I am the mother of fair love, and of fear,
and of knowledge, and of holy hope (Ecclus 24:24). Just as Mary is the mother of love
and hope, so she is also the mother of faith. Saint Irenaeus says that this is so for
a very good reason, for "the evil done by Eve's unfaithfulness was
remedied by Mary's faith." Tertullian confirms this by saying that because
Eve believed the serpent against the warning she had received
from God, she brought death into the world; but because Mary believed
the angel at the Annunciation she brought salvation into the
world. He puts it this way: "Eve believed the serpent; Mary believed
Gabriel. What Eve demolished by her foolish credulity, Mary restored
by her genuine faith." Saint Augustine says: "It was Mary's faith that
opened heaven to men when she agreed to cooperate in the Incarnation
of the Eternal Word." Richard of Saint Lawrence commenting on
these words of Saint Paul from Corinthians: For the unbelieving husband
is sanctified by the believing wife (1 Cor 7:14), says: "Mary is
the believing woman by whose faith the unbelieving Adam and all his
posterity are saved." It was as a tribute to her faith that Elizabeth
called Our Lady "blessed": Blessed are you that has believed, because
those things shall be accomplished in you that were spoken by the
Lord (Lk 1:45). And Saint Augustine adds: "Mary was blessed more
by receiving the faith of Christ than by conceiving the flesh of Christ."
Father Suarez says that the most
holy Virgin had more faith than all human beings and angels together. She saw her
son in the
crib at Bethlehem and believed that he was the creator of the world. She saw
him flee from Herod and believed that he was the King of kings. She
saw him born, yet believed him to be eternal. She saw him poor and in
need of food, and believed that he was the Lord of the universe. She
saw him lying on straw, and believed that he was omnipotent. She
observed that he did not speak, and yet believed that he was filled with
infinite wisdom. She heard him cry, and believed that he was the joy of
paradise. Finally, she saw him in death, despised and crucified, and
even though faith wavered in others, she remained firm in the conviction
that he was God. Commenting on those words of the Gospel: There stood by the
cross of Jesus his mother (Jn 19:25), Saint Antoninus says: "Mary stood there,
supported by her faith, which she firmly retained in the divinity of Christ."
And this is the reason why, the saint adds, in the midst of the Tenebrae service only one candle is left lighted.
With reference to this, Saint Leo applies to our Blessed Lady the words of
Proverbs: At night her lamp is undimmed (Prov 31:18). And with regard
to the words of Isaiah: I have trodden the winepress alone,
and...there is not a man with me (Isa 63:3), Saint Thomas remarks
that the prophet says "a man," because of the Blessed Virgin who
never failed in faith. Saint Albert the Great assures us: "Mary displayed
perfect faith. Even when the disciples doubted, she did not doubt."
magnificent faith, therefore, Mary merited to become "a light to all
the faithful," as Saint Methodius calls her; and the "Queen of the
true faith," as she is called by Saint Cyril of Alexandria. Holy
Church herself attributes the destruction of all heresies to the merits of
Mary: "Rejoice, O Virgin Mary, for you alone have destroyed all heresies
throughout the world." Saint Thomas of Villanova, explaining
the words of the Holy Spirit: You have wounded my heart, my sister,
my spouse...with one of your eyes (Cant 4:9), says: "These eyes denoted
Mary's faith, by which she pleased the Son of God so much."
makes a point of urging us to imitate Mary's faith. But how can we do this?
Faith is both a gift and a virtue. It is a gift of God because it is a light infused by him into our souls;
it is a virtue inasmuch as the soul must strive to practice it. Hence faith must
not only be the rule of our belief, but the rule of our actions as well.
That is why Saint Gregory says: "That man really believes who puts
what he believes into practice." And Saint Augustine: "You say 'I
Do what you say and then it will be faith." To live according to
our belief is what is meant by the expression "to have a living faith."
My just one lives by faith (Heb 10:38). The Blessed Virgin lived very
differently from those who do not live according to what they believe.
Saint James declared: Faith without works is dead (Jas 2:26).
Diogenes lighted a lantern and looked
around for a man on earth. But God seems to be looking for a Christian. Among the baptized
on earth, there are many who perform no good works at all. The majority are Christians
only in name. The words once addressed by Alexander
to a cowardly soldier should be applied to these people: "Either change your
name or change your conduct." Father Ávila used to say: "It would
be better to lock these poor creatures up as madmen. They believe that eternal
happiness is in store for those who lead good lives and an eternity
of misery for those who lead bad lives. And yet they act as if they believed
nothing." Saint Augustine exhorts us to look at things
with the eyes of Christians, that is, with eyes that see everything
in the light of faith. Saint Teresa often used to say: "All sins come from
the lack of faith." Let us therefore beg our Blessed Lady, by the merit
of her faith, to obtain a living faith for us. "O Lady, increase our