Mary in the Epistles by Thomas Stiverd Livius. Comments on the Epistles part 4


5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.

8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall live also together with Christ.

The same sword which pierced the Heart of Jesus in death,, pierced also the soul of Mary. [Luke. ii. 35.] As she stood beside the Cross, of Calvary, all the Passion and Death of her Divine Son Jesus was hers. Who then, as she, was planted together in the likeness of His Death ? And who, as she, will be in the likeness of His Resurrection glory ? United with Christ, as no other was, in. His death, where must we believe is her place with Him in. eternal life ?


10 And if Christ be in you, the body indeed is dead, because of sin; but the spirit liveth, because of justification.

11 And if the spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead, dwell in you; he that raised up Jesus Christ from the dead, shall quicken also your mortal bodies, because of his spirit that dwelleth in you.

It has ever been the teaching of the Holy Church, that, as. S. Augustine expresses it, there is no question of sin with, regard to the Mother of God. And it is now a denned dogma of the Faith, that Mary was conceived free from original sin. Consequently her holy body was not subject to the penal law of death, for the body is dead, i.e. subject to death, because of sin —" death is the wages of sin." The Blessed Virgin died, in deed, that in all things she might be conformed to the image of her Son, but not because of sin (in a strict penal sense) any more than He. It was fitting, then, and indeed due to her, that her body should not be left in the grave, nor her flesh should see corruption. [Acts ii. 31.] And, therefore, God raised her from the tomb—it being impossible that she should be holden by it; death and the grave having no right in her — and exalted lier in her Assumption to the right hand of her Son. This lias ever been the teaching of the Holy Church, and would seem to flow as a natural consequence from the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and from the principle laid down by the Apostle, that the death of the body is an effect of sin.

" The Holy Ghost says that ' the glory of a man is from the honour of his father, and a father without honour is the disgrace of the son.' [Ecclus. iii. 13.] ' Therefore it was,' says an ancient writer, * that Jesus preserved the body of Mary from corruption after death ; for it would have redounded to His dishonour, had that virginal flesh with which He had clothed Himself become the food of worms ;' ' For,' he adds, ' corruption is a disgrace of human nature ; and as Jesus was not subject to it, Mary was also exempted ; for the flesh of Jesus is the flesh of Mary, " etc. [De Assump. B. M. V. int. op. S. Augustini. S. Alphonsus, Glories of Mary, p. 251.]

14 For whosoever are led by the spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

15 For you have not received the spirit of bondage again in fear; but you have received the spirit of adoption of sons, whereby we -cry: Abba (Father).

16 For the Spirit himself giveth testimony to our spirit, that we are the sons of God.

17 And if sons, heirs also; heirs indeed of God, and joint-heirs with Christ: yet so, if we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him.

How wonderfully here does each word of S. Paul reveal to us the grace and glory of Mary. It is the Spirit of God which makes us sons, "who are born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, but of God," [John i. 13.] Who having made us sons, gives testimony to our spirit that we are indeed sons. But who was ever visited, filled, led by the Spirit of God, like Mary ? Who ever as she had the testimony of the Spirit that she was indeed the child of God ? Mary, then, is God's first-born daughter by adoption, and pre-eminently, in a sense no other could be. She is heir of God, and joint-heir of the kingdom of glory with Christ His Only-begotten Son. Mary had, moreover, that other title, of the Divine Maternity. The same Holy Spirit Who gave to Mary the spirit of adoption as a child of God, made her also the Mother of God. Though the " Word was made flesh " of Mary, yet of her He was " born not of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." " The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee, and therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." [Luke i. 35.] The same Holy Spirit gave ineffable testimony to Mary's spirit that she was indeed Mother. Hence not only could she by the spirit of adoption cry : Abba, Father ; but also Magnificat, as she called God her Saviour, her Son [Luke i. 46, 47 ; ii. 48.] —not by adoption, but in a true and proper sense ; for she is in truth the great Mother of God, and as such, has her place in His kingdom. Yet still more does she call herself His handmaid, Ecce ancilla Domini. We may here ask our Lord's question, putting the name of Mary for that of David : "If David, then, call Him Lord, how is He his Son ?" [Matt. xxii. 43.] The Pharisees could not answer ; but we can. Mary is at once the creature and the Mother of Jesus ; and therefore the Holy Spirit teaches her to call Him both Lord and Son.

