It was only through Mary that God the Father gave His Only-Begotten to the world. Whatever sighs the patriarchs may have sent forth, whatever prayers the prophets and the saints of the Old Law may have offered up to obtain this treasure, for a full four thousand years, it was only Mary who merited it and found grace before God by the force of her prayers and the eminence of her virtues. The world was unworthy, says Saint Augustine, to receive the Son of God directly from the Father’s hands. He gave Him to Mary in order that the world might receive Him through her.
The Son of God became man for our salvation; but it was in Mary and by Mary. God the Holy Ghost formed Jesus Christ in Mary; but it was only after having asked her consent by one of the first ministers of His court.
God the Father communicated to Mary His fruitfulness, inasmuch as a mere creature was capable of it, in order that He might give her the power to produce His Son and all the members of His Mystical Body.
God the Son descended into her virginal womb as the New Adam into His terrestrial paradise, to take His pleasure there, and to work in secret marvels of grace.
God made Man found His liberty in seeing Himself imprisoned in her womb. He made His omnipotence shine forth in letting Himself be carried by that humble maiden. He found His glory and His Father’s in hiding His splendors from all creatures here below, and revealing them to Mary only. He glorified His independence and His majesty in depending on that sweet Virgin, in His conception, in His birth, in His presentation, in His hidden life of thirty years, and even in His death, where she was to be present in order that He might make with her but one same sacrifice, and be immolated to the Eternal Father by her consent – just as Isaac of old was offered by Abraham’s consent to the will of God. It is she who nourished Him, supported Him, brought Him up, and then sacrificed Him for us.
Oh admirable and incomprehensible dependence of God which the Holy Ghost could not pass over in silence in the Gospel, although He has hidden from us nearly all the admirable things which the Incarnate Wisdom did in His hidden life! Jesus Christ gave more glory to God the Father by submission to His Mother during those thirty years than He would have given Him in converting the whole world by the working of the most stupendous miracles. Oh, how highly we glorify God when, to please Him, we submit ourselves to Mary, after the example of Jesus Christ, our sole Exemplar!
If we examine closely the rest of Our Blessed Lord’s life, we shall see it was His will to begin His miracles by Mary. He sanctified Saint John in the womb of his mother, Saint Elizabeth, but it was by Mary’s word. No sooner had she spoken than John was sanctified; and this was His first miracle of grace.
At the marriage of Cana He changed the water into wine, but it was at Mary’s humble prayer; and this was His first miracle of nature. He began and continued His miracles by Mary, and He will continue them to the end of ages by Mary.
God the Holy Ghost, being barren in God – that is to say, not producing another Divine Person – is become fruitful by Mary, whom He has espoused. It was with her, in her, and of her that He produced His Masterpiece, which is God made Man, and that He goes on producing daily, to the end of the world, the predestinate and the members of the Body of that adorable Head. This is the reason why the more He, the Holy Ghost, finds Mary, His dear and inseparable Spouse, in any soul, the more active and mighty He becomes in producing Jesus Christ in that soul, and that soul in Jesus Christ.
It is not that we mean Our Lady gives the Holy Ghost His fruitfulness, as if He had it not Himself. What we mean is, that the Holy Ghost chose to make use of Mary, though He had no absolute need of her, to bring His fruitfulness into action, by producing in her and by her Jesus Christ and His members- a mystery of grace unknown to even the wisest and most spiritual among Christians.
Mary to Sanctify Souls
The conduct that the Three Persons of the Most Holy Trinity have deigned to pursue in the Incarnation and the first coming of Jesus Christ, They still pursue daily, in an invisible manner, throughout the whole Church. And They will still pursue it even to the consummation of ages in the last coming of Jesus Christ.
God the Father made an assemblage of all the waters and named it mare (sea). He made an assemblage of all His graces and called it Maria (Mary). This great God has a most rich treasury in which He has laid up all that He has of beauty and splendor, of rarity and preciousness, including even His own Son; and this immense treasury is none other than Mary, whom the saints have named the Treasure of the Lord, out of whose plenitude all men are made rich.
God the Son has communicated to His Mother all that He acquired, by His life and His death, His infinite merits and His admirable virtues; and He has made her the treasurer of all that His Father gave Him for His inheritance. It is by her that He applies His merits to His members, and that He communicates His virtues, and distributes His graces. She is His mysterious canal; she is His aqueduct, through which He makes His mercies flow gently and abundantly.
To Mary, His faithful spouse, God the Holy Ghost has communicated His unspeakable gifts; and He has chosen her to be the dispenser of all He possesses, in such sort that she distributes to whom she wills, as much as she wills, as she wills, and when she wills, all His gifts and graces. The Holy Ghost gives no heavenly gift to men that He does not have pass through her virginal hands. Such has been the will of God, Who has willed that we should have everything through Mary.
