The Greatness of the Love which this Mother bears us.
Father Auriemma relates that there was a certain poor shepherdess, whose sole delight was to go to a little chapel of our Blessed Lady, situated on a mountain, and there, while her flocks were browsing, she conversed with her dear Mother and rendered honor to her. Seeing that the little image of Mary (which is carved in relief) was unadorned, she set to work to make her a mantle. One day, having gathered a few flowers in the fields, she made a garland, and climbing on the altar of the little chapel, placed it on the head of the image, saying, “My Mother, I would place a crown of gold and precious stones on your brow, but, as I am poor, receive this crown of flowers, and accept it as a mark of the love that I bear you.” With this and other acts of homage, the pious maiden always endeavored to serve and honor our beloved Lady. But let us now see how the good Mother on her part recompensed the visits and the affection of her child. The latter fell ill, and was at the point of death. It so happened that two religious were passing that way, and, fatigued with their journey, sat down under a tree to rest: one fell asleep, and the other remained awake; but both had the same vision. They saw a multitude of most beautiful young women, and among these was one who in beauty and majesty far surpassed them all. One of the religious addressed himself to her: “Lady, who are you, and where are you going by these rugged ways?” “I am,” she replied, “the Mother of God, and I am going with these holy virgins to a neighboring cottage to visit a dying shepherdess who has so often visited me.” Having said these words, all disappeared. At once these two good servants of God said, “Let us go also to see her.” They immediately started and having found the cottage of the dying virgin, they entered it and found her stretched on a little straw. They saluted her, and she said, “Brothers, ask our Lord to let you see the company that is assisting me.” They immediately knelt, and saw Mary by the side of the dying girl, holding a crown in her hand and consoling her. All at once the virgins began to sing, and at the sound of this sweet harmony her blessed soul left her body. Mary placed the crown on her head, and taking her soul, led it with her to Paradise.
O Lady, O ravisher of hearts! I will exclaim with St. Bonaventure: “Lady, who with the love and favor you show your servants do ravish their hearts, ravish also my miserable heart, which desires ardently to love you. You, my Mother, have enamored a God with your beauty, and drawn him from heaven into your chaste womb; and shall I live without loving you? “No, I will say to you with one of your most loving sons, John Berchmans of the Society of Jesus, I will never rest until I am certain of having obtained your love; but a constant and tender love towards me, my Mother, who has loved me with so much tenderness,” even when I was ungrateful towards you. And what should I now be, O Mary, if you had not obtained so many mercies for me? Since, then, you did love me so much when I loved you not, how much more may I not now hope from you, now that I love you? I love you, O my Mother, and I would that I had a heart to love you in place of all those unfortunate creatures who love you not. I would employ them all for your honor. Had I subjects, I would make them all your lovers. In fine, if the occasion presented itself I would lay down my life for your glory. I love you, then, O my Mother; but at the same time I fear that I do not love you as I ought; for I hear that love makes lovers like the person loved. If, then, I see myself so unlike you, it is a mark that I do not love you. You are so pure, and I defiled with many sins; you so humble and I so proud; you so holy, and I so wicked. This, then, is what you have to do, O Mary; since you love me, make me like you. You have all power to change hearts; take, then, mine and change it. Show the world what you can do for those who love you. Make me a saint; make me your worthy child. This is my hope.