Madonna and Child, and the Young St John the Baptist - by BOTTICELLI, Sandro - from Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), Florence
This Divine Mother, O my children, is the Ladder-of-Sinners,
by which they Re-ascend to the Height of Divine Grace;
she is my Greatest Confidence, she is the Whole Ground-of my Hope
Salve Regina, Mater misericordiae,
Vita dulcedo et spes nostra salve.
Ad te clamamus exsules filii evae.
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.|
The Holy Ghost, in the Sacred-Canticles, makes the Most Blessed Virgin use the following Words: "I am a Wall; and my Breasts are as a Tower, since I am Become in His Presence, as One finding Peace" - ("Ego murus, et ubera mea sicut turris; ex quo facta sum coram eo quasi pacem reperiens" Canticles 8:10); that is, I am the Defender of those who have 'Recourse' to me, and my Mercy towards them, is like a Tower-of-Refuge, and therefore I have been 'Appointed' by my Lord, the Peace-Maker between Sinners and God. "Mary", says Cardinal Hugo, on the above Text, "is the Great Peace-Maker, who Finds and Obtains the Reconciliation-of Enemies with God, Salvation for those who are Lost, Pardon for Sinners, and Mercy for those who are in Despair" - ("Ipsa reperit pacem inimicis, salutem perditis, indulgentiam reis, misericordiam desperatis"). And therefore, was she 'Called' by the Divine Bridegroom, Beautiful as the "Curtain-of-Solomon" - ("Formosa . . . sicut pelles Salomonis" Canticles 1:4). In the Tents-of-David, Questions-of War alone were-Treated; but in those of-Solomon, Questions-of Peace only, were-Entertained; and thus does the Holy Spirit 'Give' us to Understand that this Mother-of-Mercy, never 'Treats' of War and Vengeance against Sinners, but only of Peace and Forgiveness for them.
Mary was Prefigured by the Dove, which Returned-to Noah in the Ark, with an Olive-Branch in its Beak (Genesis 8:11), as a Pledge-of the Peace which God 'Granted' to Men. And on this Idea, Saint Bonaventure thus 'Addresses' our Blessed Lady: "Thou art that Most-Faithful-Dove; thou wast a sure Mediatress between God and the World, Lost in a Spiritual Deluge" - ("Tu enim es illa fidelissima Columba Noe, quae inter Deum ei mundum, diluvio spirituali submersum, Mediatrix fidelissima extitisti" Spec. B. M. V. lect. 9); thou, by 'Presenting' thyself before God, hast 'Obtained' for a Lost World, Peace and Salvation. Mary, then, was the Heavenly Dove, which 'Brought' to a Lost World, the Olive-Branch, the Sign-of Mercy, since she, in the First (1st) Place, 'Gave' us Jesus Christ, Who is the Source-of-Mercy; and then, by His Merits, 'Obtained' all Graces for us - ("Nam ipsa Christum nobis detulit, Fontem misericordiae" Spinelli, Mar. Deip. c. 16). "And as by Mary", says Saint Epiphanius, "Heavenly Peace was Once-for-All Given-to the World" - ("Per te pax coelestis donate est" Hom. In Laud. B. M.), so by her, are Sinners still Reconciled-to God. Wherefore, Blessed-Albert-the-Great makes her say: "I am that Dove-of-Noah, which brought the Olive-Branch of Universal Peace to the Church" - ("Ego sum Columba Noe. Ecclesiae ramum olilvae et pacis deferens universalis" Bibl. Mar. Cant. 16).
