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CHAPTER VIII.

 Et Jesum, benedictum Fructum ventris tui nobis post hoc exilium ostende.

 AND AFTER THIS OUR EXILE SHOW UNTO US THE BLESSED FRUIT OF THY WOMB, JESUS.

 

MARY, OUR SALVATION.

I.

Mary delivers her Clients from Hell.

It is impossible for a client of Mary, who is faithful in honoring and recommending himself to her, to be lost.  To some this proposition may appear, at first sight, exaggerated; but any one to whom this might seem to be the case I would beg to suspend his judgment, and, first of all, read what I have to say on this subject.

            When we say that it is impossible for a client of Mary to be lost, we must not be understood as speaking of those clients who take advange of this devotion that they may sin more freely.  And therefore, those who disapprove of the great praises bestowed on the clemency of this most Blessed Virgin, because it causes the wicked to take advantage of it to sin with greater freedom, do so without foundation, for such presumption people deserve chastisement, and not mercy, for their rash confidence.  It is therefore to be understood of those clients who, with a sincere desire to amend, are faithful in honoring and recommending themselves to the Mother of God.  It is, I say, morally impossible that such as these should be lost.  And I find that Father Crasset (Vιr. Dιv. p. 1, t. 1, q. 7), in his book on devotion towards the Blessed Virgin Mary, says the same thing.  As did also Vega, before him, in his Marian Theology, Mendoza, and other theologians.  And that we may see that they did not speak at random, let us examine what other saints and learned men heave said on this subject; and let no one be surprised if many of these quotations are alike, for I have wished to give them all, in order to show how unanimous the various writers have been on the subject.

            St. Anselm says, "that as it is impossible for one who is not devout to Mary, and consequently not protected by her, to be saved, so is it impossible for one who recommends himself to her, and consequently is beloved by her, to be lost" ("Sicut, O Beatissima! omnis a te aversus et a te despectus necesse est ut intereat, ita omnis ad te converses et a te respectus impossibile est ut pereat"—Orat. 51).  St. Antoninus repeats the same thing and almost in the same words: "As it is impossible for those from whom Mary turns her eyes of mercy to be saved, so also are those towards whom she turns these eyes, and for whom she prays, necessarily saved and glorified" ("Sicut impossibile est, quod illi, a quibus Maria oculos suae misericordiae avertit, salventur; ita necessarium quod hi, ad quos convertit oculos suos, pro eis advocans, justificentur et glorificentur"—P. 4, tit. 15, c. 14, #7).  Consequently the clients of Mary will necessarily be saved.

            Let us pay particular attention to the first part of the opinions of these saints, and let those tremble who make but little account of their devotion to this divine Mother, or from carelessness give it up.  They say that the salvation of those who are not protected by Mary is impossible.  Mary others declare the same thing; such as Blessed Albert, who says, that "all those who are not thy servants, O Mary, will perish" ("Gens quae non servierit tibi peribit"—Bibl. Mar. Is. n. 20).  And St. Bonaventure: "He who neglects the service of the blessed Virgin will die in his sins" ("Qui neglexerit illam, morietur in peccatis suis").  Again, "He who does not invoke thee, O Lady, will enver get to heaven" ("Qui te non invocat in hac vita, non perveniet ad regnum Dei").  And, on the 99th Psalm the saint even says, "that not only those from whom Mary turns her face will not be saved, but that there will be no hope of their salvation" ("A quibus averteris vultum tuum non erit spes ad salutem"—Psalt. B. V. ps. 116, 86, 99).  Before him, St. Ignatius the martyr said, "that it was impossible for any sinner to be saved without the help and favor of the most Blessed Virgin; because those who are not saved by the justice of God are with infinite mercy saved by the intercession of Mary" ("Impossibile est aliquem salvari peccatorem, nisi per tuum, O Virgo! auxilium et favorem; quia, quos non salvat Dei justitia, salvat sua intercessione Mariae misericordia infinita"—Ap. Lyr. Tris. Mar. l. ii. m. 45).  Some doubt as to whether this passage is truly of St. Ignatius, but, at all events, as Father Crasset remarks, it was adopted by St. John Chrysostom.  It is also repeated by the Abbot of Celles (Cont. de V. M. in prol.).  And in the same sense does the Church apply to Mary the words of Proverbs, All that hate me, love death ("Omnes qui me oderunt, diligent mortem"—Prov. viii. 36): that is, all who do not love me, love eternal death.  For, as Richard of St. Laurence says on the words of the same book, She is like the merchant's ship ("Facta est quasi navis institoris"—Prov. xxxi. 14), "All those who are out of this ship will be lost in the sea of the world" ("In mare mundi submergentur omnes illi, quos non suscepit Navis ista"—De Laud. V. l. 11).  Even the heretical Oecolampadius looked upon little devotion to the Mother of God as a certain mark of reprobation: and therefore he said, "Far be it from me ever to turn from Mary" ("Nunquam de me audietur, quasi averser Mariam, erga quam minus bene affici, reprobatae mentis certum existimem indicium"—S. de Laud. D. in M.).   

            But, on the other hand, Mary says iin the words applied to her by the Church, He that harkeneth to me shall not be confounded (Qui audit me non confundetur"—Ecclus. xxiv. 30); that is to say, he that listeneth to what I say shall not be lost.  On which St. Bonaventur says, "O Lady, he who honors thee will be far from damnation" ("Qui praestat in obsequio tuo, procul fiat a perditione"—Psalt. B. V. ps. 118).  And this will still be the case, St. Hilary observes, even should the person during the past time have greatly offended God.  "However great a sinner he may have been," says the saint, "if he shows himself devout to Mary, he will never perish" ("Quantumcumque quis fuerit peccator, si Mariae devotus exstiterit, nunquam in aeternum peribit).

