“LET US SEEK FOR GRACE AND LET US SEEK IT THROUGH MARY.”
To be convinced of the desire Our Blessed Mother has to be of service to all, we need only consider the Mystery of the Visitation, or the visit made by Mary to St. Elizabeth. The journey from Nazareth, where the most Blessed Virgin lived, to the city of Hebron, which St. Luke calls a city of Judea, and in which according to Baronius and other authors, St. Elizabeth resided, was at least sixty-nine miles. Notwithstanding the arduousness of the undertaking, the Blessed Virgin, tender and delicate as she then was, and unaccustomed to such fatigue, did not delay her departure. And what was it that impelled her? It was that great charity with which her most tender heart was ever filled that forced her, so to say, to go, and at once begin her great office of dispenser of graces. Precisely thus does St. Ambrose speak of her journey: “She did not go in incredulity of the prophecy, but glad to do what she had undertaken; it was joy that hastened her steps, in the fulfilment of a religious office.” The Saint means by these words, that Mary did not undertake the journey to inquire into the truth of what the Angel had pronounced to her of the pregnancy of St. Elizabeth, but exulting in the greatness of her desire to be of service to that family, she hastened for the joy she felt in doing good to others, and wholly intent on that work of charity: Rising, she went with haste. Here, let it be observed, the Evangelist, in speaking of Mary’s departure for the house of Elizabeth, says, that she went with haste; but when he speaks of her return, he no longer says anything of haste, but simply that Mary abode with her about three months; and she returned to her own house (Luke i. 56). What other object, then, asks St. Bonaventure, could the Mother of God have had in view, when she hastened to visit the house of St. John the Baptist, if it was not the desire to render service to that family? “What caused her to hasten in the performance of that act of charity but the charity which burnt in her heart?”
This charity of Mary towards men certainly did not cease when she went to Heaven; nay more, it greatly increased there, for there she better knows our wants, and has still greater compassion for our miseries. Bernardine de Eustis writes that “Mary desires more earnestly to do us good and grant us graces than we desire to receive them.” So much so, that St. Bonaventure says that she considers herself offended by those who do not ask her for graces: “Not only those, O Lady, offend thee who outrage thee, but thou art also offended by those who neglect to ask thy favours.” For Mary’s desire to enrich all with graces is, so to say, a part of her nature, and she superabundantly enriches her servants, as Blessed Raymond Jordano affirms: “Mary is God’s treasurer, and the treasurer of His graces, and she plentifully endows her servants with choice gifts.”
Hence the same author says, that “he who finds Mary finds every good.” And he adds, that every one can find her, even the most miserable sinner in the world; for she is so benign that she rejects none who have recourse to her: “Her benignity is such, that no one need fear to approach her. And her mercy is so great, that no one meets with a repulse.” Thomas a Kempis makes her say: “I invite all to have recourse to me; I expect all, I desire all, and I never despise any sinner, however unworthy he may be, who comes to seek my aid.” Richard of St. Laurence says, that whoever goes to ask graces from Mary “finds her always prepared to help”; that is, she is always ready, and inclined to help us, and to obtain for us every grace for eternal salvation by her powerful prayers.
I say, by her powerful prayers; for another reflection, which should increase our confidence, is, that we know and are certain that she obtains from God all that she asks for her clients. Observe especially, says St. Bonaventure, in regard to the visit of Mary to St. Elizabeth, the great power of her words. According to the Evangelist, at the sound of her voice the grace of the Holy Ghost was conferred on St. Elizabeth, as well as on her son St. John the Baptist: And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost (Luke i. 41). St. Bonaventure says: “See how great is the power of the words of our Lady; for no sooner has she pronounced them, than the Holy Ghost is given.”
Theophilus of Alexandria says, that Jesus is greatly pleased when Mary intercedes with Him for us; for all the graces which He is, so to say, forced to grant through her prayers, He considers as granted not so much to us as to herself. And remark the words, “forced by the prayers of His Mother.” Yes, for as St. Germanus attests, Jesus cannot do otherwise than graciously accede to all that Mary asks; wishing, as it were, in this to obey her as His true Mother. Hence the Saint says, that “the prayers of this Mother have a certain maternal authority with Jesus Christ; so that she obtains the grace of pardon even for those who have been guilty of grievous crimes, and commend themselves to her”; and then he concludes: “for it is not possible that thou shouldst not be graciously heard; for God always acts towards thee as His true and spotless Mother.” This is fully confirmed, as St. John Chrysostom observes, by what took place at the marriage-feast of Cana, when Mary asked her Son for wine when it had failed: They have no wine. Jesus answered: Woman, what is it to me and to thee? My hour is not yet come (Jo. ii. 3, 4). But though the time for miracles was not yet come, as St. Chrysostom and Theophylact explain it, yet, says St. Chrysostom, “the Saviour, notwithstanding His answer, and to obey His Mother, worked the miracle she asked for,” and converted the water into wine.
Let us go, therefore, with confidence to the throne of grace, says the Apostle exhorting us, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace in seasonable aid (Heb. iv. 16). “The throne of grace is the Blessed Virgin Mary,” says Blessed Albert the Great. If, then, we wish for graces, let us go to the throne of grace, which is Mary; and let us go with the certain hope of being heard; for we have Mary’s intercession, and she obtains from her Son whatever she asks. “Let us seek for grace,” I repeat with St. Bernard, “and let us seek it through Mary,” trusting to what the Blessed Virgin Mother herself said to St. Mechtilde, that God the Holy Ghost, filling her with all His sweetness, has rendered her so dear to God, that whoever seeks graces through her intercession is certain to obtain them.
If we credit that celebrated saying of St. Anselm, that “salvation is occasionally more easily obtained by calling on the name of Mary than by invoking that of Jesus,” we shall sometimes obtain graces sooner by having recourse to Mary than by having directly recourse to our Saviour Jesus Himself; not that He is not the Source and Lord of all graces, but because, when we have recourse to the Mother, and she prays for us, her prayers have greater efficacy than ours, as being those of a Mother. Let us, then, never leave the feet of this treasurer of graces; but ever address her in the words of St. John Damascene: “O Blessed Mother of God, open to us the gate of Mercy; for thou art the salvation of the human race.” O Mother of God, open to us the door of thy compassion, by always praying for us, for thy prayers are the salvation of all men. When we have recourse to Mary, it would be advisable to entreat her to ask and obtain us the graces she knows to be the most expedient for our salvation. This is precisely what the Dominican Brother Reginald did, as is related in the Chronicles of the Order. This servant of Mary was ill, and he asked her to obtain him the recovery of his health. His sovereign Lady appeared to him, accompanied by St. Cecily and St. Catharine, and said with the greatest sweetness: “My son, what dost thou desire of me?” The Religious was confused at so gracious an offer on the part of Mary, and knew not what to answer. Then one of the saints gave him this advice: Reginald, I will tell thee what to do; ask for nothing, but place thyself entirely in her hands, for Mary will know how to grant thee a greater grace than thou canst possibly ask. The sick man followed this advice, and the Divine Mother obtained the restoration of his health.
But if we also desire the happiness of receiving the visits of this Queen of Heaven, we should often visit her by going before her image, or praying to her in churches dedicated to her honour.