Saturday, June 09, 2007

Saturday - day of Our Lady

Mirror of justice, ora pro nobis!

Mary's justice was based on her total trust and hope in God. Can we imagine someone who relies only on his/her own nothingness and by contrast how different, in God's eyes, is the attitude of total abandonment and trust in His mercy and omnipotence. This was the way of Our Lady, and for this reason we invoke her in the Litany under the title "Mirror of justice". Her hope and trust in God was particularly strong, she was following David's words: "in God I have put my trust, I will not fear what flesh can do against me" (Psalm 55:5). Can we imagine what she had to endure from others; Emperor August edict, rejection in Betlehem, wickedness of Herod. But Our Lady knew: "that to them that love God, all things work together unto good" (Rom 8:28). Her strength was based on her exemplary faith. Let us think about Cana wedding, when she says: "They have no wine", her Son gives the answer that sounds negative. But she is not discouraged, with her usual trust and calm, she gives order: "Whatsoever he shall say to you, do ye". (John 2;5). Let us imagine Our Lady standing under the Cross on Calvary, all her hopes and expectations seemed to be lost and her heart was pierced by sword of sorrow for her Son was dying shameful death of crucifixion amidst unconceivable physical and spiritual sufferings. But she was standing there like a rock: "Now there stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother" (John 19:25). The verse says it all. Let us remember well to look always at Our Lady and learn from her. Let us not be afraid, in every difficulty let us keep in heart the examples of her trust in God. Even if all seem lost, she is our helper. Let us not give in to discouragement, distrust. In the spirit of Immaculata let us keep in mind St. Paul's words: "Let no temptation take hold on you, but such as is human. And God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are able: but will make also with temptation issue, that you may be able to bear it" (1Cor 10:13)

The picture I have chosen with delight for today's meditation is my favourite - "Madonna in Rose Garden" by German artist, Stephen Lochner, c 1448. Below is the picture description by secular art historian (after I found interesting:

"Stephen Lochner (b. ca. 1400, Meersburg am Bodensee, d. 1451, Köln)

This small panel which employs several iconographic models is an especially charming remnant of Cologne Gothic. It depicts the "humble Madonna" (Madonna dell' Umilta) as Mary is sitting on the ground or on a pillow placed on the ground, gently holding an infant in her lap. Their figures are surrounded by adoring angels who offer flowers and fruits to the baby Jesus. To create a backdrop for the scene, two diligent angels stretch out a golden brocade curtain which reminds the viewer of the reigning, victorious Madonna. At the same time, this curtain insures separation from the rest of the world and the intimacy of the holy family. Above, surrounded by light-rays, we can see God the Father and the dove of the Holy Spirit. This intimates the Immaculate Conception; thus the painting includes the depiction of the Holy Trinity. This is the picture of completeness with the Divine Mother as its centre.
The image of being enclosed is reinforced by another motif: the low stone wall around Mary, which recalls the "hortus conclusus" (enclosed garden), the symbol of Mary's purity and innocence. The spectacular carpet of flowers covering the ground intimates the earthly Garden of Eden, as does the bower of roses. Roses were often connected with the Madonna; such a simile appears in several medieval Latin hymns to the Virgin. The musical child angels in the foreground play an important part in the creation of an idyllic atmosphere. Their instruments - two different sized lutes, a harp and a portative organ - are realistically rendered, and their small hands reveal their musical expertise."