            For this reason the devil does his utmost with sinners in order that, after they have lost the grace of God, they may also lose devotion to Mary.  When Sarah saw Isaac in company with Ismael, who was teaching him evil habits, she desired that Abraham would drive away both Ismael and his mother Agar: Cast out this bond-woman and her son ("Ejice ancillam hanc et filium ejus"—Gen. xxi. 10).  She was not satisfied with the son being turned out of the house, but insisted on the mother going also, thinking that otherwise the son, coming to see his mother, would continue to frequent the house.  The devil, also, is not satisfied with a soul turning out Jesus Christ, unless it also turns out his Mother: Cast out this bond-woman and her son.  Otherwise he fears that the Mother will again, by her intercession, bring back her Son.  "And his fears are well grounded," says the learned Paciucchelli: "for he who is faithful in serving the Mother of God will soon receive God himself by the means of Mary" ("Qui Dei Genitrici perseveranter obsequitur, non multa mora, et Deum ipsum in se recipient"—In Salv. Reg. exc. 5).

            St. Ephrem, then, was right in calling devotion to our Blessed Lady "a charter of liberty" ("Charta libertatis"—Or. de Laud.), our safeguard from hell ("Patrocinatrix damnatorum").  The sasme saint also calls the divine Mother "the only hope of those who are in despair."  That which St. Bernard says is certain true, "that neither the power nor the will to save us can be wanting to Mary" ("Nec facultas ei deesse poterit, nec voluntas"—In Assumpt. s. 1); the power cannot be wanting, for it is impossible that her prayers should not be heard; as St. Antoninus says, "It is impossible that a Mother of God should pray in vain" ("Impossibile erat Deiparam non exaudiri"—P. 4, tit. 15, c. 17); and St. Bernard says the same thing: "that her requests can never be refused, but that she obtains whatever she wills" ("Quod quaerit, invenit; et frustrari non potest"—De Aquaed.).  The will to save us cannot be wanting, for Mary is our Mother, and desires our salvation more than we can desire it ourselves.  Since, then, this is the case, how can it be possible for a client of Mary to be lost?  He may be a sinner, but if he recommends himself to this good Mother with perseverance and purpose of amendment, she will undertake to obtain him light to abandon his wicked state, sorrow for his sins, perseverance in virtue, and, finally, a good death.  And what mother would not deliver her son from death if it only depended on her asking the favor to obtain it from the judge?  And can we think that Mary, who loves her clients with a mother's most tender love, will not deliver her child from eternal death when she can do it so easily?      

            Ah! devout reader, let us thank our Lord if we see that he has given us affection for the Queen of Heaven, and confidence in her: "for," says St. John Damascene, "God only grants this favor to those whom he is determined to save."  The following are the beautiful words of the saint, and with which he rekindles his own and our hope: "O mother of God, if I place my confidence in thee, I shall be saved.  If I am under thy protection, I have nothing to fear, for the fact of being thy client is the possession of a certainty of salvation, and which God only grants to those whom he intends to save" (Crasset, Vιr. Dιv. p. 1, tr. 1, q. 6).  Therefore, Erasmus salutes the Blessed Virgin in these words: "Hail! O terror of hell; O hope of Christians; confidence in thee is a pledge of salvation" ("Salve, inferorum Formido, Christianorum Spes! quo major est tua praecellentia, hoc certior est nostra fiducia"—Paean ad Virg.).             

            O, how enraged is the devil when he sees a soul persevering in devotion to the divine Mother!  We read in the Life of Blessed Alphonsus Rodriguez, who was very devout to Mary, that once when in prayer, finding himself much troubled by the devil with impure thoughts, this enemy said, "Give up thy devotion to Mary, and I will cease to tempt thee."

            We read in Blosius that God revealed to St. Catherine of Sienna, "that in his goodness, and on account of the Incarnate Word, he had granted to Mary, who was his Mother, that no one, not even a sinner, who devoutly recommends himself to her should ever become the prey of hell" ("Mariae, Filii mei Genitrici, a bonitate mea concessum est, propter incarnate Verbi reverentiam, ut quicumque etiam peccator, ad eam cum devota veneratione recurrit, nullo modo diripiatur a daemone infernali"—Conc. An. fid. p. 2, c. 1).  Even the Prophet David prayed to be delivered from hell, for the sake of the love he bore to Mary.  I have loved, O Lord, the beauty of Thy house . . . take not away my soul, O God, with the wicked" ("Domine, dilexi decorum Domus tuae . . .: ne perdas cum impiis, Deus, animam meam"—Ps. xxv. 8).  He says of "Thy house," for Mary was the house that God himself constructed for his dwelling on earth, and in which he could find repose on becoming man, as it is written in the Book of Proverbs, Wisdom hath built herself a house ("Sapientia aedificavit sibi Domum"—Prov. ix. 1).

            "No," says St. Ignatius the martyr; "he who is devout to the Virgin Mother will certainly never be lost" ("Numquam peribit, qui Genitrici Virgini devotus, sedulusque exstiterit"—Lohner, Bibl. t. 70, #3).  And St. Bonaventure confirms this, saying, "Thy lovers, O Lady, enjoy peace in this life, and will never see eternal death" ("Pax multa diligentibus te, Domina: anima eorum non videbit mortem in aeternum"—Psalt. B. V. ps. 67).  The devout Blosius assures us, "that the case never did and never will occur in which a humble and attentive servant of Mary was lost" ("Fieri non potest, ut pereat, qui Mariae sedulous et humilis cultor fuerit"—Par. An. fid. p. 1, c. 18).

            "O, how many would have remained obstinate in sin, and have been eternally lost," says Thomas ΰ Kempis, "if Mary had not interposed with her Son, that he might show them mercy!" ("Quot fuissent aeternaliter condemnati, vel in desperatione permansissent obstinate, nisi benignissima Virgo Maria pro eis interpellasset ad Filium!"—Ad Nov. s. 23).  It is also the opinion of many theologians, and of St. Thomas (Suppl. q. 71, a. 5) in particular, that for many who have died in mortal sin the divine Mother has obtained from God a suspension of their sentence and a return to life to do penance.

