THE VISIT TO THE BLESSED VIRGIN
And now as to the visits to the Most Blessed Virgin, the opinion of St. Bernard is well known, and generally believed: it is, that God dispenses no graces otherwise than through the hands of Mary: “God wills that we should receive nothing that does not pass through Mary’s hands.” Hence Father Suarez declares that it is now the sentiment of the universal Church, that “the intercession of Mary is not only useful, but even necessary to obtain graces.” And we may remark that the Church gives us strong grounds for this belief, by applying the words of the Sacred Scripture to Mary, and making her say: In me is all hope of life and of virtue. Come over to me, all ye that desire me. Let all come to me; for I am the hope of all that you can desire. Hence she then adds: Blessed is the man that heareth me, and that watcheth daily at my gates, and waiteth at the posts of my doors. Blessed is he who is diligent in coming every day to the door of my powerful intercession; for by finding me he will find life and eternal salvation: He that shall find me shall find life, and shall have salvation from the Lord. Hence it is not without reason that the Holy Church wills that we should all call her our common hope, by saluting her, saying, “Hail, our hope!”
“Let us then,” says St. Bernard (who went so far as to call Mary “the whole ground of his hope”), “seek for graces, and seek them through Mary.” Otherwise, says St. Antoninus, if we ask for graces without her intercession, we shall be making an effort to fly without wings, and we shall obtain nothing: “He who asks without her as his guide, attempts to fly without wings.”
In Father Auriemma’s little book, Affetti Scambievoli, we read of innumerable favors granted by the Mother of God to those who practised this most profitable devotion of often visiting her in her churches or before some image. We read of the graces which she granted in these visits to Blessed Albert the Great, to the Abbot Rupert, to Father Suarez, especially when she obtained for them the gift of understanding, by which they afterwards became so renowned throughout the Church for their great learning: the graces which she granted to the Venerable John Berchmans of the Society of Jesus, who was in the daily habit of visiting Mary in a chapel of the Roman college; he declared that he renounced all earthly love, to love no other after God than the Most Blessed Virgin, and had written at the foot of the image of his beloved Lady: “I will never rest until I shall have obtained a tender love for my Mother:” the graces which she granted to St. Bernardine of Sienna, who in his youth also went every day to visit her in a chapel near the city-gate, and declared that that Lady had ravished his heart. Hence he called her his beloved, and said that he could not do less than often visit her; and by her means he afterwards obtained the grace to renounce the world, and to become what he afterwards was, a great saint and the apostle of Italy.
Do you, then, be also careful always to join to your daily visit to the Most Blessed Sacrament a visit to the most holy Virgin Mary in some church, or at least before a devout image of her in your own house. If you do this with tender affection and confidence, you may hope to receive great things from this most gracious Lady, who, as St. Andrew of Crete says, always bestows great gifts on those who offer her even the least act of homage.
Mary, Queen of sweetest hope,
Who can e’er forget thee?
By thy mercy, by thy love,
Have pity, Queen, on me?