"Therefore also Mary," is the comment of St. Augustine, " because she did the Will of the Father. What the Lord magnified in her was that she did the Father's Will, rather than that flesh gave birth to Flesh."
Some of the Fathers of the Church find mystical meanings hidden in these passages, pointing out, for example, with St. Ambrose, that:
"The Teacher of Morals, who proposes Himself as an example to others, and is Himself the Teacher, also observes His own precepts. For before enjoining on others that he who leaves not his father and mother is not worthy of the Son of God, first in His own person He subjects Himself to this sentence, not that thereby He would renounce the duties of filial piety to His Mother, for it is His own command: He who honoureth not his father or mother shall die the death,' (Ex. xx. 12, xxi. 15 ; Deut. xxvii. 16.) but because He knows that He owes more to the Mysteries of His Father than to His affection towards His Mother. Herein, however, there is no wrongful forsaking of parents, when spiritual relationships are shown to be more sacred than those which are bodily."
But, ordinarily, the Fathers are content to lay stress on the moral lesson on which I have already dwelt. Thus St. Augustine :
"What in fact, did their relationship benefit His brethren, that is, His kinsmen according to the flesh, who believed not in Him ? So too, even the relationship of Mother would have profited Mary nothing, had she not also more blessedly borne Christ in her heart than in her flesh. . . . There is, then, no reason why the virgins of God should be sad, because they too cannot, preserving their virginity, become mothers of flesh. For virginity could, befittingly, bring forth Him only who could have no one like unto Him in His birth. Nevertheless, that childbirth of one Holy Virgin is the glory of all holy virgins. And they too are, with Mary, Mothers of Christ, if they do His Father's Will. For in this, even Mary is with greater praise and blessedness Christ's Mother, according to the sentence : * Whoso doth the will of My Father who is in Heaven the same is My brother and sister and mother.' All these relationships to Himself He sets forth spiritually in the people whom He has redeemed. He has holy men and holy women as His brethren and sisters, since they are co-heirs with Him in the heavenly inheritance. The whole Church is His mother, because she, it is, who most assuredly brings forth His members, that is, His Faithful, by the Grace of God. His mother too, is every pious soul that does His Father's will by most fruitful charity in those to whom she gives birth, until Christ be formed in them. Hence Mary, in doing God's Will, is bodily only Christ's Mother, but spiritually both sister and mother.
"Hence it follows that this One Woman alone is not only in spirit but also in body, both Mother and Virgin."
And again, addressing virgins, Augustine writes :
"Holy virginity of body brings with it fruitfulness of soul. . . . What you wonder at with admiration in the flesh of Mary, reproduce in the hiding-places of your soul. Whoso believes in the heart unto justice, conceives Christ; whoso confesses unto salvation, brings forth Christ."
All Christians must needs be careful lest their praise of our Lord as Good, their compassion with Him in His Adorable Passion, or their veneration of His Mother become something that is otiose and sterile. The supernatural operations of the soul are intended by God to be fruitful in good works.
Meanwhile if the Arian or the Protestant, forgetful of the balance of Scripture, ignoring the warning of the Prince of the Apostles, (2 Peter iii. 16.) despising the testimony of the Ancient Fathers, repudiating the teaching of the Church, pervert such sayings of Christ as those which we have been considering, as though they conflicted with the Godhead of our Lord, or were derogatory to the honour due from men to His Blessed Mother, whilst this fact will not fail to grieve us, in no way can it surprise us. Who is ignorant that heresy has perverted God's words from the beginning ? Rather should the sight of such miseries establish Catholic Christians the more solidly in that Faith which embraces all aspects of truth in one majestic harmony.