Inasmuch as grace perfects nature, and glory perfects grace, it is certain that Our Lord is still, in heaven, as much the Son of Mary as He was on earth; and that, consequently, He has retained the obedience and submission of the most perfect Child toward the best of all mothers. But we must take great pains not to conceive this dependence as any abasement or imperfection of Jesus Christ. For Mary is infinitely below her Son, Who is God, and therefore she does not command Him as a mother here below would command her child. Mary, being altogether transformed into God by grace and by the glory which transforms all the saints into Him, asks nothing, wishes nothing, does nothing contrary to the eternal and immutable will of God. When we read then in the writings of Saints Bernard, Bernardine, Bonaventure and others, that everything, even God Himself, is subject to the Blessed Virgin, they mean that the authority, which God has been well pleased to give her, is so great that it seems as if she had the same power as God; and her prayers and petitions are so powerful with God that they always pass for commandments with His Majesty.
If Moses, by the force of his prayer, stayed the anger of God against the Israelites in a manner so powerful that the Most High and infinitely merciful Lord, being unable to resist him, told him to let Him alone that He might be angry with and punish that rebellious people, what must we not, with much greater reason, think of the prayer of the humble Mother of God, which is more powerful with His Majesty than the prayers of all the angels and saints in heaven and on earth?
In the heavens Mary commands the angels and the blessed. As a recompense for her profound humility, God has empowered her and commissioned her to fill with saints the empty thrones from which the apostate angels fell by pride. The will of the Most High, who exalts the humble (Luke 1:51), is that heaven, earth and hell bend, with good will or bad will, to the commandments of the humble Mary, whom He has made sovereign of heaven and earth, general of His armies, treasurer of His treasures, dispenser of His graces, worker of His greatest marvels, restorer of the human race, mediatrix of men, the exterminator of the enemies of God, and the faithful companion of His grandeurs and triumphs.
God the Father wishes to have children by Mary till the consummation of the world; and He speaks to her these words: Dwell in Jacob (Ecclus. XXIV: 13). That is to say: Make your dwelling and residence in My predestined children, prefigured by Jacob, and not in the reprobate children of the devil, prefigured by Esau.
Just as in the natural and corporal generation of children there are a father and a mother, so in the supernatural and spiritual generation there are a Father, Who is God, and a Mother, who is Mary. All the true children of God, the predestinate, have God for their Father and Mary for their Mother. He who has not Mary for His Mother has not God for his Father. This is the reason why the reprobate, such as heretics, schismatics, and others, who hate our Blessed Lady or regard her with contempt and indifference, have not God for their Father, however much they boast of it, simply because they have not Mary for their Mother.
The most infallible and indubitable sign by which we may distinguish a heretic, a man of bad doctrine, a reprobate, from one of the predestinate, is that the heretic and the reprobate have nothing but contempt and indifference for Our Lady, endeavoring by their words and example to diminish the worship and love of her, openly or hiddenly, and sometimes by misrepresentation. Alas! God the Father has not told Mary to dwell in them, for they are Esaus.
This man and that man is born in her, says the Holy Ghost through the Royal Psalmist (Ps. LXXXVI:5). According to the explanation of some of the Fathers, the first man that is born in Mary is the Man-God, Jesus Christ; the second is a mere man, the child of God and Mary by adoption. If Jesus Christ the Head of men is born in her, the predestinate, who are the members of that Head, ought also to be born in her, by a necessary consequence. One and the same mother does not bring forth into the world the head without the members, or the members without the head. For this would be a monster of nature. So, in like manner, in the order of grace, the Head and the members are born of one and the same mother. And if a member of the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ -that is to say, one of the predestinate – was born of any other mother than Mary, who has produced the Head, he would not be one of the predestinate, nor a member of Jesus Christ, but simply a monster in the order of grace.
Saint Augustine, surpassing himself, and going beyond all I have yet said, affirms that all the predestinate, in order to be conformed to the image of the Son of God, are in this world hidden in the womb of the most holy Virgin, where they are guarded, nourished, brought up and made to grow by that good Mother until she has brought them forth to glory after death, which is properly the day of their birth, as the Church calls the death of the just. Oh mystery of grace, unknown to the reprobate, and but little known even to the predestinate!
God the Holy Ghost wishes to form elect for Himself in her and by her, and He says to her: Strike the roots, my Well-Beloved and My Spouse, of all your virtues in My elect (Ecclus.XXIV:13), in order that they may grow from virtue to virtue and from grace to grace. I took so much complacency in you when you lived on earth in the practice of the most sublime virtues, that I desire still to find you on earth, without your ceasing to be in heaven. For this end, reproduce yourself in My elect, that I may behold in them with complacence the roots of your invincible faith, of your profound humility, of your universal mortification, of your sublime prayer, of your ardent charity, of your firm hope, and of all your virtues. You are always My Spouse, as faithful, as pure, and as fruitful as ever. Let your faith give Me My faithful; your purity, My virgins; and your fertility, My temples and My elect.
