How could we fail to love her whom our Lord loved so much? It is impossible to love Christ adequately without also loving the Mother who gave Him to us.
Those who begin by ignoring her soon end by ignoring him, for the two are inseparable in the great drama of redemption.
As children who wish to influence their father go to their mother to intercede for them, so do we go to Mary.
It is absolutely impossible to convey to anyone outside the Church the filial devotion we bear that sweet Mother of Mothers.
Devotion to the Blessed Mother brought me to the discovery of a new dimension of the sacredness of suffering.
When I had open-heart surgery, only gradually did it dawn on me during my first four months in the hospital that the Blessed Mother not only gives sweets, but she also gives bitter medicine.
Seventy pints of blood were poured into my body after open-heart surgery because for a long time the body refused to circulate the blood. This blood came from those who poured their own blood into the blood bank of Lenox Hill Hospital.
Too striking to be missed was that on three feast days of Our Lady, I was brought to the door of death and endured great suffering.
The first was the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, July 16, when the doctors stayed with me all day and all night trying to preserve the small flickering spark of life. Then came another operation on the Feast of her Assumption, August 15, and the implanting of a pacemaker.
By this time, I was beginning to feel a kind of holy dread of what might happen on September 8, when the Church celebrates her birthday.
Sure enough, a kidney infection developed which, over a period of several weeks, made me feel some new tortures.
As I reflected on this concomitance of the Church festivals of Mary and my enforced solidarity with the Cross, I took it as a sign of the special predilection of Mary. If the Lord called her, who 'deserved' no pain, to stand at the foot of the Cross, why should He not call me?
If I had expressed a love for her as the Mother of the Priesthood, why should she not, in maternal love, make me more like her Son by forcing me to become a victim?
Any spirituality that I have revolves around the crucifix and the price of my redemption and the assurance of my resurrection.
The pectoral cross, which I carry, is a crucifix. In my bedroom is a large crucifix about six feet high which, in my long confinement to bed, is the panorama of salvation which I gaze on during the day, and at night when waking.
In my chapel is a painting done by the cardiologist who saved my life, Dr. Simon Stertzer. It is a painting of Christ on the Cross-with a concentration on the eyes, which looks out both in pity and in love, as did the Second Look on Peter.
The second year after the open-heart surgery, because of overwork, I was confined to my bed again for many months. During that time, I instructed four converts and validated two marriages.
The horizontal apostolate may sometimes be just as effective as the vertical.