The Glories Of Mary
by ST. ALPHONSUS LIGUORI
LOS TUOS MISERICORDES OCULOS AD NOS CONVERTE. Turn thy eyes of mercy towards us.
MARY IS ALL EYES TO PITY AND RELIEVE OUR MISERIES
ST. EPIPHANIUS calls the blessed Virgin, “Multocula;” that is, one who has many eyes, that she may relieve our miseries on this earth. One day, when a person possessed was being exorcised, the devil was asked by the exorcist what Mary was then doing. The Evil One replied: She is descending and ascending;” by which he intended to say, that this gracious Lady does nothing else than descend upon the earth to bring graces to men, and ascend to heaven to obtain there the divine blessing on our supplications. Rightly, then, was the holy Virgin named by St. Andrew of Avellino, the active power of paradise; for she is continually employed in deeds of mercy, imploring favors for all, for the just and for sinners. “The eyes of the Lord are upon the just,” says David;fbut the eyes of our Lady are upon the just and upon sinners, as Richard of Si. Laurence says; for he adds: The eyes of Mary are the eyes of a mother; and the mother not only guards her child from falling, but if he falls, she hastens to raise him.
Jesus himself revealed this to St. Bridget, whom the saint heard one day speaking to his mother, and saying: “Ask of me, oh my mother, whatever thou dost desire and the Son is always in heaven saying this to Mary, pleased with granting his beloved mother what ever she asks. But what does Mary ask? St. Bridget understood the mother to answer him: I ask mercy for sinners: “Misericordiam peto pro miseris.” As if she would say, my Son, thou hast already destined me for the mother of mercy, for the refuge of sinners,for the advocate of the miserable, now thou sayest to me that I may ask whatever I wish; but what would I ask of thee? I ask of thee that thou wilt have mercy on the sinner: “Misericordiam peto pro miseris.” Thou art, oh Mary, so full of compassion, St. Bonaventure tenderly says to her, thou art so watchful to relieve the wretched, that it seems thou hast no other desire, too other concern than this.) And because, among the wretched sinners are the most wretched of all, the venerable Bede affirms, that Mary is continually praying the Son in behalf of sinners.
Even whilst on earth Mary was so kind and tender to men that, as St. Jerome says, there never was any person so afflicted by his own Bufferings as Mary by the sufferings of others. She plainly showed the compassion she feels for the sufferings of others at the nuptials of Cana (as has been mentioned in previous chapters), where, as when the wine failed, without being requested, as St. Bernardine of Sienna remarks, she assumed the office of a kind comforter. And from mere compassion for the troubles of that family, she interceded with her Son, and obtained the miracle of changing the water into Wine.
But, perhaps, says St. Peter Damian, since thou wast exalted to the dignity of queen of heaven, thou hast forgotten the wretched; and then he adds, let this never be thought of it does not belong to a mercy so great as that which reigns in the heart of Mary, to forget such misery as ours. The common proverb, honors change customs, “Honores mutant mores”, certainly does not apply to Mary. It, indeed, applies to worldlings who, when raised to dignity, become inflated with pride, and forget their old and poor friends: but not to Mary, who rejoices in her greater exaltation, because it gives her more power to assist others. Considering this point, St. Bonaventure applies to the blessed Virgin the words spoken to Ruth. “Blessed art thou, my daughter, and thy latter kindness has surpassed the former.” Meaning, as he afterwards explains, that if the pity of Mary for the unhappy was great when she lived on earth, much greater is it now when she is reigning in heaven. The saint gives the reason for this by saying, that the divine mother showa now, by the innumerable favors she obtains for us, this her increased compassion, because now she better understands our miseries. And he adds, that as the splendor of the sun exceeds that of the moon, so the mercy of Mary, now that she is in heaven, exceeds the mercy she had for us when she was upon the earth, And is there any one living on the earth who does not enjoy the light of the sun? any one on whom this mercy of Mary does not shine?
