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The Universal Mediatrix

Our Lady Universal Mediatrix

 

On May 31, the Holy Church celebrates the feast of Our Lady, Universal Mediatrix of all Graces. In this age of afflictions and dangers, when all of mankind moans under the weight of misfortunes that increase at every moment, our needs grow and our prayers become more pressing. With this, it is also increasingly important that we know how to pray well. Few truths of the Faith contribute so powerfully to raise the value of our prayers as the Universal Mediation of Mary when studied seriously and made to penetrate deeply into our life of piety.

 

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Of what does this truth consist? Theology teaches that all graces that come to us from God pass through Mary's hands. So, we obtain nothing from God if Mary is not joined to our prayer, and we owe all the graces we receive to her intercession. Thus, the Mother of God is the channel of all prayers that reach her Divine Son and the way of all graces that He bestows on mankind.

Evidently, this truth supposes that in all our prayers we explicitly ask Our Lady to help us. This practice would be highly praiseworthy. Even though we do not declaredly invoke Our Lady's intercession, we can be certain that we will be heard because she prays with us and for us.

A highly consoling conclusion follows from this. If we had to confide merely in our merits, how could we confide in the efficacy of our prayer?

It is said that Our Lord once appeared to Saint Teresa ofAvila bearing marvelous grapes in His hands. The saint asked the Divine Master what the grapes signified, and He answered that they were an image of her soul. The saint then looked carefully at the grapes. As she examined them, her first impression, which was grand, faded, giving way to an increasingly distressing impression. The grapes, now full of blemishes and defects, seemed repugnant to the great saint. She then understood the lofty meaning of the vision:

Even the most perfect souls reveal stains when attentively examined. And what stains can go unnoticed under God's penetrating gaze? Thus did the Psalmist exclaim with good reason: "If thou, 0 Lord, wilt mark iniquities. Lord, who shall stand it?"

If there is no one who does not present stains to the eyes of God, who can hope with full assurance to be heeded in his prayers?

On the other hand. God wants our prayers to be confident. He does not want us to present ourselves before His throne like slaves who fearfully approach a dreadful lord, but like children who gather around an infinitely generous and good father. Indeed, this confidence is one of the conditions for the efficacy of our prayers. But how can we have confidence if, examining ourselves, we feel lacking in reasons to confide? If we have no confidence, how can we hope to be heeded?

From the sadness of this reflection we triumphantly draw the doctrine of the Universal Mediation of Mary. In fact, our merits are minimal and our faults are great, but whatever we cannot attain by ourselves we have every right to hope that Our Lady's prayers will attain.

We must never doubt that she joins our prayers when they are suited to the greater glory of God and our sanctification. In fact, Our Lady has a love for each one of us that is only imperfectly comparable to the love that our earthly mothers have for us. Saint Louis de Montfort says that Our Lady has for the most wretched and miserable of men a love superior to that which would result from the sum of the love of all the mothers in the world for one child. Our authentic mother in the order of grace begot each of us to eternal life, and the passage that the Holy Ghost inscribed in Scripture-Even though your father and mother abandon you, I will not forget you-is faithfully applied to her. It is easier to be abandoned by our parents according to nature than by our mother according to grace.

However wretched we may be, then, we can confidently present our petitions to God. Whenever they are supported by Our Lady, they will have a priceless value in God's eyes, a value that will certainly obtain for us the requested favor.

It is fitting for us to meditate unendingly on this great truth. Catholics that we are, we must face in this life the struggles common to all mortals and, in addition, those that come from the reality of our being in God's service. Even though the horizon seems ready to pour down a new flood upon us; even though paths close before us, precipices open up, and the very earth moves under our feet, we should not lose heart. Our Lady will overcome all obstacles that exceed our strength. As long as this confidence does not desert our hearts, victory will be ours and the cunning of our adversaries will be worth nothing. We will walk upon asps and basilisks and will crush lions and dragons underfoot.


 

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Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for November 23, 2020

The purer are your words and your glances, the more pleasing...

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November 23

 

The purer are your words and your
glances,
the more pleasing will you be to the
Blessed Virgin. And
the greater will be the
graces that she will obtain for you
from her Divine Son.


St. John Bosco


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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Columban

He struggled with purity, and desperate to dedicate himself...

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St. Columban

Columban was born about the year 543 in County Meath, in the Irish province of Leinster, to respectable parents. He was well-educated in grammar, rhetoric, geometry, and the Holy Scriptures. The young Columban resolved early to embrace monastic asceticism and dedicate himself to a strict and disciplined life, abstaining from many of the pleasures of the world. However, he struggled with purity, and desperate to dedicate himself wholly to God, asked the advice of a religious woman who had lived as a hermit for many years.

His mother tried her utmost to deter him from the course of action proposed by the saintly hermit, but Columban took the holy woman’s advice and left Leinster to become a cloistered monk at the monastery of Bangor in County Down. He remained there a number of years before gaining permission from his superior, St. Congall, to evangelize in foreign lands. With twelve companions he traveled to Gaul and set about preaching and teaching the Gospel.

