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is therefore called holy grace; and, as being holy, it is the connecting principle between God and man. Adam in Paradise might have had knowledge, and skill, and many virtues; but these gifts did not unite him to his Creator. It was holiness that united him, for it is said by St. Paul, 'Without holiness no man shall see God.'
And so again, when man fell and lost this holy grace, he had various gifts still adhering to him; he might be, in a certain measure, true, merciful, loving, and just; but these virtues did not unite him to God. What he needed was holiness; and therefore the first act of God's goodness to us in the Gospel is to take us out of our unholy state by means of the sacrament of Baptism, and by the grace then given. us to re-open the communications, so long closed, between the soul and heaven.
We see then the force of our Lady's title, when we call her 'Holy Mary.' When God would prepare a human mother for His Son, this was why He began by
giving her an immaculate conception. He began, not by giving her the gift of love, or truthfulness, or gentleness, or devotion, though according to the occasion she had them all. But He began His great work before she was born; before she could think, speak, or act, by making her holy, and thereby, while on earth, a citizen of heaven. 'Tota pulchra es, Maria!' Nothing of the deformity of sin was ever hers. Thus she differs from all saints. There have been great missionaries, confessors, bishops, doctors, pastors. They have done great works and have taken with them numberless converts or penitents to heaven. They have suffered much, and have a superabundance of merits to show. But Mary in this way resembles her Divine Son, viz. that, as He, being God, is separate by holiness from all creatures, so she is separate from all Saints and Angels, as being 'full of grace.
MARY IS THE 'REGINA
THE QUEEN OF ANGELS
HIS great title may be fitly connected with the Maternity of Mary, that is, with the coming upon her of the Holy Ghost at Nazareth after the Angel Gabriel's annunciation to her, and with the consequent birth of our Lord at Bethlehem. She, as the Mother of our Lord, comes nearer to Him than any angel; nearer even than the Seraphim who surround Him, and cry continually, 'Holy, Holy, Holy.'
The two Archangels who have a
special office in the Gospel are St. Michael and St. Gabriel-and they both of them are associated in the history of the Incarnation with Mary St Gabriel, when the Holy Ghost came down upon her; and St. Michael, when the Divine Child was born.
St. Gabriel hailed her as Full of grace,' and as 'Blessed among women,' and announced to her that the Holy Ghost would come down upon her, and that she would bear a Son who would be the Son of the Highest.
Of St. Michael's ministry to her, on the birth of that Divine Son, we learn in the Apocalyse, written by the Apostle St. John. We know our Lord came to set up the Kingdom of Heaven among men; and hardly was He born when He was assaulted by the powers of the world who wished to destroy Him. Herod sought to take His life, but he was defeated by St. Joseph's carrying His Mother and Him off into Egypt. But St. John in the Apocalypse tells us that Michael and his angels were the real guar
dians of Mother and Child, then and on other occasions.
First, St. John saw in vision ‘a great sign in heaven' (meaning by 'heaven' the Church, or Kingdom of God), 'a woman clothed with the sun, and with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars'; and when she was about to be delivered of her Child there appeared 'a great red dragon,' that is, the evil spirit, ready' to devour her son' when He should be born. The Son was preserved by His own Divine power, but next the evil spirit persecuted her; St. Michael, however, and his angels came to the rescue and prevailed against him.
'There was a great battle,' says the sacred writer; 'Michael and his Angels fought with the dragon, and the dragon fought and his angels; and that great dragon was cast out, the old serpent, who is called the devil.' Now, as then, the Blessed Mother of God has hosts of angels who do her service; and she is their Queen.