Francis Suarez, the eminent writer and scholar, was born in Granada in 1548. Though of high blood, he was of low intelligence. The rector at Salamanca refused to admit him to the Jesuit Order. The provincial was advised by his consultors not to admit him. However, this superior of his
own accord accepted young Francis into the community on condition that, if he was asked to do so, he would work as a brother.
The youth could make no headway in his studies. Deeply discouraged, he asked permission to become a lay brother. But the superior, edified by such humility and good-will, advised young Francis to try a little longer, and in the meantime to pray fervently to the Mother of Wisdom for help.
Suarez had always been devoted to the Blessed Virgin. He did not delay in asking her help; and Mary did not delay in giving her help. Francis suddenly found that his mind was enlightened and his understanding keen. He readily grasped and absorbed the lectures. He soon became the leader among his fellow students. His name has come down as an eminent theologian and writer.
We recall this incident from the life of a learned man as we approach the Feast of Our Lady of Good Counsel, April 26. It is striking how frequently Sacred Scripture and Mother Church have applied wisdom to Mary. We call her the throne and seat of wisdom because Jesus, eternal Wisdom, dwelt in her womb and had her as a teacher. We are very much in line with the Bible and with Christian history when we go to Mary for good counsel.
1. What does counsel mean? Counsel means advice. It means some recommendation regarding a decision or a course of action or conduct. It also means certain information or instruction, some suggestion or exhortation and admonition. Counsel is more than advice. It is generally given in weightier decisions and on more important occasions.
How is our Blessed Mother the Lady of Good Counsel?
Because God gave her unusual knowledge, and also because Jesus gave her particular grace and knowledge during their thirty years together as Mother and Son. As the Mother of Jesus, Mary was His official teacher. An excellent task she performed. The Gospel tells us: "Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and grace before God and man."
St. Luke, 2:52.
The mother is the natural teacher of the child. And no doubt God gave us this example of the Holy Family, and especially of Mary teaching Jesus, to inspire and to be a model for all families to come. How it was done we do not know, but why it was done we do know—to give us a model and exemplar.
2. All through history it has been the practice of those devoted to Mary to go to her for intellectual help, to go to her for advice and suggestions in difficult situations.
What Francis Suarez did in the sixteenth century had been done three hundred years before by St. Albert the Great, and then by the Venerable Duns Scotus, the keen Franciscan theologian and thinker. From Our Lady of Good Counsel they received the gift of keen understanding and brilliant intellect.
In the last century another saint, the Cure of Ars, St. John Vianney, who was extremely limited mentally, admitted that it was through the help of Our Lady that he was able to learn enough to be ordained. In a similar way, we today need good counsel. Oh, how the world does need it . Oh, how individuals need it .
3. Think of the various groups who need Our Lady of Good Counsel:
A. What parent will not admit the diffculty in advising and guiding children? From the tiniest tot to the eldest teenager, mothers and fathers find it difficult to tell their boys and girls what to do. They find it difficult to tell them how to do it. To parents we recommend Our Lady of Good Counsel. Think over what you would tell your children, and then ask Mary to help you say it , and help them to accept it .
B. Every teacher feels the need of good counsel. To teach means not merely to give new thoughts, new facts. It means guiding, directing, developing the mind and heart and will according to God's plan. Teachers, take Mary as your model and your instructor.
C. Like Suarez, many a student finds it difficult to learn and to remember. No matter what you are studying, Our Lady of Good Counsel will assist you, if you ask her.
D. Our statesmen need this good counsel keenly today. Grant that they are well-intentioned and brilliant, our leaders often know not what path to take to world peace. Why don't we on this feast of Our Lady of Good Counsel, beg our Blessed Mother to guide, inspire and enlighten our leaders and the world's leaders with the best advice?
E . We spend a lot of time talking politics and world affairs, criticizing from the president down to the mayor of the smallest town. Why not devote part of that time to prayer to her who will give good counsel, begging her to guide those in responsible positions?
F. Our Church leaders also need guidance in their weighty problems and heavy responsibilities. Mary will be especially responsive to prayer for her counsel on behalf of those who are the shepherds in her Son's Church.
G. Every single one of us needs good counsel in our personal problems, particularly when we do not know what path to pursue, what course to follow.
Ask her, ask Mary, as did Suarez and many another.
"Our Lady of Good Counsel, pray for us." Amen.
~ Feasts of Our Lady, Imprimatur 1952 -