            Trustworthy authors give us many instances in which this has occurred (In view of these examples and of those that we read farther on, there arises the twofold question, De jure et de factor.  Question de jure: Can God hiner, and can the Blessed Virgin obtain by her prayers, that condemnation to hell be not put inexecution?  With these theologians, and notably with St. Alphonsus, there is no one who could not answer, Yes.  Question de facto: Has it happened, thanks to the prayers of the Blessed Virgin, that sinners condemned to hell have not been plunged into it, and that by a good confession they have effaced the sentence of their condemnation?  Yes; for the facts that I cite, says St. Alphonsus, are affirmed by trustworthy authors as real and public facts.—ED).  Amongst others, Flodoardus, who lived about the ninth century, relates in his Chronicles, that a certain deacon named Adelman, who was apparently dead, and was being buried, returned to life, and said "that he had seen hell, to which he was condemned, but that, at the prayers of the Blessed Virgin, he had been sent back to this world to do penance" (Chron. Eccl. Rem. Anno 934)

            Surius relates a similar case (4 Dec. S. Ann. l. 1, c. 35) of a Roman citizen named Andrew, who had died impenitent, and for whom Mary obtained that he should come to life again, that he might be pardoned.  Pelbertus (Stellar. B. V. l. 12, p. 2, a. 1) says, "that in his time, when the Emperor Sigismund was crossing the Alps with his army, a voice was heard coming from a skeleton, asking for a confessor, and declaring that the Mother of God, for whom he had tender devotion when a soldier, had obtained that he should thus live until he had been able to make his confession; and, having done so, the soul departed" (This is undoubtedly a very strange fact.  However, who will dispute it, either by limiting the power of God or the influence of the Blessed Virgin, or by refusing to believe the authority of a writer such as Father Pelbart, who, in a book dedicated to Pope Sixtus IV., relates in detail this prodigy as having happened at his time in the presence of an illustrious emperor and the members of his court, several of whom, as they were yet living, could have convicted him of falsehood, if he had not told the truth!  This reflection is made by Father Crasset: it may also be applied to other examples not less wonderful.  Moreover, the miracle of which there is question here is affirmed by a great number of most respectable authors; among them Lyraeus is distinguished by his most circumstantial narrative in his Trisagion Marianum, l. 1, son. 31.—ED).

            These, and other such examples, however, must not encourage rash persons to live in sin, with the hope that Mary will deliver them from hell even should they die in this state; for as it would be the height of folly for any one to throw himself into a well with a hope that Mary would preserve his life because she has occasionally preserved some under similar circumstances, still greater folly would it be to run the risk of dying in sin, in the hope that the Blessed Virgin would save him from hell.  But these examples serve to revive our confidence with the reflection, that if the divine Mother has been able to deliver from hell even some who have died in sin, how much more will she be able to preserve from a similar lot those who, during life, have recourse to her with a purpose of amendment, and who serve her faithfully.

            "What, then, will be our lot, O tender Mother," let us ask with St. Germanus, "who are sinners, but desire to change, and have recourse to thee, who art the life of Christian?" ("Quid autem de nobis fiet, O Sanctissima Virgo, O Vita Christianorum!"—De Zona Virg.)  As Anselm says, "that he will not be lost from whom thou once prayest" ("Aeternum vae non sentiet ille, pro quo semel oraverit Maria").  O, pray, then, for us, and we shall be preserved from hell.  "Who," exclaims Richard of St. Victor, "will presume to say, if I have thee to defend me, O Mother of mercy, that the Judge will be unfavorable to me when I am presented before the divine tribunal!" ("Si accedam ad judicium, et Matrem misericordiae in causa habuero mecum, quis Judicem denegabit propitium?"—In Cant. c. 39)  Blessed Henry Suso used to say, "that he had placed his soul in the hands of Mary, and that if he was condemned, the sentence must pass through her hands" ("Si Judex servum suum damnare voluerit, per manus tuas piissimas noc taciat"—Hor. Sap. aet. l. 1, c. 16); being confident that if it was in such hands, this tender Virgin would certainly prevent its execution.  The same do I hope for myself, O my own most holy Queen; and therefore I will always repeat the words of St. Bonaventure: "In thee, O Lady, have I placed all my hopes; and thus I confidently trust that I shall never be lost, but praise and love thee forever in heaven" ("In te, Domina, speravi; non confundar in aeternum"—Psalt. B. V. ps. 30).     

 

EXAMPLE.

In the year 1604, in a city of Belgium, there were two young men, students, but who, instead of attending to their studies, gave themselves up to a life of debauchery.  One night they were both in the house with an evil companion, when one of them, named Richard, returned home, leaving his companion there.  After he had reached home, and had begun to undress, he remembered he had not that day said some "Hail Marys," that he was in the habit of reciting.  Feeling very sleepy he was loth to say them; he did himself violence, and repeated them, though without devotion, and half asleep.  He then lay down, and had fallen into a sound slumber, when he was suddenly roused by a violent knocking at the door, and without its opening he saw his companion, deformed and hideous, standing before him.  "Who art thou?" he cried out.  "What! Dost thou not know me?"  "Ah, yes! but how thou art changed; thou seemest to me a devil."  "Truly," he exclaimed, "poor unfortunate creature that I am, I am damned; and how?  When I was leaving that wicked house, a devil came and strangled me; my body is in the street, and my soul in hell; and thou must know," added he, "that the same fate awaited thee, had not the Blessed Virgin preserved thee in consideration of that little act of homage of the 'Hail Mary.'  Fortunate art thou if only thou knowest how to take advantage of this warning sent thee by the Mother of God."  With these words he opened his mantle, and, showing the flames and serpents by which he was tormented, he disappeared.  Richard immediately burst into sobs and tears, and, casting himself prostrate on the ground, he returned thanks to Mary, his protectress; and, whilst thinking how to change his life, he heard the bell of the Franciscan monastery ringing for matins.  "Ah! it is there," says he, "that God calls me to do penance."  He went immediately to the convent, and implored the Fathers to admit him.  But they were hardly willing to do so, knowing his wicked life; but he, sobbing bitterly, told all that had taken place; and two Fathers being sent to the street, and having found the strangled body, which was as black as a coal, they admitted him.  From that time forward Richard led a most exemplary life, and at last went to preach the Gospel in the Indies, and thence to Japan, where he had the happiness of giving his life for Jesus Christ, being burnt alive for the faith" (Lyraeus, Tris. Mar. l. 3).  (In the church of Ham-sur-Heure, in Hainault, there is a picture of the martyrdom of F. Richard of St. Anne with the following inscription: "The Blessed F. Richard of St. Anne, born at Ham-sur-Heure in 1589, made his religious profession as a Recollect at Nivelles, April 13, 1605, and having been ordained Priest in the Philippine Isles, was martyred at Nagasaki, September 10, 1622, being put to death by a slow fire."  He was beatified in 1867.  (See Annals of the Franciscan Missions, May, 1867.—ED.)).  

