Monday, November 30, 2009


My abode is in the full assembly of the Saints - Ecclus 24

In the midst of her own people she shall be exalted, and shall be admired in the holy assembly. And in the multitude of the elect she shall have praise, and among the blessed she shall be blessed, saying: I took root in an honourable people, and in the portion of my God. His inheritance and my abode is in the full assembly of saints.
I was exalted like a cedar in Libanus, and like a cypress tree on Mount Sion. I was exalted like a palm tree in Cades, and as a rose plant in Jericho: as a fair olive tree in the plains, and as a plane tree by the waters was I the vine I have brought a pleasant odour: and my flowers are the fruit of honour and riches. (Ecclus 24: 3, 4, 16-19, 23)

With reason is Mary styled Queen of All Saints. We have seen that she excelled the angels in purity, the patriarchs in faith, the prophets in knowledge, the apostles in zeal, the martyrs in courage, the confessors in longanimity, the virgins in whole-hearted devotedness to our Lord. Thus surpassing them all in their distinguishing characteristics she was able to sing: "So was I established in Sion, and in the hole city likewise I rested, and my power was in Jerusalem. And I took root in an honourable people, and in the saints. I was exalted like a cedar in Libanus, and as a cypress tree in Mount Sion". (Ecclus 24).

"The full assembly of saints". How at home our Lady must have felt from the first moment she entered heaven, where she found every one enamoured of God, as she had ever been, but hitherto with few to sympathize with the inner fire which consumed her! There all is love - love pure and without alloy. See her amazement  at being exalted above even Cherubim and Seraphim, as the  cedars of Libanus overtop all the other trees of the mountain, and how her imagery is drawn from the mount which St Jerome says derives its name from its stainless, glistening whiteness. "I was exalted like a cedar in Libanus."
"I took root in an honourable people." How delightful must be the society in heaven! All that is beautiful, true, noble and intellectual in human nature is to be found there perfected in the highest degree, and without any admixture of littleness, meaness, weakness or other imperfections that mar in some measure even the grandest character in this world.

'This an important point to know
There' no perfection here below,

but there, in our heavenly home, it exists in all its plenitude, and as our Lady had surpassed all the saints on earth by her humility - for it has been said that it was her humility even more than her purity that drew down to her heart the Son of God - so now she would exceed them all in her spirit of praise. We can imagine her singing joyfully the words: "Turn, O my soul, unto thy rest, for the Lord hath been bountiful to thee. For He hath delivered  my soul from death: my eyes from tears, my feet from falling." (Ps 64) "I will praise Thee, O Lord, with my whole heart...I will give praise to Thee in the sight of Thy angels."

How lovingly and unassumingly our Lady would take her place amongst all the saints and angels that throng the heavenly court, and how they would welcome her as their Queen, as the Mother of their Most High Creator! How they would praise her, and yet feel, as Dante says, that only the Creator can rightly estimate the beauty of His creature! May we not end fittingly with a quotation from the great St John Chrysostom: "Truly, dearly beloved brethren, the blessed Virgin Mary was a great wonder. What thing greater or more famous than she hath ever at any time been found, or can be found? She alone is greater than heaven and earth. What thing holier than she hath been, or can be found? Neither prophets, nor apostles, nor martyrs, nor partriarchs, nor angels, nor thrones, nor dominations, nor Seraphim, nor Cherubim, nor any other creature, visible, or invisible, can be found that is greater or more excellent than she. She is at once the handmaid and the parent of God, at once Virgin and Mother."
O Mary, truly thou a marvel of holiness. Well might Dante excclaim: "In te magnificenza, in the s'aduna quantunaue in creatura e di bontate." (Paradiso, 33:20,21) - In thee is magnificence, in thee is united whatever of good iss to be found in creatures!