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The Immaculate Heart of Mary 
is the Refuge of Sinners

by Saint Alphonsus de Liguori

This passage from The Glories of Mary helps us better understand why God who desires our eternal salvation so much is anxious, so to speak, to establish in the world Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. We are told, through the message of FATIMA, this will come about through the Collegial Consecration of Russia.


“My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge.” 

- Our Lady of Fatima

Mary Is So Tender an Advocate That She Does Not Refuse 
To Defend The Cause Even Of The Most Miserable.

So many are the reasons that we have for loving this our most loving Queen, that if Mary was praised throughout the world; if in every sermon Mary alone was spoken of; if all men gave their lives for Mary; still all would be little in comparison with the homage and gratitude that we owe Her in return for the tender love She bears to men, and even to the most miserable sinners who preserve the slightest spark of devotion for Her.

Blessed Raymond Jordano, who, out of humility, called himself the Idiot, used to say, “that Mary knows not how to do otherwise than love those who love Her; and that even She does not disdain to serve those who serve Her; and in favor of such a one, should he be a sinner, She uses all Her power in order to obtain his forgiveness from Her Blessed Son.” And he adds, “that Her benignity and mercy are so great that no one, however enormous his sins may be, should fear to cast himself at Her feet: for She never can reject any one who has recourse to Her. Mary, as our most loving advocate, Herself offers the prayers of Her servants to God, and especially those who are placed in Her hands; for as the Son intercedes for us with the Father, so does She intercede with the Son, and does not cease to make interest with both for the great affair of our salvation, and to obtain for us the graces we ask.”

With good reason, then, does Denis the Carthusian call the Blessed Virgin “the singular refuge of the lost, the hope of the most abandoned, and the advocate of all sinners who have recourse to Her.”

But should there by chance be a sinner who, though not doubting Her power, might doubt the compassion of Mary, fearing perhaps that She might be unwilling to help him on account of the greatness of his sins, let him take courage from the words of St. Bonaventure. “The great, the special privilege of Mary is, that She is all-powerful with Her Son. But,” adds the saint, “to what purpose would Mary have so great power if She cared not for us? No,” he concludes, “let us not doubt, but be certain, and let us always thank Our Lord and His divine Mother for it, that in proportion as Her power with God exceeds that of all the saints, so is She in the same proportion our most loving advocate, and the one who is the most solicitous for our welfare.”

“And who, O Mother of mercy,” exclaims St. Germanus, in the joy of his heart, “who, after Thy Jesus, is as tenderly solicitous for our welfare as Thou art? Who defends us in the temptations with which we are afflicted as You defend us? Who, like Thee, undertakes to protect sinners, fighting, as it were, in their behalf? Therefore,” he adds, “Thy patronage, O Mary, is more powerful and loving than anything of which we can ever form an idea.”

“For,” says the Blessed Raymond Jordano, “whilst all the other saints can do more for their own clients than for others, the divine Mother, as Queen of all, is the advocate of all, and has a care for the salvation of all.”

Mary takes care of all, even of sinners; indeed She glories in being called in a special manner their advocate, as She Herself declared to the Venerable Sister Mary Villani, saying: “After the title of Mother of God, I rejoice most in that of Advocate of Sinners.”

Blessed Amadeus says, “that our Queen is constantly before the divine Majesty, interceding for us with Her most powerful prayers.” And as in Heaven “She well knows our miseries and wants, She cannot do otherwise than compassionate us; and thus, with the affection of a mother, moved to tenderness towards us, pitying and benign, She is always endeavoring to help and save us.” And therefore does Richard of St. Laurence encourage each one, however bad he may be, to have recourse with confidence to this sweet advocate, being assured that he will always find Her ready to help him; “for”, says the Abbot Godfrey, “Mary is always ready to pray for all.”

