The Mother Of Christ by Father Vassall-Phillips Part 106.

I have quoted these passages at length not only by reason of their intrinsic beauty, but because they seem to me to go to the very heart of the matter.

Let there be no misunderstanding. It is not that we doubt the Father's Mercy. He is the All-Merciful, the All-Loving—Infinite in His Mercy and in His Love. Who should fear to go to His Father in Heaven, that has ever pondered the Parable of the Prodigal Son ? We too, sure of a welcome, may rise and say: " Father, I have sinned against heaven and before Thee. I am not now worthy to be called Thy son." Still, we reflect upon His Awful Holiness and are troubled until we remember that He has given us a Mediator.

God hath so loved the world as to give us His only begotten Son. How can we fear Him ? He has clothed Himself with human Flesh. He has looked upon the world which He made and in His Eyes shone the light of perfect human Love. He laid His Hands in Blessing on the heads of little children; within His Breast there beat a human Heart. The infinite Mercy of the Father is mirrored and reflected in the Sacred Heart of His Incarnate Son. He is our Brother. With human Lips He cried aloud : " Come unto Me all ye that are wearied and heavy laden and find rest for your souls." A thousand times, in one gentle parable after another, with most loving words, He declared that He came not to condemn the world, but to save the world, that never would He cast out the poor sinner who with the Magdalen should cling to His Feet and water them with repentant tears. For us all, His Arms were extended on the Cross, that we might find a refuge within their wide embrace. " Who shall condemn us?" asks the great Apostle. "Is it Christ Jesus who died for us ?" In all our sins and miseries we know, as Catholics in every age have known, that we may go with uttermost confidence to the Feet of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Still, sometimes we are depressed, sometimes we do fear even when kneeling before our most Merciful Lord, as we remember the Wrath of the Lamb, whilst the other side of our religion comes before our thoughts—the terrible side of our religion, for such a side there is, and it is fatal to allow it to fade away altogether from our minds. What then are we to do, when we shudder at the remembrance of our infidelities, of our coldness in God's service, of our ingratitude, and think of the just judgments of God ? St. Bernard suggests a remedy, which shall soon chase away despondency. The Father has given us Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ our Lord has given us His Mother. When we think of her, we cannot, if we would, find in her a terrible side, for in her there is no terrible side to find. She is not God. Judgment has not been committed to her. She is altogether human— siquidem pura humanitas in Maria. Her one duty in our regard, as her one joy, is to plead for men. Who can be so perverse as to fear her, whose heart is filled with a mother's tender love for her sinful children ? To Mary we may fly in the uttermost confidence, beseeching her to teach us to trust Jesus Christ our Lord. We do not go to Mary rather than to Jesus—God forbid. Neither, if we perversely fear our Lord, do we go to Mary that we may continue in that fear. No Catholic could have imagined such a thought. We go to Mary because we would no longer fear our Lord. We go to Mary, beseeching her to lead us to Jesus, praying her to show unto us Jesus, as of old she showed Him to the Shepherds and to the Kings. This prayer will never be refused by our Lady. As we pray to her, all fear falls away. The Babe in her Arms smiles upon those who kneel at His Blessed Mother's Feet; the dying Christ looks down with a love that casts out fear upon those he sees, beneath His Cross, by His Mother's Side. He reconciles us to God our Father.

Once again, it is not that we think Mary more merciful than Jesus, any more than we think Jesus more merciful than the Father. A thousand times no! Such blasphemies appal the Catholic. It is horrible, though I think that it is necessary, to be compelled to mention them, even in passing. Every Catholic knows that the mercy of Mary is but as a tiny drop in the ocean, when compared with the Mercy of God—the boundless Fount of Infinite Compassion. The mercy of Mary is a pure gift from God. Mary is the Queen of Mercy because she is the Mother of the All-Merciful, and has drawn Mercy from His Heart. Nevertheless, she has drawn that Mercy in abundant measure. Also, by His grace she is sinless, and she is our Mother as well as His. So we sinful creatures fly in our necessities to our sinless mother, knowing that we shall not be disappointed ! " Let him keep silence on thy mercy," wrote St. Bernard, " O Blessed Virgin, if such there be, who remembers that thou hast failed him, when he invoked thee in his necessity," (De Assumptione B.V.M., Sermo II., viii.) but for such a one we should search in vain. None can be found who have invoked the mercy of Mary to no purpose. In small things and in great, let us seek her aid and all good things shall be granted unto us.

These, then, are the steps of the sinner's ladder. Often we ask the aid of our friends on earth, and of the Saints in Heaven. We do well.

But the Saints point us to Mary. Like them, she is a creature made from nothing, owing all to her Lord, yet having a relation to her Lord—a claim on her Lord—such as has been given to no other— dear to her Lord beyond all the children of men.

Mary points us to that Lord—her Lord and our Lord, her God and our God. If we will trust her, she will place us happy, rested, peaceful in His Arms.