“TURN, THEN, THINE EYES OF MERCY TOWARDS US.”
OUR LADY’S MERCY FILLS THE WHOLE EARTH.
In the Sacred Canticles Mary is called bright as the sun (Cant. vi. 9), “and no one is excluded from the warmth of this sun,” says St. Bonaventure, according to the words of the Psalmist. This was also revealed to St. Bridget, by St. Agnes, who told her that “our Queen, now that she is united to her Son in Heaven, cannot forget her innate goodness; and therefore she shows her compassion to all, even to the most impious sinners; so much so, that, as celestial and terrestial bodies are illumined by the sun, so there is no one in the world, who, if he asks, does not, through the tenderness of Mary, partake of the Divine mercy.”
A great sinner, in the kingdom of Valencia, who, having become desperate, and, in order not to fall into the hands of justice, had determined on becoming a Mahometan, was on the point of embarking for the purpose, when, by chance, he passed before a church, in which Father Jerome Lopez was preaching on the mercy of God. On hearing the sermon he was converted, and made his confession to the Father, who asked him whether he had ever practised any devotion, on account of which God had shown him so great mercy. He replied, that his only devotion was a prayer to the Blessed Virgin, in which he daily begged her not to abandon him. In a hospital the same Father found a sinner, who had not been to confession for fifty-five years; and the only devotion he practised was, that when he saw an Image of Mary he saluted her, and begged that she would not allow him to die in mortal sin. He then told him, that on an occasion, when fighting with an enemy, his sword was broken; and, turning to our Blessed Lady, he cried out: “O I shall be killed and lost for eternity; Mother of sinners, help me.” Scarcely had he said the words when he found himself transported to a place of safety. After making a general confession he died, full of confidence.
St. Bernard says that “Mary has made herself all to all, and opens her merciful heart to all, that all may receive of her fulness; the slave redemption, the sick health, those in affliction comfort, the sinner pardon, and God glory; that thus there may be no one who can hide himself from her warmth.” “Who can there be in the world,” exclaims St. Bonaventure, “who refuses to love this most amiable Queen? She is more beautiful than the sun, and sweeter than honey. She is a treasure of goodness, amiable and courteous to all.” “I salute thee, then,” continues the enraptured Saint, “O my Lady and Mother, nay, even my heart, my soul! Forgive me, O Mary, if I say that I love thee; for if I am not worthy to love thee, at least thou art all-worthy to be loved by me.”
It was revealed to St. Gertrude, that when these words are addressed with devotion to the most Blessed Virgin: “Turn, then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy towards us!” Mary cannot do otherwise than yield to the demand of whomsoever thus invokes her. “Ah, truly, O great Lady,” says St. Bernard, “does the immensity of thy mercy fill the whole earth.” “And therefore,” says St. Bonaventure, “this loving Mother has so earnest a desire to do good to all, that not only is she offended by those who positively outrage her (as some are wicked enough to do), but she is offended by the conduct of those who do not ask her for favours or graces.” So that St. Idelbert addresses her, saying: “Thou, O Lady, teachest us to hope for far greater graces than we deserve, since thou never ceasest to dispense graces far, far beyond our merits.”
The Prophet Isaias foretold that, together with the great work of the Redemption of the human race a throne of Divine mercy was to be prepared for us poor creatures: And a throne shall be prepared in mercy (Is. xvi. 5). What is this throne? St. Bonaventure answers: “Mary is this throne, at which all — just and sinners — find the consolations of mercy.” He then adds: “For as we have a most merciful Lord, so also we have a most merciful Lady. Our Lord is plenteous in mercy to all who call upon Him, and our Lady is plenteous in mercy to all who call upon her.” As our Lord is full of mercy, so also is our Lady; and as the Son knows not how to refuse mercy to those who call upon Him, neither does the Mother. Wherefore the Abbot Guerric thus addresses the Mother, in the name of Jesus Christ: “My Mother, in thee will I establish the seat of My government; through thee will I pronounce judgments, hear prayers, and grant the graces asked of Me. Thou hast given Me My human nature, and I will give thee My Divine nature, that is omnipotence, by which thou mayest be able to help to save all whomsoever thou pleasest.”
One day, when St. Gertrude was addressing the words: “Turn thine eyes of mercy towards us,” to the Divine Mother, she saw the Blessed Virgin pointing to the eyes of her Son, Whom she held in her arms, and then said: “These are the most compassionate eyes that I can turn for their salvation towards all who call upon me.”
A sinner was once weeping before an Image of Mary, imploring her to obtain pardon for him from God, when he perceived that the Blessed Virgin turned towards the Child that she held in her arms, and said, “My Son, shall these tears be lost?” And he understood that Jesus Christ had already pardoned him.
How, then, is it possible that any one can perish who recommends himself to this good Mother, since her Son, as God, has promised her that for her love He will show as much mercy as she pleases to all who recommend themselves to her? This our Lord revealed to St. Gertrude, allowing her to hear Him make the promise to His Mother in the following words: “In My omnipotence, O revered Mother, I have granted thee the reconciliation of all sinners who devoutly invoke the aid of thy compassion, in whatever way it may please thee.”
On this assurance the Abbot Adam Persenius, considering the great power of Mary with God, and, at the same time, her great compassion for us, full of confidence, says: “O Mother of mercy, thy tender compassion is as great as thy power, and thou art as compassionate in forgiving as thou art powerful in obtaining.” “And when,” he asks, “did the case ever occur in which thou, who art the Mother of mercy, didst not show compassion? O, when was it that thou, who art the Mother of omnipotence, couldst not aid? Ah, yes, with the same facility with which thou seest our misfortunes thou obtainest for us whatever thou willest.”
“O satiate thyself, great Queen,” says the Abbot Guerric, “with the glory of thy Son, and out of compassion, though not for any merit of ours, be pleased to send us, thy servants and children here below, the crumbs that fall from thy table.” Should the sight of our sins ever discourage us, let us address the Mother of mercy in the words of William of Paris: “O Lady, do not set up my sins against me, for I oppose thy compassion to them. Let it never be said that my sins could contend in judgment against thy mercy, which is far more powerful to obtain me pardon than my sins are to bring about my condemnation.”