"To whom shall we go?" if not to our Mother - John 6:69
Of all the testimonies of honour and love we can bestow, the least doubtful, the least suspicious, is confidence. The heart of man, so imperfect, so weak, and consequently so vindictive, nevertheless allows itself to be disarmed by the confidence even of a foe; there is nothing we do not grant to one who relies on us. Confidence is man's tenderest, most sensitive point; the more noble and generous the heart, the more is this precious conquest desired. "Confidence," said an ancient author, "you are properly religion, and make its sacrifice." This confidence Mary makes the measure of her tenderness and gifts, and who has a better right to demand this tribute from our hearts? Of confidence in Mary we may say, as of the praises due to her - whatever extent we give it we can never carry it too far. Moreover, let us say it boldly, since we have the authority of Holy Church for the statement - devotion to Mary has this peculiarity, that it consists not principally in imitation, like that to others. Doubtless imitation is the complement and perfection of it, but what properly constitutes its essence, the condition without which it would cease to be, is confidence. O Holy Virgin! if devotion to you, the obtaining your succour, depended on copying your virtues we should cease to love you, to be loved by you whenever we ceased to imitate you. And what would then become of poor sinners? To whom could they go when they had provoked the wrath of your Divine Son?
But on what must this confidence be grounded? Shall we trust in Mary because we serve her faithfully, because perchance we have been so fortunate as to burn with her love, to gain to her the hearts of our brethren? No, no; because these motives may be wanting to us, for our fidelity may have failed, may one day fail us. We shall trust, then, in Mary, because she alone, after God, can be called good, nay, goodness itself, because she loves us, because she is our Mother - and such a Mother must ever inspire confidence - because she is all-powerful, and, with her Divine Son, is alone able to extricate us from the most perilous, the most desperate, positions. We shall confide in her, for that we are weak, sinners, that a blast may overthrow us, and because this weakness, this impotency itself, gives us a claim to her compassion.
"But perhaps the dignity and sanctity of this Queen of Heaven affright us, make us apprehensive of recurring to her, miserable that we are, and defiled with sin." Saint Alphonsus Liguori "No, no; fear nothing; the holier she is, the more eminent her dignity, the more sweet and clement she shows herself towards the sinner desirous of being converted." Saint Gregory Ah! wherefore should a frail mortal fear to appear before this Queen of Mercy? Her countenance has nothing austere, nothing terrible; far from it, she shows herself replete with sweetness and bounty towards all." Saint Bernard Now, if Mary be so kind, so merciful to all mankind, even to the ungrateful and negligent, with what tenderness will she not regard those who love her, who frequently invoke her, who openly avow themselves her servants, and have in her unshaken confidence? "She is easily found by them that love her," Wisdom 6:13 and ever found overflowing with mercy and love. I love those that love me, she says; for though she tenderly loves all men as her children, yet for these who have a more special devotion, a more cordial confidence in her, she has a singular fondness. Hers is a discerning love, and she reserves her more signal favours for those who so confide in her as entirely to abandon themselves to her sweet protection and motherly solicitude. And wherefore should we not blindly confide to her own interests for time and for eternity, since she is our Mother? Ah! had a mother, like her, the will to heap gifts on her child, while at the same time she possessed the power to do so, what should be wanting to this fortunate babe? And shall not Mary do more for us than we hope for, does she not merit we should expect everthing at her hands, our own all-powerful Mother? Let us, then, cast all our solicitude into her bosom, trust to her the affair of our salvcttion, of our perfection, of our perseverance; let us not even ask any determinate favours of her liberality, but say with confidence to her Divine Son, "Lord, I ask neither consolation nor affliction, peace nor trial, health nor sickness; blind that I am, I might err in my choice; but what I desire, what I beg, what I beseech, is, that you will grant me whatever graces Mary asks in my behalf." And what more rational prayer could we frame, seeing that our Mother, Mary, desires far greater blessings for us than we could desire for ourselves; that the gratification she experiences in loading us with benefits is incomparably greater than our utmost longings to receive them. She even anticipates our desires, and is the first to show herself to the sinner, as the number of striking conversions effected so suddenly, so unexpectedly, testify.
