The Mother Of Christ by Father Vassall-Phillips Part 80.

But for this the time was not ripe. To have declared openly the Blessedness of His Immaculate Mother because she was His Mother, and therefore the Mother of God, in the presence of the scornful and malicious Pharisees, who had just ascribed His Miracles to the Prince of Evil Spirits, would have been to cast pearls before swine. Who, then, need wonder that the Everlasting Wisdom chose rather at that moment to dwell on the general lesson, always opportune, of the blessedness of all who hear the word of God and keep it.

In a touching poem addressed to "All the Angels and Saints" George Herbert writes as follows :

..." I would addresse 
My vows to thee most gladly,  Blessed Maid, 
And Mother of my God, in my distresse. 
Thou art the holy mine, whence came the gold, 
The great restorative for all decay

In young and old ;
Thou art the cabinet where the Jewel lay. 
Chiefly to thee would I my soul unfold. 
But now (alas !) I dare not, for our King 
Whom we do all jointly adore and praise
Bids no such thing." 

George Herbert's Poems, p. 74. (Edition of 1850. Messrs. Pickering.)

It is pathetic to see a devout soul held back by such a scruple from the loving intercourse with the Blessed Virgin which was familiar to all Christendom before the blight of the sixteenth-century change of religion. George Herbert tells his readers that ("alas!") he did not "dare" to pray to our Lady because her Son " bid no such thing "—as recorded, that is, in the Gospels. One asks oneself in wonderment : Did he never reflect that neither is it recorded in the Gospels that Christ bade us to pray to Himself or to the Holy Ghost ? Of prayer to Christ after the Ascension, there is but one instance in the whole of the New Testament, the prayer of Stephen : " Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Of prayer to the Holy Ghost there is no instance whatsoever. George Herbert doubtless prayed much and constantly to the Holy Spirit and to our Lord Jesus Christ. If authority had been demanded of him for thus acting, notwithstanding the fact that Christ in the Gospel " bids no such thing," he would, I imagine, have answered that, since he believed that our Lord is God, and that the Holy Ghost is God with the Father and the Son in the Unity of the Godhead, it is right to pray to each Divine Person separately, and that the Church had thus acted from the beginning. This is the method of logical inference from established truths to their consequences, perfectly legitimate and safe, when sanctioned by an authority that is believed to be from God. But a precisely similar method of argument justifies prayer to the Blessed Virgin, though it is no more directly commanded in the Gospels than is prayer to Christ our Lord. Catholics believe that our Lady is the Mother of God, and therefore to her do we " our soul unfold." In this we rely upon the sanction and approbation of the Church which we know to possess divine authority, and which teaches her children to believe in the Communion of Saints, and also that " it is good and useful to invoke the Saints reigning together with Christ." Therefore without fear, confidently do we seek the aid of all the Saints and Angels, and " chiefly " that of their Queen. (Cf. p. 293.)

Though George Herbert did not realise how the matter lay, his dread of praying to our Lady, according to the promptings of his heart, arose not from the fact that our Lord does not explicitly "bid" such prayer—so far, at least, as has been recorded in the Gospels—but from the other fact that " alas!" he did not believe in the authority of the Catholic Church. The prejudices of his upbringing were too strong. He was held captive by a narrow insularity in religion. Had it been otherwise, he would have realised that the Lord who, as we read in the Gospel, bids us " hear" His Church, implicitly bids us hear that Church when she encourages us to invoke His Blessed Mother.

(Of course, if the Church we are commanded to hear be the post-Reformation Church of England, that changes the issue, but what other force excepting ingrained prejudice can have led such a man as George Herbert to accept the negations of a national Church in opposition to the positive, world-wide teaching of Catholicism through all the centuries ?)