Liturgy for Sundays and Main Feasts
Hymn to Mary our Mother and Queen
1. Hail! Queen of heav’n, the ocean Star,
Guide of the wand’rer here below!
Thrown on life’s surge we claim Thy care,
Save us from peril and from woe.
Mother of Christ, Star of the sea,
Pray for the wanderer, pray for me!
2. O gentle, chaste, and spotless Maid,
We sinners make our prayers through Thee,
Remind Thy Son that He has paid
The price of our iniquity.
Virgin most pure, Star of the sea,
Pray for the sinner, pray for me!
3. Sojourners in this vale of tears,
To Thee, blest Advocate, we cry,
Pity our sorrows, calm our fears
And soothe with hope our misery.
Refuge in grief, Star of the sea,
Pray for the mourner, pray for me!
4. And while to Him who reigns above,
In Godhead one, in Persons three,
The source of life, of grace, of love,
Homage we pay on bended knee,
Do Thou, bright Queen, Star of the sea,
Pray for Thy children, pray for me!
To love Mary is the duty of every creature of God; to know Mary is to have the assurance of loving Her always; but at the same time it is to penetrate the divine secrets of the mystery of the Incarnation, in which God has given us the means to ascend to Him through charity. The dogma of the God-Man is the key to all the truths whose faith and practice lead us to our end; the dogma of the Mother of God brings us new light to better understand the marvellous gift that the divine Word has deigned to give us of Himself.
Therefore, it is not enough to honour Mary to sing Her praises, and to indulge in the charms of Her love. In the things of religion, sentiment proceeds from faith, and faith needs to grow and develop always in the contemplation of the truths it reveals to us. On this day of the feast of Mary Queen of the World, it is appropriate to study thoroughly the Christian dogma in its relationship with the august Mother of God. Everything makes it our duty, and the sincerity of the tributes we pay to Her, and the desire that the children of the Church must feel to transmit to all the love they feel for Her whom all generations must call Blessed.
The Royalty of Mary Mother of God
On earth, the Church places on the forehead of the Vicar of Christ a triple Crown to signify the fullness of the spiritual kingship that resides in him. Mary was all the more entitled to receive the honours of the Trireign, and all the more justly since we honour in Her three main qualities in which all Her greatness is summed up. These three qualities are Excellence, Power and Kindness. Excellence, which consists in a prerogative so high that only the Divinity itself can be considered superior; this ineffable prerogative is the Divine Maternity. Mary’s power proceeds from this very excellence and has no limits; She reigns after God and with God. Kindness is the prerogative of this immense supremacy; the Mother of God becomes by adoption the Mother of men and of every creature; the sceptre of mercy is placed in Her hands. Excellence, power, kindness, united by a triple alliance on Mary’s sublime forehead, is the diadem with which God wished to crown Her.
In the book of Revelation, the beloved Disciple tells us that on the head of the mysterious Woman twelve Stars shone in a crown.
The Twelve Stars of the Tiara of Excellence
The first Star in Mary’s diadem is the eternal predestination to become Mother of the incarnate Son of God. Eternally the thought of a God-Man has been present to the Most Holy Trinity; now, the God-Man supposes a Mother from whose womb He will draw human nature by the operation of the Holy Spirit. From the Son to the Mother, the relationship is necessary; the divine Maternity, as conceived and prepared in the intelligence of God, thus associates Mary with the eternal plans, by means of a predestination which has above it only that of Our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom She is inseparably linked.
But before it occurs outside, this ineffable predestination is announced and represented by symbols. This new relationship of Mary with Jesus, who is to be His Son in time, as He is of the Father in eternity, forms the second Star.
The Mother of God, predestined and prefigured, is finally created in the fullness of time by divine power. The quality of Daughter of the Heavenly Father is magnificently conferred upon Her, and this is the third Star. Creation is a fatherhood; on whom has the Father of all things exercised it with more munificence? Adoption is a second fatherhood; who among us has been more closely adopted by the Creator, who in a way admits Mary to His august power of filiation?
The Holy Spirit made Mary His true Spouse and made Her divinely fruitful in the Incarnation. He adorned Her with this sublime vocation with all the riches of the virtues and gifts of His grace, and pouring Himself into Her, He unfolded to an immeasurable degree the treasures of perfection that He had prepared. This quality of Spouse of the Holy Spirit is the fourth Star.
The fifth Star bursts forth in the assembly of the natural perfections that make Mary the masterpiece of God’s power, the marvel of creation: nobility of origin, incomparable beauty, sublime intelligence, kindness that is poured out on all creatures.
