ACCLAMATIONS IN PRAISE OF MARY


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(By Saint Alphonsus Liguori.)

O most sacred Virgin Mary,
O Queen of Angels, how beautiful,
accomplished, and perfect, has Heaven made thee!
O that I could appear to God as thou appearest to me.
Thou art so beautiful and gracious
that with thy beauty thou ravishest hearts.
When thou art seen, everything appears deformed,
all beauty is eclipsed,
every grace is lost sight of;
as the stars disappear at the rising of the sun.

When thy tenderly devoted servant,
Saint John Damascene, contemplated thee,
and when he saw that thou wast so beautiful,
it seemed to him that thou hadst taken the flower
and that which was best in every creature,
and therefore he called thee "the loveliness of nature,"
the grace and comeliness of every creature.

Saint Augustine,
the bright light of doctors,
contemplated thee,
and thou didst appear to him so fair and beautiful,
that he called thee the countenance of God,
and it did not seem to him adulation.
Thy devout son Albert the Great contemplated thee,
and to him it seemed that all the graces and gifts
which were in the most celebrated women of the old dispensation,
were all in a much higher degree in thee:
the golden mouth of Sarah, which, smiling,
rejoices Heaven and earth;
the sweet and tender look of the faithful Lia,
with which thou didst soften the heart of God,
hardened against sinners;
the splendor of countenance of the beautiful Rachel,
for with thy beauty thou dost eclipse the sun;
the grace and demeanor of the discreet Abigail,
by which thou didst appease an angry God;
the vivacity and strength of the valiant Judith,
for by thy power and thy grace thou dost subdue the most ferocious hearts.

In fine, O sovereign Princess,
from the immense ocean of thy beauty
the beauty and grace of all creatures flowed forth as rivers.
The sea learnt to curl its waves,
and to wave its crystal waters from thy golden hair,
which gracefully floated over thy shoulders and ivory neck.
The crystal fountains and their transparent depths learnt their tranquil
and steady flow from the serenity of thy beautiful brow
and placid countenance.
The lovely rainbow,
when in full beauty,
learnt with studious care its graceful bend from thy eyebrows,
thus better to send forth its rays of light.
The morning star itself,
and the sweet star of night,
are sparks from thy beautiful eyes.
The white lilies and ruby roses
stole their colors from thy lovely cheeks.
Envious purple and coral sigh for the color of thy lips.
The most delicious milk and sweetest honey
are distillations from the sweet honeycomb of thy mouth.
The scented jasmine and fragrant Damasc rose
stole their perfume from thy breath.
The loftiest cedar and the most erect,
the fairest cypress,
were happy when they beheld their image in thy erect and lofty neck.
The palm tree, emulous and jealous,
likened itself to thy noble stature.
In fine, O Lady,
every created beauty is a shadow and trace of thy beauty.
And thus I wonder not,
O sovereign Princess,
that Heaven and earth place themselves under thy feet;
for such are they,
and thou art so great,
that to he only under thy feet enriches them,
and they esteem themselves happy and blessed in kissing them.
Thus did the moon rejoice
when the evangelist Saint John saw her under thy feet,
and the sun increased in splendor
when it clothed thee with its rays of light.
The Evangelist, blinded by the brilliancy of thy light,
was lost in wonder and ravished out of himself
at the sight of so stupendous a miracle of beauty,
in which the beauty of Heaven and earth was concentrated, and he said,
"There appeared a great sign in Heaven."
A great miracle appeared in the heavens,
a miracle which filled the Angels with astonishment,
and caused the earth to tremble.
That miracle was, a woman clothed from head to foot in light and splendor.
The resplendent Sun itself chose her for His Mother,
and placed Himself in her womb;
the fair moon covers her feet as sandals edged with silver;
a multitude of stars crown her brow, and,
emulating one with another,
bind her locks together,
and form upon her head a diadem of precious gems:
"and on her head a crown of twelve stars."

