The Glories Of Mary
by ST. ALPHONSUS LIGUORI
SECTION IV. OF THE FAITH OF MARY
As the blessed Virgin is the mother of love and of hope, thus, also, is she the mother of faith. "I am the mother of fair love, and of fear, and knowledge, and of holy hope." And justly, says St. Irenaeus, since Mary repaired by her faith that loss which Eve caused by her incredulity. Eve, Tertullian also says, because she chose to believe the serpent rather than the Word of God, brought death into the world, but our queen, believing the words of the angel, that she, remaining a virgin, was to become the mother of the Lord, brought salvation to the world. For St. Augustine says that Mary, giving her consent to the incarnation of the Word, by means of her faith opened paradise to men. Also Richard, commenting on tne words of St. Paul: "For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the believing wife," says: This is the believing woman by whose faith the unbelieving Adam and all his posterity are saved. Hence, on account of her faith, Elizabeth pronounced the Virgin blessed: Blessed art thou that hast believed, because those things shall be accomplished in thee that were spoken by the Lord. And St. Augustine added: Mary is more blessed by receiving the faith of Christ than by conceiving the flesh of Christ.
Father Suarez says that the holy Virgin had more faith than all men and all the angels. She saw her Son in the stable of Bethlehem, and believed him the Creator of the world. She saw him flying from Herod, and yet believed that he was the King of kings. She saw him born, and believed him to be eternal. She saw him poor and in need of food, and believed him to be Lord of the universe, laid on straw, and she believed him omnipotent. She observed that he did not speak, and she believed him to be the infinite Wisdom. She heard him weeping, and she believed him to be the joy of paradise. Finally, she saw him in death, despised and crucified, but although the faith of others might have wavered, Mary remained firm in th belief that he was God. St. Antoninus says, remarking on the words: There stood by the cross of Jesus his mother: "Stabat autem juxta crucem Jesu mater ejus," Mary stood supported by her faith, which she retained firm in the divinity of Christ. And it is for this reason, says the saint, that in the office of Tenebre, only one candle is left lighted. St. Leo, when treating of this subject, applies to the Virgin this passage of Proverbs: "Her lamp shall not be put out in the night." On the words of Isaias, "I have trodden the wine-press alone, and of the Gentiles, there is not a man with me," St. Thomas remarks: He says a man, on account of the Virgin, in whom faith never failed. Whence the blessed Albertus Magnus says, that Mary practised then a most perfect faith. She had faith in a most excellent degree; who, even when the disciples were doubting, did not doubt. Mary, therefore, by her great faith merited to become the light of all the faithful, as St. Methodius calls her: "Fidelium fax." And by St. Cyril of Alexandria: The queen of the true faith: "Sceptrum orthodoxae fidei." And the holy Church herself attributes to the Virgin, by the merit of her faith, the destruction of all heresies: "Rejoice, oh Virgin Mary, for thou alone hast destroyed all heresies throughout the world." St. Thomas of Villanova also says, explaining the words of the Holy Spirit, "Thou hast wounded my heart, my sister, my spouse . . . with one of thy eyes," that the eyes signify faith, by which the Virgin gave the greatest pleasure to the Son of God.
St. Ildephonsus exhorts us to imitate the faith of Mary: "Imitamini signaculum fidei Mariae." But how are we to imitate this faith of Mary? Faith is at the same time a gift and a virtue. It is a gift of God, in so far as it is a light which God infuses into the soul, and it is also a virtue in so far as it is exercised by the soul. Hence faith is given us not only to serve as a rule of belief, but also of action. Therefore St. Gregory says: He truly believes who, by his works, practises what he believes. And St. Augustine: Thou sayest, "I believe," do what you say, and it is faith. And this is to have a lively faith, namely, to live according to our belief. "My just man liveth by faith." It was thus the blessed Virgin lived, very differently from those who do not live according to what they believe, whose faith is dead, as St. James says: Faith without good works is dead: "Fide sine operibus mortua est." Diogenes went about seeking a man upon earth: "Hominem quaero;" but God seems seeking a Christian among the many faithful: "Christianum quaero." For very few are they who have the works, the greater part have only the name but to these should be said what Alexander said to that cowardly soldier who was also named Alexander; Change either your name or your conduct: "Aut nomen, aut mores muta." But, as Father Avila used to say: It would be better if these miserable creatures were put in confinement as madmen, believing as they do, that a happy eternity is prepared for him who lives well, and an unhappy eternity for him who lives ill, and yet living as if they did not believe this. St. Augustine therefore exhorts us to see things with Christian eyes,that is, to see according to faith: "Oculos Christianorum habete." For St. Theresa was accustomed to say, that all sins arise from a want of faith. Let us therefore implore the holy Virgin, that by the merit of her faith she may obtain for us a lively faith. Oh Lady, increase our faith.