To whom should we go, if not to our Mother? "Though she should kill me," says Saint Bonaventure. "yet will I trust in her; full of confidence, I desire to die at the foot of her image, and I shall be saved."
Live upon confidence in Mary. As a mother carries her infant, so will she bear you in her arms. Let this trust be so natural to you, that you will recommend to her your interests of each day and moment, as well the minor as the more weighty. Cast yourself completely on her care, and henceforward forego all disquietude, which is to the soul a waste of precious time.
O Mary, when the enemies of my soul attack me in order to cover me with opprobium and confusion, I will reply - "I have hoped in the protection of my Mother, and shall not be confounded." Psalm 118:10
A Polish nobleman, named Count Sckolinski, having been arrested in arms, during one of the recent stuggles of Poland against Russia, was condemned to death. At these terrible tidings, the Countess leading her son, a boy of ten years old, into her oratory, kneels with him before a picture of our Lady of Sorrows, to whom she addresses the following prayer - "Holy Virgin Mary, pray for us, protect us, save us, restore to a wife her husband, to a son his father, you cannot but compassionate our tears; you who were never invoked in vain, who so fondly love your Divine Son, who have suffered so much yourself." Presently, Stanislaus and his mother arose. A secret hope has allayed their grief. Escorted by a domestic, and accompanied by her son, the Countess repairs to the prison in which her husband was confined. A few gold pieces slipped into the gaoler's hands gained her admission to his dungeon. Three quarters of an hour later, the unhappy Countess again passed the guards, her countenance concealed, and holding her weeping boy by the hand. It was evening ere the prisoner's cell was again visited. At the time of this inspection, the gaoler uttered loud cries, called for assistance and shouted "treason In place of the condemned, he had just found the Countess, his wife. Colonel Sckolinski had escaped with his son to Paris. A year and a half had passed over without the Count being able to learn the fate of his courageous wife. To the eager and repeated inquiry of Stanislaus - "When will mamma come?" he could give but a vague reply, dissimulating his own cruel uncertainty.
The boy had been placed at a Seminary presided over by ecclesiastics, and grew in learning, piety, and good sentiments. The period of his first Communion approached, and the idea of his mother haunted him unceasingly. "I wish," he was wont to say to his father, "I wish she may return for my first Communion, and she will return." Preoccupied with this desire, Stanislaus, one evening at study hour, wrote to Peter, the servant of the Countess, who had remained at Warsaw, the following letter - "Be kind enough to tell my mother, Peter, that I am to make my first Communion in a month, and that she must positively come to Paris to assist at It. I do not write to herself because all our letters are intercepted, but I depend on you to convey my desire to her. - Your fond Stanislaus. - Tell mamma I am at school in Saint D." This letter written, the boy slips into it a picture of the Blessed Virgin, the better to secure the success of his mission, folds, seals, and posts it. Alas! during this very proceeding, the Count Sckolinski received the following lines traced by an unknown hand - "No more hope - departing for Siberia - resignation. Peter is to make a last effort; but it is said the first attempt at evasion will be the Countess' death warrant. We love you, and pity you still more." Meanwhile, the first Communion was drawing nigh. Stanislaus had said nothing of his letter to his father or masters; he had spoken much about it to God; he had counted the days and the hours, and said to himself, "I will make a novena to the Blessed Virgin before my first Communion. I will so arrange that it shall conclude at the moment I shall receive absolution, and I will pray so hard, that the Blessed Virgin will be forced to restore my mother to us." It was the eve of the great day. According to a pious custom, the parents had been invited to the reception room, in order to give their blessing to their children. Among the rest came Count Sckolinski. Stanislaus flung himself into his arms; then kneeling, received the paternal benediction. "This is your blessing," he said; "but I hope to receive my mother's also." The father was silent. "Do you know mamma is about coming home?" he continued. "Ah!" sadly replied the Count. "I wish her," pursued Stanislaus, "to assist at my first Communion, and so she will. Do you see, papa, I have made a novena to the Blessed Virgin. It ends at five o'clock. I shall receive absolution at four; then I shall be pure as the Angels, and I will implore the Mother of God to restore to me my mother this evening, or at least to-morrow certainly" "We shall see," said the Count, attempting a smile; and not being able to continue the conversation, he took leave of his son.
