that happy ark,’ says St. Bernard, ‘ in which those who take refuge will never suffer the shipwreck of eternal perdition.’ At the time of the Deluge, even brutes were saved in Noah’s ark. Under the mantle of Mary even sinners obtain salvation. St. Gertrude once saw Mary with her mantle extended, and under it many wild beasts — lions, bears, and tigers — had taken refuge; and she remarked that Mary not only did not reject, but even welcomed and caressed them with the greatest tenderness. The Saint understood hereby that the most abandoned sinners who have recourse to Mary are not only not rejected, but that they are welcomed and saved by her from eternal death. Let us then enter this ark, let us take refuge under the mantle of Mary, and she most certainly will not reject us, but will secure our salvation.
Father Bovio relates that there was a wicked woman named Ellen, who entered a church, and by chance heard a sermon on the Rosary. On leaving the church she purchased a set of beads, but wore them concealed, as she did not wish it to be known that she had them. She began to recite them; and though she did so without devotion, our most Blessed Lady poured such sweetness and consolation into her soul during the whole time, that she could not cease repeating the ‘Hail Marys’. At length she was filled with such a horror for her wicked life, that she no longer could find repose, and was obliged to go to confession; and she accomplished this duty with such contrition, that the priest was filled with astonishment. After her confession, she went to the foot of an altar of the most Blessed Virgin, and there, as a thanksgiving to her advocate, said the Rosary. The Divine Mother then addressed her from the image in the following words: ‘Ellen, thou hast already offended God and me too much. From this moment change thy life, and I will be stow a large share of my graces upon thee.’ The poor sinner, in the deepest confusion, replied: ‘ Ah, most Holy Virgin, it is true that hitherto I have been a wicked sinner; but thou canst do all — help me. On my part, I abandon myself to thee, and will spend the whole remainder of my life in doing penance for my sins.’ With the assistance of Mary, she distributed all her goods to the poor, and began a life of rigorous mortification. She was tormented with dreadful temptations; but constantly recommended herself to the Mother of God, and thus was always victorious. She was favoured with many extraordinary graces, with visions, revelations, and even the gift of prophecy. Finally, before her death, which was announced to her by Mary some days before it took place, the most Blessed Virgin came herself, with her Divine Son, to visit her; and when she expired, her soul was seen flying towards Heaven in the form of a beautiful dove.
Behold, 0 Mother of my God, my only hope, Mary, behold at thy feet a miserable sinner, who asks thee for mercy. Thou art proclaimed and called by the whole Church, and by all the faithful, the refuge of sinners. Thou art consequently my refuge; thou hast to save me. Thou knowest, most sweet Mother of God, how much thy blessed Son de sires our salvation; thou knowest all that Jesus Christ endured for this end. I present thee, 0 my Mother, the sufferings of Jesus: the cold He endured in the stable, His journey into Egypt, His toils, His sweat, the blood He shed; the anguish which caused His death on the cross, and of which thou wast thyself a witness. 0, show that thou lovest thy beloved Son; and by this love I implore thee to assist me. Extend thy hand to a poor creature who has fallen, and asks thy help. Were I a Saint, I need not seek thy mercy; but because I am a sinner I fly to thee, who art the Mother of Mercies. I know that thy compassionate heart finds its consolation in assisting the miserable when thou canst do so, and dost not find them obstinate. Console, then, thy compassionate heart, and console me this day; for now thou hast the opportunity of saving a poor creature condemned to hell; and thou canst do so; for I will not be obstinate. I abandon myself into thy hands. Only tell me what thou wouldst have me to do, and obtain me strength to execute it; for I am resolved to do all that depends on me to recover the Divine grace. I take refuge under thy mantle. Jesus wills that I should have recourse to thee, in order not only that His blood may save me, but also that thy prayers may assist me in this great work, for thy glory and for His own, since thou art His Mother. He sends me to thee that thou mayest help me. 0 Mary, see, I have recourse to thee; in thee do I confide. Thou prayest for so many others, pray also for me; say only a word. Tell our Lord that thou willest my salvation, and God will certainly save me. Say that I am thine, and then I have obtained all that I ask — all that I desire.
MONTH OF MARY – THE TWENTY-FOURTH DAY