Mother Of Divine Grace By Father Stanislaus. M. Hogan, O.P. Chapter 1. Part 2.

How did it come to pass that, at a period of general corruption, the Jewish race was comparatively untainted by the prevailing laxity of morals, and that woman, despised and degraded amongst other nations, was held in esteem and honour by the people of Israel ? Was it not because the light of a great prophecy guided them ? Was it not because the hope of a great promise inspired them ? Was it not because the Jewish nation looked forward to the time when " a Virgin should conceive and bear a Son " whose name should be " Emmanuel" ? 1 Did not the expectation of this " sign of the Lord " colour the entire social and domestic life of the Jews; give a status to woman that she did not possess in any other country; and surround her with affection, honour, and love such as she obtained amongst no other peoples ? 2 We cannot doubt it. The thought of the Messiah who was to come upheld the people of Israel and brought comfort to them in all their trials, in persecution, in slavery, and in exile "by the waters of Babylon"; and because of the Messiah, woman was honoured for the sake of the Mother who was to bear Him. It was the unseen influence of Mary Immaculate before she appeared as the " Morning Star " shining with clear, unclouded light upon a world of sin, and shame, and sorrow, which made for the uplifting and honour of the women of Israel; and what our Blessed Lady was to the women of her own race centuries before her birth, she has been to the world in general since the Incarnation. It is a characteristic of her work in the world of men who have been redeemed by her Divine Son. She has her share in the redemption of the human race, and part of that work has been accomplished by the sweet and hallowing influence of the Immaculate in the souls, and hearts, and lives of men who enslaved woman, and of women who were despised by men.

Mary is the type of all a mother should be; and since a mother's influence is lasting, since it makes for the uplifting or the deterioration of her children, and consequently of society, the mother who takes the Virgin-Mother as her model, who strives to imitate her, who moulds her life upon that of the Immaculate, becomes a force for good in the world. The Catholic Church holds up the Mother of God as the example to all Christian mothers, and the result is a Perpetua, a Monica, a Jane of Aza, an Elizabeth of Hungary.

Mary is the type of maidenhood. She is the Virgo Virginum and the Virgo Veneranda as well as the Mater Inviolata and the Mater Amabilis. As the highest type of purity and virginity she is held up by the Church for imitation. What has been the effect of her example ? Agnes and Cecilia, Barbara and Lucy, amongst countless other virgins, in the early days of Christianity; Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Jesus, Rose of Lima, and Clare in days nearer to our own.

The influence of Mary Immaculate for good has made itself felt in every age, in every country, amongst all peoples. Where there is true devotion to her and unswerving loyalty, there too do we find not only real piety, deep and intense love of her Son, reverence for spiritual things, and fervent love of God; we also find a more elevated standard of morality, and a greater refinement of thought. This arises from appreciation of the dignity and position of the Immaculate; it is also due to the recognition of the fact that the Mother of God is Mother of the human race. From childhood to old age, in all the trials of life, in times of sorrow, and in days of gladness, the image of the Virgin-Mother is ever clear and vivid before the eyes, and in the hearts of her clients, chastening and softening, winning and hallowing them. They who love our Lady look upon her as children look upon their mother, with love and reverence, with trust too, as their best friend and surest help. They pray to her, and call her " blessed amongst women "; and they beseech her to obtain from her Divine Son those graces which they need. She is "full of Grace": filled with the plenitude of God's gifts and graces herself overflowing with Grace for those other children whom she must bear and bring forth until " her days are accomplished," and the full number of those " whom God foreknew " have been made " conformable to the image of His Son."

We salute our Blessed Lady as the Mother of Divine Grace. We acknowledge that she possesses that Grace in full measure, and that she is furthermore the channel of Grace for us, the means through which the Holy Ghost effects His work of our salvation and sanctification. Hence our Blessed Lady occupies a position in the divine economy which is as unique as her personality. We cannot, we dare not, ignore her, or set her aside. She has her work to do in each individual soul. It is for us to recognise the fact, and to say, in the beautiful words of the poet of Christianity :

"Lady, thou art so great and of such might,
That he who seeks grace and turns not to thee,
Would have his prayer, all wingless, take its flight." 3
(Paradiso, Canto xxxiii. Dean Plumptre's translation).

From - Mother Of Divine Grace: A Chapter in the Theology of the Immaculate. By Father Stanislaus. M. Hogan, O.P. 

1 Isa. vii. 14.

2 Cf. Nicolas, op. cit., tome iv., pp. 311-3 16.

3 Donna, sci tanto grande, e tanto vali,
    Che qual vuol grazia, ed a te non ricorre,
    Sua distanza vuol volar' seuz' ali.