"Coronation of the Virgin Mary, as Queen-of-Heaven" - by VELÁZQUEZ, Diego Rodriguez de Silva y - from Museo del Prado, Madrid
|Angelic 'Putti' carry the Virginal Madonna, up to Heaven on Clouds. In Reality, Mary's Relationship
with the Three (3) Persons of the Holy Trinity is Three-fold:
Daughter-of the God the Father,
Christ, and God the Father, hold a Wreath-of-Roses over her head, and the Dove of the Holy Ghost hovers above her in an Aureole-of-Light. The Glory-of the Coronation-of the Mother of God, and her Perfect Features, are Signs-of her Virginity. The Virginal Face of the Madonna, reflects the Emotions aroused in Spain between 1613 and 1620 by the Postulated Immaculate Conception-of the Virgin. In 1854, Pope Pius IX proclaimed the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception-of Mary, to be Infallible.
Herein, Saint Alphonsus examines the Words and Phrases of the Hail Holy Queen. Having established the fact that all Prayer leads-to Love-of God, and that Love-of God prompts us to Pray, he further indicates that to Invoke Mary, is one of the Best Forms-of Prayer. His Purpose here is to Establish and Confirm our Confidence, in the Mother of God.
Hail Holy Queen
Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy! Our Life, our Sweetness and our Hope! To thee do we cry, Poor Banished Children of Eve; to thee do we Send-up our Sighs, Mourning and Weeping in this Valley-of Tears. Turn then, most Gracious Advocate, thine Eyes-of Mercy toward us, and after this, our Exile, show unto us the Blessed Fruit of thy Womb, Jesus. O Clement, O Loving, O Sweet Virgin Mary!
V. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made Worthy of the Promises of Christ.
Kings, then, should Principally Occupy themselves with Works-of Mercy, but they should not Neglect the 'Exercise'-of Justice toward the Guilty, when it is Required. But Mary is not a Queen-of Justice, intent-on the Punishment of the Guilty, but rather a Queen-of Mercy, intent only on Compassion and Pardon for Sinners. Accordingly, the Church calls her Queen-of Mercy. "These Two things which I heard: that Power belongs-to God, and yours, O Lord, is Kindness" (Psalm 62:12-13). The Lord has 'Divided' the Kingdom-of-God into Two (2) Parts, Justice and Mercy. He has 'Reserved' the Kingdom-of-Justice for Himself, and He has Granted the Kingdom-of-Mercy to Mary. Saint Thomas confirms this when he says that the Holy Virgin, when she Consented-to be the Mother of the Redeemer, 'Obtained' Half (½) of the Kingdom-of-God, by becoming Queen of Mercy, while Jesus remained King-of-Justice.
Albert-the-Great, applies here the History-of Queen Esther, who was indeed a 'Type' of our Queen Mary. We read in the Book-of-Esther, that in the Reign-of King Ahasuerus, a Decree was Issued, 'Ordering' the Death of all the Jews. Then Mordecai, who was a Jew, committed their 'Cause' to Esther, that she might Intercede with the King, to have the Decree 'Revoked'. At First (1st), Esther refused-to do it, Fearing that it would make the King more Angry. But Mordecai 'Rebuked' her and 'Told' her that she must not Think-of Saving herself alone, because the Lord had 'Placed' her on the Throne, to-obtain Salvation for all the Jews. Ahasuerus, when he saw Esther before him, affectionately-inquired what she had come to ask him. Then the Queen answered, "If I have found Favor with you, O King, Spare the Lives of my People" (Esther 7:3). Ahasuerus immediately-ordered the Sentence, to be Revoked.
Now, if Ahasuerus granted-to Esther, because he Loved her, the Salvation-of the Jews; will not God, Graciously Listen-to Mary, in His Boundless Love for her, when she Prays-to Him for those Poor Sinners who 'Recommend' themselves to her; and when she says to Him: "If I have found Favor in Your Sight, my King and my God, if I have ever found Favor with You, give me my People for whom I Beg. If You Love me", she says to Him, "give me, my Lord, these Sinners for whom I Plead". Is it possible, that God will Refuse her? Is there anyone who does not Know the Power-of Mary's Prayers with God? Every Prayer of hers is like a 'Law', that Mercy shall be Given-to those, for-whom she 'Intercedes'. Saint Bernard asks why the Church 'Names' Mary, "Queen-of-Mercy". It is because we Believe that she 'Obtains' the Mercy-of-God for all who Seek it, so that not even the Greatest Sinner is Lost, if Mary Protects him.
