Turn Then, Most Gracious Advocate, Thine Eyes of Mercy Toward Us
The grace of God is a treasure above all price: there is nothing so desirable. The Holy Ghost calls it an infinite treasure, because it is by the grace of God we are elevated to the dignity of friends of God, so that Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, hesitates not to address, by the title of friends, those who are in grace. Accursed sin destroys this precious friendship, and renders the soul an object of hatred instead of love. What should the person do, then, who by sin has lost this precious gift?
He should seek a mediator who will procure his pardon, and put him in possession of the forfeited blessing. “Console yourselves, then, sinners,” says St. Bernard, “since God has given you His Son as mediator. But what! you imagine that this merciful Saviour is harsh and rigorous; you obstinately figure to yourselves as terrible, amiability itself. Ah, people of little faith, learn that Jesus has nailed your sins to His cross, and redeemed you in His blood. Well, if the majesty of Jesus terrifies you, because He is God as well as man, remember that Mary, a pure creature, is your advocate with Him; recur to her—she is, my dear children, the ladder of sinners, by which they ascend again to the height of grace. Mary is all my confidence—Mary is the foundation of my hope.”
Hear how the Holy Ghost makes Mary speak in the Canticles: “I am the defense of those who recur to me—my mercy is to them an impregnable tower, and hence the Lord has established me a mediatrix of peace between Him and sinners.” “This powerful mediatrix,” says Cardinal Hugo, “procures peace for those who are at war; by her, pardon is granted to the guilty, salvation to the lost, and mercy to those who are in despair. Mary is also compared to the pavilions of Solomon, where they only spoke of peace, in preference to the tents of David, where there was only question of war, that we may learn she never treats of vengeance against sinners, but of reconciliation and pardon.”
The dove which returned to the ark with the green olive branch (Gn:8:8-11) was a figure of Mary. “O blessed Virgin,” says St. Bonaventure to her, “you are that faithful dove, who, after the sad shipwreck of the universe, have borne our Lord Jesus Christ, the sacred olive branch, the sign of mercy; and as peace was given to earth by you, it is through you that sinners continue to be reconciled with God.”
The rainbow which St. John saw encompass the throne of the Eternal (Rv:4:3) was also an emblem of the holy Virgin, as she is always present to mitigate the sentences pronounced against sinners. It was Mary God had in view when he said to Noah, “I shall place in heaven a sign of peace, and in beholding it, I shall remember the perpetual alliance I have made with men.”
The principal office given to Mary, when she appeared on earth, was to raise man from sin, and to reconcile him with God. “Pascc hoedos tuos” (Feed your goats) said the Lord in creating her. (Song of Solomon:1:8) We know that sinners are designated by the goats, as the just are by the sheep. “The goats,” says William of Paris, “are confided to you, O Mary, that you may transform them into sheep,” thus, while they deserved to be sent to the left hand, they shall, through your intercession, be placed at the right. Here we may observe that God does not command Mary to feed all the goats indiscriminately, but her own goats (Pasce hoedos tuos), for she does not save all sinners, but those who serve and honor her; as to those who are not devout to her, who never beg her aid to arise from their sins, she will not recognize them as her flock, and the left hand will be their station on the great day of the Lord.
A gentleman whose sins were so enormous that he despaired of their remission, was advised by a good religious man to recur to the blessed Virgin. In compliance with this advice he went to a celebrated oratory in the city, consecrated to our Lady, and had no sooner cast his eyes on the image of the holy Virgin than he felt a great sentiment of confidence. He prostrated himself, then, to kiss the feet of the image, when lo! the hand was moved toward him, and on it he saw these words, “I shall save thee from those who afflict thee.” The heart of the poor sinner was so filled with contrition for his sins, and love for Jesus and Mary, that he died on the spot.
“I am the loadstone of hearts,” says Mary to St. Bridget; “as the loadstone has the property of attracting iron, thus I attract hearts hardened as adamant, to give them to God.” This prodigy we daily witness: we often see in our missions that many sinners, who remained insensible at other sermons, become moved at that on the clemency of the holy Virgin.
“Mary,” says St. Chrysostom, “has been elected from all eternity as Mother of God, that she may save by her mercy those to whom her Son’s injustice cannot grant pardon.” “Yes,” adds St. Anselm, “Mary has been raised to her eminent dignity, rather for sinners than for the just, and since she is indebted to the guilty for her glorious maternity, how can I despair of pardon, however enormous my crimes may be?”
The Church, in the prayers for the vigil of the Assumption, teaches that this glorious Queen has been assumed into heaven, to intercede confidently for us (fiducialiter). Hence she is styled by St. Justin the arbiter of our lot; “As an arbiter decides,” says he, “between two parties, thus Jesus permits His Mother to decide between Him and us.”
“What!” says Abbot Adam, “can he fear to perish who has Mary for his Mother and advocate?” “Will you, holy Virgin,” adds the same saint, “refuse to implore your Son for another son, or to demand of the Redeemer the pardon of the redeemed? No, certainly; for you are not ignorant that the same God who has rendered His Son a mediator between Him and man, has made you advocate between the Judge and criminals.”
The Glories of the Catholic Church – The Catholic Christian Instructed in Defence of His Faith
Rev. Henry Athanasius Brann (1895)