Again, the Rainbow seen by Saint John, which 'Encircled' the Throne-of-God, was an Express Figure of Mary: "And there was a Rainbow round-about the Throne" - ("Et iris erat in circuitu sedis" Apocalypse 4:3). It is thus explained by Cardinal Vitalis: "The Rainbow round the Throne is Mary, who Softens the Judgment and Sentence-of God against Sinners" - ("Iris in circuitu sedis est Maria, quae mitigate Dei judicium et sententiam contra peccatores" Spec. S. Script. De B. V. M.); meaning, that she is always before God's Tribunal, 'Mitigating' the Chastisements due to Sinners. Saint-Bernardine-of-Sienna says, "that it was of this Rainbow, that God Spoke, when He Promised Noah that He would Place it in the Clouds, as a Sign-of-Peace, that on Looking-at it, He might Remember the Eternal Peace which He had Covenanted to Man". "I will set My Bow in the Cloud, and it shall be the Sign-of a Covenant between Me and between the Earth . . . and I shall see it, and shall Remember the Everlasting Covenant" - ("Arcum meum ponam in nubibus, et erit signum foederis inter me and inter terram; videbo illum, et recordabor foederis sempiterni" Genesis 9:13,15). "Mary", says the Saint, "is this Bow-of-Eternal-Peace" - ("Ipsa est Arcus foederis sempiterni" Pro Fest. S. M. s. 1, a. 1, c. 3); "for, as God on seeing it, Remembers the Peace promised-to the Earth, so does He, at the Prayers-of-Mary, Forgive the Crimes-of-Sinners, and Confirm His Peace with them" - ("Fructus iridis est recordation divini foederis; et per Virginem gloriosam, offense reis remittitur, foedus stringitur" In Apoc. iv).
For the same Reason, Mary is Compared-to the Moon, in the Sacred-Canticles: "Fair as the Moon" - ("Pulchra ut luna" Canticles 6:9). "For", says Saint Bonaventure, "as the Moon is between the Heavens and the Earth, so does Mary continually Place herself between God and Sinners, in-order-to Appease Our Lord in their Regard, and to Enlighten them to Return-to Him" - ("Sicut luna inter corpora coelestia et terrene est media et, quod ad illis accipit ad inferiora refundit; sic et Virgo Regina inter nos et Deum est media, et gratiam ipsa nobis refundit" Spann. Plyanth. litt. M. t. 6).
The Chief-Office 'Given'-to Mary, on being 'Placed'-in this World, was to 'Raise'-up Souls that had Fallen-from Divine Grace, and to Reconcile them with God. "Feed thy Goats" - ("Pasce haedos tuos" Canticles 1:7), was Our Lord's Command to her, in 'Creating' her. It is well-known that Sinners are Understood-by Goats, and that, as at the Last Judgment, the Just, under the Figure-of-Sheep, will be on the Right Hand; so will the Goats, be on the Left. "These Goats", says the Abbot-William, "are In-Trusted to thee, O Great Mother, that thou mayest 'Change' them into Sheep; and those, who by their Sins, Deserve to be Driven-to the Left, will, by thy Intercession, be Placed-on the Right" - ("Pasce haedos tuos, quos convertis in oves, ut, qui a sinistris in Judicio errant collocandi, tua intercessione collocentur a dexteris"). And therefore Our Lord 'Revealed' to Saint-Catherine-of-Sienna, "that He had Created this His Beloved Daughter, to be as a Most Sweet Bait, by which to Catch Men, and especially Sinners, and Draw them to God" - ("Ipsa est a me velut esca dulcissima electa pro capiendis hominibus, et animabus praecipue peccatorum" Dial. c. 139). But on this Subject, we must not Pass-over the Beautiful Reflection-of William-the-Angelical, on the above Text of the Sacred Canticles, in which he says, "that God Recommended her Own Goats to Mary"; "for", adds this Author, "the Blessed Virgin does not Save All Sinners, but those only who Serve and Honor her. So much so indeed, that those who Live-in-Sin, and neither Honor her with any particular Act-of-Homage, nor Recommend themselves to her, in-order-to Extricate themselves from Sin, they certainly are not Mary's Goats, but at the Last Judgment will, for their Eternal Misery, be driven-to the Left Hand, with the Damned" - ("Suos vocat, quia non omnes haedi vocantur Mariae, sed qui Mariam colunt ac venerantur, licet sceleribus contaminate. Qui vero peccatis irretiti sunt, nec Beatam Virginem speciali obsequio prosequeentur, nec preces fundunt in ejus cultum, ut aliquando resipiscant, haedi profecto sunt, non Mariae, sed ad sinistram Judicis sistendi").
