Saturday, December 20, 2008

From Magnificat-12/20/08

My mind is working hard to understand all that this short essay implies. Thirty years ago I embraced motherhood much more naively (read "unaware") of the full significance of assenting to life. As a result, I am still learning what Our Lady comprehended from the start.

Mary's Consent

When Our Lady stood up, a queenly child, and uttered her fiat to the Angel of God, her words began to make Christ's voice. Those first words of consent had already spoken Christ's last words of consent; her "I commit myself to you, do whatever you like with me" were already spoken by Christ in her; they were one and the same with his: "Father, into [your] hands I commend my spirit."

At that moment, when Our Lady received the love of the Holy Spirit as the wedded love of her soul, she also received her dead Son in her arms. The trust which accepted the utter sweetness of the Infant Jesus between her own hands, looking at her with her own eyes, accepted the stiff, unresponsive corpse that her hands embalmed. This was her Son, but more, even more, God's Son. She trusted God, she understood on earth that which many mothers will only understand in heaven; she was able to see her boy killed, lying there bruised from head to foot, wounded and dead, and to believe the Father's cry: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

God asks for extreme courage in love; the Bride of the Spirit must respond with strength like his own strength.

Our Lady did this.

How much easier it would have been for her, had she been asked in that moment in time to withdraw from the common life, to tear up her heart by its roots and, renouncing all "earthly joys," bring forth Christ in cloistered security.

How much easier for her if she had had at least a guarantee for the safety of the precious burden, Christ, in her.

But she was consenting not only to bear her own child, Christ, but to bear Christ into the world in all men, in all lives, in all times; not only in secluded lives, protected lives, the lives of holy people, but into the lives of those haunted by worry, by poverty, by debts, by fears and temptations, subject to chance, to accident, to persecution, to the fortunes of war.

She was consenting not only to give birth to Christ, not only to give life to him, but to give him death.

Written by Caryll Houselander, a British mystic, poet, wood carver, and spiritual teacher

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