At five o'clock that evening, Stanislaus directed his steps towards the porter's lodge, when he was accosted by one of the Priests of the establishment. "Where are you going, child?" "To see if any one has asked for me." "But your father was here this morning." "Ah, sir, I am looking for another visit; I expect mamma." "But your mother is not in Paris." "She is returning, I am sure." "Come, come, my child, I can conceive your wish and prayers; but no distraction this evening, my dear. The visiting hour is past; return to your companions." The novena was finished, and the child fancied that, in order to do the thing more perfectly, the Queen of Heaven was about to restore to him his mother immediately. Not to go to the lodge was a great sacrifice, but he made it generously. "After all," he said to himself, "my mother will ask for me when she arrives." Six o'clock struck, then seven, then eight; no one comes. Supper is over, and they are preparing to ascend to the dormitory. Stanislaus was a little discouraged. Meanwhile, a woman of neglected mein, her features drawn and emaciated, entered the lodge, and asked to see Stanislaus Sckolinski. The porter, mistrusting this late visit, plainly refused to call him. At length, weary of arguing, he consented to allow the Countess (for it was she) to approach the window, and look at the boys defiling in the yard. Stanislaus, who still reckoned on his mother's return, left the ranks a little, to cast a glance at the lodge. The mother had only time to cry "There he is," when she swooned away. How came the countess to arrive at the precise time specified by her boy? She had escaped from the hands of the escort that was conducting her into Siberia, and, flying towards France, reached Paris in disguise, without resources, without money. Where should she go in the vast city? Happily in his letter to Peter, Stanislaus had given the address of his school, and thus the Countess had gone straight to her son.
Visit to the Blessed Sacrament
And there is none that can resist His hand, and say to Him: Why hast thou done it?" - Daniel 5:32
No, my God, You permit not proud reason to ask the motive of Your works, and he who endeavours to scrutinize Your majesty will be overwhelmed by it. But You do not refuse to submissive faith the permission humbly to ask the reason of the prodigies Your love accomplishes in this Sacrament. I therefore, though but dust and ashes, will approach your Tabernacle and say -
O my Lord, Why have you acted thus? Why so much annihilation in this mystery? Alas! men know not how to be grateful for it. My God, allow me to say it- Have You not gone beyond the end You proposed to Yourself in keeping Yourself so hidden, so obscure, so annihilated? You desired that all should approach You without fear, but do You not risk their coming without reverence, without dread, without trying to comprehend the excess of Your abasement, Your love in this mystery? I know well You do everything with wisdom, console me then, enlighten me, explain to me how You obtain glory from a mystery whose depths few try to fathom. "One single heart that understands Me, recompenses Me for the blindness of a thousand. I explain to My friends, and according to My promise, I will discover to them My secrets." Ah, how wearisome must be my conversation, how cold my heart, how weak my faith! how You must desire to leave me! Nevertheless, I long to keep You, and never to separate from You. Pity me, teach me how to receive You, to visit You, to speak to You, to hear You, and remain inviolably united to you.
O Mary! if it were for you alone that Jesus worked this prodigy, we should not marvel, yet where could He repose since your departure from earth? Prepare my heart, all hearts, that such a Guest may never be unworthily received.
- taken from The Month of May Consecrated to the Glory of the Mother of God, The Queen of Heaven