2. She provides for all their needs
208. Our Lady's charity towards her faithful servants goes
further. She provides them with everything they need for body
and soul. We have just seen that she gives them double
garments. She also nourishes them with the most delicious food
from the banquet table of God. She gives them the Son she has
borne, the Bread of Life, to be their food. "Dear children,"
she says in the words of divine Wisdom, "take your fill of my
fruits," that is to say, of the Fruit of Life, Jesus, "whom I
brought into the world for you." "Come," she repeats in
another passage, "eat the bread which is Jesus. Drink the wine
of his love which I have mixed" for you with the milk of my
As Mary is the treasurer and dispenser of the gifts and
graces of the Most High God, she reserves a choice portion,
indeed the choicest portion, to nourish and sustain her
children and servants. They grow strong on the Bread of Life;
they are made joyful with the wine that brings forth virgins.
They are carried at her breast. They bear with ease the yoke
of Christ scarcely feeling its weight because of the oil of
devotion with which she has softened its wood.
3. She leads and guides them
209. A third service which our Lady renders her faithful
servants is to lead and direct them according to the will of
her Son. Rebecca guided her little son Jacob and gave him good
advice from time to time, which helped him obtain the blessing
of his father and saved him from the hatred and persecution of
his brother Esau. Mary, Star of the sea, guides all her
faithful servants into safe harbour. She shows them the path
to eternal life and helps them avoid dangerous pitfalls. She
leads them by the hand along the path of holiness, steadies
them when they are liable to fall and helps them rise when
they have fallen. She chides them like a loving mother when
they are remiss and sometimes she even lovingly chastises
them. How could a child that follows such a mother and such an
enlightened guide as Mary take the wrong path to heaven?
Follow her and you cannot go wrong, says St. Bernard. There is
no danger of a true child of Mary being led astray by the
devil and falling into heresy. Where Mary leads, Satan with
his deceptions and heretics with their subtleties are not
encountered. "When she upholds you, you will not fall."
4. She defends and protects them
210. The fourth good office our Lady performs for her children
and faithful servants is to defend and protect them against
their enemies. By her care and ingenuity Rebecca delivered
Jacob from all dangers that beset him and particularly from
dying at the hands of his brother, as he apparently would have
done, since Esau hated and envied him just as Cain hated his
Mary, the beloved Mother of chosen souls, shelters them
under her protecting wings as a hen does her chicks. She
speaks to them, coming down to their level and accommodating
herself to all their weaknesses. To ensure their safety from
the hawk and vulture, she becomes their escort, surrounding
them as an army in battle array. Could anyone surrounded by a
well-ordered army of say a hundred thousand men fear his
enemies? No, and still less would a faithful servant of Mary,
protected on all sides by her imperial forces, fear his enemy.
This powerful Queen of heaven would sooner despatch millions
of angels to help one of her servants than have it said that a
single faithful and trusting servant of hers had fallen victim
to the malice, number and power of his enemies.
5. She intercedes for them
211. Finally, the fifth and greatest service which this loving
Mother renders her faithful followers is to intercede for them
with her Son. She appeases him with her prayers, brings her
servants into closer union with him and maintains that union.
Rebecca made Jacob approach the bed of his father. His
father touched him, embraced him and even joyfully kissed him
after having satisfied his hunger with the well-prepared
dishes which Jacob had brought him. Then inhaling most
joyfully the exquisite perfume of his garments, he cried:
"Behold the fragrance of my son is as the fragrance of a field
of plenty which the Lord has blessed." The fragrance of this
rich field which so captivated the heart of the father, is
none other than the fragrance of the merits and virtues of
Mary who is the plentiful field of grace in which God the
Father has sown the grain of wheat of the elect, his only Son.
How welcome to Jesus Christ, the Father of the world to
come, is a child perfumed with the fragrance of Mary! How
readily and how intimately does he unite himself to that
child! But this we have already shown at length.
212. Furthermore, once Mary has heaped her favours upon her
children and her faithful servants and has secured for them
the blessing of the heavenly Father and union with Jesus
Christ, she keeps them in Jesus and keeps Jesus in them. She
guards them, watching over them unceasingly, lest they lose
the grace of God and fall into the snares of their enemies.
"She keeps the saints in their fullness" (St. Bonaventure),
and inspires them to persevere to the end, as we have already
Such is the explanation given to this ancient allegory
which typifies the mystery of predestination and reprobation.