St. Alphonsus Liguori remarks: Very precious are the graces which Jesus Christ has promised to those who are devoted to the name of Mary, as He Himself, speaking to his holy mother, gave St. Bridget [of Sweden] to understand, revealing to her that whoever will invoke the name of Mary with confidence and a purpose of amendment, shall receive three special graces: namely,
(1) a perfect contrition for his sins,
(2) the grace to make satisfaction for them and strength to obtain perfection, and…
(3) the glory of paradise;
for as the divine Saviour added: “Thy words are so sweet and dear to Me, oh My mother, that I cannot refuse thee what thou dost ask.” (Taken from ‘The Glories of Mary)
Why Practice Devotion To Our Lady?
Some of us may doubt that the intercession of Our Lady is necessary or beneficial. The following words are for you especially, but not exclusively.
Here are three reasons to devote ourselves to Our Lady:
1. Scripture advises us to.
2. The Saints did, and they advise us to.
3. The Catholic Church, “the pillar and ground of the truth”, advises us to.
“Perhaps the saints and the Catholic Church practise devotion to Mary, but nowhere in Scripture are we told to pray to Mary.” If this is your way of thinking, please read on, dear friend.
The Saints frequently said things like, “He who has not recourse to thee, oh Lady, will not reach Paradise.” (St. Bonaventure) Conversely (and this is most consoling),
“… it is impossible that he should be condemned who recommends himself to the Virgin, and is regarded by her with affection.”
To ensure that we are regarded by Our dear Mother, Mary, with affection, let us follow the counsel she gave to St. Bridget:
“Daughter, if you wish to bind me to you, love my Son.”
Now, as St. Alphonsus reminds us, devotion to Mary is “necessary… not indeed absolutely, but morally.” There was a time when words such as these greatly confused me. “Where does that idea come from?” I thought. I assure you that it took some time to find sufficient answers to these questions, but the point is, I did: the answers are out there. Here is a very helpful resource:
http://www.ewtn.com/library/mary/maryinsc.htm (Unless we have read much Catholic doctrine regarding Mary, including the writings of the saints and Church Fathers, we should remain humble and keep quiet if we feel inclined to object when honour is given to the Mother of God).
The words of the Saints and the Church should never be taken lightly; we have a moral obligation to seek the truth, and it would be the height of folly to assume that the Church and its fine fruits (the Saints) had no reason to believe in doctrines like the Immaculate Conception; especially when the Catholic Church possesses Truth itself in her tabernacles! Yes, for Our Risen Lord dwells substantially in the Sacred Host! Deo gratias!
Mary in the Old Testament?
Many Old Testament passages clearly refer to Mary, such as Genesis 3:5. There are other significant passages that are lesser known, and it is these (well, some of these… there are many) that I would like to share (accompanied by words from ‘The Glories of Mary’ by St. Alphonsus). A basic understanding of typology and mystical theology will go a long way in helping us see the profound truth of these passages:
“Thy belly is as a heap of wheat, set about with lilies.” (Song of Solomon 7:2)
“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.”
“The hairs of thy head as the purple of the king bound in the channel.” (Song of Solomon 7:5)
“Ailgrin, explaining this passage of the Canticles, says: These hairs of Mary were her continual thoughts of the passion of Jesus, which kept always before her eyes the blood which was one day to flow from his wounds. Thy mind, oh Mary, and thy thoughts tinged in the blood of the passion of our Lord, were always moved with sorrow as if they actually saw the blood flowing from his wounds. Thus her Son himself was that arrow in the heart of Mary, who, the more worthy of love he showed himself to her, always wounded her more with the sorrowful thought that she should lose him by so cruel a death.”
“She preventeth them that covet her, so that she first showeth herself unto them.” (Wisdom 6:14)
“So great is the love, says Richard of St. Laurence, which this good mother bears us, that when she perceives our necessities, she comes to relieve them. She hastens before she is invoked… These words of wisdom, St. Anselm applies to Mary, and says that she anticipates those who desire her protection. By this we are to understand, that she obtains many graces from God for us before we ask them from her.”
“Now all good things came to me together with her.” (Wisdom 7:11)
“Justly, then, does St. Antoninus apply to Mary that passage of wisdom… Since Mary is the mother of God and the dispenser of all good, the world may truly say, and especially those in the world who are devoted to this queen, that, together with devotion to Mary, they have obtained every good thing.”
“A garden enclosed, a fountain sealed up.” (Song of Solomon 4:12)
“The Holy Spirit signifies the same thing, when he called this his spouse: Mary, says St. Jerome, was properly this enclosed garden and sealed fountain; for the enemies never entered to harm her, but she was always uninjured, remaining holy in soul and body. And in like manner St. Bernard said, addressing the blessed Virgin: Thou art an enclosed garden, where the sinner’s hand never entered to rob it of its flowers.”
“The foundations thereof are in the holy mountains; the Lord loveth the gates of Sion above all the tabernacles of Jacob. . . This man is born in her, and the Highest himself hath founded her.” (Psalm 87:1, 5)
“We know that this divine spouse loved Mary more than all the other saints and angels united, as Father Suarez, St. Lawrence Justinian, and others affirm. He loved her from the beginning, and exalted her in sanctity above all creatures, as David expresses it: All which words signify that Mary was holy from her conception. The same thing is signified by what the Holy Spirit himself says in another place:
“Many daughters have gathered together riches; thou hast surpassed them all.” (Proverbs 31:29)
“If Mary has surpassed all in the riches of grace, she then possessed original justice, as Adam and the angels had it…”
“There are young maidens without number: one is my dove, my perfect one (the Hebrew reads, my uncorrupted, my immaculate); she is the only one of her mother.” (Song of Solomon 6:8)
“All just souls are children of divine grace; but among these, Mary was the Dove without the bitter gall of sin, the Perfect One without the stain of original sin, the one conceived in grace.”
“Man finds his greatest consolation in faithfully keeping the commandments of God and the holy Church, and in having a great devotion to Mary.”
– Fr. Paul of Moll