However this may be, it is, admittedly, the case that if any man makes his trust in the intercession of our Lady the excuse for continuing in sin, without even the wish to give up sin, he is guilty both of superstition and of profane presumption.
But, human nature is very weak. Oftentimes some habit of sin may have been contracted by human weakness, or through the force of external circumstances, until a situation has arisen from which at the moment there seems to the sinner that he can hardly escape.
His sins are not the sins of malice—he does not want to offend God. He has kept the Faith. If any man in this state still prays to Mary, still burns candles before her Images, still wears her scapular and trusts in her motherly protection, he is guilty neither of superstition, nor presumption. He is doing the very thing that he should be advised to do, he is trusting our Lady that she will obtain him the grace of repentance in the end—that he may yet detest his sins, give them up, and be reconciled to God before he die.
Once when giving a mission I came across a poor working woman. She had been deserted by her husband, who had treated her shamefully during five years of married life and finally, having abandoned her for another, escaped to a foreign country, leaving four young children on her hands. A stranger who was lodging in the house at the time of her desertion was kind to her in her distress, took the charge of her little children on himself, and eventually lived with her. Other children were born. In the ordinary course of my ministry I visited the poor woman. She made no secret of what had occurred. Indeed, the pathetic facts were public. She expressed to me her sorrow for her sins, but her sorrow for offending God was not strong enough to induce her to give up a good home and go with her children to the workhouse. Had I been a Saint, I suppose that I should have been able to persuade her even to this. Being what I am, so soon as I saw what were her dispositions, I did not attempt what I felt would only give useless pain, and merely asked her to promise, as she did most readily, to pray every day to our Lady that she might make her peace with God before she died. To believe that our Lady will hear that prayer is to be guilty neither of superstition nor of presumption. There are many such cases in our sad world today.
The well-to-do, the comfortable, those whose lines have always been cast in pleasant places, those whose passions are not strong, have no conception of the force of temptations which assail their less fortunate brothers and sisters. Too often the strong have but little feeling for the weak. But the Church of God is full of boundless compassion for sinful men and fallen women—in this, like our Lady herself, reflecting the immeasurable Mercy of God. If a man cuts himself off from any wish to serve God, to resemble in any measure the Blessed Virgin in her purity and her love of God—then, so long as he remains in that state, by his own acts he cuts himself off from legitimate hope. For all others, however great their sins, there is always ground for confidence in ultimate recovery, so long as they trust to Mary's intercession and do not forget to seek her never-failing succour. I do not believe that on the Day of Judgment our Lord will reject any soul that has honoured and loved and trusted His Blessed Mother. For my part, I am content, placing all my hope in the Infinite Mercy of God, when I think of the death and judgment that lie before me, to remember that, after all, I am the son of His Handmaiden—a son, though most unworthy, of His Holy Church and of His Mother Mary.