CHAPTER XIV MARY OUR ADVOCATE
"Eia, ergo, Advocata nostra,
illos tuos misericordes oculos ad nos converte."
THE heresy which denies that the Saints, after the passage of their souls to God which we call death—even after their attainment of the Beatific Vision—are unable to intercede for wayfarers upon earth, from which it follows that it is useless to invoke their aid, was first broached in the fourth century. Its champion was a certain Vigilantius, who was combated by St. Jerome. The clause : "I believe in the Communion of Saints" was—it is all but certain—introduced at this time into the Baptismal Creed, in order expressly to assert the opposite truth. Soon the false doctrine of Vigilantius died out amongst Christians, until in the sixteenth century it was resuscitated by the Protestant innovators of Germany. It was to condemn such denials that the Council of Trent taught authoritatively: " It is good and useful to invoke the Saints, reigning together with Christ."
All Catholics are well aware of the vital truth of Christianity—belonging to the very basis of their faith—that our Lord Jesus Christ is, in unique sense, our Advocate with God. Through Jesus Christ alone can we have access to God the Father, for Jesus Christ alone has, in virtue of His Death, broken down the wall of partition that had been built, as the consequence of sin, between God and man.
"If any man sin," writes St. John, " we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Just, and He is the Propitiation for our sins." (I John ii. I.) We see here that the Mediation of our Lord is hardly distinguishable from His sacrifice of Himself. He is revealed to us in the same sentence as "our Advocate with the Father" and as the "Propitiation for our sins."
St. Augustine, writing of the Martyrs, emphasises this truth :
"The justice of the martyrs is perfect, because by their very passion were they made perfect. For this reason prayer is not offered for them in the Church. For the other Faithful departed we pray —for the Martyrs we do not pray, since they departed so perfect as not to be our clients, but our advocates. Yet this not in themselves, but in Him to whom they cleaved as perfect members to the Head. For He is in truth the One Advocate, sitting at the Father's right hand. But He is the One Advocate as He is also the One Pastor. . . . Though Christ was Pastor, was not Peter also a pastor?" (Serm. CCLXXXV. 5.)