SALVE, REGINA, MATER MISERICORDlAE! HAIL, HOLY QUEEN, MOTHER OF MERCY!
XII.-THE GREATNESS OF THE LOVE THIS MOTHER BEARS US.
Oh, that all would come to love Mary as did Charles, the son of St. Bridget, who said that nothing in the world consoled him so much as the knowledge that Mary was so greatly loved by God. And he added that he would willingly endure every torment rather than allow Mary to lose the smallest degree of her glory, were such a thing possible; and that if her glory were his, he would renounce it in her favour, as being far more worthy of it.
Let us, moreover, desire to lay down our lives as a testimony of our love for Mary, as St. Alonso Rodriguez desired to do. Let us love her as did those who even cut the beloved name of Mary on their breasts with sharp instruments, as did Francis Binanzio and Radagundis, wife of King Clothaire; or as did those who could imprint this loved name on their flesh with hot irons in order that it might remain more distinct and lasting, as did her devout servants Baptist Archinto and Augustine d’Espinosa, both of the Society of Jesus, impelled thereto by the vehemence of their love.
Let us, in fine, do or desire to do, all that it is possible for a lover to do who intends to make his affection known to the person loved. For be assured that the lovers of Mary will never be able to equal her in love. “I know, O Lady,” says St. Peter Damian, ” that thou art most loving, and that thou lovest us with an invincible love.” I know, my Lady, that among lovers thou lovest the most, and that thou lovest us with a love that can never be surpassed.
St. Alonso Rodriguez, of the Society of Jesus, once prostrate before an image of Mary, felt his heart inflamed with love towards this most Holy Virgin, and burst forth mto the following exclamation: “My most beloved Mother, I know that thou lovest me, but thou dost not love me as much as I love thee.” Mary, as it were, offended on the point of love, immediately replied from the image: “What dost thou say, Alonso? What dost thou say? Oh, how much greater is the love that I bear thee than any love thou canst have for me! Know that the distance between Heaven and earth is not so great as the distance between thy love and mine.”
St. Bonaventure, then, was right in exclaiming: Blessed are they who have the good fortune to be faithful servants and lovers of this most loving Mother. “Blessed are the hearts of those who love Mary; blessed are they who are tenderly devoted to her. Yes, for in this struggle our most gracious Queen never allows her clients to conquer her in love. She returns our love and homage, and always increases her past favours by new ones.” Mary, imitating in this our most loving Redeemer Jesus Christ, returns to those who love her their love doubled in benefits and favours.
Then will I exclaim, with the enamoured St. Anselm, “May my heart languish and my soul melt and be consumed with your love, 0 my beloved Saviour Jesus, and my dear Mother Mary! But, as without your grace I cannot love you, grant me, 0 Jesus and Mary, grant my soul, by your merits and not mine, the grace to love you as you deserve to be loved. 0 God, Lover of men, Thou couldst love guilty men even unto death. And canst Thou deny Thy love and that of Thy Mother to those who ask it?”