Saturday, January 12, 2008

Saturday - Our Lady's Day

Mother dearest, Mother fairest! Maiden purest, Maiden rarest! - Fr Faber

Behold a Virgin shall conceive, and shall bring forth a Son. Isaiah 7:14.
She is a vapour of the power of God, and a certain pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty God, and therefore no defiled thing cometh unto her. Wisdom 7:25

Why do we style Mary "Mater purissima"? Because she loved and love is a burning fire, and fire is the keenest purifier. No icy, marble statue was Mary, our fair and sweetest Mother. She was a very furnace of divine love. If St Francis of Assisi could write:

Sooner a stone will melt, I say, Than love will cease to reign in me. This love within my heart Like fire for ever glows; Transformed, united close To love, no more to part - how much more could Mary have used such words! She herself, in her revelations to St Bridget, says that when she left the temple, about the time of her espousal with St Joseph, she returned home burning with a greater fire of the love of God than before; and was every day inflamed with new burnings and new desires of love. Well may we sing: "Oh, how the heart of Mary burns!" St Bernardine of Sienna compares the seven recorded words of our Lady to so many flames or darts of fire, and speaks of her heart as a burning furnace. "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh". Of these seven flames the first is a separating one, the second a transforming one, the third communicates itself to surrounding objects, as we see is the case in a conflagration, which makes what was before cold and immovable a living thing like itself, and then uses it as a means of spreading its operations far and wide. Such was the love of God in Mary's heart. It separates her, in the first place, from all things that were less than Him.To her they were less than dross, and this she showed by her first word to the angel when alluding to her vow of virginity. After which she gave up her whole being to the action of this fire, saying: "Be it done unto me according to thy word ," and it took possession of her entirely, transforming her into its own likeness, as metal in a furnace glows and appears one with flames. The element which consumed her being one of the three things which it is to said cannot be long concealed, as we see in the account of Visitation. O Mother mine, take my heart and plunge it into that fiery abyss until it is purified from all earthly attachment.

Make me feel as thou hast felt,
Make my heart to glow and melt
With the love of Christ my Lord.

Cause me to be a means of lightning up a very conflagration of divine love in the world, so that all may burn with that holy fire, and so become fit to dwell with the Eternal Light. St Bernard exclaims: "How did that gentle nature remain unconsumed in the fervent heat? Thou didst justly wonder, O Moses, when thou didst see that the bush burned with fire, but that it was not consumed." Mary's heart was not of tinsel, which would have been destroyed, but of pure and solid metal, which, plunged into the flames of divine love, only became more pure and more beautiful in the fiery ordeal. Oh, how cold and weak seem to be these words regarding our peerless Queen! If Saints have bewailed their inability to worthily proclaim thy praises, O Mary, saying that they could not find terms in which to describe thy glories, how bold are we even to attempt to speak of thee! Let us, then borrow from thy holy servants some of the thoughts which flowed from their pens, even after they had declared themselves unable to set forth the unfathomable treasures of thy holiness. "O Mary," exclaims St Terasius, "where shall I find words to praise thee? maiden undefiled, virgin unstained, exaltation of women, glory of daughters! Holy maiden Mother, blessed art thou amongst woman, thy glory is thy guilessness, and thy name is a name of purity." And St Epiphanius says: "I am at a loss what words or terms I ought to employ in speaking of this illustrious and holy virgin. She is raised above all things, except God; she was made much higher than the cherubim and seraphim, and the whole host of heaven; neither the voices of heaven nor of earth are full enough to set forth her majesty; no, not the voices of angels! O blessed Virgin! O pure dove and bride of heaven! O Mary, at once the heaven, the temple and the throne of God! Mother of the Son that shineth both in heaven and on earth, even Christ! Bright cloud, through which the Son of Man bath come as the lightning that lighteneth from the east even unto the west! Hail, gate of heaven, full of grace, of whom the prophet, in the Song of Songs, speaketh in the course of his prayer, saying: "A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse, a garden enclosed, a fountain sealed." Cant 4:22."