But some might think that Mary Hesitates, in Pleading on-behalf-of some Sinners, because she finds them so Sinful. Should the Majesty and Sanctity of this Great Queen, Alarm us? No, says Saint Gregory, in Proportion-to her Greatness and Holiness, are her Clemency and Mercy toward Sinners, who Wish-to 'Repent', and have Recourse-to her. Kings and Queens inspire Terror, by the Display-of their Majesty, and their Subjects are Afraid to go before them. "But what Fear", says Saint Bernard, "can Sinners have of going to this Queen-of-Mercy, since she never shows herself Austere, to those who Seek her, but is always Gentle and Kind".
Mary is our Mother
Not by-Chance, nor in-Vain, do the Servants-of Mary, call her Mother. They cannot 'Invoke' her by any other-Name, and they never Weary-of calling her Mother; for she is Truly the Spiritual Mother of our Souls, and our Salvation. Sin, when it 'Deprived' our Souls of Divine Grace, also 'Deprived' them of Life. And when our Souls were Dead, in Misery and Sin, Jesus came-with an Excess-of Mercy and Love, to 'Restore' to us by His Death-on the Cross, that Lost Life, as He Himself 'Declared': "I came that they might have Life and have it to the Full" (John 10:10). "To the Full" because, as the Theologians teach us, Jesus Christ, by His Redemption, brought us Blessings, Greater-than the Injury Adam Inflicted-upon us, by his Sin. He 'Reconciled' us to God, and thus became the Father of our Souls, under the New Law of Grace, as the Prophet Isaiah 'Predicted', "Father-Forever, Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:5). But, if Jesus is the Father of our Souls, Mary is the Mother, for in Giving us Jesus, she Gave us True Life.
At Two (2) Different Times Mary became our Spiritual Mother. The First (1st) Time, was when she was found Worthy-of Conceiving in her Virginal Womb, the Son-of-God. Saint Bernardine-of-Siena teaches us that, when the Most Holy Virgin gave her Consent to-become Mother-of the Eternal Word, she, by this very Act, Demanded-of God our Salvation. She was so Earnestly Engaged-in obtaining it, that from that Time on, she carried us, as it were, in her Womb, like a Loving Mother. Saint Luke says, Speaking-of the Birth-of Jesus, that Mary "Gave Birth-to her Firstborn Son" (Luke 2:7). If the Evangelist, 'Affirms'-that Mary brought-forth her Firstborn, is it to be Supposed-that, she afterward had other-Children? But, if it is of-Faith, that Mary had no other Children, according-to the Flesh, except Jesus, then she must have other 'Spiritual' Children, and these, We are. Mary, in Bringing-forth Jesus, Who is our Savior and our Life, Brought-forth All of us, to Life and Salvation.
The Second (2nd) Time Mary Brought us Forth to Grace, was when on Calvary, she Offered-to the Father, the Life-of her Son, for our Salvation. Saint Augustine says that by Cooperating-with Christ, in the Birth-of the Faithful to the Life-of Grace, she became the Spiritual Mother of all who are Members-of our Head, Jesus Christ. Mary, Save our Souls, was Willing-to Sacrifice the Life-of her Son. And who was the True Soul-of Mary, but her Jesus, Who was her Life and all her Love?
Therefore, Simeon announced-to her, that her Soul would One Day be Pierced-by a Sword-of-Sorrows, which was the very Spear that Pierced the Side-of-Jesus, Who was the Soul-of Mary. And then, she in her Sorrow Brought us Forth to Eternal Life, so that we may all Call ourselves, Children-of Mary's Sorrows. She, our Most Loving Mother, was 'Always' and 'Entirely' United-to the Divine Will. According to Saint Bonaventure, when she saw the Love-of the Father, Who Willed that His Son, Die-for our Salvation; and the Love-of the Son, in Wishing-to Die for us, she too, with her Whole Will, 'Offered' her Son, and 'Consented' that He should Die, so that we might be Saved. Thus she 'Joined' herself to that Great Love-of the Father and Son, for the Human Race.
