"The Love of Mary," Brownson's Quarterly Review for April, 1853

The little book the title of which we have placed at the head of this article is so full of the spirit of love and devotion to our Lady, and of true and genuine piety, that we regret not to have met with it until quite recently, and we are so charmed with it that we cannot forbear to commend it to the attention of such of our readers as may be unacquainted with it.

The style of the work is not brilliant, but it is simple, sweet, and full of unction.  It was written in the solitude of the Camalodese Hermitage of Monte Corona, of which the author had been for forty years a holy and edifying member.  He writes the work, he tells us in his Preface, in order to excite in himself, no less than in his readers, the love of Mary.

The reasons he gives why we should love and honor the blessed Mother of God, are her many perfections and graces, natural and supernatural, which render her most amiable to all men, the great love which she bears us, and the incalculable advantages we derive from loving her, both in life and in death, in time and in eternity.

It is impossible for the human heart not to love; it must feel some affection; but its love is often thrown away and lost on an unworthy object.  Nothing is more common than to see men led astray by their affections.  What misery is theirs who set their hearts on wealth, and live and labor only to acquire it!  Honor is but a name without a substance; whoever gained it and found it not to perish within his grasp?  Yet such is the folly of men, that they flutter around its vain splendor till at last, after a perpetual struggle to attain it, they are consumed by that which they hoped would raise them above others, and make them as gods.  “They became,” as says the prophet, “abominable as those things which they loved.” (Osee 9. 10)

But however low the love of abominable or unworthy objects my sink us, the love of a worthy, a noble object equally elevates us above our present condition; and the more worthy, exalted, and holy the object of our affections, the more worthy, exalted, and noble do we become.  It is, then, a matter of the greatest moment, that we select wisely, the object on which we bestow our love.  The author’s aim and purpose are to point out a truly worthy object for our love, and to incite us to give it our hearts.  Such an object is Mary, most worthy of the love of all men. 

But let it not be said, that, in consecrating our whole heart to Mary, we defraud God of the pure and entire love which he requires for himself alone, which he commands us to give him, and which he will not permit to be given to a creature.

“God is indeed,” says the author, “jealous of his love, but he is not jealous of the love we bear to Mary, nor can this love be prejudicial to that sanctity and perfection which he desires of us. I may even say, the more we love Mary, the more we shall love God, and the more shall we please him; and we shall advance in sanctity and perfection in proportion as the love of Mary increases within us.  There is no shorter, easier, or more secure way of attaining to the perfect love of God, than that of loving Mary.

“The love of God consists in a perfect conformity to his divine will.  ‘If you love me,’ he says to his Apostles, ‘keep my commandments.’ (St. John 14: 15)  Now the precise will of God is, that we serve, honor, and tenderly love Mary.  She is, after the most holy Humanity of Christ, the most perfect of his works; and what workman is there that is not pleased, that does not desire, to have his works admired, praised, and held dear, especially the most excellent of them all, that on which he most prides himself, since the praise and glory of the work redound to the praise and glory of the workman, and are wholly converted into them?  Must it not, then, be most pleasing to God, must he not desire, that we love and esteem that work which he has made to show forth his omnipotence, his infinite wisdom, and love, and in which his labor and workmanship are so resplendent and bright, that the saints have termed it ‘a miracle of the Divine Power,’ – miraculum Divinae Omnipotentae?

“God commands us to obey our prelates, to be subject to them (Heb. 13: 17), and ‘to obey our carnal masters, as Christ’ (Eph. 5:5).  If, then, he wills and commands us to love, honor, obey, and serve our superiors even of this world, what love, obedience, and veneration must he not desire us to show to her who is our Lady and Mistress, the Queen of the world, and who with truth may say: ‘By me kings reign and lawgivers decree just things; by me princes rule, and the mighty decree justice.’ (Prov. 8: 15-16)

“She is our Mother, even more really so than our natural mother.  Christ gave us to her as such, in the person of his beloved John, when dying on the cross.  As our Mother, she love us most tenderly; she protects and defends us, provides for us, and helps us in all our necessities, both spiritual and temporal.  Imagine, then, what love it must be the will of God that we should render such a Mother,- the will of that God who gave us an express command to honor and love our natural parents, even though they love not us,- ‘Honor thy father and thy mother.’ (Exod. 20: 12)

