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For the Preservation of the Deposit of the Faith
For the Kingdom of God to come!
St. Alphonsus’ love for the Blessed Virgin became ever more ardent at the end of his years; he would have liked to set all hearts ablaze with the love of Mary; he often cried out: “O men, what are you doing? How can you love deceitful and lying creatures of mud, who betray you and make you lose your soul, your body, heaven and God? And why don’t you love Mary, who is very loving, very kind and very faithful, and who, after enriching you with consolations and graces during this life, would obtain for you from Her divine Son the eternal glory of paradise?”
Oh, for Alphonsus, he always loved Her tenderly, this good Mother; as a small child he had said to Her ingenuously, “My sweet Mary, I do not want it said that anyone honors and loves You more than I do,” and this wish of his heart was fully satisfied. Even in his sleep he made the most touching aspirations: “How beautiful You are, O Mary! How beautiful You are, O Mary! How beautiful You are, my Jesus!” We would have much to say about his favorite devotion, the Rosary, which he prayed every day of his long life. From morning to night he was seen with the rosary in his hand.
In a mission given to the galley slaves of Naples, there were some who were stubbornly unwilling to go to confession. St. Alphonsus Liguori urged them to at least enroll in the Confraternity of the Rosary and to begin to recite it; they did so, and no sooner had they said one than they requested to go to confession, and they did indeed confess, they who had not gone to the sacraments for several years. Such recent examples serve to revive our confidence in Mary, since She is still today what She has always been for those who have recourse to Her.
At an advanced age, one day when he was being carried to table, believing he had not finished his Rosary, Father Alphonsus resisted, saying, “One Hail Mary is worth more than all the dinners in the world.” Another day that he did not remember reciting it, the Brother told him that he had. “But you, the Saint replied, do not think that it is on this devotion that my salvation depends.” He was careful to recommend devotion to Mary to all who came to visit him: “Be devout to the Blessed Virgin; he who is devout to the Virgin will be saved.” He recommended that everyone visit Her images, recite the Rosary, fast in Her honor on Saturdays and on the eves of Her feasts, recite three Hail Marys morning and evening in memory of Her immaculate conception and perpetual virginity, adding to each Hail Mary, “By Your pure and immaculate Conception, O Mary! purify my body and sanctify my soul.”
He was offering Her image to all. Here, he said, is the image of your heavenly Mother; give Her your love and your trust. Love the good Virgin well,” he often repeated, “for Mary is the mother of perseverance, and he who loves Jesus and Mary makes himself holy.”