Chapter II
Vita, Dulcedo
Mary, Our Life, Our Sweetness


Mary, Mediatrix of the Grace-of-Life

All of God's Gracies, that are Dispensed-to Men, shall Pass through the Hands-of-Mary.
She is Queen-of-Mercy, as Jesus is King-of-Justice - Saint Thomas Aquinas.
Jesus 'Honors'  [Fourth (4th) Commandment], Mary (Mother) and Joseph (Father) in a Special Manner, by Listening-to and 'Granting' their Prayers and Petitions.

 

Listen, all you who Desire the Kingdom of God:
Honor the most Blessed Virgin Mary,
and you will find Life and Eternal Salvation

Saint Bonaventure

 

Salve Regina (Hail Holy Queen)
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.

 

Chapter II
Vita, Dulcedo
Mary, Our Life, Our Sweetness

by Saint Alphonsus Liguori

Chapter II, Section II
Mary is also our Life, because she Obtains for us, Perseverance.

Mary, Mother-of-Mercy

All of God's Pardon and Mercies, that are Dispensed-to Men, shall Pass through the Hands-of-Mary.
She is Queen-of-Mercy, as Jesus is King-of-Justice - Saint Thomas Aquinas.
Jesus 'Honors', Fourth (4th) Commandment, Mary and Joseph in a Special Manner, by Listening-to and 'Granting' their Prayers and Petitions.
 

Final Perseverance is so-Great a Gift-of-God, that (as it was Declared-by the Holy-Council-of-Trent) it is quite Gratuitous on His Part, and we cannot Merit it. Yet we are Told-by Saint Augustine, that all who 'Seek' for it, 'Obtain' it from God; and, according-to Father Suarez, they 'Obtain' it Infallibly, if only they are Diligent in-Asking-for it, to the End of their Lives. For, as Bellarmine well 'Remarks', "that which is Daily Required, must be Asked for every-Day" - ("Quotidie petenda est, ut quotidie obtineatur"). Now, if it is True (and I Hold it as Certain, according-to the now Generally-Received-Opinion, and which I shall 'Prove' in the Fourth (4th) Chapter of this Work) that all the Graces that God 'Dispenses to Men, 'Pass-Through' the Hands-of-Mary, it will be Equally True that it is only 'Through' Mary, that we can Hope-for this Greatest of all Graces, — Perseverance. And we shall 'Obtain' it most-Certainly, if we always 'Seek' it with Confidence, 'Through' Mary. This Grace, she herself 'Promises' to All who 'Serve' her Faithfully during Life, in the following Words-of-Ecclesiasticus, and which are Applied-to her by the Church (Off. Imm. Conc.), on the Feast-of-her-Immaculate-Conception; "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; — Ecclesiasticus 24:30-31).

In-order-that we may be 'Preserved' in the Life-of-Grace, we 'Require' Spiritual Fortitude to 'Resist' the many Enemies of our Salvation. Now, this Fortitude can be 'Obtained' only-by the Means-of Mary, and we are Assured-of it in the Book-of-Proverbs, for the Church 'Applies' the Passage to this most Blessed Virgin. "Strength is mine; by me, Kings Reign" - ("Mea est fortitudeo; per me reges regnant" — Proverbs 8:14-15—Off. B.V.); meaning, by the Words "Strength is mine" that God has 'Bestowed' this Precious Gift on Mary, in-order-that she may 'Dispense' it to her Faithful Clients. And by the Words, By me, Kings Reign, she Signifies that by her Means, her Servants 'Reign'-over and 'Command' their Senses and Passions, and thus become Worthy-to 'Reign' Eternally (∞) in Heaven. Oh, what Strength do the Servants-of this Great Lady 'Possess', to 'Overcome' all the Assaults-of-Hell! Mary is that Tower, Spoken-of in the Sacred Canticles: "Thy Neck is as the Tower of David, which is built with Bulwarks; a Thousand Bucklers hang upon it, all the Armor of Valiant Men" - ("Sicut turris David collum tuum, quae aedificata est cum propugnaculis: mille clypei pendent ex ea, omnis armature fortium" — Canticles 4:4). She is as a well-Defended Fortress, in defense-of her Lovers, who in their Wars, have Recourse-to her. In her, do her Clients 'Find' all Shields and Arms, to 'Defend' themselves against Hell.


