Devotion to Mary with Fr. Frederick William Faber

Mother of God, He broke thy heart
That it might wider be,
That in the vastness of its love
There might be room for me.

Fr. Frederick William Faber (b. 1814- d. 1863)


~For today, I am revising, and re-posting, an April 2019 piece on Our Lady’s son, Fr. Frederick William Faber. I think it will give you a sense of Fr. Faber’s love for the Blessed Virgin Mary, and his openly expressed devotion to her. Fr. Faber had (has) an original and beautiful voice. Enjoy!

We often wish our lives were more divine. But they are, in fact, more divine than we believe. It is sorrow which reveals this to us…. For a moment it blinds us; then by degrees the white figure of Jesus comes out in the dim obscurity. We feel the warm blood on our hands as we grasp the Cross. We are with God, with our Creator, with our Saviour. He is all our own. The withdrawal of creatures has made Him so. But He has not come. He was always there, always this within our souls, only He was overpowered with the false brightness of creatures. He comes out in the dark like the stars. The white moon of noonday does not allure us by its beauty, it enchants us only in the night; so it is the darkness of a spiritual Calvary which covers our souls with the soft shining of our beautiful Saviour. ~Fr. Frederick William Faber (b. 1814- d. 1863)

Over the weekend, I came upon the above quote from Fr. Frederick William Faber, the Catholic convert, and translator of St. Louis de Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary. This quote seemed a beautiful sentiment to share as it came from the pen of a priest who spent most of his life in ill-health, suffering, yet hopeful; a son and devotee of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Fr. Faber was a talented poet and hymn writer, incorporating his devotion to Mary into his hymns. He wrote of Our Lady in Mother of Mercy Day by Day: 

Mother of mercy day by day
my love of thee grows more and more.
Thy gifts are strewn upon my way
like sands upon the great sea shore. (2)
Though poverty and work and woe
the masters of my life may be,
when times are worst who does not know
darkness is light with love of thee? (2)
But scornful men have coldly said
thy love was leading me from God;
and yet in this I did but tread
the very path my Savior trod. (2)
They know but little of thy worth
who speaks these heartless words to me;
for what did Jesus love on earth
one half so tenderly as thee? (2)
Get me the grace to love thee more;
Jesus will give if tou wilt plead;
and, Mother! When life´s cares are oér,
oh, I shall love thee then indeed! (2)
Jesus, when his tree hours were rum,
bequeath´d thee from the cross to me,
and oh! How can I love thy Son,
sweet Mother! If I love not thee? (2)

And, in O Mother! I Could Weep for Mirth:

O Mother! I could weep for mirth,
Joy fills my heart so fast;
My soul today is heaven on earth,
O could the transport last!
I think of thee, and what thou art,
Thy majesty, thy state;
And I keep singing in my heart,—
Immaculate! Immaculate!

When Jesus looks upon thy face,
His Heart with rapture glows,
And in the Church, by His sweet grace,
Thy blessed worship grows.
I think of thee, and what thou art,
Thy majesty, thy state;
And I keep singing in my heart,—
Immaculate! Immaculate!

And, in O Purest of Creatures:

1. O Purest of creatures, sweet Mother, sweet maid,
The one spotless womb wherein Jesus was laid!
Dark night hath come down on us, Mother! and we
Look out for thy shining, sweet Star of the Sea!

2. Deep night hath come down on this rough-spoken world,
And the banners of darkness are boldly unfurled;
And the tempest-tossed Church,—all her eyes are on thee;
They look to thy shining, sweet Star of the Sea!

3. He gazed on thy soul, it was spotless and fair,
For the empire of sin—it had never been there;
None ever had owned thee, dear Mother, but He.
And He blest thy clear shining, sweet Star of the Sea!

4. Earth gave Him one lodging; t’was deep in thy breast,
And God found a home where the sinner finds rest;
His home and His hiding-place both were in thee,
He was won by thy shining, sweet Star of the Sea!

I would like to keep sharing Fr. Faber’s verses, but I realize that you must be about the work of the day, so I will end this here; though, I will add the following, as I cannot write a post about Fr. Faber without including his introduction to St. Louis de Montfort’s True Devotion:

“All those who are likely to read this book (The True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin by St. Louis de Montfort) love God, and lament that they do not love Him more; all desire something for His glory—the spread of some good work, the success of some devotion, the coming of some good time. One man has been striving for years to overcome a particular fault, and has not succeeded. Another mourns, and almost wonders while he mourns, that so few of his relations and friends have been converted to the faith. One grieves that he has not devotion enough; another that he has a cross to carry, which is a peculiarly impossible cross to him; while a third has domestic troubles and family unhappinesses, which feel almost incompatible with his salvation; and for all these things prayer appears to bring so little remedy. But what is the remedy that is wanted? What is the remedy indicated by God Himself? If we may rely on the disclosures of the Saints, it is an immense increase of devotion to our Blessed Lady; but, remember, nothing short of an immense one. Here, in England, Mary is not half enough preached. Devotion to her is low and thin and poor. It is frightened out of its wits by the sneers of heresy. It is always invoking human respect and carnal prudence, wishing to make Mary so little of a Mary that Protestants may feel at ease about her. Its ignorance of theology makes it unsubstantial and unworthy. It is not the prominent characteristic of our religion which it ought to be. It has no faith in itself. Hence it is that Jesus is not loved, that heretics are not converted, that the Church is not exalted; that souls, which might be saints, wither and dwindle; that the Sacraments are not rightly frequented, or souls enthusiastically evangelised. Jesus is obscured because Mary is kept in the background. Thousands of souls perish because Mary is withheld from them. It is the miserable unworthy shadow which we call our devotion to the Blessed Virgin that is the cause of all these wants and blights, these evils and omissions and declines. Yet, if we are to believe the revelations of the Saints, God is pressing for a greater, a wider, a stronger, quite another devotion to His Blessed Mother. I cannot think of a higher work or a broader vocation for anyone than the simple spreading of this peculiar devotion of the Venerable Grignon de Montfort. Let a man but try it for himself, and his surprise at the graces it brings with it, and the transformations it causes in his soul, will soon convince him of its otherwise almost incredible efficacy as a means for the salvation of men, and for the coming of the kingdom of Christ.

Oh, if Mary were but known, there would be no coldness to Jesus then! Oh, if Mary were but known, how much more wonderful would be our faith, and how different would our Communions be!

Oh, if Mary were but known, how much happier, how much holier, how much less worldly should we be, and how much more should we be living images of our sole Lord and Saviour, her dearest and most blessed Son!”  ~ Fr. F. W. Faber, Priest of the Oratory, 1862

Fr. Faber wrote that in 1862. If he were alive today, he would certainly tell us the same, as he never relinquished his devotion to Mary; and died as her devoted son.

Fr. Faber, pray for us!

May you have a good day in the month of May.


~Image: Mary altar, Pittsburgh, PA, from C. Marian, May 2020.