“In short, not to enlarge on the innumerable titles which she has to exact of us, If I may so speak, an infinite love,  she is the Mother, truly the Mother, the Daughter, and Spouse of God himself,- all titles which partake of the infinite, and consequently bear with them and demand an infinite esteem, veneration, and love.  It is the will of God that we love and honor his servants as so many gods;- Ego dixi, Dii estis, ‘I have said, ye are gods.’  And can it be his will that we should leave without honor, without service, and without love, his Mother, his daughter, his well-beloved Spouse,- that Mother, that Daughter, and that Spouse to whom he confesses himself indebted,- her from whom he received his humanity, to whom he gave ready obedience, and whom he served in this life,- whom he loved, loves, and will love eternally above all his works (‘The Lord loveth the gates of Zion above all the tabernacles of Jacob’),- whom he has honored and exalted above all the orders and hierarchies, and who is his only love, his only consolation, his only glory (‘One is my dove, my perfect one is but one’)?

“No, do not believe it, but rather be persuaded that it is the will of God that we should serve her, honor her, and love her with our whole soul, with our whole strength, and with all tenderness; and that the more we love her, the more we shall please him.

“But what are the intrinsic reasons why it is so pleasing to God that we should honor and love his most holy Mother?  There are two, which I trust will appear to you stronger than all others, and make you resolve to dedicate yourself entirely to the love of Mary.

“The first is the honor and glory of God.  The primary object of our love and devotion is God, regarded, as theologians say, terminative, as our last end; the secondary object is the saints and the Blessed, and above all the Most Holy Virgin, who are all regarded transeuntur, as things belonging and directed to God.  Devotio quae habetur ad sanctos, says St. Thomas, non terminator ad Ipsos, sed transit in Deum, in quantum scilicet in ministris Dei Deum ipsum veneramur.  ‘The devotion to the saints does not terminate in them, but passes to God, inasmuch as it is God whom we venerate in his servants.’  Now, if this be so, (and who does not see that the honor and glory, service and love, of God himself?) ‘all the honor bestowed on the Mother redounds to the Son,’ Omnis honor impensus Matri, redundant in Filium, and ‘the praise of the Mother belongs to the Son,’ as says St. Bernard, Non est dubium, quidquid in laudibus Matris proferimus, ad Filium pertinere, ‘for the honor given to his Mother tends to the praise and glory of the Savior,’  Ad laudem enim et gloriam pertinent Salvatoris, quidquid honorificum suae impensum fuerit Genetrici. (S. Bonaventura in Psalt. B.V., psalm Si vere utique) ‘Let us venerate and love the most glorious Virgin Mary,’ says Fr. Alexis of Sales, ‘since the honor and love we bear her redound wholly to the glory and honor of our Master and Savior Jesus Christ.’  And who knows not that all the service done to any saint for the love of God tends wholly to the glory of God himself, by whose grace and benefits that saint is what he is?  In honoring, then, the Blessed Virgin as the most excellent and perfect of all creatures, we in reality confess that all those things which render her worthy of our regard and admiration are derived from his liberality, and we give him, at the same time, immortal thanks, praising and magnifying him who raised a creature, like unto ourselves, to such perfection and glory.  We may add, that the worship and reverence exhibited by men to the Mother, in grace and through love of the Son, are received by the Son as a thing that belongs to him, since they are offered to the Mother in regard to the Son, and because it is known with what incredible love he loves his Mother.

“The second reason is our own profit and advantage, which God wills, desires, and procures us in all possible manners.  The Most Holy Virgin is not one of those creatures that ‘separate us from God.’  O, no! She is a creature who draws, allures, obliges, and constrains our love, to make thereof a most pleasing gift to God; she wishes us hers, that she may make us belong entirely to God; she wishes us to love her, that she may make us enamored of her Son; and therefore she draws and leads us to God, and does not separate and remove us from him.  As says the pious author of a work on the love and worship of the Mother of God, the devotion and love of the Son increase with that which men bear the Mother, because the Mother, being most faithful to the Son, draws and conducts to him all who approach her, and endeavors to reconcile and unite them closely with God.  And by this you may see how great the advantage is to ourselves, and wherefore I say, that the more we love Mary, the more we shall love God, and that there is no shorter, easier, or safer path by which we may attain to the perfect love of God, than a tender and sincere love of Mary…

