A Doctor of the Church, St. Alphonsus Liguori (b. 1696- d. 1787), had a deep love for Our Lady which he fostered his entire life. As he approached death, St. Alphonsus wrote his famous Marian book, The Glories of Mary. Recently, Anne T. mentioned to me that she thought the introductory section of The Glories was fascinating. She found it fascinating, for in it, St. Alphonus, a Doctor of the Church, a Doctor of Marian theology and devotion, wrote a rather personal note to readers of the book, explaining his reasons for writing the book; and concluding with the wish that he would one day meet the reader(s) in heaven. I had never read this section of the book; so I looked it over, and I was, too, surprised at the personal tone of it. It could have been written yesterday to you, or to me. I also found it interesting to read his goals for the book; and to read his personal prayers to Jesus and to Mary; for these express the sentiments of his saintly heart. Since this writer and priest has been declared by the Catholic Church to be not only a Doctor of the Church, but a citizen of Heaven, we can say that his words remain true and pertinent to us today; hence, I am posting them here, in this month of Our Lady, to remind us what a citizen of Heaven would wish to say to us:
The Glories of Mary, Dedication by St. Alphonsus
To Jesus and Mary
My Lord Jesus Christ, knowing what pleasure you receive from anyone who exalts your holy Mother, I have decided to publish this work and dedicate it to you. Please accept this work and shower the light of confidence and love of the Immaculate Virgin upon all who read it. As a reward, I ask only that you give to me that love for Mary which I want enkindled within the readers.
O Mary, God gave me my conversion, my vocation and all my graces through you. I have always tried in public sermons and private conversations to see that all love you. I am near the end of my pilgrimage. Before dying, I want to leave this book to the world so it can continue to preach. Please extend your hand, which has delivered me from the world and from hell. From this labor, I expect one reward – that I may love you more and that everyone who reads this book may be inflamed with love for you so that they will desire to promote and preach your praises.
To the Reader
So that the critic’s mind will not condemn this book, I want to explain that I want all of my teachings interpreted according to Catholic Theology. I base all my teachings on what the saints have said. If Christ is the head, then Mary is the neck through which grace flows. She is full of grace so it can be passed on to men. St. Thomas Aquinas says, “In the saints, there is sufficient grace for many, but in Christ and in Mary there is grace in the highest degree for the salvation of all. In all dangers, you can obtain salvation in the Virgin.” As Scripture says, “In me is all hope of life and virtue.” (Eccl. 24:25)
My desire to write and your devotion to read about Mary makes us children of the same mother. Some would say there are too many books on Mary. However, “the praise of Mary is an inexhaustible font” (Abbot Francone). The more she is praised, the more there is to praise.
I have read many books on The Glories of Mary but these are large and voluminous. I have tried to gather together only the choicest passages. In this way, the devout soul can be
inflamed with love for Mary and priests can have material to preach. Although human lovers always speak of their beloved, many who profess to love Mary seldom speak of her. True lovers of Mary want all the world to love her and they use every opportunity (in public or private) to enkindle love for her in others.
Those Who Preach Mary
Theologians are clear on this point. Those who preach Mary are certain of salvation (St.
Bonaventure). The Church, on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, says about Mary,
“Whoever explains me shall have everlasting life.” (Eccl 24:31). “Rejoice in Mary, my soul, for
good things are prepared for those who praise her.” (St. Bonaventure). So, let us praise her so
she can lead us into heaven. Mary appeared to St. Bridget, instructing her to tell Bishop Ermingo (who began his homilies in praise of Mary), that he would die a holy death and that she would bring his soul to God. Because a Dominican priest always spoke of her, Mary appeared to him with similar promises. St. Anselm says that the Saviour came to save sinners through Mary’s womb. Therefore, their salvation will come from “the remembrance of her praises.” I firmly believe that all graces are dispensed by Mary and all are saved through her. Therefore, the salvation of every soul depends upon our preaching Mary and exciting all to confidence in her. Through Mary, St. Bernadine of Sienna sanctified Italy and St. Dominic converted so many. I have made it an inviolable rule that every mission preached by a Redemptorist must preach a homily on Mary. In many cases, this homily produces more compunction than any other. “We praise her virginity, admire her humility but, as sinners, we are most attracted by her mercy.” (St. Bernard)
Focus of This Book
To describe her many prerogatives, I have labored many years to collect the sayings of saints. I focus these sayings on mercy and powerful intercession as portrayed in the prayer, “Hail Holy Queen.”
Dear reader, if you like this book, then pray to Mary for me. Bind yourself to the two anchors of Jesus and Mary, and you will not be lost. “Jesus and Mary, for you I suffer and die that I may be yours in all things.” (St. Alphonsus Rodriguez). Until we meet in Paradise, let us stay at the feet of our sweet Mother and her loving Son. Amen.
St. Alphonsus Liguori, pray for us.
May you have a good day.
~Image: The Glories of Mary, source.