Mary, a Garden Enclosed - "I am a Wall: and my Breasts are as a Tower" Canticles 8:10 -
by LOCHNER, Stefan - from Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne

Mary is that Tower Spoken-of in the Sacred Canticles: "Thy Neck is as the Tower-of-David, which is built with Bulwarks; a Thousand Bucklers hang upon it, all the Armor of Valiant Men" — Canticles 4:4). She is as a well-Defended Fortress, in Defense-of her Lovers, who in their Wars, have Recourse-to her. In her, do her Clients 'Find' all Shields and Arms, to 'Defend' themselves against Hell.

And for the same Reason, the most Blessed Virgin is called a Plane-Tree, in the Words of Ecclesiasticus: "As a Plane-Tree, by the Water in the Streets, was I Exalted" - ("Quasi platanaus exaltata sum juxta aquas in plateis" — Ecclesiasticus 24:19). Cardinal Hugo explains them, and says that the "Plane-Tree has Leaves like Shields" - ("Platanus habet folia scutis similia"), to-Show how Mary 'Defends' all who take Refuge with her. Blessed Amedeus gives another Explanation, and says that this Holy Virgin is called a Plane-Tree, because, as the Plane 'Shelters' Travelers under its Branches, from the Heat-of the Sun and from the Rain, so do Men find Refuge under the Mantle-of-Mary, from the Ardor of their Passions and from the Fury-of-Temptation ("Virgo ramorum extensione se ubique expandit, ut filios Adae ab aestu, et a turbine, et a pluvial, umbra desiderabili protegeret" — De Laud. B. V. hom. 8). Truly, are those Souls to be Pitied, who 'Abandon' this Defense, in-Ceasing their Devotion to Mary, and no-longer 'Recommending' themselves to her, in the Time-of Danger. If the Sun Ceased to-Rise, says Saint Bernard, how could the World become other than a Chaos of Darkness and Horror? And applying his Question to Mary, he repeats it. "Take away the Sun, and where will be the Day? Take away Mary, and what will be left but the darkest night?" ("Tolle corpus hoc solare, ubi dies?  Tolle Mariam, quid nisi tenebrae relinquentur?" — De Aquoed) When a Soul Loses Devotion to Mary, it is Immediately 'Enveloped' in Darkness, and in that Darkness, of which the Holy Ghost 'Speaks' in the Psalms: "Thou hast appointed darkness, and it is night; in it shall all the beasts of the woods go about" - ("Posuisti tenebras, et facta est nox; in ipsa pertransibutn omnes bestiae silvae" — Psalm ciii. 103:20). When the Light-of-Heaven 'Ceases' to Shine in a Soul, all is Darkness, and it becomes the Haunt-of Devils, and of every Sin. Saint Anselm says, that "if any one is disregarded and condemned by Mary, he is necessarily lost", and therefore we may with reason exclaim, "Woe to those who are in opposition to this sun?" - ("Vae eis qui Solem istum aversantur!"). Woe to those who Despise its Light! that is to-say, all who Despise Devotion to Mary.

Saint-Francis-Borgia always Doubted the Perseverance of those in whom he did not find particular Devotion to the Blessed Virgin. On One (1) Occasion, he 'Questioned' some Novices, as to the Saints towards-whom they had Special Devotion, and 'Perceiving' some who had it not towards Mary, he Instantly Warned the Master-of-Novices, and Desired him to keep a more Attentive Watch over these Unfortunate Young Men, who all, as he had Feared, Lost their Vocation and Renounced the Religious State.

