Meditations given by the Rev, Bede Jarrett, O.P., during the Novena preached in the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes in preparation for the celebration of the Seventy-fifth Anniversary of the Apparitions at Lourdes, February 2nd - February 10th, 1933
Why then do we speak of our Lady as the advocate of man? What need have we of advocacy, we who have so dear a Redeemer? What need have we of anyone to plead for us? Will not the wounds in His hands and feet and side plead for us?
Yes, but there is another principle to be remembered on which God seemingly has always acted. God deals with His creation in a way of His own. He deals with the lower through the higher. Here is God’s wonderful world, and the more we know about it, of its construction, of the laws that govern it, the more wonderful does it show itself to be, and the God who made it, the more wonderful still. All that science has taught us, (and we are grateful for what it has taught us), has only shown us a more wonderfully created world, and shown us therefore how much more wonderful God is than even we dreamed.
In this wonderful world of His, God acts in persistent fashion. He uses the higher to develop the lower. He will use what we call the animal kingdom to develop that growing kingdom of lesser value, the kingdom of vegetation, of floral growth, the flowers. These are developed in large measure because the insects pass from one to another carrying on their wings that which gives fruitfulness to the flowers to which they go. God uses the animal kingdom to increase and fertilize the lower kingdom. So too God uses man to develop His world. Man not only by his ingenuity has protected himself in the long years against the inclemency of the weather, but by this development man has without knowing it been God’s instrument in developing the lower world. All the rich fruits of man’s labor thus have been brought out of the soil. Marble — the sun would not have shone on it and shown its dazzling beauty had not man dug it and cut and polished it and let it be illumined with the light. Diamonds, rubies, emeralds, would never have sparkled in the sun had not man cut them from their rock or dug for them; cut them and polished them and let them shine. The gold that crowns the sovereigns has been fashioned and rescued by the toil of man. The very flowers that you love, that captivate you, that are so delicate and so fragrant, are not the wild flowers. Man has taken care of them and developed them, made them more varied, given them new beauties. That is God’s way of dealing with His world. You go out to the countryside, and you say, "How beautiful God has made it.” Oh, wait. Did God make it like that, or was it not man who levelled the meadows, and planted and yet forbad the straggling trees? Who made the beauty of the world we know? Virgin forests there are, but who has seen them? There are great stretches still of natural beauty, and how few of them, at least do we ordinary folks see. God uses man to develop the beauty not of the town only, not of the cities only, but even of that far stretched countryside.
God uses man, and in mankind God uses the higher to develop the lower. How else would children learn ? Parents guide them, train them, teach them. In mankind the more intelligent illuminate the less intelligent; the great discoverers, the great singers, the masters of music, the great leaders have taught our race and inspired it. They have invented the arts of mankind. God gives us visions of loveliness, but until an artist comes who shows us how lovely they are, we remain blind to them. God teaches lower minds by the higher minds. So, too, when God came to deal with man to redeem him, He repeats His older fashion. He chooses apostles and sends them out. Cannot man know God of himself? He does not. That is all. God teaches. Faith cometh by hearing. The apostles are scattered the world over. Says the sectary, the heretic, “I will go to God directly.” We answer that is not God’s way, that is all. God comes to us indirectly. God gives us the faith, not within, but without. He gives us the Spirit by which we believe His word when it is told us; but it has to be told us, revealed. We are not God, that we should know it of ourselves. We do not know it unless it be taught us. This is God’s way.
This great order of God’s, this fashion of dealing with creation, we did not choose it, but God chose it. There it is. So above man, come the angelic host, who are God’s messengers to us, (that is what we mean by angels — the very word, angel, means messenger; that is all it means). God governs us, God rules us, God illumines us by the angels, that higher creation above us that leads us. We have our Guardian Angel who walks and whispers by our side. We boast sometimes to ourselves how clever we are! Well, clever, but only by listening to the words that are spoken by him that God has assigned to us. You say as you look back, "But now I see that I nearly failed.” He kept you. It was not you that saved yourself. It was he. All about us are these angelic presences. You hear, as the Mass enters into the Canon, you hear the priest calling them, summoning them; he bids you see them crowding around the altar — thrones, dominations, principalities, powers, the vast angelic host through whom God governs mankind. It is the teaching of Scriptures that each nation has its angel, guiding it in its trials and glories; comforting it in its depths of degradation, never leaving it, interceding for it always, guiding it to its greatness. We, we are guided by these spirits of God. Perhaps as the blade of grass pushes up from the soil, angelic fingers draw it upwards. What are the colors of the springtime but the cloaks of angels as they pass?
At the summit of creation stands God’s Blessed Mother. The angels stooped to her. "Hail, full of grace,” said the angel. She was greater than he. If you look in the old Scripture you will find that when the angels came to the prophets these were terrified. Ezekiel lay on the ground in terror. "Stand upon thy feet,” said the angel, "and I will speak to thee.” Not grovelling, "stand upon thy feet.” When St. Gabriel comes his words terrify the Virgin, the maiden, but not his presence. Of him she is not afraid. He is God’s messenger. She is his Queen. The angel speaks to her in deference. Queen of the Angels, we call her, for she is set above them. She is the very peak and summit of all creation. So, because of God’s way of dealing, all that comes up must pass through her to Him. All that comes down again passes through her to all of us.
Most Gracious Advocate! That is her position at the height of created things. All that comes up,— all the prayers the world over, whether they who pray them believe in her or whether they do not — must pass up in orderly fashion through all these stages of creation, until passing through her, it reaches God at last. And when He scatters His benediction, falling like the gentle dew from Heaven, it comes through her hands to mankind. Most Gracious Advocate! This does not mean that we ask her to pass our prayers to God and she passes on our request because we ask her. It must go her way: she must offer it to her Son. These words mean that we remind ourselves for our comfort that she is the highest of all creation, ransomed creation; and that all things pass from her to God.
"Behold thy Son,” He said to her. We are her children, whether we know her name or not; whether we call her Mother, or would thrust her from our prayers and devotions, everything must go through her. That is our hope. Our prayers are so poor, so feeble, so unwise, so indiscreet, but passing through her, they reach God; their faults cleansed, lessened; and so, too, God’s blessings reach us through her, the awfulness of His glory shrouded a little that we should not grow blind.