Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Glories of Mary by St. Alphonsus Liguori: Chapter 1, Part 2, excerpts

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 so bitter sorrow and suffering.  So that St. Augustine declares that "as she then co-operated 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"


St. John himself, in stating this fact in his Gospel, says, "Then he said to the disciple,Behold thy Mother."  Here observe well that Jesus Christ did not address himself to 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.


In the history of the foundation of the Society of Jesus in the kingdom of Naples (Schinosi, l. 5, ch. 7), we read the following account of a young Scotch nobleman, named William Elphinstone.  He was related to King James, and lived for some time in the heresy in which he was born.  Enlightened by divine grace, he began to perceive his errors.  Having gone to France, with the help of a good Jesuit Father, who was also a Scotchman, and still more by the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, he at last discovered the truth, abjured his heresy, and became a Catholic.

From France he went to Rome, and there a friend, finding him one day weeping and in great affliction, inquired the cause of his grief.  He answered that during the night his mother, who was lost, appeared to him, and said: "It is well for thee, son, that thou has entered the true Church; for as I died in heresy, I am lost."

From that moment he redoubled his devotions towards Mary, choosing her for his only Mother, and by her he was inspired with the thought of embracing the religious state, and he bound himself to do so by vow.  Being in delicate health, he went to Naples for a change of air, and there it was the will of God that he should die, and die as a religious; for shortly after his arrival, finding himself at the last extremity, by his prayers and tears he moved the Superiors to accept him, and in presence of the Most Blessed Sacrament, when he received it as viaticum, he pronounced his vows, and was declared a member of the Society of Jesus.

After this it was most touching to hear with what tenderness he thanked his Mother Mary for having snatched him from heresy, and led him to die in the true Church, and in the house of God, surrounded by his religious brethren.  This made him exclaim: "Oh, how glorious is it to die in the midst of so many angels!"  When exhorted to repose a little, "Ah," he replied, "this is no time for repose, now that I am at the close of my life."

Before expiring, he said to those who surrounded him: "Brothers, do you not see the angels of heaven here present who assist me?"  One of the religious having heard him mutter some words, asked him what he said.  He answered, that his guardian angel had revealed to him that he would remain but a very short time in purgatory, and that he would soon go to heaven.  He then entered into a colloquy with his sweet Mother Mary, and like a child that abandons itself to rest in the arms of its mother, he exclaimed, "Mother, mother!" and sweetly expired.  Shortly afterwards a devout religious learnt by revelation that he was already in heaven.

O most holy Mother Mary, how is it possible that I, having so holy a mother, should be so wicked?  a mother all burning with the love of God, and I loving creatures; a mother so rich in virtue, and I so poor?  Ah, amiable Mother, it is true that I do not deserve any longer to be thy son, for by my wicked life I have rendered myself unworthy of so great an honor.  I am satisfied that thou shouldst accept me for thy servant; and in order to be admitted amongst the vilest of them, I am ready to renounce all the kingdoms of the world.  Yes, I am satisfied.

But still thou must not forbid me to call thee mother.  This name consoles and fills me with tenderness, and reminds me of my obligation to love thee.  This name excites me to great confidence in thee.  When my sins and the divine justice fill me most with consternation, I am all consoled at the thought that thou art my mother.  Allow me then, to call thee mother, my most amiable mother.  Thus do I call thee, and thus will I always call thee.  Thou, after God, must be my hope, my refuge, my love in this valley of tears.  Thus do I hope to die, breathing forth my soul into thy holy hands, and saying, My Mother my Mother Mary, help me, have pity on me! Amen.

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