Monday - Second Reading
God's creation of the world and all it contains took place in the instant of his will's expression; and with that design and perfection foreseen by him. Yet there remained still uncreated another work of creation which would surpass what he had already done. You, Mary, are, as it were, another world, a world which God foresaw with greater joy, a world the Angels were more pleased to contemplate, a world of more benefit to those of good will that the whole earth and all it contains.
Mary, we may see in God's act of creation and in all created things an image of your creating. We read that it pleased God to separate the darkness from the light when he created the earth. How much more it pleased him to enlighten you from childhood. The darkness, the time of your infancy, was made light by your knowledge of God, your understanding of God, and the will to love for God which day by day led you on to a love surpassed only by the love of God.
The mental darkness of childhood, without knowledge of God, without reasoning power to guide, is for us a time of defencelessness and danger. But we know that for you, exempt from sin, it was a time of purest innocence. We read that it pleased God to make, together with the stars, two lights - the sun for daytime, the moon for the night. It pleased God still more, Mary, to set in you two heavenly lights, brighter and more beautiful than the sun or the moon: the first - perfect obedience, a radiant light for Angels and men to admire, guiding all who saw it to God himself, who is the light of eternal day; the second - a most complete and trusting faith, the light to men in the darkness of despair and unbelief when your Son chose suffering and death, a light to cast out all shadow of doubt and uncertainty when he rose from the dead. We read that it pleased God to create the stars. The thoughts of your heart, Mary, were more pleasing to him.
We read that it pleased God to create the birds, whose flight and song are a delight to men. All the words which you spoke, Mary, heard also in heaven to the joy of the Angels, were more pleasing still. We read that God created the earth itself, the dry land and the soul; and flowering and fruit-bearing trees of many kinds. Your life, Mary, your occupations and work, were more pleasing to him, for you would give nourishment, and life itself, to all, and your love would make each act of your life more beautiful to God and the Angels than the fairest of flowers are to men. God created the plants, flowers, trees, and fruits, minerals, metals, and precious stones - he has made the earth rich with these things.
Yet he saw in you, Mary, even before your creating, more qualities and virtues than in all earthly things. We read that God's creation was pleasing to him, and that he looked with joy on all he had done. It pleased him still more to create you, Mary, and he looked with greater joy on you, even before your creating, than on this earth and all earthly things. That world and everything in it, - all would be destroyed. Though created before you, Mary, it would not endure. But you, by God's eternal decree, were created to be for ever, and to be for ever united to him in deepest love, created in fullest grace, responding to his grace in all things, and so growing to the perfection of holiness.
Monday - Third Reading
God is the Creator of all beings, and he is Being itself. Nothing can be or come to be without God. Therefore, this world and all things in it owe their existence to him alone. He is the Creator of all. And Creator, last of all, of Man. To mankind he gave, as he had given to the Angels, the gift of free will. He wished that be free choice man would cling to what was good, and so avoid a just punishment and earn a just reward. Among men, little regard is paid to work done unwillingly, under threat of punishment.
We honour work done willingly out of love, and it is such work that deserves reward. It pleased God rather to leave them free, making known what a reward obedience would win, and what punishment pride and disobedience would incur. God created man, forming him from the dust of the earth. He looked for man's love and obedient service, that so the the places of those Angels who had disobeyed in their pride, and fallen from joy into misery, might be filled once more. They should have received a crown of joy for their love and obedience. Instead, they lost their reward, hating not only the joy they had forfeited but also those virtues which would have assured it to them.
A king is given a crown of gold, calling all to honour him who wears it. But there is a heavenly crown for each virtue, calling even to men on earth to honour one who loves God, calling to Angels in heaven to rejoice, calling to God to reward. What of the crown of God himself? In him all virtues reside, surpassing in every way every other possible good. In him all is virtue. Yet three special virtues stand out in what we know of God, three crowns of incomparable glory. First, that he created the Angels. (It was the envy of such glory that led some of them into their pride and fall.) Second, that he created Man. (The loss of God's glory was man's most grievous loss, when in his folly he let himself be led into sin.) Third, that he created you, Virgin Mary.
The fall of Angels and of man did not lessen the virtue of God, or take from his crown of glory. They were created for God's honour, and they refused it, it is true, just as they were created for their own desire, and yet forfeited it by sin. The wisdom of God turned their sin into an even greater glory for himself. For your creation, Mary, gave such glory to God, that what was refused him by Angels and men was made good a thousand times over. Virgin Mary, our Queen and our hope of salvation, you may truly be called the crown of God's honour. Through you he showed his divine virtue.
From you he won honour and glory greater than from all other creatures. The Angels knew, even before your creating, that by your holiness and humility you would overcome the pride of the Devil and his hatred for man. They had seen how man had fallen into misery, but in their contemplation of God, they still rejoiced, knowing well what great things God would do, Mary, through your lowliness, when his creating brought you to be.