Mother Of Divine Grace By Father Stanislaus. M. Hogan, O.P. Chapter XI. Queen Of Angels; Cause Of Our Joy; Comfort Of The Afflicted.

A HUMAN being, yet Sovereign Lady of the Angelic host; a creature, yet exercising sway in the realms of Divine Justice, and over those upon whose life God has pronounced sentence: these are the claims we make for the Mother of God when we call her Queen of Angels, Cause of our Joy, and Comfort of the Afflicted who expiate their sins in the cleansing fires of Purgatory.

Jesus Christ is the chief of creation, and from His sovereignty none are exempt. God has set Him on His right hand, " above all principality, and power, and virtue, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come, and he hath subjected all things under his feet." 1 " It is evident," says St. Thomas, " that both men and Angels are destined to one end, the glory of the vision of God. Hence, the Mystical Body of the Church is not composed of men only but also of Angels. . . . Wherefore, Christ is not only the Head of mankind but of Angels." 2 This being so, the Mother of Jesus Christ is superior to the Angels in the order of Grace and Glory. She can say in the very language of God: " This is my beloved Son." None of the Angels can claim such a privilege. They stand before the throne of God: " We are Thy servants, whatsoever Thou shalt command us we will do." 3 They are God's messengers; 4 heralds of His manifestations to mankind; 5 and ministers of His Son. 6 But " a throne was set for the king's mother, and she sat on his right hand," 7 for as Jesus Christ is established at the right hand of His Father and has entered into His inheritance, 8 so is His Mother established in the participation of His power and glory, and in the exercise of the privileges and prerogatives of a Queen.

The transcendent revelation of God was made to the Virgin of Nazareth, and an Angel awaited her words of consent that the Mystery might be accomplished. He " on whom the Angels desire to look," 9 and who is " above all principality, and power, and virtue, and dominion," took flesh in Mary's womb, was carried in her arms, tended by her in the days of His infancy, and " was subject " to her during a period of thirty years. The Divine Maternity, as we have seen in the foregoing pages, demanded extraordinary Grace, Grace in proportion to the dignity and office of Mother of God. The position was unique. So also was the Grace conferred, for that Grace was conferred upon the Mother that she might be worthy to occupy the position, and in the fact of the Incarnation we possess divine testimony as to the actual worthiness of our Blessed Lady for the office. No other creature, therefore, either angelic or human, can be compared with Mary in the order of grace. She excels all creatures in dignity, consequently in perfection, since her dignity demanded the highest perfection and the plenitude of grace. And since the degree of glory that is attained is commensurate with the grace conferred and corresponded to, and with the charity that is communicated by grace, it follows that, as the Mother of God surpasses all creatures in Grace and Charity, she transcends them in glory. Grace and glory have been merited for us by Jesus Christ: of His fulness we all have received: but no creature to such an extent as His own Mother. She most closely resembles Him, 10 and so is uplifted above all other creatures as a Queen ranks superior to her subjects.

So far there is no difficulty. We can really understand how the unique position of our Lady, her extraordinary Grace and Charity, and her proximity to God, would give her the highest place in heaven. There is, however, another question to be answered: Are the Angels indebted in any way to the Mother of God ? Have her merits in any way affected them ? Has she obtained any Grace for them, any supernatural perfection, or any increase of glory ?

Some theologians have taught that the Word would have become incarnate even though man had not sinned. According to this opinion, the sanctification of the Angels was due in the first place to the foreseen merits of the Incarnate Word, and, secondarily, to the merits, also foreseen, of His Mother.

