By l'Abbé Bérenger Saunière, priest of Rennes-le-Château 1885-1909

Sunday, May 18 in the Octave of the Ascension
Feast of St Venantius, martyr.
Saturday: Vigil of Pentecost. - Day of fasting and severe abstinence. - Mass at 8.00 a.m.

I do not want to allow the month of May to pass without speaking to you about our Blessed Mother in Heaven. I think I would be failing in my duty as a Christian and a priest by neglecting to speak to you about the devotion that we owe to Mary, to the Blessed Virgin. - Moreover, I promised I would do so on May 4, when for the first time I had the honour to speak to you in public, and I must keep my promise. In passing from one thing to another we have finally returned to this subject, which is as interesting as it is useful; let us not therefore defer it indefinitely lest we forget it about it completely.

Let us speak this morning therefore about the Blessed Virgin. Here are the thoughts that I want to suggest to you for your meditation:

We must love, pray to, honour and imitate our Mother of Heaven.

1. Love. Why? 1 - God gave Her to us as a Mother in the person of St John the Beloved. 2 - For us She has the heart and soul of a mother. We can apply to Her the words that the Gospel assigns to Our Lord Jesus Christ. "Even if your own natural mother abandons you, I will never forget you". 3 - We are obliged by the 4th commandment of God to love our mother on the Earth, so it is with even greater justification that we should love our Mother in Heaven. - So let us love Her, after God, with all our heart, all our soul and all our strength.

2. Prayer. 1 - Either we are doing good or we are sinning. To persevere in virtue, to remain a good Christian and a friend to God we must pray to the Blessed Virgin. If we are sinners, then to recover our innocence and our lost state of grace, to return to the friendship of God, let us have recourse to Mary. Refugium peccatorum, ora pro nobis ["Refuge of sinners, pray for us"]. 2 - We cannot go to Heaven without grace but, according to the Saints, Mary is the channel by which grace flows. God sends His help, His aid, His grace to us via the Blessed Virgin, mater divinae gratiae, janua coeli, ora pro nobis [mother of divine grace, heaven's gates, pray for us"]. 3 - She is our consolation, therefore, in our sorrows, our afflictions, and especially in our temptations, so let us pray to Mary. Salus infirmorum, consolatrix afflictorum ["Healer of the sick, consoler of the afflicted."]. She is our advocate before God, before Her son, She petitions for us, She intercedes for us, She pleads our cause, so have recourse to Her. She is our protector. By how many dangers are we not surrounded? Dangers to the body; dangers especially to the soul. Dangers on all sides. The world… Hell… the Devil, they all conspire to bring about our perdition. Let us therefore have recourse to Mary; She conquered the world, routed Hell, put the demons to flight. Let us therefore say to Her often; Virgo potens, turris Davidica, turris eburnea, auxilium Christianorum, ora pro nobis ["All-powerful Virgin, Tower of David, Tower of Ivory, aid to all Christians, pray for us". 4 - We must always pray to Mary, but more particularly during Her blessed month, the month that is dedicated to Her. Why? She is the Spirit and the guiding light of the Church… The popularity of this month… 300 days' indulgence to be obtained each day and a plenary indulgence once a month. So let us pray to Mary. St Bernard states that She was never called upon in vain. (Do you remember, etc) [Prayer of St Bernard]

3. Honour. 1 - By saying all one's prayers properly, particularly the Hail Mary. Angelus… Regina coeli… ["Queen of Heaven"] Remember…. The rosary. 2 - By avoiding sin and practising virtue, and obeying the commandments of God and the Church. 3 - By creating a small domestic altar inside our homes and by praying for each other before its image, by praying for both the living and the dead. 4 - By encouraging worship of and devotion to Mary in everything, everywhere and always.

4. Imitation. We must imitate Her piety, in our prayers, in Church, in our behaviour, when silent, etc.. We should often ask ourselves in our prayers as well as in all the actions of the day: "If the Blessed Virgin had to act in my place, what would She do. Her modesty, Her purity: modesty in our actions, modesty in the way we look at others, modesty in our clothing and in all exterior things. Let us be pure in our thoughts - in our words - in our deeds. Let us often say to Her: Mater purissima, Mater castissima, ora pro nobis ["Purest mother, most chaste mother, pray for us".] Her charity towards Her neighbour… Her love for God… Let us imitate Her especially in our everyday life, in our work, in our day-to-day occupations. Mary sanctified Herself in Nazareth as everywhere by performing widely the smallest, most everyday deeds.

We have a false idea of who the Blessed Virgin was on Earth; we look upon Her as a creature raised high above the miseries of humanity, something alien to our work and our cares.

But Mary was what we are: She worked like us, She suffered like us, She cried like us, indeed more than us.

Let us contemplate the young mother obliged to take refuge in a poor cattle shed to give birth to Her son Jesus; then subsequently exiling Herself to escape the anger of Herod - She eats Her bread in the sweat of her brow. Then comes the Passion of Jesus Christ. - Only after the death of Her son… O vos omnes qui transitis ["O all ye that pass by the way, attend and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow."] - No woman has suffered as much as Her… Regina martyrum. Ora pro nobis. ["Queen of the Martyrs, pray for us".]

So let us imitate Mary, not by doing extraordinary things, miracles, wonders, astonishing things; for She did not do any; but by doing the ordinary everyday things well and thus sanctifying ourselves. Let us imitate Her in Nazareth, in exile, at the Calvary; let us imitate Her in Her sufferings, Her sorrows; let us imitate Her piety, Her purity, Her modesty, Her simplicity, Her charity, Her love for God and for Her neighbour. In a word, let us be Her devoted servants and never forget Her…

It is not unusual to find people who have lost sight of everything, who have forgotten everything, who have disavowed everything, everything except one small prayer to Mary, a prayer that they learned from their own mother. I remember the words of one man who said: "I have done a lot of evil things in my life; I have attacked everything, I even attacked God Himself, but I always respected the Blessed Virgin".

So through misfortune, my friends, you did something that displeased God: you came to forget that you are a Christian, a child of God and the Church; by misfortune you came to so lose sight of the good principles of your childhood, of the resolutions of your First Communion - by misfortune, I say, led astray by your passions, in the midst of the storms of the life, you came to lose sight of the practice of our holy religion, of the commandments of God and the Church, as if you had suddenly disavowed both your faith and your baptism and your blessed mother the Church. Ah! I entreat you, respect the Blessed Virgin, love Her, pray to Her, respect Her, honour Her - and Mary, upon Whom no one calls in vain, will not allow you to suffer loss and damnation! - Amen.

Bérenger Saunière's Sermons