The Union of the Blessed Virgin with God
“His left hand is under my head, and His right hand shall embrace me” [Cant. 8:3].
The reflections which we have made upon the life and virtues of the holy Mother of God have at least convinced us that her praises can never worthily be celebrated by any human language. She is a creature exalted far above all the works of the Almighty, approaching so near the eternal throne, that she is lost in the glory which surrounds it. Her ways put on the mystery which belongs to the divine counsels, and her virtues assume proportions far above the reach of our conception. Her joys are like the bliss which attends the infinite perfections of God, her sorrows partake of that unapproachable woe which overwhelmed the incarnate Word, and her glories borrow the radiance of that city which the divine Being perfectly illuminates. She stands alone in the history of our race, without an equal and without comparison. And the reason of her great exaltation is not only her maternal relation to her Creator, but her entire union with Him through the power of His grace. To this must be ascribed her bliss on earth and her peerless crown in Heaven. This union was complete and entire, and the touching verses of the Canticles feebly describe the raptures of that love which bound her to her Beloved, the power of that beauty which drew Him to her embrace. In her heart there never had been for one instant anything but devotion to Him, and her race had been run with speed far surpassing the flight of the angels. She came up from the desert of this sinful world, leaning upon her Child, flowing with delights, “with her head like carmel, and the hairs of her head as the purple of the king bound in the channels.” God could not sufficiently reward her great sanctity, and so He lavished upon her the profusion of His gifts. He became her Child, and then took her to His arms and held her to His bosom. We poor sinners look up dazzled at the sight, even as the traveler stands in awe at the foot of the mountain which bathes its head in the distant heaven. But Mary is our dearest Mother, and her heart yearns for us while we are pilgrims in this valley of tears. She beckons to us to follow her footsteps. She begs us to seek a thorough purification from our sins, and then opening wide the eternal gates, she points to the goal of all true ambition. Seek, my children, conformity with God, and never rest in your warfare till you have laid every foe prostrate, and find union with the Author of your being. Seek your perfection in every trial of life, in every joy which illumines your pathway, and be never satisfied till you, like me, lay our head upon the breast of Jesus, and His right arm holds you safe forever.
It is not too much for us to seek union with God. It is the end of the Christian life, and anything less will never satisfy our souls. Any lower aim will make our journey long and bitter, and its end uncertain. We may deceive ourselves, but we can never cheat our all-seeing Judge of that which is His due. To perfectly fulfill God’s law is the condition of salvation, now that the stream of life flows at our feet, and the sacraments all around us are working their miracles of grace. To different hearts God manifests His will with different attractions, but all He calls to peace and union with Himself. Is it too much to hope that our meditations upon the life of Mary will stir up our energies and allure us even to the heights of virtue? God can do nothing more to move our wills or render the narrow path more inviting. If Jesus and Mary do not draw us by their very loveliness, there can be no place for us in Heaven. And if in reality we seek for entire union, and love which casts out all fear, then faithfully must we walk on, as the celestial Spouse may lead us. We ascend by degrees. We travel on step by step, and little by little make progress in the divine life. There is no cause for discouragement when temptations crowd upon us, and darkness takes from our souls their wonted consolations. We seek God for His own sake, and not for any of His gifts. Heaven itself would be nothing without Him, and anything less than Himself would never fill up our desire. If we only correspond with His graces, we cannot be separated from Him, and sooner or later we must rest in the bosom of His love. Sin in all its effects must be utterly driven from our hearts, for He can never accept a divided affection. There must be no attachment to sin which is so offensive to Him. There must be sincere contrition for all past transgressions, and the spirit of penance which seeks to efface every vestige of former disobedience. There must be a firm and unrelenting purpose to do the divine will in all things, great or small, and the moment that it is manifested to us. We must set a high value upon the inspirations of the Holy Spirit, and fear to be careless or unfaithful, lest the blessed Comforter be grieved and speak to us no longer. We must learn to hate sin with all the intensity of our souls, and to regard it as the only evil that could befall us. With such dispositions we shall be safe, and our pilgrimage will surely lead us to the desired end. It is wonderful what grace will do in the souls that are free, and well disposed. The blood of Christ washes away every defilement, and makes the sinner whiter than snow, while like a healing ointment it goes down into every wound and gives health to the exhausted energies. The divine word lie a fruitful seed is planted in the heart and springs up in luxuriance and beauty. One by one all defects and imperfections pass away, and virtues take strong and deathless roots, till the man is transformed into the likeness of the Son of God. Though he know it not, and is never allowed to measure his progress, he is changing day by day, putting off the old man with all his sinful lusts, and putting on the new man with his victorious power over death and hell. The veil which hides God’s counsels gradually melts away according to the words of the apostle. “When they shall be converted to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away. For where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all beholding the glory of the Lord with face uncovered, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord.” For growth is a law of life, and life coming from God bears us to Him again, Who is life unchanging and eternal. We need not be anxious about the means by which the jealous lover of souls seeks to accomplish His work in us. He alone can fathom out want and put His finger upon the cause of our malady. He will keep us humble and patient by the very mode of our sanctification, and He will go before us to remove every obstacle. Light will come whenever it is good for us, and consolations will not be withheld when we can bear them. We shall find peace and rest even on earth, cleanness of conscience, and tranquility, which is a foretaste of that bliss with which one day the presence of God will fill our souls. Behold then the way of life, the way of the immaculate, the path which Jesus has marked out, and which Mary has trod. It is open to all, and is our sure way to Heaven.