IT is impossible for clients of Mary to be damned, if they faithfully honor her and commend themselves to her. At first sight some may think this statement exaggerated. But I would ask them to first read what I am going to say about it.
When we maintain that clients of Mary can never be lost, we are not speaking of persons who abuse this devotion so that they can sin more freely. Those who disapprove of preaching so much about Mary's mercy toward sinners, because they say it makes the wicked take advantage of it to sin more freely, are unfair in their judgment, for a sinner who presumes like this deserves punishment for being so rash, and not mercy at all.
We are speaking of those clients of Mary who sincerely determine to do better and are faithful in honoring her and recommending themselves to her. I say it is morally impossible for such people to be lost.
I find that Father Crasset says the same thing in his book on devotion to the Mother of God. And before Crasset, Vega puts it down in his Marian Theology, along with Mendoza and other theologians.
To show that these were justified in what they said, I will set down what some of the Doctors and Saints have said on the subject.
St. Anselm, for instance: "Just as it is impossible for persons to be saved who have no devotion to Mary and are not protected by her, so it is impossible for any who recommend themselves to her, and are therefore watched over by her, to be lost." St. Antonine repeats this idea in practically the same words.
Pay particular attention to the first part of this opinion, and let all tremble for their salvation who make but small account of their devotion to the Mother of God, or grow careless and give it up: it is impossible for anyone not protected by Mary to be saved.
Many others say the same thing --- for example, St. Albert the Great: All those who are not your servants, O Mary, shall perish. Or St. Bonaventure: Those who neglect our Lady will die in their sins. And in another place: Those who do not call on you in life will never get to Heaven.
Long before him, St. Ignatius the Martyr said this: No sinner can be saved except through your help and favor, O Virgin Mary; for those who would otherwise be damned through God's justice are shown mercy and are saved through your intercession.
Some doubt whether St. Ignatius is the real author in this case, but at any rate St. John Chrysostom adopted the opinion as his own. Even the heretic Oecolampadius considered little devotion to the Mother of God a sure sign of reprobation; and therefore he said: Let it never be said of me that I reject Mary.
So it is that the devil does his utmost to make sinners give up their devotion to Mary after they have lost the grace of God. When Sarah saw Isaac playing with Ishmael, who was teaching him evil ways, she asked Abraham to banish both Ishmael and his mother Hagar: Drive out that slave and her son (Gn. 21:10).
She was not satisfied with having the son driven out of the house without also driving out the mother, because she feared the boy would keep returning to the house as long as his mother was there. In the same way, the devil is not content with a soul banishing Jesus Christ, unless it banishes His mother too.
He fears that the Mother will bring back the Son by her intercession. And he has good reason to fear, because those who continue their devotion to the Mother of God will soon get back to God Himself. 56
She has the will to save us, for she is our Mother and desires our salvation more than we can desire it ourselves.
If this is so, then how can clients of Mary ever be lost? They may be sinners, but if they recommend themselves to this good Mother with perseverance and purpose of amendment, she will obtain for them the necessary help to get back to the state of grace, to have true sorrow for their sins, to persevere in virtue, and at the end of all to die a happy death.
Is there any mother who would not save her child from death, if all she had to do was ask the favor from the judge? And can we imagine that Mary, who loves her clients with the tenderest love a mother ever had, would not save her children from eternal death, when she can do it so easily?
Hence St. Ephrem was right in calling devotion to our Blessed Lady the charter (or passport) to liberty, and Mary herself the protectress of the damned. Mary has both the power and the will to save us. 57
She has the power --- it is impossible for a Mother of God to pray in vain. 58
Her requests can never be refused; she obtains whatever she wills. 59
What rage fills the devil when he sees a soul persevering in devotion to the Mother of God! We read in the life of Father Alfonso Alvarez, who had great devotion to Mary, that once, when he was praying and was troubled by the devil with impure thoughts, the devil said to him: "Give up your devotion to Mary, and I will leave you alone."