Be Joyful, then, all you Children-of Mary. Remember that she Adopts all those who Wish her to be their Mother. Joyful: for what Fear have you of being Lost, when this Mother 'Defends' and 'Protects' you? Saint Bonaventure says that everyone who Loves this Good Mother, should take-Courage. What have we to Fear? Our Eternal Salvation will not be Lost, as the "Final Sentence", depends-upon Jesus, our Brother, and upon Mary, our Mother. And Saint Anselm, Full-of Joy at this Thought, exclaims in-order-to Encourage us: "With what Certainty, may we Hope, since our Salvation depends upon the Sentence of a Good Brother, and a Kind Mother!" Hear, then, our Mother, who Calls us and Says-to us: "Let whoever is Simple, turn in here" (Proverbs 9:4). Little Children are always saying the Word "Mother", and in all the Dangers which they Encounter, and in all their Fears, they Cry, "Mother! Mother!"
Mary is "Our Life"
In order to Understand Correctly, the Reason why the Church calls Mary "Our Life", we must consider that, as the Soul gives Life to the Body, so Divine Grace gives Life to the Soul. For a Soul without Grace, although Nominally Alive, in Truth is Dead. As Mary, by her Intercession, Obtains-for Sinners the Gift of Grace, she Restores them to Life.
The Church applies-to her, the following Words-of Proverbs: "Those who Seek Me, Find Me" (8:17). They Find Me, or, according-to the Septuagint, "They Find Grace". Thus, to have Recourse-to Mary, is to-Find the Grace of God; for, "He who Finds Me, Finds Life, and Wins Favor from the Lord" (Proverbs 8:35). Listen, as Saint Bonaventure comments-on these Words; Listen, all you who Desire the Kingdom of God. Honor the Virgin Mary, and you shall have Life and Eternal Salvation.
Saint Bernard 'Exhorts' us, if we have been so Unfortunate as to Lose Divine Grace, to Strive-to Recover it, but to Strive through Mary; for if we have Lost it, she has 'Found' it. She is, therefore, called by this Saint "the Finder of Grace". This is what Gabriel meant, when he said: "Do not Fear, Mary. You have Found Favor with God". But, if Mary had never been without Grace, how could the Angel Say-to her, that she had Found it? A Thing is said to be Found, when it has been Lost. The Virgin was always 'With' God, and 'With' Grace. She was even Full-of-Grace , as the Archangel himself 'Announced', when he 'Greeted' her: "Rejoice, O Highly Favored Daughter! The Lord is with you". If, then, Mary did not 'Find' Grace for herself, for whom did she 'Find' it? She 'Found' it for Sinners, who had Lost it. Let Sinners, then, who have Lost Grace, Flee-to Mary. With her, they will certainly 'Find' it. And let them say: "O Lady, what is Lost, must be Restored to him who has Lost it. This Grace which you have Found is not yours; you have never Lost it. It is ours, for we have Lost it, and to us you should Restore it". If we Desire to 'Find' the Grace-of-God, let us go to Mary, who has 'Found' it. She always has-been, and always will-be, Dear-to God; if we have Recourse-to her, we shall certainly find it. God has 'Placed' her in the World, to be our Defense, and therefore she is 'Ordained' to be the Mediatrix of Peace between the Sinner and God.
Saint Bernard gives Encouragement-to the Sinner and Says: "Go to this Mother of Mercy, and Show her the Wounds, which your Sins have Inflicted-on your Soul. Then she will surely Beg her Son to Pardon you, and the Son, Who Loves her so much, will certainly Hear her". So, too, the Church 'Teaches' us to Pray-to the Lord, to Grant us Mary's Powerful Intercession, so that we may Rise-from our Sins: "Grant us, Merciful God, Strength against all our Weakness, that we who Celebrate the Memory of the Holy Mother of God may, by the Help of her Intercession, Arise again from our Iniquities".
Mary is "Our Sweetness"
"He who is a Friend, is always a Friend, and a Brother, is Born-for the Time of Stress" (Proverbs 17:17). True Friends and Relatives, are not known in Times-of Prosperity, but, rather-in Times-of Adversity and Misery. Worldly-Friends do not Desert their Friend, when he is Prosperous; but if any Misfortune Overtakes him, they Immediately Abandon him. But, Mary does not Desert her Devoted Servants.
