Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Eighteenth Day of May

Of the Greatness of the Power of Mary to Defend Those Who Invoke Her When Tempted by the Devil.

Not only is the most Blessed Virgin Queen of heaven and of all Saints, but she is also Queen of hell and of all evil spirits; for she overcame them valiantly by her virtues. From the very beginning, God foretold the victory and empire that our Queen would one day obtain over the serpent, when He announced that a woman should come into the world to conquer him: ‘I will put enmities between you and the woman—she shall crush your head.’ And who could this woman, his enemy, be but Mary, who by her fair humility and holy life always conquered him and beat down his strength?

Mary, then, was this great and valiant woman, who conquered the devil and crushed his head, by bringing down his pride; so that, as St. Bernard remarks, this proud spirit, in spite of himself, was beaten down and trampled under foot by this most Blessed Virgin, and as a slave conquered in war, he is forced always to obey the commands of this Queen.

St. Bruno says ‘that Eve was the cause of death,’ by allowing herself to be overcome by the serpent; ‘but that Mary,’ by conquering the devil, ‘restored life to us.’ And she bound him in such a way that this enemy cannot stir so as to do the least injury to any of her clients.

It is well known that the palm is a sign of victory; and therefore our Queen is placed on a high throne, in sight of all the powers, as a palm, for a sign of the certain victory that all may promise themselves who place themselves under her protection: ‘I was exalted like a palm-tree in Cades,’ says Ecclesiasticus; ‘that is, to defend,’ adds blessed Albert the Great. ‘My children,’ Mary seems to say, ‘when the enemy assails you, fly to me; cast your eyes on me, and be of good heart; for as I am your defender, victory is assured to you.’ So that recourse to Mary is a most secure means to conquer all the assaults of hell; for she, says St. Bernardine of Sienna, is even the Queen of hell, and Sovereign Mistress of the devils; since she it is who tames and crushes them. He thus expresses his thought: ‘The most Blessed Virgin rules over the infernal regions. She is therefore called the ruling Mistress of the devils, because she brings them into subjection.’ For this reason, Mary is said in the sacred Canticles to be ‘terrible’ to the infernal powers ‘as an army in battle array;’ and she is called thus terrible because she well knows how to array her power, her mercy, and her prayers, to the discomfiture of her enemies, and for the benefit of her servants, who in their temptations have recourse to her most powerful aid. In confirmation of this, it was revealed to St. Bridget, ‘that God had rendered Mary so powerful over the devils, that as often as they assault a devout client who calls on this most Blessed Virgin for help, she, at a single glance, instantly terrifies them, so that they fly far away, preferring to have their pains redoubled rather than to see themselves thus subject to the power of Mary.’

The devils tremble even if they only hear the name of Mary. St. Bernard declares that ‘at the name of Mary every knee bows; and that the devils not only fear but tremble at the very sound of that name.’ And as men fall prostrate with fear if a thunderbolt falls near them, so the the devils if they hear the name of Mary. Thomas a Kempis thus expresses the same sentiment: ‘The evil spirits greatly fear the Queen of Heaven, and fly at the sound of her name, as if from fire. At the ver sound of the word Mary, they are prostrated as by thunder.’ And O, how many victories have the clients of Mary gained by only making use of her most holy name! It was thus that St. Anthony of Padua was always victorious; thus the blessed Henry Suso; thus so many other lovers of this great Queen conquered.

St. Anselm declares that he himself ‘knew, and had seen and heard many who had invoked the name of Mary in time of danger, and were immediately delivered from it.’

‘Glorious indeed, and admirable,’ exclaims St. Bonaventure, ‘is thy name, O Mary; for those who pronounce it at death, need not fear all the powers of hell;’ for the devils on hearing that name instantly fly, and leave the soul in peace. The same Saint adds, ‘That men do not fear a powerful hostile army as much as the powers of hell fear the name and protection of Mary.’ ‘You, O Lady,’ says St. Gennanus, ‘by the simple invocation of your most powerful name, give security to yourservants against all the assaults of the enemy.’ O, were Christians but careful in their temptations to pronounce the name of Mary with confidence, never would they fall; for, as blessed Allan remarks, ‘At the very sound of these words, Hail, Mary, Satan flies, and hell trembles.’ Our Blessed Lady herself revealed to St. Bridget that the enemy flies even from the most abandoned sinners, and who consequently are the farthest from God, and fully possessed by the devil, if they only invoke her most powerful name, with a true purpose of amendment. ‘All devils, on hearing this name of Mary, filled with terror, leave the soul.’ But at the same time our Blessed Lady added, ‘that if the soul does not amend and obliterate its sins by sorrow, the devils almost immediately return and continue to possess it.’


