Saturday, May 9, 2015

Auxilium Christianorum

Here's another gem from the heart, mind and soul of a Carthusian monk in the compilation titled: Le Mois de Marie Cartusien. In this reflection, there's a mentioning that several of the Church Fathers taught that the angels promised in advance reverence and obedience to the Virgin Mother of God. That thought might turn one's thoughts to the Annunciation and the appearance of the angel Gabriel to Mary. What did she see? What was Gabriel's posture that would indicate reverence and obedience? Something to ponder...
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“Almighty and merciful God Who, for the defense of Christendom, hast wonderfully established the Blessed Virgin Mary to be an ever ready help to Thy people. . .” These words, which occur in the Collect of the Mass of Our Lady, Help of Christians, should suffice to indicate to us the aid offered to all who seek it from the holy Mother of God.

We have already seen what help Mary, as dispenser of divine grace, brings to the support of our fallen nature, and how we, God’s creatures, can lean on her, as it were on His own Arm. But Mary’s love, as a Mother, finds other ways of assisting us. One of the most precious is the unwearying protection whereby she shields her children, unceasingly harassed as they are by the enemy of souls. She fulfills to perfection the delightful symbol which Jesus used in speaking to the Jews, to express His ever steadfast and watchful love for their unhappy race. As the hen gathers her chickens under her wings, when she sees the kestrel hovering near, so does our heavenly Mother gather her children under her cloak and hide them in her heart, at the approach of evil (cf. Matthew 23:37).

At the dawn of creation, Lucifer the archangel set himself up in opposition to the Mother of God. The trial that was to settle forever the lot of the angelic spirits consisted especially, according to several of the Fathers, in the proposal that God made to these beings – so noble and so beautiful by nature – that they should promise in advance adoration and submission to the Incarnate Word, and reverence and obedience to His Virgin Mother. The chief of the angels refused to render this homage, and hell was for him, and for those who followed his lead, the punishment of their revolt (cf. Luke 10:18).

When, in the fullness of time, God became man, the rebel angels rose in fury against the Person of our Savior, and by their hirelings crucified Him to Whom they had refused their adoration in the highest heaven. Filled with rage at the thought of the glories decreed to this Son of promise (cf. Acts 13:23) and their Master forever, they turned their fury against the other sons of the chosen Woman. They waged unceasing warfare against those children of Mary who bear within them the sign of the redeemed. No one is exempt from this warfare: between the sons of Satan and the children of Mary there is irreconcilable enmity (cf. Genesis 3:15). Who will be our support in this struggle? We are so weak when left to our own resources.

“Sinners as we are,” wrote Dom Louis Rouvier, “we are exposed to violent and repeated temptations. The more we have sinned, the more power Satan has over us; and, as the implacable enemy of our souls, he has no greater wish than to see us one day share in his torments. To that end, he exercises all his infernal malice in order to encompass our ruin. How can we escape from his wiles without powerful aid? Ever since Mary crushed the head of the accursed serpent beneath her feet, she has, it is certain, a command over him in virtue of which she is able to free her children from danger. This is why she has been given the consoling title of Auxilium Christianorum – Help of Christians. But can we expect her to use her power on our behalf if we do not call on her? How profitable, then, is it for us to invoke this great Queen frequently, in order to triumph over the temptations of the devil” (Dom Louis Rouvier, Novenas for the Festivals of the Blessed Virgin Mary).

And Mary protects us by renewing our courage. Little by little, she will weaken those evil inclinations left in our nature by sin, those instincts which are stepping-stones to further sin. Above all, she will curb the audacity of our enemies. They cannot endure her presence, and the mere indication of her name puts them to flight. “The powers of darkness,” says Saint Bonaventure, “melt away like wax in the warmth of the fire, when they meet anyone who keeps Mary in remembrance and is in the habit of calling on her, and is zealous in imitating her.”

But should we unhappily presume on our liberty to tear ourselves for a moment from her arms and stretch out our hands to Satan, our heavenly Mother would still come to our aid, by preventing this cruel tyrant from exercising over us the power into which our fault has betrayed us, and by forcing him to give us time to gain our pardon.

In a touching allegory, Holy Scripture describes this manifestation of Mary’s mercy. The sons of Respha had been delivered up to the Gabaonites, who crucified them. By their bodies, keeping untiring watch to defend their remains from the birds of the air by day and from the beasts of the field by night, was their mother. Nor did she leave them until the king, David, had them taken down from the cross, and had them buried with the bones of Saul and Jonathan his son (cf. 2 Kings [2 Samuel] 21:13). Such is the image of Mary, watching over fallen souls, in order to prevent hell from completing the work of their destruction, and ceaselessly drawing down upon them the cleansing waters of sorrow and repentance: donec stilleret eos aqua de cælo. . . until there fall upon them dew from heaven (cf. Psalm 71 [72]:6; Joel 3:18; Amos 9:13).