Thursday, September 29, 2016

Michaelmas Day 2016: Dreaming of Angels

I've just read the epithet "Life is about dreams. A teacher makes them come true" on a colleague's coffee mug. It's one of those statements designed to make teachers feel good about what they do, and yet the reality  of the case seems far from what amounts to this sentence written only to raise the spirits. A child's dreams may indeed be influenced, positively or negatively, by a teacher but there are so many other factors which come into it as to render the true contribution of each teacher objectively invisible. Personally, I hope that I am not responsible for any of my students' dreams coming true, for then, I might be responsible for an inevitable nightmare!

Dreams are regarded with quite some suspicion or derision these days. What we would dearly love to happen in our lives is often not what we actually want. It is because of the rather insubstantial nature of dreams that causes them not to work out in reality. From life's bitter experience, dreams are often punctured with a good dose of cynicism, derision, or just plain fact. Nothing spoils a dream more than waking up to what really is.

I wonder if we are becoming obsessed with what is and is not real. Science claims to have complete objectivity and the deciding means of what is and is not truly real. Philosophy questions this and, in the multitude of metaphysical and existential theories, renders the question "What is reality?" inaccessible to the person on the street. We know the difference between dreams and reality, surely?


(Thanks to Channel 4 and Fr Ted for this!)

Well then, what about the angels?

We need the angels more than ever, but we also need to get out of thinking the wrong things about them in order to truly appreciate their influence and assistance in our lives and in our relationship with God.

Are angels real?

Our Lord talks about them in St Matthew xiii.39, is ministered by them in St Matthew iv.11, are present at the empty tomb in both St Luke and St John's gospel. Crucially the Lord says that they are ascribed to each of us when He says, "Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven." He speaks of the presence of angels in Heaven telling us that we shall stand before them. However, we are only a little lower than the angels.

This is crucial. Our Lord, a historical figure, the One Whose Resurrection has sound historical evidence and thus historical evidence that He is Who He says He is, says that there are angels. If we trust Him, then there are angels indeed. Not floaty people with wings and harps but strange beings, sometimes appearing as men, or as wheels, or as six-winged seraphs. There is a legion of them out there yet, because they have no material existence, they are often missed.

I pointed out to Fr Anthony that there are times when I've celebrated Masses in which I enter 1 in the attendance and communicants column in the Parish Register. Yet, I know that when I celebrate Mass, I do so with the whole angelic host around me, as well as being present with every Catholic priest saying Mass in every time. That's the nature of Reality with God. It passes our understanding because our eyes are veiled.

We do not see, and therefore we are tempted to forget. It is in forgetting that we try to trust in ourselves to dispel evil, and then only end up propagating it. Yes, there are evil angels that we call demons. How can we battle such beings when we can't even control our own bodies? Looking at the world around us, the evil is growing in the spirits of Men. Cynicism, hatred, intolerance, scorn, smugness, self-righteousness, hubris, ambition, promiscuity, lust, dissent, deliberate confusion, complacency, apathy, apostasy, and pride are all on the increase - or at least we hear of them more with greater access to the media. These are spiritual evils from which we need to be exorcised, yet we allow them into our lives on a daily basis.

If this world's spiritual health is to be renewed then it can only come with God and the Angelic Host that He has under His command. We need to see the angelic force as being something that is real and effective, rather than as some dream, story, or vague Medieval superstition. We need to call upon God to send help, and pray to St Michael and our guardian angels to assist us in our daily struggle against evil. For God has given His angels charge over us to keep us in all our ways to God Himself. Indeed, they shall bear thee in their hands that thou hurt not thy foot against a stone but not, as Our Lord points out, to the extent that we put God to the test.

We need to start with ourselves and ask God and His angels to take us by the hand to walk along the path of Life. Their company will uplift us if we trust them, and we can trust them as they have been sent by God for that very purpose. Then we can pray for the angelic host to help us defeat the forces within our society and in our world that seek to separate and destroy the Creation of God. We each need this help if we want to overcome the growing spiritual darkness around us.