In our Distresses, and especially-at the Hour-of-Death, when our Sufferings are the Greatest, our Good Lady and Mother, cannot Abandon her Faithful Servants. As she is Our Life, in the Time-of our Exile, so also, she is Our Sweetness, in the Hour-of-Death, making sure that it will be Sweet and Blessed. For since that Day, on which Mary was Present-at the Death-of her Son, Jesus, Who was the Head of the Elect, she 'Obtained' the Grace of Aiding all the Elect, at Death. Hence, the Church requires that we Pray-to the Blessed Virgin to Aid us, especially in the Hour-of-our-Death: "Pray for us Sinners, now and at the Hour of our Death".
Mary is "Our Hope"
Modern Heretics cannot stand the Fact, that we call Mary "Our Hope": Hail, "Our Hope". They say that God alone is our Hope, and that he who places Hope in Human Beings, is Cursed (Jeremiah 17:5). Mary, they exclaim, is a Human Being, and, as such, how can she be our Hope? Thus say the Heretics, but, notwithstanding this, the Church has us 'Invoke' Mary by the Sweet Name of "Our Hope", the Hope of All: "Hail, Our Hope!"
In Two (2) Ways, says Saint Thomas, we can Place our Hope in a Person: as the 'Principal Cause', and as the 'Intermediate Cause'. Those who Hope-for some Favor-from a King, Hope for it from the King, as Sovereign, or Hope for it from One-of his Ministers, as Intercessor. If the Favor is Granted, it comes in the First (1st) Place, from the King; but if it Comes-through the Minister's Request, he who has asked the Favor, Justly calls the Intercessor, his Hope.
The King of Heaven, because He is Infinite Goodness, Desires-to Enrich us with His Graces. But, in-order-to Increase our Confidence, He has given us His own Mother, for our Mother and Advocate, and has given her all Power, to Aid us. He, therefore, Wishes us to Place-in her, all our Hopes-of Salvation and Blessing. Those who Place all their Hope in Creatures, without Dependence-upon God, as Sinners do, are certainly Cursed by God, as Jeremiah says. But, those who Hope-in Mary, as Mother of God, Powerful to Obtain for them, Graces and Life Eternal, are Blessed and Pleasing to God. Hence, we Rightly call Mary, "Our Hope", Hoping to Obtain-by her Intercession, what we could not Obtain by our Prayers alone. We Pray to her, says Saint Anselm, so that the Dignity of the Intercessor will make-up-for our own Deficiencies. Therefore, he adds, to seek Mary's Help with such Hope, is not to Distrust the Mercy of God, but only to Fear our own Unworthiness.
Mary is "Our Advocate"
There is no-doubt, says Saint Bernard, that Jesus is the only Mediator between God and Man; the God-Man, on-account-of His Merits, 'Can', and according-to His Promises 'Will', Obtain-for us Pardon and Divine Grace. But because Men 'Recognize' and Fear the Divine Majesty which Dwells-in Him, as God, it was Necessary that there be another Advocate, to whom we could have-Recourse, with less Fear and more Confidence. This is Mary, and we can find no other Advocate so Powerful with the Givine Majesty and so Compassionate toward us. We would Greatly Wrong the Mercy of Mary, if we should Fear to-Cast ourselves at the Feet-of this Most Sweet Advocate, who is in all things, Kind, Lovely, and Compassionate. Read as-much-as you will, all the History found-in the Gospels, and if you find any Act-of Austerity in Mary, then Fear to-approach her. But you will never find any. Go, then, Joyfully to her, for she will Save you by her Intercession.
Exceedingly Beautiful, is the Prayer of a Sinner, who has Recourse-to Mary:
Console yourselves, then, you who are Fainthearted. I will say with Saint Thomas-of-Villanova:
Mary is Mercy Itself
Saint Bernard, Speaking-of the Great Mercy of Mary for us Sinners, says that she is the 'Land', Promised-by God, Flowing-with Milk-and-Honey. Saint Leo says that, to the Virgin, such Compassion has been given, that she not only Deserves-to be called Merciful, but should be called Mercy itself. And Saint Bonaventure remarks that when he Looked-on Mary, it seemed to him, he no-longer Beheld Divine Justice, but only Divine Mercy, with which Mary is Filled.