Thus, O most sacred Virgin, the Saints,
considering thee in the midst of such splendor more beautiful than the sun,
and more fair than the moon,
which are the ornament and concentration of all beauty;
and considering the acclamations of joy which attend thee in Heaven,
can never cease their astonishment at thy beauty,
and can only exclaim and burst forth
in acclamation of wonder and astonishment.
Saint Peter Damian exclaims in his admiration,
"O holy and most holy of all Saints,
richest treasure of all sanctity."
Saint Bernard: "O admirable Virgin,
O woman honor of all women, the best,
the greatest that the world ever possessed.
Saint Epiphanius: "O heaven, greater and vaster than the heavens themselves;
O Virgin, truly full of grace."
And the Catholic Church, in the name of all, exclaims,
"O most clement, most pious, and most sweet Virgin Mary."

And I also, O heavenly Princess,
with thy permission,
although I am the least of thy servants,
I will also make my acclamations of wonder and astonishment.
O gracious and beautiful heaven,
more vast than the heavens themselves,
for they cannot contain God,
Who is immense, but He concealed Himself in thy womb;
O richest of all treasures,
in which was deposited the treasure of our redemption;
O Mother of sinners,
under whose mantle we are defended;
O consolation of the world,
in which all who are afflicted, infirm,
and disconsolate, find consolation;
O beautiful eyes, which steal hearts;
O coral lips, which imprison souls;
O generous hands, filled with lilies,
and which always distribute graces;
O pure creature, who appearest a God,
and whom I should have taken for a God,
had not faith taught me that thou art not so,
although thou hast a splendor,
and I know not what of Divine sovereignty;
O great Lady, empress of Heaven,
enjoy for a thousand eternities the greatness of thy state,
the immensity of thy greatness,
and the happiness of thy glory.
We only beseech thee, O compassionate Mother,
not to forget us,
who glory in being thy servants and children.
And since in thee are deposited all graces,
and the best and most privileged of all created things,
grant, O Lady, that we, thy devout children,
may be favored more beyond comparison than are all other men on earth.

The whole world should know that the dear children of Mary
are the best of Heaven and earth:
they are the spoilt children,
who enjoy all the choicest possessions of their Mother;
they are the beloved Benjamins,
who being caressed in the bosom of the Queen of Heaven,
are doubly favored and doubly caressed
by the Majesty of God.
This I hope, O most beautiful Rachel;
and this I am confident that thou wilt do,
O sovereign Princess.
In the name of what thou art, do it;
for all Heaven prostrate at thy feet beseeches thee,
and with importunity asks it of thee.
Say only yes, pronounce only a loving consent;
be it done, be it done, fiat, fiat!
O men, of what are you thinking?
How can you love earthly, deceitful, and lying creatures,
which betray you and cause you to lose your souls,
your bodies, Paradise, and God!
And why do you not love the most loving,
the most amiable,
the most faithful Mary, who,
after having enriched you with consolations and graces in this life,
will obtain you from her Divine beloved Son
the eternal glory of Paradise?
O Mary, Mary, more beautiful than all creatures,
lovely after Jesus above all loves,
more dear than all created things,
gracious above every grace,
pity this miserable heart of mine;
miserable because it does not love thee;
and it ought to love thee.
Thou canst inflame it with thy holy love.
Turn, O Mary, thy loving eyes upon me;
look at me, and draw me to thee;
and grant that after God I may love no other but thee,
most gracious, most amiable Mary,
Mother of Jesus, and my Mother.

*Saint Alphonsus Maria de' Liguori, C.Ss.R. (27 September 1696 – 1 August 1787), was an Italian Catholic bishop, spiritual writer, composer, musician, artist, poet, lawyer, scholastic philosopher, and theologian.

He founded the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (the Redemptorists). In 1762 he was appointed Bishop of Sant'Agata dei Goti. A prolific writer, he published nine editions of his Moral Theology in his lifetime, in addition to other devotional and ascetic works and letters. Among his best known works are The Glories of Mary and The Way of the Cross, the latter still used in parishes during Lenten devotions.

He was canonized in 1839 by Pope Gregory XVI. Pope Pius IX proclaimed him a Doctor of the Church in 1871. One of the most widely read Catholic authors, Alphonsus Ligouri is the patron saint of confessors.

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