Holy Michael Archangel, defend us in battle.
 Be our guard against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
 May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
 and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
 by the power of God,
 thrust into hell Satan, and all the evil spirits,
 who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.
Amen.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Desert Island Virtues

The premise of Desert Island Disks is that a celebrity is encouraged to choose the eight records they would choose to take with them to a desert island. One would assume that they would have the means of playing them. Can we play the game with the virtues? If we had to live life cultivating only two virtues, which would we choose?

Yes. It's silly, and yet...

The fact of the matter is that, of course, we'd like to acquire all of the virtues in order to be in perfect harmony with God and to live a life worthy of our calling into being. However, the fact is that we may spend our time trying to acquire one virtue (or eradicate one vice depending on your viewpoint) and fall into other vices. Then when we realize this, we give them better attention and, while doing so, neglect the virtue we've been trying to acquire. Living the virtuous life is like trying to fit an oddly-shaped carpet into an oddly-shaped room which may or may not be the same shape as the carpet.

This is why Pelagianism is wrong. We cannot earn our way into Heaven. We cannot acquire the virtues without God starting us off, without His constant assistance, without Him perfecting the virtues in us. Why bother, then? If we can't do this for ourselves, why not just sit back and let God do all the work? If He is the one to save us, then let Him save us and we'll just carry on living life.

Oh dear!

The only means of Salvation is Our Lord Jesus Christ. We have to become like Him: that is the destiny He wants for us. The trouble we find is that while Our Lord has two natures, Divine and Human, we have only one, and that is our trouble! We are separated from God by reason of our fall; our nature is flawed and that is a cause of separation. We need to recognise that this fallen nature of ours impedes us from ever obtaining any of the virtues by which we can become Christ-like.

However, this recognition of fallen-ness is itself a virtue. It begins in Christ because Christ reveals Himself to us as a man - a perfect man. This is the virtue known as Humility. Humility is an attempt to know oneself as one really is, warts'n'all. It is a knowledge of our existence as human beings, and the knowledge of our incompleteness being human beings. Humility is a difficult virtue to acquire because it is so painful. Our fallen humanity is the cross we have to bear. It is the cross that the Lord bares and through this very cross opens the door to reunion with God.

We are only half-formed and we must realise that there is nothing in us that can generate the perfection that brings us back to God. Humility brings us back to the dust from which God formed us. It is the virtue that Our Lord preaches and practises throughout His life; it is the virtue that scandalises the Pharisees to the extent that they seek to kill Him; it is the virtue that resists temptation to be anything other than human; it is the virtue that brings us to repentance and thus to the feet of God.

Humility begins with God when we lift our head to see Him, and in seeing Him recognise our imperfections. The second virtue we need is Love because, as St John tells us, "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God". It is love that helps us complete our repentence, but requires us to be seeking the constant presence of God, because we cannot know love without God. The time from the giving of the Law and the Incarnation demonstrates this clearly to us just as it demonstrates our lack of Humility.

We see then that, just as Our Lord has two natures in one person, so He embodies Humility (from the nature of Humanity) and Love (from the substance of God). We are to seek the Kingdom of God. Humility is accepting the Kingdom as we are; Love is accepting God as He is, even if we cannot comprehend either. It is my opinion that the development of Humility and Love puts us on the path to develop the other virtues and thus enable God to work greater miracles in our lives until He completes that work in our resurrection from the dead and subsequent salvation.

I hope, with God's good pleasure, to reflect on these two virtues further, especially from a Benedictine point of view.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Boring as Heaven?



Following Fr Chadwick's posting on Symbolism in pre-Renaissance Art, I found myself re-visiting the work of Hieronymus Bosch, an artist who intrigued me as a child, fascinated me as an adolescent and frightened me as an adult. His famous Garden of Earthly Delights is a monumental work of religious art depicting the Paradise of Eden, the Garden of Earthly Delights in all its obscene luridity resulting from the Fall, and then the tortures and horrors of a Medieval Hell brought into the dimensionality of the Renaissance.

Interestingly, it is the depiction of Hell that is richest in its symbolism: the ears with the knife speak of the evils of gossip; the egg-man points us towards the dangers of alchemy; the nun-pig points to the acceptance of heresy. Yet, this yields a rather troubling fact. There are far more paintings and images of Hell than there are of Heaven.

