Spiritual Reading for Low Thursday ~ St Alphonsus Liguori

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Spiritual Reading



May it not, perhaps, be feared that Mary would not deign to interpose for some sinners because they are so overloaded with crimes? Or perhaps we ought to be overawed at the majesty and holiness of this great Queen? “No,” says St. Gregory VII, “for the higher and more holy she is, the greater is her sweetness and compassion towards sinners who have recourse to her with the desire to amend their lives.” Kings and queens, with their ostentation of majesty, inspire terror, and cause their subjects to fear to approach them: but what fear, says St. Bernard, can the miserable have of approaching this Queen of Mercy? “Why should human frailty fear to go to Mary? In her there is no austerity, nothing terrible: she is all sweetness, offering milk and wool to all.” Mary is not only willing to give, but she herself offers milk and wool to all: the milk of mercy to animate our confidence, and the wool of her protection against the thunderbolts of Divine justice.

Suetonius relates of the Emperor Titus that he could never refuse a favour, so much so that he sometimes promised more than he could grant; and when admonished of this he replied that a prince should never send away any person whom he admitted to his audience dissatisfied. Titus spoke thus, but in reality he must often have deceived or failed in his promises. Our Queen cannot deceive, and can obtain all that she wills for her clients. Moreover, “our Lord has given her so benign and compassionate a heart,” says Lanspergius, “that she cannot send away anyone dissatisfied who prays to her.” But how, to use the words of St. Bonaventure, canst thou, O Mary, who art the Queen of Mercy, refuse to succour the miserable? And “who,” asks the Saint, “are the subjects for mercy, if not the miserable? And since thou art the Queen of Mercy,” he continues, “and I am the most miserable of sinners, it follows that I am the first of thy subjects. How, then, O Lady, canst thou do otherwise than exercise thy mercy on me?” Have pity on us, then, O Queen of Mercy, and take charge of our salvation.

“Say not, O holy Virgin,” says St. George of Nicomedia, “that thou canst not assist us on account of the number of our sins, for thy power and thy compassion are such, that no number of sins, however great, can outweigh them. Nothing resists thy power, for our common Creator, honouring thee as His Mother, considers thy glory as His own”: and the Son, “exulting it it, fulfils thy petitions as if He were paying a debt”; meaning thereby, that although Mary is under an infinite obligation to the Son for having chosen her to be His Mother, yet it cannot be denied that the Son is under great obligation to her for having given Him His humanity; and therefore Jesus, to pay as it were what He owes to Mary, and glorying in her glory, honours her in a special manner by listening to and granting all her petitions.

How great, then, should be our confidence in this Queen, knowing her great power with God, and that she is so rich and full of mercy that there is no one living on the earth who does not partake of her compassion and favour. This was revealed by our Blessed Lady herself to St. Bridget, saying: “I am the Queen of Heaven and the Mother of Mercy; I am the joy of the just and the door through which sinners are brought to God. There is no sinner on earth so accursed as to be deprived of my mercy; for all, if they receive nothing else through my intercession, receive the grace of being less tempted by devils than they would otherwise have been.” “No one,” she adds, “unless the irrevocable sentence has been pronounced” (that is, the one pronounced on the damned), “is so cast off by God, who will not return to God and enjoy His mercy, if he invokes my aid. I am called by all the Mother of Mercy, and truly the mercy of my Son towards men has made me thus merciful towards them.” She concludes by saying that miserable will he be, and miserable will he be for all eternity, who, in this life, having it in his power to invoke her, who is so compassionate to all, and so desirous to assist sinners, is miserable enough not to invoke her, and so is damned.

Let us, then, have recourse, and always have recourse, to this most sweet Queen, if we would be certain of salvation; and if we are alarmed and disheartened at the sight of our sins, let us remember that, it is in order to save the greatest and most abandoned sinners who recommend themselves to her that Mary is made the Queen of Mercy. Such have to be her crown in Heaven, according to the words addressed to her by her Divine Spouse: Come from Libanus, my spouse; come from Libanus, come: thou shalt be crowned; … from the dens of the lions from the mountains of the leopards-(Cant. iv. 8). And what are these dens of beasts but miserable sinners whose souls have become the home of sin, the most frightful monster that can be found. “With such souls,” says the Abbot Rupert, addressing our Blessed Lady, “saved by thy means, O great Queen Mary, wilt thou be crowned in Heaven; for their salvation will form a, diadem worthy of, and well-becoming, a Queen of Mercy.”

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