Our Lady of Perpetual Help - Refuge-of-Sinners
Under the Mantle of Mary, all Sinners, without Exception,
find Refuge for every Sin that they may have Committed,
Provided only that they go there, to Seek-for this Protection
Salve Regina, Mater misericordiae,
Vita dulcedo et spes nostra salve.
Ad te clamamus exsules filii Hevae.
Ad te suspiramus gementes et flentes,
in hac lacrimarum valle.
Eja ergo advocata nostra,
illos tuos misericordes oculos ad nos converte.
Et Jesum benedictum fructum ventris tui
nobis post hoc exsilium ostende.
O clemens, O pia, O dulcis Virgo Maria.
Hail Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
Hail our Life, our Sweetness and our Hope.
To you do we Cry, Poor Banished Children-of-Eve,
to you do we Send-up our Sighs,
Mourning and Weeping in this Valley-of-Tears.
Turn then, most Gracious Advocate
your Eyes-of-Mercy, toward us.
And after this, our Exile,
Show us the Fruit of your Womb, Jesus.
O Clement, O Loving, O Sweet Virgin Mary.
|Nota Bene: Bible verses quoted in this Book, are from the English Douay-Rheims Translation, Commissioned-by the Catholic Church.|
In the First (1st) Chapter of the Book-of-Genesis, we Read that "God made Two Great Lights: a Greater Light, to Rule the Day; and a Lesser Light, to Rule the Night" - ("Fecitque Deus duo luminaria magna: luminare majus, ut praeesset diei, et luminare minus, ut praeesset nocti" — Genesis 1:16). Cardinal Hugo says that "Christ is the Greater Light, to Rule the Just; and Mary, the Lesser, to Rule the Sinners" - ("Luminare majus, Christus, qui praeest justis; luminare minus, Beata Maria, quae praeest peccatoribus"); 'Meaning' that the Sun is a Figure-of Jesus Christ, whose Light is enjoyed-by the Just, who Live in the Clear Day of Divine Grace; and that the Moon is a Figure-of Mary, by whose means, those who are in the Night-of-Sin, are Enlightened. Since Mary is this Auspicious Luminary, and is so, for the Benefit of Poor Sinners, should any one have been so Unfortunate as to Fall into the Night-of-Sin, what is he to do? Innocent III replies, "Whoever is in the Night-of-Sin, let him Cast his Eyes on the Moon, let him Implore Mary" - ("Qui jacet in nocte culpae, respiciat Lunam, deprecetur Mariam" — In Assumpt. s. 2). Since he has Lost the Light of the Sun-of-Justice, by Losing the Grace-of-God, let him Turn-to the Moon, and 'Beseech' Mary; and she will certainly 'Give' him Light to See the Misery of his State, and Strength to Leave it, without delay. Saint Methodius says "that by the Prayers of Mary, almost Innumerable Sinners are Converted" - ("Mariae virtute et precibus pene innumerae peccatorum conversions fiunt" — Paciucch. in Ps. lxxxvi. exc, 17).
One of the Titles which is the Most Encouraging to Poor Sinners, and under-which the Church 'Teaches' us to 'Invoke' Mary in the Litany-of-Loretto, is that of "Refuge of Sinners". In Judea, in Ancient Times, there were Cities-of-Refuge, in which Criminals who 'Fled' there for Protection, were Exempt-from the Punishments which they had Deserved. Nowadays, these Cities are not so Numerous; there is but One (1), and that is Mary, of whom the Psalmist says "Glorious Things are said of thee, O City of God" - ("Gloriosa dicta sunt de te. Civitas Dei" — Psalm 86:3). But this City differs from the Ancient Ones, in this respect — that in the Latter, All kinds of Criminals did not find Refuge, nor was the Protection extended-to every Class-of Crime; but under the Mantle-of-Mary, all Sinners without-Exception, find Refuge for every Sin that they may have Committed, provided only that they 'Go' there to Seek-for this Protection. "I am the City-of-Refuge", says Saint-John-Damascene, in the Name-of our Queen, "to All who Fly to me" - ("Ego Civitas refugii omnium ad me confugientum" — In Dorm. B. V. or. 2). And it is sufficient to have Recourse-to her, for whoever has the Good Fortune to 'Enter' this City, need not 'Speak' to be Saved. "Assemble yourselves, and let us Enter-into the Fenced City, and let us be Silent there" - ("Ingrediamur civitatem munitam, et sileamus ibi — Jeremiah 8:14), to-Speak in the Words-of the Prophet Jeremiah. This City, says Blessed-Albert-the-Great, is the Most Holy Virgin, Fenced-in with Grace and Glory. "And let us be Silent there", that is, continues an Interpreter, "because we Dare not Invoke the Lord, Whom we have Offended, she will Invoke and Ask" - ("Quia non audemus deprecari Dominum, quem offendimus, ipsa deprecetur et roget" — Bib. Mar. Jer. n. 3). For if we do not Presume-to 'Ask' Our Lord to Forgive us, it will Suffice to Enter this City, and be Silent, for Mary will 'Speak' and 'Ask' all that we Require. And for this Reason, a Devout Author 'Exhorts' all Sinners to take Refuge under the Mantle-of-Mary, 'Exclaiming', "Fly, O Adam and Eve, and all you their Children, who have Outraged God; Fly, and take Refuge in the Bosom-of this Good Mother; know you not that she is our only City-of-Refuge?" - ("Fugite, O Adam et Eva! Fugite ipsorum liberi, intra sinum Matris Mariae: ipsa est Civitas refugii, spes unica peccatorum" — B. Fernandes in Gen. c 3, s. 22) "the only Hope of Sinners" - ("Spes unica peccatorum" — Serm. 194, E. B. app.), as she is also Called-in a 'Sermon' by an Ancient Writer, found in the Works-of Saint Augustine.
