The Mother Of Christ by Father Vassall-Phillips Part 114.

When it is said that God bestows all graces through the hands of Mary, it is possible that a misconception may arise, as though it were held that grace came to men through some physical intervention of our Lady. It should hardly be necessary to observe that nothing could be further from the truth than any such opinion. God is a Spirit, and bestows His graces by direct action upon the soul of man. Nevertheless, all graces are given to men through the Man Christ Jesus. The only question that can arise, is whether, to the unique Mediation of our Redeemer is always joined the prayer of His Blessed Mother ? This prayer, and this prayer alone is symbolised by the rays represented as descending upon the world, for example in the Miraculous Medal. The Blessed Virgin certainly co-operated in the Meriting of grace by the consent which she gave to the Incarnation at Nazareth, and to the Passion on Calvary. Can she be rightly separated from the Distribution of that grace to redeemed souls, or does she here also co-operate by her prayer ? (To share in the distribution of grace is a less wonderful privilege than to share in its acquisition.) The action of our Lady is shown forth figuratively in that of the Deacon at High Mass. The Deacon not only furnishes the matter of the Sacrifice, but also assists tho celebrating priest in its distribution to the Faithful at Communion.

St. Alphonsus writes as follows:

"When an opinion tends in any way to the honour of Mary, if this opinion in no way contradicts either the Faith, or the decrees of the Church, nor is opposed to any truth—above all, if it has some foundation on which to rest, to reject and argue against it, merely because the opposite opinion may be true, shows little devotion to the Mother of God." 

No one will assert that the opinion that all graces, since the Incarnation, come through Mary, is a dogma of the Faith, or will wish to impose it, as such, upon any to whom it does not appeal, or who, in their hearts, do not believe in its truth. On the other hand, none can assert that it in any way contradicts either the Faith, the decrees, or the spirit of the Church, or that it is opposed to any truth. On the contrary, it is in complete concord with the Analogy of the Faith—recognising, as it does, an office belonging to the Blessed Mother of God, which seems appropriate to her who, undoing the work of our first mother, was so closely associated with the Second Adam in that Reparation of humanity, from which all graces ultimately are derived. Moreover, as we read the writings of the Saints, we feel that it harmonises with their attitude towards Mary, and also with the mind of our Mother the Church, whose liturgical prayers and hymns constantly urge her children to have recourse to Mary in all their needs. It has consequently—to state the matter at its lowest—some solid foundation upon which to rest.

Such being the case, we may be reckoned happy, if, with so many of the Saints, we are able to give it the adhesion of our hearts and minds—happy if we believe that the dear Mother, who by her Fiat drew the Incarnate Word from His Father's Side, who shared, so far as mortal might, in all His Joys and in His Sorrows, who was baptised with the Baptism wherewith He was baptised, who drank so deeply of the Chalice of His bitter Passion, whose soul was pierced with the sword of cruel anguish, who now reigns with Him in Heaven, is thus intimately associated with the distribution of the graces obtained by His victory over sin and death. Happy are we, if we can feel that in no act of mercy and loving-kindness is the Mother separated from her Son.

Still, there will no doubt be many Catholics to whom this opinion will not seem sufficiently established to rest upon as a certainty. But if they are devout and humble, there will be no danger lest they take the attitude which St. Alphonsus deprecates. They will feel no desire positively to "reject and argue against " a belief so full of consolation to many of their brethren, so highly approved by ecclesiastical authority, so honourable to our Lady. Where a pious and approved devotion to the Blessed Mother of God is concerned, the work of hostile and purely negative criticism, which leads nowhere, may safely be left to those Protestants and unbelievers to whom it affords a congenial occupation. For my part, let the pen fall from my hand before I write aught in disparagement of the glories of my heavenly Queen; let my tongue cleave to my mouth, before it give utterance to a syllable that could lessen the confidence of any of the little ones of Christ, in the power and goodness of the Mother of my Lord.

In practice, all Catholics are agreed. When we feel the need of any special grace from God, let us ask it, relying upon Divine Promises, from our Father in Heaven, through Jesus Christ our Lord ; let us seek it in the Holy Mass, when the Host is raised; let us implore it with uttermost confidence from the Sacred Heart of our most loving Saviour; but let us never forget also to pray to Mary. She will obtain us the dispositions of soul of which we stand in need as we hear Mass, as we kneel before her Divine Son, as we implore the Mercy of God our Father. All that increases our confidence in Mary, will also increase our hope in God. Scattering the clouds of sadness and depression, trust in Mary's loving intercession will bring a new sunshine into our souls, and the graces of Heaven. We should, then, thank our Lord for every well-grounded belief that makes us trust His Blessed Mother with a deeper trust; as we should shrink with dread and horror from any line of thought, from any tendency, which serves, in however small a measure, to lessen that childlike confidence in Mary, which is one of God's choicest gifts to those that love and serve Him. Of so much as this, at any rate—if the writings of the Saints are to be our guide—there can be no doubt amongst Catholics. The words of St. Bernard should be deep in our hearts : " Spes mea lesus et, post lesum, Virgo Maria."

I will conclude this chapter with a prayer of St. Ephrem, which, beautiful in itself, may also serve to show that I am preaching no new doctrine, but one that was welcome and familiar to our Fathers in the Faith, even in the dim ages of Antiquity.

"Most Holy Lady, alone most pure in soul and body, alone exceeding all in perfection of purity, in chastity and virginity—alone made in thine entirety, the home of the graces of the Most Holy Spirit-hence in purity and sanctity of soul and body excelling, beyond compare, even the Angelic Virtues —cast thine eyes upon me . . . my most Holy Lady, Mother of God, full of grace; glory of the nature that is ours in common; Dispenser of all good things; after the Trinity, the Mistress of all; after the Paraclete, another Consoler; after the Mediator, the whole world's Mediatress; than Cherubim and Seraphim higher, beyond the power of words to tell, and more glorious by far; unsearchable Abyss of God's goodness ; protection of the universe; Fulness of the grace of the Trinity; holding as it were the second place after the Trinity; Bridge of the whole world, leading us to the heights of heaven; Key introducing us to heaven. O thou, our Patron and our Mediatress, behold my confidence and my divinely inspired desire, since thou possessest both compassion and power. As the Mother of Him, who alone is Good and Merciful, do thou receive my most miserable soul and graciously obtain, through thy mediation and defence, that it be found at the right hand of thine only-begotten Son."