On this account she is called bright as the sun, “Electa ut sol”; because no one is shut out from the heat of this sun, as St. Bonaventure says. And St. Agnes revealed this from heaven to St. Bridget, when she said to her, that our queen, now that she is united with her Son in heaven, cannot forget her innate goodness; hence she exercises her compassion towards all, even towards the most impious sinners, so that as both the celestial and terrestrial bodies are illuminated by the sun, thus through the goodness of Mary, there is no one in the world who does not, if he asks for it, share in the divine mercy. A great and desperate sinner, in the kingdom of Valencia, in order to escape justice, had resolved to become a Turk, and was actually going to embark, when by chance he passed a church, in which Father Jerome Lopez, of the Company of Jesus, was preaching, and preaching of the divine mercy; by that preaching he was converted, and confessed to the father, who inquired of him if he had practised any devotion, for which God had shown towards him that great mercy; he answered that he had practised no other devotion than praying the holy Virgin every day not to abandon him. The same Father found in the hospital a sinner, who for fifty-five years had never been to confession, and had only practised this little devotion, that when he saw an image of Mary he saluted it, and prayed to her that he might not die in mortal sin; and then he related that in a quarrel with an enemy, his sword was broken, and he turned to the Madonna, saying: “Alas, I shall be slain, damned; oh mother of sinners, help me.” When he had said this, he found himself, he knew not how, transported into a secure place. He made a general confession, and died full of confidence.
St. Bernard writes that Mary becomes all things to all men, and opens to all the bowels of her mercy, that all may receive of her; the captive his freedom; the sick man health; the afflicted consolation; the sinner pardon, and God glory: hence there is no one, since she is the sun, who does not partake of her warmth. And is there any one in the world, exclaims St. Bonaventure, who will not love this lovely queen? She is more beautiful than the sun, and sweeter than honey; she is a treasure of goodness, and is kind and courteous to all. I salute thee, then, thus the enamored saint goes on to say, oh my Lady and mother! my heart! my soul! Pardon me, oh Mary, if I say that I love thee: if I am not worthy of loving thee, thou art truly worthy of being loved by me.
It was revealed to St. Gertrude, that when any one repeats with devotion these words to the Virgin: “Turn, then, towards us, oh our advocate, thy pitying eyes,” Mary never fails to listen to the prayer. Oh, let the immensity of thy mercy, oh great Lady, fill the whole earth, exclaims St. Bernard. Whence St. Bonaventure says, that this loving mother has such a desire to do good to all, that she feels herself offended not only by those who offer her some positive injury, for there are souls to be found so perverse, especially gamesters, who sometimes, to vent their anger, blaspheme and insult this good Lady, but she looks upon herself as injured by those, also, who neglect to ask of her some favor. So that, as St. Idelbert says, thou dost instruct us, oh Lady, to expect favors greater than our merits, for thou dost never cease to dispense graces that far exceed what we merit.
The prophet Isaias predicted that by the great work of human redemption, a great throne of divine mercy would be prepared for us: “A throne shall be prepared in mercy.” Who is this throne? St. Bonaventure answers: This throne is Mary, in whom all, both the just and sinners, find the consolations of mercy ; and he afterwards adds: As the Lord is full of compassion, so also is our Lady; and as the Son, so the mother cannot withhold her mercy from those who ask it. Hence Guerric, the abbot, represents Jesus thus speaking to Mary: My mother, wpon thee I will establish the seat of my kingdom, for through thee will I bestow the graces that are asked of me: thou hast given me the human nature; I will give to thee, as it were, a divine nature, that is, my omnipotence, by which thou canst assist all who invoke thee to obtain their salvation.
When St. Gertrude was one day devoutly repeating these words to the divine mother: “Turn towards us thy merciful eyes,” she saw the Virgin pointing to the eyes of her Son whom she held in her arms, and she said to her; “These are the most merciful eyes that I can turn towards all those who invoke me for their salvation.” A sinner once weeping before the altar of Mary, and imploring her to intercede with God for his pardon, was given to under stand that the blessed Virgin turned to the child whom she held in her arms, and said to him: “My son, shall these tears be in vain?” and he learned that Jesus Christ at once pardoned him.