Saint Ephrem, 'Addressing' this Blessed Virgin, says, "Thou art the only Advocate-of-Sinners, and of all who are Unprotected". And then he 'Salutes' her in the following Words: "Hail, Refuge and Hospital-of-Sinners!" - ("Ave, peccatorum Refugium et Hospitium" — De Laud. Dei gen.) — True Refuge, in which alone they can Hope for Reception and Liberty. And an Author 'Remarks' that this was the Meaning-of David, when he said, "For He hath Hidden me in His Tabernacle" - ("Protexit me in abscondito Tabernaculi sui" — Psalm 26:5). And Truly, what can this Tabernacle-of God be, unless it is Mary! who is 'Called' by Saint Germanus, "A Tabernacle made by God, in which He alone Entered, to Accomplish the Great Work of the Redemption of Man - ("Tabernaculum a Deo fabricatum, in quo solus Deus ingressus est, sacris mysticis occulte operaturus in te pro salute omnium" — In Nat. S. M. or. 2).
Saint-Basil-of-Seleucia 'Remarks', "that if God Granted to some, who were only His Servants, such Power that not only their Touch, but even their Shadows Healed the Sick, who were Placed for this Purpose in the Public Streets, how much Greater Power must we Suppose that He has Granted to her, who was not only His Handmaid, but His Mother?" We may indeed say that "Our Lord has Given us Mary as a Public Infirmary" - ("Aperuit nobis Deus publicum valetudinarium"), in which all who are Sick, Poor, and Destitute can be Received. But now I ask, in Hospitals, 'Erected' expressly-for the Poor, who have the Greatest Claim to Admission? Certainly the Most Infirm, and those who are in the Greatest Need.
And for this Reason, should any one find himself Devoid of Merit, and Overwhelmed with Spiritual Infirmities, that is to say, Sin, he can thus 'Address' Mary: O Lady, thou art the Refuge of the Sick Poor: Reject me not; for as I am the Poorest and the most Infirm of all, I have the Greatest Right to be Welcomed, by thee.
Let us then Cry-out with Saint-Thomas-of-Villanova, "O Mary, we Poor Sinners know no other Refuge than thee, for thou art our only Hope, and on thee, we Rely-for our Salvation" - ("Nescimus aliud refugium, nisi te; tu sola es unica Spes nostra, in qua confidimus; tu sola Patrona nostra, ad quam omnes aspicimus" — De Nat. V. M. conc. 3). Thou art our only Advocate with Jesus Christ; to thee we all turn ourselves.
In the Revelations-of Saint Bridget, Mary is called the "Star Preceding the Sun" - ("Sidus vadens ante Solem" — Rev. Extr. c. 50), giving us thereby to-'Understand', that when Devotion towards the Divine Mother, Begins-to 'Manifest' itself in a Soul, that is in a State-of-Sin, it is a Certain-Mark that Before-long, God will Enrich it with His Grace. The Glorious Saint Bonaventure, in-order-to 'Revive' the Confidence of Sinners in the Protection-of Mary, 'Places' before them the Picture-of a Tempestuous Sea, into which Sinners have already Fallen from the Ship-of-Divine-Grace; they are already Dashed-about on every-side, by Remorse-of Conscience, and by Fear-of the Judgments-of-God; they are without Light or Guide, and are on the Point-of Losing the Last Breath-of Hope, and Falling into Despair; then it is that Our Lord, 'Pointing-out' Mary to them, who is Commonly-called the "Star of the Sea", 'Raises' His Voice and Says, "O Poor Lost Sinners, Despair not; Raise up your Eyes, and Cast them on this Beautiful Star; Breathe again with Confidence, for it will Save you from this Tempest, and will Guide you into the Port-of-Salvation" - ("Respirate ad illam, perditi peccatores, et perducet vos ad portum" — Psal. B. V. ps. 18). Saint Bernard says the same thing: "If thou wouldst not be Lost in the Tempest, Cast thine Eyes on the Star, and Invoke Mary" - ("Si non vis obrui procellis, respice Stellam, voca Mariam" — De Laud. V. M. hom. 2).