“Oh, with what efficacy and love,” says St. Bernard, “does this good advocate interest Herself in the affair of our salvation!” St. Bonaventure, considering the affection and zeal with which Mary intercedes for us with the divine Majesty, in order that Our Lord may pardon us our sins, help us with His grace, free us from dangers, and relieve us our wants, says, addressing the Blessed Virgin, in the words of an ancient writer: “We know that we have as it were but one solicitous in Heaven for us, and Thou art this One, so greatly does Thy solicitude for us exceed that of all the saints.” That is, “O Lady, it is true that all the saints desire our salvation, and pray for us; but the love, the tenderness that Thou showest us in Heaven, in obtaining for us by Thy prayers so many mercies from God, obliges us to acknowledge that in Heaven we have but one advocate, and that is Thyself; and that Thou alone art truly loving and solicitous for our welfare.”

Who can ever comprehend the solicitude with which Mary constantly stands before God in our behalf! “She is never weary of defending us,” says St. Germanus; and the remark is beautiful, meaning that so great is the compassion excited in Mary by our misery, and such is the love that She bears us, that She prays constantly, and relaxes not Her efforts in our behalf; that by Her prayers She may effectually defend us from evil, and obtain for us sufficient graces. “She has never done enough.”

Truly unfortunate should we poor sinners be, had we not this great advocate, who is so powerful and compassionate, and at the same time “so prudent and wise, that the Judge, Her Son,” says Richard of St. Laurence, “cannot condemn the guilty who are defended by Her.” And therefore St. John Geometra salutes Her, saying, “Hail, O court, for putting an end to litigation.” For all causes defended by this most wise advocate are gained.

For this reason is Mary called, by St. Bonaventure, “the wise Abigail”. This is the woman we read of in the second Book of Kings, who by her beautiful supplications knew so well how to appease King David when he was indignant against Nabal; and indeed so far as to induce him to bless Her, in gratitude for having prevented him, by Her sweet manners, from avenging himself on Nabal with his own hands. This is exactly what Mary constantly does in Heaven, in favor of innumerable sinners: by Her tender and unctuous prayers, She knows so well how, to appease the divine justice, that God Himself blesses Her for it, and, as it were, thanks Her for having withheld Him from abandoning and chastising them as they deserved.

“On this account it was,” says St. Bernard, “that the Eternal Father, wishing to show all the mercy possible, besides giving us Jesus Christ, our principal advocate with Him, was pleased also to give us Mary, as our advocate with Jesus Christ. There is no doubt,” the saint adds, “that Jesus Christ is the only mediator of justice between men and God; that, by virtue of His own merits and promises, He will and can obtain us pardon and the divine favors; but because men acknowledge and fear the divine Majesty, which is in Him as God, for this reason it was necessary to assign us another advocate, to whom we might have recourse with less fear and more confidence, and this advocate is Mary, than whom we cannot find one more powerful with His Divine Majesty, or one more merciful towards ourselves.” The saint says, “Christ is a faithful and powerful Mediator between God and men, but in Him men fear the majesty of God. A mediator, then, was needed with the mediator Himself; nor could a more fitting one be found than Mary.

“But,” continues the same saint, “should anyone fear to go to the feet of this most sweet advocate, who has nothing in Her of severity, nothing terrible, but who is all courteous, amiable, and benign, he would indeed be offering an insult to the tender compassion of Mary.” And he adds, “Read, and read again, as often as you please, all that is said of Her in the Gospels, and if you can find the least trait of severity recorded of Her, then fear to approach Her. But no, this you can never find; and therefore go to Her with a joyful heart, and She will save you by Her intercession.”

