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
Most Gracious Advocate! In a little church under the hills in the land I come from, there still remains on the old wall a painting, painted in Catholic days in what is now a Protestant church. There are few that attend it. But in it there still stands a fresco, showing quaintly, almost humorously, what in this way our fathers believed. On almost the whole south wall of this little church, where the people would have seen it, as they went out of the door, is a picture of something that our fathers in medieval times loved, the story of St. Michael weighing the souls. St. Michael stands there holding in his left hand a balance of judgment, with its two panniers hanging from it, and in his right hand, a flaming sword. He is the judge. His work is to maintain the balance of judgment. He is not interested personally in the fate of the soul he weighs. It has nothing to do with him. He stands there with the balance and the flaming sword, looking straight out from the picture. He is certainly not disturbed over results. He is judge, or the means of judgment, and he means to hold this scale of justice without prejudice or sympathy. In one of the panniers of the balance is a little soul, dead, just dead, waiting judgment. There he is, kneeling in the pannier with his winding sheet pulled around his shoulders, alarmingly afraid. Over the top of the pannier he is peeping with anxious terror. Opposite to him, in the other scale of justice, done up in great bundles, and heavy at that, are his sins; they are labeled, "Sins.”
You can see the dismay of the poor little soul peeping over the rim of the balance and seeing his great bundles of iniquity weighing him down. And as though that were not enough to distress him, there are a crowd of little devils all around the scale that holds his sins, literally by hook and crook pulling it downwards; and the little soul has to watch this, without being able to prevent it, desperately afraid — and St. Michael does not care in the least. It is not his business. He is there to see justice, and he is there to weigh the soul. The artful little demons have eluded him. Them he does not see. But, side by side with that scale of justice in which the little soul is kneeling, stands the Mother of God. She is no judge — Advocata nostra, most gracious advocate — and she is watching what is going on. The devils are cheating. She has evidently realized that two can play at that game; and so, into the scale of justice where the soul kneels in terror, she is dropping her rosary, link by link; and so cleverly, though crudely, is it painted that you can see as she puts her rosary into the scale, in spite of the sins in the opposite pannier, in spite of the little devils’ pulling, the scale in which the soul is kneeling is being more heavily weighed down. That is what surprises him. He does not see what is going on behind him. His eyebrows are lifted with amazement. As they left the church each morning the people of the parish saw that here was the particular business of the Mother of God. She was here to help them and help them she did with all the prayers they had ever prayed to her. These would not be forgotten in the last day, in the Day of Judgment, in the day when all the failings of their life were brought against them.
Most Gracious Advocate! She will be there, because that is exactly her business, to carry what we give to the throne of God; to shed down upon us God’s gracious blessings. She stands, for God has so placed her, between ourselves and Him. It is not that God does not love us. It is only that God’s love has chosen that way of dispensing His favors, of receiving what we have to give; that God, of His love and mercy has given us this blessed hope that one of our race should stand at the head of all creation, one for whom, as with us, God died; that she should stand there praying His mercy for us, giving Him our poor feeble unwise prayers.
"Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy towards us.” "Pray for us now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.”