Mary is also our Life, because she obtains for us Perseverance.
The history of St Mary of Egypt, in the first book of the lives of the Fathers, is well known. At the age of twelve years she fled from the house of her parents, went to Alexandria, where she led an infamous life, and was a scandal to the whole city. After living for sixteen years in sin, she took it into her head to go to Jerusalem. At the time the feast of the holy cross was being celebrated, and, moved rather by curiosity than by devotion, she determined on entering the church; but when at the door, she felt herself repelled by an invisible force. She made a second attempt, and was again unable to enter; and the same thing was repeated a third and a fourth time. Finding her efforts in vain, the unfortunate creature withdrew to a corner of the porch, and there, enlightened from above, understood that it was on account of her infamous life that God had repelled her even from the church. In that moment she fortunately raised her eyes and beheld a picture of Mary. No sooner did she perceive it, than, sobbing, she exclaimed, “O Mother of God, pity a poor sinner! I know that on account of my sins I deserve not that you should cast your eyes upon me. But you are the refuge of sinners; for the love of your Son Jesus, help me. Permit me to enter the church, and I promise to change my life, to go and do penance in whatever place you point out to me.” She immediately heard an internal voice, as it were that of the Blessed Virgin, replying: “Since you have recourse to me, and wish to change your life, go – enter the church, it is no longer closed against you.” The sinner entered, adored the cross and wept bitterly. She then returned to the picture, and said, “Lady, behold I am ready, where will you, that I should go to do penance?” “Go,” the Blessed Virgin replied, “cross the Jordan, and you will find the place of your repose.” She went to confession and Communion, and then passed the river, and finding herself in the desert, she understood that it was in that place she should do penance for her sinful life. During the first seventeen years the assaults of the devil, by which he endeavored to make the saint again fall into sin, were terrible. And what were her means of defence? She constantly recommended herself to Mary, and this most Blessed Virgin obtained for her strength to resist during the whole of this time, after which her combats ceased. After fifty-seven years spent in the desert, and having attained the age of eighty-seven years she was by a disposition of Providence met by the Abbot Zosimus; to him she related the history of her life, and entreated him to return the following year, and to bring her the holy Communion. The saintly Abbot did so, and gave her the bread of angels. She then requested that he would again return to see her. This also he did, but he found her dead. Her body was encompassed by a bright light, and at her head these words were written, “Bury my body here – it is that of a poor sinner, and intercede with God for me.” A lion came and made a grave with his claws. St Zosimus buried her, returned to his monastery, and related the wonders of God’s mercy towards this happy sinner.
O compassionate Mother, most sacred Virgin, behold at your feet the traitor, who, by paying with ingratitude the graces received from God through your means, has betrayed both you and Him. But I must tell you, O most blessed Lady, that my misery, far from taking away my confidence, increases it; for I see that your compassion is great in proportion to the greatness of my misery. Show yourself, O Mary, full of liberality towards me; for this is how you are towards all who invoke your aid. All that I ask is that you should cast your eyes of compassion on me, and pity me. If your heart is thus far moved, it cannot do otherwise than protect me; and if you protect me, what can I fear? No, I fear nothing; I do not fear my sins, for you can provide a remedy; I do not fear devils, for you are more powerfull than the whole of hell; I do not even fear your Son, though justly irritated against me, for at a word of yours he will be appeased. I only fear lest, in my temptations, and by my own fault, I may cease to recommend myself to you, and therefore be lost. But I now promise you that I will always have recourse to you; O, help me to fulfil my promise. Lose not the opportunity which now presents itself of gratifying your ardent desire to comfort such poor wretches as myself. In you, O Mother of God, I have unbounded confidence. From you I hope for grace to bewail my sins as I ought, and from you I hope for strength never again to fall into them. If I am sick, you, O heavenly physician, can heal me. If my sins have weakened me your help will strengthen me. O Mary, I hope all from you; for you are all-powerful with God. Amen.