Joint-heirs with Christ, if we suffer with Him. Who fulfilled this condition as Mary ? Her compassion with Christ, as His own Mother, was wholly different in kind, as well as degree, from that of all other saints, and so different in kind must be her glory in heaven. See that Mother standing at the foot of the Cross, while the sword pierces her soul : then lift your eyes to heaven, and see Jesus in His kingdom, on the throne of His father David, on His everlasting throne : " Thy throne, 0 God, is for ever and ever," [Heb. i. 8, 9.] etc. Who can doubt of Mary's place ? " The Queen stood on thy right hand," [ps. xIiv. 10.] etc.

18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come, that shall be revealed in us.

19 For the expectation of the creature waiteth for the revelation of the sons of God.

So also did Mory reckon. Great as were her dolours in her compassion she considered that all was not worthy to be com pared with the glory to come, that should be revealed in her. Standing by the Cross, and throughout her life, she looked to and imitated the example of " Jesus the author and finisher of faith, Who having joy set before Him, endured the Cross, despising the shame, and sitteth on the right hand of the throne of God," [Heb. xii. 2.] and she too is sitting now on the right hand of her Son. And even as all creation looks forward to the revelation of the glory of the children of God, so in the Church are all the faithful waiting for the manifestation of the exceeding glory of His Mother.

26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity. For we know not what we should pray for as we ought ; but the Spirit himself asketh for us with unspeakable groanings.

27 And he that searcheth the hearts, knoweth what the Spirit desireth; because he asketh for the saints according to God.

In our soul's distress the Holy Ghost not only thus helps and pleads for us Himself, but is often wont to inspire us to invoke the help and intercession of others, especially of some Saint in heaven. Thus S. Patrick records of himself : " On that same night, in my sleep, I was fiercely tempted by Satan (which I shall remember as long as body and soul hold together). There fell, as it were, a great stone upon me, and all my limbs were paralysed. Then it came in some way into my mind to call upon Elias, and at that moment I saw the sun rise in the heavens, and while I called with all my strength upon Elias, behold, the splendour of the sun fell upon me, and at once shook off the weight, and I believe that Christ my Lord cried out for me, and I hope that so it will be in the day of my distress." [Acta, § 3; Mart, xvii., p. 535 ; Fr. Morris, Life of S. Patrick, p. 57.]  Most especially does the Holy Ghost inspire us to invoke Mary, who knows so well what we should pray for, and who never fails to obtain from her Divine Son what she asks for us. For as King Solomon said to Bethsabee, so Jesus says to Mary, " My Mother, ask : for I must not turn away thy face." [3 Kings ii. 19.] Many Catholic writers have quoted these words of Solomon to Bethsabee with the same application. They have not, however, remarked, that, when Bethsabee did speak, she was so far from obtaining her request, that she drew death down on him who had prompted it. To use this illustration, it should be coupled with the conduct of our Blessed Lord at Cana. Bethsabee asks, and Solomon makes as if he would grant all, but rejects her petition. Mary asks, and Jesus seems to reject, yet in reality He grants her request. [Protestants would fain prove from certain passages in the Gospel that Jesus Christ did not treat Mary as Mother of God ; and Socinians teach that Mary, did not treat Jesus as God. Both are false, but the latter view is as easy to sustain from Scripture as the other.]

28 And we know that to them that love God, all things work together unto good, to such as, according to his purpose, are called to

29 For whom he foreknew, he also predestinated to be made conformable to the image of his Son ; that he might be the first-amongst many brethren.

30 And whom he predestinated, them he also called And whom he called, them he also justified And whom he justified, them n also glorified.

Mary was called according to the divine purpose, not only to be a Saint, but to be the Mother of the Holy One, the King of Saints. She loved God with a love surpassing that of all others. All things, then, of God's Providence worked together in a most special manner for her good. His " Wisdom which reacheth from end to end mightily, and ordereth all things sweetly," [Wisdom, viii. 1.] caused everything so to cooperate, that her end might correspond with the beginning ; her glorification be equal and proportioned to her first vocation. God had fore-known her from everlasting as the Mother of His Only-begotten Son. He had predestined her in His eternal decrees to be prevented with extraordinary grace, so that she might be a worthy Mother most conformable to the image of His Son. He had elected her in time, and sanctified her fully. As no mind of angel or man could ever have imagined her predestined dignity, and God's accomplishment in time, so none can conceive her glory in eternity.