God revealed to St. Catherine of Siena that, out of His infinite goodness and the love He bore to the Incarnate Word, He had granted this favor to the Mother of His Son: no one, not even sinners, who devoutly recommend themselves to her, would ever fall into Hell.
No one for whom Mary has once prayed will taste the sorrows of Hell. 60
If I have the Mother of Mercy to defend me, who will dare to say that the Judge will refuse me mercy when I come before Him? 61
Blessed Henry Suso used to say that he had put his soul in Mary's hands. Therefore, if his Judge wished to condemn him to Hell, her most loving hands would have to handle the sentence.
I will hope for the same kindness for myself, O most holy Queen. And I will repeat the words of St. Bonaventure: "In you, O Lady, I have placed all my hopes." I have therefore the utmost assurance that I shall never be lost, but shall praise and love you forever in Heaven.
THE clients of this most merciful Mother are very fortunate. She helps them both in this life and in the next, consoling them and sponsoring their cause in Purgatory. For the simple reason that the Souls in Purgatory need help so desperately, since they cannot help themselves, our Mother of Mercy does so much more to relieve them.
She exercises over these Poor Souls, who are the spouses of Christ, particular dominion, with power to relieve them and even deliver them from their pains. 62
See how important it is then to have devotion to this good Lady, because she never forgets her servants as long as they suffer in these flames. If she helps all the Poor Souls, she is especially indulgent and consoling to her own clients. 63
Our Blessed Mother once said to St. Bridget, "I am the Mother of all the Poor Souls, for my prayers serve to mitigate their sufferings every single hour that they remain there."
She even condescends to go there herself from time to time and mercifully comfort her suffering children. How affable she is, how kind to the Poor suffering Souls ! Through her they receive continual consolation and refreshment. 64
What other consolation can they enjoy, except Mary and her merciful relief? Once St. Bridget heard Jesus say to His holy Mother: "You are My Mother, the Mother of Mercy, and the consolation of the souls in Purgatory."
Our Lady herself told St. Bridget that the poor souls are comforted in simply hearing her name spoken, just as any person, sick in bed, is relieved by some word of solace.
That loving Mother, as soon as she hears the poor souls crying to her, offers her prayers to God. And her prayers, like dew from Heaven, refresh them in their burning pains. 65
Novarinus confirms this: Many good and reputable authors maintain that when Mary was about to enter Heaven, she begged of her Son the favor of taking all the Poor Souls with her. From then on, says Gerson, she kept the privilege of delivering her devoted clients.
St. Bernardine of Siena also positively asserts that the prayers and merits of the Blessed Virgin have the power of delivering Souls from Purgatory, and especially her own clients.
But she does more than comfort and relieve her clients. She even delivers them by her prayers. Gerson says that when she was assumed into Heaven Purgatory was emptied out.
Novarinus is of the same opinion and thinks that through Mary's merits the torments of these souls are not only softened, but actually shortened through her intercession. She has only to ask and it is done.
St. Peter Damian relates how a certain woman, named Marozia, appeared after death to her grandmother and told her that, on the feast of the Assumption, our Lady had delivered her from Purgatory, along with a multitude of others outnumbering all the people in Rome.
St. Denis the Carthusian is of the opinion that on Christmas Day and Easter Sunday our Lady, accompanied by hosts of Angels, goes down into Purgatory and brings back many Souls to Heaven with her.
Novarinus confesses that he finds it easy to believe that the same thing happens on all her own solemn feasts.
People consider it an honor to have others adopt their particular livery. In the same way our Lady is pleased when her clients wear her scapular, as a mark that they have dedicated themselves to her service and are members of the household of the Mother of God.
Modern heretics, as usual, ridicule this devotion, but the Church has long approved it. In the year 1251 the Blessed Virgin appeared to St. Simon Stock, gave him the scapular, and promised that all who wore it would be saved from eternal damnation.
