Sunday, December 11: "A school of the Virgin Mary".
What a joy to be able to get to the Virgin in the Notre Dame school. The presence of Mary so close to us, with his eyes full of tenderness, invites us to follow it, not to keep us, but to lead us to his son.
Begin by looking at the writing. Mary is not absent from the Old Testament. Certainly, there are a series of texts which are not the Virgin Mary in the literal sense, but it is customary to apply.
So the star of the morning (Ben Sirach 50: 6), dawn in the growing light (Ct 6, 10), the Rainbow sign peace (Gen 9: 12-13), the fertile Earth of which expected a mysterious fruit...
We found also the Marian figures in the events of sacred history like the garden of Eden, Noah's Ark, Jacob's ladder, the burning Bush. The breast of the Virgin is the sanctuary of the most high; It is the Holy of Holies, covered with pure gold; the Ark of the new Covenant, which contains not only the tables of the law, but the legislature itself.
We like to compare it to the urn of gold filled with Manna, the altar of incense, the seven-branched candlestick. Mary is the new Eve, who won a full victory on the demon and communicate real life.
It also promises in Sara who, against all hope, gives birth to the son of promise. The sister of Aaron, Miriam who, after the passage of the Red Sea sings his action of grace, prelude to the Magnificat. (Ex 15: 20-22)
There are two prophetic texts on which we stop a few moments. First Isaiah 7: 14: "this is why the Lord himself will give us a sign: Behold, the Virgin is pregnant, she will bear a son she calls Emmanuel."
Who is this child? the Messiah, as the following chapters speak of this son with mysterious epithets that place it in the sphere of the divine (Is 9: 5). From birth, that son is invested holy spirit with his gifts. (11.2); the land of Judah is hers as that of Yahweh (14: 2). Expected final victory which will break the Assyrian yoke (9, 6) and which will mark the advent of an era of justice, prosperity and peace profound (11.3).
Emmanuel Announces how it comes to the world that God intends to take over the interests of its people, without the cooperation of the failing dynasty. Yes, he is a Messianic and Marian prophecy.
The second text, you know it too; It's Micah 5: 1 - 2A:
'And you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, the smallest of the clans of Judah, it is you that will come out for me who has to govern Israel. Its origins date back to ancient times, to the days of old. "But God will deliver his people until the day where will give birth to... the one who must give birth." The parent of this text with that of Isaiah is obvious. Judah currently oppressed, finds his solace in the prophecy of Emmanuel, its birth will be a miraculous fact; No wonder then that this event is a sign of a future deliverance.
It is sure that these two prophecies represented themselves as fugitives clues that don't deliver their full meaning only after the fact. Before the coming of Christ, could not go beyond the question: who is? But let us not forget that God has predestined by far the Virgin Mary. He has prepared. He even sketched out a few features of his face in the Old Testament.
In the New Testament, Mary has a more prominent place. The oldest testimony is that of the Epistle to the Galatians: "God sent his son, born of a woman subject to the law." (Galatians 4: 5) St. Paul does not specify who is this woman; is a simple material instrument or an instrument of choice? Can't go any further. Then, we must open the Gospels. St. Matthew gives the key to the text of Isaiah which I have just mentioned; for the Evangelist, the Messiah is divine.
Luke, also refers it to the great prophets. Mary is at the center of his narrative: the Annunciation with spiritual physiognomy, which is summed up in the contrast of his humble human situation with its size according to the grace. But let's not rush! Let's go of his name which she revealed to Lourdes to Saint Bernadette: "I am the Immaculate Conception".
Do not enter the history of dogma, but note simply that Duns Scotus, the great theologian of the 13th century Franciscan, discovered that salvation is more original and more originating as original sin. We are rooted in Christ the Saviour before it can be in the Adam Fisher. The cross is more original than sin and the creation itself has as basis the cross.
Mary is so conceived without sin and Christ is like us in all things except sin. That is to say that they are one and the other, for another in a State of victorious struggle against sin. They attest one as the other that sin is not part of the basic structure of the man wanted by God. They show one and the other one can be really man and woman without being sinners.