It was, then, not without Reason that Saint-Germanus called the most Blessed Virgin, the Breath-of-Christians; for as the Body cannot Live without 'Breathing', so the Soul cannot Live without having Recourse-to and Recommending itself to Mary, by whose Means we certainly 'Acquire' and 'Preserve' the Life-of Divine Grace, within our Souls. But I will 'Quote' the Saint's own Words: "As Breathing is not only a Sign, but even a Cause of Life, so the Name of Mary, which is constantly Found-on the Lips of God's Servants, both Proves that they are Truly Alive, and at the same time, Causes and Preserves their Life, and Gives them every Succor" - ("Sic respiration non solum est signum vitae, sed etiam causa; sic Mariae nomen, quod in servorum Dei ore versatur, simul argumentum est quod vere vivunt, simul etiam hanc vitam efficit et conservat, omnemque eis opem impertitur" — De Zona Deip.).

Blessed Allan was One Day 'Assaulted'-by a Violent Temptation, and was on the Point-of 'Yielding', for he had not Recommended himself to Mary, when the most Blessed Virgin appeared-to him; and in-order-that another Time, he might Remember to Invoke her Aid, she Gave him a Blow, saying, "If thou hadst Recommended thyself to me, thou wouldst not have, run into such Danger".

On the other hand, Mary says in the following Words-of the Book-of-Proverbs, which are 'Applied' to her by the Church: "Blessed is the Man that Heareth me, and that Watcheth Daily at my Gates, and Waiteth at the Posts of my Doors" - ("Beatus homo qui audit me, et qui vigilat ad fores meas quotidie, et observat ad postes ostii mei" — Proverbs 8:34. — Off. B. V.), — as if she would say, Blessed is he that Hears my Voice and is constantly Attentive to Apply at the Door of my Mercy, and Seeks Light and Help from me. For Clients who do this, Mary does her Part, and 'Obtains' them the Light and Strength they Require, to 'Abandon' Sin and 'Walk' in the Paths-of-Virtue. For this Reason, Innocent III beautifully Calls her "the Moon at Night, the Dawn at Break-of-Day, and the Sun at mid-Day" - ("Luna lucet in nocte, aurora in diluculo, sol in die" — In Assumpt. s. 2). She is a 'Moon', to 'Enlighten' those who Blindly Wander in the Night-of-Sin, and makes them See and Understand the Miserable State-of-Damnation in which they are; she is the ' Dawn' (that is, the Forerunner-of the Sun) to those whom she has already Enlightened, and makes them Abandon Sin, and Return-to God, the True Sun-of-Justice; Finally, she is a 'Sun' to those who are in a State-of-Grace, and 'Prevents' them from again Falling-into the Precipice-of-Sin.

Learned Writers apply the following Words-of-Ecclesiasticus to Mary: "Her Bands are a Healthful Binding" - (Vincula illius alligatura salutaris" — Ecclesiasticus 6:31). "Why Bands?" asks Saint-Laurence-Justinian, "except it be that she Binds her Servants, and thus Prevents them from Straying into the Paths-of-Vice" - ("'Vincula illius,' id est, exempla et servitia quibus ligamur, ne discurramus per campos licentiate" — De Laud B. M. l. 2, p. 3). And Truly, this is the Reason for which Mary 'Binds' her Servants. Saint Bonaventure also, in his Commentary-on the Words-of-Ecclesiasticus, frequently used in the Office-of Mary, "My Abode is in the Full Assembly of Saints - ("In plenitudine sanctorum detention mea" — Ecclesiasticus 24:16), says that Mary not only has her Abode in the Full Assembly of Saints, but also 'Preserves' them from Falling, keeps a Constant Watch over their Virtue, that it may not Fail, and 'Restrains' the Evil Spirits from Injuring them. Not only has she her Abode, in the Full Assembly of the Saints, but she Keeps the Saints there, by Preserving their Merits, that they may not Lose them, by 'Restraining' the Devils from Injuring them, and by 'Withholding' the Arm of her Son, from Falling-on Sinners - ("Ipsa quoque, non solum in plenitudine sanctorum detinetur, sed etiam in plenitudine sanctos detinet, ne eorum plenitude minuatur; detinet nimirum virtutes, ne fugianti; detinet merita, ne pereant; detinet daemons, ne noceant" — Spec B. V. M. lect. 7).