How beautiful is the exclamation put in the mouth of a sinner who has recourse to Mary, by William of Paris! “O most glorious Mother of God, I, in the miserable state to which I am reduced by my sins, have recourse to Thee, full of confidence, and if Thou rejectest me, I remind Thee that Thou art in a way bound to help me, since the whole Church of the faithful calls Thee and proclaims Thee the Mother of mercy. Thou, O Mary, art that one who, from being so dear to God, art always listened to favorably. Thy great compassion was never wanting to any one; Thy most sweet affability never despised any sinner that recommended himself to Thee, however great his sins.” And what! Perhaps falsely, and for nothing, the whole Church calls Thee its advocate, and the refuge of sinners. “Never, O my Mother, let my sins prevent Thee from fulfilling the great office of charity which is Thine, and by which Thou art, at the same time, our advocate and a mediatrix of peace between men and God, and who art, after Thy Son, our only hope, and the secure refuge of the miserable. All that Thou possessest of grace and glory, and the dignity even of Mother of God, so to speak, Thou owest to sinners, for it was on their account that the divine Word made Thee His Mother. Far be it from this divine Mother, who brought the source itself of tender compassion into the world, to think that She should ever deny Her mercy to any sinner who has recourse to Her. Since, then, O Mary, Thy office is to be the peace-maker between God and men, let Thy tender compassion, which far exceeds all my sins, move Thee to succor me.”

“Be comforted then, O you who fear,” will I say with St. Thomas of Villanova: “breathe freely and take courage, O wretched sinners; this great Virgin, who is the Mother of your God and judge, is also the advocate of the whole human race; fit for this office, for She can do what She wills with God; most wise, for She knows all the means of appeasing Him; universal, for She welcomes all, and refuses to defend no one.”

Example

In one of our missions, after the sermon on the Blessed Virgin Mary, which it is always customary in our Congregation to preach, a very old man came to make his confession to one of the Fathers. Filled with consolation he said, “Father, our Blessed Lady has granted me a grace.” “What grace has She granted you?” the confessor asked. “You must know, Father,” he replied, “that for five-and-thirty years I have made sacrilegious confessions, for there is a sin which I was ashamed to confess; and yet I have passed through many dangers, have many times been at the point of death, and had I then died, I should certainly have been lost; but now our Blessed Lady has touched my heart with grace to tell it.” This he said weeping, and shedding so many tears, that he quite excited compassion. The Father, after hearing his confession, asked him what devotion he had practiced. He replied that on Saturdays he had never failed to abstain from milk-diet in honor of Mary, and that on this account the Blessed Virgin had shown him mercy. At the same time he gave the Father leave to publish the fact.

Prayer

O great Mother of my Lord, I see full well that my ingratitude towards God and Thee, and this too for so many years, has merited for me that Thou shouldst justly abandon me, and no longer have a care of me, for an ungrateful soul is no longer worthy of favors. But I, O Lady, have a high idea of Thy great goodness; I believe it to be far greater than my ingratitude. Continue, then, O refuge of sinners, and cease not to help a miserable sinner who confides in Thee. O Mother of mercy, deign to extend a helping hand to a poor fallen wretch who asks Thee for pity. O Mary, either defend me Thyself, or tell me to whom I can have recourse, and who is better able to defend me than Thou, and where I can find with God a more clement and powerful advocate than Thou, who art His Mother. Thou, in becoming the Mother of our Savior, wast thereby made the fitting instrument to save sinners, and wast given me for my salvation. O Mary, save him who has recourse to Thee. I deserve not Thy love, but it is Thine own desire to save sinners, that makes me hope that Thou lovest me. And if Thou lovest me, how can I be lost? O my own beloved Mother, if by Thee I save my soul, as I hope to do, I shall no longer be ungrateful. I shall make up for my past ingratitude, and for the love which Thou hast shown me, by my everlasting praises, and all the affections of my soul. Happy in Heaven, where Thou reignest, and wilt reign forever, I shall always sing Thy mercies, and kiss for eternity those loving hands which have delivered me from hell, as often as I have deserved it by my sins. O Mary, my liberator, my hope, my Queen, my advocate, my own sweet Mother, I love Thee; I desire Thy glory, and I love Thee forever. Amen, amen. Thus do I hope.