St. Thomas holds the contrary opinion as the one " to which it would seem that assent should preferably be given." His reason for this is as follows. " Whatever is the effect of God's will only, and is beyond anything due to a creature, can only be known in so far as it is revealed in the Sacred Scriptures which are the means by which the Divine Will is made manifest to us. Wherefore, since the Scriptures uniformly state that the sin of our first parents was the reason for the Incarnation, it is more fittingly asserted that the Incarnation was decreed by God as a remedy against sin, in such wise, that if sin had not been committed the Incarnation would not have occurred." 11

From this teaching, which is more general amongst theologians, it follows that the Angels were not indebted to the merits of " the Word made flesh," or, consequently, to those of His Blessed Mother for the grace which sanctified them, or the glory of the vision of God. This is stated in definite terms by St. Thomas. " Christ as man is the Head of the Angels, but not so specially (proprie) y or in the same manner as He is Head of the human race, and this for two reasons. First, as regards similarity of nature, for He resembles man specifically in nature but is like to the Angels generically, in that they are endowed with an intellectual nature. Secondly, as regards His influence, for He does not influence the Angels ... by meriting Grace or x by praying for them, since they are already in the state of beatitude." 12

Are we to say, then, that neither our Divine Lord nor His Blessed Mother conferred any favour on the Angels, or that the Angelic hosts were not indebted in any way to Jesus and Mary ? By no means. Another passage from the writings of St. Thomas shows us that the Angels do actually owe certain gifts and favours to " the man Christ Jesus," and, consequently, to His Mother. " The Angels are not wayfarers as regards the essential recompense, hence Christ did not merit it for them. But in a certain sense they are wayfarers In regard to the accidental recompense, in so far forth as they minister unto us. In this respect Christ's merits were effectual to them." 13 The essential recompense for every intellectual being is the possession of God, the vision of God face to face, which, as a writer puts it," is found in the immediate communication of the created mind with the divine mind." 14 It is this vision of God which is the " reward exceeding great" for Angels and men. Hence, the Word of God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, together with the Father and the Holy Ghost, is the essential or substantial recompense of all who have entered into the glory of the Kingdom. Everything else is accidental or accessory. The fruition of God alone is the full and final recompense. For this recompense there was of necessity grace in proportion, grace which fitted the Angels for the vision of God. This grace was God's gratuitous gift, and the Angels received it through the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Word, but not " the Word made flesh." It was not merited for them by Jesus Christ, neither was it received by them through Mary's hands. " Take away the humanity of the Word, and, consequently, the Mother of God," says Father Terrien; " the Angels would still enjoy the vision of God in which their essential happiness lies, because the Grace which is the principle of this vision did not come to them either from Jesus or Mary," 15

Our Blessed Lady, therefore, is not Mother of Divine Grace for the Angels as she is for us. We owe all the Grace we receive to Jesus Christ; and as He was given to us by Mary, so the graces He has won for us are still conferred upon us through His Mother, not the graces which make for our accessory happiness only, but that grace which gives us the right to the eternal inheritance.

But the accidental grace conferred upon the Angels—that is," an increase of knowledge because of the mysteries of salvation; an increase of joy because of the restoration of the order in their ranks which Lucifer had disturbed; and an increase of glory because of the triumphs of Christ and His Church 16—this has been bestowed upon them by Christ the Son of God and Son of Mary, since as the Incarnate Word, He is above all principality and power; He is their Head because He is the Head of the Church of which they also are members.

With regard to this grace, Mary is Mother of Divine Grace for the Angelic hosts, and her merits have won grace and glory for them, which add to their perfection and increase their happiness. And so St. Antoninus tells us in his Summa that— " Since Mary is the Mother of the Saviour of men, she is in a certain sense the principle and source of the glory of the Angels, and may rightly be called their Mother." 17 In the beautiful words of Father Hugon, O.P., " Mary belongs to us more fully than to the Angels; she is our very own; we have cost her more, and she has given more to us than to them. She is only Mother of Grace and Glory that is accidental in the case of the Angels, but she is Mother of all Grace, all glory, of every good to us: tota mater, she is wholly a Mother to us. We are the children of her sorrows; the Angels are the heirs of her triumphs.