I Walk with my Servants in the Midst of the Tempests, to which they are constantly Exposed, to Assist and Preserve them from Falling into Sin

In the Book-of-Proverbs, we are told that all Mary's Clients are Clothed-with Double (2) Garments. "For all her Domestics are clothed with Double Garments" - ("Omnes enim domestici ejus vestiti sunt duplicibus" — Proverbs 31:21). Cornelius-à-Lapide explains what this Double (2) Clothing is; he says that it "consists in her Adorning her Faithful Servants with the Virtues of her Son, and with her Own" ("Duplici veste ipsa ornate sibi devotos, quia tam Christi quam suis virtutibus eos induit"); and thus Clothed, they Persevere-in-Virtue.

Therefore Saint-Philip-Neri, in his Exhortations to his Penitents, used always to say: "My children, if you desire Perseverance, be Devout to our Blessed Lady". The Venerable-John-Berchmans, of the Society-of-Jesus, used also to say: "Whoever Loves Mary, will have Perseverance". Truly Beautiful, is the Reflection-of the Abbot-Rupert on this Subject, in his Commentary-on the Parable-of the Prodigal Son. He says, "That, if this Dissolute Youth had had a Mother Living, he would never have Abandoned the Paternal Roof, or at least would have Returned much-sooner than he did" - ("Si Prodigus Filius viventem matrem habuisset, vel a paterna domo nunquam discessisset, vel forte citius rediisset"); meaning thereby that a Son-of Mary either never Abandons God, or, if he has this Misfortune, by her Help, he soon 'Returns'.

O, did all Men but Love this most Benign and Loving Lady, had they but Recourse-to her Always, and without-Delay, in their Temptations, who would Fall? who would ever be Lost? He Falls and is Lost, who has not Recourse-to Mary. Saint-Laurence-Justinian applies-to Mary the Words-of-Ecclesiasticus, "I have Walked in the Waves of the Sea" - ("In fluctibus maris ambulavi" — Ecclesiasticus 24:8): and makes her 'Say', "I Walk with my Servants in the Midst of the Tempests, to which they are constantly Exposed, to Assist and Preserve them from Falling into Sin" - ("Cum familiaribus meis, ut ipsos eriperem a naufragio peccatorum" — De Laud. B. M. l. 2, p. 1).

Bernardine-de-Bustis relates that a Bird was Taught to say "Hail, Mary!" A Hawk was on the Point-of 'Seizing' it, when the Bird cried out "Hail, Mary!" In an Instant, the Hawk Fell-Dead. God Intended to-show, thereby, that if even an Irrational Creature was Preserved by Calling-on Mary, how much more would those who are Prompt in 'Calling'-on her, when Assaulted by Devils, be Delivered from them. We, says Saint-Thomas-of-Villanova, need only, when Tempted by the Devil, 'Imitate' little Chickens, which, as-soon-as they Perceive the Approach-of a Bird-of-Prey, Run-under the Wings-of their Mother, for Protection. This is exactly what we should do whenever we are Assaulted by Temptation: we should not stay-to Reason-with it, but Immediately Fly and Place ourselves under the Mantle-of-Mary. I will, however, Quote the Saint's own Words Addressed-to Mary: "As Chickens, when they see a Kite soaring above, Run and Find Refuge under the Wings of the Hen, so are we Preserved under the Shadow of thy Wings" - ("Sicut pulli, volitantibus desuper milvis, ad gallinae alas occurrunt. ita nos sub velamento alarum tuarum abscondimur" — De Nat. V. conc. 3). "And Thou", he continues, "who art our Lady and Mother, hast to Defend us; for, after God, we have no other Refuge than thee, who art our only Hope and our Protectress, towards thee we all turn our eyes with Confidence" - ("Nescimus aliud refugium nisi te; tu sola es unica Spes nostra; tu sola Patrona nostra, ad quam omnes aspicimus" — De Nat. V. con. 3).

