29 May 2010

Handmaid of the Lord

On this Saturday of Our Lady, here’s more from the Carthusian Order:

‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it done to me according to thy word’ (Saint Luke 1:38). Our Lady’s reply to the angel was more than an obvious response to the message of the heavenly envoy, or merely the expression of a feeling aroused by the archangel’s words. Into this sentence, the mind, the heart and the life of Our Lady flowed, as it were, like a stream. By an obedience that knew no bounds, she yielded herself entirely to her Creator and Lord.

Submitting in everything and with all her heart to the divine good pleasure, Mary could do no less than abandon herself to it with a joyful eagerness, when it was manifested to her through human agencies. She obeyed Saint Joseph; she obeyed the commands of the Synagogue; she obeyed Saint Peter and the Apostles; and above all she obeyed the devout widows who had charge of the virgins in the Temple. Thus did she lay the foundations of the virtue which was to dominate the whole of her life, and so provide the religious of future ages with a model for them to imitate.

Having herself fulfilled the law so perfectly, Mary was able to exhort others to do the same. ‘Although in our life there are numerous and varied observances, let us hold it as certain, that they will be fruitful for us by virtue of obedience alone’ (Statuta Ordinis Cartusiensis, II pars, c.xviii, 31).

Without this virtue we shall never achieve the purpose and end of our vocation, which is union with God. Solitude of place, of mind and of heart are of little value without solitude of soul, which consists in perfect obedience. Let us listen to our Reverend Father Dom Le Masson (50th General of the Carthusian Order from 1675-1703), writing to the nuns of the Order. ‘Solitude of soul implies the cutting off of every attachment, so that the soul remains voluntarily stripped, not only of its affections, desires and cares, but even of itself. It no longer considers its own consolation, its own profit or happiness, but God alone! It is His glory that is its aim; all else is naught’ (Dom Le Masson: Subjects of Meditation, Montreuil-sur Mer, 1890).