SALVE, REGINA, MATER MISERICORDlAE! HAIL, HOLY QUEEN, MOTHER OF MERCY!
XIV.-MARY IS THE MOTHER OF PENlTENT SINNERS.
The doctrine that all prayers and works performed in a state of sin are sins was condemned as heretical by the sacred Council of Trent. St. Bernard says that although prayer in the mouth of a sinner is devoid of beauty, as it is unaccompanied by charity, nevertheless it is useful and obtains grace to abandon sin; for, as St. Thomas teaches, the prayer of a sinner, though without merit, is an act which obtains the grace of forgiveness, since the power of impetration is founded, not on the merits of him who asks, but on the Divine goodness, and the merits and promises of Jesus Christ, who has said, Every one that asketh, receiveth-(Luke xi. 10). The same thing must be said of the prayers offered to the Divine Mother. “If he who prays,” says St. Anselm, ” does not merit to be heard, the merits of the Mother, to whom he recommends himself, will intercede effectually.”
Therefore St. Bernard exhorts all sinners to have recourse to Mary, invoking her with great confidence; for though the sinner does not himself merit the graces which he asks, yet he receives them, because this Blessed Virgin asks and obtains them from God, on account of her own merits. These are his words, addressing a sinner: “Because thou wast unworthy to receive the grace thyself, it was given to Mary, in order that, through her, thou mightest receive all.” “If a mother,” continues the same Saint, “knew that her two sons bore a mortal enmity to each other, and that each plotted against the other’s life, would she not exert herself to her utmost in order to reconcile them? This would be the duty of a good mother. “And thus it is”, the Saint goes on to say, “that Mary acts; for she is the Mother of Jesus, and the Mother of men. When she sees a sinner at enmity with Jesus Christ, she cannot endure it, and does all in her power to make peace between them. 0 happy Mary, thou art the Mother of the criminal and the Mother of the Judge; and being the Mother of both, they are thy children, and thou canst not endure discords amongst them.”