Perhaps that's not quite true: the Ikon is a window into Heaven by which we may glimpse a view of the saints and the Glory of God. Yet, if you ask someone to picture Heaven and Hell, Heaven will be depicted as a place where (somehow) we are all turned into angels (a common error) bear halos and play harps all day. Hell will be full of violence and pain, and often very, very hot in accord to the lake of fire we see in the Revelation of St John the Divine. Heaven sounds desperately dull. I've heard from many an atheist that they'd prefer Hell to Heaven on the grounds that at least Hell isn't boring, whereas Heaven is floating around all day "praising God".

The fact of the matter is that human beings do not have a good idea of what Heaven is like. Actually, I'm not convinced that a Hell is quite as Medieval as it is depicted. Reading the Apocalypse of St John carefully, the twenty-first chapter begins
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away ; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold , the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away . And he that sat upon the throne said , Behold , I make all things new.
This gives us more of a clue of what Heaven will be like. The Creation in which we live in now at present has moments where it seems like the best, and like the worst. The new life which Humanity is promised in God is probably going to be very recognisably the life we live now but transformed. We will once again be aware of God in our midst forever because we will be complete in Him. We don't need to picture Heaven so much, because we're already here. We just need the renewal of God to make our existence an endless bliss. This is why we should cherish the world around us, as it is very much what we shall perceive in the hereafter.

There will be big differences, of course, but in order to understand these big differences, we need to be able to approach Eden, and the sword of the Seraphim prevents us. This is a result of our fall, the blindness to the true beauty of Creation. We can imagine Hell for it is our sin that has made Hell possible, thus we can imagine what a life of eternally rejecting God must look like, and it is vile - full of infernal activity in an attempt to claw some purpose of existing from the meagre phantoms of what once was.

There are mystics who say that they have seen both Heaven and Hell. Who's to say that they haven't? Yet I rather think that, because we're talking about states of existence in Eternity, these glimpses are precisely that. Heaven appears boring because we cannot see beyond the rather small way that we worship God now. Once our worship of God gets bigger, the better an idea we shall have until we either obtain the famous beatific vision which stultified and silenced St Thomas Aquinas, or pass through the veil when God draws us to Him.

While this life may be boring at times, the fact that there are times that we enjoy life is an indicator that Heaven will not just be as enjoyable, but beyond that. We may be blind now, but faith requires us to trust God that His Eternal presence will be a life better than we can ever know in this life.

Perichoresis and collecting taxes.


Ikonography tells us many wonderful truths about God, even when they are not able to be expressed in words. The image of Christ appears in Gospels to teach us through words. If it is true that St Luke was the first ikonographer, then we have the image of Christ appearing in pictures too.

Here in this Ikon of the Chalice of Christ by Saint Ignatius Brianchaninov we see Our Lady with her arms raised in prayer, her son in the Chalice of the New Covenant ratified by His Incarnation, His arms raised in blessing. It is if they both raise their arms in a dance, the Lord even as a child allowing Our Lady to take Him by the hand and lead her in the dance of friendship and love.

The idea of dance is inherent in our paltry understanding of the relationship between the Persons of the Trinity. This dance is called perichoresis (a dancing around) as each Person interacts in perfect harmony with the other two Persons within the Hypostatic Union. It is not something our brains can comprehend either, which is why our understanding can only flit from one Hypostasis to the next in a muddled, skittering dance of its own as befits our earthly, limited state.

St Matthew, whose feast we celebrate today, paints a picture of Our Lord as the embodiment of the eternal dance between Israel (and then the Church) and God. Mankind forgets the steps all to often and moves out of synch with the Divine. Such a dissonance permeates the universe just as the presence of one out-of-tune violin permeates the whole symphony. St Matthew is used to being out of step: as a tax collector and collaborator with the oppressive Roman government, he has sought to find safety and security in money and in appeasing the ruling force.

It is when he meets Our Lord, recognising in Him the harmony of Eternity itself, that he hears the dissonance in his life. His preoccupation with earthly things is out of harmony with that which created earthly things producing his cognitive dissonance. He knows from bitter experience that one cannot serve two masters. Mammon's dance is flat, inelegant, oppressive, and almost static through sheer emptiness. The dance of God is free, almost wild in its sheer exuberance, yet wholly led by the hands of Christ Himself.

