Since Mary is our Mother, we may consider how great is the love She bears us; love towards our children is a necessary impulse of nature; and St. Thomas says that “this is the reason why the Divine law imposes on children the obligation of loving their parents; but gives no express command that parents should love their children, for nature itself has so strongly implanted it in all creatures,” that, as St. Ambrose remarks, “we know that a mother will expose herself to danger for her children, and even the most savage beasts cannot do otherwise than love their young.” It is said that even tigers, on hearing the cry of their cubs taken by hunters, will go into the sea and swim until they reach the vessel in which they are. Since the very tigers, says our most loving Mother Mary, cannot forget their young, how can I forget to love you, my children and even, She adds, were such a thing possible as that a mother should forget to love her child, it is not possible that I should cease to love a soul that has become my child: Can a woman forget her infant, so as not to have pity on the son of her womb ? And if she should forget, yet will I not forget thee (Is 49.15). Mary is our Mother, not, as we have already observed, according to the flesh, but by love; I am the Mother of fair love (Ecclus. 24) hence it is the love only that She bears us that makes Her our Mother; and therefore some one remarks, that She glories in being a Mother of love, because She is all love towards us whom she has adopted for her children. And who can ever tell the love that Mary bears us miserable creatures… At the death of Jesus Christ, She desired with immense ardour to die with her Son, for love of us; “so much so,” adds St. Ambrose, “that whilst Her Son hung on the cross, Mary offered Herself to the executioners, to give Her life for us.”
But let us consider the reasons of this love; for then we shall be better able to understand how much this good Mother loves us. The first reason for the great love that Mary bears to men, is the great love that She bears to God; love towards God and love towards our neighbour belong to the same commandment, as expressed by St. John: this commandment we have from God, that he who loveth God, love also his brother (1 Jn 4.24); so that as the love for God becomes greater the other also increases. What have not the Saints done for their neighbour in consequence of their love towards God ! Read only the account of the labours of St. Francis Xavier in the Indies, where, in order to aid the souls of these poor barbarians and bring them to God, he exposed himself to a thousand dangers, clambering amongst the mountains, and seeking out these poor creatures in the caves in which they dwelt like wild beasts. See a St. Francis of Sales, who, in order to convert the heretics of the province of Chablais, risked his life every morning, for a whole year, crawling on his hands and feet over a frozen beam, in order that he might preach to them on the opposite side cf a river ; a St. Paulinus, who delivered himself up as a slave, in order that he might obtain liberty for the son of a poor widow; a St. Fidelis, who, in order to draw the heretics of a certain place to God, persisted in going to preach to them, though he knew it would cost him his life. The Saints, then, because they loved God much, did much for their neighbour : but who ever loved God as much as Mary? She loved Him more in the first moment of Her existence than all the saints and angels ever loved Him, or will love Him; but this we shall explain at length, when treating of her virtues. Our Blessed Lady Herself revealed to Sister Mary the Crucified, that the fire of love with which She was inflamed towards God was such, that if the heavens and earth were placed in it, they would be instantly consumed; so that the ardours of the seraphim, in comparison with it, were but as fresh breezes. And as amongst all the blessed spirits, there is not one that loves God more than Mary, so we neither have nor can have anyone who, after God, loves us as much as this most loving Mother; and if we concentrate all the love that mothers bear their children, husbands and wives one another, all the love of angels and saints for their clients, it does not equal the love of Mary towards a single soul… The love that all mothers have ever had for their children is but a shadow in comparison with the love that Mary bears to each one of us; She alone loves us more than all the angels and saints put together.
