Wednesday - Second Reading
That seed of life was ready, and at God's chosen moment, life began as he infused into it a living soul. We see the bees in summer, busy making flowers for honey; led by instinct to their sweetness, they seem often to wait for the buds to open. God foresaw, as he foresees all things, the birth of Mary, and he waited with joy as she lay hidden in her mother's womb, for he knew that none ever of those to be born would equal her in holiness. None would so make known to men his infinite love.
The infusing of Mary's soul in the womb of Blessed Anne was more beautiful than the dawn of the most beautiful day. As we so often long for the dawn, so Angels and men longed for her birth. Where the nights are short in summer, so that there is little darkness, people do not notice the dawn; they wait for the sun itself, thinking of their crops and their fruits. Where the nights are quite long, even in summer, the dawn is watched for and welcomed, not only for the coming of the sun to the fields, but because men weary of the night and the darkness.
The Angels in heaven did not await the coming of Mary that they might see Christ, for they were ever in the light of his presence; they longed for her, so that the love of God might be made known in the world, so that men who loved God might be strengthened in their love, and then they, the Angels, could go out to gather them as an everlasting harvest for God. But men, living in this world of sorrow and hardship, desired the coming of Mary that they might see Christ their Saviour. They longed for her coming, that they might learn from her perfect life how man should live. The Virgin Mary is foretold as the branch which would grow from the root of the father of David, to bear a flower on which the Spirit of God would rest. In her mother's womb - how light Anne's burden! - Mary was the tender branch which would soon come forth. The flower that branch would bear was Christ.
He himself, from the moment of her assent to God's message, was a richer and infinitely sweeter nourishment than blessed Anne had given to her. Though Mary was to him the food of life, giving her own flesh and blood to be his, that he might appear in true humanity, he was to Mary her heavenly food, that she might bear him as her child, though he was truly the Son of God. They were Mother and Son, Son and Mother, yet this Son was truly the Son of God, the only-begotten Son of the Father, eternally with him, eternally united with him and the Holy Spirit, eternally the Person of the Son of God, who with the Father and the Spirit lives in glory, eternally One.
Wednesday - Third Reading
In Father, Son and Holy Ghost, there is only the one Divinity. There is ever the one divine will. A fire with three flames is but the one fire. The three flames of love in God are the one love of his will, burning to fulfil his one divine purpose. The love of the Father was seen most brightly by the Angels when they knew his will to give his Son for the redemption of man. The love of the Son proceeding from the Father was seen most brightly when the son willed to deprive himself of his glory and take the form of a slave.
The love of the Holy Spirit was seen most brightly in that readiness to make known in many ways the one will of the Three. All heaven was ablaze with these flames of God's love, to the delight of the Angels. Yet all heaven must wait; must wait for the coming of Mary. The redemption of man, willed and foreseen by God, could not take place without her. A flame of divine love was to be kindled in Mary which would rise up to God and return so filled with his love that no corner of this world would be left cold and in darkness.
When Mary was born, she was like a new lamp, all ready to be lit; to be lit by God with a light burning like the three-fold flame of his own love. The first flame of her lover was her choice, for God's glory, to be ever a virgin. So pleasing was this to the Father that he willed to entrust to her his beloved Son, that Son who is inseparable from the Divinity of himself and the Holy Spirit. The second flame of her love was her humility, so pleasing to the Son that he willed to take from her a true human body, and that humanity which was destined to be honoured in heaven above all things. The third flame of her love was her obedience, which brought to her from the Holy Spirit the fullness of grace.
It is true that these flames of Mary's love were not lit at the moment of her birth. She was still, as other children, only a little one, unaware of God's will. Yet God took more pleasure in her than in all other beings. She was like a sweet-sounding harp, not yet in tune; but he whose treasure she was knew how lovely the music he would make with her.
It may be believed that Christ's knowledge was not lacking in anything due when he was conceived in Mary's womb. We may believe too that Mary developed in understanding earlier than others. Since the coming of Mary was such joy to God and the Angels, men too must rejoice, and give glory and honour to God, who chose her from all his creation by eternal decree and willed that she should be born among sinners, to bring forth in sinlessness the Saviour of the world.
Thursday - First Reading
Speaking of the beauty of Mary, we think of lovely things: her sacred body is like a vase of purest crystal; her soul like a lantern of clearest light; her mind like a fountain of water rising up into the air, then falling in cool streams to the deep valley. Passing from infancy to childhood, to the age when she was able to understand, she began to think of the existence of God, and how he made all things, and especially man, for his own eternal glory, and how his justice embraces all things.
Her thoughts reached out to God, as the waters of the fountain rise into the air; then, like those waters flowing down to the valley, her thoughts returned to herself and brought her a most profound humility. The Church sings of Christ leaving and returning to the Father, though he was ever with the Father and the Father ever with him. Mary's thoughts reached up to heaven in contemplation and grasped God by faith. Then in the love with which God possessed her, she turned her mind again to God and to herself, never losing her thought of God. Together with hope and trust, and with holy fear, the fire of this love inflamed her heart, as the flame is the brightness of the lantern.
She understood the perfect subjection of body to soul, and no discord ever troubled her, so that in body she was purer than purest crystal. How soon she learnt to appreciate God's love, and treasure it with all her being! Think of this love as a lily which God had planted, with a threefold root, bearing three flowers of great beauty. The three roots are three most powerful virtues, protecting her body. The three flowers, three adornments of her soul, which gave great joy to God and the Angels.
The first of the three virtues was her abstinence, her right use of God's gifts of food and drink - no over-indulgence to make her slow in the service of God, no unwise austerity to impair her health. The second was her wakefulness, so that she rested no longer than was necessary - not wasting God's time in laziness, but not fatiguing herself to the detriment of her work. The third was her command over her will, so that she was not easily wearied in body, and never over-anxious or over-excited.
The first adornment of her soul was her love for the things of God rather than the things of earth, no matter how beautiful these might seem to be. The things men so often prize, possessions and wealth, were utterly distasteful to her. The second adornment was her appreciation of the infinite distance between worldly honours and spiritual glory. This world's praises were as abhorrent to her as the poisoning air of corruption. The third adornment was her love for all that God loves, her repugnance for all that was hateful and displeasing to him. She sought in all things the true sweetness of God, and no taste of bitterness was permitted to endure in her after her death.
With such beauty of soul, Mary surpassed all other created things. God willed that only through her should his promise be fulfilled. Her love left no blemish or defect, not even the smallest. In nothing could the enemy claim victory over her. If then she was so pleasing in the sight of God and the Angels, may we not think that she had also great earthly beauty? Those who saw her looked with delight, and knew that her loveliness was born of her love for God. They saw her, and loved to see her, and were led to a new love for God.
They watched her, and loved to be with her, and knew that no evil could touch them, nothing sinful attract them, in the presence of her beauty and holiness.