THE TENDER COMPASSION OF MARY, AND HER READINESS TO ASSIST US IN ALL OUR WANTS
They have no wine. (Gospel of Sunday. Jo. ii. 1-11).
Mary showed, even when living in this world, the great compassion she would afterwards exercise towards us in our necessities. Without being asked, and listening only to the dictates of her compassionate heart, she lays before her Son the distress of the bride and bridegroom. They have no wine. If Mary unasked is so prompt to succour the needy, how much more so is she to succour those who invoke her aid and ask for her help?
The tenderness of Mary’s Mercy may be inferred from the fact related in today’s Gospel. The wine fails, the spouses are troubled, no one speaks to Mary to ask her Son to console them in their necessity. But the tenderness of Mary’s heart which, according to St. Bernardine of Sienna, cannot but pity the afflicted, moved her to take the office of advocate, and without being asked, to entreat her Son to work a miracle. “Unasked, she assumed the office of an advocate and a compassionate helper.” Hence, adds the same Saint, if, unasked, this good Lady has done so much, what will she not do for those who invoke her intercession?
From what is related in the Gospel St. Bonaventure draws another argument to show the great graces we may hope to obtain through Mary now that she reigns in Heaven. If she was so compassionate on earth, how much greater must be her mercy now that she is in Paradise? Great was the mercy of Mary while in exile on earth, but it is much greater now that she is a Queen in Heaven, because she now sees the misery of men. Mary in Heaven enjoys the vision of God, and therefore she sees our wants far more clearly than when she was on earth; hence, as her pity for us is increased, so also is her desire to assist us more ardent. Truly, then, has Richard of St. Victor spoken, addressing the Blessed Virgin: “So tender is thy heart thou canst not see misery without succouring it.”
St. Peter Damien says that the Virgin “loves us with an invincible love.” How ardently soever the Saints may have loved this amiable Queen, their affection fell far short of the love which Mary bore to them. It is this love that makes her so solicitous for our welfare. The Saints in Heaven, says St. Augustine, have great power to obtain grace from God for those who recommend themselves to their prayers; but as Mary is of all the Saints the most powerful, she is of all the most desirous to procure for us the divine Mercy.
O Mary, behold at thy feet a miserable slave of hell, who implores thy Mercy. I, indeed, deserve no favour, but thou art the Mother of Mercy, and Mercy is exercised in favour of those who are unworthy. The whole world calls thee the refuge and the hope of sinners; thou art, then, my refuge and my hope. I am a lost sheep, but it was to save the lost sheep the Eternal Word came down from Heaven and became thy Son. He wishes me to have recourse to thee and that thou assist me by thy prayers.
Our great advocate Mary once said to St. Bridget, she regards not the iniquities of the sinner who has recourse to her, but the disposition with which he invokes her aid. If he comes to her with a firm purpose of amendment she receives him, and by her intercession heals his wounds, and brings him to salvation. “However great a man’s sins may be, if he return to me, I am ready instantly to receive him. Nor do I regard the number or the enormity of his sins, but the will with which he comes to me; for I do not disdain to anoint and heal his wounds, because I am called, and truly am, the Mother of Mercy.” The Lord keeps His eyes upon the just (Ps. xxxiii. 16). But the Blessed Virgin keeps them upon the just and sinners, and acts towards each one of them precisely like a mother who has her eyes always fixed upon her child either to prevent it from falling or to raise it when fallen.
The Blessed Virgin is called a fair olive tree in the plains (Ecclus. xxiv. 19). From the olive, oil only comes forth; and from the hands of Mary only graces and mercies flow. According to Cardinal Hugo, it as said that she remains in the plains to show that she is ready to assist all those who have recourse to her.
St. Bonaventure used to say that in turning to Mary, he saw Mercy itself receiving him. “When I behold thee, O my Lady, I see nothing but Mercy.” The Virgin said one day to St. Bridget that miserable, and miserable for eternity, shall be the sinner who, though he has it in his power during life to come to her who is able and willing to assist him, neglects to invoke her aid, and is lost. The devil, says St. Peter, as a roaring lion goeth about seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet. v. 8). But this Mother of Mercy constantly goeth about in search of sinners to save them. This Queen of clemency presents our petitions, and begins to assist us before we ask the assistance of her prayers. Because Mary’s heart is so full of tenderness towards us that she cannot behold our miseries without affording relief.
Let us, then, in all our wants, be most careful to have recourse to this Mother of Mercy who is always ready to assist those who invoke her aid. She is always prepared to come to our help and frequently anticipates our supplications; but ordinarily, she requires that we should pray to her, and is offended when we neglect to ask her assistance. Thou, O Blessed Lady, art displeased not only with those who commit an injury against thee, but also with those who do not ask favours of thee, says St. Bonaventure. Hence, as the same holy Doctor teaches, it is not possible that Mary should neglect to succour a soul that flies to her for protection; for she cannot but pity and console the afflicted who have recourse to her.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners! O great Mother of God, thou prayest for all; pray to thy Son also for me. Tell Him that I am thy client and that thou art my protectress. Tell Him that in thee after Him I have placed all my hope. Tell Him to pardon me, that I repent of all the insults I have offered Him. Tell Him to grant me in His mercy holy perseverance. Tell Him to grant me the grace to love Him with my whole heart. In fine, tell Him to save me. He does whatsoever thou askest. O Mary, my hope, I trust in thee. Have pity upon me.