The Devout Blosius 'Declares' that "she is the only Refuge of those who have Offended God, the Asylum of all who are Oppressed by Temptation, Calamity, or Persecution. This Mother is All Mercy, Benignity, and Sweetness, not only to the Just, but also to Despairing Sinners; so that no sooner does she Perceive them Coming-to her, and Seeking her Health from their Hearts, than she Aids them, Welcomes them, and Obtains their Pardon from her Son. She knows not how to Despise any one, however Unworthy he may be of Mercy, and therefore Denies her Protection to None; she Consoles All, and is no sooner Called-upon, than she Helps whoever it may be that Invokes her. She, by her Sweetness, often Awakens and Draws Sinners to her Devotion, who are the Most at-Enmity with God, and the most Deeply Plunged in the Lethargy of Sin; and then, by the same Means, she Excites them Effectually, and Prepares them for Grace, and thus Renders them Fit, for the Kingdom-of-Heaven. God has Created, this His Beloved Daughter, of so Compassionate and Sweet a Disposition, that no one can Fear to have Recourse to her". The Pious Author concludes in these words: "It is Impossible for any one to Perish, who Attentively and with Humility, Cultivates Devotion towards this Divine Mother" - ("Ipsa peccantium singulare refugium. Ipsa omnium, quos tentatio, calamitas, aut persecution aliqua urget, tutissimum asylum. Tota mitis est, tota suavis, non solum justis, verum etiam peccatoribus ac desperatis. Quos, ut ad se ex corde clamare conspexerit, statim adjuvat, suscipit, et Judici reconciliat. Nullum asperantur, nulli se negat; omnes consolatur, et, vel tenuiter invocate, praesto adest. Sua bonitate saepe eos, qui Deo minus afficiuntur, ad sui cultum blande allicit, potenterque excitat ut per hujuscemodi stadium, praeparentur ad gratiam, et tandem apti reddantur regno coelorum. Talis a Deo facta est, ut nemo ad eam accedere trepidet. Fieri non potest, ut pereat, qui Mariae sedulous et humilis cultor fuerit" — Par. An. fid. p. 1, c. 18).
In Ecclesiasticus, Mary is called a Plane-Tree: "As a Plane-Tree I was Exalted" - ("Quasi platanus exaltata sum" — Ecclesiasticus 24:19). And she is so-Called, that Sinners may Understand that, as the Plane-Tree gives Shelter to Travelers from the Heat-of-the-Sun, so does Mary Invite them to take Shelter under her Protection, from the Wrath-of-God, Justly Enkindled-against them. Saint Bonaventure remarks that the Prophet Isaiah Complained of the Times in which he Lived, saying, "Behold Thou art Angry, and we have Sinned . . . there is None . . . that Riseth up and Taketh hold-of Thee" - ("Ecce tu iratus es, et peccavimus . . . ; non est qui . . . consurgat, et teneat te" — Isaiah lxiv. 64:5,7). And then he makes the following commentary: "It is True, O Lord, that at the Time there was None to Raise up Sinners, and without Thy Wrath, for Mary was not yet Born"; "before Mary", to Quote the Saint's own words, "there was no one who could thus Dare to Restrain the Arm-of-God". But now, if God is Angry with a Sinner, and Mary 'Takes' him under her Protection, she 'Withholds' the Avenging Arm of her Son, and Saves him. "And so", continues the same Saint, "no one can be found more fit for this Office than Mary, who Seizes the Sword of Divine Justice with her own hands, to Prevent it from Falling-upon and Punishing the Sinner" - ("Ante Mariam, non fuit qui sic detinere Dominum auderet. Detinet Filium, ne peccatores percutiat. Nemo tam idoneus, qui gladio Domini pro nobis manum objiciat, ut tu Dei amantissima" — Spec. B. V. lect. 7, 14). Upon the same Subject, Richard-of-Saint-Laurence says that "God, before the Birth of Mary, Complained-by the Mouth-of the Prophet Ezechiel, that there was no one to Rise-up and withhold-Him from Chastising Sinners, but that He could find no one, for this Office was Reserved-for our Blessed Lady, who Withholds His Arm, until He is Pacified" - ("Conquerebatur Dominus, antequam Maria nasceretur: Non est qui consurgat, et teneat me" — De Laud. B. M. l. 2, p. 5).
