The World's First Love by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. Part 6.

Here, then, is freedom of religion; God respects human freedom by refusing to invade humanity and to establish a beachhead in time without the free consent of one of His creatures. Freedom of Conscience is also involved: before Mary could claim as her own the great gifts of God, she had to ratify those gifts by an act of will in the Annunciation. And there is the freedom of a total abandonment to God: our free will is the only thing that is really our own. Our health, our wealth, our power - all these God can take from us. But our freedom he leaves to us, even in hell. Because freedom is our own, it is the only perfect gift that we can make to God. And yet here a creature totally, yet freely, surrendered her will, so that one might say that it was not a matter of Mary's will doing the will of her Son, but of Mary's will being lost in that of her Son, Later on in His life he would say: "If the Son of Man makes you free, you will be free indeed." If this be so, then no one has ever been more free than this belle of Liberty, the lady who sang the Magnificat.

But there is another freedom revealed through Mary. In human marriage there is something personal, and also something impersonal or racial. What is personal and free is love, because love is always for a unique person; thus, jealousy is the guardian of monogamy. What is impersonal and automatic is sex, since its operation is to some extent outside human control. Love belongs to man; sex belongs to God, for the effects of it are beyond our determination. Whenever a mother gives birth to a babe, she freely wills the act of love which made her and her husband two in one flesh. But there is also the unknown, the free element in their love, namely, the decision whether a child will be born of the union - whether it will be a boy or a girl - and the exact time of birth; even the moment of its conception is lost in some unknown night of love. We are thus accepted by our parents, rather than willed by them except indirectly.

But with Mary there was perfect freedom. Her Divine Son was not accepted in any unforeseen or unpredictable way. He was willed. There was no element of chance; nothing was impersonal, for He was fully willed in mind and in body. How is this true? He was willed in mind because, when the angel explained the miracle, Mary said: "Be it done unto me according to thy word." Then he was willed in Body for now, not in some past obscure night; conception took place as in the full effulgence of the brightness of the morn does the Divine Spirit of Love begin weaving the garment of flesh for the Eternal Word. The time was deliberately chosen; the consent was voluntary; the physical cooperation was free. It was the only birth in all the world that was truly willed and, therefore, truly free.

Every birth partakes of the nature of the plant kingdom in that the flower has its roots on the earth, although its blossoms open to the heavens. In generation, the body comes from parents who are of the earth; the soul comes from God, Who is in Heaven. In Mary, there was hardly any earth at all except herself; all was Heaven. The other love that conceived within her was the Holy Spirit; the Person born of her was the Eternal Word - the union of the Godhead and manhood was through the mysterious alchemy of the Trinity. She alone was of earth, and yet she, too, seemed more of Heaven.

Other mothers know that a new life beats within them, through the pulsations within the body. Mary knew that Divine Life beat within her, through her soul in communion with an angel. Other mothers become conscious of motherhood through physical changes; Mary knew through the message of an angel, and the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit. Nothing that comes from the body is as free as that which comes from the mind: there are mothers who yearn for children, but they have to wait upon processes subject to nature. In Mary alone, a Child waited not on nature, but on her acceptance of the Divine Will. All she had to say was Fiat ["so be it"], and she conceived. This is what all birth would have been without sin - a matter of human wills uniting themselves with the Divine Will and, through the union of bodies, sharing in the creation of new life through the usual processes of human generation. The Virgin Birth is, therefore, synonymous with Birth in Freedom.

Mary! - we poor creatures of earth are stumbling over our freedoms, fumbling over our choices. Millions of us are seeking to give up their freedom - some by repudiating it, because of the burden of their guilt - some, by surrendering it to the moods and fashions of the time - others, by absorption into Communism, where there is only one will which is the Dictator's, and where the only love is hate and revolution!

We speak much of freedom today, Mary, because we are losing it -just as we speak most of health when we are sick. Thou art the Mistress of Freedom because thou didst undo the false freedom that makes men slaves to their passions by pronouncing the word God Himself said when He made light, and again when thy Son redeemed the world Fiat! Or, be it done unto me according to God's will. As the "no" of Eve proves that the creature was made by love and is therefore free, so thy Fiat proves that the Creature was made for love, as well. Teach us, then, that there is no freedom except in doing, out of love, what thou didst do in the Annunciation, namely, saying Yes to what Jesus asks.