Saturday, April 12, 2008

Causa nostrae Laetitiae - ora pro nobis

Thou art the joy of Israel (Judith 15:10).
Joy is come to me from the holy One
(Bar 4:22).
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, and my soul shall be joyful in my God
(Isa 56:10).
I will rejoice in the Lord, and I will joy in God my Jesus
(Hab. 3:18).

"Joy be to thee always". Such was the salutation of the archangel Raphael to the elder Tobias, who answered: "What manner of joy shall be to me, who sit in darkness, and see not the light of heaven?" The old man evidently thought, that without light joyousness was out of the question. And was not the whole world, more or less, sitting in darkness before the coming of our Lord? He is the light of the world, as He Himself has told us. Zachary praised God because the Orient had come from on high to enlighten them that sit in darkness; and holy Simeon sang his canticle of joy, because, as he said; 'My eyes have seen Thy salvation...A light to the revelation of the Gentiles". And this light, this joy, came to him in the arms of Mary. He, like the Magi, found the Child where we too shall ever find Him, "with Mary His Mother". She is the cause of our joy by giving us Jesus, our God and our all, source of all joy and gladness. Let us rejoice in Him. Gloom and sadness are only less evils than sin; let us cast them far from us. They are the results of sin, and often, too , the cause of it.
Let us cultivate joy, which enlarges the heart and makes us run, not lag and loiter, in the way of God's commandments. We cannot imagine anything like gloom and sadness about our Lady. She had many sorrows, it is true, but sorrow and sadness are two widely different things. Joy comes next to charity in the gifts of the Holy Ghost, which is the point worth noting. Our Lady in her Magnificat is overflowing with joy and gladness. "My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour". She knows she is only creature; in comparison with Him, but an atom; yet she rejoices. We are often too inclined to talk as if our joy should spring from a consciousness of our perfection, as if we could not be joyous, because we are so miserably weak and faulty. But we must remember that holy joy has an infinite source which can never be exhausted. "I will rejoice in the Lord, and I will joy in God my Jesus". Joy is catching; so if we cling to Mary and try to enter into the secrets of her heart, we shall find there an ever-abiding spring of happiness in the thought of God's goodness. Holy Scriptures tell us that: "The joyfulness of the heart is a never-failing source of holiness". How Mary would rejoice in all the manifestations of her divine Son's virtues! in His mercy, patience, humility and long suffering; in the institution of the Blessed Eucharist; in His resurrection and glorious ascension. Also she would find subject for joy in His power as shown forth in His creation - the sun, stars, etc. "Thou art the glory of Jerusalem; thou art the joy of Israel" (Judith 15). What joy our Lady brought to Elizabeth! As we said before, gladness is catching. If a mere smile of Mary's can, according to Dante, fill the whole court of heaven with rejoicing: "The lovely one of heaven smiled, and all carolled in their glee" (Paradiso), what must the effect have been when she was in a state of ecstatic joy and exultation, as at the time when she sang Magnificat? "She shall heap upon him a treasure of joy" (Ecclus 15). Her very presence caused the infant Baptist to leap with sheer gladness. Let us then copy our blessed Mother in this light-hearted joyousness in God's service, remembering we honour our good Master when we show a bright face in His service. "To indulge anxiety is to forget that He watches over us". Has not St Peter told us to cast all our care upon Him? Why then should we not be as happy as a child in its Father's arms? Let us beg our Lady to win for us this grace, and let us say with whole-hearted confidence: Dear God, I trust my all to Thee, Since Thou Thy loving watch o'er me Dost keep for evermore.

Cause of our joy, pray for us!

Description and picture credit: Virginia Kimball from University of Dayton (The Mary's Page, link in Rosary section on the sidebar), explains beautifully the spiritual meaning of the picture depicting 'Our Lady, cause of our joy' - Our Lady is presented as autonomous figure, possibly pregnant as seems to indicate the Visitation scene in the lower half of this illustration. The medallion with Our Lady is flanked by Judith with the head of Holofernes and Esther dancing and playing the tambourine. The captions invite celebration and joy (Esther 10:10 and Nehemiah 12:43). Separated by a bunch of musical instruments, the scene of the encounter between Mary and Elizabeth illustrates why Mary is cause of our joy. The moment Mary’s greeting sounded in Elizabeth’s ear, the baby leapt in her womb for joy (Luke 1:44). Mary’s role as announcer and cause of joy, the joy of redemption for all, is further visualized in two lateral scenes, one depicting the souls in purgatory, the other a group of Old Testament figures (among them Moses and David) awaiting the Messiah. "Our sadness will be changed into joy," says the lemma, meaning that there is hope for all who believe in the Good News made flesh in Mary, the cause of our joy.