In listening to the Gospels, we hear different dances. St Mark's is a whirlwind of a gallop as we are blown from one passage to the next. St Luke's is lyrical, like a serenade or barcarolle, filled with the songs of the saints. St John's is stately and ethereal, like a canon of pavannes, repeating and yet expanding themes and motifs.

But it is St Matthew's Gospel that produces a dance that sounds as if it has been going on forever. Majestic, and filled with the folk dances of long ago, bringing their meaning from the Old Covenant into the New. Our Lady was born in the Old Covenant, yet she takes the Lord by the hands and follows His steps into the New. Likewise St Matthew, knowing the dance of the Old Covenant, yet being suppressed by the dance of Mammon, takes the Lord's hands and learns how the new dance is what has always been the old dance. It is this fact that he writes into his Gospel.

We, too, have the opportunity to take the Lord's hands and enter into the dance of Perichoresis, taking the steps that are in harmony with all that is. We can only do this through prayer and listening closely to the tune that life is really playing. There are so many noises that distract us, yet God will always allow us to hear His music if we truly want to.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Cross of the Virgin


It is significant that the Octave Day of the Nativity of Our Lady should be the recollection of the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady, and that this should be a day after the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. As we saw yesterday, the Christian life, rather than avoiding the cross, must seek to embrace it. This is a hard saying, but we have to trust God when it comes to suffering that its significance may be revealed to us and the transforming power of His love work even through the times that of the most profound horror and pain. If this life is all there is then there is nothing but pain and sorrow ending in nothing. Yet, if this life really is only a fragment, indeed an important fragment, then it must be taken in the context of a wider existence. Pain warns us to the existence of Evil, and the war against Evil is the Christian Life.

Even for our Lady.

The First Sorrow: Simeon's Prophecy

The fear of impending suffering is in itself a suffering. This is how Our Lord suffers the night that the mob comes for Him. Like Our Lord, the Blessed Virgin has this increasing knowledge of impending pain for all of His life on Earth. The temptation is to turn aside and avoid the suffering: to do so would be to allow Evil free reign over life, to take over control and be its master. Both the King and the Queen Mother refuse to swerve and continue on course for the destination.

The Second Sorrow: The flight from Egypt

The suffering of being driven from one's home by violence is one that many of our brothers and sisters are going through right now. Our Lady is no exception. To protect the Holy Infant, she and St Joseph must leave their home in a hurry, and seek shelter in a strange land where the customs, culture, and religion are very different - even hostile. The temptation is to remain static and to take one's chances against Herod: to do so would put the precious life of a baby in danger. Our Lady must abandon the security of a settled life for love of her little boy.

The Third Sorrow: The losing of the boy Jesus

Children cause much suffering by the way that they live life not knowing the dangers they face. When the story that a child has gone missing makes the news, the heart of every parent sinks for fear of their own children and in solidarity with the suffering parents. The parents of the missing child go into a frenzy, imagining all kinds of terrible things that Evil can do to one so small and innocent. The temptation is to try and protect our children so much that they do not live: to do so will prevent them from going to the Father's house and thus being the person that they were created to be, separate from mother and father. Our Lady must embrace the fact that she will not be able to protect her child.

The Fourth Sorrow: On the way to Calvary

Once we are on the path to suffering, the worries of the past intensify. We are now presented with what we feared and we know the inexorable conclusion. Chemotherapy begins; the nurse with the needle approaches; the militant with the knife bursts into church. Our Lady is presented with an already bloodied Jesus struggling on His journey to worse sufferings, and there is nothing she can do. The temptation now is to panic, to lose control and flail about: to do so will focus the soul away from God and thus disallow Him to be present with our suffering and thus offer His peculiar comfort and give meaning. Out Lady must submit to the fact that this is happening, and walk with her Son to Calvary.



