Can we love our Blessed Mother too much? Does our love for her take something away from her Son? Where will love for Mary lead us?
First of all, no matter how much we love Mary, it will never be too much to suit her Son. Secondly, how could we be taking anything away from Him, when she simply passes on to Him the love we give her? As to where true love for Mary will lead us... it can only lead to Jesus, to the same place that Mary's love for Jesus led her... Calvary.
Why does Mary wish to lead us to Calvary? Because it was on Calvary, as she gazed upon Him, stooped – almost doubled-over – with the Cross on His shoulders, climbing the Hill... that she once again "fell in love" with her God.
She had thought it impossible to love Him more than she already loved Him, for He had been a Son beyond reproach. But now, as her tear-dimmed eyes observed the intensity of His suffering, the near-total disruption of His body, the brutal, incredible damage He had permitted men to afflict Him with, she could think of only one thing. Had He so desired, He could have – with just a thought – damned each of His executioners to Hell for all Eternity: Yet He had not. Only Divinity was capable of such great nobility. And with that realization she found herself loving Him anew in His Divinity, in full, breathless awe! Impossible though it seemed, this ravished Person, humble beyond belief, was not only the Child of her womb, the Son she raised, the Savior promised, but the God Who created her! Instinctively, her heart prostrated itself before Him in an act of silent adoration.
If ever it can be said that God had need of man, it was there on Calvary, where Christ's humanity, literally torn apart, cried out to man for recognition of His Divinity. Was there no one to see beneath it all? Was there no one to proclaim Him to be the Son of God, even silently? His heart, breaking anew, pounded furiously in His chest; tremors obsessed Him, and shaking like a man afflicted with epilepsy, He missed His footing and fell.
He lay there in blood-soaked agony, pinioned beneath the Cross, barely breathing. It was impossible to arise. He could not.
And then He saw her! Mary, His Mother coming towards Him; stopped by the soldiers, but breaking through and coming... coming! Strength flowed through His veins, and with the help of the soldiers, He arose. He shouldered the Cross again and lunged forward. At last He was there beside her, and she was there beside Him, and He had only to gaze at her tear-dimmed awe-struck eyes to find what He was looking for. The acknowledgment was there, bare, unveiled, pure beyond belief... adoration such as He had never known from another. She started to sink to her knees, but He stopped her. Never had she failed Him. From early childhood, she had always known His every need. How He would one day reward her!
Can we really love such a Mother too much, especially when she is our Mother too? If sometimes it should appear to others who love her not... or who perhaps are a little jealous of her... that we love her more than we do her Son, couldn't it be that this is exactly the way He wants it? With all the love that Mary is constantly bestowing upon Him, plus the love we render to her that she also renders to Him – isn't there just the possibility He might be outdone in generosity? Oh, of course not – we know that He can't be, but it just might explain why He wants so much veneration of her.
Or could the real reason be that He knows Mary will lead us atop the Hill of Calvary... where He is... waiting for us to "fall in love" with Him anew... as the Crucified, and behold in Him His true Divinity... just as she did.
St. Gabriel the Archangel: God's Ambassador
The name "Gabriel" has been interpreted "Strength of God." Of the three Archangels mentioned in Holy Scripture, St. Gabriel appears to be the King of Heaven's chief ambassador, fittingly endowed with dignity, graciousness, knowledge and discretion. And of all the embassies on which he was sent, the greatest was to announce the wonderful mystery of the Incarnation and the mighty work of the Redemption through the shedding of the Precious Blood of the Incarnate Word. He it was, who at the Annunciation first spoke these words to Mary which ceaselessly re-echo round the earth: "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed are thou among women." (Luke 1:28) And he it was who there adored with her the Word made flesh to dwell amongst us. He was, we may say, the first Adorer of the Precious Blood on earth, and the first to pronounce the sweet name of Jesus, Savior. He is also considered our Blessed Mother's guardian in a very special way. We cannot honor Mary by devoutly reciting the prayer that is most pleasing to her, without at the same time honoring the glorious Archangel who was God's instrument in her exaltation. Their names are linked in Heaven and on earth.
"O blessed Gabriel! Tongue of God! Sweet-spoken Spirit! Thou hast shown.
Though his name is not expressly mentioned, we may well believe what tradition tells us – that it was St. Gabriel who announced to the Shepherds on the hills of Bethlehem the Birth of our sweet Lord, and that it was he who led the multitude of blessed spirits who sang around the crib the heavenly song: "Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth among men of good will." It was he also who consoled dear St. Joseph in his sorrows, and accompanied the Holy Family in their flight into Egypt. And now, in addition to these ancient celestial assignments, St. Gabriel has been proclaimed Patron of radio and television by Pope Pius XII.
Lastly, St. Gabriel is looked upon as the Angel who comforted Our Lord when He suffered His bloody Agony in the Garden of Olives. Father Walter Elliott has written inspiring pages on this consoling angel. He says in part: "In that hour the highest Angel could not vie with the meanest child of Adam as a comforter of Jesus. Never did He feel so much a man as when He began to sink deeper into man's wickedness and woes. Here then was a new sorrow disguised even in His comfort. For not only did He crave comfort directly from His Father and yet must be content with an Angel's instead, but next to His Father's, He craved sympathy from His own kind, His own flesh and blood, His chosen men, and an utterly different comforter was given Him... the while that the Apostles slept and waited... Yet, notwithstanding all this, the Angel's coming was a gracious boon from His Father.
"For now there suddenly burst upon Jesus a vision of blessed peace. The devils are gone who have been tormenting Him. Oh, what a difference – this gentle being, and just as strong as gentle, full of brightness and affection, all beaming with hope, and peace, reverence and sympathy. How sweet a visit, how welcome a comfort. Hope rose in His Heart, though we hardly dare say joy... If we would speak of perfect kindness, we call it angelic; or perfect peace, we call it heavenly. Thus Heaven vouchsafed to Jesus an interval, however brief, of its own gentle kindness, deep peace and rest. The Angel strengthened Him and Our Redeemer received at least a passing comfort from this most affectionate and reverent herald of celestial peace. He merited our eternal thanks for comforting our Champion in the direst moment of His awful conflict.
"Christ knew that the only comfort possible for Him was within the gift of men alone, that is to say, their willingness to suffer with Him. But when the Angel was come, and before he vanished away, our saddened Redeemer thanked him lovingly, very grateful for his affectionate ministry.
"Meanwhile, how deep the awe of the Angel. How profound from that hour his reverence for our human nature, which in His Divine Master, he saw forming one Person with the Deity itself, and which he knew, even in the lowest grade of humanity, was being ransomed at such a Price. There is much joy in an Angel's office of helping sinners to repentance. What joy then, is this Angel's, since the foremost Penitent of the whole race is here, the One Whose contrition is the foundation source of every penitent's saving grief, and it is his unique privilege to attend Him and console Him.!"
"These are the proofs," concludes Dom Gueranger, "which St. Gabriel gives of his deserving his beautiful name, 'Strength of God.' God has employed him in each stage of the great Work in which He has chiefly manifested His power; for Jesus, even on the Cross, is the Power of God, as the Apostle tells us. The whole human race is indebted to thee, O Gabriel! Blessed messenger of our Redemption whom God selects as His minister when He would show His power, we beseech thee, offer the homage of our gratitude to Him that thus sent thee."
"Angel of strength, 'twas thine to see the pang of Love's Gethsemane.
"Must I, too, fall beside the press that yields the cup of bitterness;
PRAYER TO THE HOLY ARCHANGEL