SALVE, REGINA, MATER MISERICORDlAE! HAIL, HOLY QUEEN, MOTHER OF MERCY!
VIII.-THE GREATNESS OF THE LOVE THIS MOTHER BEARS US.
Our Mother Mary loves us much, because we were recommended to her by her beloved Jesus when He, before expiring, said to her: Woman, behold thy son! for we were all represented in the person of St. John, as we have already observed: these were His last words; and the last recommendations left before death by persons we love are always treasured and never forgotten. But again, we are exceedingly dear to Mary on account of the sufferings we cost her. Mothers generally love those children most the preservation of whose lives has cost them the most suffering and anxiety; we are those children for whom Mary, in order to obtain for us the life of grace, was obliged to endure the bitter agony of herself offering her beloved Jesus to die an ignominious death, and had also to see Him expire before her own eyes in the midst of the most cruel and unheard-of torments. It was, then, by this great offering of Mary that we were born to the life of grace; we are therefore her very dear children, since we cost her so great suffering. And thus, as it is written of the love of the Eternal Father towards men, in giving His own Son to death for us, that God so loved the world as to give his only-begotten Son-(John iii. 16). “So also,” says St. Bonaventure, “we can say of Mary that she has so loved us as to give her only-begotten Son for us.” And when did she give Him? She gave Him, says Father Nieremberg, when she granted Him permission to deliver Himself up to death; she gave Him to us when, others neglecting to do so, either out of hatred or from fear, she might herself have pleaded for the life of her Son before the judges. Well may it be supposed that the words of so wise and loving a Mother would have had great weight, at least with Pilate, and might have prevented him from sentencing a man to death whom he knew and had declared to be innocent. But no, Mary would not say a word in favour of her Son, lest she might prevent that death on which our salvation depended. Finally, she gave Him to us a thousand and a thousand times during the three hours preceding His Death and which she spent at the foot of the Cross; for during the whole of that time she unceasingly offered. with the extreme of sorrow and the extreme of love, the life of her Son on our behalf, and this with such constancy that St. Anselm and St. Antoninus say that if executioners had been wanting she herself would have crucified Him in order to obey the Eternal Father Who willed His Death for our salvation. If Abraham had such fortitude as to be ready to sacrifice with his own hands the life of his son, with far greater fortitude would Mary, far more holy and obedient than Abraham, have sacrificed the life of hers. But let us return to the consideration of die gratitude we owe to Mary for so great an act of love as was the painful sacrifice of the life of her Son, which she made to obtain eternal salvation for us all. God abundantly rewarded Abraham for the sacrifice he was prepared to make of his son Isaac; but we, what return can we make to Mary for the life of her Jesus, a Son far more noble and beloved than the son of Abraham? “This love of Mary,” says St. Bonaventure. “has indeed obliged us to love her; for we see that she has surpassed all others in love towards us, since. she has given to us her only Son, Whom she loved more than herself.”