Her Motherhood of them is all joy; but in our case it is indeed a childbirth with all its attendant suffering and love. Because we have cost so great a price we belong to her and she belongs to us in a special manner. Because we have received greater graces * through her we are bound to show greater gratitude. We shall show our gratitude best by being wholly devoted to her." 18

Dante tells us that St. Bernard commanded him to " look upon the face which most resembles Christ, because its brightness alone could prepare him to behold Christ."19 He speaks of the Virgin-Mother as " the Queen who can do whatsoever she will "; 20 while at the singing of the Ave Maria by Gabriel" every face thereby gathered serenity. 21 " Again, in the Purgatorio, we find that the mere utterance of her [Mary's] name by dying lips, even when repentance has been till then neglected, is enough to secure the privilege of admission to purgatorial penance, and, consequently, of ultimate salvation. . . . Once more in each of the seven divisions of purgatory, in which severally one of the deadly sins is purged, when examples of the contrary virtues are presented for the meditation of the penitents, the first example is in every case taken from some incident in the life of the Virgin— a thought borrowed by Dante from St. Bonaventura." 22 We have seen that Mary is the Almoner of God's Grace, and that each Grace conferred upon us passes through her hands: but in heaven itself, and for her children who have " entered into the joy of the Lord," is Mary still a Mother of Grace? And does she turn her " eyes of mercy" upon those other children, wayfarers no longer, yet who have not been granted the vision of Light Eternal, the souls " who are content in the fire: for they hope to come, whensoever it be, amongst the blessed " ? 23

It has been stated above that every intellectual being finds its true happiness in the vision and possession of God. It is the unending Communion between the Uncreated and the created mind which constitutes the everlasting joy and perfect bliss of the Just in heaven; and it is by means of the grace conferred and corresponded with that this blessedness is won. Since, therefore, the Mother of God has in a secondary way merited this grace for us, she has also in the same subordinate manner merited our essential happiness—of course de congruo only. We do not imply that once the blessed have received their reward the Mother of God merits any further increase of their essential happiness. The degree of glory is apportioned to each soul by God as the reward of its " hunger and thirst after justice." It cannot be increased, since the opportunity for meriting any increase has passed, and God's decision is irrevocable. We merely say that, since the glory is commensurate with the grace conferred and corresponded with during life and at the hour of death, Mary, who has merited the Grace for us in the manner mentioned, has also merited the glory.

There is, however, other joy in heaven apart from the substantial happiness of the blessed. There is the accessory happiness of which we have spoken, and which adds to and completes the bliss of the Just. The vision and continual presence of Him Whom Mary has given to us, Jesus, " the fruit of her womb," makes for the happiness of the Blessed. So also does the presence of Mary herself, our Mother, to whom after Jesus we are so deeply indebted. What a source of unspeakable joy are Jesus and Mary to those who have loved and served them, who possess them now without fear of ever losing them, and who see face to face the Child and His Mother !

In heaven " death shall be no more, nor mourning, nor crying, nor sorrow shall be any more, for the former things are passed away. 24 Those who have loved each other on earth, and who have died in the friendship of God shall be united once more and for ever, and they shall owe their reunion in a sense to the grace that Mary has merited for them— de congruo, as we have explained. Mary will still be a Mother to each human being. As she taught the Evangelists in the early days of the Church the secrets of the Infancy and Hidden Life of her Son, may we not think of her as revealing to His brethren, whom she by her prayers has moulded into a resemblance of Him, the Mysteries of Nazareth, Bethlehem, and Calvary? She can supply details that no other creature can supply. Knowledge of them will add to the happiness of the Blessed. Shall we be at fault in saying that the Mother will not withhold them ? And her Mother's love will urge those who enjoy the rest after labour to pray more earnestly and plead more insistently for those who are struggling still in the Vale of Tears. And as each wayfarer reaches home at last, and is crowned by Jesus, and welcomed by Mary, will not the other souls rejoice and be glad anew that Mary's prayers have not been in vain or the grace of God been void ? 25

