Saturday, December 7, 2019

Tota pulchra es Maria

From Fr. Mark:
The Divine Office gives me the very words that the Holy Ghost would have us pronounce and the very melody that best carries them. I have only to take a breath, and sing what the Church wants me to sing. Her words, not mine: words crafted by the Church under the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost; words for all of Eve’s hapless children who know not how to pray as they ought.
Tota pulchra es Maria, et macula originalis non est in te. “Thou art all fair, O Mary, there is no spot of original sin in thee” (Ct 4, 7). Tota pulchra: all fair, all lovely, all beautiful or, to use the words of the Angel Gabriel, gratia plena, full of grace. In Dostoevsky’s “The Idiot,” one of his characters comments on the portrait of a woman named Nastassya Filippovna, saying, “One could turn the world upside down with beauty like that.” The beauty of the Immaculate Conception does not turn the world upside down; it is more radical than that. It is the beginning of a new world. It is the beauty of a new genesis, of paradise reinvented in a little girl conceived, as Bernanos put it, “younger than sin.”

Immaculate beauty crushes the head of the ancient serpent. Read Genesis 3: 9-15, 20. The human race receives in the person of the Immaculate Conception a new “mother of all the living.” The heartbeat of hope begins its rhythm in the womb of Saint Anne. Nothing will ever again be the same.
The second antiphon describes Mary as she appeared to Bernadette in 1858, in the grotto overlooking the Gave River: Vestimentum tuum candidum quasi nix, et facies tua sicut sol. Thy raiment is white as snow, and thy countenance as the sun (Ct 1:3, 4). It was 155 years ago that the young woman robed in white, with her countenance indescribably radiant, said to Bernadette, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” The Virgin revealed to Bernadette the mystery of her identity hidden in God from before the creation of the world and unspoiled in time, untouched by the ravages of sin. (Read more.)

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