“If, then, you wish to love God, and to love him ardently and constantly, love Mary, and love her with ardor and perseverance.  If you wish to be holy, and if you wish to be so quickly and easily, love Mary, and love her tenderly and fervently…Pay no attention to those who, guided, as we may piously believe, by a good zeal towards God, but certainly with little piety and devotion towards the Blessed Virgin, either destroy or in some manner diminish her most beautiful praises, or wish to reform or else entirely abolish certain religious practices in her honor, which the piety of the faithful or the most ancient custom of the Church has introduced and hitherto continued.  But consider that there is no measure in the honor and love of the Virgin, because she surpasses, transcends all praise, all honor, according to the words of St. John Damascene: ‘Virgo omnium encomiorum legem excedit; and therefore St. Ambrose asserts that no one can sufficiently and worthily praise the Most Holy Virgin, except God himself: Beatam Virginem pro dignitate laudare nemo potest nisi solus Deus.   And with him agrees Andrea of Crete: Virginem, Dei est laudare pro dignitate

“Let us, then, serve, praise, honor, and love Mary without measure, without bounds, because we shall thus give God an infinite pleasure, and we shall soon become saints, and great saints.” – pp. 16-21.

Who shall tell the love Mary has for us?  Does a mother love her children?  If so, Mary loves us.  We are all her children.  Jesus, dying on the cross, says to her, “Woman, behold thy son,” and in the person of the beloved disciple gave us all to her as her children.  Who shall fathom the abyss of that mother’s heart?  If only a mother can know a mother’s heart, who shall know the heart of that dear mother, who loves us incomparably more than ever earthly mother loved her son?  The least service we render her fills her heart with joy, and a hundred and a thousand fold does she repay it, in this life and in the other.

“But if Mary,” says the author, “is so grateful for every little service we do her, what gratitude must she not show him who sincerely and cordially loves her, who gives her the most humble and respectful proofs of his service and his love?  She loves all in general; but those who with a special desire to serve her, with tenderness of affection, and with fidelity consecrate themselves to her love, place in her their whole confidence, their whole soul,- these indeed are the most precious jewels of her crown, the richest portions of her inheritance, and the most sensitive portion of her heart, her especial, he dearest, her choicest favorites.  Ego diligentes me diligo.  I love, she says, them that love me, and I not only love them, but I cherish them with the partiality, the tenderness, of a mother and a spouse.  The word diligere, which she here uses, signifies much more than amare, since amare is a common term for love of all sorts, however low its sphere or ordinary its character;  but diligere signifies a very strong, special, and most partial love, and distinguishes and selects the lone loved, and prefers him to all others.  Mary is not satisfied with saying she merely loves those that love her, Ego amantes me amo, but, Ego diligentes mt diligo, that she distinguishes and selects them and prefers them to every one else, in graces, favors, love, and protection.  Agnoscit Virgo et diligit diligentes se, et prope est in veritate invocantibus se, praesertim his, quos videt sibi conformes factos in castitate et humilitate, et totam spem suam post Filium suum in ea posuisse.  ‘The Holy virgin acknowledges,’ says St. Bernard, ‘and dearly loves, them that love her, and she is near them that call upon her, especially those whom she sees like her in chastity and humility , and after her Divine Son have placed their whole hope in her.’  She desires to be loved; she goes before, entices, seeks after someone to give her his heart.  She entreats him, ‘My son, give me thy heart.’  ‘She preventeth them that covet her, so that she first showeth herself unto them.’  Ipsa tales quaerit, says the great St. Bonaventura, qui ad eam devote reverenter accedant; hos nutrit, hos in filios suos suscipit.  ‘She seeks for those who devoutly and reverently approach her; these she cherishes, these she adopts as her children.’  And in fact, the demonstrations and expressions of love which this most kind Lady has deigned to use with her lovers are most wonderful.  They seem almost incredible.  In the preceding Lesson we have related a great many, and we will give a few more here in confirmation of her loving gratitude and most partial tenderness towards whomsoever consecrates his heart to her love.  A Spanish youth of the Cistercian Order had dedicated himself entirely to the service and love of Mary, so that he had ever in his thoughts, in his heart, and in his mouth.  He became seriously sick, so that his recovery was beyond all hope, and in this state the Most Holy Virgin, his Lady and his love, appeared to him, and assured him that on the seventh day from that she would return and receive his soul.  When the seven days were passed, the prior of the monastery saw during the night a company of most beautiful young men, all clothed in white, come to receive  and accompany the soul of the fortunate youth, who, full of joy, amid the melodies of that angels, breathed forth his most happy soul into the arms of his most beloved Lady.  A lover of Mary became so enamored of her beauty and merit, that his life was no more than a continual death, amid sighs and tears.  He wept and lamented so greatly, that he at last moved the most kind Virgin to compassion, and one day, when he had prayed and wept more than usual, she appeared to console him, seated in all her beauty on a throne of the seraphim.  The devout lover, being unable to restrain himself at such tenderness and return of love, was so overcome by the vehemence of his ardor, that, lost in a sea of love and contentedness, he breathed forth his happy soul.  Behold with what promptness and delight Mary returns the affection of them who love her!  Unhappy that we are! We sometimes lose ourselves for creatures that value not, care not, for our affection, and are not pleased with our service; perhaps contemn and laugh at our most passionate attachment for them, and our most heartfelt and tender expressions, and who are not even grateful for our most precious gifts, which they consider simply their due.  And shall we not resolve to love her who, possessing little less than infinite merit, yet loves us so tenderly, so earnestly desires our heart, is pleased with our affection, and responds to our love with the most obliging demonstrations of gratitude, the most constant fidelity, and effects the most advantageous to our highest interests?  Let us no longer be foolish.  Let us love Mary, who alone can make us contented and happy in this world by her love, and forever blessed in the next by the enjoyment of her and of God.” Pp. 155-160