In a Bull long attributed to Pope John XXII, who died in 1334, we learn that our Lady wished it made known to all that on the Saturday after their death she would deliver from Purgatory all who wore the Carmelite scapular. The same promises were afterwards confirmed by several other Pontiffs, notably Paul V who, in a Bull of the year 1613, set down the conditions which must be fulfilled for the gaining of this singular mercy.
According to what is written in the solemn office of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, we may piously believe that the Blessed Virgin comforts the members of the Scapular Confraternity in Purgatory with maternal love, and that she soon delivers them by her intercession and takes them to Heaven.
Besides the scapular of Mount Carmel, those of the Seven Dolors, the Blessed Trinity, and the Immaculate Conception have been enriched with indulgences. For my own part, I have been careful to receive them all. [See Note at bottom of page.]
It goes without saying, of course, what we must always presume --- that the mere mechanical performance of some exercise, apart from the proper interior dispositions, such as love of God, sorrow for sin, purpose of amendment, and so forth, is not what God desires nor what pleases this good Lady and obtains her maternal assistance.
Why should we not look for the same graces and favors, if we are devoted clients of this good Mother? And if we serve her with a very special love, why should we not expect to go straight to Heaven, without even passing through Purgatory?
This grace was granted to Blessed Godfrey. Our Lady ordered Fra Abondo to bring him this message: "Tell Brother Godfrey to advance rapidly in virtue, and he will belong to my Son and to me; and when he dies, I will spare his soul from purgatory and will bring it and offer it to my Son."
Finally, if we want to help the Poor Souls, let us do so by imploring our Lady's assistance for them in all our prayers, particularly by saying the Rosary for them.
And I shall abide in the inheritance of the Lord (Sir 24: Il --- Vulgate). Devotion to the Blessed Virgin dwells in all who are the Lord's inheritance --- in all who will praise Him eternally in Heaven.
WHAT a beautiful token of predestination it is to be a servant of Mary! The Holy Church, for the consolation of her clients, puts into her mouth the words of Ecclesiasticus, In all these I sought rest, and I shall abide in the inheritance of the Lord (Eccl. 29:2). Cardinal Hugo explains these words, and says, "blessed is he in whose house the Most Holy Virgin finds repose." Mary, out of the love she bears to all, endeavors to excite in all devotion towards herself; many either do not admit it into their souls, or do not preserve it.
How many Souls are in Heaven now who would never be there if Mary had not brought them by her powerful intercession! So we pray to her without rest, in the words of St. Ambrose: "O Mary, open the gates of Heaven to us --- you have its keys!"
Indeed, the Church calls her the very Gate of Heaven. And again she calls her Star of the Sea. For just as sailors are guided to port by a star, so Christians are guided to Heaven by Mary. 66
The Mother of God has already secured Heaven for us through her assistance and prayers; all that is needed is that we put no obstacle in the way.67
Therefore, those who serve Mary and enjoy her intercession are as sure of Heaven as if they were there already. 68
To serve Mary and belong to her court is the greatest honor we can have. For to serve the Queen of Heaven is the same as reigning there, and to live under her command is even better than reigning. 69
On the other hand, those who do not serve Mary will not be saved; for those who lack the assistance of this great Lady also lack the assistance of her Son and the whole court of heaven. 70
Even those who deserve Hell should never despair of reaching the kingdom of the blessed, provided they are faithful in serving this Queen .
Richard of St. Lawrence remarks that John, in his Revelation, saw Mary crowned with stars: And on her head a crown of twelve stars (12: 1). But in the Song of Songs she is said to be crowned with wild beasts, lions, and leopards: Come from Lebanon, my bride, come from Lebanon, come! You shall be crowned . . . from the haunts of lions, from the leopards' mountains (4:8).
