it is 9:30 on christmas morning, and i probably should be napping. last night, at midnight, amidst the songs of angels and archangels and all the company of heaven, the word became flesh on altars around the world, as eternity broke into our time. "when all things were in quiet silence, and night was in the midst of her swift course, thine almighty word, o lord, leaped down from heaven out of the roal throne, alleluia.'
and he who abhored not the virgin's womb condescended even to my tiny oratory. i was up 'til 2:30, some of the time wandering under the stars, which only occasionally peeked through the clouds which covered the sanctuary. then at 6:00 i was up again, for vespers and lauds and the shepherd's mass, the mass at daybreak. and it is in the gospel of that mass that the text which keeps me pondering, which keeps me awake, occurs. it is one of my favourite lines in all of the gospel: 'mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.'
there is a tendency, it seems, to assume that once mary said 'let it be to me according to thy word,' all would be clear to her. but apparently not. i suspect her life must have been like psalm 119, which i pondered for a while last night before the night was half spent, a long song of continual witness and supplication, hoping to understand this word that had been made flesh within her. i wonder if she is still pondering these things in her heart.
for another tendency we have about mary, it seems, is to make her our lady, the queen of heaven, some of us even calling her mediatrix, while forgetting she remains the maid of galilee. her story is the stuff of madeleine l'engle and charles williams, the story of a poor girl from a backwater town who gets swept up in the salvation of the world in a way that absolutely requires her full involvement.
pondering these things reminds me of what an entirely amazing event we celebrate at this time of the nativity of our lord. it is indeed the beginning of the recreation of the world, and in a way we mortals would probably never expect. for god takes flesh, while remaining very god of very god. in that flesh, the gift, the substance, as the preface of the feast says, of his mother, he will return to the right hand of the father. the holy one is forever changed by this event.
and mary, too, is forever changed. an humble maid is overcome by the holy spirit, becoming the first of the living stones in which the temple of emmanual is built. that is a lot to ponder. if the pious opinion that she was taken bodily into heaven is correct, then it is, as job says, in our flesh that we shall see our redeemer. and this wonder is possible, not because of some great thinking of the likes of augustine or ambrose or gregory (any of them) or aquinas in some great university, but because of the cooperation of a young girl from the poor countryside.
ADVENT & CHRISTMAS SCHEDULE 2017-2018
2 weeks ago