The Fifth Sorrow: At the foot of the Cross

It is as intolerable for us to watch suffering as it is to suffer: sometimes it is worse. This is what scandalises many people against the Christian Faith and against God Himself. Our Lady sees her son suffering enormous pain, the nerves in his hands and feet screaming at the cruelty of nails tearing His flesh. How can she bear to see it? The temptation is to look away, to leave: to do so would to be to rob the Lord of her presence in His suffering.  Our Lady is there at the foot of the cross, that is enough. She must stay and watch; her presence nonetheless gives comfort to her Son.

The Sixth Sorrow: The descent from the Cross

We have been presented with pictures of the dead in recent years. We see the body of Fr Mychal Judge pulled from the rubble of the World Trade Centre. We see the little body of Alan Kurdi face down in the water. We see life extinguished unfairly. We see the innocent snuffed out having barely lived. The body of the Lord is pulled from the Cross and placed in the lap of His mother. What misery that must be! The temptation is to despair of life, and of God, to become cynical, hardened and not willing to love again: to do so is to lose all that one has, to render meaningless the life that we possess, and to distance ourselves from the possibility of ever being happy again. Our Lady must hold her son's body, weep, and yet still have hope.

The Seventh Sorrow: The burial of the Lord

The death of a loved one affects us beyond their committal to earth, air, or water. The act of this committal means a physical letting go of the body, and thus the physical presence of one we love. To see the coffin lowered into the ground or conveyed away to the furnace is a horror as it confronts us with the fact of death. Our Lady sees her son placed into the tomb, the heavy stone rolled in place, and then people leave. The temptation is not to let go, to devote oneself to a corpse: to do so is to lose hope, to rot with the body, to fade away in despair. Our Lady must remember the words of her son that He will rise again, to cling to His words, not His body.


Oh there is so much suffering in this world! It is too much for us to bear at times and how we weep at the suffering of others even when they are far away! Our Lady's Sorrows show the effect of suffering on one so close to Love. We suffer because we love. We suffer because to love means to give of the most vulnerable parts of our being up for wounding. Yet, as Christians, we must love and so must suffer. However, our Christianity means that we can do something that the world cannot, we can make a sacrifice. Our suffering becomes holy, presented before God as an act of self-giving. Our suffering shows the world that Love still exists and will not grow cold despite the presence of Evil.


Our Lady loves, and thus suffers. So must we but, like her, we will not be alone! Where she is, her son is. The same is true for the Christian.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Getting Cross with Christ


Thy Cross do we adore, O Lord, and Thy holy Resurrection do we glorify.

We don't get a choice. Once we have sincerely chosen Christ, then we have necessarily chosen the Cross. Just as Our Blessed Lord's body is nailed to the cross, so is the cross irretrievably fastened to the Christian life.

Today we exalt the Holy Cross, not as an object of worship, but seeing in it our salvation. First, we gaze at the bloodstained wood, the splinters and jagged edges, and we see the pain and suffering in this world. We see that it is unavoidable and that the cross is a reality that we have to bear. If we flee from it, then we flee from reality; we flee from a true and authentic existence that embraces what it means to be. The pain of human beings is a testament to the presence of Evil. Yet the cross is precisely shaped for the human body. It exists for Humanity.

Yet, in gazing at the cross, we realise that we gaze upon the very instrument of the death of Evil. For, on this wood, the blood of Christ is poured, filling the world and flooding out the network of holes where Evil lurks. We gaze upon the wood which itself was alive, is now dead, and yet brings new life because of the Glory that hangs upon it.

Then we gaze through the Cross, and we see beyond a vast ocean of Grace and Love which floods out through the cross like a great gate carved between this small world and the fulness of the world beyond. Every time we make the sign of the cross, this grace pours out blessing us and all around us, giving people the opportunity to receive blessing, grace, love and peace. As the Cross opens the Way to us, so we must open ourselves to the Way and strive to receive Him more and more.

We adore Thee, O Christ, and we bless Thee: because by Thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Ransom and the Dimensions of Love

St Paul always seems to ask the impossible for us. Apparently, we have "to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge", to know the unknowable. Thanks a bunch!

Actually, what St Paul is doing is showing us that, as Christians, our conversion to Christ must always be ongoing.  There is no point at which we can sit back and say, "well, I've done all that I need to do." Our Salvation doesn't occur at a point in Time. It occurs in Eternity with God. Our lives themselves form only a fraction of our Eternity which is why who we are now matters. The secrets of our hearts form our thoughts, words, and actions which shape our being as something beyond even our own understanding. God's possibilities for us are endless!