We are tempted to make one more extract from this charming volume.

“Mary loves us, and she loves us, as we have shown, with an insuperable and invincible love, more than could all the mothers, sisters, and spouses of the world, if they should all unite with one heart to love us.  She loves us with a most effectual love, desiring, willing, and procuring our greatest temporal and spiritual good; and what is still more, she loves us although ungrateful, faithless, and sinful.  How much would she love us, then, if we corresponded to her love, loved her in return, were faithful to her, and gave her our whole confidence, our whole heart!  We have seen that she is most grateful, and knows no bounds in her love for those that love her, and loving us in this manner and so effectually, will she not wish to see us contended and happy?  Will she not wish to secure our eternal beatitude?  Will she not advocate our cause before the tribunal of the Divine Mercy?  Will she not incessantly request of God our eternal salvation?  Who can doubt it?  If she has not permitted those who could no longer live to pass from this life, even requiring a dispensation of the laws of nature to recall those who were almost dead, that they might not perish eternally, merely because they had preserved some shadow of devotion, and had placed some confidence  in her protection, will she permit the truly devout, her faithful lovers, to perish?  O, I should think a doubt so impious, so injurious to her, little less than blasphemy!  No, no, Parthenio.  She wishes absolutely our salvation; she wishes us to praise and bless her,- to thank and love her eternally in heaven,- and therefore she desires and continually prays to her Son for our salvation.  And if she wishes it, and requests it, will her Son deny it?  Will that Son, who has granted her a hundred and a thousand times the salvation of the most obstinate, the most desperate, the most hopeless sinners,- will that Son deny her the salvation of her faithful servants, of her tender lovers,- that Son who has given her the half of his kingdom, making her Queen and Mother of Mercy, precisely because he wishes all to be saved,- that Son who, wishing to redeem the human race, deposited its whole price in her hands, (Redempturus humanum genus, pretium universum contulit in Mariam- S. Bernard., De Aquaeduc) – that Son who has committed to her the dispensation of his blood, (Commissa est illi Dominici sanguinis dispensation – S. Anselm)  that she might dispense it to her children? (Et filiis suis postea dispensare – S. Bernardin da Siena)  Sooner shall the heavens fall, and the earth be burnt to ashes.  It is impossible that the Mother of God should not obtain what she asks of her Son.  What she seeks, she finds, and her prayer is always heard.  And it is certain that if, per impossibile, Mary should demand the salvation of a sinner, and on the other side all the angels, all the saints, and all the just should demand his condemnation, the sinner would be saved, because Mary alone, would be heard.  Because, says St. John Damascene, there is as it were an infinite distance between the Mother of God and his servants; because God loves the Virgin alone more than all the elect; and finally, because the prayers of the saints, as says St. Antoninus, rest solely on His mercy; but the prayer of Mary rests on her own merits, she having merited de congruo for the predestined all the helps of grace (Recapito, Se Sign. Praedestin., c. 12, n. 279), and on the right which, as Mother, she has over Christ, who as her son, by the law of nature and evangelical justice, can deny her nothing.  Oratio sanctorum innititur tantum misericordiae ex parte Dei; oratio autem Mariae etiam juri naturali et justitiae Evangelii.  Therefore, he adds, the prayer of the Virgin has almost the force of a command.  Oratio Deiparae habet rationem jussionis et imperii. (S. Antonin. Part. 4, tit. 11, c. 17, p. 4)  The question is treated by Suarez (Tom. 2, part. 3, disp. 23, sec. 2), and solved as I have here explained it; and the Doctors all agree in this, that neither the power nor the will can be wanting to Mary.  Nec facultas, nec voluntas illi deesse potest.  She has the power and the will to save us; we shall then be saved.

