Monday, 3 August 2015

The Mystery of the Crown of Thorns by a Passionist Father part 16.




Our parents, in the order of nature, are next to the Godhead, from whom all paternity in heaven and on earth is derived. (Ephes. 3:15) Parents being the fountain-head of human society, are the first visible and living representatives of God-Creator upon earth; they are the first created source of dignity and power among men. The Eternal Son of God, wishing to become the Son of man, selected for himself a mother upon earth. We may be sure that he will honour her. It was in respect for her dignity, that he chose her from the noblest royal dynasty that has ever exalted and illustrated human nature.

He wrought, in her honour, the most surprising prodigies. More wonderful than the miraculous opening of the Red Sea or the suspended course of the river Jordan, this divine Son, in regard for the future dignity of his chosen mother, opened for her the tide of life; and rolled back the muddy wave of original sin. She came forth all fair, and in perfect holiness, whence all the children of men are defiled, and born in sin, "How beautiful art thou, my love, how beautiful ... thou art all fair, O my love, and there is no spot in thee." (Cantic. 4) He enriched her pure soul with his choicest gifts, and replenished her immaculate heart with all the graces of his filial love. From the first instant of her miraculous conception, Mary became the dearest object upon earth of the adorable Trinity, and each of the three divine Persons vied with the other in the manifestations of their affection. The highest Archangel proclaims her praises, and salutes her with words never heard before by human ears. In admiration of the sublime dignity of the Mother of God, to which this humble Virgin of Nazareth is now going to be raised, the Archangel in the most respectful manner says to her: "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women .... thou hast found grace with God, because he desires to become thy Son ... Behold thou shall conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth the incarnate God as thy true Son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most high and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David, his Father, and he shall reign in the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end ... The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore, also the Holy One that shall be born in thee shall be called the son of God ... And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word." (Lk. 1:28) Thus, the humble handmaid was honoured before angels and men, with the highest dignity possible for any creature upon earth, or in heaven. More happy than St. Paul, Mary, on this glorious occasion, is elevated to the clear contemplation, and the ravishing enjoyment of the beatific vision of the Divinity.

While the angelic intelligences admire in heaven the sublimity of this truly divine dignity of Mother of God, Saint Elizabeth praises and honours it upon Earth. Being visited at her house in Judea, by her most holy cousin, soon after she had been raised to the dignity of her divine maternity, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost, and her infant leaped in her womb, through supernatural joy, and she cried out with a loud voice, and said "Blessed art thou, O Mary, among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? ... For behold, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed art thou that hast believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord. And Mary said: My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid: For, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed." (Lk. 1)

This prophecy has been verified ever since. Her divine Son, who inwardly inspired these words, began to realize them at his birth. Being lovingly clasped in the arms of his mother, and sweetly nestling upon her virginal bosom, the incarnate Son of God brought legions of angels from heaven to sing his praises, and to honour her, from whom he was made the Son of man. He called the poor and the rich, the low and the great, shepherds and kings, Jews and Gentiles to the grotto of Bethlehem to adore his Incarnate Divinity, and to venerate his immaculate Mother. It is his will that all generations should call her blessed. Thanks to Jesus' filial piety this august Mother is praised, honoured and venerated in the Catholic Church in every part of the world. Hence these humble pages could not remain silent.