The life of Mary is written in these words. She was fore-known, and fore-told. She is the Woman between whom and the Serpent God promised to put enmity. She is the Virgin who should conceive Emmanuel. From her immaculate conception she was prepared to be like her Son. During the whole of her Son's life, she laid up in her heart every event which happened to Him, every word spoken of Him, every word spoken by Him, every look, every act, and so became more and more like Him. When Philip had been two or three years in the school of Jesus he was justly blamed for not having studied his Divine Master better. " Philip said : Lord shew us the Father, and it is enough for us. Jesus saith to him. So long a time have I been with you, and you have not known Me? Philip, he that seeth Me, seeth the Father also . . . Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me ? " [John xiv. 8-10.] Mary was far longer in the school of Jesus, but she merited no such reproach. She knew and studied her Divine Son. On the same occasion our Lord said to His Apostles : " He that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, arid I will love him and will manifest Myself to him.

Judas saith to Him (not Iscariot), Lord how is it that Thou wilt manifest Thyself to us, and not to the world? Jesus answered and said to him, If any man love Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come, and will make our abode with him." [John xiv. 21-23.] Did not Mary love her Divine Son ? Did she not keep His word ? Did He not manifest Himself to her ? He came and took up His abode with her bodily, but only because He had already taken up His abode with her spiritually. " The Lord is with thee." Prius in mente quam in ventre, says S. Augustine.

32 He that spared not even his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how hath he not also, with him, given us all things?

S. Paul's argument is, God has given for you His Son, in whom all good things are contained. All things are, there fore, yours, if you will. Now God gave His Son not only for Mary, but to Mary. She for His sake, was full of grace before she received Him actually as her Son. But He who gave her Jesus to be her Son, how has He not also with Him given her all things ? Nothing is more excellent in itself, nothing more dear to God than His Only-begotten Son. His Father did not give other excellent gifts, such as angels and archangels, patriarchs, and prophets, and keep back or spare His Son. No, He gave Him, and Him especially and entirely. All His other gifts only led to and prepared for this one. It was complete. He gave Him not in part, but wholly. He delivered Him up. He did not lend Him, but gave Him for ever. If He has already done this, why do we hesitate or doubt about anything else ? Is there anything greater, any thing equal ? Can anything be ever put in comparison with Him 1 Is not every other gift contained in Him, resulting from Him, and merited by Him ? Is it more startling that I should be in heaven, than that the Only-begotten Son of God should be shivering in a crib ? that I should enjoy eternal bliss, than that the Ever-Blessed should die accursed on a Cross ? [See the passage from S. Chrysostom, In Matt., Hom, ii., n. 2, quoted above, p. 22, note.] that I should gaze on the unveiled Majesty of God, than that God's glory should be veiled beneath the form of bread ? If then the greater Gift has been given, the lesser one will not be refused. If the stranger work of mercy has already taken place, the less strange one may well take place also. How does this regard Mary ? Thus :

Monstra te esse matrem, Sumat per te preces, Qui pro nobis natus Tulit esse tuus.

Jesus became Mary's, yet for our sake, He became hers, that she might give Him for us, and to us. She did so at the Presentation. She did so on Calvary. She spared not her own Son. What then will she spare ? her love, or her prayers that we may not lose that Son, and that He may not lose the fruit of His Incarnation and Death ? Impossible.

35 Who then shall separate us from the love of Christ ? Shall tribulation ? or distress ? or famine ? or nakedness ? or danger ? or persecution ? or the sword ?

36 (As it is written: For thy sake we are put to death all the day long. We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.)

37 But in all these things we overcome, because of him that hath loved us.

38 For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor might,

39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

If S. Paul was able thus with assured confidence to glory in his love of Jesus Christ, and challenge all sufferings and created powers to separate him therefrom, with much greater force could the Blessed Virgin Mary do so, whose love to God as far surpasses that of all other Saints, as does her Divine Maternity excel all other dignities. The trial, too, of Mary's love was correspondingly great : that is, her Dolours, which were exceeded only by the sufferings of Jesus Christ her Son, so that she has merited the title of Mater dolorosissima, and Regina Martyrum.