How can this be? He answers that these beasts are sinners who, through Mary's favor and intercession, have become stars of Paradise, making a better crown for this Queen of Mercy than all the material stars of the sky.
One day during the novena before the Assumption, Sister Serafina of Capri, the virginal servant of God, asked our Blessed Lady for the conversion of a thousand sinners, but then wondered whether she had asked for too much.
The Blessed Virgin appeared to her and reproved her for her groundless anxiety. "What are you afraid on Do you think I am not powerful enough to obtain from my Son the conversion of a thousand sinners? Look --- I have already obtained such a favor."
With these words Mary took her in spirit to heaven and showed her innumerable sinners who had deserved Hell. They had been saved through her intercession and were already enjoying eternal happiness.
True enough, no one in this life can be absolutely certain of salvation. Love from hatred human beings cannot tell (Eccl. 9:1).
But St. Bonaventure says: "Sinners, let us follow Mary closely. Let us cast ourselves at her blessed feet. Let us hold her fast and never let her go till we have won her blessing ." And her blessing assures us of Paradise.
It is enough, O Lady, if you will it; our salvation is certain. 71
Any soul on whom Mary turns her eyes will necessarily be justified and saved. 72
But what ought to encourage us more than anything else to be confident of salvation is the beautiful promise our Lady herself has made to all who honor her .
This is especially true of all who, by word and example, strive to make her known and loved by others: Those who serve me will never fail; those who explain me shall have life everlasting. (Sir .24:30, 31 --- Vulgate).
"Oh, happy are they who obtain the favor of Mary!" St. Bonaventure exclaims. "The blessed will recognize them as their fellows in glory, and whoever bears her mark shall be entered in the book of life."
Why then should we trouble ourselves about the opinions of theologians on the question, Does predestination to glory precede the prevision of merits or follow it? If we are true servants of Mary and obtain her protection, we will most certainly be enrolled in the Book of Life.
The Lord knows those who are His (2 Tm. 2:19). Whoever bears the mark of devotion to Mary , God recognizes as His own. So St. Bernard says that devotion to Mary is a most certain mark of salvation.
Blessed Alan says this: "Whoever honors our Blessed Lady with the frequent recitation of the Hail Mary has a very sure sign of salvation." And again, regarding the recitation of the rosary, he says: "Those who say it daily have a very great assurance of salvation."
O Queen of Heaven, Mother of holy love! since thou art the of creatures, the most beloved of God, and His greatest lover, be pleased to allow the most miserable sinner living in this world, who, having by thy means been delivered from Hell, and without any merit on his part been so benefited by by thee and who is filled with love for thee, to love thee. I would were it in my power, to let all men who know thee not how worthy thou art of love, that all might love and honor thee.
I would desire to die for the love of thee, in defense of thy virginity, of thy dignity of Mother of God, of thy Immaculate Conception, should this be necessary, to uphold these thy great privileges. Ah! my most beloved Mother accept this my ardent desire, and never allow a servant of thine, to become the enemy of thy God, whom thou lovest so much.
Alas! poor me, I was so for a time, when I offended my Lord. But then, O Mary, I loved thee but little, and strove but little to be beloved by thee. But now there is nothing that I so much desire, after the grace of God, as to love and be loved by thee. I am not discouraged on account of my past sins, for I know that thou, O most benign and gracious Lady, dost not disdain to love even the most wretched sinners, nay more, that thou never allowest thyself to be surpassed by any in love.
Ah! Queen most worthy of love, I desire to love thee in Heaven. There, at thy feet, I shall better know how worthy thou art of love, how much thou hast done to save me; and thus I shall love thee with greater love, and without fear of ever ceasing to love thee.
Mary, I hope most certainly to be
by thy means. Nothing else is needed; thou hast to save me; thou art my
hope. I will therefore always sing O Mary, my hope, thou hast to save
Backgound waterfall is an adaptation of a photograph in the public
domain. You are free to use it for non-commercial purposes.