Spiritual Reading for the Second Sunday of Epiphany ~ St Alphonsus Liguori

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

Spiritual Reading

THE GREATNESS OF MARY’S POWER TO OBTAIN FOR US FROM GOD ALL THE GRACES OF WHICH WE STAND IN NEED.

And the wine failing, the mother of Jesus saith to him: They have no wine (Gospel of Sunday. Jo. ii. 1-11).

In today’s Gospel we read that Jesus Christ having been invited, went with His holy Mother to a marriage at Cana of Galilee. The wine failing, Mary said to her divine Son: They have no wine. By these words she intended to ask her Son to console the spouses, who were afflicted because the wine had failed. Jesus answered: Woman, what is it to me and to thee? My hour is not yet come. He meant that the time destined for the performance of miracles was that of His preaching through Judea. But, though His answer appeared to be a refusal of the request of Mary, the Son, says St. John Chrysostom, resolved to yield to the desire of the mother. “Although He said, My hour is not yet come, He granted the petition of His Mother.” Mary said to the waiters: Whatever he shall say to you do ye. Jesus bade them fill the water-pots with water and the water was changed into most excellent wine. Thus the bridegroom and the entire family were filled with gladness.

From the fact related in this day’s Gospel, let us consider the greatness of Mary’s power to obtain for us from God all the graces of which we are in need.

So great is Mary’s merit in the eyes of God, that, according to St. Bonaventure, her prayers are infallibly heard. “The merit of Mary is so great before God, that her petition cannot be rejected.” But why are the prayers of Mary so powerful in the sight of God? It is, says St. Antoninus, because “the petition of the Mother of God partakes of the nature of a command, and therefore it is impossible that she should not be heard.” The prayers of the Saints are the prayers of servants; but the prayers of Mary are the prayers of a mother, and therefore, according to the holy Doctor, they are, in a certain sense, regarded as commands by her Son Who loves her so tenderly. It is, then, impossible that the prayers of Mary should be rejected.

Hence, according to Cosmas of Jerusalem, the intercession of Mary is all-powerful — Omnipotens auxilium tuum, O Maria! It is right, as Richard of St. Laurence teaches, that the Son should impart His power to the Mother. Jesus Christ, Who is All-powerful, has made Mary omnipotent, as far as a creature is capable of omnipotence; that is, omnipotent in obtaining from Him, her divine Son, whatever she asks. Hence St. Bernardine of Sienna was able to say that all are subject to the power of Mary, and God Himself obeys her.

St. Bridget heard our Saviour one day addressing the Blessed Virgin in the following words: “Ask from Me whatever you wish, for your petition cannot be fruitless.” My Mother, ask of Me what you please; I cannot reject any prayer which you present to Me; “because since you refused Me nothing on earth, I will refuse you nothing in Heaven.”

St. George, Archbishop of Nicomedia, says that Jesus Christ hears all the prayers of His Mother, as if He wished thereby to discharge the obligation which He owes to her for having given to Him His human nature, by consenting to accept Him for her Son. Hence, St. Methodius, Martyr, used to say to Mary: “Rejoice, rejoice, O holy Virgin; for thou hast for thy debtor that Son to Whom we are all debtors; to thee He owes the human nature which He received from thee.”

St. Gregory of Nicomedia encourages sinners by the assurance that, if they have recourse to the Virgin Mary with a determination to amend their lives, she will save them by her intercession. Hence, turning to Mary, he exclaimed: “Thou hast insuperable strength, lest the multitude of our sins should overcome thy clemency.” O Mother of God, the sins of a Christian, however great they may be, cannot overcome thy mercy. “Nothing,” adds the same Saint, “resists thy power, for the Creator regards thy glory as His own.” Nothing is impossible to thee, says St. Peter Damian, thou canst raise even those who are in despair to hopes of salvation.