 

Prayer

O Mary, my most dear Mother, in what an abyss of evils should I not now be, if thou hadst not so many times delivered me with thy compassionate hand!  How many years ago should I not have been in hell, hadst thou not saved me by thy powerful prayers!  My grievous sins already drove me there; divine justice had already condemned me; the devils already longed to execute the sentence; and thou didst fly to my aid, and save me without being even called or asked.  And what return can I make to thee, O my beloved protectress, for so many favors and for such love?  Thou also didst overcome the hardness of my heart, and didst draw me to thy love and to confidence in thee.  And into how many other evils should I not have fallen, if with thy compassionate hand thou hadst not so often helped me in the dangers into which I was on the point of falling!  Continue, O my hope, to preserve me from bell, and from the sins into which I may still fall.  Never allow me to have this misfortune—to curse thee in hell.  My beloved Lady, I love thee.  Can thy goodness ever endure to see a servant of thine that loves thee lost?  Ah! then, obtain that I may never more be ungrateful to thee and to my God, who for the love of thee has granted me so many graces.  O Mary, tell me, shall I be lost?  Yes, if I abandone thee.  But is this possible?  Can I ever forget the love thou has borne me?  Thou, after God, art the love of my soul.  I can no longer trust myself to live without loving thee.  O most beautiful, most holy, most amiable, sweetest creature in the world, I rejoice in thy happiness.  I love thee, and I hope always to love thee both in time and in eternity.  Amen.

 

 

II.

 Mary succors her Clients in Purgatory.

Fortunate, indeed, are the clients of this most compassionate Mother; for not only does she succor them in this world, but even in purgatory they are helped and comforted by her protection.  And as in that prison poor souls are in the greatest need of assistance, since in their torments they cannot help themselves, our Mother of mercy does proportionately more to relieve them.  St. Bernardine of Sienna says, "that in that prison, where souls that are spouses of Jesus Christ are detained, Mary has a certain dominion and plenitutde of power, not only to relieve them, but even to deliver them from their pains" ("Beata Virgo in regno purgatorii dominium tenet"—Pro Fest. V. M. s. 3, a. 2, c. 3).

            And, first, with respect to the relief she gives.  The same saint, in applying those words of Ecclesiasticus, I have walked in the waves of the sea ("In fluctibus maris ambulavi"—Ecclus. xxiv. 8), adds "that it is by visiting and relieving the necessities and torments of her clients, who are her children" ("Scilicet, visitans et subveniens necessitatibus et tormentis devotorum meorum: quia filii ejus sunt").  He then says "that the pains of purgatory are called waves, because they are transitory, unlike the pains of hell, which never end; and they are called waves of the sea, because they are so bitter.  The clients of Mary, thus suffering, are often visited and relieved by her."  "See, therefore," says Novarinus, "of what consequence it is to be the servant of this good Lady, for her servants she never forgets when they are suffering in those flames: for though Mary relieves all suffering souls in purgatory, yet she always obtains far greater indulgence and relief for her own clients" ("Vides quantum referat hic Virginem colore, cum cultorum suorum, in purgatorii flammis existentium, non obliviscatur; et licet omnibus opem ac refrigerium ferat, id tamen praecipue erga suos praestat"—Umbra Virg. exc. 86)

            The divine Mother once addressed these words to St. Bridget: "I am the Mother of all souls in purgatory; for all the pains that they have deserved for their sins are every hour, as long as they remain there, in some way mitigated by my prayers" ("Sum Mater omnium qui sunt in purgatorio; quia omnes poenae, quae debenture purgandis pro peccatis suis, in qualibet hora propter preces meas quodammodo mitigantur"—Rev. l. 4, c. 138).  The compassionate Mother even condescends to go herself occasionally into that holy prison, to visit and comfort her suffering children.  St. Bonaventure, applying to Mary the words of Ecclesiasticus, I have penetrated into the boom of the deep, says, "the deep, that is, purgatory, to relieve by my presence the holy souls detained there" ("Abyssi, id est, purgatorii, adjuvans illas sanctas animas").  "O, how courteous and benign is the most Blessed Virgin," says St. Vincent Ferrer, "to those who suffer in purgatory! through her they constantly receive comfort and refreshment" ("Maria bona animabus purgatorii; quia per eam habent suffragium"—In Nat. B. V. s. 2).     