There are other children who have prayed to Mary in life, whose prayers have indeed been heard, but who have a debt to pay to Eternal Justice before they can come to the nuptials of the Lamb. They cry for pity and for mercy: does the Mother of Mercy come to their assistance? Who can doubt it when we find the Church praying in the Holy Sacrifice and in the Office of the Dead: " O God, the Giver of pardon and the Author of human salvation, we beseech Thy clemency, through the intercession of the ever Blessed Virgin Mary and of all Thy Saints, to admit the brethren and sisters, the friends and benefactors of our congregation, to the fellowship of eternal life." 26 The writings of the Saints bear testimony to the fact of the intercession of the Mother of God on behalf of the souls in Purgatory and to the efficacy of this intercession. 27 And when Dante represents the rulers of the world, many of whom had been deadly enemies in life, as singing the Salve Regina together, 28 he has but embodied in his immortal poem the teaching of theology on the subject. The Salve Regina, as our readers are aware, is a prayer to our Blessed Lady as the Mother of Mercy. She is styled Spes nostra (our Hope); and the request is made that she will " turn her eyes of mercy towards " those who pray to her, and " after this their exile " that she " will show unto them the Fruit of her womb." The prayer is familiar to all of us. We say it frequently; but the fact that Dante represents it as being sung by the souls in Purgatory emphasises the teaching of theologians on the question of Mary's sovereignty and power there, for as Dr. Hettinger says:" Dante . . . wrote as a theologian," as a "poetic Thomas Aquinas." Mary's power in the realms of Purgatory is acknowledged by theology. How does she wield it for the benefit of those " who hope to come, whensoever it be, amongst the blessed " ?

Let us again think of the intensity of a mother's love, especially in regard to a child who is ailing. Her love makes her importunate; urges her to inspire others to plead for and to interest themselves in her child; and she will not be rebuffed. We have a remarkable example of this in the " woman of Canaan." 29 The Mother of God is human,, with a Mother's human heart. Will she not inspire her other children, who still can merit, to pray for and apply their merits to those exiles in Purgatory, that the days of their exile may be shortened and their home-coming be hastened ? Furthermore, as Mother of mankind, Mary has personal knowledge of those committed to her care. We know that St. Thomas teaches how " each created intelligence understands in the Word, not indeed all things, but the more, the more perfect its vision of the Word. And in the Word, the knowledge of whatever is of interest to them is not withheld from the blessed." 30 What we have said in the preceding chapter with reference to Mary's interest in and intercession for us in life holds good as regards the souls in Purgatory. She knows them most intimately because of her clear vision of God. She takes an interest in them, therefore, greater than that taken by any other creature, because for them the sufferings of her Divine Son have not been fruitless, and their presence in heaven will swell the chorus of praise to God. Hence Mary personally intercedes for them. Are her prayers efficacious of themselves ? Can the Mother by her own pleading set her children free ? Theological opinion is divided upon this question. But, whatever view we take, we must remember that the merits and satisfaction of Mary the Mother of God are almost limitless. They form an immense treasure for the satisfying of Eternal Justice, for they surpass the collective merits and satisfaction of all other creatures, and are surpassed only by those of Jesus Christ. Mary does not require this treasure. She was sinless and had no debt to pay. And thus the Mother of God can offer to Him, as a means of satisfying for her children's debt to His justice, the treasure of merits and satisfaction she accumulated during her life on earth. Thus can she obtain mercy for them before the Throne of Mercy; hasten the termination of their exile; and bring them at last to the unveiled vision of God.

