Why You Need To Love Our Lady
by Father Stefano M. Manelli, F.F.I., S.T.D.
Published in Christ to the World with the approbation
of the Vicariate of Rome.
This article aims at casting light on the beauty and high value of devotion to the Madonna, enkindling affection in readers' hearts for our dear Mother, and arousing fervor to become more like this holiest of creatures. Father Stefano endeavors to achieve this by telling what our models, the Saints, have taught by word and example.
The Madonna merits devotion as our Queen
St. Therese of the Child Jesus called the Madonna "Queen Of My Heart." We, too, should have devotion to the Madonna because She is our Queen and because it is a duty of subjects to love, honor, and praise their Queen.
The Madonna has a share in the royalty of God, the royalty of Jesus. She became Mother of the supreme King. One rightly calls Her Jesus' Queen-Mother, and in Heaven She now takes Her place in glory at Her Son's right hand: "The queen stood on Thy right hand in gilded clothing" (Psalm 44:10).
Her status as God's Mother and Her Immaculate Conception truly make the Madonna Queen of the universe and Empress of paradise. She is the only creature who can say to God, "Thou art My Son" (Psalm 2:7). She can say to all heaven and earth, "The Lord possessed Me [envisioned Me, planned Me] in the beginning of His ways, before He made anything from the beginning. I was set up[conceived in His designs] from eternity, and of old before the earth was made. The depths were not as yet, and I was already conceived: neither had the fountains of waters as yet sprung out. The mountains with their huge bulk had not as yet been established: before the hills I was brought forth [forechosen]." (Proverbs 8:22-25) St. Bernardine of Siena explains: Mary was "preordained in God's mind before all creation" in order that She "might beget God as man" (Serm. 15, c. 4). Thus the world was created for the Immaculate Queen as foreseen in God's mind; and She, in the fullness of time, was created for God.
The Woman clothed with the sun
If we gave deep thought to Mary's sublime Queenship, what should we say about the private revelations made to Saints concerning the veneration paid Her during Her earthly life by hosts of angels who were ever at Her side to respectfully and lovingly minister to Her? We would say that they give us a glimpse at only a small fraction of the veneration and love which the holy angels must have really shown their Queen. St. Bridget, Catherine Emmerich, and Venerable Mary of Agreda have described something of what they learned in ecstasies and certain remarkable visions they had. The holy Fathers and Doctors of the Church have tried to explain in lofty figures the splendors of Mary's queenship. "But She has been so exalted by God," says St. Maximilian M. Kolbe, "that all the tributes that the most loving souls will pay Her till the end of the world will not measure up to the glory of which She is worthy."
Lovely as the sun, fairer than the moon
Once Padre Pio of Pietrelcina was on the veranda of his friary with some other friars and he heard some people singing a hymn to the Madonna with the refrain, "Bella tu sei qual sole, bianca più–della luna..." ("Thou art lovely as the sun, fairer than the moon"). At these words Padre Pio said abruptly, "If the Madonna were merely as those words say, I would refuse to go to paradise." This was one of his cryptical remarks not to be taken too literally.
"Is the Madonna," asked a friar, "that much more beautiful?" Padre Pio muttered, "Ah! God forbid it be otherwise!"
Pope Pius XII, who solemnly proclaimed the feast of Mary's Queenship, left us some unforgettable words about it, especially when he urged us: "Have an earnest veneration for the Immaculate. [Always reserving first place for God] never be afraid you might exalt Her too much who will shine throughout eternity as God's masterpiece. His most wonderful creature, the brightest mirror of the divine perfections."
But God Himself gives us the most glorious portrayal of Mary as Queen in the pages of Sacred Scripture, where the black gloom produced by Satan through our first parents' fall into original sin, is brightened by the prophecy of the "Woman" who, with Her Son, would one day triumph over the infernal serpent and crush his head. This woman is the Queen triumphant over sin, the Queen of love and of glory whom the Prophet was to see going forth "fair as the moon, bright as the sun, fearsome as an army set in battle array"(Canticles 6:8), and whom St. John the Evangelist was to see appearing in the heavens at the end of time "clothed with the sun, and the moon under Her feet, and on Her head a crown of twelve stars" (Apocalypse 12:1).
