Thursday, December 08, 2016

Baptized from Conception

John Henry Newman, Faith and Prejudice, Sermon 7:

As we give Him of our best, ascribe to Him what is best, as on earth we make our churches costly and beautiful; as when He was taken down from the cross, His pious servants wrapped Him in fine linen, and laid Him in a tomb in which never man was laid; as His dwelling place in heaven is pure and stainless—so much more ought to be—so much more was—that tabernacle from which He took flesh, in which He lay, holy and immaculate and divine. As a body was prepared for Him, so was the place of that body prepared also. Before the Blessed Mary could be Mother of God, and in order to her being Mother, she was set apart, sanctified, filled with grace, and made meet for the presence of the Eternal.

And the Holy Fathers have ever gathered the exact obedience and the sinlessness of the Blessed Virgin from the very narrative of the Annunciation, when she became the Mother of God. For when the Angel appeared to her and declared to her the will of God, they say that she displayed especially four graces, humility, faith, obedience and purity. Nay, these graces were as it were, preparatory conditions to her being made the minister of so high a dispensation. So that if she had not had faith, and humility, and purity, and obedience, she would not have merited to be God's Mother. Thus it is common to say that she conceived Christ in mind before she conceived Him in body, meaning that the blessedness of faith and obedience preceded the blessedness of being a Virgin Mother. Nay, they even say that God waited for her consent before He came into her and took flesh of her. Just as He did no mighty works in one place because they had not faith, so this great miracle, by which He became the Son of a creature, was suspended till she was tried and found meet for it—till she obeyed.

Feast of the Immaculate Conception, 2016

Not for all! For those who shine when tested in the light
are truths that pour from holy God like torrent in a gale;
none but the purified know God, in life and body pure,
who, placed in God's catharsis-flame resplendently endure.

Incorrupt, immaculate, and ever-virgin sign!
Holiest of holies, Ark on whom the Presence dwells!
Unblemished heart made splendid by the coming of the Lord!
Your flesh you shared in holy grace with new-incarnate Word.

Who is not clean in soul and flesh no holy gifts can bring;
thus Christ makes clean baptismal font to purify our hearts,
and Mary, bathed in Spirit's grace, the maid prepurified,
reflects immaculate the face of One who for us died.

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