11 January 2011

Our Liberatrix

Here is more from the treasure chest of Carthusian writings. In addition to Saint Bruno, three other Carthusian saints are mentioned in the opening paragraph: Rosaline, Hugh of Grenoble and Hugh of Lincoln. Outside of the Order, the gift of Saint Bridget and her “Revelations” are also used for this writing.

According to the Annals of the Order, our Lady, bearing in her arms the holy Child, came to reward the soul of Saint Rosaline at her death. She was preceded by Saint Bruno and with him Saint Hugh of Grenoble and Saint Hugh of Lincoln, all three carrying thuribles. When her couch had been incensed, our Lady said to the three saints: “Lead the virginal bride to her heavenly Spouse” (Le Couteulx: Annales, Vol. V). What, we venture to ask will those who have been faithful to the Queen of Heaven find at this divine marriage feast? What are, for the saints in heaven, the fruits of their devotion to their heavenly Queen?

A touching story from the bible gives us a certain glimpse of these mysteries of eternity. After the sons of Jacob had gone down the second time to Egypt with Benjamin, and had paid their respects to the governor of Pharaoh, Joseph had a banquet made ready for them. He himself was served apart, while his brothers are together. When they took the places appointed them, they found themselves in the exact order of age; the eldest in the first place, and so on with the youngest in the last. The portions they received had first been passed by Joseph, the greatest portion being given to Benjamin, exceeding, we are told, that of his brothers by five portions (cf. Genesis 43:15-34).

The allegory intended by this story is very clear. Joseph, the savior of his brethren, is the figure of our divine Lord Who came down to earth to save men. He is not ashamed to serve them with His own Hand (cf. Luke 12:37). All are treated according to their merits (cf. Matthew 16:27). Nevertheless, a special portion would seem to be reserved for the Benjamins. All Christians are sons of Mary, but there are some who have a special claim to the title, having attained to a more intimate union with her. The following comparison of a recent writer will show the truth of this. “It is the duty of every Christian,” says this writer, “to know, love and serve God: in other words, to be devout. There are some, however, to whom the Church gives this title in a different way. Religious, in the eyes of the Church, are persons consecrated to the worship of God in a special manner, by the observance of the evangelical counsels. In the same way, although every just man has Christ as his Spouse, the title Spouse of Christ is, in the sacred liturgy, the singular privilege of virgins, and of virgins dedicated to God by their religious profession” (Père Terrien: La Mère de Dieu et la Mère des hommes).

Similarly, if all men in general belong to Mary as her children, and if the actual measure of this sonship is none other than that of the grace and the supernatural life existing in their souls, religious should, by virtue of their vows, claim a special place in our Lady’s love. In heaven, it will be the lot of these Benjamins of the Mother of men to call her in a special way their Mother. As for Mary, we may well remember how she, as the Mother of Sorrows, felt when she saw her divine Son victorious over death and the tomb. In a similar though lesser way, she will surely experience something of that same joy whenever a fresh soul, passing from purgatory to the delights of Paradise, comes to hail her, their Mother and their Liberatrix.

If such is the joy of Mary at this blessed meeting, what will be that of her children? To be able to say in all truth that she is our Mother, from whom we have received all; who knows us, who looks on us with love, who bears us always in her heart – will this not be a happiness beyond anything we can conceive? And while await this heavenly vision, is not this thought alone enough to give us a foretaste of heaven itself?

To Saint Bridget our Lady once said: “I am the Mother of those who are cradled in the delights of Paradise. Even when little children have no special needs, it is enough for them to look upon the face of their mother to make them feel an increase of joy. Even so, it pleases our Lord to allow those who dwell in the heavenly court to experience a similar contentment in contemplating the beauty of my virtues and the glory of my virginity, although in an incomprehensible way His power has already put them in possession of complete happiness” (Saint Bridget: Revelations, Bk. IV).

Doubtless, devotion to our Blessed Lady should, for those who have consecrated themselves to her, be a devotion full of love. It is said that in heaven the elect will sing the Canticle of Moses (Revelation 15:3, & Exodus 15 passim.). Now it seems that when Jesus, in company with the multitude of the blessed, has ended the hymn of thanksgiving, our Lady, like her forerunner the sister of Moses, will repeat the Canticle of Deliverance, with those who on earth formed her court: Let us sing to the Lord, for He is gloriously magnified; the Lord is my strength and my praise, and He is become salvation to me. He is my God, and I will glorify Him, the God of my Father, and I will exalt Him (Exodus 15:1-2). In Thy mercy, Thou hast been a leader to the people which Thou hast redeemed, and in Thy strength Thou hast carried them to Thy holy habitation (ibid. 15:13). Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of Thy inheritance, in Thy most firm habitation which Thou hast made, O Lord – Thy sanctuary, O Lord, which Thy Hands have established. The Lord shall reign forever and ever (ibid. 15:17-18).

And all the angels that stand around the Throne will echo the voice of redeemed humanity, and will repeat in praise of the Most Holy Trinity: Benediction, and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving, honor and power and strength to our God, forever and ever. Amen (Revelation 7:12).