Evening Meditations for the Nineteenth Sunday After Pentecost~ St Alphonsus Liguori

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Evening Meditation



When Noe judged that the Deluge ought to have ceased, he sent forth the dove from the Ark. The dove returned with an olive branch significant of the peace which God had concluded with the world. This dove was a figure of Mary. “Thou art,” says St. Bonaventure, “that most faithful dove of Noe which became the most faithful Mediatrix between God and the world submerged by a spiritual deluge.” Pelbart inquires how it happens that in the Old Law, the Lord was so rigorous in His chastisements, of universal deluge, of fire from Heaven, of fiery serpents, and such like punishments; whereas He now deals so mercifully with us, who have sinned more grievously than those of old. And he answers that God is thus merciful for love of Mary, who intercedes for us. “Oh, how long since should the heavens and the earth have been destroyed,” says St. Fulgentius, “if Mary had not interposed.”

Wherefore the Church wishes that we should call this Divine Mother our hope. The impious Luther could not endure that the Church should teach us to call Mary our hope. He said that our hope ought to rest only in God — not in the creature; and that God curses him who places his confidence in creatures: Cursed be the man that trusteth in man. (Jer. xvii. 5). True, but that is understood of those who trust in creatures, in contempt of God, or independently of Him. But we hope in Mary, as our Mediatrix with the Lord. In the same manner as Jesus is our Mediator of right with His Eternal Father, because by the merits of His Passion He obtains pardon for penitent sinners, so Mary is Mediatrix by Divine favour with her Son, and is such a Mediatrix that her Son grants her every request; nay, that He wishes that every grace should pass through her hands. “The Lord,” says St. Bernard, “has placed in Mary the plenitude of all good; so that if aught of hope or grace or salvation is in us, we know that we derive it from Mary.” The Lord has confided to Mary the treasure of mercies which He wishes to have dealt out to us, and therefore wishes that we should acknowledge every grace as coming through her. Whence the Saint calls her his chief confidence, and the principal ground of his hope. For which reason he exhorts us to look for grace always through the intercession of Mary. And for the same reason the Church, despite Luther, calls Mary our hope — Spes nostra salve.


The Saints call Mary the ladder, the moon, and the city of refuge. She is called by St. Bernard the ladder of sinners. It is sin which separates us from God. But your iniquities have divided between you and your God (Is. lix. 2). A soul in the state of grace is in union with God, and God in union with it. He that abideth in charity, abideth in God, and God in him (1 Jo. iv. 16). But when the soul turns its back upon God, then is it separated from Him — plunged into an abyss of misery, and as far removed from God as sin itself. But where shall this wretched soul find a ladder by which to mount once more to God, and be again united to Him? Mary is that ladder, to whom if the sinner has recourse, no matter what his misery, or how great the filth of his sins, he can come out of the pit of perdition. “Thou,” says St. Bernard, “dost not abhor the sinner, however loathsome he be; if he once sigh to thee, thou reachest out to him thy hand to draw him out of the gulf of despair.” For the same reason is she called the moon: Fair as the moon (Cant. vi. 9). — “As the moon,” says St. Bernard, “is placed between the sun and earth, so is Mary stationed between God and us, to pour out His graces continually upon us.” Hence, also, she is called the City of refuge, as she is made to call herself by St. John Damascene. “I am the city of all those that have recourse to me.” In the ancient law there were five Cities of Sanctuary; to which, if any one fled, he was secure of not being pursued by justice, no matter what his crime. At present we have not so many Cities of Sanctuary — we have only Mary, to whom if any one shall have fled he may rest secure of not being pursued by the Divine justice. In the cities of the Old Law every delinquent was in danger, nor could all his crimes escape unpunished; but Mary is a city of refuge which receives every criminal. There is no one so cast off by God,” said this Blessed Mother to St. Bridget, “who, if he have recourse to me, shall not return to God, and receive pardon.”

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