From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.
On the Saturday of the preceding week, which was devoted to the consideration of the fall of our first parents both in its own malice and in its sad consequences upon us, we turned our thoughts towards our blessed Lady, who, though a daughter of Eve, was, by the special mercy of God, preserved from the stain of original sin. Let us end this week with a like act of veneration and love towards this Immaculate Queen of heaven. We, even the most saintly among us, have not only been stained with original sin; we have our actual sins to grieve over and do penance for. This should give us a higher appreciation of her, the one single member of the human family who never committed the slightest sin. Let us turn towards her, and give expression to our feelings.
We, O Mary! have corrupted our way; we have disobeyed our Lord; we have broken His law; we have preferred our own selfish gratifications to the service we owed Him: but thou wast ever filled with His holy love, and there passed not even a shadow of sin upon thy soul, O spotless mirror of justice and holiness! Virgin most faithful! the grace of thy Bon ever triumphed in thy heart. Mystical rose! the fragrance of thy virtues unceasingly ascended to His throne, changing only in its daily increase of sweetness. Tower of ivory! fair beyond measure, without one spot to mar thy purity! House of gold! thou didst ever reflect the precious gifts of the Holy Ghost. Have pity, then, upon us, for we are sinners.
We have obliged our God to repent that He made us: but in thee, dear Mother, He has ever been well pleased. Thou art the good land, wherein His divine seed yielded its thousandfold of fruit: pray for us, that He give fresh fertility to our hearts, and root up from them the thorns, which choke the heavenly plant. We are defiled by sin; may He, through the merits of the tears thou didst shed at the foot of the cross, mercifully cleanse us. If thy divine Son have already pardoned us, there are the consequences of our sins, which still weaken and humble us, like the sores of wounds that have been cured: take us, sweet Mother of our Jesus, under the mantle of thy tender care. We have too little dread of sin; we are so often on the verge of offending our God; oh! obtain for these poor children of thine courage and firmness of resolution, and ambition for holiness of life. Thy intercession must win for us that precious devotedness to God’s honour, which kills self-love, the root of sin. Oh! accursed self-love, which may lead us to hell, who are now perhaps in the grace of thy divine Son!
The deluge, brought on by our sins, is hurrying its vengeance against mankind; and we, O Mary! are resolved to seek our refuge in the Ark of the Church, the safe shelter created for us by thy Jesus. But we presume to pray to thee for our brethren throughout the world. Our God has given thee a power to stay His anger, and to win for guilty mortals an extension of mercy: show this power now, for our world is provoking its Master to destroy it. If the flood-gate of His just indignation burst upon the face of our earth, millions of souls that have been redeemed by the Blood of thy divine Son would be lost eternally. If the sweet dove of peace bring her olive-branch only when that terrible justice is appeased, it would be too late for thy loving heart. Come before the deluge, O beautiful rainbow of our Father’s reconciliation! The love of a Mother, who is the very Queen of mercy, emboldens us to sue for universal mercy. Can the prayer of her, in whose purity and innocence the very God of holiness finds no blemish, be denied? Pray Him, then, to pardon us, and all sinners!
We select a few stanzas from the celebrated ‘Complaint to Mary,’ composed by the monk Euthymius. The Greek Church has inserted it in her liturgy.
Quomodo, O Domina, vitam meam impuram et immensorum peccatorum meorum multitudinem lamentabor? Nescio quid dicam tibi, castissima, et male metuo; sed adjuva me.
Unde exordiar dicere ego miser de improbitate mea, et delictis nefandis? Ha! quid de me fiet? Verum age, Domina, et mei ante exitum ex hac luce miserare.
Omnem viam peccatorum cum ambulassem, immaculata Virgo, salutis semitam handquaquam inveni. Sed ad bonitatem tuam confugio; ne me ex animo pœnitentem aspernare.
Mortis horam, O purissima, terribileque tribunal assidue cogito; sed peccandi consuetudine vehementer ad peccatum illicior. Fer mihi opem.
Bonorum exitiabilis inimicus cernens me nunc nudum, et patrono ac tutore destitutum, et a divinis virtutibus alienissimum, ad devorandum me irruit. Præveni, et averte illuni, o Domina.
