Ark of the Covenant – Chapter XXIII

Chapter XXIII

 

The Faith of Mary

 

“I am come into my garden, O my sister, my spouse; I have gathered my myrrh, with my aromatical spices, I have eaten the honeycomb with my honey, I have drank my wine with my milk; eat, O friends, and drink, and be inebriated, O dearly beloved” [Cant. 5:1].

 

We have considered the life of the Blessed Virgin and the successive stages by which she ascended to God.  We are now briefly to glance at the virtues which adorned her, and which were the fruits of her great sanctity.  She was the garden spoken of in the Canticles, full of the choicest fruits and flowers, exhaling the breath of myrrh and aromatical spices, and overflowing with the richness of the earth.  We cannot linger long in this garden, nor can we rightly estimate its luxurious sweetness, but yet the slightest view of its carried fruitfulness will be enough to animate our faith and hope, and to bind us with new love to Him Whose hand made this most wonderful masterpiece of His creation.  We begin with faith, because by faith man learns to know God, and overcomes the world.  “This is the victory which overcomes the world, even our faith.”  We shall find in Mary all the degrees of a most perfect faith.  We see in her whole life a most implicit trust in God, and confidence in His providence.  By her Immaculate Conception she was exempt from the darkness of ignorance, and in all the dealings of God was able to see His hand.  Clouds and mystery were about her, and yet she never doubted the divine purposes.  Her faith was tried in the circumstances of her early life, when the archangel announced to her her great dignity, when St. Joseph was left to doubt of her purity, and in every step of our Lord’s sufferings.  Not for one moment did she hesitate or waver in her trust in God, nor did a cloud for one moment cast a shadow over the brightness of her faith.  In all things she saw God, and adored His wonderful ways, even when to flesh and sense they were inexplicable.  No mortal has ever been compassed about with such strange and marvelous providences, and in all these trials the victory of her faith was perfect.  To sustain her in the remarkable lot to which she was called she had a particular trust in God.  The divine dealings to her were peculiar, and her faith was peculiar also.  She knew from her infancy that her Creator had some great things in store for her, and she threw herself upon Him with the most tender confidence.  She had faith in God, and in Him alone, and the tranquility of her spirit could never be disturbed, for He could never break His covenant.  This peculiar faith resulted from the reality of her consecration to Him.  Nothing was hard or impossible which God purposed; and she had no will but His.  Her Maker became her Child, and of all His creatures He had none to worship Him with as pure and ardent a faith as hers.  She adored Him as her God every moment, and it was her faith which made Him daily more and more dear to her.  She saw Him in the manger of Bethlehem, amid the poor and despised of this world, and bending beneath the ignominy of the scourge and cross.  He was not only her own Child, He was her God, and this added the overflowing bitterness to her cup of agony.  Her faith was so complete that all things earthly were far out of her sight.  She loved, and could live for Jesus alone, and everything else was to her as far less than nothing.  As the Incarnation is the great central mystery of faith, so Mary was the first to understand and adore this mystery.  “Blessed is she that believed,” when the voice of the archangel first announced this truth.  She was the first to adore the Word made flesh when He was conceived in her womb, and every day opened to her new riches in the plan of redemption.  She alone teaches us how to understand the Incarnation, as she is the natural protector of the humanity of her Son.  All heresies are directed against the truth of our Lord’s Incarnation, and the love of Mary destroys them all.  No false doctrine can abide where she is rightly honored.  Nor can anyone really believe in the mystery of God manifest in the flesh without appreciating her office.  If we could sum up all Mary’s faith and love and joy, and express them in one word, perhaps we could hear her say, “Jesus, my God, is my Child.”  “I to my Beloved, and my Beloved to me.”  In fact, without the Incarnation there is no Mary, as without Mary there is no Christ.

And the faith of the Blessed Virgin was active, leading to great works and sustaining her in the unearthly life she had to lead.  She believed in the redemption.  She felt its power, and knew how the glory of her Son would one day cover the whole earth.  She was content to wait for God’s time, and patiently to do her part.  The faithless Jew denied the Redeemer and tracked the precious blood along the streets of Jerusalem.  She looked forward to the day when she should apply that blood to heal many a ghastly wound, and to bring peace to many a broken heart.  God was always before her eyes, and in many things her faith was even sight, but great trials perfected her complete confidence in Him.  She was so far above the world that the light of Heaven ever rested upon her, and yet earth lay beneath her in shadow and cloud.  Where she saw not her faith was even better than sight, opening to her a constant and clear view of the invisible.

To imitate our most blessed Mother in this virtue is our only way of salvation, and to closely follow her is a sure path to union with God.  We may easily trace all our failures to a want of faith.  We wander from the true path, we fall into sin, we are the slaves of pride, and are full of defects, because we do not truly believe what our religion teaches.  The things of sense are ever before our eyes, crowding out the view of divine realities, and we make little progress because our aims are low and unworthy of faith.  We are all the children of God.  Do we truly desire our sanctification, and are we ready for the sacrifices which it involves?  Then must we follow Mary in her faith, and look no more upon things seen.  We must see the world as God sees it, and count its vanities as less than nothing.  We shall learn to hate sin, and to prize virtue, and a new earth will open to us with treasures which do not corrupt, and friends which do not deceive.  Is not this the elementary idea of the Christian life?  If we are really members of Christ is not our citizenship in Heaven?  Is it too much for God to ask us to realize the greatness of His own gifts and the dignity of our vocation?  We need faith in the divine providence, faith in God, faith in Christ, faith in the Incarnation, and faith in the redemption, and with this faith we can overcome the world, drive it entirely out of our hearts, and put our feet upon its idols.  Let us apply this remedy against our besetting sins, and as the attraction of earth diminishes the attraction of Heaven will increase.  We have not yet looked at our sins in the light of faith, we do not know what miserable creatures we are in God’s sight.  Yet His eyes are to be our judge, and we must one day support the scrutiny of His awful justice.  Our religion brings us into a spiritual world peopled with angels and saints, where Mary reigns as Queen and Mother.  We are elevated to a life far above the pleasures of worldlings and carnal men.  Why should we ever forget what God has done for us, and turn from infinite truth and beauty to the deceiving and unsatisfying joys of sense?  One spark of Mary’s faith would illumine our whole being, and give a new impulse to all our spiritual energies.  We have felt the need of it in our past wanderings from God, we shall feel the need of it still more as trials thicken around us and the shadows of death are thrown across our path.  We shall need to grasp the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  Mighty miracles of divine love are on every side of us.  To see and feel them will be our support in all the perplexities of our pilgrimage.

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