A certain Nobleman, Despairing of his Salvation, on-account-of his many Crimes, was Encouraged-by a Monk to have Recourse-to the Most Blessed Virgin, and, for this purpose, to 'Visit' a Devout Statue of Mary, in a particular Church. He went there, and, on 'Seeing' the Image, he felt as if she 'Invited' him to 'Cast' himself at her Feet, and to have Confidence. He 'Hastened' to 'Prostrate' and 'Kiss' her Feet, when Mary 'Extended' her Hand, gave it to him to-Kiss, and on it he saw written these Words: "I will Deliver thee from those who Oppress thee" - ("Ego eripiam te de affligentibus te"); as though she had said, my Son, Despair not, for I will 'Deliver' thee from the Sins and Sorrows that 'Weigh' so-Heavily on thee. On Reading these Sweet Words, this Poor Sinner was Filled-with such Sorrow for his Sins, and, at the same-Time, with so-Ardent a Love for God, and his Tender Mother, that he Instantly Expired at the Feet-of-Mary.
O, how many Obstinate Sinners, does not this Loadstone-of Hearts, 'Draw' each Day to-God! For thus did she 'Call' herself one day, saying to Saint Bridget, "As the Loadstone attracts Iron, so do I attract Hearts" - ("Sicut magnes attrahit ferrum, sic ego attraho Deo dura corda" Rev. l. 3, c. 32). Yea, even the most Hardened Hearts, to Reconcile them with God. We must not Suppose that such Prodigies are Extraordinary Events; they are every-Day Occurrences. For my own part, I could Relate many Cases-of the kind that have Occurred-in our Missions, where certain Sinners with Hearts Harder-than-Iron, continued so, through all the other Sermons, but no-sooner did they 'Hear' the One on the Mercies-of-Mary, than they were Filled-with Compunction, and Returned-to God. Saint Gregory (Moral. l. 31, c. 13) says, that the Unicorn is so-Fierce a Beast, that no-Hunter can 'Take' it; at the Voice only, of a Virgin 'Crying' out, will this Beast 'Approach', and without Resistance, 'Allow' itself to be Bound-by her. O, how many Sinners; more Savage than the Wild Beasts themselves, and who Fly-from God, at the Voice-of this Great Virgin Mary, 'Approach' and 'Allow' themselves to be Sweetly Bound to God, by her!
Saint-John-Chrysostom says, "that another Purpose for which the Blessed Virgin Mary was 'Made' the Mother-of-God was, that she might 'Obtain' Salvation for many who, on-account-of their Wicked Lives, could not be Saved, according-to the Rigor-of Divine Justice, but might be so, with the Help-of her Sweet Mercy and Powerful Intercession" - ("Ideo mater Dei praeelecta es ab aeterno, ut quos justitia Filii salvare non potest, tu per tuam salvares pietatem"). This is Confirmed-by Saint Anselm, who says, "that Mary was Raised-to the Dignity-of Mother-of-God, rather-for Sinners, than-for the Just, since Jesus Christ declares-that He Came-to Call not the Just, but Sinners" - ("Scio illam magis propter peccatores, quam propter justos, esse factam Dei Matrem; dicit enim ipse bonus Filius ejus, se non venisse vocare justos, sed peccatores" De Excell. V. c. 1). For this Reason, the Holy Church 'Sings', "Thou dost not Abhor Sinners, without whom thou wouldst never have been Worthy of such a Son" - ("Peccatores non exhorres, sine quibus nunquam fores tali digna Filio" Crasset. Vιr. Dιv. p. 1, tr. 1, q. 10). For the same-Reason, William-of-Paris, 'Invoking' her, says: "O Mary, thou art Obliged to Help Sinners for all the Gifts, the Graces, and High Honors which are Comprised in the Dignity of Mother-of-God, that thou hast Received; thou owest All, so-to-say, to Sinners; for on their account, thou wast Made Worthy to have a God for thy Son" - ("Totum quod habes, si fas est discere, peccatoribus debes; omnia enim haec propter peccatores tibi collate sunt" De Rhet. Div. c. 18). If then, "Mary", concludes Saint Anselm, "was made Mother-of-God on-account-of Sinners, how can I, however Great my Sins may be, Despair of Pardon?" - ("Si ipsa propter peccatores facta est Domini Mater, quomodo immanitas peccatorum meorum cogere me poterit desperare veniam?" De Excell. V. c. 1).