Basil-of-Seleucia 'Encourages' Sinners, saying, "O Sinner, be not Discouraged, but have Recourse to Mary in all thy Necessities; call her to Thine Assistance, for thou wilt always find her Ready to Help thee; for such is the Divine Will, that she should Help all in every Kind-of Necessity" - ("Ne diffidas, peccator; sed in cunctis Mariam sequere et invoca, quam voluit Deus in cunctis subvenire" — Paciucch. in Salve R. exc. 7). This Mother-of-Mercy has so-Great a Desire to Save the most Abandoned Ainners, that she herself goes in search-of them, in-order-to Help them; and if they have Recourse-to her, she Knows how to-Find the Means to Render them Acceptable-to God. The Patriarch Isaac, Desiring-to Eat-of some Wild Animal, 'Promised' his Blessing to his Son Esau, on his 'Procuring' this Food for him; but Rebecca, who was Anxious that her Other Son Jacob, should 'Receive' the Blessing, called him and said, "Go thy Way to the Flock, bring me Two Kids of the Best, that I may make-of them, Meat for thy Father, such as he gladly Eateth" - ("Pergens ad gregem, affer mihi duos haedos" — Genesis 27:9). Saint Antoninus says (P. 4, t. 15, c. 2, #2), that Rebecca was a Figure of Mary, who 'Commands' the Angels to-Bring her Sinners (meant-by Kids), that she may 'Adorn' them in such a way (by Obtaining-for them Sorrow, and Purpose-of-Amendment) as to 'Render' them Dear and Acceptable-to the Lord. And here we may well Apply-to our Blessed Lady the Words-of the Abbot Franco: "O Truly Sagacious Woman, who so well knew how to Dress these Kids, that not only they are Equal-to, but often Superior-in Flavor to Real Venison" - ("Vere sapiens Mulier, quae sic novit haedos condire, ut gratiam cervorum coaequent, aut etiam superent" — De Grat. D. l. 3).
The Blessed Virgin herself, 'Revealed' to Saint Bridget "that there is no Sinner in the World, however much he may be at Enmity with God, who does not Return to Him and Recover his Grace, if he has Recourse to her and Asks her Assistance" - ("Nullus ita alienatus est de Deo, qui, si me invocaverit, non revertatur ad Deum" — Rev. l. 6, c. 10). The same Saint Bridget, One Day heard Jesus Christ 'Address' His Mother, and say that "she would be ready to Obtain the Grace-of-God for Lucifer himself, if only he Humbled himself, so-far-as to Seek her Aid" - ("Etiam diabolo exhiberes misericordiam, si humiliter peteret" — Rev. extr. c. 50). That Proud Spirit will never Humble himself so-far-as to 'Implore' the Protection-of Mary; but if such a thing were possible, Mary would be Sufficiently Compassionate, and her Prayers would have Sufficient Power, to 'Obtain' both Forgiveness and Salvation for him from God. But that which cannot be 'Verified' with-regard-to the Devil, is 'Verified' in the Case-of Sinners, who have Recourse to this Compassionate Mother. Noah's Ark was a True Figure of Mary; for as in it, all Kinds-of Beasts were Saved, so under the Mantle-of-Mary, all Sinners, who by their Vices and Sensuality, are already like Beasts, find Refuge; but with this difference, as a Pious Author 'Remarks', that "while the Brutes that Entered the Ark remained Brutes, the Wolf remaining a Wolf, and a Tiger a Tiger — under the Mantle-of-Mary, on the other hand, the Wolf becomes a Lamb, and the Tiger a Dove" - ("Quod arca animalia suscepit, animalia servavit" — Paciucch. In Sal. Ang. exc. 4). One day, Saint Gertrude saw Mary with her Mantle open, and under it there were many Wild Beasts of different kinds — Leopards, Lions, and Bears; and she saw that not only our Blessed Lady did not Drive them away, but that she 'Welcomed' and 'Caressed' them with her Benign Hand. The Saint understood that these Wild Beasts were Miserable Sinners, who are 'Welcomed' by Mary with Sweetness and Love, the Moment they had Recourse-to her (Insin. l. 4, c. 50).