            And what other consolation have they in their sufferings than Mary, and the relief they receive from this Mother of mercy?  St. Bridget once heard Jesus say to his holy Mother, "Thou art my Mother, the Mother of mercy, and the consolation of souls in purgatory" ("Tu es Mater mea, tu Mater misericordiae, tu Consolatio eorum qui sunt in purgatorio").    The Blessed Virgin herself told the saint, "that as a poor sick person, bedridden, suffering, and abandoned, is relieved by words of encouragement and consolation, so are the souls in purgatory consoled and relieved by only hearing her name" ("Qui in purgatorio sunt, gaudent, audito nominee meo, tanquam aeger in lecto jacens, si audierit ab aliquibus verbum solatii"—Rev. l. 1, c. 16, 9).  The mere name of Mary, that name of hope and salvation, and which is frequently invoked by her beloved children in their prison, is a great source of comfort to them; "for," says Novarinus, "that loving Mother no sooner hears them call upon her than she offers her prayers to God, and these prayers, as a heavenly dew, immediately refresh them in their burning pains" ("Virginis nomen illarum poenarum refrigerium est.  Addit Virgo preces, quibus veluti supero quodam rore, cruciatus illi magni mitigantur"—Umbra Virg. exc. 86).    

            Mary not only consoles and relieves her clients in purgatory, but she delivers them by her prayers.  Gerson says, "that on the day of her assumption into heaven purgatory was entirely emptied" (Super Magn. tr. 4).  Novarinus confirms this, saying, "that it is maintained by many grave authors, that when Mary was going to heaven, she asked as a favor from her Son to take all the souls then in purgatory with her" ("Ferunt quipped bonae notae auctores Virginem, in coelum ituram; a Filio hoc petiisse, ut omnes animas, quae in purgatorio detinebantur, secum ad gloriam ducere posset"—Loco supra cit.).  "And from that time forward," says Gerson, "Mary had the privilege of delivering her servants" ("Ab ils tormentis liberat Beata Virgo maxime devotos suos"—Pro Fest. V. M. s. 3, a. 2, c. 3).  St. Bernardine of Sienna also positively asserts "that the Blessed Virgin has the power of delivering souls from purgatory, but particularly those of her clients, by her prayers, and by applying her merits for them."  Novarinus says, "that by the merits of Mary, not only are the pains of those souls lessened, but the time of their sufferings is shortened through her intercession" ("Crediderim omnibus qui in illis flammis purgantur, Mariae meritis, non solum leviores fuisse redditas illas poenas, sed et breviores, adeo ut cruciatuum tempus contractum Virginis ope illis sit"—Loco cit.).  She has only to ask, and all is done.

            St. Peter Damian relates, "that a lady named Marozia appeared after her death to her godmother, and told her that on the feast of the Assumption she, together with a multitude exceeding the population of Rome, had been delivered by Mary from purgatory" (Opusc. 34, c. 3).  Denis the Carthusian says, "that on the feasts of the Nativity and Resurrection of Jesus Christ Mary does the same thing; for on those days, accompanied by choirs of angels, she visits that prison and delivers very many souls from their torments" ("Beatissima Virgo singulis annis, in festivitate Nativitatis Christi, ad purgatorii loca cum multitudine angelorum descendit, et multas inde animas eripit; etiam in nocte Dominicae Resurrectionis, solet descendere ad purgatorium, pro eductione animarum"—In Assumpt. s. 2).  Novarinus says, "that he can easily believe that on all her own solemn feasts she delivers many souls from their sufferings" ("Facile autem crediderim, in quocumque Virginis solemni festo plures animas ab illis poenis eximi"—Loco cit.).

            The promise made by our Blessed Lady to Pope John XXII is well known.  She appeared to him, and ordered him to make known to all that on the Saturday after their death she would deliver from purgatory all who wore the Carmelite scapular.  This, as Father Crasset (Vιr. Dιv. p. 2, tr. 6, pr. 4) relates, was proclaimed by the same Pontiff in a Bull, which was afterwards confirmed by Alexander V., Clement VII, Pius V., Gregory XIII., and PaulV.; and this latter, in a Bull of the year 1613, says, "that Christian people may piously believe that the Blessed Virgin will help them after death by her continual intercession, her merits, and special protection; and that on Saturdays, the day consecrated by the Church to her, she will in a more particular manner help the souls of the brethren of the Confraternity of our Blessed Lady of Mount Carmel who have departed this life in a state of grace, provided they have worn the habit, observed the chastity of their state, and recited her office: or, if they could not recit it, if they have observed the fasts of the Church, and abstained from meat on all Wednesdays except Christmas-day."  In the solemn office of our Blessed Lady of Mount Carmel we read, that it is piously belileved that the Blessed Virgin comforts the brethren of this confraternity in purgatory with maternal love, and that by her intercession she soon delivers themn, and takes them to heaven ("Materno plane affectu, dum igne purgatorii expiantur, solari ac in coelestem patriam obtentu suo quantocius pie creditor efferre"—Die 16 jul. lect. 6).  

            Why should we not hope for the same graces and favors, if we are devout clients of this good Mother?  And if we serve her with more special love, why can we not hope to go to heaven immediately after death, without even going to purgatory?  This really took place in the case of Blessed Godfrey, to whom Mary sent the following message, by Brother Abondo:  "Tell Brother Godfrey to endeavor to advance rapidly in virtue, and thus he will belong to my Son and to me: and when his soul departs, I will not allow it to go to purgatory, but will take it and offer it to my Son" (Men. Cist. 2 Oct.).

            Finally, if we wish to relieve the holy souls in purgatory, let us do so by imploring the aid of our Blessed Lady in all our prayers, and especially by offering the Rosary for them, as that relieves them greatly, as we shall see in the following example.