The Holy Church tells us, in the Prayer said in the Mass-of the Vigil-of-the-Assumption, "that the Divine Mother was taken-from this World, that she might Interpose-for us with God, with certain Confidence of Obtaining All" - ("Quam idcirco de praesenti saeculo transtulisti, ut pro peccatis nostris apud te fiducialiter intercedat"). Hence, Saint Justin calls Mary an Arbitratrix: "The Eternal Word uses Mary", he says, "as an Arbitratrix" - ("Verbum usum est Virgine sequestra" Expos. Fid. de Trin.). An Arbitrator is One to whose hands, Contending Parties 'Confide' their Whole Case; and so the Saint meant to say, that as Jesus is the Mediator with the Eternal Father, so also is Mary our Mediatress with Jesus; and that He puts all the Reasons that He has, for 'Pronouncing' Sentence Against us, into her Hands.
Saint-Andrew-of-Crete calls Mary "a 'Pledge', a 'Security' for our Reconciliation with God" - ("Fidejussio divinarum reconciliationum, quae dato pignore fit" In Dorm. B. V. s. 2). That is, that God goes-about Seeking-for Reconciliation with Sinners, by Pardoning them; and in-order-that they may not Doubt-of their Forgiveness, He has 'Given' them Mary, as a Pledge-of it, and therefore he 'Exclaims', "Hail, O Peace-of-God, with Men!" - ("Salve, Divina hominibus Reconciliatio" In Deip. Annunt). Wherefore, Saint Bonaventure 'Encourages' a Sinner; Saying: "If thou Fearest that, on-account-of thy Faults, God in His Anger will be Avenged, what hast thou to do? Go, have Recourse-to Mary, who is the Hope-of-Sinners; and, if thou Fearest that she may Refuse-to take thy Part, know that she cannot do so, for God Himself has Imposed-on her the Duty of Succoring the Miserable" - ("Si contra te, propter tuas nequitias, Dominum videris indignatum, ad Spem peccatorum confugias; sibi pro miseris satisfacere ex officio commissum est" Stim. Div. am. p. 3, c. 12). The Abbot Adam also Says, "Need that Sinner Fear, being Lost to-whom the Mother of the Judge, Offers herself to be Mother and Advocate?" - ("Timerene debet ut pereat, cui Maria se Matrem exhibit et Advocatam?") "And thou, O Mary", he adds, "who art the Mother-of-Mercy, wilt thou Disdain to Intercede-with thy Son, Who is the Judge, for another son, who is a Sinner? Wilt thou Refuse to Interpose in-Favor-of a Redeemed Soul, with the Redeemer, Who Died on a Cross, to Save Sinners?" No, No, thou wilt not Reject him, but with all Affection, thou wilt Pray for All, who have Recourse to thee, well-Knowing that "that Lord, Who has Appointed thy Son a Mediator of Peace between God and Man, has also made thee Mediatress between the Judge and the Culprit" - ("Rogabis plane; quia, qui Filium tuum inter Deum et hominess oosuit Mediatorem, te quoque inter reum et Judicem posuit Mediatricem" Marial. s. 1).
"Then, O Sinner", says Saint Bernard, "whoever thou mayest be, Imbedded in Crime, Grown Old in Sin, Despair not; Thank thy Lord, Who, that He might Show thee Mercy, has not only Given His Son for thy Advocate, but, to Encourage thee to Greater Confidence, has Provided thee with a Mediatress, who by her Prayers, Obtains whatever she Wills" - ("Age gratias ei, qui talem tibi Mediatricem providit" In Sign. Magn.). Go then, have Recourse-to Mary, and thou wilt be Saved.