“In conformation of this necessary conclusion, and fro your greater consolation, let us see what the Saints and Doctors say on this point; and because there are many who treat this subject, I will, without any order of preference, give you them one by one in their very words.  And first of all, I meet with the celebrated sentence of St. Anselm, given by St. Bonaventura, which, for its greater credit, was subjected to the examination of the theologians, and, as Mendoza attests, was found true in all scholastic rigor.  St. Anselm then says, ‘O most Blessed Virgin, as it is impossible for anyone to be saved abandoned by thee, so it is impossible for him to perish who turns to thee, and is regarded by thee.’  Virgo beatissima, sicut impossibile est ut a te despectus salvetur; ita ad te conversus et a te respectus impossibile est ut pereat.  This is, in truth, O Parthenio, a great sentence, and one that should greatly console the lovers of Mary, and take from them all fear and apprehension for their eternal salvation.  And St. Anselm confirms this as his opinion in many places.  ‘It is sufficient that thou desirest our salvation, O Mary, and we cannot be but saved.’  Tantummodo velis nostram salutem, et vere nequaquam salvi esse non poterimus.  ‘He shall not hear the eternal curse, for whom Mary shall pray even once.’  Aeternum vae non sentiet pro quo vel semel oraverit Maria.  After St. Anselm comes St. Antoninus, who says the same thing in almost the same words.  Sicut impossibile est, ut illi a quibus Maria oculos suae misericordiae avertit salventur, ita necessarium est, quod hi ad quos convertit oculos suos pro eis advocans, salventur et conglorificentur. ‘As it is impossible that they should be saved from whom Mary turns away the eyes of her mercy; so also it is necessary that they upon whom she turns her eyes, advocating their cause, should be saved and be glorified. (St. Antoninus, part. 4, tit. 5)  And here take notice of the word necessary,  by which he means that those who are devout to Mary must necessarily be saved.  In the third place comes St. Bonaventura, who in a great many places agrees with St. Anselm, saying, Qui perstat in obsequio tui, procul fiet a perditione.  ‘He that perseveres in thy service shall not be lost.’  Pax multa diligentibus te Domina; anima eorum non videbit mortem in aeternum.  ‘They that love thee, O Lady, shall enjoy much peace; their soul shall not see death forever.’ (In Psalm 118)  ‘To know thee, O Virgin, Mother of God, is the way of immortality, and to recount thy virtues is the way of salvation.’  Scire et cognoscere te, Virgo Deipara, est via immortalitatis, et narrare virtutes tuas est via salutis. (In Ps. 83) Auditi, gentes, qui cupitis Regnum Dei: Virginem Mariam honorate, et invenietis vitam aeternam.  ‘Give ear, o ye nations, that desire the kingdom of God; honor the Virgin Mary, and you shall find eternal life.’ (S. Bonav., in Psalt.)  Qui acquirunt gratiam Mariae, cognoscentur a civibus Paradisi; et qui habuerit characterem ejus, adnotabitur in libro vitae.   ‘They that gain the favor of Mary shall be acknowledged by the citizens of Paradise; and they that bear the mark of her servants shall be registered in the book of life.’ Qui speravit in illa porta caeli reserabitur ei. ‘The gate of heaven shall be opened to him who has hoped in her.’ St. Bernard called the love of Mary, and devotion to her, a certain sign of obtaining eternal salvation,- certissimum signum salutis aeternae consequendae.  And the Blessed Alain says, Habenti devotionem hanc, signum est praedestinationis permagnum.  ‘This devotion is a sure sign of predestination to the possessor.’” – pp. 189-194.

These extracts will serve as a specimen of the style and spirit of this admirable work, and will satisfy the devout reader that the author writes with a genuine love of Mary.  We have too limited an acquaintance with the excellent works on devotion to Mary with which out literature abounds, to be able to speak of the merits of this volume in comparison with other works of its class; but we have found none which has edified us more, or which contains more appropriate or more profitable meditations for the beautiful devotions of the month of May, or more properly the month of Mary.  The heathen dedicated this month to the worship of an impure goddess, and most fitting is it that Christians should devote it to the worship of Mary, the mother if chaste love; and better helps to the appropriate devotions of the season, or indeed for any other month in the year, than are to be found in the little volume before us, can hardly be desired.  The work, as far as we are informed, has not been hitherto translated into our language, and it is therefore with pleasure that we learn that a translation of it from the Italian into English is now in preparation.  We are sure it will be welcomed as a very acceptable addition to the many excellent works already in possession of the faithful for the devotions of our Most Holy Mother.

