MARY IS THE HOPE OF SINNERS
One of the titles which is the most encouraging for poor sinners and under which the Church teaches us to invoke Mary, in the Litany of Loretto, is that of “Refuge of sinners.” Therefore a devout author exhorts all sinners to take refuge under the mantle of Mary: “Fly, O Adam and Eve, and all you, their children, who have outraged God, fly and take refuge in the bosom of this good Mother, for know you not that she is your only city of refuge?”
In the first Chapter of the Book of Genesis we read that God made two great lights; a greater light to rule the day; a lesser light to rule the night (Gen. i. 16). Cardinal Hugo says that “Christ is the greater light to rule the just, and Mary the lesser to rule sinners”; meaning that the sun is a figure of Jesus Christ, Whose light is enjoyed by the just who live in the clear day of Divine grace; and that the moon is a figure of Mary, by whose means those who are in the night of sin are enlightened. Since Mary is this auspicious luminary, and is so for the benefit of poor sinners, should any one have been so unfortunate as to fall into the night of sin, what is he to do? Innocent III replies, “Whoever is in the night of sin, let him cast his eyes on the moon, let him implore Mary.” Since he has lost the light of the sun of justice by losing the grace of God, let him turn to the moon, and beseech Mary; and she will certainly give him light to see the misery of his state, and strength to leave it without delay. St. Methodius says that “by the prayers of Mary well nigh countless sinners are converted.”
One of the titles which is the most encouraging to poor sinners, and under which the Church teaches us to invoke Mary, in the Litany of Loretto, is that of “Refuge of Sinners.” In Judea in ancient times there were cities of refuge in which criminals who fled there for protection were exempt from the punishments which they had deserved. Nowadays those cities are not so numerous; there is but one, and that is Mary, of whom the Psalmist says: Glorious things are said of thee, O city of God (Ps. lxxxvi. 3). But this city differs from the ancient ones in this respect–that in these ancient cities all kinds of criminals did not find refuge, nor was the protection extended to every class of crime; but under the mantle of Mary all sinners, without exception, find mercy for every sin that they may have committed, provided only that they go there to seek this protection. “I am the city of refuge,” says St. John Damascene, in the name of our Queen, “to all who fly to me.” And it is sufficient to have recourse to her, for whoever has the good fortune to enter this city need not speak to be saved. Assemble yourselves, and let us enter into the fenced city, and let us be silent there (Jer. viii. 14), to speak in the words of the Prophet Jeremias. This city, says Blessed Albert the Great, is the most holy Virgin fenced in with grace and glory. And let us be silent there, that is, continues an interpreter, “because we dare not invoke the Lord, whom we have offended, she will invoke and ask.” For if we do not presume to ask our Lord to forgive us, it will suffice to enter this city and be silent, for Mary will speak and ask all we may require. And for this reason a devout author exhorts all sinners to take refuge under the mantle of Mary, exclaiming: “Fly, O Adam and Eve, and all you, their children, who have outraged God; fly, and take refuge in the bosom of this Good Mother; know you not that she is our only city of refuge?”–the only hope of sinners.