The World's First Love by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. Part 41.

The David of old spoke of Her as preparing for Israel the first advent of Christ:

The queen stood on thy right hand, in gilded clothing; surrounded with variety.

Hearken, O daughter, and see, and incline thy ear: and forget thy people and thy father's house.

And the king shall greatly desire thy beauty; for He is the Lord thy God, and Him they shall adore.

And the daughters of Tyre with gifts, even all the rich among the people, shall entreat thy countenance.

All the glory of the king's daughter is within in golden borders, clothed round about with varieties.

After her shall virgins be brought to the king: her neighbors shall be brought to thee.

They shall be brought with gladness and rejoicing: they shall be brought into the temple of the king.

From an unexpected quarter comes an equally poetic tribute to "The Veiled Glory of this Lampless Universe," in the words of Percy Bysshe Shelley:

Seraph of heaven! too gentle to be human,

Veiling beneath that radiant form of Woman

All that is insupportable in thee

Of light, and love, and immortality!

Sweet Benediction in the eternal Curse!

Veiled glory of this lampless Universe!

Thou Moon beyond the clouds! Thou living Worm

Among the Dead! Thou Star above the Storm!

Thou Wonder, and thou Beauty, and thou Terror!

Thou Harmony of Nature's art! thou Mirror

In whom, as in the splendour of the Sun,

All shapes look glorious which thou gazest on!

Ay, even the dim words which obscure thee now

Flash, lightning-like, with unaccustomed glow;

I pray thee that thou blot from this sad song

All of its much mortality and wrong,

With those clear drops, which start like sacred dew

From the twin lights thy sweet soul darkens through,

Weeping, till sorrow becomes ecstasy:

Then smile on it, so that it may not die.

There is a beautiful legend of Kwan-yin, the Chinese Goddess of Mercy, to whom so many pleadings have gone from Chinese lips. According to legend, this princess lived in China hundreds of years before Christ was born. Her father, the King, wished her to marry. But, resolving upon a life of virginity, she took refuge in a convent. Her angry father burned the convent and forced her to return to his palace. Given the alternative of death or marriage, she insisted on her vow of virginity, and so her father strangled her. Her body was brought to hell by a tiger. It was there she won the title "Goddess of Mercy." Her intercession for mercy was so great, and she so softened the hard hearts of hell, that the very devils ordered her to leave. They were afraid she would empty hell. She then returned to the island of Pluto off the coast of Chekiang where, even to this day, pilgrims travel to her shrine. The Chinese have at times pictured her as wearing on her head the image of God, to Whose heaven she brings the faithful, although she herself refuses to enter heaven, so long as there is a single soul excluded.

Western civilization, too, has its ideals. Homer, a thousand years before Christ, threw into the stream of history the mystery of a woman faithful in sorrow and loneliness. While her husband, Ulysses, was away on his travels, Penelope was courted by many suitors. She told them she would marry one of them when she finished weaving a garment. But each night she undid the stitches she had put in it during the day, and thus she remained faithful until her husband returned. No one who sang the song of Homer could understand why he glorified this sorrowful mother, as they could not understand why, in another poem, he glorified a defeated hero. It was not for a thousand years, until the day of a defeated hero on a Cross and a sorrowful Mother beneath it, that the world understood the mysteries of Homer.

The instinct of all men to look for a mother in their religion is conspicuous, even in modern times, among non-Christian peoples. Our missionaries report the most extraordinary reaction of these peoples as the Pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Fatima was carried through the East. At the edge of Nepal, three hundred Catholics were joined by three thousand Hindus and Moslems, as four elephants carried the statue to the little Church for Rosary and Benediction. At Rajkot, which has hardly any faithful, unbelieving ministers of state and high-ranking government officials came to pay veneration. The Mayor of Nadiad read a speech of welcome and stressed how proud he was to welcome the statue. For twelve hours the crowds, almost exclusively non-Christian, passed through the Church as Masses continued from two o'clock in the morning until nine-thirty. As one old Indian put it: "She has shown us that your religion is sincere; it is not like ours. Your religion is a religion of love; ours is one of fear."