This Picture of a Vision of Saint John Bosco, depicts the Successors of Saint Peter, the First Pope, Steering the Barque-of-Peter to the Safe Harbor of Jesus and Mary, amid Storms and Attacks. (Click to enlarge)

"If she is Propitious, thou wilt Gain the Port"

Let us then Conclude-in the Words-of Saint Bernard: "O Man, whoever thou art, understand that in this World, thou art Tossed-about on a Stormy and Tempestuous Sea, rather than Walking on Solid Ground; Remember that if thou wouldst Avoid being Drowned, thou must never turn Thine Eyes from the Brightness of this Star, but keep them Fixed on it, and Call-on Mary. In Dangers, in Straits, in Doubts, 'Remember' Mary, 'Invoke' Mary" ("O quisquis te intelligis in hujus saeculi profluvio magis inter procellas et tempestates fluctuare, quam per terram ambulare! ne avertas oculos a fulgore hujus Sideris, si non vis obrtui procellis. Respice stellam, voca Mariam. In periculis, in angustiis, in rebus dubiis Mariam cogita, Mariam invoca" — De Laude. V. M. hom. 2). Yes, in Dangers-of Sinning, when Molested-by Temptations, when Doubtful as to how you should Act, Remember that Mary can Help you; and Call upon her, and she will Instantly Succor you. "Let not her Name, leave thy Lips, let it be ever in thy Heart". Your Hearts should never Lose Confidence-in Her Holy Name, nor should your Lips ever cease-to 'Invoke' it. "Following her, thou wilt certainly not go Astray". O, so, if we follow Mary, we shall never Err from the Paths-of-Salvation. "Imploring her, thou wilt not Despair". Each Time that we 'Invoke' her Aid, we shall be Inspired-with Perfect Confidence. "If she Supports thee, thou canst not Fall" "if she 'Protects' thee, thou has nothing to Fear, for thou canst not be Lost" "with her for thy Guide, thou wilt not be Weary; for thy Salvation will be Worked-out with Ease" "If she is Propitious, thou wilt Gain the Port" - ("Non recedat ab ore, non recedat a corde. Ipsam sequens, non devias; ipsam rogans, non desperas. Ipsa tenente, non corruis; ipsa protegente, non metuis; ipsa duce, non fatigaris; ipsa propitia, pervenis" — De Laud V. M. hom. 2). If Mary Undertakes our Defense, we are certain-of 'Gaining' the Kingdom-of-Heaven. "This do, and thou shalt Live" - ("Sic fac, et vives" — Luke 10:28).

 