We need not say that works on the love and veneration of Mary can hardly be too much multiplied, for that love and veneration cannot be carried to excess.  No doubt, wherever there is strong faith and lively devotion, without proper instruction, there may chance to be manifested now and then something of superstition, whether the immediate object of worship be the saints or even God himself; for there is nothing which men cannot abuse.  But superstition, except as combined with idolatry and unbelief, or misbelief, is not one of the dangers of our times; and as the worship of Mary is the best preservative from idolatry, heresy, and unbelief, so is it the best preservative from superstition.  Her clients will never become spiritual rappers, or abetters of modern necromancy.  Her devout children will not be found among those who call up the spirits of the dead, and seek to be placed in communication with devils.  The devils fly at her approach, and all lying spirits are silent in her presence.  She is queen of heaven and earth, and even rebellious spirits must tremble and bow before her.  Demon-worship is undeniably reviving in the modern Protestant world, and especially in our own country, and even in this good city of Boston; and there is no room to doubt that it is owing to the abandonment of the worship of Mary, which carries along with it the abandonment of the worship of her Son, the Incarnate God.  Where Mary is not loved and honored, Christ is not worshipped; and where Christ is not worshipped, the devils have the field all to themselves.  The first symptom of apostasy from Christ and of a lapse into heathenism is the neglect of the worship of his Most Holy Mother, and the rejection of that worship as superstition or idolatry; because that involves a rejection of the Incarnation, which comprises in itself all Christianity.  Christianity is held only when the Incarnation is held, and when that is held, Mary is held to be the Mother of God, and deserving of all honor as such.  We cannot doubt the propriety of worshipping Mary till we have doubted her relation as Mother of God, and to doubt that it to doubt the whole Mystery of the Incarnation.

In its bearings on Christian faith and worship, then, we cherish the love of Mary, and are anxious to see devotion to her increased.  But we are also anxious to see it increase, as the best preservative against the moral dangers of our epoch.  Mary is the mother of chaste love, and chaste love is that which in our age is most rare.  The predominating sin of our times is that of impurity, at once the cause and the effect of the modern sentimental philosophy. All the popular literature of the day is unchaste and impure, and it boldly denounces marriage as slavery, and demands that loose reins be given to the passions.  Catholic morality is scouted as impracticable and absurd; law is regarded as fallen into desuetude; intellect is derided; reason is looked upon as superfluous, if not tyrannical; and the heart is extolled as the representative of God on earth.  Feeling is honored as the voice of the Most High, and whatever tends to restrain or control it is held to be a direct violation of the will of our Creator.  Hence passion is defiled, and nothing is held to be sacred but our transitory feelings.  Hence everywhere we find an impatience of restraint, a loud and indignant protest against all rule or measure in our affections and all those usages and customs of past times intended as safeguards of manners and morals, and a universal demand for liberty, which simply means unbounded license to follow our impure or perverted instincts, and to indulge our most turbulent and unchaste passions, without shame or remorse.

The sentimental philosophy taught by that impure citizen of Calvin’s city of Geneva, Jean Jacques Rousseau, in his Confessions and Nouvelle Heloise, and which is popularized by such writers as Goethe, George Sand, Eugene Sue, Thomas Carlyle, Theodore Parker, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, and, to some extent, Bulwer Lytton, consecrating corrupt concupiscence, has effected an almost universal dissolution of manners and depravation of morals.  All bonds are loosened, and the very existence of society is threatened by the fearful and unrelenting warfare waged upon the family as constituted by Catholic morality.  The terrible revolutions which for the last sixty or seventy years have shaken society to its foundations, and which have been repressed and are held in check for the moment only by the strong arm of arbitrary power, are only the outward manifestations of the still more terrible revolutions which have been going on in the interior of man; and the anarchy which reigns in society is only the natural expression of the anarchy that reigns in the bosom of the individual.  In the non-Catholic world, and even in nominally Catholic countries, impurity has gained a powerful ascendency, and seeks to proclaim itself as law, and to denounce whatever is hostile to it as repugnant to the rights of both God and man.  Chastity is denounced as a vice, as a crime against nature, and the unrestrained indulgence of the senses is dignified with the name of virtue, nay, is denominated religious worship, and we may almost fear that fornication and adultery may again be imposed as religious rites, as they were in ancient Babylon and other cities of the East.

