“TURN, THEN, THINE EYES OF MERCY TOWARDS US.”
I. MARY IS ALL EYES TO PITY AND SUCCOUR US IN OUR NECESSITIES.
St. Epiphanius calls the Divine Mother “many-eyed,” indicating thereby her watchfulness in assisting us poor creatures in this valley of tears. The eyes of the Lord are on the just (Ps. xxxiii. 16). “But the eyes of the Lady are on just and sinners,” says Richard of St. Laurence. “For,” he adds, “the eyes of Mary are the eyes of a mother on her child to save it from falling, and if perchance it falls, to raise it up.”
Jesus Christ one day allowed St. Bridget to hear Him thus addressing His Mother: “My Mother, ask Me what thou wilt!” And so is her Divine Son addressing Mary in Heaven, taking pleasure in gratifying His beloved Mother in all that she asks. But what does Mary ask? St. Bridget heard her reply: “I ask mercy for sinners.” As if she had said: “My Son, Thou hast made me the Mother of mercy, the refuge of sinners, the advocate of the miserable; and now Thou tellest me to ask what I desire; what can I ask except mercy for sinners?”
“And so, O Mary, thou art so full of mercy,” says St. Bonaventure; “so attentive in relieving the wretched, that it seems that thou hast no other desire, no other anxiety.” And as amongst the miserable, sinners are the most miserable of all, Venerable Bede declares “that Mary is always praying to her Son for them.”
“Even whilst living in this world,” says St. Jerome, “the heart of Mary was so filled with tenderness and compassion for men, that no one ever suffered so much for his own pains as Mary suffered for the pains of others.” This compassion for others in affliction she well showed at the marriage-feast of Cana, when, the wine failing, without being asked, remarks St. Bernardine of Sienna, she charged herself with the office of a tender comfortress: and moved to compassion at the sight of the embarrassment of the bride and bridegroom, she interposed with her Son, and obtained the miraculous change of water into wine.
St. Peter Damian, thus speaks to holy Mary: “Perhaps O holy Virgin, now that thou art raised on high to the dignity of Queen of Heaven, thou forgettest us poor creatures?” “Ah, far be such a thought from our minds,” he adds; “for it would little become the great compassion that reigns in the heart of Mary ever to forget such misery as ours.” The proverb, that “honours change our manners,” does not apply to Mary. With worldlings it is otherwise; for they, when once raised to high dignity, become proud, and forget their former poor friends, but it is not so with Mary, who rejoices in her own exaltation, because she is thus better able to help the miserable.
On this subject St. Bonaventure applies to the Blessed Virgin the words addressed to Ruth: Blessed art thou of the Lord, my daughter, and thy latter kindness has surpassed the former, meaning to say that, “if the compassion of Mary was great towards the miserable when living in this world, it is much greater now that she reigns in Heaven.” He then gives the reason for this, saying that “the Divine Mother shows, by the innumerable graces she obtains for us, her greater mercy; for now she is better acquainted with our miseries.” Hence he adds that “as the splendour of the sun surpasses that of the moon, so does the compassion of Mary, now that she is in Heaven, surpass the compassion she had for us when in the world.” In conclusion, he asks, “who is there living in this world who does not enjoy the light of the sun? And on whom does not the mercy of Mary shine?”