The Mother Of Christ by Father Vassall-Phillips Part 60.

On this subject, however, Bourdaloue has the following observations in one of his sermons :

"We would know what above all caused God to raise Mary to the Divine Maternity. Some think that it was in consequence of her profound humility, of her heroic obedience (the inevitable fruit of true humility), of her perfect submission to the commands of God, that she found grace in His sight. Others attribute this grace, or, to speak more correctly, this glory which she received from God, to her angelic purity, by which she was already, as a Virgin, the Spouse of God. Let us, O Christians, join the one to the other and say with St. Bernard that this peerless Virgin conceived the Word of God both by her humility and her virginity. Virginitate placuit, humilitate concepit. . . . Her humility ravished Heaven. Her humility it was which drew the Word of God from His Father's Side, and led Him to descend from the Throne of His Glory to the depths of our nothingness. For here especially is verified the saying of the Royal Prophet that abyss calls to Abyss. (Ps. xli.: "Abyssus Abyssum invocat.") Whilst Mary humbles herself before God, the Word of God annihilates Himself in her. The Virgin's abyss of humility attracts another Abyss, far deeper, nothing less than the annihilation of God." 1

There is an incentive to humility which, in the very nature of the case, could not come to Mary— the incentive that arises from the memory of past sins. Our Lady could not say with St. Paul, as he remembered that he had at one time " persecuted the Church of God," " Of sinners I am the chief;" neither was it her lot to humble herself with the thought that, like St. Peter, she had denied her Lord and Master. We who, all of us, have committed sins—perhaps great sins—can have no excuse for pride. But Mary was sinless. There is, however, a spur to humility afforded not by the remembrance of ingratitude and unfaithfulness to God, but by the thought of the absolute dependence of our nature for all that is good upon the divine grace. This thought was ever present to the minds of all the Saints. Should a man having his loins girt, and the lamp enkindled in his hand, forget this, he will incur, even whilst doing his good works, the condemnation of the Pharisee. Should he allow himself to dwell with complacency upon anything that he has done, forgetting the warning not to let his left hand know that which his right hand doth, then he that thinketh he standeth shall soon fall deep into sin. Our Blessed Lady is the most humble of all God's creatures, because never for any instant of her life did she fail to acknowledge that all that she had, she possessed as God's free gift. Her immunity from sin, na#o less than every action pleasing to her Lord, was due to His loving care and providence. Of herself, she knew full well, she was as nothing—her one desire was to do His Holy Will to whom she owed her all.

We have already had occasion to glance at this humility of our Lady, which made her so well-pleasing to God at the solemn hour of the Annunciation, when, in the very moment of her exaltation, she professed herself to be the servant of her Lord; at the Visitation when she referred at once Elisabeth's magnificent words of welcome, veneration and praise, not to herself but to her Creator— her sublime Blessedness she could not deny, but would proclaim that it was His doing, not her own; during the desolation of the Passion, when she shared the ignominies heaped upon her dying Son, crucified between two thieves. Always, so far as depended upon herself, our Lady retired into the shadow—even though it was the shadow of the Cross; therefore was it that the Hand of the Most High has gently drawn her forth into the undimmed light that is reflected from the Splendour of His Brightness, whom she clothed with the vesture of Humanity. In the person of God's Mother has His promise been most gloriously fulfilled: he that humbleth himself shall be exalted—exalted above the Cherubim and the Seraphim, for our Lord hath regarded the humility of His Handmaiden, whilst the rich and those that are wise in their own conceits He hath sent empty away.

1 Premier Sermon sur l'Annonciation de la Vierge. It is hardly necessary to say that Bourdaloue here uses the expres sion annihilate Himself and the annihilation of God —not strictly, hut in the sense in which St. Paul used the word—to signify the ineffable Mystery of the Incarnation.