MARY IS THE HOPE OF ALL SINNERS
The Blessed Virgin revealed to St. Bridget that there was no sinner in the world, however much he might be at enmity with God, who will not return to Him if he would only have recourse to her, and ask her assistance. Noe’s Ark was a true figure of Mary, for as in it all kinds of beasts were saved, so under Mary’s mantle all sinners find refuge.
The devout Blosius declares that “Mary is the only refuge of those who have offended God, the asylum of all who are oppressed by temptation, calamity, or persecution. This Mother is all mercy, benignity, and sweetness, not only to the just, but also to despairing sinners; so that no sooner does she perceive them coming to her, and seeking her help from their hearts, than she aids them, welcomes them, and obtains their pardon from her Son. She knows not how to despise any one, however unworthy he may be of mercy, and therefore denies her protection to none; she consoles all, and is no sooner invoked than she helps whoever it may be that invokes her. She by her sweetness often awakens, and draws to devotion to her, sinners who are the most at enmity with God and the most deeply plunged in the lethargy of sin; and then, by the same means, she excites them effectually, and prepares them for grace, and thus renders them fit for the kingdom of Heaven. God has created this His beloved Daughter of so compassionate and sweet a disposition that no one can fear to have recourse to her.” The pious author concludes in these words: “It is impossible for any one to perish who carefully, and with humility, cultivates devotion towards this Divine Mother.”
In Ecclesiasticus Mary is called a plane-tree: As a plane-tree I was exalted (Ecclus. xxiv. 19). And she is so called that sinners may understand that as the plane-tree gives shelter to travellers from the heat of the sun, so does Mary invite them to take shelter under her protection from the wrath of God, justly enkindled against them. St. Bonaventure remarks that the Prophet Isaias complained of the times in which he lived, saying: Behold thou art angry, and we have sinned … there is none … that riseth up and taketh hold of thee (Is. lxiv. 5-7). And then he makes the following commentary: “It is true, O Lord, that at the time there was none to raise up sinners and withhold Thy wrath, for Mary was not yet born”; “before Mary,” to quote the Saint’s own words, “there was no one who could thus dare to restrain the arm of God.” But now, if God is angry with a sinner, and Mary takes him under her protection, she withholds the avenging arm of her Son, and saves him. “And so,” continues the same Saint, “no one can be found more fit for this office than Mary, who seizes the sword of Divine justice with her own hands to prevent it from falling upon and punishing the sinner.” Upon the same subject Richard of St. Laurence says that “God, before the birth of Mary, complained by the mouth of the Prophet Ezechiel that there was no one to rise up and withhold Him from chastising sinners”, for this office was reserved for our Blessed Lady, who withholds His arm until He is pacified.
The Blessed Virgin herself revealed to St. Bridget “that there is no sinner in the world, however much he may be at enmity with God, who does not return to Him and recover His grace, if he has recourse to her and asks her assistance.” The same St. Bridget one day heard Jesus Christ address His Mother, and say that “she would be ready to obtain the grace of God for Lucifer himself, if he only humbled himself so far as to seek her aid.” That proud spirit will never humble himself so far as to implore the protection of Mary; but if such a thing were possible, Mary would be sufficiently compassionate, and her prayers would have sufficient power to obtain both forgiveness and salvation for him from God. But that which cannot be verified with regard to the devil is verified in the case of sinners who have recourse to this compassionate Mother.
Noe’s Ark was a true figure of Mary; for as in it all kinds of beasts were saved, so under the mantle of Mary all sinners, who by their vices and sensuality are already like beasts, find refuge; but with this difference, as a pious author remarks, that “while the brutes that entered the ark remained brutes, the wolf remaining a wolf, and a tiger a tiger–under the mantle of Mary, on the other hand, the wolf becomes a lamb, and the tiger a dove.” One day St. Gertrude saw Mary with her mantle open, and under it there were many wild beasts of different kinds–leopards, lions, and bears; and she saw not only that our Blessed Lady did not drive them away; but that she welcomed and caressed them with her benign hand. The Saint understood that these wild beasts were miserable sinners, who are welcomed by Mary with sweetness and love the moment they have recourse to her.
It was, then, not without reason that St. Bernard addressed the Blessed Virgin, saying: “Thou, O Lady, dost not reject any sinner who approaches thee, however loathsome and repugnant he may be. If he asks thy assistance, thou dost not disdain to extend thy compassionate hand to him, to extricate him from the gulf of despair.” May our God be eternally blessed and thanked, O most amiable Mary, for having created thee so sweet and benign, even towards the most miserable sinners! Truly unfortunate is he who loves thee not, and who, having it in his power to obtain thy assistance, has no confidence in thee. He who has not recourse to thee is lost; but who was ever lost that had recourse to thee, O most Blessed Virgin?