Our Longing Lady

The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council proposed for us the Catholic doctrine regarding the Church. Christ, the light of the nations, gathers His flock into a single People of God.

Vatican II bas reliefIf we want to understand this perfectly visible, and yet profoundly mysterious, Church of Christ, we must focus our gaze on one human individual. We must contemplate the…

pre-eminent and singular member of the Church…its excellent exemplar…whom the whole People of God honors with child-like love. (Lumen Gentium 53)

Namely: _________________________________

So the Vatican-II fathers concluded the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church with a chapter on the Mother of God.

Four short sermons on that chapter will come your way between now and January 1. In the meantime…

Let’s ask ourselves a question or two about the second Eucharistic-Prayer Preface for Advent.

Up through Advent 2010, we prayed that the Blessed Mother “bore [Christ] in her womb, with love beyond all telling.”

madonnaNow we pray that she “longed for Him, with love beyond all telling.”

Not being a subtle scholar of Latin, I can only figure that this must mean that Mary longed for Christ’s birth because, as we used to pray on the Blessed Mother’s feastdays, “His birth increased her holiness.”

But we don’t pray that anymore. Now we pray that “His birth did not diminish but consecrated her virginity.”

Okay. Having conversed with not a few expectant mothers over the years, I have gathered that, when you’re pregnant, you do very much long to give birth, especially during the last quarter of the game.

But we cannot imagine that the Blessed Mother experienced this longing in the same way that other mothers experience it. No other mother ever conceived a child by making an act of faith. And no other mother ever birthed a baby boy and yet remained a virgin before, during, and after.

Often, when we say that someone “longs” for something, we suggest that the person wants to satisfy some desire of the flesh, a desire which might be wholesome, and might not be. But the Blessed Mother, immaculate from the beginning, did not long for unwholesome things. And she renounced quite a few perfectly wholesome pleasures, including all the physical pleasure shared by a husband and wife, for the sake of higher, spiritual joys.

Nonetheless: We pray that she longed for the birth of her Son. So by “longed” we must mean: She awaited His birth with indescribably eager expectation.

Nothing about her was out-of-sync with God. But something wonderful had not yet reached completion. Her body and soul shone with immaculate purity. And yet her perfect integrity was not yet consecrated.

What would consecrate it? Only one thing: that her body would give birth to the body, blood, soul, and divinity of a divine Person.

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