SALVE, REGINA, MATER MISERICORDIAE! HAIL, HOLY QUEEN, MOTHER OF MERCY!
XI.-THE GREATNESS OF THE LOVE THIS MOTHER BEARS US.
Oh, how much does the love of this good Mother exceed that of all her children! Let them love her as much as they will, Mary is always amongst lovers the most loving, says St. Ignatius the Martyr. Let them love her as did St. Stanislaus Kostka who loved this dear Mother so tenderly that in speaking of her he moved all who heard him to love her. He had made new words and new titles with which to honour her name. He never did anything without first turning to her image and asking her blessing. When he said her Office, the Rosary, or other prayers, he did so with the same external marks of affection as he would have done had he been speaking face to face with Mary; when the Salve Regina was sung, his whole soul, and even his whole countenance, was all inflamed with love. On being one day asked by a Father of the Society who was going with him to visit a picture of the Blessed Virgin, how much he loved Mary, Father,” he answered, “what more can I say?-she is my Mother.” “But,” adds the Father, “the holy youth uttered these words with such tenderness in his voice, with such an expression of countenance, and at the same time it came so fully from his heart, that it no longer deemed to be a young man but rather an angel speaking of the love of Mary.”
Let us love her as Blessed Hermann loved her. He called her the spouse of his love, for he was honoured by Mary herself with this same title. Let us love her as did St. Philip Neri, who was filled with consolation at the mere thought of Mary, and therefore called her his delight. Let us love her as did St. Bonaventure, who called her not only his Lady and Mother, but to show the tenderness of his affection, even called her his heart and soul: “Hail, my Lady, my Mother; nay, even my heart, my soul!”
Let us love her like that great lover of Mary, St. Bernard, who loved this sweet Mother so much that he called her H the ravisher of hearts”; and to express the ardent love he bore her added: “for hast thou not ravished my heart, 0, Queen?”
Let us call her our beloved, like St. Bernardine of Sienna, who daily went to visit a devotional picture of Mary, and there, in tender colloquies with his Queen, declared his love; and when asked where he went each day, he replied that he went to visit his beloved.
Let us love her as did St. Aloysius Gonzaga, whose love for Mary burnt so unceasingly that whenever he heard the sweet name of his Mother mentioned his heart was instantly inflamed and his countenance lighted up with a fire that was visible to all.
Let us love as much as St. Francis Solano did, who, maddened as it were, but with a holy madness, with love for Mary, would sing before her picture, and accompany himself on a musical instrument, saying that, like worldly lovers, he serenaded his most sweet Queen.
Finally, let us love her as so many of her servants have loved her who never could do enough to show their love. Father John of Trexo, of the Society of Jesus, rejoiced in the name of “slave of Mary,” and as a mark of servitude went often to visit her in some church dedicated in her honour. On reaching the church he poured out abundant tears of tenderness and love for Mary; then, prostrating, he licked and rubbed the pavement with his tongue and face, kissing jt a thousand times, because it was the house of his beloved Lady. Father James Martinez, of the same Society, who, for his devotion to our Blessed Lady on her feasts, was carried by Angels to Heaven to see how they were kept there, used to say: “Would that I had the hearts of all Angels and Saints to love Mary as they love her. Would that I had the lives of all men, to give them all for her love!”