They therefore provide a double testimony: both the victory over sin is possible, practical and real and that far from bruise man, this victory it blossoms and allows him to bring his best fruit in the direction of the communion to the God of love.
Yes, the victory of the charity is possible. Certainly, we do not have the privilege of the Virgin Mary, but we also, we in Christ, victorious of sin.
So the real question is not sin. Sin is that the mystery of shadow that often crushes us, but that shouldn't make us doubt of mercy. The real question, the only one is that of salvation, i.e. that of the victory of God over sin. Of course, sin is serious, but human; Mercy broke out against sin with the victorious power of the God of love.
But with such a privilege, Mary had to feel far from men! More men are holy, more they live in ignorance of their own. Mary was a pure momentum toward God. She had to suffer to see that many men contradicted this movement in them. She had to suffer from Sin this sin because contradicted not only God, but her contradicted itself in the intimate movement of his being. She waited the Savior in a very deep solidarity with the fishermen. It is our sin that we have no solidarity with sinful humanity. Mary lived in a great compassion and compassion, only without any judgment for the sin of the world and for fishermen.
What is the meaning of this dogma for us?
First is the announcement of the victory of mercy. This is the liberating announcement of new times, where God will finally destroy the selfishness that locks the man. Mary guides us every day on a path to holiness. It can be a slow and daily victory. We contemplate in Mary the victory of mercy which is not his prerogative, but which is also at work in us. It is the path of true faith, to trust committed to the power of forgiveness, the refusal to give in to fatalism of evil.
It is then an encouragement for our daily struggle. Christ invites us to conversion. Spiritual warfare is the lot of all. It is an essential element of the market following the Lord. He this fight with us and in us, and we constantly use his strength to hold good in the race. Everything comes from the glorious cross! The radiant Holiness of Mary encourages us to continue the fight. The all-Holy Mary intercedes to make us holy.
This dogma is also a teaching on sin and merciful love.
We must have a look that is sin against the burning of the charity of God, manifested reality on the cross. This is the fight of absolute love against any excessive love of self. We will be presented to the Lord with the scars of our struggles. There is no little sin, the challenge is every hour of extreme importance.
And yet, need us a peaceful look because of the victory of the cross. Who places itself under the light of the cross does not crush by sin, because he knows that the cross is victory.
It is time to talk about the Annunciation. I would take you to the convent of San Marco in Florence. Those who have had the chance to visit the convent whose cells are covered with frescoes of Fra Angelico, surely remember the scene of the Annunciation, ample and spectacular work that greets us at the top of the stairs leading to the cells of the 1st floor.
A true aesthetic emotion!
Two faces: that of the Angel is acute, juvenile and ambiguous; the Virgin, whose never finely drawn features, were so purely expressed, is all seriousness. Same position of the arms, as if the Virgin wanted to express both his stupor and his fiat. But - that's the meaning of this quomodo: ' how is this going to make since I don't know any man? (Lk 1: 34)
As to "how" in our lives! But Mary has already said yes, because she knows that doing the will of the father is source of joy and freedom.
How could she refuse such happiness? She said yes in advance, a Yes in the most profound humility: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; that everything be done to me according to your Word. "(Lk 1: 38) and not as I had expected. This Fiat causes the Magnificat. Maybe it's an opportunity for us to say our Yes to the Lord, to go to the source of joy.
The scene of the visitation is a complement to the scene of the Annunciation.
The salutation of Elizabeth can be regarded as an imitation of the greeting of the Angel Gabriel.
Mary received the divinity of Christ at the Annunciation? Mary, heard of the Scriptures, was to be able to grasp the insinuations in the message of the Angel. Mary has ignored everything. Do not imagine that she has received by innate whole Treaty of the Incarnation. Mary remained poor in the order of concepts and science. His knowledge of Jesus remained obscure, surrounded by difficulties. Just read Luke 2: 48-50 when Marie finds Jesus at the Temple.
Mary did not know the future: she saw only that Jesus had to return to his father by mysterious and painful ways. She knew her son was son of God, but this knowledge was deeper than ours, because Marie saw the essential.
