My purpose in these posts is to bring a variety of Christian and other writers in a desire to share significant writings that in my estimation contribute to the common good and directly or indirectly give glory to God and extend the Lord's work of salvation to all of humanity. G.S.
"THE LORD IS WITH THEE!"
It was the Archangel Gabriel who came from Heaven to the young maiden Myriam of Nazareth - she who would come to be known to us as the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, Mother of Jesus and of his Church and of all Christians - and in bringing her his "Annunciation", Gabriel announced something of the Divine Will and of Divine Revelation. Gabriel declared to Mary, in current commun English usage: "Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee (you)...." So what did it mean, exactly, that the Lord is with her?
"26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”[b] 29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”[c] 35 The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born[d] will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36 And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her." Luke 1:26-38 (All quotes from NRSVCE)
God our Creator is present and active at human conception.God Himself has revealed to us what happens at the moment of our conception in our mother's womb, and this is true for every human being, found in Jeremiah 1:4-5:
"4 Now the word of the Lord came to me saying,
5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
We know that we are conceived in the moment of union by our mother with our father, and this Word of the Lord gives us a glimpse at the moment our immortal soul is created by the hand of our Creator God.... We owe our existence as an invaluable gift to the planned cooperation between God our Creator and our human parents. This means that we are all intimately related to God our Creator even from before we are conceived in that God loves us and desires that we come into existence even before we do so. We already have a Father in Heaven who loves us and desires us. This is no negligible matter but a wondrous one.
However, we must all contend with the "original sin"
While it remains true that we have a loving Father in Heaven, we must all of us contend with the disastrous consequences of the original sin. We are not conceived into a perfect and harmonious relationship with our Creator God, but in a state of rebellion and distrust. As we grow up and older we do not spontaneously trust in God and love Him but instead we spontaneously distrust God or are afraid of Him or simply ignore Him at best or hate and despise Him at worst. Actually, perhaps being indifferent to Him is much worse. In any event, it is because our Creator God is our loving Father that He has not abandoned us but has sent his only-begotten Son into the world as one among us in order to be our Saviour.
In the case of Mary, we know through Divine Revelation and the teaching of our Church that at the moment of her conception she was granted the privilege of exemption from the dark consequences of the original sin committed by our first parents, the first human couple Adam and Eve. This divine privilege was granted by God to Mary in anticipation of her vocation, her future role and mission as Mother of God, and this gift has been called the "Immaculate Conception" by Pope Blessed Pius IX December 8th, 1854 in his Encyclical "Ineffabilis Deus" and then less than four years later at Lourdes the Blessed Virgin Mary confirmed this privilege when she identified herself, saying, "I am the Immaculate Conception." This statement caused clerics of the day to become distraught as they failed to understand how Mary seemed to confuse her identity with the privilege granted her by God. So this means then that Mary from even before her conception was granted by God a very special and privileged relationship of intimate love with our Heavenly Father. The Lord, our Father, was truly "with her" all along and continued to be "with her" even until now. Pope Saint Pius X reaffirmed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception 50 years later in his Encyclical "Ad Diem Illum Laetissimum."
"Venerable Brethren, Health and the Apostolic Blessing. An interval of a few months will again bring round that most happy day on which, fifty years ago, Our Predecessor Pius IX., Pontiff of holy memory, surrounded by a noble crown of Cardinals and Bishops, pronounced and promulgated with the authority of the infallible magisterium as a truth revealed by God that the Most Blessed Virgin Mary in the first instant of her conception was free from all stain of original sin. All the world knows the feelings with which the faithful of all the nations of the earth received this proclamation and the manifestations of public satisfaction and joy which greeted it, for truly there has not been in the memory of man any more universal or more harmonious expression of sentiment shown towards the august Mother of God or the Vicar of Jesus Christ."
Clerics wondered "How can Mary say she is conception?"
