Saturday, February 18, 2006

Saturday - Day of Our Lady

Septuagesima Week. 'Of Mary's Hope' chapter from "The glories of Mary" by St Alphonsus Liquori.

Hope takes rise in faith; for God enlightens us by faith to know His goodness and the promises He has made, that by this knowledge we may rise by hope to the desire of possessing Him. Mary, then, having had the virtue of faith in its highest degree, had also hope in the same degree of excellence; and this made her say with David, "But it is good for me to adhere to my God, to put my hope in the Lord God." Mary was indeed that faithful spouse of the Holy Ghost, of whom it was said, "Who is this that cometh up from the desert, flowing with delights, leaning on her beloved?" For she was always perfectly detached from earthly affections, looking upon the world as a desert, and therefore, in no way relying either on creatures or on her own merits, but relying only on Divine grace, in which was all her confidence, she always advanced in the love of God. Thus Ailgrino said of her: 'She ascended from the desert, that is, from the world, which she so fully renounced, and so truly considered as a desert, that she turned all her affection from it. She leant upon her Beloved, for she trusted not in her own merits, but in His graces who bestows graces.'
The most holy Virgin gave a clear indication of the greatness of her confidence in God, in the first place, when she saw the anxiety of her holy spouse Saint Joseph. Unable to account for her wonderful pregnancy, he was troubled at the thought of leaving her: "but Joseph....minded to put her away privately." It appeared then necessary, as we have elsewhere remarked, that she should discover the hidden mystery to Saint Joseph; but no, she would not herself manifest the grace she had received; she thought it better to abandon herself to Divine Providence, in the full confidence that God Himself would defend her innocence and reputation. This is precisely what Cornelius a Lapide says, in his commentary on the words of the Gospel quoted above: 'The Blessed Virgin was unwilling to reveal this secret to Joseph. Lest she might seem to boast of her gifts; she therefore resigned herself to the care of God, in the fullest confidence that He would guard her innocence and reputation. She again showed her confidence in God when she knew that the time for the birth of Our Lord approached, and was yet driven even from the lodgings of the poor in Bethlehem, and obliged to bring forth in a stable: "and she laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for Him in the inn." She did not then let drop a single word of complaint, but, abandoning herself to God, she trusted that He would there assist her. The Divine Mother also showed how great was her confidence in Divine Providence when she received notice from Saint Joseph that they must fly into Egypt. On that very night she undertook so long a journey to a strange and unknown country without provisions, without money, accompanied only by her Infant Jesus and her poor spouse, "who arose and took the Child and His Mother by night, and retired into Egypt." But much more did she saw her confidence when she asked her Son for wine at the marriage-feast of Cana; for when she had said, "They have no wine," Jesus answered her, "Woman, what is it to thee and to me? My hour is not yet come." After this answer, which seemed an evident refusal, her confidence in the Divine goodness was such that she desired the servants to do whatever her Son told them; for the favour was certain to be granted: "whatsoever He shall say to you, do you." It indeed was so: Jesus Christ ordered the vessels to be filled with water, and changed it into wine. Let us, then, learn from Mary to have that confidence in God which we ought always to have, but principally in the great affair of our eternal salvation - as affair in which it is true that we must cooperate; yet it is from God alone that we must hope for the grace necessary to obtain it. We must distrust our own strength, and say with the Apostle, "I can do all things in Him who strengtheneth me."
Ah, my most holy Lady, the Ecclesiasticus tells me that thou art "the Mother of holy hope;" and the holy Church, that thou art our hope. For what other hope, then, need I seek? Thou, after Jesus, art all my hope. Thus did Saint Bernard call thee; thus will I also call thee:'Thou art the whole ground of my hope;' and, with Saint Bonaventure, I will repeat again and again,'O, salvation of all who call upon thee, save me!"