TO THEE DO WE CRY, POOR BANISHED CHILDREN OF EVE
3.-THE PROMPTITUDE OF MARY IN ASSISTING THOSE WHO INVOKE HER.
To increase our confidence in Mary, St. Anselm says that “when we have recourse to this Divine Mother, not only may we be sure of her protection, but that often we shall be heard more quickly, and be thus preserved, if we have recourse to Mary and call on her holy name, than we should be if we called on the Name of Jesus our Saviour.” And the reason he gives for it is, that “to Jesus, as Judge, it belongs also to punish; but Mercy alone belongs to the Blessed Virgin as a patroness.” Meaning, that we more easily find salvation by having recourse to the Mother than by going to the Son — not as if Mary was more powerful than her Son to save us, for we know that Jesus Christ is our only Saviour, and that He alone by His merits has obtained and still obtains salvation for us; but it is for this reason: that when we have recourse to Jesus we consider Him at the same time as our Judge, to whom it belongs also to chastise ungrateful souls, and therefore the confidence necessary to be heard may fail us; but when we go to Mary, who has no other office than to compassionate us as Mother of Mercy, and to defend us as our advocate, our confidence is more easily established, and is often greater. “We often obtain more promptly what we ask by calling on the name of Mary than by invoking that of Jesus. Her Son is Lord and Judge of all, and discerns the merits of each one; and therefore if He does not immediately grant the prayers of all, He is just. When, however, the Mother’s name is invoked, though the merits of the suppliant are not such as to deserve that his prayer should be granted, those of the Mother supply that he may receive.”
“Many things,” says Nicephorus, “are asked from God, and are not granted: they are asked from Mary, and are obtained.” And how is this? It is “because God has thus decreed to honour His Mother.” St. Bridget heard our Lord make a most sweet and consoling promise; for in the 50th chapter of the first book of her Revelations we read that Jesus addressed His Mother in the following words: “Thou shalt present Me with no petition that shall be refused. My Mother, ask what thou wilt, for never will I refuse thee anything; and know,” He added, “that I promise graciously to hear all those who ask any favour of Me in thy name, though they may be sinners, if only they have the will to amend their lives.” The same thing was revealed to St. Gertrude, when she heard our Divine Redeemer assure His Mother, that in His Omnipotence He granted her power to show mercy, in whatever manner she might please, to sinners who invoke her.
Let all, then, say, with full confidence in the words of that beautiful prayer addressed to the Mother of Mercy, and commonly attributed to St. Bernard: “Remember, O most pious Virgin Mary, that it never was heard of in any age that any one having recourse to thy protection was abandoned.”
We read in the Life of St. Francis de Sales that he experienced the efficacy of this prayer, the Memorare. When he was about seventeen years of age he was in Paris, pursuing his studies. At the same time he devoted himself to exercises of piety and to the holy love of God, in which he found the joys of Paradise. Our Lord, in order to try him, and to strengthen the bands which united him to Himself, allowed the evil spirit to persuade him that all that he did was in vain, as he was already condemned in the eternal decrees of God. The darkness and spiritual dryness in which God was pleased at the same time to leave him (for he was then insensible to all the sweeter thoughts of the goodness of God) caused the temptation to have greater power over the heart of the holy youth: and, indeed, it reached such a pitch that his fears and his interior desolation took away his appetite, deprived him of sleep, made him pale and melancholy; so much so that he excited the compassion of all who saw him.
As long as this terrible storm lasted, the Saint could only conceive thoughts and utter words of despondency and bitter grief. “Then,” said he, “I am to be deprived of the grace of my God, Who hitherto has shown Himself so lovely and sweet to me! O Love, O Beauty, to which I have consecrated all my affections, I am no longer to enjoy Thy consolations! O Virgin, Mother of God, the fairest amongst all the daughters of Jerusalem, then I am never to see thee in Heaven! Ah, Lady, if I am not to behold thy beautiful countenance in Paradise, at least permit me not to blaspheme thee in hell!” Such were the tender sentiments of that afflicted, but at the same time loving heart. The temptation had lasted a month when it pleased our Lord to deliver him by the means of that comfortress of the world, the most Blessed Mary, to whom the Saint had some time before consecrated his virginity, and in whom, as he declared, he had placed all his hopes. One evening, on returning home, he entered a church, and saw a tablet hanging on the wall. He read it, and found the following well-known prayer, commonly called the “Prayer of St. Bernard”: Remember, O most pious Virgin Mary, that it never has been heard of in any age, that any one having recourse to thy protection was abandoned.” Falling on his knees before the altar of the Divine Mother, he recited this prayer with tender fervour, renewed his vow of chastity, promised to say the Rosary every day, and then added: “My Queen, be my advocate with thy Son, Whom I dare not approach. My Mother, if I am so unfortunate as not to be able to love my Lord in the next world, Him whom I know to be so worthy of love, at least do thou obtain that I may love Him in this world as much as possible. This is the grace I ask and hope for from thee.” Having thus addressed the Blessed Virgin he cast himself into the arms of Divine Mercy, and resigned himself entirely to the will of God. Scarcely had he finished his prayer, when in an instant he was delivered from his temptation by his most sweet Mother. He immediately regained the peace of his soul, and with it his bodily health; and from that time forward he lived most devoted to Mary, whose praises and mercies he constantly extolled, both in his sermons and writings, during the remainder of his life.