Her glory is our joy
Her Queenship is a measureless glory for the Madonna. It is a glory won by humility - a humility that was measureless. "God exalteth the humble" (Luke 1:52). St. Bonaventure asserts that God so exalted the Madonna for Her humility, that now the creatures in heaven, on earth, and in hell must kneel at Her royal name, as they do at the name of Jesus. St. Augustine said the same, as well as St. Bernard, St. Louis de Montfort, and note worthily St. Alphonsus de Liguori.
Mary's Queenship is also our joy. What a beautiful thing to have our Mother so highly glorified in heaven, to have our Mother reigning as Queen in paradise! How could a son fail to rejoice at the glory of his Mother? What son would not want to see his Mother honored?
St. Therese of the Child Jesus wrote a final note before her death which included this delightful all-Marian thought: "O Mary, if I were Queen of Heaven and you were Therese, I would want to be Therese so that you might be Queen of Heaven!"
What a pitiful sight all those people present who do not love the Madonna as their Queen and who practically overexert themselves in their endeavor to drop Her royal rank by considering Her just an ordinary woman!
What kind of children are these? They show their affection to be just the opposite of what it should be. Instead of bringing honor to their Mother, they try to downgrade Her, as though it were something shameful to honor Her.
Padre Pio of Pietrelcina once learned from some demons that when, in an attempt to trick souls, they disguise themselves to look like the Blessed Virgin Mary, they pay for it more dearly than if they make themselves look like Jesus. Oh, how much God values the honor of His Mother! True children take more attentive care of their mother than of themselves. When St. Alphonsus Liguori wrote his wonderful book The Glories of Mary, he chose to dedicate it to Jesus. Why? Because "I know of no one to whom I can better entrust the care of this work than Thee, my Jesus, Who has such great zeal for Thy Mother's glory. Therefore I dedicate it and recommend it to Thee."
And we must never forget the consoling truth revealed by the Holy Spirit: "He that honoreth his mother is as one that layeth up a treasure" (Ecclesiasticus 3:5). If this applies to one who honors his earthly mother, how much more will it hold true for one who honors our heavenly Mother?
Moreover, motherhood and queenship cannot be separated in the Madonna. She is Queen because She is Mother of God, and She could not be Mother of God without being Queen.
It means a great deal to us, also, that this heavenly Queen is a Mother whose sweetness and kindness goes beyond that of any earthly mother. When a Mother full of tenderness for her children is also a queen, she commands our veneration more than if she were merely a Mother. Queenship adds a glory to motherhood, as motherhood makes the Queen more loving.
In the sacred Liturgy the Church sings to Mary, "Ave Regina coelorum!" — "Hail Queen of Heaven!" We should make these sentiments of the Church our own, earnestly desiring in our hearts that, as "glory and honor" is paid to Christ our King (Hebrews 2:9), it be rendered also to our Mother and Queen.
Journeying with Her toward paradise
We need to understand that Mary's queenship demands our devotion as Her children and Her subjects, and that this is in the interests of our salvation. St. Thomas Aquinas clearly taught that "the Mother of God received the dignity of royalty so that She might be Queen of mercy while Her Son is King of Justice." And which of us is not in need of mercy?
Only one who stands under the Queen's mantle of protection will be partaker of Her victory over the infernal serpent ("She will crush thy head" - Genesis 3:15). To try to demote Mary from Her throne of love, therefore, is in gratitude and folly. Rather, with St. Maximilian M. Kolbe, one should agree that "The Immaculate Mother ought to reign as Queen over all nations, and this as soon as possible, not only over all taken together, but over each person individually. Whoever will go contrary to this and will not believe in Her love, will perish. But he who will acknowledge Her as Queen and will strive, as Her soldier, for the conquest of the world for Her - he will live, he will thrive, and will always wonderfully prosper."
We have good reasons to be certain that this is so. The Queen of Victory is not the least afraid of hell. St. Veronica Juliana was often attacked by the devil, even physically; but if she invoked the Madonna, the devil, taking flight, would howl, "Do not invoke my enemy!" When St. Bernadette had a vision of devils at Lourdes, she was terrified at seeing a band of devils who were giving hellish howls near her, a single severe glance at them from the Immaculate Queen was enough to make them flee.