In Ratisbon, there was a Canon Regular of the name of Arnold, surnamed the Pious, on account of the sanctity of his life, and who had the most tender devotion to our Blessed Lady. When at the point of death, and having received the last sacraments, he summoned his religious brethren, and begged that they would not abandon him in his last passage. Scarcely had he uttered these words when, in the presence of all, he began to tremble, to roll his eyes, and, bathed in a cold sweat, with a faltering voice said, ‘Ah, do you not see the devils who are endeavoring to drag me to hell?’ He then cried out, ‘Brothers, implore the aid of Mary for me; in her I confide, she will give me the victory.’ On hearing this, his brethren recited the Litany of our Blessed Lady, and as they said, ‘Holy Mary, pray for him,’ the dying man exclaimed, ‘Repeat, repeat the name of Mary, for I am already before God’s tribunal.’ He was silent for a moment, and then added, ‘It is true that I did it, but I have done penance for it.’ And then turning to our Blessed Lady, he said, ‘O Mary, I shall be delivered if you help me.’ Again the devils attacked him; but he defended himself with his crucifix and the name of Mary. Thus was the night spent; but no sooner did morning dawn, then Arnold exclaimed with the greatest calmness, and full of holy joy, ‘Mary, my sovereign lady, my refuge, has obtained for me pardon and salvation.’ Then casting his eyes on that Blessed Virgin who was inviting him to follow her, he said, ‘I come, O Lady, I come;’ and making an effort to do so even with his body, his soul fled after her to the realms of eternal bliss, as we trust, for he sweetly expired.


Behold at thy feet. O Mary, my hope, a poor sinner, who has so many times been, by his own fault, the slave of hell. I know that by neglecting to have recourse to thee, my refuge, I have allowed myself to be overcome by the devil. Had I always had recourse to thee, had I always invoked thee, I certainly should not have fallen. I trust, O Lady, most worthy of all our love, that through thee I have already escaped from the hands of the devil, and that God has pardoned me. But I tremble lest at some future period I may again fall into the same bonds. I know that my enemies have not lost the hope of again overcoming me, and already they prepare new assaults and temptations for me. Ah, my Queen and refuge, do thou assist me. Place me under thy mantle; permit me not again to become their slave. I know that thou wilt help me and give me the victory, provided I invoke thee; but I dread lest in my temptation I may for get thee, and neglect to do so. The favor, then that I seek of thee, and which thou must grant me, O most holy Virgin, is that I may never forget thee, and especially in time of temptation; grant that I may them repeatedly invoke the, saying, O Mary, help me; O Mary, help me.’ And when my last struggle with hell comes, at the moment of death, ah then, my Queen, help me more than ever, and thou thyself remind me to call on thee more frequently either with my lips or in my heart; that, being thus filled with confidence, I may expire with thy sweet name, and that of thy Son Jesus, on my lips; that so I may be able to bless thee and praise thee, and not depart from thy feet in paradise for all eternity. Amen.


Be sure that all those in your care know to call on Mary when tempted to sin. Parents must especially be sure their children are taught to do this.


Kirk said...

Hallo Fr Bailey,
I'm just writing to say how much I enjoy reading your blog posts. They give one much food for thought and reflection.
I am relatively new to the blog world and I never realised there were so many wonderful sites to visit!
Keep up the good work
God Bless you!

Fr Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R. said...

Thank you Kirk, and welcome. The reflections are taken from St. Alphonsus Liguori's great work, The Glories of Mary. My addition is the practice at the end of each post. One aspect of Alphonsian Spirituality is that we must live our faith, put it into practice. It is my hope that these "Practices," which are only suggestions, may help in doing that.