Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.
The Memorare is one of the most famous Roman Catholic prayers to the Blessed Virgin Mary. St. Francis de Sales had a great devotion to this prayer as recorded by St. Alphonsus Liguori in The Glories of Mary. St. Alphonsus records that:
When St. Francis de Sales was about seventeen, he was pursuing his studies in Paris. At the same time he devoted himself to spiritual exercises 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 that united him to himself, allowed the Devil to persuade him that all 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 caused the temptation to have greater power over the heart of the holy youth. Indeed, it reached such a pitch that his fears and interior desolation took away his appetite, deprived him of sleep, and made him pale and melancholy.
One evening Francis entered a church and saw a plaque hanging on the wall with the well-known prayer called the Memorare: “Remember, O most pious Virgin Mary, that never has it been heard of in any age, that anyone having recourse to your protection was abandoned.” Falling on his knees before the altar of the Mother of God, he recited the prayer with tender fervor, renewed his vow of chastity, promised to say the Rosary every day, and then added: “My Mother, if I am so unfortunate as not to be able to love my Lord in the next world, whom I know to be so worthy of love, at least obtain that I may love him in this world as much as possible.”
The other day, I came across a 1992 article/talk by Professor Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira (b. 1905- d. 1995) wherein he discussed the Memorare. I think you will enjoy this reflection; and it will increase your love for this Marian prayer. Oliveira stated that:
The Memorare is perhaps the most hope-filled prayer in the Catholic Church, for the affirmation it makes is the most categorical possible: “Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection…was left unaided.”
If it was never known that anyone was left unaided, I, being someone, will not be left unaided in requesting Her help. Thus, I have not only the right but the obligation never to lose heart. As difficult as my plight may be, as much as I may be disgusted with and censure myself, if I ask Her to help me, She will help me. There may be a greater or lesser delay, but Her help will come.
We are very accustomed to modern conveniences. If I need light, for example, I flip a switch and the room is inundated with light. If I want the room darkened in order to rest, I flip the switch and darkness falls over the entire room. By means of such automation, each person’s will is entirely accomplished.
We thus get the idea that prayer is like this: I flip a switch, I ask Our Lady to help me; She is immediately obliged to help me when I ask or expect Her succor. If She does not help me immediately, all will be lost; I become disheartened.
This is wrong. Our Lady is a Queen and a Lady. We do not treat such a lady as if she were a maid. We can say to the maid, “Bring me some coffee,” and she must go to the kitchen to prepare and serve it. This is Her job, to do the will of Her employer. But it is not this way with Our Lady. It is we who hope for the honor of becoming Her servants. It is very different, profoundly different.
For the good of our soul, She may delay in granting the grace we request. But, the longer the delay, the greater the grace will be.
Therefore, one can never think: “Our Lady is taking a long time to heed my prayer. This means She doesn’t want to help me. I might as well give up.”
Quite the contrary, this means that She wants to test me, in order to give a very great grace.
I believe it indispensable to encourage everyone, in every way and at all costs, to never, never, never lose heart! Ask Our Lady to help, help, and help, and pray the Memorare, which is so beautiful. One should never pray it hurriedly, but recite it thinking about each word.
“Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary…” — At the very outset She is called the most merciful Virgin Mary.
“That never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession, was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence…” — That is, with the confidence of those who, even though they sank into sin, prayed to Her and were attended.
“I fly unto thee,…” — To have recourse like this is to ask with insistence: “Help me.” It shows how one avails oneself of Our Lady’s intercession before God, addressing the Divine Majesty thus: “Thou art my Father and hast a right to be angry with me. I strike my breast in contrition. But Thy Mother is also mine, and for me She has all the disposition, goodness, and patience that all true mothers have for their children. Therefore, I hope in the patience of Thy Mother. Be patient with me as Thy Mother is.”
“O Virgin of virgins…” — A Virgin like no other, She is the holy Virgin of virgins. This is an allusion to sins against purity; She is the Virgin of virgins.
“To thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful.” — Groaning beneath the weight of my sins, I stand contritely before Our Lady.
“O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions…” — That is, do not disdain the entreaties of this miserable sinner.
“But in Thy mercy, hear and answer me. Amen.”
Yes, it is a most beautiful prayer!
I have known many Catholics who pray the Memorare daily with, according to them, a surprisingly never-fail response from Our Mother.
May you have a good day.