 

EXAMPLE

A noble lady, who had an only son, was informed one day that he had been killed.  The murderer had by chance taken refuge in her own palace.  She then began to reflect that Mary had forgiven the executioners of her Son; and therefore determined that she also would pardon that criminal for the love of the sorrowful Mary.  She not only did this, but also provided him with a horse, money and clothes, that he might escape.  Her son then appeared to her, and told her that he was saved, and that for her generous conduct to his enemy the divine Mother had delivered him from purgatory, in which otherwise he would have had to suffer for a long time, and that he was then going to Paradise (Tausch. De Matre Dol. 1, 2, c. 8)

 

Prayer

O Queen of heaven and earth!  O Mother of the Lord of the world!  O Mary, of all creatures the greatest, the most exalted and the most amiable! it is true that there are many in this world who neither know thee nor love thee; but in heaven there are many millions of angels and blessed spirits, who love and praise thee continually.  Even in this world, how many happy souls are there not who burn with thy love, and live enamoured of thy goodness!  O, that I also could love thee, O Lady worthy of all love! O that I could always remember to serve thee, to praise thee, to honor thee, and engage all to love thee!  Thou hast attracted the love of God, whom, by thy beauty, thou hast, so to say, torn from the borom of his Eternal Father, and engaged to become man, and be thy Son.  And shall I, a poor worm of the earth, not be enamoured of thee?  No, my most sweet Mother, I also will love thee much, and will do all that I can to make others love thee also.  Accept, then, O Mary, the desire that I have to love thee, and help me to execute it.  I know how favorably thy lovers are looked upon by God.  He, after his own glory, desires nothing more than thine, and to see thee honored and loved by all.  From thee, O Lady, do I expect all; through thee the remission of my sins, through thee perseverance.  Thou must assist me at death, and deliver me from purgatory; and finally, thou must lead me to heavn.  All this thy lovers hope from thee, and are not deceived.  I, who love thee with so much affection, and above all other things, after God, hope for the same favors.

 

 

III.

 Mary leads her Servants to Heaven.

Oh, 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 ("In his omnibus requiem quaesivi, et in haereditate Domini morabor"—Ecclus. xxiv. 11).  Cardinal Hugo explains these words, and says, "blessed is he in whose house the most Holy Virgin finds repose" ("Beatus, in cujus domo Beata Virgo requiem invenerit").  Mary, out of the love she bears to all, endeavors to excite in all devotion towards herself; many either do not admit it into their souls, or do not preserve it.  But blessed is he that receives and preserves it.  And I shall abide in the inheritance of the Lord.  "That is," adds the Cardinal, "Blessed is he whose interior offers the Blessed Virgin Mary a place of repose."  Devotion towards the Blessed Virgin remains in all who are the inheritance of our Lord; that is to say, in all who will praise him eternally in heaven.  Mary continues, speaking in the words of Ecclesiasticus:  He that made me rested in my tabernacle, and He said to me:  Let thy dwelling be in Jacob, and thy inheritance in Israel, and take root in My elect ("Qui creavit me, requievit in tabernaculo meo, et dixit mihi: In Jacob inhabita, et in Israel haereditare, et in electis meis mitte radices").  That is, my Creator has condescended to come and repose in my bosom, and his will is, that I should dwell in the hearts of all the elect (of whom Jacob was a figure, and who are the inheritance of the Blessed Virgin), and that devotion and confidence in me should take root in all the predestined.     

            O, how many blessed souls are now in heaven who would never have been there had not Mary, by her powerful intercession, led them thither:  I made that in the heavens there should rise light that never faileth ("Ego feci in coelis ut oriretur lumen indeficiens"—Ecclus. xxiv. 6).  Cardinal Hugo, in his commentary on the above text of Ecclesiasticus, says, in the name of Mary, "I have caused as many lights to shine eternally in heaven as I have clients;" and then he adds, "There are many saints in heaven through her intercession, who would never have been there but through her" ("Multi Sancti sunt in coelis intercessione ejus, qui nunquam ibi fuissent nisi per eam").  

            St. Bonaventure says, "that the gates of heaven will open to all who confide in the protection of Mary" ("Qui speraverit in illa, porta paradise reserabitur ei"—Psalt. B. V. ps. 90).  Hence, St. Ephrem calls devotion to the divine Mother "the unlocking of the gates of the heavenly Jerusalem" ("Reseramentum coelesti Jerusalem"—De Laud. Dei gen.).  The devout Blosius also, addressing our Blessed Lady, says, "To thee, O Lady, are committed the keys and the treasures of the kingdom of heaven" ("Tibi regni coelestis claves thesaurique commissi sunt"—Par. An. fid. p. 2, c. 4).  And therefore we ought constantly to pray to her, in the words of St. Ambrose, "Open to us, O Mary, the gates of paradise, since thou hast its keys" ("Aperi nobis, O Virgo, coelum, cujus claves habes").  Nay more, the Church says, that "thou art its gate" ("Janua coeli")

           For the same reason, again, is this great Mother called by the Church the Star of the Sea, "Hail, Star of the Sea!"  "For," says the angelical St. Thomas, "as sailors are guided by a star to the port, so are Christians guided to heaven by Mary" ("Stella maris, quia, sicut per stellam maris navigantes diriguntur ad portum, ita Christiani diriguntur per Mariam ad gloriam"—Exp. In Sal. Ang.).

            For the same reason, finally, is she called by St. Fulgentius, "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" ("Scala coelestis, quia per ipsam Deus descendit ad terras, ut per ipsam hominess mereantur ascendere ad coelos"—In Annunt. s. 1).  "And thou, O Lady," says St. Athanasius, "wast filled with grace, that thou mightest be the way of our salvation, and the means of ascent to the heavenly kingdom" ("Ave, gratia Plena, quod facta sis nobis salutis Via, Ascensusque ad superos"—In Annunt. s. 1)

            St. Bernard calls our Blessed Lady "the heavenly chariot" ("Vehiculum ad coelum"—De Aquaed.).  And St. John Geometra salutes her, saying, "Hail, resplendent car!" ("Salve clarissime Currus"—In V. Deip. h. 1).  signifying that she is the car in which her clients mount to heaven.  "Blessed are they who know thee, O Mother of God," says St. Bonaventure; "for the knowledge of thee is the high road to everlasting life, and the publication of thy virtues is the way of eternal salvation" ("Scire et cognoscere te, est radix immortalitatis; et enarrare virtutes tuas, est via salutis"—Psalt. B. V. ps. 85)

