The Mother Of Christ by Father Vassall-Phillips Part 102.


God will not refuse His Mother's prayer.

People who object to Catholic devotion to the Blessed Virgin are sometimes heard to urge that when God became Man He merely made use of a physical vehicle in Mary, assuming that which was necessary for His purpose, and then dissociating Himself from what was hardly an active agent — little more than a mechanical "instrument." Nothing can be further removed from the truth. Our Lord's relations with His glorious Mother are relations with a living person, whom He freely chose from all women to co-operate with His high designs, whom He fashioned and sanctified for His divine purposes, who was gifted by Him with endowments of nature and grace, to fit her (so far as a human creature could be fitted) for an incomparable dignity and for an intimacy with Himself that differs not merely in degree but also in kind from that which has been granted to any other child of Adam.

It is true that the maternal authority, which it was Mary's awful duty to exercise over her Son in the days of His Childhood and Youth, has passed away for ever. Still " the calling and gifts of God are without repentance." (Rom. xi. 29.) Our Lady remained, and always will remain, the true Mother of the Man Christ Jesus. She was as truly His Mother on Calvary as at Bethlehem ; she is as truly His Mother now in the unveiled Presence of the Godhead as in the days of His earthly condescension. Jesus does not deny His Mother's supplications in His Father's House.

The omnipotence of prayer is a great reality. "Ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you, for he that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth and unto him that knocketh it shall be opened." (Matt. vii. 7.) Such are the gracious promises of Christ. How comes it then that many ask and receive not, seek without finding and knock without the door being opened ? St. James gives us the answer when he writes: " You have not because you ask not. You ask and receive not because you ask amiss." (James iv. 25.)

Our spiritual poverty arises from one of two causes—either we pray not at all, or when we do pray we pray amiss.

(a) The prayers of men too often fail through want of faith and confidence in God.

"If any of you want wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men abundantly and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea, which is moved and carried about by the wind. Therefore let not that man think that he shall obtain anything of the Lord." (Id., i. 5, 7.)

(b) Or, we fail through lack of perseverance. There are some graces which our Lord will certainly grant if we continue in prayer, but it is not His Will to grant them immediately—the delay is for our own sakes, that we may have the opportunity of acquiring merit in His Sight. Christ has told us that we should imitate the widow who wearied out the unjust judge by her importunity ; He seemed to refuse the petition of the Syro-Phoenician woman, that to her He might be able to say: "Woman, great is thy faith : be it done unto thee as thou wilt."

(c) Again, sometimes our prayers are vitiated through our sins and imperfections. The poor sinner who cries to God with a broken and a humbled heart for mercy and forgiveness shall always be heard the very moment that he turns that contrite heart to his Father in Heaven. But too often we are hardly contrite, and know full well that God who reads us through and through must see within our souls much that is displeasing to His Infinite Sanctity. " You ask and receive not, because you ask amiss, that you may consume it on your concupiscence." (James iv. i.) It is possible to pray for temporal goods, which, were they to be granted, would be spent on things that are evil, or at least would minister to the concupiscences which assail us—to " the concupiscence of the flesh, and the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life, which is not of the Father, but is of the world." (i John ii. 16)