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was not as fully glorified as was possible in a pure creature;1 for, as everything that comes from the hands of God must, in a given point, perfectly attain the end for which it is created, otherwise the work would be imperfect, which cannot be said of the works of an all-wise God; so it was becoming, that at least one pure creature should attain that perfection, which was afterwards to find its consummation, and be crowned in the person of an Incarnate God. The end for which God created man was, that man might love Him with all his heart and soul, and mind, and strength, and thus glorify Him in His greatness, goodness, and mercy, or, neglecting to do this, that he might glorify Him in the attribute of His justice. As God was to become man in the exercise of the attribute of His goodness and mercy, it was becoming, that He should only take flesh of one who had glorified Him by attaining the culminating point of perfection of which a pure creature was susceptible, and who had herself glorified Him as much as it was possible for her nature to have done. This was really the case, for we are assured of it by God's heavenly messenger ; for, saluting the humble Mary, the archangel Gabriel said, “ Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.”2 The Church also assures us the same thing, saying, that'
• Mary merited to bear Christ our Lord. In the whole of the sacred Scriptures, only two persons are spoken of as being full of grace in the strict sense of the term—the one is Christ our Lord, who was full of
and truth the other was Mary: “Hail full of grace.'
What is the meaning of full of Grace? It can only mean, that Mary was always the friend of God, always spotless ; not only that she never offended Him by the least actual sin, and that she was never hateful to Him as she would have been had she ever contracted the stain of original sin,
i Saint Thomas teaches, that the Divine power is so great, that however much it gives, it can always give more; and although the natural capacity of creatures is in itself limited as to receiving, so that it can be entirely filled, nevertheless its power to obey the Divine will is illimited, and God can always fill it more by increasing its capacity to receive. When we say that God was as fully glorified in Mary as He could be, and that she was as full of grace as she could be, we of course speak of her natural capacity, not of her obediential power.-Note 2, page 273. . Luc. i, 28.
3 Joan. i, 14.
but also that in every moment of her life she always fully corresponded with Divine grace, always loved Him with her whole heart, and soul, and mind, and strength. And why is this a necessary consequence ? Because, were it not so, there would have been a moment lost, a moment in which she might have loved God more, a moment which could never be recovered, hence she would not have been full of grace. If we put a stone into a vessel, and fill that vessel with water to the brim, we cannot strictly say that it is full of water, neither can we say that Mary was full of grace, if ever there was a moment in her life which was not filled with it; for although from the vessel of water we might afterwards take the stone, and supply its place with water, a moment of time cannot be recovered. Mary then was always pure, was always holy, always the friend of God, and always beloved by Him above all other pure creatures, consequently is deserving of our love above all other creatures. She merited to be the Mother of our Lord; but this could never have been said of her, had she ever displeased Him who is sanctity itself. We will now see the effects of this sanctity in the life of our Blessed Lady.
The most perfect manner in which we can serve God is to walk in the path of pure simple faith : “Faith is the substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence (conviction) of things that appear not."1 We walk in this path when deprived of all evidence of the things which we believe, beyond the knowledge that God has taught them by the mouth of the Church; when deprived of all consolation we still believe firmly, and walk according to our belief. The Saints were favoured by God with visions and revelations, with the gift of prophecy and miracles; but these favours were either for their own benefit or for the benefit of others. They were for their own benefit, either to confirm their faith in the present moment or for a future time, that they might be able to endure some great trials. Had not their weak nature needed these favours, they never would