It was, then, not without Reason, that Saint Bernard 'Addressed' the Blessed Virgin, saying, "Thou, O Lady, dost not Reject any Sinner who Approaches thee, however Loathsome and Repugnant he may be. If he 'Asks' thy Assistance, thou dost not Disdain to-extend thy Compassionate Hand to him, to 'Extricate' him from the Gulf-of-Despair" - ("Tu peccatorem, quantumlibet faetidum non horres; si ad te suspiraverit, tu illum a desperationis barathro pia manu retrahis" — Depr. Ad. B. V.). May our God be Eternally (∞) Blessed and Thanked, O Most Amiable Mary, for having 'Created' thee so Sweet and Benign, even towards the Most Miserable Sinners! Truly Unfortunate, is he who Loves thee not, and who, having it in his Power to 'Obtain' thy Assistance, has no Confidence in thee. He who has not Recourse-to Mary, is Lost; but who was ever Lost, that had Recourse-to the most Blessed Virgin?
It is related in the Sacred Scriptures, that Booz 'Allowed' Ruth to "Gather the Ears-of-Corn, after the Reapers" - ("Colligebat spicas post terga metentium" — Ruth 2:3). Saint Bonaventure says, "that as Ruth found-Favor with Booz, so has Mary found-Favor with Our Lord, and is also 'Allowed' to Gather the Ears of Corn, after the Reapers. The Reapers, followed by Mary, are all Evangelical Laborers, Missionaries, Preachers, and Confessors, who are constantly 'Reaping' Souls for God. But there are some Hardened and Rebellious Souls, which are 'Abandoned', even by these. To Mary alone, it is Granted to Save them by her Powerful Intercession" ("Ruth in oculis Booz, Maria in oculis Domini hanc gratiam invenit, ut ipsa spicas, id est, animas a messoribus derelictas, colligere ad veniam posit" — Spec. B. V. M. lect. 5). Truly Unfortunate are they, if they do not 'Allow' themselves to be 'Gathered', even by this Sweet Lady. They will indeed be most Certainly Lost and Accursed. But, on the other hand, Blessed is he who has Recourse-to this Good Mother. "There is not in the World", says the Devout Blosius, "any Sinner, however Revolting and Wicked, who is Despised or Rejected by Mary; she Can, she Wills, and she Knows how to Reconcile him to her most Beloved Son, if only he will Seek her Assistance" - ("Nullum tam exsecrabilem peccatorem orbis habet, quem ipsa abominetur, et a se repellat, quemque dilectissimo Nato suo, modo suam precetur opem, non posit, sciat, et velit reconciliare" — Sac. An. fid. p. 3, c. 5).
With Reason then, O my Most Sweet Queen, did Saint-John-Damascene 'Salute' and 'Call' thee the "Hope of those who are in Despair" - ("Salve. Spes desperatorum!"). With Reason did Saint-Laurence-Justinian call thee "the Hope of Malefactors" - ("Delinquentium Spes"); and another Ancient Writer "the only Hope of Sinners" - ("Spes unica peccatorum"). Saint Epherem calls her "the Safe Harbor of all, Sailing on the Sea of the World" - ("Naufragorum Portus tutissimus"). This last-named Saint, also calls her "the Consolation of those who are to be Condemned" - ("Protectrix damnatorum"). With Reason, finally, does Saint Bernard 'Exhort' even the Desperate, not to Despair; and, Full-of Joy and Tenderness towards his most Dear Mother, he Lovingly exclaims: "And who, O Lady, can be without Confidence in thee, since thou Assistest even those who are in Despair? And I doubt not, that whenever we have Recourse to thee, we shall Obtain all that we Desire. Let him, then, who is without Hope, Hope in thee" - ("Quis non sperabit in te, quae etiam adjuvas desperantes? . . . Non dubito quod, si ad te venerimus, habebimus quod volemus; in te ergo speret, qui desperate" — Med. in Salv. R.).
Saint Antonine 'Relates' (P. 4, t. 15, c. 5, #1) that there was a Sinner, who was at Enmity with God, and who had a Vision, in which he Found himself before the Dread Tribunal; the Devil 'Accused' him, and Mary 'Defended' him. The Enemy 'Produced' the Catalogue of his Sins; it was thrown-into the Scales-of-Divine-Justice, and Weighed far more than all his Good Works. But then, his Great Advocate, 'Extending' her Sweet Hand, placed it on the Balance, and so 'Caused' it to Turn in Favor-of her Client; giving him thereby to Understand that she would 'Obtain' his Pardon, if he 'Changed' his Life; and this he did after the Vision, and was entirely Converted.