THE MOTHER OF GOD
“The Lord possessed me in the beginning of His ways, before He made anything from the beginning. I was set up from eternity, and of old before the earth was made. The depths were not as yet, and I was already conceived, neither had the fountains of water as yet sprung out, the mountains with their huge bulk had not been established, before the hills I was brought forth. He had not yet made the earth, nor the rivers, nor the poles of the world.” (Proverbs 8:22-26)
1. “The decree of the Incarnation involved the decree that Our Lord should have a Mother. God might have become man in other ways. He chose to become man in this. He chose Mary from all eternity to be that most beloved and cherished and honoured Mother…Mary was to be the spouse of God, a Mother fitted by grace and dignity for the relation she was to bear to Him. Thus the predestination of Mary comes close on that of Jesus Christ Himself, and cannot be separated therefrom…St. Thomas tells us that God could work greater things than any He has actually worked, except in three instances, the Incarnation of the Word, the Maternity of God, conferred on Mary, and the beatitude of man, consisting in the vision of Himself.” [Henry James Coleridge, S.J.]
2. On this dignity of Mother of God the belief of the Church concerning Mary’s sanctity is founded. When God has chosen souls for a special purpose He has given them special graces in accordance with that purpose. Hence as Our Lady’s dignity so far transcends all others, whether on earth or in Heaven, the greatness of her graces, and of her sanctity, is but a natural conclusion. “Many daughters have gathered riches; thou hast surpassed them all” (Proverbs 31:29). Thou hast surpassed them all, both in the dowry of graces thou hast received to fit thee for thy office, and in thy faithfulness in using thy graces so as to multiply them. In our human experience we sometimes come across a soul characterized not only by the exceptional favour of God, but also by an instinctive correspondence on its part with that favour. It is a beautiful thing; perfect nature made supernatural. Such a soul tells us something of the soul of Our Lady.
3. We know nothing quite for certain of the childhood of the Mother of God. Stories have come down to us, traditions and apocrypha, which may or may not be true; the first certain fact in her life is the Annunciation. But if we do not know the historical events, we know of much that affords matter by which we may understand her. There is the fact of the Immaculate Conception, by which from the first there was no purifying need for Our Lady; the fact of the consequent unceasing growth in grace, so that the Angels themselves must have always bowed down before her; the fact that her correspondence will have implied a beautiful care to protect the treasure God had given to her, so that, as was said of her Son afterwards, “the child advanced in wisdom, and age, and grace before God and men.” What a child Our Lady must have been!
Summary Meditation Points:
1. The fact that Our Lady was to be Mother of God implies a corresponding overflow grace to prepare for so great a dignity.
2. This overflow of grace implies a correspondence on her part; and this means the highest and most beautiful sanctity.
3. We fill up the story of her childhood by the picture of the child herself.
Art for this post on the Mother of God: Madonna in Prayer, Giovanni Battista Salvi da Sassoferrato, 1638-1652, copyright Restored Traditions, used with permission. Archbishop Alban Goodier, S.J., www.stmaryscadoganstreet.co.uk, all rights reserved, used with permission.