SPES NOSTRA, SALVE-HAIL, OUR HOPE!
XXVIII.-MARY IS THE HOPE OF ALL.
Modern heretics cannot endure that we should salute and call Mary our hope: “Hail, our Hope!” They say that God alone is our hope, and that He curses those who put their trust in creatures in these words of the Prophet Jeremias: Cursed be the man that trusteth in man-(Jer. xvii. 5). Mary, they exclaim, is a creature; and how can a creature be our hope? This is what the heretics say: but in spite of this the holy Church obliges all Ecclesiastics and Religious each day to raise their voices; and in the name of all the faithful to invoke and call Mary by the sweet name of “our Hope”-the hope of all.
The angelical Doctor St. Thomas, says that we can place our hope in a person in two ways: as a principal cause, and as a mediate one. Those who hope for a favour from a king, hope it from him as lord; they hope for it from his minister or favourite as an intercessor. If the favour is granted, it comes primarily from the king, but it comes through the instrumentality of the favourite; and in this case he who seeks the favour is right in calling his intercessor his hope. The King of Heaven, being Infinite Goodness, desires in the highest degree to enrich us with His graces; but because confidence is requisite on our part, and in order to increase it in us, He has given us His own Mother to be our Mother and Advocate, and to her He has given all power to help us; and therefore He wills that we should repose our hope of salvation and of every blessing in her. Those who place their hopes in creatures alone, independently of God, as sinners do, and in order to obtain the friendship and favour of a man, fear not to outrage His Divine Majesty, are most certainly cursed by God, as the Prophet Jeremias says. But those who hope in Mary, as Mother of God, who is able to obtain graces and eternal liie for them, are truly blessed and acceptable to the Heart of God, Who desires to see that greatest of His creatures honoured; for she loved and honoured Him in this world more than all men and Angels put together. And therefore we justly and reasonably call the Blessed Virgin “our Hope,” trusting, as Cardinal Bellarmine says,” that we shall obtain through her intercession, that which we should not obtain by our own unaided prayers.” “We pray to her,” says the learned Suarez, “in order that the dignity of the intercessor may supply for our own unworthiness; so that,” he continues, “to implore the Blessed Virgin in such a spirit is not diffidence in the mercy of God, but fear of our own unworthiness.”
It is, then, not without reason that the holy Church, in the words of Ecclesiasticus, calls Mary the mother of holy hope-(Ecclus. xxiv. 24). She is the Mother who gives birth to holy hope in our hearts; not to the hope of the vain and transitory goods of this life, but of the immense and eternal goods of Heaven.
“Hail, then, O hope of my soul!” exclaims St. Ephrem, addressing this Divine Mother; “hail, 0 certain salvation of Christians; hail, 0 helper of sinners; hail, fortress of the faithful and salvation of the world!” Other Saints remind us that, after God, our only hope is Mary; and therefore they call her, “after God, their only Hope.”