Example

Saint Zosimus brings the Bread-of-Angels to Saint-Mary-of-Egypt
 

The History of Saint-Mary-of-Egypt, in the First (1st) Book of the Lives-of-the-Fathers, is well known. At the Age-of Twelve (12) Years, she Fled-from the House-of her Parents, went-to Alexandria, where she Led an Infamous Life, and was a Scandal to the Whole City. After Living-for Sixteen (16) Years in Sin, she took it into her head to Go to Jerusalem. At the Time, the Feast-of-the-Holy-Cross was being Celebrated, and, 'Moved' rather-by Curiosity than by Devotion, she 'Determined-on' Entering the Church; but when at the Door, she felt herself Repelled-by an Invisible Force. She made a Second (2nd) Attempt, and was again Unable to Enter; and the same thing was Repeated a Third (3rd) and a Fourth (4th) Time. Finding her Efforts in Vain, the Unfortunate Creature 'Withdrew' to a Corner-of the Porch, and there, Enlightened from Above, 'Understood' that it was on-account-of her Infamous Life, that God had 'Repelled' her, even from the Church. In that Moment, she Fortunately 'Raised' her Eyes and 'Beheld' a Picture-of Mary. No sooner did she 'Perceive' it, than, Sobbing, she Exclaimed, "O Mother of God, Pity a Poor Sinner! I know that on account of my Sins, I Deserve not that thou shouldst Cast thine Eyes upon me. But thou art the Refuge-of-Sinners; for the Love of thy Son Jesus, Help me. Permit me to enter the Church, and I Promise to Change my Life, to go and do Penance in whatever place thou pointest out to me". She Immediately 'Heard' an Internal Voice, as it were that of the Blessed Virgin, replying: "Since thou has Recourse to me, and Wishest to Change thy Life, Go — Enter the Church, it is no longer Closed-against thee". The Sinner 'Entered', Adored the Cross, and Wept Bitterly. She then Returned-to the Picture, and said, "Lady, Behold I am Ready. Where wilt thou, that I should go, to do Penance?" "Go", the Blessed Virgin replied, "Cross the Jordan, and thou wilt Find the Place of thy Repose". She went to Confession and Communion, and then Passed the River, and Finding herself in the Desert, she Understood that it was in that Place, she should do Penance for her Sinful Life. During the First Seventeen (17) Years, the Assaults of the Devil, by which he Endeavored-to make the Saint, again Fall-into-Sin, were Terrible. And what were her Means-of-Defense? She Constantly 'Recommended' herself to Mary, and this most Blessed Virgin 'Obtained' for her, Strength to 'Resist' during the Whole-of this Time, after which her Combats 'Ceased'. After Fifty-Seven (57) Years spent in the Desert, and having 'Attained' the Age of Eighty-seven (87) Years, she was, by a Disposition-of Providence, met by the Abbot Zosimus; to him she related the History-of her Life, and Entreated him to Return the following Year, and to bring her the Holy Communion. The Saintly Abbot did so, and gave her the Bread-of-Angels. She then Requested that he would again Return-to see her. This also he did, but he Found her Dead. Her Body was Encompassed-by a Bright Light, and at her Head, these Words were Written, "Bury my Body here — it is that of a Poor Sinner, and Intercede with God, for me". A Lion came, and made a Grave with his Claws. Saint Zosimus Buried her, Returned-to his Monastery, and 'Related' the Wonders-of God's Mercy, towards this Happy Sinner.

 

Prayer

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O Compassionate Mother, most Sacred Virgin, Behold at thy Feet the Traitor, who, by Paying with Ingratitude, the Graces Received from God, 'Through' thy Means, has Betrayed both thee and Him. But I must tell thee, O most Blessed Lady, that my Misery, far from Taking-away my Confidence, Increases it; for I see that thy Compassion is Great, in Proportion to the Greatness of my Misery. Show thyself, O Mary, Full-of-Liberality towards me: for thus thou art towards all who Invoke thy Aid. All that I ask is that thou shouldst Cast Thine Eyes of Compassion on me, and Pity me. If thy Heart is thus Far-moved, it cannot do otherwise than Protect me: and if thou Protectest me, what can I Fear? No, I Fear Nothing; I do not Fear my Sins, for thou canst Provide a Remedy; I do not Fear Devils, for thou art more Powerful than the Whole-of-Hell; I do not even Fear thy Son, though Justly Irritated against me, for at a Word-of-Thine, He will be Appeased. I only Fear lest, in my Temptations, and by my own Fault, I may Cease to Recommend myself to thee, and thus be Lost. But I now Promise thee, that I will always have Recourse-to thee; O, Help me to Fulfill my Promise. Lose not the Opportunity which now Presents itself of Gratifying thy Ardent Desire to Succor such Poor Wretches as myself. In thee, O Mother of God, I have Unbounded Confidence. From thee I Hope for Grace to Bewail my Sins as I ought, and from thee I Hope for Strength, never again to-Fall into them. If I am Sick, thou, O Heavenly Physician, canst Heal me. If my Sins have Weakened me, thy Help will Strengthen me. O Mary, I Hope all from thee; for thou art all-Powerful with God.

Amen