But for this the time was not ripe. To have declared openly the Blessedness of His Immaculate Mother because she was His Mother, and therefore the Mother of God, in the presence of the scornful and malicious Pharisees, who had just ascribed His Miracles to the Prince of Evil Spirits, would have been to cast pearls before swine. Who, then, need wonder that the Everlasting Wisdom chose rather at that moment to dwell on the general lesson, always opportune, of the blessedness of all who hear the word of God and keep it.
In a touching poem addressed to "All the Angels and Saints" George Herbert writes as follows :
..." I would addresse
My vows to thee most gladly, Blessed Maid,
And Mother of my God, in my distresse.
Thou art the holy mine, whence came the gold,
The great restorative for all decay
In young and old ;
Thou art the cabinet where the Jewel lay.
Chiefly to thee would I my soul unfold.
But now (alas !) I dare not, for our King
Whom we do all jointly adore and praise
Bids no such thing."
George Herbert's Poems, p. 74. (Edition of 1850. Messrs. Pickering.)
Though George Herbert did not realise how the matter lay, his dread of praying to our Lady, according to the promptings of his heart, arose not from the fact that our Lord does not explicitly "bid" such prayer—so far, at least, as has been recorded in the Gospels—but from the other fact that " alas!" he did not believe in the authority of the Catholic Church. The prejudices of his upbringing were too strong. He was held captive by a narrow insularity in religion. Had it been otherwise, he would have realised that the Lord who, as we read in the Gospel, bids us " hear" His Church, implicitly bids us hear that Church when she encourages us to invoke His Blessed Mother.
(Of course, if the Church we are commanded to hear be the post-Reformation Church of England, that changes the issue, but what other force excepting ingrained prejudice can have led such a man as George Herbert to accept the negations of a national Church in opposition to the positive, world-wide teaching of Catholicism through all the centuries ?)