MARY FULL OF GRACE
THE FAIREST FLOWER OF PARADISE - CONSIDERATIONS ON THE LITANY OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN, ENRICHED WITH EXAMPLES DRAWN FROM THE LIVES OF THE SAINTS BY Very Rev. ALEXIS M. LEPICIER, O. S. M.
Of all the gifts which may enrich an intelligent being, none is greater, more precious or more desirable than grace. This divine gift we owe to the merits of our Saviour, a gift which makes man the friend of God, brother of Jesus Christ, and heir to the Kingdom of Heaven. It makes us in some sort sharers in the Godhead, according to the words of St. Peter: "By whom He hath given us most great and precious promises: that by these you may be made partakers of the divine nature." (2 Peter, I, 4.)
As Mary was destined to become Mother of the Author of grace, she must needs have been herself enriched with this gift, in a degree superior to that of all other creatures. For this reason, at the moment of her conception, she was exempted from every stain of sin, and was endowed with an abundance of grace, above that which any of the saints ever possessed. And this grace went on always increasing to snch a degree, that when Mary left this world, her grace surpassed that of all the saints put together. Thus, the words of Holy Scripture are particularly applicable to her: "The path of the just, as a shining light, goeth forward and increaseth even to perfect day." (Prov iv, 18.)
0 Mary, what can I say of the beauties of thy soul enriched with the ineffable gift of grace? Thou art in truth an object of infinite complacency to God, who sees in thee the purest reflection of the perfections of Jesus Christ!
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In calling Mary "Mother of divine grace" we do not mean to say that she of herself bestows upon men this priceless gift. To impart grace is proper to God alone, who is the King of glory, immortal and invisible. To Him only belongs by right of dominion this supernatural good: none but He is its primary dispenser.
However, the distribution of the treasure of grace is regulated by wise and provident laws. Just as the princes of the earth have ministers to distribute their largess, so also the King of Heaven has willed that His riches should be distributed by the sage bounty of her who, by privilege, has received the plenitude thereof. She intercedes as a Daughter, she commands as a Mother; and at her yoke the gifts of Heaven are lavished upon men. It is not therefore for herself only that Mary is full of grace, she is so, on our accounjt as well; and this is the precise meaning of the glorious title with which the voice of the Christian people at large loves to call her: "Mother of divine grace."
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Mother of divine grace! Could the piety of the faithful have chosen for our heavenly Queen a more glorious title?
Is it not by the aid of Mary that the princes of the earth, whilst holding firm the reins of government, know how to procure for their subjects peace and prosperity? "By Me kings reign." (Prov. viii, 15.) Is it not by her favor that wise lawgivers make truth and justice to prevail in their states? "By me lawgivers decree just things." (Prov. viii, 15.) In fine, is it not by and through Mary that sinners obtain their return to grace, and the just their final perseverance?
Yes! all the benefits of conversion, of sanctification and of salvation which God has granted or shall ever grant to men, from the first grace of repentance given to Adam after his fall, down to that grace of final perseverance which shall secure the heavenly kingdom to the last of God's elect, must come from Jesus Christ by the mediation of Mary.
Indeed, how eloquent are those countless ex-votos, which in the sanctuaries of Mary testify to the gratitude of the faithful toward this Divine Mother, for the graces they have received by her intercession! Ah, let those fly to Mary with all confidence who feel the need of the succors of grace: this Mother so full of mercy will never abandon them.
St. Bernardine of Siena
How much our blessed Lady loves to share with her devout clients, the graces with which it has pleased Our Lord to endow her is shown in the life of St. Bernardine of Siena. From his earliest youth this Apostle of the Holy Name of Jesus began to show especial devotion to the glorious Queen of Heaven. Every Saturday he fasted in her honor, and showed her every sign of affection and veneration. This benign Mother, on the other hand, did not let herself be outdone in generosity and was pleased to adorn the soul of her faithful'servant with the choicest graces, in preparation for the mission to which Bernardine had been predestined by God.
His devotion to our blessed Lady increased in him with his years. It is stated that every day he used to go to a gate of the city of Siena called the Porta Camollia and there prostrate himself before a fresco of the Madonna. This he did without any regard for the opinions of other people, giving free scope to his affection and calling Our Lady his delight and own beloved. His confidence in the patronage of the Mother of grace was not frustrated, since he thus escaped the dangers of this corrupt world. He had long wished to enter the Order of the Friars Minor and at last this privilege was granted him.
Having been bidden by his Superiors to preach in the different cities of Italy and to call people back to the practices of a Christian life, he obtained, owing to the intercession of our blessed Lady, the marvelous cure of a long-standing defect in his voice, which had been the result of an illness from which he had much to suffer. The cities whither he was sent to preach were full of evil-living and bloodshed; but the Blessed Virgin, under whose patronage he placed the issue of his apostolic labors, helped him visibly. Words cannot express how many sinners were converted and how many souls were sanctified by him. At his preaching, the erring were recalled, scandals ceased, and feuds were ended; and these apostolic journeys of his could indeed be called triumphs of grace over sin. In the end, worn out by fatigue and penance, he died a happy death on the twentieth of May, 1445, receiving from our blessed Lord the eternal recompense he had merited especially by his filial devotion to our blessed Lady.
O Mary, who for our sakes didst conceive Jesus, the Author and Dispenser of grace, and who wast enriched above all creatures with this precious gift, turn upon us, we beseech thee, thy glance of maternal love. Obtain for us from the infinite bounty of thy Son, a large share of this celestial treasure, in order that we may be always pleasing to God, and may reign with Him for all eternity. Amen.