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Trembling sing the Virgin Mother,
Pray, pray for us.”
Mirror of Justice, Seat of Wisdom, Cause of our Joy, Spiritual vessel, Vessel of singular devotion, Tower of David; . . . Ark of the Covenant, Gate of Heaven, Health of the Sick, Refuge of Sinners, Comforter of the Afflicted, Help of Christians, Queen of Angels, Queen of Patriarchs, Queen of Prophets, Queen of Apostles, Queen of All Saints."
The last few lines of prose are extracted from the Litany of Mary” chanted by Roman Catholics; and a comparison of that with the “Litany of the Saints,” and
the “Litany of Jesus” shows that she ranks high above the Saints, whilst in some instances she appears to be somewhat inferior, in others equal to her Son. A few illustrations must suffice.
From the Litany of Jesus.
From the Litany of Mary.
Mirror of Justice.
It is qnite true that when the Virgin is coupled in prayer with the Father, the Son, and the Trinity, those are asked to have“ mercy upon us,” whilst the Mother of God is only supplicated to "pray for us,” and this would indicate her inferiority, were it not that on the other hand she is often directly appealed to for such support as only a Deity can give—the power to resist sin and temptation, and the grace to lead a holy life. This belief in her divine power becomes unmistakable when we consider the terms in which she is addressed in such petitions, and compare them with similar prayers to the Persons of the Trinity. In the following a few words are italicised for purposes of comparison :
How to conquer every sin,
To God (Lucis Creator).
Teach us the prize of life to win,
Teach us the way of peace to prize,
To the Holy Ghost.
With love our hearts inflame,
In a similar but somewhat more familiar strain, the Guardian Angel is also appealed to, but clearly as an inferior being to either the Trinity or the Mother :
“Sweet angel of mercy,
Oh cease not to keep me
The best evidence, however, of the rank held by Mary in heaven is found in the hymns of devotion to the Church :
" I'll never forsake thee, I never will be,
O Church of the Saints, an apostate to thee.
I may lose some advantage and forfeit some gain,
From her throne in the skies on her children will smile.” In one of these hymns the approval of the Father is also courted, or rather the verse may be so construed as it expresses a fear of the Deity (the reference is still to apostasy):
“O far from me such wickedness,
One treasure I hold dear-
I love them more." At the end of the collection of hymns from which all these extracts have been made, are to be found certain “Divine Praises," which serve to fix the rank of the Mother of God in heaven : « Blessed be God.
Blessed be His holy name. Blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true man. Blessed be the Name of Jesus. Blessed be Jesus in the most holy Sacrament of the Altar. Blessed be the great Mother of God, the most holy Mary. Blessed be her holy and Immaculate Conception. Blessed be the name of Mary, Virgin and Mother. Blessed be God in his Angels and in his Saints." No mention whatever is made of the third Person of the Trinity.
The Roman Catholic conceptions of Heaven, and of Purgatory or Limbo, are too well known to need much comment. One or two extracts may however be useful to enable us to complete our sketch. Death is depicted as an event to be dreaded :
“Vainly strives imagination
That dread moment to pourtray
Christ is then appealed to for protection from Satan :
6 Scatter all his host infernal,
Lay me fast in Thee asleep,
Fortunate is the man who has the last sacred offices performed for him :
* This doctrine is certainly inconsistent with that of Purgatory.