" From henceforth all generations shall call me blessed."— Luke i. 48
Extracts from the saintly Henri-Marie Boudon, Archdeacon of Evreux. See his work on the
" Devotion to Our Immaculate Mother.''
THERE is no nation, no state or condition, which has not called Mary "Blessed." Pagans, Greeks, barbarians—the noble, the rich, and the poor— have honored her, have invoked her aid. Angels, men, heaven, and earth have striven to show her their respect and homage.
Certainly a devotion must be good, when it is so universal a practice among the faithful; and if St. Augustine makes use of the uniformity and extent of the belief of all Catholic nations as a proof that they must belong to the true Church, it is also an evident proof of the solidity and holiness of devotion to our Blessed Lady to see the universal piety of the faithful.
There are millions who daily implore her motherly protection; an innumerable number of zealous voices call upon us to share in their devotion; the Holy Spirit of God encourages men of every condition of life in every nation. We may safely say that heaven resounds with her glory, and the universe re-echoes its praises. All nations who adore God, pay honors to the wonders done to her: Europe, Asia, Africa, America, have all been struck with astonishment at the "great things that He that is mighty hath done to her."
It must not be supposed that the devotion to the Blessed Virgin is merely a devotion practised by simple or ignorant people; crowned heads have considered it a great honor to be devoted to her, and to acknowledge her as their Lady and their Queen.
The canticle, which says in a general way, "All generations shall call me blessed," does not seek any blind submission to our faith; to believe it does not call for any stretch of imagination; it needs only to be seen. Even at first sight, it is apparent that what the Blessed Virgin foretold has long been accomplished. So many monuments raised to her honor, so many churches consecrated in her name, so many hands busy in writing her praises, so many preachers glad to eulogize her virtues —all these form so many authentic testimonies to the truth of her prophecy.
Here you see the happiness of the ever Blessed Virgin universally acknowledged. Oh ! what a consolation it is for me, when I think of the many honors you, my dearest Mother, have received in every part of the world, where the Gospel has been preached, or where your Son is adored ! What a joy it is, when I read of the many sanctuaries that have been consecrated to your honor and glory ! of the many feasts that the Church has set apart for you ! of the many holy fraternities, military orders, and religious communities that honor you with an especial worship and are consecrated to your service !
Since we have spoken of monarchs who have done much to spread the devotion to the Blessed Virgin, do not let us forget that glorious St. Louis the Just, who solemnly consecrated himself, his kingdom, and his subjects to this Queen of Heaven, and who, to give a striking proof of his love for her, placed his crown and sceptre on the altar of Notre-Dame in Paris, and left especial directions that an annual commemoration of this event should be made in all the churches of France on the feast of her glorious Assumption. This his successor, Louis the Great, ratified and confirmed by an additional decree, in which he beseeches every prelate of his kingdom to exhort his people to cherish a fervent love for, and to practice an especial devotion to, the holy Mother of God.
The whole Christian world has, throughout all ages, shown its devotion to the Blessed Virgin ; and this devotion has been authorized by a great number of miracles, which are so many illustrious and striking testimonies which God permits, approves, and draws from it His own glory. Not only the holy fathers and doctors, but the whole Church have exerted themselves to pay her due honor and proclaim aloud her praises, and this the Church has always done; whilst, on the other hand, the baneful spirit of heresy has ever tried to cloud the glory of Mary. So many grand and glorious treatises have been written on this subject, that it would be difficult to enumerate the books that have been published respecting this devotion. The holy fathers, and St, Bernard in particular, reply to those who complain of these multitudes of books, that were all men forced to speak or write of this devotion they never could say enough.
From this we must come to the conclusion that devotion to the Blessed Virgin is really the devotion of the Church; and this is nevertheless certified by the particular care it takes to honor her, and by the praises it bestows upon her. In fact, its attention is quite pointed in this respect : it not only does honor to her mysteries, and celebrates her feasts with great solemnity, but, as if all these solemnities were not sufficient to satisfy its devotion. it sets apart one day in the week to be consecrated to her memory.
But above all, the miracles which God has worked and still works daily, in favor of this devotion, evidently proves that Mary should be honored in every age and by all the faithful, God being unable to work miracles to authorize error or impiety. Besides, when I speak of miracles, I speak of incontestable miracles, supported by an authority which it would be rash to challenge, such as those which are approved by ecclesiastical powers after a careful and strict examination, or those which we gather from the testimony of authors celebrated for their wonderful learning and rare sanctity.
Some have been related even in councils, as in the Second Council of Nicea. This sufficiently denotes that it is very useful to speak of them, to write about them, to preach about them, when they are legitimately approved of ; and this the Church has done in general councils.
If you follow Mary you will not swerve from the right path; if you pray to her, you will not fall into despair; if she holds you, you will not fall; if she protects you, you need not fear; if she leads you, you will never weary; and if she befriends you, you will be safe.
St. Bernard ~ De Aquae Ductu
Source: Half Hours With the Saints, Imprimatur 1891