We need not to be told of the comfort that a good mother is to her child. We know how such a mother from the earliest days of her little baby has surrounded and protected it by her constant and unwavering love and tenderness: how eager she is always to come to the assistance of the child when ailing or in distress of any sort: how anxious to promote by all the means in her power the well-being and happiness of her little one.
THE WELL-BEING AND HAPPINESS OF HER LITTLE ONE
We know, too, how when the child has grown in years and has become independent in many ways of a parent’s help, the good mother’s love still persists and is ready to befriend or take up the defence of son or daughter, when perhaps he or she has gone wrong and done something that brings what may be well-merited punishment and disgrace. History alone gives us innumerable examples of the sacrificing love of good mothers for their children. And many of us, no doubt, can recall among our happiest memories the love that our own mother had for us, and how often she shielded us in times when we were in some danger or difficulty, and we were left with no one else, perhaps, to stand by us in our urgent need.
STANDING BY US IN OUR URGENT NEED
We may well thank God for a good mother; but for no mother may we be more grateful than for that Heavenly Mother whom, as His last legacy and as an earnest of His own infinite love for us, Christ bequeathed us, when dying on the Cross He said to His disciple John and in his person to each and every one of us: “Behold thy Mother.” [John 19:26-27].
THERE IS NOBODY WHO CANNOT CLAIM MARY’S PROTECTION OR AID
We cannot question the fact that Mary is the Mother of each one of us, as is so often declared to us by the infallible teaching of the Church. There is nobody, however worthless he or she may be, who cannot claim her protection and aid. But what we have to impress upon ourselves, as perhaps hitherto we have not done, is the reality of this relation that exists between us, and how anxious her Divine Son is that we should look upon Mary as our true Mother.
MARY, OUR TRUE MOTHER
How evident this has been made by the countless graces and favours that God has granted to men through the intercession of her whom He always delights to honour! Throughout the history of the Church it is this great Mother who, after her Divine Son, takes a foremost place, so that we can hail her as the “Mediatrix omnium gratiarum”. It was she who helped by her prayers to prepare the first apostles to receive the Holy Ghost [Acts 1:14] and to go forth with all the gifts they had received to preach the Gospel of Christ to all nations, with a success so great that it was in itself a miracle and is one of the proofs of the divinity of the Church which they helped to found.
And so we find Mary, the Mother of the Church and of all Christians, in each successive age exercising her power and giving proof of her solicitude for the maintenance of the Faith. It is she who is invoked to exterminate heresy, as when, for instance, St Dominic with his devoted sons employed the devotion of the Rosary to stem and suppress the Albigensian heresy in the thirteenth century.
And when we come down to our times, how clearly God has given us proof that it is to His Holy Mother that we must have recourse for succour, both spiritual and temporal. Think of the apparitions to that poor little peasant girl (now St Bernadette) at Lourdes and of the millions from all parts of the world who have made pilgrimages to that famous shrine ever since, many of whom have been recipients of miraculous cures that the closest medical investigation cannot disprove. And even as late as 1917 Our Lady’s intercessory power with God was again made manifest by her apparitions to the three little children at Fatima at Portugal, and there resulting, as at Lourdes, in many miraculous favours bestowed on soul as well as on body.
It would be an incredulous person, indeed, who, having studied closely and with an open mind the wonderful effects of Mary’s intercession throughout the ages of Christianity, would still refuse to accept as a well-authenticated fact that it is through His Mother that Christ would have us find favour with Him and get into closer union with Him, thereby more certainly securing our own salvation.
AN IMMENSE COMFORT
This is the immense comfort that every good Catholic can enjoy, that Mary is in very truth his own Mother, as truly his mother in the supernatural order as the mother of whom he was born in the natural. Remembering the words of St Bernard in the familiar prayer of the Memorare, that “no one ever had recourse to her protection or sought her mediation without obtaining relief,” he should be emboldened to turn to her in his every necessity. In these bitter days of suffering and multiplied woes, it is well for all of us to re-enkindle our devotion to Mary and to ponder more deeply on all those prerogatives of hers which are recounted in the Litany of Loreto. She is the Virgin-Mother of God, and because of that very fact she is the Virgin most amiable, the Virgin most powerful, the Virgin most faithful to all her duties as a Mother to each and every one of her children. She is the “Seat of Wisdom” who will bring home to us those supernatural truths, so infinitely more important than any mere human knowledge or learning. And even if our lives have been lives of the most grievous and terrible sins, so many and so great that we may shudder and fear when we think of them, approach to this good and merciful Mother is not barred to us, because has not she made herself the “Refuge of Sinners”? And as the “Help of Christians” and the “Consoler of the Afflicted”, be they afflictions in soul or in body, has she not shown in countless instances that through her intercession we can be relieved of all our ills, that our sins will be forgiven and forgotten, and that we can enter into a peace of soul that she as the “Queen of Peace” can infallibly procure for us?
PEACE OF SOUL
She stands so infinitely higher than all the rest of God’s creatures that no human measurements or comparisons can give us an adequate idea of the distance that lies between her and them. She is far above all the Angels, Archangels, Dominations, Powers, Cherubim and Seraphim in all their ascending ranks of glory: she is above all saints, martyrs, confessors, and virgins. She is the Queen of them all, the one and only human creature conceived without the least stain of sin and so verifying the truth of the poet’s words, “Our tainted nature’s solitary boast”.
OH, THAT WE MIGHT TAKE IT DEEPLY TO HEART
Oh, that we might take it deeply to heart. She, this great Queen and Mother, so surpassing as she is in the grandeur and splendour of her soul, is our own dear Mother. Each of us can claim her for himself, seeing in her one who is incomparably more tender and loving than any earthly mother has ever been or could be, one who is ever so solicitous for our eternal salvation, knowing so well at what price her Son has redeemed us, and ever interceding on our behalf that the prodigal outpouring of His Precious Blood on Calvary, of which she was such a close witness, may not be fruitless.
“MONSTRA TE ESSE MATREM”
Often, then, let us turn to her during the day, even as we go about our work, with such prayers on our lips as “Monstra the esse matrem” (Show thyself a mother), or with some indulgenced invocation as “Sweet Heart of Mary, be my salvation”. The more we run to this good Mother, as little children run to their mothers, and the greater our love for her grows, the easier we shall find it to face the hard conditions of our lives, and the more consolation and comfort we shall enjoy under her protecting mantle.
– From: Lift Up Your Hearts, Christopher J. Wilmot, S.J., The Catholic Book Club, London, 1949