The attitude of Heresy in regard to Mary Mother of God is fiercely antagonistic. The antagonism is so bitter as to make it utterly unreasonable; yet despite its unreasonableness it cannot rob the Virgin of Nazareth of her glorious title of Mother of God; the testimony of Scripture is too strong and too definite. But it strives to rob the Mother of the consequences and privileges of her Divine Maternity; to minimise her greatness and power; and to withhold all veneration from her who is " the glory of Jerusalem, the joy of Israel, and the honour of her people." It makes much of the words of Jesus Christ to His Mother at the Marriage Feast, and decides that the Son rebuked the Mother by addressing her as" Woman." Jesus addressed Mary as " Woman " on Calvary, when with His dying breath He gave her to the world. Did He convey a rebuke then ? Mary Immaculate is " Woman," the Ideal Woman, the Type of Womanhood, as her Son is the Ideal Man. She is the only woman amongst all others who corresponds to " the woman " foretold from the beginning as the one who should crush the serpent's head, and between whom and the spirits of evil eternal antagonism must exist. The Catholic Church recognises this fact, has always recognised it. The Catholic Church now as in the beginning recognises Mary's power, position, and dignity: recognises that she has " trampled all heresies under her feet": recognises that devotion to and love of God's Mother go hand in hand with loyalty to and love of Jesus Christ. God called her " Blessed amongst women." She herself, filled with the spirit of prophecy because He Who inspired the Prophets of Israel was tabernacled in her bosom, foretold that " henceforth and for ever all generations should call her blessed." The Catholic Church in every age and country turns to the Mother and hails her as " Mary . . . blessed . . . amongst women." In her recognition of the Immaculate the Church gives yet another proof of her own divine origin.

" It is by Mary that the salvation of the world has been begun, and it is by Mary that it must be consummated." 31 The Church is the Ark of Salvation in this world. Her duty is to labour for the salvation of souls, and so she prays to, and begs the intercession of, the Mother of the Church. She teaches her children to practise devotion to Mary, for she knows full well that such devotion is a true sign of God's predestination to eternal life. She knows from centuries of experience that they " who find Mary shall find life," for Mary gave Jesus, the Life, to men; and that they " shall have salvation from the Lord," since every grace that we obtain comes through our Lady's hands.

Into those Virgin-Mother's hands we place what we have written, all unworthy though it be, while we dare to say with another client of the Immaculate:

Ancor ti prego, Regina, che puoi 

Cio che tu vuoli, che conservi sani 
. . . . gli affeti suoi
" This yet I pray thee, Queen, Who canst do what thou wilt; that in him thou (midst . . . preserve . . . affection sound. "

Paradiso, xxxiii.

 From - Mother Of Divine Grace: A Chapter in the Theology of the Immaculate. By Father Stanislaus. M. Hogan, O.P.

1 Eph. i. 21. 
2 Sum. Theol., III. Pars, Q. CIII, A. 4.

3 4 Kings x. 5. 

4 Cf. Ps. ciii. 4.

5 Gen. xvi. 7; Num. xxii. 31; Tob. xii. 15-21; Luke ii. 9-10, 13-14. 

6 Matt. iv. II; Luke xxii. 43 

7 3 Kings ii. 19.

 8 Sum. Theol., III. Pars, Q. LVIII., A. 3. 

9 1 Pet. i. 12.

1o Riguarda omai nella faccia ch' a Cristo piu si somiglia (" Look now upon the face that most nearly resembles Christ.")(Paradiso, xxxii. 85.)

11 Sum. TheoL, III. Pars, Q. I., A. 3.

12 Sent. iii. D. 13, Q. 2, A. 2.

13 De Veritate, Q. XXIX., A. 7, ad. 5. 

14 Bellord, Meditations on Christian Dogma, vol. i., p. 124.

15 Op. cit., vol. iv., 1. viii., c. vi., p. 139. 

16 Hugon, op. cit., pp. 284-285. 

17 IV. p., tit. xv., c. xiv.

 18 Op. cit., pp. 286-287. 

19 Paradiso, xxxii., 85-87.

20 Ibid, xxxiii., 40. 

21 Ibid, xxxii., 99.

22 Studies in Dante, by Edward Moore, D.D. Second series. Oxford, MDCCCXCIX., p. 63.

23 Inferno, i., 118—120. Carlyle's translation.

24 Apoc. xxi. 4. 

25 Cf. Hugon, op. cit., pp. 292-293; Terrien, op. cit., vol. iv., 1. x., c. iii.

26 Ex Missa et Off. Defunctorum, O.P.

27 Cf. The Glories of Mary. Part I., c. viii., sect. ii. 

28 Purgatorio, vii. 82.

29 Matt. xv. 21-31.  

30 Sum. Theol, III.a Pars, Q. X., A. 2.  

31 B. Louis De Montfort, op. cit., p.28.