The last, perhaps the only, remedy for this fearful state of things, is to be sought in promoting and extending the worship of Mary.  Society is lapsing, if it has not already lapsed, into the state in which Christianity found it some eighteen hundred years ago, and a new conversion of the Gentiles has become necessary.  Christian society can be restored only by the same faith and worship which originally created it.  Jesus and Mary are now, as then, the only hope of the world, and their power and their good will remain undiminished.  The love of Mary as Mother of God redeemed the pagan world from its horrible corruptions, introduced and sustained the Christian family, and secured the fruits of the sacrament of marriage.  It will do no less for our modern world, if cultivated; and we regard as one of the favorable signs that better times are at hand, the increasing devotion to Mary.  This increasing devotion is marked throughout the whole Catholic world,  as is manifest from the intense interest that is felt in the probable approaching definition of the question of the Immaculate Conception.  Nowhere is the change in regard to devotion to Mary as the Mother of God more striking, than among the Catholics of Great Britain and of our own country.  This devotion is peculiarly Catholic, and any increase of it is an indication of reviving life and fervor among Catholics; and if Catholics had only the life and fervor they should have, the whole world would soon bow in humble reverence at the foot of the cross.  It is owing to our deadness, our lack of zeal, our lack of true fervor in our devotions, that so many nations and such multitudes of souls are still held in the chains of darkness, under the dominion of Satan.

There are two ways in which the love and service of Mary will contribute to redeem society and restore Christian purity,- the one the natural influence of such love and service on the heart of her worshippers, and the other the graces which in requital she obtains from her Son and bestows upon her clients.  Mary is the mother of chaste love.  The nature of love is always to unite the heart to the object loved, to become one with it, and as far as possible to become it.  Love always makes us like the beloved, and we always become like the object we really and sincerely worship.  If we may say, Like worshippers, like gods, we may with equal truth say, Like gods, like worshippers.  The love of Mary tends naturally, from the nature of all love, to unite us to her by a virtue kindred to her own.  We cannot love her, dwell constantly on her merits, on her excellences, her glories, without being constantly led to imitate her virtues, to love and strive after her perfect purity, her deep humility, her profound submission, and her unreserved obedience.  Her love checks all lawlessness of the affections, all turbulence of the passions, all perturbation of the senses, fills the heart with a sweet peace and a serene joy, restores to the soul its self-command, and maintains perfect order and tranquility within.  Something of this effect is produced whenever we love any truly virtuous person.  Our novelists have marked it, and on the strength of it seek to reform the wild and graceless youth by inspiring in his heart a sincere love for a pure and virtuous woman; and the most dissolute and restrained, their turbulence is calmed, their impure desires are repressed, in the presence of true virtue.  If this is so when the beloved is but an ordinary mortal, how much so when the beloved, the one with whom we commune, and whose virtues we reverence and long to possess, is Mary, the Mother of God, the simplest and lowliest of handmaidens, but surpassing in true beauty, loveliness, and worth all the other creatures of God!

When the type of female dignity and excellence admired is that of an Aspasia, a Lamia, a Phryne, a Ninon de l’Enclos, society is not only already corrupt, but is continually becoming more corrupt.  So when the type of female worth and excellence, the ideal of woman, is Mary, society is not only in some degree virtuous, but must be continually rising to sublimer excellence, to more heroic sanctity.  The advantage of having Mary always before the minds and hearts of our daughters, as their model in humility, purity, sweetness, and obedience, in simplicity, modesty, and love, is not easily estimated.  Trained up in the love and imitation of her virtues, they are trained to be wives and mothers, or holy virgins, spouses of Jesus Christ, sisters of the afflicted, and mothers of the poor.  The sentimentalists of the day tell us that it is woman’s mission to redeem society from its present corruption, and we believe it, though not in their sense, of for their reasons.  Woman has generally retained more of Catholic faith and morality than has in these evil times been retained by the other sex, and is more open to good impressions, or rather, offers fewer obstacles to the operations of grace.  During the worst times in France, when religion was abolished, when the churches were desecrated, the clergy massacred, and the profane rites of the impure Venus were revived, the great majority of the women of France retained their faith, and cherished the worship of the Virgin.  We have no sympathy with those who make woman an idol, and clamor for what they call “woman’s rights,” but we honor woman, and depend on her, under God, to preserve and diffuse Catholic morality in the family, and if in the family, then in the state.  Ther is always hope for society as long as woman remains believing and chaste, and nothing will contribute so much to her remaining so, as having the Blessed Virgin presented to her from the first dawn of her affections as her Mother, her Queen, her sweet Lady, her type of womanhood, a model which it must be the unremitting labor of her life to copy.