When Bernadette Soubirous reported to the clergy the name that her "Lady" had given herself, they were perplexed. Their first and most obvious objection was that conception is an action; so the lady could not possibly take the name of an action. In his final writings before his arrest by the Nazis on February 17, 1941, Father Maximilian Maria Kolbe OFM continued his long reflection on Mary, who identified herself to Saint Bernadette as "The Immaculate Conception". His insight was about the unique and God-given relationship between the Holy Spirit - "Uncreated, Eternal Immaculate Conception" between the Eternal Father and the Eternal Son in the Most Holy Trinity - on one hand, and on the other hand, Mary of Nazareth as the "created Immaculate Conception". He saw this relationship as a spousal relationship, in which Mary was granted as a privilege the name of her Spouse.
From the very beginning, then, Mary was a privileged "work of the Holy Spirit" from the moment of her own conception immaculately in the womb of her mother Saint Anne. The Holy Spirit continued to dwell in Mary as in a Temple made "by God's hands" and so God was "with Mary" all along. It is our understanding from Jesus' own testimony and teaching that the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are always one in all things. So, God was "with Mary" all along; while particular "roles" of each Divine Person were highlighted at different moments in Mary's life. Mary existed in the love of the Father from all eternity. She came into existence "under the bright shadow" of the Holy Spirit who remained with her; until the moment of this Annunciation, when the Son of God became more manifest.
The Father, the Holy Spirit, and now, the Son Eternal Word
So, we now see how the Father was always "with Mary", and the Holy Spirit was also always "with Mary", and now, finally, the Eternal Word, the only-begotten Son of the Father, also came to be "with Mary" at the moment she gave her affirmative reply to the Archangel Gabriel:
The extravagant generosity of Almighty God to humanity
This reflection brings us to realize that humanity stands abundantly blessed in the presence of Almighty God our Creator. Not only do we have an Eternal loving Father in the Heavens, but we also have a brother and Saviour in his only-begotten Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ; moreover, since the day of Pentecost, we have all been brought - along with Blessed Mary the Immaculate Conception - into the Family of God the Most Holy Trinity by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit into all those who believe in God and in the One whom He has sent into the world. In addition, in the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Lourdes, of Fatima, and of many other places of her visitations as decreed by God, in Mary then, we also have a Mother, we continue to receive her as a gift from God, Queen of the Apostles, of Martyrs, and of all the Saints, the "Women clothed with the sun..." as she appeared to Saint Juan Diego on the outskirts of Mexico City in December, 1531.
"12 A great portent appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars." Rev 12:1
Here are only a few of the gentle, gracious, and heart-rending words addressed by Our Lady of Guadalupe to Juan Diego:
“Know for certain, least of my sons, that I am the perfect and perpetual Virgin Mary, Mother of the True God through whom everything lives, the Lord of all things near and far, the Master of heaven and earth. It is my earnest wish that a temple be built here to my honor. Here I will demonstrate, I will exhibit, I will give all my love, my compassion, my help and my protection to the people. I am your merciful mother, the merciful mother of all of you who live united in this land, and of all mankind, of all those who love me, of those who cry to me, of those who seek me, of those who have condfidence in me. Here I will hear their weeping, their sorrow, and will remedy and alleviate all their multiple sufferings, necessities and misfortunes.”
Benedict XVI stated: “When the Virgin of Guadalupe appeared to the native Indian Saint Juan Diego, she spoke these important words to him: “Am I not your mother? Are you not under my shadow and my gaze? Am I not the source of your joy? Are you not sheltered underneath my mantle, under the embrace of my arms?” Shrine of the Aparecida, Brazil, May 13th, 2007
So, the Lord is "truly with Mary"
The Most Holy Trinity - the Father and the Son, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit genuinely also want to be "with us" as well. To this end, God sends Mary, now and again, to Earth with the same simple message of God's invitation to us human beings to open our minds, hearts, souls, and bodies to the loving, forgiving, merciful, life-giving presence and action of God within us; so that, "with God", we may work together to advance God's work of salvation among human society, from one person to another, one family to another.
© 2004-2021 All rights reserved Fr. Gilles Surprenant, Associate Priest of Madonna House Apostolate & Poustinik, Montreal QC
© 2004-2021 Tous droits réservés Abbé Gilles Surprenant, Prêtre Associé de Madonna House Apostolate & Poustinik, Montréal QC
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