Mary's Intercession Is Necessary For Our Salvation
by Saint Alphonsus Liguori
Here is the concluding part of Saint Alphonsus Liguori’s enlightening and heart-warming article regarding the necessity of Mary’s intercession for our salvation. This article is taken from the book “The Glories of Mary”. That Mary is Mediatrix of all Graces has been confirmed in our own times.*
*For the teaching of the various Popes (including that of Vatican II) regarding Mary as Mediatrix of All Graces, see The Fatima Crusader, Issue 9-10, commentary within “Mary’s Intercession Is Necessary For Our Salvation”.
St. Bernard says, “that as a man and a woman cooperated in our ruin, so it was proper that another man and another woman should cooperate in our redemption, and these two were Jesus and His Mother Mary. There is no doubt,” says the Saint, “that Jesus Christ alone was more than sufficient to redeem us.” But it was indeed fitting that both sexes should work together in repairing the evil which both sexes had caused. Hence Saint Albert the Great calls Mary the “Helper of Redemption”. The Blessed Virgin Herself revealed to Saint Bridget, that “as Adam and Eve sold the world for an apple, so did She with Her Son redeem it, as it were, with one Heart.” This is confirmed by Saint Anselm, who says, “that although God could create the world out of nothing, yet, when it was lost by sin, He would not repair the evil without the cooperation of Mary.”
Suarez says, “that Mary cooperated in our salvation in three ways; first, by having merited by a merit of congruity or fitness the Incarnation of the Word; secondly, by having continually prayed for us whilst She was living in this world; thirdly, by having voluntarily offered Her Son’s life to God for our salvation.” For this reason Our Lord has justly decreed, that as Mary cooperated in salvation of man with so much love, and at the same time gave such glory to God, so all men are to obtain their salvation through Mary’s intercession.
Mary is called “the cooperator in our justification,” for to Her God has entrusted all graces intended for us; and therefore St. Bernard affirms, “that all men, past, present, and to come, should look upon Mary as the means and negotiator of the salvation of all ages.”
Jesus Christ says, that no one can find Him unless the Eternal Father first draws him by the means of divine grace: “No one comes to Me unless My Father draws him.” (John 6:44.) Thus also does Jesus address His Mother, says Richard St. Laurence: “No one comes to Me unless My Mother first of all draws him by Her prayers.” Jesus was the fruit of Mary, as St. Elizabeth told Her: “Blessed art Thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of Thy womb.” (Luke 1:42). Whoever, therefore, desires the fruit must go to the tree; whoever desires Jesus must go to Mary; and whoever finds Mary will most certainly find Jesus.
When Saint Elizabeth saw that the Most Blessed Virgin had come to visit her in her own house, not knowing how to thank Her, and filled with humility, she exclaimed: “And how have I deserved that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?” But how could this be? we may ask. Did not Saint Elizabeth already know that not only Mary, but also Jesus, had entered her house? Why then does she say that she is unworthy to receive the Mother, and not rather, that she is unworthy to receive the Son, who had come to visit her? It was because St. Elizabeth knew very well that when Mary comes, She invariably brings Jesus. And therefore it was sufficient to thank the Mother without naming the Son.
“She is like the merchant’s ship, she bringeth her bread from afar.” (Prov. 31:14). Mary was this fortunate ship that brought us Jesus Christ from Heaven, who is the living bread that comes down from Heaven to give us eternal life, as He Himself says: “I am the living bread, which came down from Heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever.” (John 6:51). And hence Richard of St. Laurence says, “that in the sea of this world all will be lost who are not received into this ship; that is to say, all who are not protected by Mary”; and therefore he adds, “As often as we see ourselves in danger of perishing in the midst of the temptations and contending passions of this life, let us have recourse to Mary, and cry out quickly: ‘O Lady, help us! Save us if You do not want us to perish!’”
Take notice, that this author does not hesitate to address these words to Mary. He does not mention the objection of that certain author previously mentioned who forbids us to ask Mary to save us. That author forbids this because, as he says, it is proper to God alone to save us. Now suppose a man is condemned to death. Can he not beg for his life through a royal favorite to save him by interceding with the king that his life may be spared? Why cannot we ask the Mother of God to put in a good word for us and obtain for us the favor of eternal life from God? St. John Damascene did not scruple to say to Mary: “Pure and Immaculate Virgin, save me, and deliver me from eternal damnation.” St. Bonaventure called Mary “the salvation of those who invoked Her.” Holy Church approves of the invocation by also calling Her the “salvation of the weak.” And shall we scruple to ask Her to save us, when “the way of salvation is open to none otherwise than through Mary?” as a certain author remarks. And before him St. Germanus had said the same thing, speaking of Mary: “No one is saved but through You.”
But let us see now what else the saints say about the necessity of Mary’s intercession, the glorious St. Cajetan used to say, that we may seek for graces but shall never find them without the intercession of Mary. This is confirmed by St. Antoninus, who thus beautifully expresses himself:
“Whoever asks and expects to obtain graces without the intercession of Mary, endeavors to fly without wings”; for, as Pharaoh said to Joseph, “the land of Egypt is in thy hands,” then sent to him everyone that came for help, saying, “Go to Joseph,” so does God send us to Mary when we seek for grace: “Go to Mary”; for “He has decreed,” says St. Bernard, “that He will grant no graces otherwise than by the hands of Mary.” “And thus,” says Richard of St. Laurence, “our salvation is in the hands of Mary; so that we Christians may with much greater reason say of Her than the Egyptians of Joseph, ‘Our salvation is in Thy hands.’” The Venerable Raymond Jordano repeats the same thing: “Our salvation is in Her hands.” Cassian speaks in still stronger terms. He says absolutely, “that the salvation of all depends on their being favored and protected by Mary.” He who is protected by Mary will be saved; he who is not will be lost. St. Bernardine of Sienna thus addresses this Blessed Virgin: “O Lady, since Thou art the dispenser of all graces, and since the grace of salvation can only come through Thy hands, our salvation depends on Thee.”
Therefore, Richard of St. Laurence had good reason for saying, that “as we should fall into the abyss, if the ground were withdrawn from under our feet, so does a soul deprived of the help of Mary fall first into sin, and then into hell.” St. Bonaventure says, that “God will not save us without the intercession of Mary.” And that “as a child cannot live without a nurse to suckle it, so no one can be saved without the protection of Mary.” Therefore, he exhorts us “to thirst after devotion to Her, to preserve it with care, and never to abandon it until we have received Her maternal blessing in Heaven.” “And who would ever know God,” exclaims St. Germanus, “if it were not for Thee, O Most Holy Mary. Who would be saved?” Who would be free from sin? Who would be preserved from dangers? Who would receive any grace at all, if it were not for Thee, O Mother of God, who are so full of grace?
The following are the beautiful words in which he expresses himself “There is no one, O Most Holy Mary, who can know God but through Thee; no one who can be saved or redeemed but through Thee, O Mother of God; no one who can be delivered from dangers but through Thee, O Virgin Mother; no one who obtains mercy but through Thee, O filled with all grace.” And in another place, addressing Her, he says, “No one would be free from the effects of the concupiscence of the flesh and from sin, unless Thou didst open the way to him.”
St. Bernard tells us that, as we have no access to the Eternal Father but through Jesus, so also we have no access to Jesus but through Mary. “By Thee we have access to the Son, O blessed finder of grace, bearer of life, and Mother of Salvation, that we may receive Him by Thee, Who through Thee was given to us.” This is the reason given by the Saint why Our Lord has determined that all shall be saved by the intercession of Mary, and therefore he calls Her the Mother of Grace and of our salvation.