            Denis the Carthusian asks, "Who is there that is saved? who is there that reigns in heaven?"  And he answers, "They are certainly saved and reign in heaven for whom this Queen of mercy intercedes" ("Quis salvatur? quis regnat in coelo?  Illi sane pro quibus Regina misericordiae interpellat"—Paciucch. Sup. Salve Reg. exc. 1).  And this Mary herself confirms in the book of Proverbs, By me kings reign ("Per me reges regnant"—Prov. viii. 15); through my intercession souls reign, first in this mortal life by ruling their passions, and so come to reign eternally in heaven, where, says St. Augustine, "all are kings" ("Quot cives, tot reges").  "Mary, in fine," says Richard of St. Laurence, "is the mistress of heaven; for there she commands as she wills, and admits whom she wills."  And applying to her the words of Ecclesiasticus, And my power was in Jerusalem ("In Jerusalem potestas mea"—Ecclus. xxiv. 15), he makes her say, "I command what I will, and introduce whom I will" ("Imperandi scilicet, quod volo, et, quos volo, introducendi"—De Laud. Virg. l. 4, c. 4).  Our Blessed Lady, being Mother of the Lord of heaven, it is reasonable that she also should be sovereign Lady of that kingdom, according to Rupert, who says, "that by right she possesses the whole kingdom of her Son" ("Totum jure possidens Filii regnum"—In Cant. l. 3).

            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" ("Coeleste nobis regnum, suo interventu, auxiliis, et precibus, impetravit"—Paciucch. Sup. Salve Reg. exc. 1).  Hence, says the Abbot Guerric, "he who serves Mary, and for whom she intercedes, is as certain of heaven as if he was already there" ("Qui Virgini famulatur, ita securus est de paradise, ac si esset in paradise").  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 live under her commands is more than to govern" ("Summus honor, servire Mariae, et de ejus esse familia; eternim ei servire, regnare est; et ejus agi fraenis, summa libertas").  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" ("Gens quae non servierit illi, peribit; gentes destitutae tantae Matris auxilio, destituuntur auxilio Filii et totius curiae coelestis"—De Laud. B. M. l. 4)

            "May the infinite goodness of our Lord be ever praised," says St. Bernard, for having been pleased to given 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" ("Advocatam praemisit peregrination nostra; quae, tamquam Judicis Mater et Mater misericordiae, suppliciter et efficaciter salutis nostrae negotia pertractabit"—In Assumpt. s. 1).  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 paradies" ("Eam tu Pontem fecisti, quo a mundi fluctibus trajicientes, ad tranquillum portum tuum perveniamus"—Or. in Nat. Dei gen.).  Therefore St. Bonaventur exclaims, "Give ear, O ye nations; and all you who desire heaven, serve, honor Mary, and certainly you will find eternal life" ("Audite, omnes gentes; qui ingredi cupitis regnum Dei, Virginem Mariam honorate, et invenietis vitam et salutem perpetuam"—Psalt. B. V. ps. 48).

            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.  "O, how many sinners," says St. Germanus, "have found God and have been saved by thy means, O Mary!" ("Peccatores per te Deum exquisierunt, et salvi facti sunt"—In Dorm. V. M. s. 2).  Richard of St. Laurence remarks, that St. John in the Apocalypse says that Mary was crowned with stars: And on her head a crown of twelve stars ("Et in capite ejus corona stellarum duodecim"—Apoc. xii. 1).  On the other hand, in the sacred Canticles, she is said to be crowned with wild beasts, lions, and leopards: Come from libanus, my spouse, come from Libanus, come; thou shalt be crowned . . . from the dens of the lions, from the mountains of the leopards" ("Coronaberis . . . de montibus pardorum"—Cant. iv. 8).   How is this?  He answers, that "these wild beasts are sinners, who by the favor and intercession of Mary have become stars of paradise, better adapted to the head of this Queen of mercy than all the material stars of heaven" ("Et quid est hoc, nisi quod ferae, per gratiam et orations Mariae, fiunt stellae, ut convenient capiti tantae Reginae?"—De Laud. B. M. l. 3)

            We read in the life of the servant of God, Sister Seraphina of Capri, that once during the novena of the Assumption of Mary she asked our Blessed Lady for the conversion of a thousand sinners, but afterwards thought that she had asked too much; and then the Blessed Virgin appeared to her, and corrected her for her ungrounded anxiety, saying, "Why dost thou fear?  Is it that I am not sufficiently powerful to obtain from my Son the conversion of a thousand sinners?  See, I have already obtained the favor."  With these words, she took her in spirit to heaven, and there showed her innumerable souls which had deserved hell, but had been saved through her intercession, and were already enjoying eternal happiness.

            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 Ecclesiastes ("Nescit homo, utrum amore an odio dignus sit; sed omnia in futurum servantur incerta"—Eccles. ix. 1).  But St. Bonaventure, on the words of King David, Lord, who shall dwell in Thy tabernacle? ("Domine, quis habitabit in tabernaculo tuo?"—Ps. xiv. 1) 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" ("Amplectamur Mariae vestigial peccatores, et ejus beatis pedibus provolvamur; teneamus eam fortiter, nee dimittamus, donec ab ea meruimus benedici"—Psalt. B. V. ps. 14).

            "It suffices, O Lady," says T. Anselm, "that thou willest it, and our salvation is certain" ("Tantummodo veils salutem nostram, et vere nequaquam salvi esse non poterimus"—De Excell. Virg. c. 6).  And St. Antoninus says that "souls protected by Mary, and on which she casts her eyes, are necessarily justified and saved" ("Necessarium est quod hi, ad quos convertit oculos suos, justificentur et glorificentur"—P. 4, tit. 15, c. 17, #7).                  