Richard of St. Laurence remarks that, in announcing to the Blessed Virgin that God had chosen her for the mother of His Son, the Archangel Gabriel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God (Luke i. 30). From which words the same author concludes: “If we wish to recover lost grace, let us seek Mary by whom this grace has been found.” She never lost divine grace; she always possessed it. If the angel declared that she had found grace, he meant that she had found it not for herself, but for us miserable sinners, who had lost it. Hence Cardinal Hugo exhorts us to go to Mary, and say to her: O Blessed Lady, property should be restored to those who lost it; the grace which thou hast found is not thine — for thou hast never lost the grace of God — but ours: we have lost it through our own fault; to us, then, thou oughtest to restore it. “Sinners, who by your sins have forfeited the divine grace, run to the Virgin and say to her with confidence: Restore us to our property which thou hast found.”

It was revealed to St. Gertrude, that all the graces which we ask of God through the intercession of Mary, will be given to us. She heard Jesus saying to His Divine Mother: “Through thee all who ask mercy with a purpose of amending their lives, shall obtain grace.” If all Paradise asked a favour of God, and Mary asked the opposite grace, the Lord would hear Mary, and would reject the petition of the rest of the celestial host. “Because,” says Father Suarez, “God loves the Virgin alone more than all the other Saints.”

Let us, then, conclude in the words of St. Bernard: “Let us seek grace and let us seek it through Mary, for her petition cannot be rejected.” Let us seek through Mary all the graces that we desire to receive from God, and we shall obtain them; for she is a Mother, and her Son cannot refuse to hear her prayers or to grant the graces which she asks from Him.

But, to obtain special favours from this good Lady, we must perform in her honour certain devotions practised by her servants, as follows:

1. To recite every day at least five Decades of the Rosary.

2. To fast every Saturday in her honour. Many persons fast every Saturday on bread and water; you should fast in this manner at least on the Vigils of her seven principal Festivals.

3. To say the Angelus, morning, noon and evening, and to salute her frequently during the day with an Ave Maria, a Hail Mary, particularly when you hear the clock strike, or when you see her image, and also when you leave or return to your house.

4. To say every evening the Litany of the Blessed Virgin before you go to rest; and for this purpose procure an image of Mary and keep it near your bed.

5. To wear the Scapulars of our Lady of Dolours, and of Mount Carmel.

6. There are many other devotions practised by the servants of Mary; but the most useful of all is, to recommend yourself frequently to her prayers. Never omit to say three Hail Marys in the morning, to beg of her to preserve you from sin during the day. In all temptations have immediate recourse to her. To resist every temptation, it is sufficient to pronounce the Names, Jesus and Mary! And if the temptation continues, let us continue to invoke Jesus and Mary, and the devil shall never be able to conquer us.

St. Bonaventure calls Mary the salvation of those who invoke her. And if a true servant of Mary were lost (I mean one truly devoted to her, who wishes to amend his life, and invoke with confidence this advocate of sinners), this would happen either because Mary was unable or unwilling to assist him. But, says St. Bernard, this is impossible: being the Mother of Omnipotence and of Mercy, Mary cannot want the power, or the will, to save her servants. Justly, then, is she called the salvation of all who invoke her aid. Of this truth there are numberless examples: that of St. Mary of Egypt will be sufficient. After leading for many years a sinful and dissolute life, she wished to enter the church of Jerusalem in which the Festival of the Holy Cross was being celebrated. To make her feel her miseries, God closed against her the door that was open to all others. As often as she endeavoured to enter, an invisible force drove her back. She instantly perceived her miserable condition, and remained in sorrow outside the church. Fortunately for her there was an image of most holy Mary over the porch of the church. As a poor sinner she recommended herself to the Divine Mother and promised to change her life. After her prayer she felt encouraged to go into the church; and behold, the door which was before closed against her she now finds open! She enters and confesses her sins. She leaves the church, and under the influence of divine inspiration, goes into the desert where she lived for forty-seven years and became a Saint.

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