In this age of afflictions and dangers, when all of mankind moans under the weight of misfortunes that increase at every moment, our needs grow and our prayers become more pressing. With this, it is also increasingly important that we know how to pray well. Few truths of the Faith contribute so powerfully to raise the value of our prayers as the Universal Mediation of Mary when studied seriously and made to penetrate deeply into our life of piety.
Of what does this truth consist? Theology teaches that all graces that come to us from God pass through Mary's hands. So, we obtain nothing from God if Mary is not joined to our prayer, and we owe all the graces we receive to her intercession. Thus, the Mother of God is the channel of all prayers that reach her Divine Son and the way of all graces that He bestows on mankind.
Evidently, this truth supposes that in all our prayers we explicitly ask Our Lady to help us. This practice would be highly praiseworthy. Even though we do not declaredly invoke Our Lady's intercession, we can be certain that we will be heard because she prays with us and for us.
A highly consoling conclusion follows from this. If we had to confide merely in our merits, how could we confide in the efficacy of our prayer?
It is said that Our Lord once appeared to Saint Teresa ofAvila bearing marvelous grapes in His hands. The saint asked the Divine Master what the grapes signified, and He answered that they were an image of her soul. The saint then looked carefully at the grapes. As she examined them, her first impression, which was grand, faded, giving way to an increasingly distressing impression. The grapes, now full of blemishes and defects, seemed repugnant to the great saint. She then understood the lofty meaning of the vision:
Even the most perfect souls reveal stains when attentively examined. And what stains can go unnoticed under God's penetrating gaze? Thus did the Psalmist exclaim with good reason: "If thou, 0 Lord, wilt mark iniquities. Lord, who shall stand it?"
If there is no one who does not present stains to the eyes of God, who can hope with full assurance to be heeded in his prayers?
On the other hand. God wants our prayers to be confident. He does not want us to present ourselves before His throne like slaves who fearfully approach a dreadful lord, but like children who gather around an infinitely generous and good father. Indeed, this confidence is one of the conditions for the efficacy of our prayers. But how can we have confidence if, examining ourselves, we feel lacking in reasons to confide? If we have no confidence, how can we hope to be heeded?
From the sadness of this reflection we triumphantly draw the doctrine of the Universal Mediation of Mary. In fact, our merits are minimal and our faults are great, but whatever we cannot attain by ourselves we have every right to hope that Our Lady's prayers will attain.
We must never doubt that she joins our prayers when they are suited to the greater glory of God and our sanctification. In fact, Our Lady has a love for each one of us that is only imperfectly comparable to the love that our earthly mothers have for us. Saint Louis de Montfort says that Our Lady has for the most wretched and miserable of men a love superior to that which would result from the sum of the love of all the mothers in the world for one child. Our authentic mother in the order of grace begot each of us to eternal life, and the passage that the Holy Ghost inscribed in Scripture-Even though your father and mother abandon you, I will not forget you-is faithfully applied to her. It is easier to be abandoned by our parents according to nature than by our mother according to grace.
However wretched we may be, then, we can confidently present our petitions to God. Whenever they are supported by Our Lady, they will have a priceless value in God's eyes, a value that will certainly obtain for us the requested favor.
It is fitting for us to meditate unendingly on this great truth. Catholics that we are, we must face in this life the struggles common to all mortals and, in addition, those that come from the reality of our being in God's service. Even though the horizon seems ready to pour down a new flood upon us; even though paths close before us, precipices open up, and the very earth moves under our feet, we should not lose heart. Our Lady will overcome all obstacles that exceed our strength. As long as this confidence does not desert our hearts, victory will be ours and the cunning of our adversaries will be worth nothing. We will walk upon asps and basilisks and will crush lions and dragons underfoot.
By Plinio Correa de Oliveira