            "With reason, therefore," observes St. Ildephonsus, "did the most Holy Virgin predict that all generations would call her blessed" ("Beatam me dicent omnes generations"); "for all the elect obtain eternal salvation through the means of Mary" ("Beata jure dicitur, quia omnes ex ea beatificantur"—De Assumpt. s. 3).  "And thou, O great Mother," says St. Methodius, "art the beginning, the middle, and the end of our happiness" ("Tu festivitatis nostrae principium, medium, et finis"—De Sim. et Anna);—the beginning, for Mary obtains us the pardon of our sins; the middle, for she obtains us perseverance in divine grace; and the end, for she finally obtains us heaven.  "By thee, O Mary, was heaven opened," says St. Bernard; "by thee was hell emptied; by thee was paradise restored; and through thee, in fine, is eternal life given to so many miserable creatures who deserved eternal death" ("Per te, coelum repletum, infernos evacuatus est, instauratae ruinae coelestis Jerusalem; expectantibus miseris vita perdita data"—In Assumpt. s. 4)

            But that which above all should encourage us to hope with confidence for heaven, is the beautiful promis made by Mary herself to all who honor her, and especially to those who, by word and example, endeavor to make her known and honored by others:  They that work by me shall not sin; they that explain me shall have life everlasting ("Qui operantur in me, non peccabunt; qui elucidant me, vitam aeternam habebunt"—Ecclus. xxiv. 30).  "O happy they who obtain the favor of Mary!" exclaims St. Bonaventure; "they will be recognized by the blessed as their companions, and whoever bears the stamp of a servant of Mary is already enrolled in the Book of Life" ("Qui acquirit gratiam Mariae, agnoscetur a civibus paradise; et qui habuerit characterem ejus, adnotabitur in libro vitae"—Psalt. B. V. ps. 91).                       

            Why, then, should we trouble ourselves about the opinions of scholastics as to whether predestination to glory precedes or follows the prevision of merits?  If we are true servants of Mary, and obtain her protection, we most certainly shall be inscribed in the Book of Life; for, says St. John Damascene, "God only grants devotion towards his most Holy Mother to those whom he will save."  This is also clearly expressed by our Lord in St. John:  He that shall overcome . . . I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God ("Qui vicerit . . . scribam super eum nomen Dei mei, et nomen Civitatis Dei mei"—Apoc. iii. 12).  And who but Mary is this city of God? observes St. Gregory on the words of David: Glorious things are said of thee, O city of God ("Gloriosa dicta sunt de te, Civitas Dei"—Ps. lxxxvi. 3).   

            Correctly, then, can we here say with St. Paul, Having this seal, the Lord knoweth who are His ("Habens signaculum hoc, cognovit Dominus qui sunt ejus"—2 Tim. ii. 19); that is to say, whoever carries with him the mark of devotion to Mary is recognized by God as his.  Hence St. Bernard writes, that devotion to the Mother of God is a most certain mark of eternal salvation" ("Servire Mariae, est signum salutis aeternae consequendae"—Stell. B. V. l. 12, p. 2, a. 1).  Blessed Alan, speaking of the "Hail Mary," also says, that "whoever often honors our Blessed Lady with this angelical salutation has a very great mark of predestination" ("Habentibus devotionem ad hanc, signum est praedestinationis permagnum ad gloriam").  He says the same thing of perseverance in this daily recital of the Rosary, "that those who do so have a very great assurance of salvation" ("Signum sit tibi probabilissimum aeternae salutis, si perseveranter in dies eam in suo Psalterio salutaveris"—De Psalt. p 2, c. 11,—4, c. 24).  Father Nieremberg says, in the tenth chapter of his book on Affection for Mary, that "the servants of the Mother of God are not only privileged and favored in this world, but even in heaven they are more particularly honored."  He then adds: "that in heaven they will be recognized as servants of its Queen, and as belonging to her court, by a distinguishing and richer garment," according to the words of the Proverbs, All her domestics are clothed with double garments ("Omnes enim domestici ejus vestiti sunt duplicibus"—Prov. xxxi. 21).

            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: "O holy Mother of God, all those who will be partakers of eternal happiness dwell in thee, living under thy protection" ("Sicut laetantium, omnium nostrum habitation est in te, sancta Dei Genitrix"—Off. Ad. Mat.)

 

EXAMPLE.

The Fransiccan Chronicles relate that a certain Brother Leo saw in a vision two ladders the one red, the other white.  On the upper end of the red ladder, stood Jesus and on the other stood His holy Mother.  The brother saw that some tried to climb the red ladder; but scarcely had they mounted some rungs when they fell back, they tried again but with no better success.  Then they were advised to try the white ladder and to their surprise they succeeded for the Blessed Virgin stretched out her hand and with her aid they reached heaven (Wadding, Ann. 1232 n. 28).

(Note:  This apparition is by no means incredible; nor is it right to say that it makes the power of Mary superior to that of Christ.  The symbolic significance of the vision must be borne in mind.  The idea has been expressed repeatedly in the words of St. Bernard, and more recently by Popes Leo XIII, and Benedict XV:  "As we have no access to the Father except through the Son, so no one can come to the Son except by the Mother.  As the Son is all powerful by nature, the Mother is all powerful in so far that by the merciful disposition of God she is our mediatrix of graces with Christ.  Therefore says Eadmer: "Frequently our petitions are heeded sooner when we address ourselves to Mary the Queen of Mercy and Compassion than when we go directly to Jesus who as King of Justice is our Judge" (De Excell. V. c. 6)

 

Prayer

O 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 defence 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, O 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 loved by thee.  I am not discouraged on account of my past sins, for I know that thou, O 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.  O Mary, I hope most certainly to be saved by thy means.  Pray to Jesus for me.  Nothing else is needed; thou hast to save me; thou art my hope.  I will therefore always sing O Mary, my hope, thou hast to save me. 

 


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