Proh dolor! imaginem Dei in me ego miser mentis arrogantia contaminavi. Quo in posterum me vertam? Festina, Virgo, ad auxilium.
Angelorum ordines et exercitus, Virtutes cœlorum, potentiam Filii tui contremiscunt, o castissima. Ego vero desperatus omni timore vaco.
In fovea delictorum meorum suffocatum non me derelinquas, Domina. Improbissimua enim hostis me desperatione conflictantem videns, ridet; sed tu potenti mana tua me erige.
Formidabile est judicium, O misera et stolida anima mea, et pœna horribilis atque sempiterna. Nihilominus vel nunc ante Matrem judieis ac Dei tui, supplex procumbe. Cur enim te ipsam desperas?
O intaminata Virgo, ego ob multitudinem immensorum peccatorum meorum repletus sum tenebris, oculique animæ meæ, et mens mea immutata sunt.
Quare tu luminis tui splendoribus ad dulcedinem in vacuitate passionum sitam celeriter me revoca.
Gemitus perennes mihi largire, Domina, fontemque lacrymarum, ut tam multa flagitia mea vulneraque inexplicabilia eluam, quo vitam æternam adipiscar.
En ego servus tuus, incorruptissima Virgo, multo cum timore et desiderio ad te accedo: gnarus quantum sæpenumero tua valuerit deprecatio. Valet sane plurimum, O benedictissima, apud Filium Matris supplicatio, et ejus viscera commovet.
Judicem misericordem et benignum exspecto Filium tuum, O linguis omnium prædicanda; ne me despicias sed eum mihi redde propitium, ut me tunc ad dexteram tribunalis sui incorrupti statuat: in te enim speravi.
O blessed Lady! how shall I worthily lament over my impure life, and the multitude of my grievous sins? I know not how to address thee, most chaste Virgin! I tremble with fear; but do thou help me.
I will speak of my wickedness and my hateful sins; but where shall I begin? Alas! what will become of me, a wretched sinner? Do thou, O blessed Lady, have compassion on me before my departure from this life.
I, having gone in every path that sinner ever trod, how shall I find now the way of salvation, O Immaculate Virgin? Yet have I recourse to thy goodness; despise me not, for I repent from my heart.
My thoughts are ever on the hour of death, and on the dread tribunal; and yet an evil habit violently tempts me to sin. O most pure Virgin, do thou help me.
The deadly enemy of all that is good, seeing me poor and naked, without patron or protector, and most destitute of heavenly virtue, rushes forward that he may devour me. O blessed Lady! forbid him, and drive him far from me.
Alas, unhappy man! in the arrogance of my soul, I have defiled the image of God that was in me. Whither shall I now turn? Hasten to my assistance, O Virgin ever holy!
The choirs and hosts of Angels, the heavenly Powers, tremble in the presence of thy all-powerful Son, O Immaculate Mother! and I, who have nothing wherein to hope, am so devoid of fear!
Suffer me not, O blessed Lady! to perish in the pit of my sins, into which I have fallen. The cruel enemy sees me struggling in despair, and mocks me. Do thou stretch forth thy hand, that can so well deliver me.
Awful is the judgment of God, unhappy senseless soul! and everlasting is the punishment. But turn thee, whilst yet there is time, and prostrate in prayer before the Mother of thy Judge and Lord. Why wouldst thou despair?
O Immaculate Virgin! the multitude of my grievous sins has set a thick darkness around me; the eyes of my soul, and my understanding, are blinded.
Wherefore, I beseech thee, quickly lead me, by the brightness of thy light, to sweet freedom from my passions.
Grant me an unceasing sorrow, O blessed Lady, and a fount of tears, that I may wash away my countless sins and wounds, and gain eternal life.
Lo! I thy servant, most sinless Virgin! approach thee in deep reverence and love, for I know the power of thy prayer. Great, indeed, with her Son, is the power of the Mother's prayer, and his heart is moved when she asks, O most blessed Mother!
O Mother worthy of the whole world’s praise! thy Son will be to me a merciful and compassionate Judge. Despise me not, but let me find favour in his sight, that he may set me on the right hand of his most just tribunal; for in thee have I put my trust.