3 Heb. xi, 1.
have received them, for they would have been simply rewards, but God punishes when he rewards in this world. I say that they would have been simple rewards, for these favours are granted, and are rewards, in as much as they confirm the Saints in their holy lives, and enable them to attain a perfection which they could not otherwise reach ; but had they been perfect in the full extent of the term, they would not have needed them, and would not have received them. I am, of course, speaking of personal favours, not of those which were for the benefit of others. Mary was perfect in all things, therefore she always walked in the path of pure faith. She was the strong woman who needed not consolations ; she was the beloved of God who was to receive her whole reward in heaven. Where do we read in the Gospel that she was consoled ? Her spirit it is true rejoiced, but it was purely in God, in her lively faith. All with Mary was pure faith ; she had to take refuge in a stable to give birth to One whom she believed God; she had to fly from before the face of men into Egypt, and yet believe that that Son whose life she had to save, was life itself. She had thus to fly, on the order of Saint Joseph who had seen the angel, for the angel did not speak to Mary. Lastly, to omit many other instances, she stood at the foot of the cross, saw her Son abandoned by all, and heard Him exclaim that He was abandoned, even by His Eternal Father, and yet her faith never faltered. “ Who shall find a valiant woman? Far and from the uttermost coast is the price of her.”1 And to conclude, the Gospel says: “But He rising early the first day of the week, appeared FIRST to Mary Magdalen."! May not the evangelist have thus expressed himself, to show that Mary was so perfect that she needed not the consolation of seeing her Son; and if she needed it not, she did not receive His visit as a reward; her whole reward was reserved for heaven. All tradition teaches that our Lord appeared first to our Blessed Lady, and we do not doubt it; but it was perhaps as an act of filial duty 1 Prov. xxxi, 10.
2 Marc. xvi, 9.
on the part of her Divine Son. He perhaps discharged a debt which He owed to His own filial love for His dear Mother. Therefore, as His apparitions to all others belonged to another order, to the order of grace and mercy, which is the one to which His visit to our Blessed Lady would have belonged had she required it, the Evangelist says, that “ He ... appeared first to Mary Magdalen.'
Our Lord was comforted by an angel in the garden of Olives, but was not this to teach us that He truly suffered, to encourage and teach us how to suffer, and to give additional physical strength to His humanity that he might suffer more; and again, it was not a simple consolation, far from it; He was encouraged to suffer, and to drain the bitter chalice of His Passion to the very dregs. One word more; as it was unbecoming that Jesus should be born of a Mother whose soul was ever stained by sin ; so also, it would have been unbecoming Him to have been born of a Mother whose body was imperfect. Hence, Mary did not die of any corporal disease, but as her Divine Son, through love for his creatures died of a broken heart, so also did Mary die of love for God. Thus, dear reader, you see the perfection, the sanctity of Mary, and how deserving she is of our love. I have only one consideration more to submit to you, and shall then conclude.
By the disobedience of our first parents God had been outraged, and man had entailed upon himself a just sentence of eternal death. A Redeemer was promised. He was to make an ample atonement to the outraged Majesty of God, and restore man to the life of grace. It was becoming that this atonement and restoration to life should have their effect by means which corresponded with the cause of the evil to be repaired. The causes of the evil were the woman and the serpent; the fault disobedience, which has its root in pride; and the woman extended the evil which she had done by giving the for: bidden fruit to Adam. Man was then driven from the garden of paradise, and an angel placed at its gates, lest perhaps Adam "might put forth his hand, and take also
of the tree of life.” Did the means of reparation correspond with these causes ? Did the reparation produce effects corresponding with these effects ?
“The angel Gabriel was sent from God ... to a Virgin ... and the Virgin's name was Mary. And the angel being come in said unto her : Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women ... thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a Son: and thou shalt call his name Jesus ... also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God ... And Mary said : Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to thy word.”] In these few words we find the counterpart of the first portion of the history of man's fallEve, a Virgin free from every stain of sin, listened to the fallen angel. Mary, a Virgin free from every stain of sin, listened to the good angel. Eve disobeyed the command of God, and in her pride desired to be as God. Mary obeyed in her humility the will of God: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord;" and, "He hath regarded the humility of His handmaid.”2 Eve plucked the fruit : Mary received the fruit of life, the price of man's redemption into her womb. Eve gave the fruit and death to Adam : Mary gave the fruit and life to the world. And as Eve was the channel of all woes to the whole human race, so is Mary the channel of all grace to every creature. I that might be said of the Presentation of our Lord in the temple, and of His after life, to come to the second paradise, the mount of Calvary. We there see the sad ravages that sin has made. Wickedness seemed to triumph; weeping, mourning, and death reigned on every side; the sun, no longer shone brightly as of old, it was darkened. But let us draw near, for the tree of life stood in the centre of this paradise; the four rivers flowed, which were even then restoring all to more than their former life and beauty; and at the foot of that tree stood the woman, offering the blessed fruit of her womb to the Eternal Father, to pay the price 1 Gen. iii, 22. 2 Luc. i, 26, &c.
3 Luc. i, 48.
pass over all