Attentive to the word of God, welcoming this word to the point where it becomes flesh, Marie participates in an extraordinary way in the mystery of the Incarnation. She's going to bring a child into the world.
The small child, the son of the eternal father, that's the paradox of the Christmas party. We have to welcome this little child. The Incarnation should amaze us, because this child in his weakness will deify us. It is true that the father surprises us in announcing the arrival of a child; It is said that God joined us in what we have more fragile, weaker, more distraught.
It is Mary who leads us on this journey of abandonment to a stronger presence than anything and yet so weak in the eyes of men. So we have nothing else to contemplate that the Virgin Mary, the face of one who has been the first adventurer of all time because she stood in this certainty of faith: we are in the hands of God.
In our world of despair and darkness, remains the hope of the hopeless, namely the Virgin Mary. We need resume so the poor prayer, prayer of those who, crushed by the events, speak with confidence the "Hail Mary".
Ave Maria puts us in the face of the Virgin. These are our two faces that are face to face, that of Mary and ours. "Hail Mary" spiritual audacity, but also how close. It is I who am speaking to the Virgin, with the words of the Angel. I'm talking to her with confidence; in this greeting, there is this confidence of a child who confides to his mother.
"Mary, full of grace" is his name. Her name is Marie, but the Angel adds "full of grace"; What qualifies it and this title highlights the mission, because it does not keep the graces, she distributes them. Don't worry, it does not take the place of his son. on the other hand, it helps us to accommodate the graces in preparing our hearts. Sometimes we forget this aspect of her intercession.
"The Lord is with you." Mary lives in the presence of the Lord. She surrenders to him, in obedience to the faith. Even in the darkest hour, Mary knows that his Lord is here! To Golgotha, while she wants to be all to her son, she accepts this ultimate dispossession: "Behold, your son."
"You are blessed among all women. Blessed because you have been chosen; blessed to be the mother of God; Blessed because you show us the wonderful vocation of women.
"The fruit of your womb is blessed": what beautiful mystery of wearing the child - God as well. She will not put the world Jesus; It offers the world the son of God and God him - even. We are the only religion which makes us touch the word of God.
After greeting the Virgin, we open our hearts and we make our demands and they are specific for each of us.
"Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us." We entrust ourselves to the intercession of the Virgin. It is not only the mother of God, but also our mother. By entrusting us with his mother, Jesus wants us to talk to him, Marian devotion is not a secondary devotion. One who is attached to Christ, is also attached to his mother! The we took with us?
I like the words of the Holy Father to young priests: "forget the Virgin Mary is a bad thing...". And, to put it in other words: If you don't want the Virgin as mother, you can be sure you get it as a mother-in-law! And this is not good! »
And if we entrust our intentions to Mary, it is because we are sinners! Oh! She does not forgive our sins, it is the case of the son; but it accompanies us in our spiritual battles and with maternal tenderness, she leads us to the source of mercy.
"Now and at the hour of our death." At every moment, Mary is with us, since we took in our hearts. And the day of our death will be next to us; It will give us the hand so that we can make our death the most beautiful Act of offering to the father: "Here I am Lord."
The Pope, addressing nuns tells this strange story: he exhorts us to be surprised by the Lord! But the Pope also surprises us! You have learned in Sunday school it was St. Pierre who greeted us in the Kingdom, since he had the keys! Well, the Pope revealed to nuns that St. Peter was tired and that he was often lying and that the door was still closed! Yes, it is the successor of St. Peter, who reported to the sisters. But he added: "what does not know St. Peter, is that there is a beautiful lady who is hidden behind the door and which opens wide the door of paradise" is the Virgin Mary. If the Pope told this to the sisters, it's that they pray a little more the Rosary! Don't worry, St. Peter is not tired, but I also believe that Mary will be well there, body and soul, to welcome us.
Born October 11, 1951, Patrick CHAMBERS is ordained a priest of the diocese of Paris in 1980 by cardinal François MARTY. Professor of french, latin and Greek from 1972 to 1975 and the institution of Holy Cross in Neuilly, or after his ordination, he became chaplain. He was appointed in September 1984 Director of the Seminary of Saint-Sulpice at Issy-les. Professor [...]