MARY LEADS HER SERVANTS TO HEAVEN
0, what an evident mark of predestination have the servants of Mary! The holy Church, for the consolation of her clients, puts into her mouth the words of Ecclesiasticus, ‘ In all these I sought rest, and I shall abide in the inheritance of the Lord.’ Cardinal Hugo explains these words, and says, ‘Blessed is he in whose house the most Holy Virgin finds repose.’ Mary, out of the love she bears to all, endeavours to excite in all devotion to wards herself; many either do not admit it into their souls, or do not preserve it. But blessed is he that receives, and preserves it. 0, how many blessed souls are there now in heaven, who would never have been there had not Mary, by her powerful intercession, led them thither. St. Bonaventure says, ‘that the gates of heaven will open to all who confide in the protection of Mary.’ Hence St. Ephrem calls devotion to the Divine Mother, ‘ the unlocking of the gates of the heavenly Jerusalem.’ The devout Blosius also, addressing our Blessed Lady, says, ‘To thee, 0 Lady, are committed the keys and the treasures of the kingdom of heaven.’ And therefore we ought constantly to pray to her, in the words of St. Ambrose,” ‘ Open to us, 0 Mary, the gates of paradise, since thou hast its keys.’ Nay, more, the Church says, ‘ that thou art its gate.’ For the same reason, finally, is she called, by St. Peter Damian, ‘the heavenly ladder.’ ‘For,’ says the Saint, ‘ by Mary God descended from heaven into the world, that by her men might ascend from earth to heaven.’ St. Antoninus tells us ‘ that this Divine Mother has already, by her assistance and prayers, obtained heaven for us, provided we put no obstacle in the way.’ Hence says the Abbot Guarric, ‘ He who serves Mary, and for whom she intercedes, is as certain of heaven as if he was already there.’ St. John Damascene also says, ‘ that to serve Mary and be her courtier is the greatest honor we can possibly possess ; for to serve the Queen of Heaven is already to reign there, and to live under her commands is more than to govern. ‘On the other hand, he adds, ‘that those who do not serve Mary will not be saved; for those who are deprived of the help of this great Mother are also deprived of that of her Son and of the whole court of heaven.’ ‘May the infinite goodness of our Lord be ever praised,’ says St. Bernard, ‘ for having been pleased to give us Mary as our advocate in heaven, that she being at the same time the Mother of our Judge and a Mother of Mercy, may be able, by her intercession, to conduct to a prosperous issue the great affair of our eternal salvation.’ St. James, a doctor of the Greek Church, says, ‘ that God destined Mary as a bridge of salvation, by using which we might with safety pass over the stormy sea of this world, and reach the happy haven of paradise.’ Therefore St. Bonaventure exclaims, ‘ Give ear, ye nations, and all you who desire heaven, serve, honor Mary, and certainly you will find eternal life.’ Nor should those even who have deserved hell, be in the least doubtful as to obtaining heaven, provided they are faithful in serving this Queen. ‘0, how many sinners,’ says St. Germanus, ‘have found God and have been saved by thy means, 0 Mary!’ It is true -that in this world no one can be certain of his salvation: ‘ Man knoweth not whether he be worthy of love or hatred,’ says the Ecclesiastes. But St. Bonaventure, on the words of King David, ‘ Lord, who shall dwell in Thy tabernacle? and on the preceding quotation, answers, ‘ Sinners, let us follow Mary closely, and casting ourselves at her feet, let us not leave them until she has blessed us; for her blessing will insure our salvation.’ ‘It suffices, 0 Lady,’ says St. Anselm, ‘that thou willest it, and our salvation is certain.’ And St. Antoninus says, ‘that souls protected by Mary, and on which she casts her eyes, are necessarily justified and saved.’ St. Mary Magdalen of Pazzi saw a vessel in the midst of the sea: in it were all the clients of Mary, and this Blessed Mother herself steered it safely into the port. By this the Saint understood, that those who live under the protection of Mary, are secure in the midst of the dangers of this life from the shipwreck of sin, and from eternal damnation; for she guides them safely into the haven of salvation. Let us then enter this blessed ship of the mantle of Mary, and there we can be certain of the kingdom of heaven, for the Church says, ‘ 0 holy Mother of God, all those who will be partakers of eternal happiness dwell in thee, living under thy protection.’
A Cistercian nun, in Toledo, named Mary, being at the point of death, the Divine Mother appeared to her. The nun then said: ‘0 Lady, the favor thou dost me in visiting me, emboldens me to ask thee another favor; it is, that I may die at the same hour in which thou didst expire and enter heaven.’ ‘Yes,’ Mary replied; ‘ I will satisfy thee, thou shalt die at that hour, and thou shalt also hear the songs and praises, with which the blessed accompanied my entrance into heaven: prepare thyself;’ and then disappeared. The nuns, hearing her speaking to herself, thought that she was in delirium; but she related the vision which she had had to them, and the promised favor. She awaited the desired hour; and when she knew, by the striking of the clock, that it had arrived (the writer does not say what hour it was), she said, ‘ Behold the hour announced to me: I already hear the music of the angels: this is the hour in which my Queen ascended to heaven; peace be with you, for I now go to see her.’ With these words she expired. In the same moment her eyes became bright as two stars, and her face became of a beautiful color.
0 Queen of heaven, Mother of holy love since thou art the most amiable of creatures, the most beloved of God, and His greatest lover, be pleased to allow the most miserable sinner living in this world, who, having by thy means been delivered from hell, and without any merit on his part been so benefited by thee, and who is filled with love for thee, to love thee. I would desire, were it in my power, to let all men who know thee not, know how worthy thou art of love, that all might love and honor thee. I would desire to die for the love of thee, in defense of thy virginity, of thy dignity of Mother of God, of thy Immaculate Conception, should this be necessary to uphold these thy great privileges. Ah! my most beloved Mother, accept this my ardent desire, and never allow a servant of thine, who loves thee, to become the enemy of thy God, whom thou lovest so much. Alas! poor me, I was so for a time, when I offended my Lord. But then, 0 Mary, I loved thee but little, and strove but little to be beloved by thee. But now there is nothing that I so much desire after the grace of God as to love, and be beloved by thee. I am not discouraged on account of my past sins, for I know that thou, 0 most benign and gracious Lady, dost not disdain to love even the most wretched sinners who love thee; nay, more, that thou never allowest thyself to be surpassed by any in love. Ah! Queen, most worthy of love, I desire to love thee in heaven. There, at thy feet, I shall better know how worthy thou art of love, how much thou hast done to save me, and thus I shall love thee with greater love, and love thee eternally, without fear of ever ceasing to love thee. 0 Mary, I hope, most certainly, to be saved by thy means. Pray to Jesus for me. Nothing eke is needed; thou hast to save me; thou art my hope. I will therefore always sing, 0 Mary, my hope, thou hast to save me.
The Thirty-First Day – Month of Our Lady