TO THEE DO WE CRY, POOR BANISHED CHILDREN OF EVE
I.-THE PROMPTITUDE OF MARY IN ASSISTING THOSE WHO INVOKE HER.
Truly unfortunate are we poor children of Eve; for, guilty before God of her fault, and condemned to the same penalty, we have to wander about in this valley of tears as exiles from our country, and to weep over our many afflictions of body and soul. But blessed is he who, in the midst of these sorrows, often turns to the comfortress of the world, to the refuge of the unfortunate, to the great Mother of God, and devoutly calls upon her and invokes her! Blessed is the man that heareth me, and that watcheth daily at my gates (Prov. viii. 34). Blessed, says Mary, is he who listens to my counsels, and watches continually at the gate of my mercy, and invokes my intercession and aid.
The holy Church carefully teaches us her children with what attention and confidence we should unceasingly have recourse to this loving protectress; and for this purpose commands a worship peculiar to Mary. And not only this, but she has instituted many Festivals that are celebrated throughout the year in honour of this great Queen: she devotes one day in the week, in an especial manner, to her honour: in the Divine Office all Ecclesiastics and Religious are daily obliged to invoke her in the name of all Christians; and, finally, she desires that all the faithful should salute this most holy Mother of God three times a day, at the sound of the Angelus-bell. And that we may understand the confidence that the holy Church has in Mary we need only remember that in all public calamities she invariably invites all to have recourse to the protection of this Divine Mother, by novenas, prayers, processions, by visiting the churches dedicated to her honour, and her images. And this is what Mary desires. She wishes us always to seek her and invoke her aid; not as if she were begging of us these honours and marks of veneration, for they are in no way proportioned to her merit; but she desires them, that by such means our confidence and devotion may be increased, and that so she may be able to give us greater succour and comfort. “She seeks for those,” says St. Bonaventure, “who approach her devoutly and with reverence, for such she loves, nourishes, and adopts as her children.”
The Saint remarks that Ruth, whose name signifies, “seeing and hastening,” was a figure of Mary; ” for Mary, seeing our miseries, hastens in her mercy to succour us.” Novarino adds that “Mary, in the greatness of her desire to help us, cannot admit of delay, for she is in no way an avaricious guardian of the graces she has at her disposal as Mother of Mercy, and cannot do otherwise than immediately shower down the treasures of her liberality on her servants.”
Oh, how prompt is this good Mother to help those who call upon her! Thy two breasts, says the sacred Canticle, are like two roes that are twins (Cant. iv. 5). Richard of St. Laurence explains this verse, and says, that as roes are swift in their course, so are the breasts of Mary prompt to bestow the milk of mercy on all who ask it. By the light pressure of a devout salutation and prayer they distil large drops.” The same author assures us that the compassion of Mary is poured out on every one who asks it, even should it be sought for by no other prayer than a simple “Hail Mary.” Wherefore Novarino declares that the Blessed Virgin not only runs but flies to assist him who invokes her. “She,” says this author, “in the exercise of her mercy, knows not how to act differently from God; for, as He flies at once to the assistance of those who beg His aid, faithful to His promise, Ask, and you shall receive (John xvi. 24), so Mary, whenever she is invoked, is at once ready to assist him who prays to her. “God has wings when He assists His own, and immediately flies to them; Mary also takes wing when she is about to fly to our aid.” And hence we see who the woman was, spoken of in the following verse of the Apocalypse, to whom two great eagle’s wings were given, that she might fly to the desert. And there were given to the woman two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the desert (Apoc. xii. 14). Ribeira explains these wings to mean the love with which Mary always flew to God. “She has the wings of an eagle, for she flies with the love of God.” But the Blessed Amadeus, more to our purpose, remarks that these wings of an eagle signify “the velocity, exceeding that of the seraphim with which Mary always flies to the succour of her children.”
This will explain a passage in the Gospel of St. Luke, in which we are told that when Mary went to visit and shower graces on St. Elizabeth and her whole family, she was not slow, but went with speed. The Gospel says: And Mary, rising up, went into the hill country with haste (Luke i. 39). And this is not said of her return. For a similar reason, we are told in the sacred Canticles that her hands are skilful at the wheel (Cant. v. 14), meaning, says Richard of St. Laurence, “that as the art of turning is the easiest and most expeditious mode of working, so also is Mary the most willing and prompt of all the Saints to assist her clients.” And truly “she has the most ardent desire to console all, and is no sooner invoked than accepts our prayers and helps us.” St. Bonaventure, then, was right in calling Mary the “salvation of all who call upon her,” meaning, that it suffices to invoke this Divine Mother in order to be saved; for, according to Richard of St. Laurence, she is always ready to help those who seek her aid. “Thou wilt always find her ready to help thee.” And Bernardine de Bustis adds that “this great lady is more desirous to grant us graces than we are desirous to receive them.”