Moreover, our Mother loves us much, because we were recommended to Her by Her beloved Jesus, when He before expiring said to her, Woman, behold thy son! for we were all represented in the person of St. John, as we have already observed: these were His last words; and the last recommendations left before death by persons we love are always treasured and never forgotten. But again, we are exceedingly dear to Mary on account of the sufferings we cost her; mothers generally love those children most, the preservation of whose lives has cost them the most suffering and anxiety; we are those children for whom Mary, in order to obtain for us the life of grace, was obliged to endure the bitter agony of herself offering her beloved Jesus to die an ignominious death, and had also to see Him expire before Her own eyes in the midst of the most cruel and unheard-of torments. It was then by this great offering of Mary that we were born to the life of grace; we are therefore Her very dear children, since we cost Her so great suffering. And thus, as it is written of the love of the Eternal Father towards men, in giving His own Son to death for us, that God so loved the world as to give His only-begotten Son. “So also,” says St. Bonaventure, we can say of Mary, that She has so loved us as to give Her only-begotten Son for us.” And when did She give Him? She gave Him… when She granted Him permission to deliver Himself up to death; She gave Him, when, others neglecting to do so, either out of hatred or from fear, She might Herself have pleaded for the life of Her Son before the judges; and well may it be supposed that the words of so wise and loving a mother would have had great weight, at least with Pilate, and might have prevented him from sentencing a man to death whom he knew and had declared to be innocent. But no, Mary would not say a word in favour of Her Son, lest She might prevent that death on which our salvation depended. Finally, She gave Him a thousand and a thousand times, during the three hours preceding His death, and which She spent at the foot of the cross; for during the whole of that time She unceasingly offered, with the extreme of sorrow and the extreme of love, the life of her Son in our behalf, and this with such constancy, that St. Anselm and St. Antoninus say, that if executioners had been wanting, She Herself would have crucified Him, in order to obey the Eternal Father, who willed His death for our salvation. If Abraham had such fortitude as to be ready to sacrifice with his own hands the life of his son, with far greater fortitude would Mary (far more holy and obedient than Abraham) have sacrificed the life of Hers. But let us return to the consideration of the gratitude we owe to Mary for so great an act of love as was the painful sacrifice of the life of Her Son, which She made to obtain eternal salvation for us all. God abundantly rewarded Abraham for the sacrifice he was prepared to make of his son Isaac; but we, what return can we make to Mary for the life of her Jesus, a Son far more noble and beloved than the son of Abraham? “This love of Mary,” says St. Bonaventure, “has indeed obliged us to love Her; for we see that She has surpassed all others in love towards us, since She has given her only Son, whom she loved more than herself, for us.”
From this arises another motive for the love of Mary towards us; for in us She beholds that which has been purchased at the price of the death of Jesus Christ. If a mother knew that a servant had been ransomed by a beloved son at the price of twenty years of imprisonment and suffering, how greatly would she esteem that servant, if on this account alone! Mary well knows that her Son came into the world only to save us poor creatures, as He Himself protested, I am come to save that which was lost (Lk. 19.10). And to save us He was pleased even to lay down His life for us, having become obedient unto death (Phil. 2.8). If, then, Mary loved us but little, She would show that She valued but little the blood of Her Son, which was the price of our salvation. To St. Elizabeth of Hungary it was revealed, that Mary, from the time she dwelt in the Temple, did nothing but pray for us, begging that God would hasten the coming of His Son into the world to save us. And how much more must we suppose that She loves us, now that She has seen that we are valued to such a degree by her Son, that He did not disdain to purchase us at such a cost. And because all men have been redeemed by Jesus, therefore Mary loves and protects them all. It was She who was seen by St. John in the Apocalypse, clothed with the sun : And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun (Apoc. 12.1). She is said to be clothed with the sun, because as there is no one on earth who can be hidden from the heat of the sun – There is no one that can hide himself from his heat (Ps. 18.7) – so there is no one living who can be deprived of the love of Mary. “From its heat,” that is, as blessed Raymond Jordan applies the words, “from the love of Mary.” “And who,” exclaims St. Antoninus, “can ever form an idea of the tender care that this most loving Mother takes of all of us,” offering and extending Her mercy to everyone for our good Mother desired the salvation of all, and cooperated in obtaining it. “It is evident,” says St. Bernard, “that She was solicitous for the whole human race.” Hence the custom of some of Mary’s clients, spoken of by Cornelius a Lapide, and which consists in asking our Lord to grant them the graces that our Blessed Lady seeks for them, succeeds most advantageously: they say, Lord, grant me that which the most Blessed Virgin Mary asks for me. “And no wonder,” adds the same writer, for our Mother desires for us better things than we can possibly desire ourselves.” The devout Bernardine da Busto says, that Mary loves to do us good, and dispense graces to us far more than we to receive them.” On this subject St. Albert the Great applies to Mary the words of the Book of Wisdom: She preventeth them that covet her, so that She first showeth Herself unto them (Wis 6.14). Mary anticipates those who have recourse to Her by making them find Her before they seek her. “The love that this good Mother bears us is so great,” says Richard of St. Lawrence, that as soon as She perceives our wants, She comes to our assistance. She comes before She is called.”
And now, if Mary is so good to all, even to the ungrateful and negligent, who love her but little, and seldom have recourse to her, how much more loving will she be to those who love her and often call upon her! She is easily found by them that seek her (Wis 6.13). “How easy,” adds the same St. Albert, “is it for those who love Mary to find Her, and to find Her full of compassion and love!” In the words of the Book of Proverbs, I love them that love me (Prov 8.17) , She protests that she cannot do otherwise than love those who love Her. And although this most loving Lady loves all men as Her children, yet, says St. Bernard, “She recognises and loves,” that is, she loves in a more special manner, “those who love Her more tenderly.” Blessed Raymond Jordano asserts that these happy lovers of Mary are not only loved but even served by Her ; for he says that those who find the most Blessed Virgin Mary, find all; for She loves those who love Her, nay more, She serves those who serve Her. Let us love Her as so many of Her servants have loved Her, who never could do enough to show their love. – St. Alphonsus Liguori