When Mary has struck her roots in a soul, she produces there marvels of grace, which she alone can produce, because she alone is the fruitful Virgin who never has had, and never will have, her equal in purity and in fruitfulness.
Mary has produced, together with the Holy Ghost, the greatest thing that has been or ever will be – a God-Man; and she will consequently produce the greatest saints that there will be in the end of time. The formation and the education of the great saints who shall come at the end of the world are reserved for her. For it is only that singular and miraculous Virgin who can produce, in union with the Holy Ghost, singular and extraordinary things.
When the Holy Ghost, her Spouse, has found Mary in a soul, He flies there. He enters there in His fullness; He communicates Himself to that soul abundantly, and to the full extent to which it makes room for His Spouse. Nay, one of the great reasons why the Holy Ghost does not now do startling wonders in our souls is because He does not find there a sufficiently great union with His faithful and inseparable Spouse.
We may evidently conclude, then, from what I have said, first of all, that Mary has received from God a great domination over the souls of the elect. For she cannot make her residence in them as God the Father ordered her to do; and, as their mother, form, nourish and bring them forth to eternal life; and have them as her inheritance and portion; and form them in Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ in them; and strike the roots of her virtues in their hearts; and be the inseparable companion of the Holy Ghost in all His works of grace – she cannot, I say, do all these things unless she has a right and a domination over their souls by a singular grace of the Most High, Who, having given her power over His only and natural Son, has given it also to her over His adopted children, not only as to their bodies, which would be but a small matter, but also as to their souls.
Mary is the Queen of heaven and earth by grace, as Jesus is the King of them by nature and by conquest. Now, as the kingdom of Jesus Christ consists principally in the heart or the interior of man – according to the words, The kingdom of God is within you (Luke XVII:21) – in like manner the kingdom of our Blessed Lady is principally in the interior of man; that is to say, his soul. And it is principally in souls that she is more glorified with her Son than in all visible creatures; and so we can call her, as the saints do, the Queen of All Hearts.
In the second place we must conclude that, the most holy Virgin being necessary to God by a hypothetical necessity, in consequence of His will, she is far more necessary to men, in order that they may attain their last end. We must not confuse devotion to the Blessed Virgin with devotions to the other saints, as if devotion to her were not far more necessary than devotion to them, and as if devotion to her were a matter of supererogation. The learned and pious Jesuit, Suarez, the erudite and devout Justus Lipsius, and many others have proved invincibly, from the sentiments of the Fathers, that devotion to our Blessed Lady is necessary to salvation, and that it is an infallible mark of reprobation to have no esteem and love for the holy Virgin; while it is an infallible mark of predestination to be entirely and truly devoted to her.
The figures and words of the Old and New Testaments prove this. The sentiments and the examples of the saints confirm it. Reason and experience teach and demonstrate it. Even the devil and his crew, constrained by the force of truth, have often been obliged to avow it in spite of themselves.
If devotion to the most holy Mary is necessary to all men simply for working out their salvation, it is still more so for those called to special perfection. And I do not think anyone can acquire an intimate union with Our Lord and a perfect fidelity to the Holy Ghost, without a very great union with the most holy Virgin, and a great dependence on her assistance.
It is Mary alone who has found grace before God (Luke 1:30) without the aid of any other mere creature. It is only through her that all those who have since found grace before God have found it at all. And it is only through her that all those who shall come afterward shall find it. She was full of grace when she was greeted by the Archangel Gabriel (Luke 1:28). She was superabundantly filled with grace by the Holy Ghost when He covered her with His unspeakable shadow (Luke 1:35). And she has so augmented from day to day and from moment to moment this double plenitude, that she has reached a point of grace immense and inconceivable; in such sort, that the Most High has made her the sole treasurer of His treasures, and the sole dispenser of His graces to ennoble, to exalt, and to enrich whom she wishes; to give entry to whom she wills into the narrow way of heaven; to bring whom she wills, and in spite of all obstacles, through the narrow gate of life; and to give the throne, the sceptre, and the crown of king to whom she wills. Jesus is everywhere and always the Fruit and the Son of Mary; and Mary is everywhere the veritable tree who bears the Fruit of Life, and the true Mother who produces it.
It is Mary alone to whom God has given the keys to the cellars (Canticle of Canticles 1:3) of divine love, and the power to enter into the most sublime and secret ways of perfection; and the power likewise to make others enter in there also. It is Mary alone who has given to the miserable children of Eve, the faithless, entry into the terrestrial paradise; that they may walk there agreeably with God, hide there securely against their enemies, feed themselves there deliciously, without further fear of death, on the fruit of the trees of life and of knowledge of good and evil, and drink in long draughts the heavenly waters of that fair fountain which gushes forth there with abundance. Rather, since she is herself that terrestrial paradise, that virgin and blessed earth from which Adam and Eve, the sinners, have been driven, she gives no entry there except to those whom it is her pleasure to make saints.