Saturday, March 01, 2008


Forsake her not, and she shall keep thee; Love her, and she shall preserve thee (Prov 4).

I love them that love me, and they that in the morning early watch for me shall find me. With me are riches and glory, glorious riches and justice (Prov 8:17-18).
She hath opened her hand to the needy, and stretched out her hands to the poor (Prov 31: 20).
Forsake her not, and she shall keep thee: love her and she shall preserve thee...Take hold on her, and she exalt thee: thou shalt be glorified by her when thou shalt embrace her: she give to thy head increase of graces, and protect thee with a noble crown (Prov 4: 8,9).

"O BLESSED MARY", cried St Augustine, "who is able enough to praise and to thank thee - thee who by once saying, 'Be it done unto me,' hast arisen to help a lost world?" I suppose we may take it that Mary was the first Christian. True, the word was not in use during our Lord's lifetime, but she was undoubtedly the first to welcome Him to earth and to attach herself for ever to His service. And what was her first impulse after this act of loving adoration and devotedness? She set out at once, "in haste", the Gospel tells us, to help an aged relative, the very sound of her voice enabling the infant Baptist and his holy mother to recognize that the Lord's Anointed, the Christ, had at last visited this sinful world; and they joined their praise and adoration to hers. Later, when our Lord first gathered to Him a little band of disciples, and they were brought into His Mother's presence, what did she? Again she began by desiring to help others. "They have no wine," she said, in her kind thoughtfulness. And what was the result? another miracle, which, we read, caused Jesus' disciples to believe in Him. And so it has ever been, and ever will be.
If we find Mary, she will lead us to her divine Son, and say to us: "Whatsoever He shall say to you, do ye"; "If you love Him keep His commandments." Truly, "she is an infinte treasure to men, which they that use become the friends of God." (Wisdom 7). What a help our Lady was to the Apostles and early Christians, after the Ascension of our Lord, by her wise counsels, her holy example, and, above all, by her fervent intercession! For if the "continual prayer of a just man availeth much," as we read in Holy Scripture it does, how much more efficacious is the prayer of the Mother of God! We know that King Solomon gave to the Queen of Saba all she asked, besides much from His royal bounty. What therefore, will not He who, as He Himself said, is greater than Solomon, do for the Queen of Heavenm whi is also His Mother? For if Mary's prayer was all-powerefull when on earth, no less so is it now when she pleads for her children scattered all over the face of the earth, whom she loves with a love all her own. After Jesus no one loves us as Mary does, for she, more than any other, realizes the worth of a soul, and moreover, her heart, being greater than that of any other mere mortal, ahs a greater capacity for loving. Let us then cry to her in all our needs. she is our Lady of Perpetual Succour, ever ready, ever at hand to hear and help us. As children turn to their Mother instinctively in every trouble, so let us turn to Mary. No matter what befalls us, if we run to her confidingly and shelter ourselves under her mantle, all will be well. Let us apply to our attitude towards her the words of Dante, who writes: "Astounded, to the guardian of my steps I turned me, like the child who always runs for succour where he trusteth most." Nor can we doubt Mary's power to help us any more than her good will. If King Solomon rose to show his mother reverence when she entered, causing a throne to be set for her beside his own, and saying with the utmost deference when she proffered a request, "My mother, ask, for I must not turn away thy face," what will not our Lord and Master do, He who implanted in the heart of the wise king these beatiful virtues of filial love and reverence? We have seen that at the marriage feast He could not resist even the slightest indication of His Mother's wishes, though, as He said, His appointed hour for working miracles had not yet come, and the matter was only the supply of a temporal, passing need. How much more readily will He grant her request when she pleads for a fresh supply of grace for her clients, or begs for them a new wedding garment, when like careless children, they ahve spoilt their first one! Still more eagerly will he respond to her desires when she lays before Him the necessities of souls who are labouring for His glory, who are in trouble and distress because they do not yet see the perfect fulfilment of that prophecy of David: "All the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as the covering waters of the sea." What vast tracts of inhibited land there are still which have not had more than a mere sprinkling of that knowledge; and how we should beg our Lady, Help of Christian, to obtain that, when these few drops do spread, the knowledge they convey may be accompanied by love! For of what avail would it be for the nations to know Jesus if that knowledge only brought hatred, as it did to the Pharisees, and as we see is the case in many civilized countries at the present day? Let us pray often and much that the earth may be filled with a loving knowledge of the Lord, as the covering waters of the sea.
But it is well to go to Mary with every affair, great or small, that concerns us. However trivial, it will not be too much so for her motherly heart to take an interest in, and however vast, it will not exceed the scope of her queenly magnificence and power. Let us say to her: "Look upon thy servants and upon their works, and direct their children. And let the brightness of the Lord our God be upon us; and direct thou the work of our hands....Yes, the work of our hands do thou direct."
But well it is for us that Our Lord does not always wait to be asked, else some of us would get but little help, it is to be feared. We notice her request at the marriage feast was spontaneous, and Father Faber says: Not a day passes in which our dearest Mother Mary does not interest herself for us. A thousand times and more has she mentioned our names to her divine Son in such a sweet persuasive way that His Sacred Heart sought not to resist it..." Nor is it only Catholics she assists, though they, of course, being of the "household of the faith", have her first care and attention. But how many out of the fold of the Church have learned to love and revere Christ's spotless Mother, and who can say how many graces she has won for them? Great, too, is her solicitude for infidel and heathen lands, which are not but which we trust will one day be Christian. The holy souls in purgatory also come in for a full share of Mary's beneficence. Indeed, if there is one class of Christians more than another that she loves, will it not be those poor helpless prisoners who can do nothing for themselves? If we wish to imitate our Mother, let us not only help our fellow Christians on earth by every means in our power, but let us also give her our indulgences to distribute for the release of those whose one longing is to united to their God, and when our turn comes, we may be sure we shall not suffer longer on account of our generosity. Let us rejoice then in having so good, so large-hearted and powerful an advocate, and let us trust our all to her, saying:

Mother Mary, to thy keeping
Soul and body we confinde;
Toiling, resting, waking, sleeping,
Be thou ever at our side.

Cares that vex us, joys that please us
Life and death we trust to thee;
Thou must make them all for jesus,
And for all eternity.

Help of Christians, pray for us.

On the vintage "Auxilium Christianorum" Holy Card above, the meek and mild mannered representation of Mother and child contrasts sharply with the amassed military paraphernalia surrounding them. Coat of arms (cross and half-moon) and armament are reminiscent of the opposition between Christians and Turks, and the naval battle featured evokes the October 7, 1571 victory of the Holy Ligue under Don Juan of Austria against the Turks. The victory of Lepanto was given a special Marian meaning because of its connection with the month of October and the rosary. Commemorative coins bear the inscription: The Lord’s right is raised, the Lord’s right hand strikes with power” (Psalm 118:16), and the date of the victory on October 7 was chosen by Gregory XIII as the annual feast of the rosary. The lemma hails God’s support and warns the enemies of the faith: Woe the nations that rise against my people! The Lord Almighty will requite them” (Judith 16:17). Pope Pius V officially added this invocation to the litany of Loreto in 1571.