Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Stories of Mary 9: Her Servants Call Her Mother

How Much Greater
Should Be Our Confidence
In Mary Because She Is Our Mother.

Not by chance, nor in vain, do the servants of Mary call her mother, and it would seem that they cannot invoke her by any other name, and are never weary of calling her mother; mother, indeed, for she is truly our mother, not according to the flesh, but the spiritual mother of our souls and of our salvation. Sin, when it deprived our souls of divine grace, also deprived them of life. Hence, when they were dead in misery and sin, Jesus our Redeemer came with an excess of mercy and love to restore to us, by his death upon the cross, that lost life, as he has Himself declared: “I am come that they may have life, and may have it more abundantly.”
More abundantly, because as the theologians teach us, Jesus Christ by His redemption brought us blessings greater than the injury Adam inflicted upon us by his sin; He reconciled us to God, and thus became the Father of our souls, under the new law of grace, as the prophet Isaiah predicted: “The Father of the world to come, the Prince of peace.” But if Jesus is the Father of our souls, Mary is the mother; for, in giving us Jesus, she gave us the true life; and offering upon Calvary the life of her Son for our salvation, she then brought us forth to the life of divine grace.
At two different times then, as the holy Fathers show us, Mary became our spiritual mother; the first when she was found worthy of conceiving in her virginal womb the Son of God, as the blessed Albertus Magnus says.
St. Bernardine of Sienna more distinctly teaches us that when the most Holy Virgin, upon the annunciation of the angel, gave her consent to become mother of the eternal Word, which He awaited before making Himself her Son, she, by this consent even from that time, demanded of God, with lively affection, our salvation; and she was so earnestly engaged in obtaining it, that from that time she has borne us, as it were, in her womb, as a most loving mother.
St. Luke says, speaking of the birth of our Savior, that Mary “brought forth her first-born son.” Therefore, says a certain writer, if the evangelist affirms that Mary brought forth her first-born, is it to be supposed that she afterwards had other children? But the same author adds; “If it is of faith that Mary had no other children according to the flesh except Jesus, then she must have other spiritual children, and these we are.”
Our Lord revealed this to St. Gertrude, who, reading one day the passage of the Gospel just quoted, was troubled, not knowing how to understand it, that Mary being mother of Jesus Christ alone, it could be said that he was her first-born. And God explained it to her by telling her that Jesus was her first-born according to the flesh, but men were her second-born according to the spirit.
And this explains what is said of Mary in the holy Canticles: “Thy belly is as a heap of wheat, set about with lilies.” St. Ambrose explains this and says: “Although in the pure womb of Mary there was only one grain of wheat, which was Jesus Christ, yet it is called a heap of grain, because in that one grain were contained all the elect, of whom Mary was to be the mother.” Hence, William the Abbot wrote, Mary, in bringing forth Jesus, Who is our Savior and our life, brought forth all of us to life and salvation.

In the history of the foundations of the Company of Jesus, in the kingdom of Naples, is related the following story of a noble youth of Scotland, named William Elphinstone. He was a relation of King James. Born a heretic, he followed the false sect to which he belonged; but enlightened by divine grace, which showed
him his errors, he went to France, where, with the assistance of a good Jesuit father, who was like himself a Scotchman, and still more by the intercession of the blessed Virgin, he at length saw the truth, abjured heresy, and became a
He went afterwards to Rome, where a friend of his found him one day very much afflicted, and weeping. He asked him the cause, and he answered that in the night his mother had appeared to him and said: “My son, it is well for thee that thou hast entered the true Church; I am already lost, because I died in heresy.”
From that time he became more fervent in his devotion to Mary, chose her for his mother, and by her was inspired to become a religious. He made a vow to do so, but being ill, he went to Naples to restore his health by a change of air. But the Lord ordered it so that he should die in Naples, and die a religious; for, having become dangerously ill soon after his arrival there, he, by prayers and tears, obtained from the superiors admittance, and when about to receive the viaticum, he made his vows in presence of the Blessed Sacrament, and was enrolled in the society.
After this, in the tenderness of his feelings, he gave thanks to his mother Mary for having rescued him from heresy, and brought him to die in the true Church, and in a religious house in the midst of his brethren.
Therefore, he exclaimed: “Oh! how glorious it is to die in the midst of so many angels!” Being exhorted to take a little rest, he answered: “Ah, this is not the time to rest when the end of my life is drawing near.” Before dying, he said to the persons present: “Brethren, do you not see the angels of heaven around me?”
One of the religious, having heard him murmuring something to himself, asked him what he had said. He answered that his angel-guardian had revealed to him that he should be in purgatory but a short time, and would soon enter paradise.
Then he began again to talk with his sweet mother Mary, and repeating the word, mother, mother, he tranquilly expired, like a child falling asleep in the arms of its mother. Soon after, it was revealed to a devout religious that he had already entered paradise.

 “Stories of Mary” are 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

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