And how can any one ever perish who recommends himself to this good mother, when the Son, as God, has promised, for love of her, to exercise mercy, as far as it pleases her, towards all those that have recourse to her? Precisely this our Lord revealed to St. Bridget; permitting her to hear these words which he spoke to Mary: “By my omnipotence, venerated mother, I have granted thee the pardon of all sinners, in whatever way it pleases thee, who devoutly invoke the aid of thy mercy.” Hence the Abbot Adam Persenius, considering the great compassion that Mary has for all, full of confidence says to her: Oh mother of mercy, thy power is as great as thy pity. As thou art powerful to obtain, so thou art merciful to pardon. And when, he adds, dost thou ever fail to have compassion on sinners, being the mother of mercy; or art thou unable to help them, being mother of omnipotence? Ah, thou canst as readily obtain whatever thou wilt, as thou canst listen to our woes. Satiate thyself, then, says the Abbot Rupert, satiate thyself, oh great queen, with the glory of thy Son, and through thy compassion, not certainly through our merit, be pleased to send down to us, thy poor servants here below, whatever fragments may remain.
If our sins ever throw us into despair, let us say with William of Paris: Oh Lady, do not bring forward my sins against me, for I shall bring forward thy mercy in opposition to them. And let it never be said that my sins can rival, in the judgment, thy mercy, which is more powerful to obtain my pardon, than my sins are to obtain my condemnation.
We read in the chronicles of the Capuchin Fathers, that there lived in Venice a celebrated advocate, who, by fraud and evil practices, had become rich His whole life was very bad, and it appears that he had but one good habit, that of reciting every day a certain prayer to the holy Virgin. Yet, even this little devotion saved him from eternal death, through the mercy of Mary. It happened in this way: Happily for himself, he had a great esteem for Father Matthew da Basso, and urged him so much to come and dine at his house., that one day the Father gave him this pleasure. Having arrived, the advocate said to him? “Now, Father, I will show you something that you have never seen. I have a wonderful ape, who is my valet, washes my glasses, lays the table, and opens the door.” “This may not be an ape,” answered the Father: “It may be something more than an ape; order him to come here.” The ape was called again and again, search was made for him everywhere, and he could not be found. At length, he was discovered hidden under a bed in the lower part of the house, but he would not come out. “Come, then,” said the religious, “let us go and see him:” and he went with the advocate to his hiding-place. “Infernal beast,” he said, “come forth, and in the name of God I command you to tell me what you are.” And behold, the ape answered that he was the devil, and that he was waiting until that sinner should omit some day to recite his accustomed prayer to the mother of God; for the first time he should omit it, God had given him leave to strangle him? and take him to hell. At these words the advocate cast himself upon his knees to ask help of the servant of God, who encouraged him, and commanded the devil to depart from that house without committing any injury, only he gave him permission, as a sign that he had really gone, to break a piece of the wall. Scarcely had he finished speaking, when, with a great crash, a hole was made in the wall, which, although it was several times closed with stone and mortar, God willed that it should remain open for a long time; until, by the advice of the servant of God, it was filled up with a slab of marble, with an angel carved on it. The advocate was converted, and, it is to be hoped, persevered until death in his new course of life.
Oh creature, among all others the greatest and most sublime, most holy Virgin, I from this earth salute thee; I, a miserable, unhappy rebel to my God, who deserve punishment and not favors, justice and riot mercy. Oh Lady, I do not say this because I distrust thy mercy. I know that thou dost glory in being merciful as thou art great. I know that thou dost rejoice in being so rich, that thou inayest share thy richea with us sinners. I know that the more wretched are those who seek thee the greater is thy desire to help and save them. Oh my mother, it is thou who once did weep for thy Son when lie died for me. Offer, I pray thee, thy tears to God, and with these obtain for me a true sorrow for my sins. So much did sinners grieve thee, then, and so much did I, too, grieve thee by my iniquities. Obtain for me, oh Mary, that I at least from henceforth may no longer continue to afflict thee and thy Son by my ingratitude. What will thy tears avail me if I should continue to be ungrateful to thee? What would thy mercy avail me if I should again be faithless and be lost? No, my queen, do not permit it. Thou hast supplied all my deficiencies; thou canst obtain from God what ever thou wilt; thou graciously nearest every one that prays to thee. These two favors do I ask of thee, and at all events from thee do I hope and desire them: namely, that thou wilt obtain for me to be faithful to God by never more offending him, and to love him as much as I have offended him during the life that remains to me.