As a mother loves her children, and watches over
their welfare, so thou, oh our most sweet queen,
lovest us, and dost procure our happiness.
The second time in which Mary brought us forth to grace was when, on Calvary, she offered to the eternal Father, with so much sorrow of heart, the life of her beloved Son for our salvation. Wherefore, St. Augustine asserts, that, having then co-operated by her love with Christ in the birth of the faithful to the life of grace, she became also by this co-operation the spiritual mother of us all, who are members of our head, Jesus Christ.
This is also the meaning of what is said of the blessed Virgin in the sacred Canticles: “They have made me the keeper in the vineyards; my vineyard I have not kept.” Mary, to save our souls, was willing to sacrifice the life of her Son, as William the Abbot remarks. And who was the soul of Mary, but her Jesus, Who was her life and all her love? Wherefore St. Simeon announced to her that her soul would one day be pierced by a sword of sorrow; which was the very spear that pierced the side of Jesus, Who was the soul of Mary.
And then she, in her sorrow, brought us forth to eternal life; so that we may all call ourselves children of the dolors of Mary. She, our most loving mother, was always and wholly united to the divine will; whence St. Bonaventure remarks, that when she saw the love of the eternal Father for men, who would have his Son die for our salvation, and the love of the Son in wishing to die for us, she too, with her whole will, offered her Son and consented that He should die that we might be saved, in order to conform herself to that exceeding love of the Father and Son for the human race.
It is true that, in dying for the redemption of the world, Jesus wished to be alone. “I have trodden the wine-press alone.” (“Torcular calcavi solus.”) But when God saw the great desire of Mary to devote herself also to the salvation of men, He ordained that, by the sacrifice and offering of the life of this same Jesus, she might co-operate with Him in the work of our salvation, and thus become mother of our souls.
And this our Savior signified, when, before expiring, He saw from the cross His mother and the disciple St. John both standing near Him, and first spoke to Mary: “Behold thy son,” (“Ecce filius tuus.”); as if He said to her: Behold the man who, by the offering thou hast made of My life for his salvation, is already born to grace.
And then turning to the disciple, He said: “Behold thy mother,” (Ecce mater tua.”); by which words, says St. Bernardine of Sienna, Mary was then made mother not only of St. John, but of all men, for the love she bore them.
On this account, as Silveira observes, St. John himself, when recording this fact in his Gospel, wrote, “After that He said to the disciple: ‘Behold thy mother.’” Let it be remarked that Jesus Christ did not say this to John, but to the disciple, to signify that the Savior appointed Mary for common mother of all those who, being Christians, bear the name of His disciples.
I am the mother of fair love, (“Ego sum mater pulchrae dilectionis.”); said Mary; because her love, as an author remarks, which renders the souls of men beautiful in the eye of God, prompts her, as a loving mother, to receive us for her children.
And as a mother loves her children, and watches over their welfare, so thou, oh our most sweet queen, lovest us, and dost procure our happiness, says St. Bonaventure.
Oh, happy those who live under the protection of a mother so loving and so powerful! The prophet David, although Mary was not yet born, besought of God salvation, by dedicating himself to Mary as her son, and thus prayed; “Save the son of thy handmaid.” “Whose handmaid?” asks St. Augustine; “she who says: Behold the handmaid of the Lord.”
And who, says Cardinal Bellarmine, who would dare to snatch these children from the bosom of Mary, where they have taken refuge from their enemies? What fury of hell or of passion can conquer them, if they place their trust in the protection of this great mother?
It is narrated of the whale, that when she sees her young in peril, from the tempest or their pursuers, she opens her mouth and receives them into her bowels. Just so, says Novarino, does this compassionate mother of the faithful, when the tempest of the passions is raging…She then, with maternal affection, protects them, as it were, in her bowels, and continues to shelter them until she has placed them in the secure haven of paradise.
Oh, most loving mother! Oh, most compassionate mother, be ever blessed! and may that God be ever blessed, Who has given us thee as a mother, and as a secure refuge in all the dangers of this life.
The Blessed Virgin herself revealed this to St. Bridget, saying: “As a mother who sees her son exposed to the sword of the enemy makes every effort to save him, thus do I, and will I ever do, for my children, sinful though they be, if they come to me for help.”
Behold, then, how in every battle with hell we shall always conquer, and certainly conquer, if we have recourse to the mother of God and our mother, always repeating: “We fly to thy protection, oh holy mother of God; we fly to thy protection, oh holy mother of God.”
Oh, how many victories have the faithful obtained over hell, by having recourse to Mary with this short but powerful prayer! That great servant of God, Sister Mary of the Crucifixion, a Benedictine nun, by this means always conquered the evil spirits.
Be joyful then, all ye children of Mary; remember that she adopts as her children all those who wish her for their mother.
Joyful; for what fear have you of being lost when this mother defends and protects you? Thus says St. Bonaventure: Every one who loves this good mother and trusts in her protection should take courage and repeat: What do you fear, oh my soul? The cause of thy eternal salvation will not be lost, as the final sentence depends upon Jesus, who is thy brother, and upon Mary who is thy mother.
And St. Anselm, full of joy at this thought, exclaims, in order to encourage us: Oh, blessed confidence! Oh, secure refuge! The mother of God is my mother also. With what certainty may we hope, since our salvation depends upon the sentence of a good brother and of a kind mother! Hear, then, our mother who calls us, and says to us; “Whosoever is a little one, let him come to me.”
Little children have always on their lips the word mother, and in all the dangers to which they are exposed, and in all their fears, they cry “Mother!”; Ah, most sweet Mary! Ah, most loving mother! this is exactly what thou dost desire; that we become little children, and always call upon thee in our dangers, and always have recourse to thee, for thou wishest to aid and save us, as thou hast saved all thy children who have had recourse to thee.
Oh, my most holy mother, how is it possible that, having so holy a mother, I should be so wicked? A mother so inflamed with love of God, and that I should so love creatures? A mother so rich in virtue, and that I should be so poor? Oh, my most amiable mother! I no longer deserve, it is true, to be thy son, because by my bad life I have rendered myself unworthy.
I am content if thou wilt accept me as thy servant. I am ready to renounce all the kingdoms of the earth, to be admitted among the lowest of thy servants. Yes, I am content, but do not forbid me to call thee my mother. This name wholly consoles me, melts me, and reminds me of my obligation to love thee. This name encourages me to confide in thee. When I am the most terrified at the thought of my sins and of the divine justice, I feel myself comforted by the remembrance that thou art my mother.
Permit me, then, to call thee my mother, my sweetest mother. Thus I call thee, and thus I will ever call thee. Thou, next to God, shalt always be my hope, my refuge, and my love, in this valley of tears. And thus I hope to die, commending my soul, at the last moment, into thy sacred hands, saying: “My mother, my mother Mary, help me, have pity on me.” Amen.
Taken from the Glories of Mary, translated from the Italian of St. Alphonsus Liguori; New Revised Edition, P.J. Kennedy & Sons. Copyright 1888 by P.J. Kennedy