The month of May is traditionally known on as the Month of Mary. The Church holds Mary in the highest esteem; she is venerated but not worshipped by Catholics and Orthodox. A Syrian Father, St Ephrem, –the Harp of the Holy Spirit– the fourth century hymnographer, theologian and deacon as something to offer about the Mother of God.
“As lightning illuminates what is hidden, so also Christ purifies what is hidden in the nature of things. He purified the Virgin also and then was born, so as to show that where Christ is, there is manifest purity in all its power. He purified the Virgin, having prepared Her by the Holy Spirit… having been born, He left Her virgin. I do not say that Mary became immortal, but that being illuminated by grace, She was not disturbed by sinful desires”
“Most holy Lady, Mother of God, alone most pure in soul and body, alone exceeding all perfection of purity… alone made in thy entirety the home of all the graces of the Most Holy Spirit, and hence exceeding beyond all compare even the angelic virtues in purity and sanctity of soul and body… my Lady most holy, all-pure, all-immaculate, all-stainless, all-undefiled, all-incorrupt, all inviolate spotless robe of Him Who clothes Himself with light as with a garment… flower unfading, purple woven by God, alone most immaculate.”
“There is in you, Lord, no stain, nor any spot in your mother.”
“You Jesus and your mother are the only ones who are beautiful in all aspects. Because in you, O Lord, there is no deformation, and in your mother, there is no stain.”
“The two women were pure and simple, Mary and Eve. One of them, however, became the cause of our death and the other, the cause of our life.”
St. Ephrem the Syrian
“The correct Marian devotion guarantees to faith the coexistence of indispensable ‘reason’ with the equally indispensable ‘reasons of the heart,’ as Pascal would say. For the Church, man is neither mere reason nor mere feeling, he is the unity of these two dimensions. The head must reflect with lucidity, but the heart must be able to feel warmth: devotion to Mary (which ‘avoids every false exaggeration on the one hand, and excessive narrow-mindedness in the contemplation of the surpassing dignity of the Mother of God on the other,’ as the Council urges) thus assures the faith its full human dimension.” (Vittorio Messori, The Ratzinger Report, Ignatius Press, 1985)
What Marian devotions will you take part in this month?
The theological explanation of the Vistiation reminds us that at the annunciation, the Archangel Gabriel informs Mary that her cousin Elizabeth is six months pregnant. A startling divine gift.
Then we see Mary hurrying to visit Elizabeth. An interior in-breaking extroverting itself.
I think the key here is Mary’s selflessness and her sharing in the joy of God. Containing the joy she feels is impossible. In her visitation Mary brings the joy of God to both Elizabeth and to John the Baptist who moves in Elizabeth’s womb.
As we know, this second of the joyful mysteries of the Rosary is about Joy who desires to expand into our heart and abide there. Let’s pray for the movement of joy in our life today.