As this most dutiful son "advanced in age, wisdom and grace before God, and before men," so he gave new proofs of affectionate respect for his worthy Mother. To screen her from the very shadow of unjust suspicion, he had most wisely provided her with a most holy, most noble and affectionate husband. Joseph was the protector of her virginal purity, and the greatest admirer of her extraordinary sanctity. He was the faithful companion of her travels, and the most careful provider in all her wants. Our Lord, to perfect and reward their virtue, and to honour their dignity, but more especially that of his virginal Mother, passed thirty years of his human life in their happy company; and spent only three in his public ministry, for the rest of mankind. His uniform conduct, during the thirty years of his private life, is described-in few words, by the inspired Chronicler of his infancy and childhood. "He went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them." (Lk. 2:51) This divine child went down, indeed, in humility to be subject to his earthly parents; who was profoundly adored by all the angels of heaven. But the more deeply Jesus humbled himself, the more he exalted the dignity of maternal authority. In respectful homage to the charitable wishes of his Mother, and at the slightest indication of her secret desire, this dutiful son wrought a more stupendous prodigy than that of Josue when he stopped the course of the sun and moon; (Josue. 10:12) or that not less astonishing miracle of the prophet Isaias who pushed the sun back ten degrees. (Is. 30:8) This our Lord did at the Marriage Feast of Cana, when to please and honour his Mother he accelerated the time fixed by the eternal decree of his heavenly Father, to work his first public miracle, by changing ordinary water into the nature of exquisite wine (Jn. 2:3) On the cross of Calvary, this loving Son forgot his own sufferings, to honour his afflicted and sorrowful Mother. Lastly, after her death, he suspended in her behalf the common laws of nature, and anticipating in her honour the joys of her resurrection, raised his most holy Mother from the grave; and in body and soul brought her in triumph, to the highest throne of glory, in the eternal kingdom of heaven.

Behold, then how the Incarnate Son of God, and child of Mary, honours his Mother. He has constituted her Queen of heaven and earth, of angels and men; and all generations shall call her blessed in her divine maternity. We will close our humble but sincere tribute to the divine Son and Virgin Mother, by the more authoritative, and eloquent words of St. Bernard: We should not be surprised, he says, to learn from revelations, that God the Father has generated God the Son; for it is natural to him, by the act of his divine intelligence, to produce a Word in every respect equal to himself, God of God. But it has been, and it continues to be a most wonderful prodigy, that a woman should conceive, and bring forth a divine son. This event demanded that this privileged Mother should, in a certain manner, be raised to a kind of equality with the divinity, by an infusion of immense graces and perfections never granted to any other creature. Hence, I believe that no human, or angelic intelligence, has ever been able to fathom the bottom of that immense ocean of all the supernatural gifts of the Holy Ghost, that were poured down upon the Blessed Virgin Mary, when she conceived in her immaculate womb the Son of God ... Mary the blessed, by her free consent to become the mother of the Eternal Word, merited more than all angels, or men combined together, can merit in all their good thoughts, pious words, and virtuous actions. These could only merit the reward of eternal glory according to their various states and degrees. But this thrice happy Virgin, by her admirable consent, has merited to obtain the total extinction of every incentive to sin; the primacy and dominion over the whole universe, the plenitude of all graces, of all virtues, of all gifts, of every blessing, of all the fruits of the Holy Ghost; the perfection of all wisdom, the knowledge of all languages, the spirit of prophecy, the direction of spirits, and full power of working miracles. By this consent Blessed Mary has deserved her fecundity in the virginal state, and the maternity of the Son of God. She has merited to be made the Star of the Sea, the Gate of Heaven, and above all to be called, and to be in reality the Queen of Mercy. Hence, Solomon justly said: "Many daughters have gathered together, in riches, thou hast surpassed them all." (Prov. 31:29) (St. Bernard, 1. Conclus, 61 art 1. Cap 12 A Lapide, in Cap. 38) We are fully satisfied with this magnificent eulogium, which shows how the Incarnate Word of God honours

and rewards the dignity of his most holy Mother. We have expatiated at some length upon this subject partly because we desire to concur in the full realization of the prophecy, that all generations shall call Blessed, the divine Mother of our thorn-crowned King, to whom we have dedicated this humble volume. We feel most confident, that both Mother and Son will be pleased with our good intention.

Our second motive for extending our remark has been to offer all Christian children, the most perfect model of filial respect towards parents, that we could find. As parental authority is the first and most sacred in human society, so we are fully and firmly convinced that loving, respectful and obedient children, will grow up into law-abiding and useful citizens. Domestic discipline is the first and best school in Christian society. We must now return to our divine Master.