But the gifts of grace, whose reunion forms the sixth Star, are much higher still in Mary, and those of nature are only an imperfect image of Her. This grace, poured into Her so abundantly from the moment of Her conception, has developed in a progression which man’s intellect cannot fathom, and it has become in Mary the principle of a merit which surpasses that of all the Saints together.
The total exemption from sin reveals to us in the Mother of God a degree of glory which we sinful men must proclaim with holy envy, like the seventh Star of the first crown. This perfect harmony with God’s uncreated Holiness is first manifested in the immaculate conception of Mary, who was not subjected to the withering of original sin; and secondly, in the absolute exemption from present sin, which has never approached Her, nor altered in the least thing the created Holiness from which She shines forth.
Mary is blessed among all women; She is the eighth Star. The curse of Eve did not attain Her. Blessed in Her virginal fecundity, blessed by the acclamation of all those who celebrate Her, She fulfils all the characteristics of blessing that are found in the Tabernacle of the Covenant which God loved, where His majesty rested in the desert.
The ninth Star points to Mary as the Queen and Mother of virtues. In the sanctuary of Her heart the seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit have established their dwelling place; the twelve Fruits of that divine Spirit, enumerated by the Apostle, reside there in the same way. The eight Beatitudes exalted by the very mouth of the Saviour are realized and crowned in Her with magnificence.
The wonders of glory that burst forth in Mary are signified by the tenth Star; the glory of Her death, which sweetly surpassed that of the most distinguished friends of God; the glory of Her Assumption in body and soul, which recalls the Ascension of Her divine Son; the glory of Her triumph which moved the whole heavenly court; the glory of Her body which illuminates the heavens with the rays of Her splendor; the glory of Her soul which surpasses in brilliance and perfection all the angelic hierarchies; the glory of Her throne which dominates all that is not God.
According to Mary’s own prediction, all generations must proclaim Her blessed. The eleventh Star is that unanimous concert in which we hear successively the Gentiles who lived in expectation of the Son of this Virgin whose birth was to produce the universal Liberator, and the Jews who awaited Him as to come out of their race, the pagans who have often honored Her in spite of the darkness of their ignorance, the princes and princesses who have taken the honor of lowering their crowns at Her feet, the Christian nations of both worlds, who have all raised to Her glory some of those august sanctuaries resplendent with the radiance of the prodigies which announce that Mary is pleased to reside there, the religious Orders, all of which, filled with Her favors, are monuments to Her glory and trumpets to Her praise.
Finally, the twelfth Star consists in the reunion of all the perfections distributed to the various orders of creation, and gathered together by the hand of God Himself in the One He has chosen for the Mother of His Son.
The Twelve Stars of the Tiara of Power
We find the first Star in that glorious power that Mary had to attract the divine Word to this earth by the ardour of Her desires, more vehement than those of all the patriarchs and prophets, by the heavenly attractions of Her virginity, which prepared for the Son of God a sanctuary in relation to His sovereign holiness, by the depth of Her unparalleled humility, by the acquiescence She gave to the heavenly request proposed by the angel, and without which the mystery of the Incarnation would not take place.
Mary’s power appears again in the fact that She provided, in an ineffable manner and with the purest of Her blood, the matter of that flesh which was to be united to the divine Word; in the fact that She exercised real authority, through Her quality of Mother, over the incarnate Son of God, and this is the second Star.
The third expresses this other form of power that Mary exercised over the Son of God and Her own, by nursing Him with Her chaste breasts and directing His first steps.
Spouse of the divine Word who unites Himself to the faithful souls, this glorious covenant in which Mary participated more than all the others together, made Her share in the power of this sublime Spouse. Let us honor in this mystery the fourth Star.
Her Son is called the Father of the age to come, the Restorer of the human race. Mary, in the fifth Star of Her power, appears to us as sharing with Him these glorious titles. She offered on Calvary the Victim who opened the gates of eternity to us through Her blood; She suffered with the Redeemer, and mixed Her tears with the blood that was shed from the wounds of the Man-God. If by His death He changed the curse into a blessing, it is because Mary was first substituted to Eve.
Mary’s power appears in the sixth Star, in that the Word who took for Himself the quality of Head of His Church established Her as Queen, and placed in Her hands the power to spread the faith in the world, to destroy heresies, to lead the Apostles, to encourage the Martyrs, to enlighten the Pontiffs, to inspire the Doctors, to sanctify the Confessors, to raise up the Virgins, to watch with solicitude over the faithful who live in the conjugal bond.
But Mary is not only the Queen of the Church; She is also its powerful protector, and this other branch of Her power is represented by the seventh Star. She loves with invincible love this family which forms the body of Her Son; through Her, this immortal vessel defies all storms; She is that Tower of David which protects the Holy City forever.