In a word, Mary's Mercy is so-Great, that her Love can never Cease-to Bring-forth for us, the Fruits-of-Mercy. And what, but Mercy, exclaims Saint Bernard, can Flow-from a Fountain-of-Mercy? For this Reason, Mary was called the Olive Tree, "Like a Fair Olive Tree, in the Field" (Sirach 24:14). For as the Olive Tree produces nothing but Oil, the Symbol-of Mercy, thus from the Hands-of-Mary, Nothing-but Graces and Mercies Proceed. If, then, we have Recourse-to this Mother, and Ask-for the Oil-of her Mercy, we cannot Fear that she will 'Refuse' us; for she is Rich-in that Oil-of Mercy. Mary is so Full-of Grace and Mercy, that there is Enough-for all.
But why is it said, that this Fair Olive Tree is in the Field, and not rather, in a Garden, Surrounded-by Walls and Hedges? In order that All, may Easily see her, and Easily have Recourse-to her, to Obtain Mercy. And what more Secure Refuge can we find, says Thomas Kempis, than Mary's Compassionate Heart? There the Poor find Shelter; the Sick, Medicine; the Afflicted, Consolation; the Doubtful, Counsel; the Abandoned, Help. Wretched should we be, if we did not have this Mother of Mercy, Mindful-of us in our Miseries.
Mary is like Rebekah, who, when Abraham's Servant asked her for a little-Water, answered that she would give him Water, not only for himself, but for his Camels also (Genesis 24:19). Hence Saint Bernard, addressing the Blessed Virgin, says: "O Lady, you are more Merciful and Liberal than Rebekah; therefore, do not be Content-with Dispensing the Favors-of your Unbounded Compassion, only to the Servants of Abraham, the Faithful Servants of God, but Bestow them also on the Camels, who Represent Sinners". And as Rebekah gave more than she was asked, so Mary gives more than we Pray-for. The Liberality-of Mary resembles the Liberality-of her Son, Who always gives more than is Asked, and is said to be "Rich in Mercy, toward all who Call-upon Him" (Romans 10:12).
When the Samaritans Refused-to Receive Jesus Christ and His Doctrine, Saint James and Saint John said to their Master: "Lord, would You not have us Call-down Fire-from Heaven, to Destroy them?" (Luke 9:54). But Jesus "Turned toward them, only to Reprimand them" (Luke 9:55), as if He had said, "I am so Mild and Merciful, that I have come from Heaven to Save, not to Punish, Sinners; would you Wish to see them Lost? What Fire? What Destruction? Be Silent, do not speak to Me again of Punishment; that is not My Spirit".
We cannot doubt that Mary, whose Spirit is in everything, so-like that of her Son, is Wholly Inclined-to show Mercy. This is why Mary was seen Clothed-with the Sun: "A Great Sign appeared in the Sky, a Woman clothed with the Sun" (Revelation 12:1). On this Passage, Saint Bernard remarks, addressing the Virgin: "You have Clothed the Sun, and are yourself clothed with it. O Lady, you have Clothed the Sun, the Divine Word, with Human Flesh, but He has Clothed you with His Power and His Mercy". So Compassionate and Kind is this Queen, when a Sinner Recommends himself to her Mercy, that she does not Begin-to Examine his Merits, and to Judge whether he is Worthy-of being Heard, but she Graciously 'Hears' all and 'Helps' them. Hence, Mary is called "Beautiful as the Moon" (Song 6:10), because as the Moon Illuminates the smallest Bodies upon the Earth, so Mary Enlightens and Helps the Most Unworthy Sinners.
If because of our Sins, we Fear to Draw near-to God because He is an Infinite (∞) Majesty that we have Offended, we should not Hesitate-to have Recourse-to Mary, because in her we shall find nothing to Alarm us. She is indeed Holy, Immaculate, Queen-of the World, and Mother of God; but she is of our Flesh and a Child-of-Adam, like ourselves.
In a word, says Saint Bernard, whatever Pertains-to Mary, is Full-of Grace and Mercy. For she, as Mother-of-Mercy, has become All Things to all Just and Sinners alike and Opens Wide the Doors-to her Compassion, that All may Share it. As the Devil Prowls-about "like a Roaring Lion, looking for someone to Devour" (1Peter 5:8), so, on-the-contrary, Mary goes-about, Seeking those to-whom she can give Life and Salvation.