One day the pastor and Servant of God, Don Edward Poppe, was called to minister to a very sick man in his parish. Someone warned him in advance that he was dealing with an unbeliever full of bitter hate.
"Never mind," the priest said; "We will send him off to paradise."
As he entered the sick man's room, he saw a little statue of the Immaculate Mother. At once he lit a candle before it and began aloud to beg the Madonna to deliver that soul from the devil's clutches.
He left without saying anything. But he returned the next day. As soon as he arrived he heard the sick man ask, "Father, do you want a match?"
The pastor shocked and deeply moved, accepted the match, lit the candle, and began to pray.
After a short time the unbeliever called him to come close to him. Then he said, "Father, I would now like to go to confession. The Madonna and you are stronger than the devil."
The Madonna is beyond doubt an all-powerful Queen, "fearsome as an army in battle array" (Canticles 6:3). St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe wrote that today "the serpent lifts up his head throughout the world, but the Immaculate is crushing his head with Her overwhelming victories." We also have the consoling promise given by the Madonna at Fatima: "In the end My Immaculate Heart will triumph."
Yes, O Mary, Mother of God, Sovereign Virgin, God's most glorious creature, we want to follow You as our Queen of love, who art all-powerful and all-heavenly, all-affectionate and all-radiant.
The Madonna merits devotion as Mediatrix
Mary's first journey anywhere recorded in the Gospel is Her visit to Her cousin St. Elizabeth (Luke 1:39-56).
After the Incarnation of the Word within Her virginal body, the Madonna then fulfilled a principal role of Hers, which was that of mediation. She went to visit St. Elizabeth to bring Jesus into that home to instill sanctifying grace into the soul of John the Baptist, as yet being carried within his mother.
The Madonna brings Jesus to us and takes us to Jesus. That is why we call Her Mediatrix between ourselves and Jesus, between souls and divine grace. Her role as Mediatrix is like that of the mother of a family who, by her service and sacrifice, merits and receives all the earnings of the father of the family in order to use them as she thinks best according to the needs of the home.
St. Maximilian M. Kolbe took this truth much to heart and even looked forward to a dogmatic definition. He wrote, taught, prayed, and had others pray, that the time would soon come when the Church would solemnly proclaim as a dogma of our faith, Mary's role as Mediatrix and Co-Redemptrix. And Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, praying his hundred Rosaries a day, beautifully witnessed that all the graces which he was winning which were drawing souls to God from every part of the world, enlightening them, converting them, saving them, sanctifying them - that he was obtaining all this from our Mediatrix with God by means of the Rosary.
She brings us Jesus
If "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23), the wages earned by the Redemption are life, that is, Jesus and His grace, the supernatural life of the soul: "I am ... the life" (John 11:25).
It is the Madonna who brings us Jesus and wins for us His grace, just as it was She who carried Jesus into St. Elizabeth's home and brought sanctifying grace to the soul of the infant John the Baptist, who "leaped for joy" within his mother (Luke 1:44).
By Her response, "Be it done to Me according to Thy word," to the angel's announcement about Her own motherhood, the Madonna accepted the role of bringing God and mankind together again. Her Immaculate body was the place where God and mankind met and were reconciled.
Her role, Her mission as Mediatrix with Heaven, was willed by God, according to St. Bernard's celebrated teaching, "God willed that we would get our every grace through Mary." St. Bonaventure, St. Anthony, St. Louis Grignon de Montfort and St. Alphonsus taught the same. Popes, Doctors and Saints have upheld this truth, guaranteeing it to be a heritage of our holy faith.
St. Leonard of Port Maurice, who used to do much fervent preaching, said that, in trying to open up in hearts the way to Jesus, "the stroke which the frightening sermon on hell and divine judgment does not make, the sermon on my beloved Mother Mary does." The great missionary St. Francis Xavier bore witness that the pagans were not accepting the Gospel except when the Madonna was present standing near Jesus on the Cross. Also, the first Gentiles to follow Christ, the royal Magi, who came from the East in search of Jesus - where did they find Him? In the arms of His Mother! "They found the Child with Mary His Mother" (Matthew 2:11).
(continued in next issue)