And since the Church is also the Lord’s army, Mary, clothed with the power of command represented by the eighth Star, advances against all the enemies who want to stop the march of this invincible army. History bears witness to the countless victories that Mary has won over them.
The ninth Star of Power in the Mother of God is the wealth of the treasure that She dispenses. This inexhaustible treasure is made up of the graces of Her Son, to whose distribution She is appointed, and which all pass through Her hands to reach us.
The Man-God is established by His Father on a tribunal from which He will judge the living and the dead. At the foot of this tribunal, Mary exercises the power of Advocate and Mediatrix, symbolized in the tenth Star; an immense power, because it is based on the rights of a Mother with regard to Her Son, and is recognized by the tender Heart of this Son, who would like all men to be saved.
Before the divine Incarnation, Satan was the prince of this world who had submitted to him through sin. The Son of Mary dethroned him, and sitting at the right hand of God, He became King of the redeemed world. Mary is the Queen and the Sovereign Lady, and all the work of God is placed under Her laws; this is the eleventh Star of Power.
The twelfth and last Star of this second crown is Mary’s omnipotence. Her Son is, in essence, invested with divine power; nothing resists Him, and His operation knows no limits. He wanted His Mother to participate, as far as it is possible for a pure creature, in the irresistible power that resides in Him; that is why all the centuries resound with the fame of the prodigies of all kinds worked by Mary, and why all generations have hoped in Her with a hope that was never deceived.
The Twelve Stars of the Tiara of Kindness
Sparkling with its twelve precious stones like the first two, the crown of Kindness appears in its turn, and the brightness of the Stars that compose it, softer in the eyes of men, delights their hearts and opens them to emotions of invincible confidence.
The first of these stars represents the part that Mary was called to take in the predestination of the elect. Her Son is the principle of this supreme favor; to it the Father associates Mary in an ineffable way, saving all those in whom He sees, in the likeness of Jesus Christ, the marks of the maternal adoption of His beloved Daughter.
Mary is called the Mother of beautiful love, because divine Charity dwells in Her Heart as in a centre; She pours out this love upon us, and gives birth to us through a thousand means of Her tenderness, so that if we love God, it is to Her care and influence that we are indebted, after the Holy Spirit. This prerogative of Kindness is represented by the second Star.
Our mighty Queen has noble favors for those who have the honor of approaching Her more closely. First of all, She gives them advancement in the court of Her Son; close to Her, they obtain a credit to which nothing is refused; She delights in sharing with them Her most indicated favors. The history of the Saints is filled with the monuments of this ineffable courtesy which is represented by the third Star.
The fourth Star signifies the attentions and care of every nature that Mary deigns to take from those who have found the easy way to Her maternal Heart. She is pleased to dispose all things so as to place them in the path of their salvation and perfection; the Annals of Holiness bear witness to this on every page.
Who could say how far this august Sovereign’s liberality extends? In the order of nature: health, success in business, the development of intelligence, the preservation of families that were close to extinction, everything has been asked of Her, and everything has been obtained. In the order of grace: the virtues for the acquisition of which one has worked without success descend spontaneously into the soul which opens up to Mary through abandonment and prayer. The fifth Star is this much tried and tested liberality.
The heart of a powerful princess is honored to show noble gratitude to those who glorify themselves in being her subjects. How many favours did Mary grant to the nations who served Her as their Queen, as long as they remained faithful to Her? What has She not done for the cities that have asked for Her patronage, and have made themselves worthy by their zeal in confessing this happy dependence? And the emperors, kings, and generals of armies who have placed their states or battalions under Her patronage, have they ever been frustrated in their trust? Has not Mary always returned their advances with magnificence? This gratitude of Her so faithful heart is counted towards the sixth Star of the Crown of Kindness.
We find the seventh Star in that beautiful title of Mother of Mercy which the Church attributes to Mary, and which this kind Queen has deigned to deserve by Her mercy towards sinners. It would be useless to try to assign limits to Mary’s mercy; the Lord extends His mercy to all His works, and He wanted the Mother of His Son to always assist Him in the exercise of this divine prerogative.
The eighth Star is in the quality of Protectress that Mary exercises over Her own people. She defends them from dangers of the body, She tears them away from the perils of the soul, She thwarts the stratagems of the spirits of malice, She puts temptations to flight, and dissipates the illusions that could throw Her servants out of the way of salvation.
The Mother of God is for the souls of Her children a teacher who instructs them in all the doctrine of Her Son. She exercises them that they may arrive at all the developments that God desires in His chosen ones; if they deviate, She corrects them and puts them back on the way. This ministry of solicitude is represented on the Crown of Kindness, by the ninth Star.