In 590, news of these monks reached Guntramnus, the King of Burgundy, who was so inspired by the holy men that he gave the Irish monk and his companions the ancient Roman castle of Annegray, in the region’s Vosges Mountains, in which to establish a monastery. Within a few years, the increasing number of followers obliged Columban to expand and, with the help of one of the King’s ministers, he obtained from the King another ancient Roman fortification named Luxeuil, on the site of some ancient Roman baths. A third monastery soon followed to house the growing number of disciples. The monks followed a harsh discipline similar to the unusual characteristics of Celtic Christianity: they carried out penances for every transgression, no matter how small, fasted, performed bodily mortifications and prayed at length.

Twenty years after his first monastic foundation, Columban and his fellow Irishmen were expelled from the country. Brunhilda, the wicked and corrupt queen regent, disliked the holy man for his reproach of the immoral ways of her court and ultimately exiled him in 610.

Columban and his monks traveled to Italy where they were welcomed by Agilulf, King of the Lombards. Agilulf gave the monks a dilapidated church at Bobbio to reestablish themselves. Columban himself did much of the repairs in spite of his seventy years of age.

He died at Bobbio in 615 having spent the last few years of his life praying and preparing for death. His followers established monasteries all over Europe.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared stan...

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The Conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne

Born in 1814, Alphonse Ratisbonne was from a family of wealthy, well-known Jewish bankers in Strasbourg, France. In 1827, Alphonse’s older brother, Thèodore, converted to Catholicism and entered the priesthood, thus breaking with his anti-Catholic family whose hopes now lay in the young Alphonse. At 27, Alphonse was intelligent and well mannered. He had already finished his law degree, and decided to travel to Italy before marrying and assuming his responsibilities in the family business. However, God had other plans for him.

While in Rome, Alphonse visited works of art, and strictly out of cultural curiosity, a few Catholic churches. These visits hardened his anti-Catholic stance, and nourished his profound hatred for the Church. He also called on an old schoolmate and close friend, Gustave de Bussières.

Gustave was a Protestant and several times had tried, in vain, to win Alphonse over to his religious convictions. Alphonse was introduced to Gustave’s brother, Baron de Bussières, who had recently converted to Catholicism and become a close friend of Father Thèodore Ratisbonne. Because of the Baron’s Catholicism and closeness with his turncoat brother, Alphonse greatly disliked him.

On the eve of his departure, Alphonse reluctantly fulfilled his social obligation to leave his calling card at the Baron’s house as a farewell gesture.

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Hoping to avoid a meeting, Alphonse intended to leave his card discreetly and depart straight away, but was instead shown into the house. The Baron greeted the young Jew warmly, and before long, had persuaded him to remain a few more days in Rome. Inspired by grace, the Baron insisted Alphonse accept a Miraculous Medal and copy down a beautiful prayer: the Memorare. Alphonse could hardly contain his anger at his host’s boldness of proposing these things to him, but decided to take everything good-heartedly, planning to later describe the Baron as an eccentric.

During Alphonse’s stay, the Baron’s close friend, Count de La Ferronays, former French ambassador to the Holy See and a man of great virtue and piety, died quite suddenly. On the eve of his death, the Baron had asked the Count to pray the Memorare one hundred times for Alphonse’s conversion. It is possible that he offered his life to God for the conversion of the young Jewish banker.

A few days later, the Baron went to the church of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte to arrange for his friend’s funeral. Alphonse reluctantly went with him, all the while making violent criticisms of the Church and mocking Catholic practices. When they arrived, the Baron entered the sacristy to arrange the funeral while Alphonse remained in the church.

When the Baron returned just a few minutes later, the young man was gone. He searched the church, and soon discovered his young friend kneeling close to an altar, weeping.  Alphonse himself tells us what happened in those few minutes he waited for the Baron: “I had only been in the church a short while when, all of a sudden, I felt totally uneasy for no apparent reason. I raised my eyes and saw that the whole building had disappeared. Only one side chapel had, so to say, gathered all the light. In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared standing on the altar. She was grandiose, brilliant, full of majesty and sweetness, just as she is in the Miraculous Medal. An irresistible force attracted me to her. The Virgin made a gesture with her hand indicating I was to kneel.”

When de Bussières talked to Alphonse, he no longer found a Jew, but a convert who ardently desired baptism. The news of such an unexpected conversion immediately spread and caused a great commotion throughout Europe, and Pope Gregory XVI received the young convert, paternally. He ordered a detailed investigation with the rigor required by canon law, and concluded that the occurrence was a truly authentic miracle. 

Alphonse took the name Maria Alphonse at baptism, and, wishing to become a priest, was ordained a Jesuit in 1847. After some time, and at the suggestion of Pope Pius IX, he left the Jesuits and joined his brother Thèodore in founding the Congregation of Our Lady of Sion, dedicated to the conversion of the Jews. Father Theodore spread his congregation throughout France and England, while Father Maria Alphonse went to the Holy Land. In Jerusalem, he established a house of the congregation on the plot of land where the praetorium of Pilate had formerly stood.

The two brothers died in 1884, both famed and well-loved for their exceptional virtues.  

By Armando Santos  

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In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared standing on the altar"

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