Day 4 – May 25th – Feast of Pope Saint Gregory VII
O my sovereign Queen and worthy Mother of my God, most holy Mary; I seeing myself, as I do, so despicable and loaded with so many sins, ought not to presume to call thee Mother, or even to approach thee; yet I will not allow my miseries to deprive me of the consolation and confidence that I feel in calling thee mother; I know well that I deserve that thou shouldst reject me; but I beseech thee to remember all that thy Son Jesus has endured for me, and then reject me if thou canst. I am a wretched sinner, who, more than all others, have despised the infinite majesty of God: but the evil is done. To thee have I recourse; thou canst help me; my Mother, help me. Say not that thou canst not do so; for I know that thou art all-powerful, and that thou obtainest whatever thou desirest of God; and if thou sayest that thou wilt not help me, tell me at least to whom I can apply in this my so great misfortune. "Either pity me," will I say with the devout St. Anselm, "O my Jesus, and forgive me, and do thou pity me, my Mother Mary, by interceding for me, or at least tell me to whom I can have recourse, who is more compassionate, or in whom I can have greater confidence than in thee.” (Prayer of Saint Alphonsus Ligouri, The Glories of Mary)
O God, the might of all them which put their trust in thee, Who to keep thy Church free, didst make thy blessed Confessor and Bishop Gregory strong to wrestle and to suffer, grant unto us, following his example, and holpen by his prayers, that with us as with him, if they fight against us, they shall not prevail against us. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. (Missale Romanum)
O God, who didst found Thy Church upon the most firm foundation of an apostolic rock in order to deliver her from the dreadful powers of hell: give her, we beseech Thee, that through the intercession of the blessed Urban, Thy Martyr and Sovereign Pontiff, she may produce at all times in Thy truth so as to enjoy always a secure defense. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. (Missale Romanum)
~Reading for Meditation~
Taken from Part I of Chapter I of The Glories of Mary by Saint Alphonsus Maria de Ligouri, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
We read, in the fourth chapter of the Book of Esther, that is the reign of Assuerus, a decree was issued, by which all Jews were condemned to death. Mardochai, who was one of the condemned, addressed himself to Esther, in order that she might interpose with Assuerus, and obtain the revocation of the decree, and thus be the salvation of all. At first Ester declined the office, fearing that such a request might irritate the king still more; but Mardochai reproved her, sending her word that she was not to think only of saving herself, for God had placed her on the throne to obtain the salvation of all the Jews: Think not that thou mayest save thy life only, because thou art in the king's house, more than all the Jews (Esth. iv. 13). Thus did Mardochai address Queen Ester. And so can we poor sinners address our Queen Mary, should she show any repugnance to obtain of God our delivery from the chastisement we have justly deserved: "Think not, O Lady, that God has raised thee to the dignity of Queen of the world, only to provide for thy good; but in order that, being so great, thou mightest be better able to compassionate and assist us miserable creatures."
As soon as Assuerus saw Esther standing before him, he asked her, with love, what she came to seek. What is thy request! The Queen replied, If I have found favor in thy sight, O King, give me my people, for which I request (Est. vii. 2, 3). Assuerus granted her request, and immediately ordered the revocation of the decree. And now, if Assuerus, through love for Esther, granted, at her request, salvation to the Jews, how can God refuse the prayers of Mary, loving her immensely as he does, when she prays for poor miserable sinners, who recommend themselves to her, and says to him, "My King and my God, if ever I have found favor in Thy sight" (though the divine Mother well knows that she was the blessed, the holy one, the only one of the human race who found the grace lost by all mankind; well does she know that she is the beloved one of her Lord, loved more than all the saints and angels together), give me my people for which I ask. If thou lovest me, she says, "give me, O Lord, these sinners, for whom I entreat Thee." Is it possible that God should refuse her? And who is ignorant of the power of the prayers of Mary with God? The law of clemency is on her tongue (Prov. Xxxi. 26). Each of her prayers is, as it were, an established law for our Lord, that he should show mercy to all for whom she intercedes. St. Bernard asks why the Church calls Mary "the Queen of Mercy"? And he replies, that "it is because we believe that she opens the abyss of the mercy of God to whomsoever she wills, when she wills, and as she wills; so that there is no sinner, however great, who is lost if Mary protects him" (In Salve Reg. s. 1).
But perhaps we may fear that Mary would not deign to interpose for some sinners, because they are so overloaded with crimes? Or perhaps we ought to be overawed at the majesty and holiness of this great Queen? "No," says St. Gregory VII.; "for the higher and more holy she is, the greater is her sweetness and compassion towards sinners, who have recourse to her with the desire to amend their lives" (Lib. i. Ep. 47). Kings and queens, with their ostentation of majesty, inspire terror, and cause their subjects to fear to approach them: but what fear, says St. Bernard, can the miserable have to approach this Queen of Mercy, for she inspires no terror, and shows no severity, to those who come to her, but is all sweetness and gentleness. "Why should human frailty fear to go to Mary? In her there is no austerity, nothing terrible: she is all sweetness, offering milk and wool to all" (In Sign. Magn.). Mary is not only willing to give, but she herself offers milk and wool to all: the milk of mercy to animate our confidence, and the wool of her protection against the thunderbolts of divine justice.