If our poor prayers are to have their part in that omnipotence which belongs to perfect prayer, we must pray aright—our hearts must be full of faith and confidence and the love of God, we must pray perseveringly in the face of seeming discouragement, we must ask what is according to the Will of God. " And this is the confidence which we have towards the Son of God, that whatsoever we shall ask according to His Will, He heareth us." (i John v. 14.) Above all we have to be careful whilst we pray, that our eye be single and our hands be clean.
Wise then are those who, sadly conscious of their miseries, place their petitions in the safe keeping of our Blessed Lady. Never were faith, confidence, or love found to be lacking in the immaculate soul of Mary. Never will Mary tie the hands of God by doubting of His faithfulness to His Promises. Never can His Mother pray save in submission to the Will of her Son made known to her in the intimate recesses of her being, for she shares all the secrets of His Heart. Never shall ought displeasing to His Eyes be seen in the spotless Virgin's hands. " My Beloved," it has been written, " feedeth amongst the lilies." (Cant. ii. 16. Cf. St. Bernard, De Aquӕductu, xvi., xviii.) Whiter surely than the whitest lilies are the hands of Mary, ever sweet with their fragrance. "As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters." (Cant. ii. 2.) Well, then, may St. Bernard exclaim : " Let us seek for grace, and let us seek it through Mary, for that which she seeks she finds, nor can she be disappointed." (De Aquӕductu, viii.) In Mary the omnipotence of prayer finds its fullest expression. She may be termed with reason : Omnipotentia supplex —omnipotence on its knees before the Omnipotent—a truth expressed by our fathers in the pentameter line:
Quod Deus imperio, tu prece, Virgo, potes.
We have already considered the Miracle at Cana with some care, but in order to illustrate the truth we are now considering, we may perhaps be allowed briefly to summarise anew the story of which one never wearies.
Suddenly it was seen that more wine was needed at the Feast. All good gifts come from God alone, but He has established the Law of Prayer. He desires to lavish gifts upon us all, but He desires also that we should supplicate those gifts at His Hands, that thus we may merit in His sight. He waits to be asked. Therefore Mary asks. Nor does she use many words in her asking—many words are deemed advisable by those only who hesitate as to whether their petitions will be granted. She neither hesitates nor wavers, nor does she expect to be heard because of much speaking. 1 She simply asks, and thus fulfils her appointed office. " They have no wine." Our Lord, as is so often His wont, when prayer is made on earth—even prayer most acceptable in His Sight from His dearest friends and servants—does not immediately signify assent. He will elicit that perseverance in prayer which He loves. " Mine hour is not yet come." But Mary knows that her prayer will be heard by Christ. She has prayed and that is enough. She cannot be disappointed. Her will is perfectly attuned to the Will of her Son, and on this account His Will is attuned to her will. Not for one moment does she hesitate or fear the result. Nor is it necessary to utter further words to Christ. She perseveres in silence. He reads her heart and understands.
1 Dr. Johnson has finely said : " Supplication of man to man may diffuse itself through many topics of persuasion, but supplication of man to God can only cry for mercy."