Undoubtedly the love and service of Mary are restricted to Catholics; and to those Catholics not undeserving of the name; but this is no objection to our general conclusion.  We are too apt to forget that the Church is in the world, and that it is through her that society is redeemed,- too apt to forget that the quiet and unobtrusive virtues of Catholics, living in the midst of a hostile world, are always powerful in their operations on that world; and that the world is converted, not by the direct efforts which we make to convert it, but by the efforts we make to love ourselves as good Catholics, and to save our own souls.  The little handful of sincere and devout Catholics, the little family of sincere and earnest clients of Mary, seeking to imitate her virtues in their own little community, are as leaven hidden in three measures of meal.  Virtue goes forth from them, diffuses itself on all sides, till the whole is leavened.  No matter how small the number, the fact that even some keep alive in the community the love and veneration of Mary, the true ideal of womanhood, the true patroness of the Christian family, the mother of chaste love, adorned with all the virtues, and to whom the Holy Ghost says, “Thou art my beautiful, my dove,” must have a redeeming effect on the whole community, and sooner or later must banish impurity, and revive the love of holy purity and reverence for Catholic morality.

For, in the second place, the worship of Mary is profitable, not only by the subjective effect it has upon her lovers, but also by the blessings she obtains for them, and, at their solicitation, for others.  In these later times we have almost lost sight of religion in its objective character.  The world has ceased to believe in the Real Presence;  it denies the whole sacramental character of Christianity, and laughs at us when we speak of any sacrament as having any virtue not derived from the faith and virtue of the recipient.  The whole non-Catholic world makes religion a purely subjective affair, and deduces all its truth from the mind, and all its efficacy from the heart, that accepts and cherishes it, so that even in religion, which is a binding of man anew to God, man is everything, and God is nothing.  At bottom that world is atheistical, at best epicurean.  It either denies God altogether, or excludes him from all care of the world he has created.  It has no understanding of his providence, no belief in his abiding presence with his creatures, no belief in his abiding presence with his creatures, of his free and tender providence in their behalf.  Faith it assumes is profitable only in its subjective operations, prayer only in its natural effect on the mind and heart of him who prayers, and love only in its natural effect on the affections of the lover.  This cold and atheistical philosophy is the enlightenment, the progress, of our age.  But we who are Christians know that it is false; we know that God is very near unto every one of us, is ever free to help us, and that there is nothing that he will not do for them that love him truly, sincerely, and confide in him, and in him only. 

Mary is the channel through which her Divine Son dispenses all his graces and blessings to us, and he loves and delights to load with his favors all who love and honor her.  Thus to love and serve her is the way to secure his favor, and to obtain those graces which we need to resist the workings of concupiscence, and to maintain the purity of our souls, and of our bodies, which are the temple of God.  She says, “I love them that love me,” and we cannot doubt that she will favor with her always successful intercession those whom she loves.  She will obtain grace for us to keep ourselves chaste, and will in requital of our love to her obtain graces even for those without, that they may be brought in and healed of their wounds and putrefying sores.  So that under either point of view the love and worship of Mary, the Mother of God, a mother yet a virgin, always a virgin, virgin most pure, most holy, most humble, most amiable, most loving, most merciful, most faithful, most powerful, cannot fail to enable us to overcome the terrible impurity of our age, and to attain to the virtues now most needed for our own individual salvation, and for the safety of society.

In this view of the case, we must feel that nothing is more important than the cultivation of the love and worship of Mary.  She is our life, our sweetness, our hope, and we must suffer no sneers of those without, no profane babblings about “Mariolatry,” to move us, or in the least deter us from giving our hearts to Mary.  We must fly to her protection as the child flies to its mother, and seek our safety and our consolation in her love, in her maternal embrace.  We are safe only as we repose our heads upon her bosom, and draw nourishment from her breasts.  The world lieth in wickedness, festering in moral corruption, and it is a shame to name the vices and iniquity which everywhere abound.  Hardly has childhood blossomed into youth, before it withers into old age.  We have no youth, we have only infancy and worn-out manhood.  What is to become of us?  Our help is in thee, sweet Mother, and we fly to thy protection, and, O, protect us, they children, and save us from the evil communications of this world, lost to virtue, and enslaved to the enemy of our souls!