|The Madonna of the Rosary, by Guido Reni, 1598|
We, therefore, who, though unworthy, hold the place of Vicar of Christ upon earth, shall never cease to promote the glory of so great a Mother, as long as life endures. And since, as old age draws on apace, We feel that life cannot now last much longer, We are constrained to repeat to each and all of our beloved children in Christ those last words of His upon the Cross, left to us as a testament, “Behold, thy Mother!” Greatly rewarded indeed shall We deem Ourself, if Our exhortations succeed in making every one of the faithful hold nothing greater and dearer than devotion to Mary; so that those words which St. John wrote about himself may be said of each one, “the disciple took her to his own.” …
So far from this derogating in any way from the honour due to God, as though it indicated that we placed greater confidence in Mary’s patronage than in God’s power, it is rather this which especially moves God, and wins His mercy for us. We are taught by the Catholic faith that we may pray not only to God himself, but also to the Blessed in heaven (Conc. Trid. Sess. xxv.), though in different manner; because we ask from God as from the Source of all good, but from the Saints as from intercessors. “Prayer,” says St. Thomas, “is offered to a person in two ways – one as though to be granted by himself; another, as to be obtained through him. In the first way we pray to God alone, because all our prayers ought to be directed to obtaining grace and glory, which God alone gives, according to those words of Psalm 83, 12, “The Lord will give grace and glory.” But in the second way we pray to holy angels and men, not that God may learn our petition through them, but that by their prayers and merits our prayers may be efficacious. Wherefore, it is said in the Apocalypse (8, 4), “The smoke of the incense of the prayers of the Saints ascended up before God from the hand of the angel.” (Summa Theol. 2a 2ae, q. 83. a. 4.).
Now, of all the blessed in heaven, who can compare with the august Mother of God in obtaining grace? Who sees more clearly in the Eternal Word what troubles oppress us, what are our needs? Who is allowed more power in moving God? Who can compare with her in maternal affection? We do not pray to the Blessed in the same way as to God; for we ask the Holy Trinity to have mercy on us, but we ask all the Saints to pray for us (Ibid.). Yet our manner of praying to the Blessed Virgin has something in common with our worship of God, so that the Church even addresses to her the words with which we pray to God: “Have mercy on sinners.”
(Addressing the bishops) We have gladly blessed this devotion, and We earnestly desire that you would sedulously and strenuously encourage its growth. We cherish the strongest hope that these prayers and praises, rising incessantly from the lips and hearts of so great a multitude, will be most efficacious. Alternately rising by night and by day, throughout the different nations of the earth, they combine a harmony of vocal prayer with meditation upon the divine mysteries. In ages long past this perennial stream of praise and prayer was foretold in those inspired words with which Ozias in his song addressed Judith: “Blessed art thou, O daughter, by the Lord, the Most High God, above all women upon the earth… because He hath so magnified thy name this day that thy praise shall not depart out of the mouth of man.” And all the people of Israel acclaimed him in these words: “So be it, so be it!”(Judith 13, 25 et seq.)