The beautiful title of Comfortress of the Afflicted shines forth in the tenth Star. How many anxieties Mary has calmed! How many broken hearts have found rest and consolation through Her! How many despairs have given way to trust, as soon as She deigned to shine like a gentle rainbow in the midst of the storms of an ulcerated soul!
Mary, Refuge of Sinners: this is the eleventh Star. The ancient law had its cities of refuge, the Gentiles had their asylums: weak symbols of the security that the sinner finds in Mary’s arms. The Lord’s wrath can no longer reach him; the Mother of God defends him and acts as his shield.
The twelfth and last Star of the Diadem of Kindness designates the loving ministry that Mary exercises over Her children at the supreme moment. She is their powerful help at the hour of death. The natural apprehension of that terrible hour calms down in the heart of the dying man who feels a compassionate Mother close to him. It is She too who takes care to remove from Her favourites the perils of that dreadful surprise that we call sudden death. The assaults that the enemy had prepared at length for this critical moment turn to his confusion. Has the soul finally left the body? Mary assists it before the tribunal of Her Son. If she is sent to the place of atonement, the Mother of God deigns to descend there often, and soften by Her sweet presence the rigours of exile.
Our duties towards our Mother
Let us now see the duties that bind the faithful to such a great Queen, and the tributes they must pay to Her. Gratitude to Mary is the primary duty of all those whose hearts and eyes have been enchanted by the radiance of the three Crowns of Excellence, Power and Kindness which embellish the forehead of She who is the Mother of God and their own.
From this gratitude derives the high and profound esteem in which the faithful must hold the greatness and prerogatives of the Mother of God; the trust that so much power and kindness gives rise to in hearts; the love inspired by so many perfections and blessings; the zeal to win hearts for Her; the works of mercy which Her love for mankind makes so dear to Her; the acts of thanksgiving in which Her devotees enjoy pouring out the gratitude that urges them; the practices of Her worship which, in their gracious and varied forms, bring joy to the Church and happiness to pious souls; the works of mortification offered to God’s justice in honor of this Mother of Mercy, and accepted by Him with special benevolence; the eagerness to imitate the virtues of which Mary is an example to all classes of the faithful; and finally, the attention to procure Her glory by every means; for such is the good pleasure of God, that Mary may be praised and exalted in heaven and on earth for ever and ever.
Mary, Help of Christians
The times in which we have arrived are critical for the world’ s future; societies torn from their foundations call for a powerful hand to put them back on their feet. Man, by whatever name he may be called, is now powerless to save all that is at stake. Let us therefore lift up our eyes above, invoking help. The arm of God is not shortened, and as He has deigned to teach us in the book of divine Wisdom, He has made all the nations of the earth healable (Sap. I, 14). The work is arduous and requires great effort, but it is not above Mary’s power.
If God saves the world, and He will, salvation will come from the Mother of God. Through Her, the Lord has pulled out the thorns of paganism; through Her, He has successively triumphed over all heresies; today, because evil is at its height, because all truths, all duties, all rights are threatened by a universal shipwreck, is this a reason to believe that God and His Church will not triumph one last time? It must be admitted that there is ground for a great and solemn victory, and that is why it seems to us that the Lord has reserved for Mary all the honor of it. God does not retreat, as men do, in the presence of obstacles.
No doubt the convulsions of societies can be long and terrible in the days in which we live; but the Lord has given the nations as an inheritance to His Son, and whatever they do, they will not escape the power of this supreme and forever blessed Dominator. In His righteousness He will punish them; in His mercy He will save them. When the time comes, the serene and peaceful Star of the Seas, Mary, will rise on this stormy sea of political storms, and the tumultuous waves, astonished to reflect Her sweet radiance, will return calm and submissive. Then there will be only a voice of gratitude ascending to Her, who, once again, will have appeared as the sign of peace, after this new deluge. Mary is the key to the future, just as She is the Revealer of the past.
Perhaps those who are not Christians may be surprised at our words; and those who are, without yet understanding that the Son of God works all things in this world for the glory of His Mother, may find our thoughts strange and exaggerated; we will not complain. But this is the hope we have in our hearts: the Church will always triumph over all the obstacles that stop her path; she will never be defeated; the powers of hell will never prevail against her. She will triumph until the gates of eternity, and the reason for this endless triumph is that Mary is forever the Help of Christians: Auxilium christianorum.
Father Prosper Guéranger, Abbot of Solesme, Preface to a new publication (1850) of a work by Father François Poiré, sj: La triple couronne de la Mère de Dieu, 1643.