Feast of the Transverberation of St. Teresa of Jesus
How much our confidence in Mary should be increased from the fact of Her being Our Mother.
It is not without meaning , or by chance, that Mary's clients call Her Mother; and indeed they seem unable to invoke Her under any other name, and never tire of calling Her "Mother." Mother, yes! for She is truly Our Mother; not indeed carnally, but spiritually; of our souls and of our salvation. Sin, by depriving our souls of Divine grace, deprived them also of life. Jesus Our Redeemer, with an excess of mercy and love, came to restore this life by His own death on the Cross, as He Himself declared: I am come that they may have life, and may have it more abundantly (Jn. 10.10). He says more abundantly; for, according to theologians, that benefit of redemption far exceeded the injury done by Adam's sin. So that by reconciling us with God He made Himself the Father of souls in the law of grace as it was foretold by the Prophet Isaias: He shall be called the Father of the world to come, the Prince of Peace (9.6). But if Jesus is the Father of our souls, Mary is also their Mother; for She, by giving us Jesus, gave us true life; and afterwards, by offering the life of Her Son on Mount Calvary for our salvation, She brought us forth to the life of grace.
On two occasions then, according to the holy Fathers of the Church, Mary became our spiritual Mother. And the first, according to St. Albert the Great, was when She merited to conceive in Her virginal womb the Son of God. In the second chapter of St. Luke, the Evangelist, speaking of the birth of Our Blessed Redeemer, says that Mary brought forth Her first-born Son (v.7). Now, it is of faith that Mary had no other children according to the flesh than Jesus but She must have had other spiritual children, and we are those children.
From what had been said, we can understand that passage in the sacred book of Canticle of Canticles: Thy belly is like a heap of wheat, set about with lilies (7.2). St. Ambrose explains: "that although in the most pure womb of Mary there was but one grain of corn, which Jesus Christ, yet it is called a heap of wheat because all the elect were virtually contained in it;" and as Mary was also to be their Mother, in bringing forth Jesus, He was truly and is called the first-born of many brethren. The Abbot St. William writes in the same sense, saying "that Mary, in bringing forth Jesus, our Savior and our Life, brought forth many unto salvation; and by giving birth to Life itself, She gave life to many."
The second occasion on which Mary became our spiritual Mother, and brought us forth to the life of grace, was when She offered to the Eternal Father the life of Her Beloved Son on Mount Calvary, with such bitter sorrow and suffering. So that St. Augustine declares, that "as She then cooperated by Her love in the birth of the faithful to the life of grace, She became the spiritual Mother of all who are members of the One Head, Christ Jesus." This we are given to understand by the following verse of the sacred Canticle of Canticles, and which refers to the Blessed Virgin Mary: They have made me the keeper in the vineyards; my vineyard I have not kept (1.5). St William explains, that "Mary, in order that She might save many souls, exposed Her own to death;" meaning, that to save us, She sacrificed the life of Her Son. And who but Jesus was the soul of Mary? He was Her life, and all Her love. And therefore the prophet Simeon foretold that a sword of sorrow would one day transpierce Her own most blessed soul. And it was precisely the lance which transpierced the side of Jesus, Who was the soul of Mary. Then it was that this Most Blessed Virgin brought us forth by Her sorrows to eternal life: and thus we can all call ourselves the children of the sorrows of Mary. Our most loving Mother was always, and in all, united to the will of God. "And therefore," says St. Bonaventure, "when She saw the love of the Eternal Father towards men to be so great that, in order to save them, He willed the death of His Son [on the Cross]; and, on the other hand, seeing the love of the Son in wishing to die for us [to spare us]: in order to conform Herself to this excessive love of both the Father and the Son towards the human race, She also with Her entire will offered, and consented to, the death of Her Son, in order that we might be saved."
It is true that, according to the prophecy of Isaias, Our Lord, in dying for the redemption of the human race, chose to be alone. I have trodden the winepress alone (63.3); but, seeing the ardent desire of His Mother to aid in the salvation of man, He disposed it so that She, by the sacrifice and offering of the life of Her Jesus, should cooperate in our salvation, and thus become the Mother of our souls. This Our Savior signified, when, before expiring, He looked down from the Cross on His Mother and on the disciple St. John... and first addressing Our Blessed Mother, He said, Behold Thy son (19.26). "By these words," says St. Bernardine of Sienna, "Mary, by reason of the love She bore them, became the Mother, not only of St. John, but of all men." St. John himself, in stating this fact in his Gospel, says: The He said to the disciple, Behold thy Mother. Here, observe well that Our Lord did not address Himself to St. John, but to the disciple, in order to show that He then gave Mary to all who are His disciples, that is to say, to all Christians, that she might be their Mother. John is but the name of one, whereas the word disciple is applicable to all, therefore Our Lord makes use of a name common to all, to show that Mary was given as a Mother to all.
The Church applies to Our Blessed Mother these words of Ecclesiasticus (Ecclus.): I am the Mother of fair love (24.24). That is, Our Blessed Mother's love renders our souls beautiful in the sight of God, and also makes Her as a most loving Mother receive us Her children, She being all love towards those whom She has thus adopted. "And what Mother," exclaims St. Bonaventure, "loves Her children, and attends to their welfare, as Thou lovest us and carest for us, O Most Sweet Queen! For dost thou not love us and seek our welfare far more without comparison than any earthly mother? O, blessed are they who live under the protection of so loving and powerful a mother!"
The prophet David, although Mary was not yet born, sought salvation from God, by dedicating himself as a son of Mary, and thus prayed: Salvum fac filium anicllae tuae (Save the son of Thy handmaid, Ps. 85.16). "Of what handmaid?" asks St. Augustine; and he replies: "Of Her who said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord (Lk. 1.38)." "And who, says St. Robert Bellarmine, "would ever dare to snatch these children from the bosom of Mary, when they have taken refuge there? What power of hell, or what temptation, can overcome them, if they place their confidence in the patronage of this great Mother, the Mother of God, and of them?" There are some who say that when the whale sees its young in danger, either from tempests or pursuers, it opens its mouth and swallows them. The same is asserted of Our Blessed Mother in that when the storms of temptations rage, the most compassionate Mother of the faithful, with maternal tenderness, protects them as it were in Her won bosom until She has brought them into the harbor of salvation. Our Blessed Mother Herself, in a vision to St. Bridget: "As a mother on seeing her son in the midst of the swords of his enemies would use every effort to save Him, so do I, and will do for all sinners who seek my mercy." Thus it is that in every engagement with the infernal powers we shall always certainly conquer by having recourse to the Mother of God, who is also our Mother, saying and repeating again and again: "We fly to Thy patronage, O holy Mother of God!" How many victories have not the faithful gained over hell, by having recourse to Mary with this short but powerful prayer!
Be of good heart then, all you who are children of Mary. Remember that She accepts as Her children all those who choose to be so. Rejoice! Why do you fear to be lost, when such a Mother protects and defends you? - St. Alphonsus Liguori