The Mother Of Christ by Father Vassall-Phillips Part 101.

Our Lord is the One Pastor; yet to Peter He said: "Feed My Sheep." Though He is the One Pastor, yet many pastors share the office, which in the supreme sense is incommunicable. Similarly, He is the One Advocate; yet this is far from forbidding that we have many advocates, as we have many pastors. Christians are called upon even on earth to be the advocates of their fellows in prayer to God. " I desire," wrote the Apostle, " that prayers ... be made for all men, for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who will have all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, because there is One God and One Mediator of God and man, the Man Christ Jesus." (I Tim. ii. 1-5.) Because we have the Divine Mediator who is also Man, through whom we can intercede, we should mediate with much confidence for one another, since God wills us thus to mediate by prayer. It is " good and acceptable " in His Sight. Were it not for the One Mediator through whom we pray, we might pray in vain.

It is clear from the writings of St. Paul that he him self attached much importance to the intercession— in other words to the mediation —of his friends and disciples on his behalf. To the Romans he wrote: " I beseech you, brethren, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the Charity of the Holy Ghost, that you help me in your prayers for me to God; " (Rom. xv. 30.) and to the Ephesians : " By all prayer and supplication, praying at all times in the spirit, and in the same watching with all instance and supplication for all the Saints [that is, in our modern phraseology, " for all the Faithful"], and for me that I may open my mouth with confidence, to make known the Mystery of the Gospel," (Eph. xvi. 18, 19.) whilst to the Thessalonians he was content to write simply: " Brethren, pray for us." (Thess. v. 25.)

Throughout the Holy Scripture we can see the principle of intercessory prayer in operation and may observe the value that has been consistently attached by the Sacred Writers to the prayers of the Saints.

" But Moses besought the Lord his God, saying: Why, O Lord, is Thine Indignation enkindled against Thy people, whom Thou hast brought out of the land of Egypt, with great power and with a mighty Hand. . . . Remember Abraham, Isaac and Jacob Thy Servants." (Exodus xxxii. II, 13.)

"And the people of Israel said to Samuel : Cease not to cry to the Lord our God for us, that He may save us out of the hands of the Philistines." (I Kings vii. 8.)

"And the Lord said to Eliphaz the Themanite:

My Wrath is kindled against thee. ... Go to My servant Job . . . and My servant Job shall pray for you. His face will I accept. . . . And the Lord accepted the face of Job. The Lord also was turned at the penance of Job, when he prayed for his friends." (Job xlii. 7-10.)

"Elias was a man subject to like passions with us, and with prayer he prayed that it might not rain upon the earth, and it rained not for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain and the earth brought forth her fruit. For the continual prayer of a just man availeth much." (James v. 17, 18, 19.)

These last words of St. James should be observed carefully. Intercessory prayer avails in proportion to the " justice "—that is to the holiness— of him who prays. (translated iustitia in the Vulgate, carries with it the implication of the possession of all virtues.) It is not the prayer of every man which, like the prayer of Elias, will avail first to close the Heavens and then to bring down rain in abundance. Elias was heard because of his "justice"—because he was a friend of God.

Now we may come to our Lady.

"And who is just," asks St. Bernard, " if Mary be not just, from whom has risen the Sun of Justice ?" (De Aquaeductu, v. Cf. DC Domo Divinae Sapientia, iii.)

If St. Paul attached such value to the prayers of his disciples in Rome, at Ephesus, at Thessalonica; if Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were heard by God—and Job and Elias—how much more certainly shall not Mary's prayers be heard ? Mary is not only, like all the Saints, our Lord's servant; she is also His Mother. It is this great fact which places in a category apart the mediation of the Mother of God. The prayer of a Mother must differ in its nature from the prayer of all beside. Mary, Joseph, Peter, Paul, John the Beloved, the Baptist—all the Saints say to Christ: " My Lord and my God!" Mary alone can say to Him : " My Lord and my Child !"

The confidence of Catholics in our Lady's intercession, when analysed, is found to rest on the twin certainties which have already occupied our thoughts. Mary is both Mother of God and mother of us all. Catholics know on the one hand that God will never refuse the prayer of His holy Mother; on the other hand they are convinced that she will never turn a deaf ear to the cry of her children upon earth.