Today, I am posting, for the third week in a row, an excerpt from The Glories of Mary, the book which flowed from the pen of the great Marian priest, St. Alphonsus Liguori. Today’s excerpt is a small essay on Our Lady’s role as our Mother, and it begins now:
When Mary’s clients call her Mother, they are not using empty words, or just speaking at random. In fact, they seem incapable of using any other name and never tire of calling her Mother.
She is our Mother — not by the flesh, of course, but spiritually; the Mother of our souls, of our salvation.
Whenever sin strips the soul of Divine grace, it deprives it of life. Our Blessed Redeemer, out of an excess of mercy and love, came among us to win back this life by His own Death on the Cross. I have come that they may have life, and may have it more abundantly (Jn. 10: 10).
He says “more abundantly,” for theologians tell us that the benefit of the Redemption far exceeded the injury done by Adam’s sin. Thus, by reconciling us with God, He made Himself the Father of our souls in the new law of grace.
But if Jesus is the Father, Mary is the Mother of our souls. She gave us Jesus and, with that gift, gave us supernatural life. Later, when she offered the life of her Son on Calvary for our redemption, she gave us birth in the life of grace.
On two occasions, then, according to the Fathers of the Church, Mary became our spiritual Mother .
The first is mentioned by St. Albert the Great. It occurred when Mary merited to conceive the Son of God in her virginal womb.
St. Bernardine of Siena says the same thing even more distinctly. At the time of the Annunciation, our Blessed Lady gave the consent which the Eternal Word was waiting for before He would become her Son. At the same time, she asked with all her heart [and obtained] the salvation of all the elect.
Along with her consent, Mary gave herself so completely to the matter of the salvation of all human beings that there and then she began to carry us all in her womb. And she did so with far greater love than any other mother could ever feel for the child within her.
In the second chapter of St. Luke, the Evangelist tells us that Mary “brought forth her first-born Son.” Must we suppose that she had other children afterward? No, because it is an article of Faith that Mary had no other child than Jesus. But she did have other children — spiritual ones; and we are those children.
Our Lord said this very thing to St. Gertrude one day when she was reading the text from St. Luke and was puzzled by it. God explained it to her. Jesus was Mary’s first-born according to the flesh, but all humankind was her second-born according to the spirit.
The second occasion when Mary became our spiritual Mother was on Calvary. Here she offered to the Eternal Father —
with such bitter sorrow and suffering — the life of her beloved Son.
In that hour, declares St. Augustine, she cooperated through her love in the supernatural birth of the faithful. She became the spiritual Mother of all who are members of the one Head, Christ Jesus.
Mary exposed her own soul to death to save many other souls.
That is to say, to save us she sacrificed the life of her Son — because Jesus was the soul of Mary; He was her life and her love.
Simeon prophesied that a sword of sorrow would one day pierce her own most blessed soul. And this was precisely the lance which pierced the side of Jesus, Who was her very soul.
It was then that this most Blessed Virgin brought us forth to eternal life by her own sorrows. We can call ourselves the children of the sorrows of Mary. Our most loving Mother was always, and in all things, united to the will of God.
Listen to St. Bonaventure: “Mary saw that the love of the Eternal Father for human beings was so great that He willed the Death of His Son to save them. She also saw that the Divine Son loved human beings so much that He freely submitted to this Death.
“Therefore, she joined her own heart to this excessive love of Father and Son for the human race. With all her will she offered, and submitted to, the Death of her Son for our salvation.”
True, Jesus chose to be alone in dying for the redemption of human beings, as Isaiah foretold: “The wine press I have trodden alone” (Is. 63:3). But when He saw Mary’s burning desire to help in human redemption, He so arranged matters that she should cooperate in our redemption by the offering and sacrifice of her Son’s life, and in this way become the Mother of our souls.
Our Lord manifested this intention when He looked down from the Cross at His Mother and St. John and said to Mary: “There is your son” (Jn. 19:26). This amounted to saying: “There is the whole human race, which right now is being born to the life of grace because you are offering My life for the salvation of all.”
Then He turned toward the disciple with the words: “There is your mother” (Jn. 19:27). With those words (says St. Bernardine of Siena) Mary became the Mother of all human beings, and not only of St. John, because she loved all of them so much.
How fortunate is everyone who lives under the protection of a Mother so loving and so powerful! David the prophet sought salvation from God by calling himself a son of Mary, even though she was not yet born: “Save the son of Your handmaid” (Ps. 86:16).
“Of what handmaid?” asks St. Augustine. “Of her who said: ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord’ (Lk. 1:26).”
How good it is for us to be in the keeping of such a Mother! Who would dare to snatch us from her bosom? What temptation or tribulation can master us, when we trust in the patronage of one who is God’s Mother and ours?
Mother most loving! O most compassionate Mother! Thanks to you forever! And may God too be thanked, Who gave you to us for a Mother and a perfect refuge in all the dangers of this life!
Be of good heart, then, all you children of Mary. Remember that she accepts all those who want to be her children. Why be afraid of losing your soul, when such a Mother defends and protects you?
“I will rejoice,” says St. Bernard, “for whatever judgment is pronounced on me, it depends on, and must come from, my Brother and my Mother.”
The same feeling makes St. Anselm cry out with joy: “O happy confidence! O perfect refuge! The Mother of God is my Mother. What firm trust we should have, then, since our salvation depends on the judgment of a good Brother and a tender Mother!”
So it is our Mother who calls us in these words of Sacred Scripture: “Let whoever is simple come to me” (Prv. 9:4). Children always have their mother’s name on their lips, and when they are frightened, or in danger, they cry out immediately, Mother! Mother!
O most tender Mary, most loving Mother! This is just what you desire. You want us to become children and call out to you in every danger. For you long to help and save us, as you have saved all your children who had recourse to you.
Our Blessed Lady herself in a vision addressed these words to St. Bridget “As a mother, on seeing her son in the midst of the swords of his enemies, would use every effort to save him, so do I, and will do for all sinners who seek my mercy.” Thus it is that in every engagement with the infernal powers, we shall always certainly conquer by having recourse to the Mother of God, who is also our Mother, saying and repeating again and again: “We fly to thy patronage, O Holy Mother of God.”
Prayer to the Most Holy Mother
O most Holy Mother Mary, how is it possible that I, having so holy a mother, should be so wicked? A mother all burning with the love of God, and I loving creatures; a mother so rich in virtue, and I so poor? Ah, amiable Mother, it is true that I do not deserve any longer to be thy son, for by my wicked life I have rendered myself unworthy of so great an honor. I am satisfied that thou shouldst accept me for thy servant; and in order to be admitted amongst the vilest of them, I am ready to renounce all the kingdoms of the world. Yes I am satisfied. But still thou must not forbid me to call thee mother. This name consoles and fills me with tenderness, and reminds me of my obligation to love thee. This name excites me to great confidence in thee. When my sins and the Divine justice fill me most with consternation, I am all-consoled at the thought that thou art my mother. Allow me then, to call thee mother, my most amiable mother. Thus do I call thee and thus will I always call thee. Thou, after God, must be my hope, my refuge, my love in this valley of tears. Thus do i hope to die, breathing forth my soul into thy holy hands and sating, my Mother, my Mother Mary, help me, have pity on me! Amen
May Our Blessed Lady, our Mother, pray for us, and for the Church, today.
St. Alphonsus Liguori, pray for us!
Have a good day.