Behold Your Mother By Matthew Russell S.J. Part 17. The Blessed Virgin a Note of the Church.

Faith is a supernatural gift and grace; and the limits and mutual relations of nature and grace are hard to define; yet it seems strange how anyone who believes Jesus Christ to be the Son of God and the Son of Mary can have any difficulty in assigning to the Blessed Virgin the place and the prerogatives that the Catholic Church assigns to her. It is strange indeed and unreasonable that men should be found claiming the name of Christians, disciples of Christ, and yet refusing to honour her whom Christ honoured by making her His Mother—jealous of every feeble tribute paid to her greatness and goodness; carping at every word of praise which the freedom and simplicity of filial affection addresses to her, fearful of going too far, but quite indifferent (God forgive them!) as to error in the less generous direction—speaking of the Blessed Mother of God coldly and under protest, and (when they venture to carry their principles to the full length) not only coldly, but contemptuously, blasphemously. And yet, however startling to us this unmanly disloyalty to the glorious Queen of Heaven, however sorrowful and distressing when it seems to be (if it ever can be) candid and sincere, and however hateful and maddening when it dares to be profane or impertinent—nevertheless, as it must needs be that scandals come, and as heresy will to the end revolt against God's Church, it is a certain consolation for our faith that among the marks and tokens of the true Church should be one so plain as this, that amongst the distinctive tenets of heresy in all its changing forms should be an error so readily detected as an error by the truthful and the generous and the pure, an error so unchivalrous, so unfilial;, so utterly revolting to mere reason itself and to all human feeling, as that which would harshly deny to the Mother of Jesus Christ our Lord and our God that place of honour which the Catholic Church gives to her in the Heart of her Divine Lord in heaven, and in the hearts of her children on earth. We know well—and they may know well who blame us for feeling and acting as we do towards the Blessed Virgin—we know well and they know well how shallow is their pretence of wishing thus to guard against encroachment on the sovereign rights of God, our Creator, Redeemer, Eternal Father, Almighty Lord. As if homage paid to the lowly Handmaid of the Lord could be an encroachment on that divine Lord's infinite and incommunicable attributes! As if all that is done for her were not done in obedience to the edict of the Great King Himself, '' Thus shall she be honoured whom the Lord God hath a mind to honour ! "—as if all that is hers were not the gift of His bounty, and as if she were or could be elevated independently of her Son, in opposition to her Son, and not simply as the Mother of Jesus, as the highest and purest and most perfect of God's creatures, the supreme trophy of His infinite wisdom. His infinite goodness, His infinite power; as if her own statement were untrue and her own prophecy were not to be fulfilled— "He that is mighty hath done great things to Me; behold from henceforth all nations shall call Me blessed.'' Thanks be to God, we her loving children and loving children of the Catholic Church—"we, and not they, the cold, critical protesters against the honour paid to Mary—were at that moment of inspiration before the prophetic mind of the Blessed Virgin, as we alone call her always in fulfilment of her prophecy. But is there not danger of excess ? Alas, that is not the reproach we feel bound to bring against ourselves. Many of us might wish that for us these fears were better founded. Nay, even for the simplest and rudest—the poor simple woman saying her beads in some country chapel is no more likely to be guilty of idolatry than St. Elizabeth was when she, the mother of the Precursor, bowed down before the Mother of the Messiah, saying : "Whence is this to me that the Mother of my Lord should come to me ? "Some fifty or sixty years ago, a very intelligent Protestant, Sir John Forbes, who was physician to the Queen, published an interesting book under the title of '' Memoranda of a Tour in Ireland. "Here is one of his Irish notes:—"Among my inquiries as to the religious doctrines of Catholics of the humbler classes in Ireland I did not forget the subject of the Virgin Mary, and I am bound in honesty to state that I never met with one, even the humblest and most ignorant, who did not deny that they worshipped her as they worship God. They said that they venerated her as higher and holier even than saints and angels, but prayed to her only to pray for them"So is it with all ranks of the pious faithful in all lands. We pray to her who was given to us as a Mother from the Cross; we bless her and praise her, and entreat her to exercise on our behalf the " suppliant omnipotence '' of a mother ; and the Church which trains her children to speak and feel and act in this manner towards the Mother of Jesus shows by this sign alone that she is the Church which Jesus founded upon earth.