We normally think of our space as being three dimensional, yet St Paul points out that God's love has at least four dimensions,"breadth, and length, and depth, and height, which the saints comprehend because their being has been lifted out of the constraints of Earthly Life into Heavenly Life. We begin to see the challenge of the Christian Life right here because our Earthly existence is constrained and small. In comparison with Eternity, and especially God Himself, we are insubstantial and riddled with a particular brand of insubstantiality called Evil.

We know that Evil is an absence of Good. It is an absence of God! As far as Existence goes, Evil is a hole, a void, a negative space that cries out to be filled. In monetary terms, a negative space in one's bank account is called debt. While we have Evil in us, we are in debt. In debt? To whom?

Well, to no one really, in the literal sense of the word "really"! While the Incarnation of Our Lord Jesus is indeed a ransom on our behalf, it is not an ransom to anyone. It is a debt of true existence which is paid by plugging the gap with the fulness of God in Christ. While we exist in sin, we exist in a half-life where our being is being torn apart by the evil within us, the evil we permit to be within us. We seek to be full, whole and actual. At the moment we exist like the ghosts in C.S Lewis' Great Divorce. We only obtain being from God Himself and it is He that give us our being, first as insubstantial beings then, as we seek to know Him, as beings of increasing substance, increasing fulness. It is through the cross of Christ that the gate to such substance exists for through the Cross, the substance of the Incarnation bursts into the imperfection of our substance as we open that imperfection to the Cross.

The Cross then opens the floodgates of Grace, pouring through the unification of Humanity and Divinity in the Person of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Each time, we receive a sacrament properly, we are opening ourselves to the Grace of God which completes us, renews us and recreates us. Yet to receive any sacrament, we have to open ourselves to God so that His grace may indeed flood our lack of being. We have to acknowledge it, bewail it, and do something about it, for the gift is there: God has taken the first step of offering Himself to each one of us; He has given us the wherewithal to receive Him, and yet He sits and waits, running out to meet us when we say YES! to His most generous and loving offer and walking us back home, drawing us from our meagre three dimensionality into the four..., five..., six..., indeed numberless, dimensions of His love and reality.

Doesn't His love deserve a response? Let us earnestly and joyfully pray with St Paul "unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto Him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus, throughout all ages, world without end."

Amen

Links to other websites

I've been rearranging my links to other websites, cutting off the broken links, making adjustments to existing sites and adding a websites or two.

I now have renamed Fr Chadwick's Blog as New Goliards.

I have added his revamped Civitas Dei website, now known as As the Sun in its Orb on liturgical and concomitant matters which looks as if it will prove an invaluable resource.

I have also added Fr Michael Woods' blog Notes on Life.

I would also be grateful for other suggestions for blogs/websites that might be appropriate to this little blogling. Please let me know!

Thursday, September 08, 2016

The other Nativity

The story of the birth of Our Lady is recorded in the Protoevangelion of St James. It's blatantly obvious that this is not a book of the Bible and so it must be approached with a certain amount of caution, and cannot be used as an authority. Tradition says that Our Lady's parents are St Anne and St Joachim. This is more likely to be true. However, all the myths surrounding the birth of Our Lady are precisely that. From the beginning, Our Lady is enshrouded with mystery.

One might think that she is surrounded by clouds that come from the lack of knowledge, clouds that can be blown away by scientific endeavour. Yet this is not quite the case: Science cannot answer questions of History: if a historical record is lost forever, then it can only be known by its effects. If there are no effects and the historical record is lost, then it as if the event never really happened.

However, Our Lady is not clothed with clouds that obscure our vision. She is clothed with the Sun. The light of her Divine offspring prevents us from gazing at her. We only found out enough about the planet Mercury when we were able to send spacecraft there. Its proximity to the Sun made observation very, very difficult. Our Lady is more so. Like St John the Baptist, she seeks to decrease so that her Son increases. Her proximity to the Lord means that her being is eclipsed by her Son.

It matters to us THAT she was born, not the manner of her birth. Were she not born, she would not be a human being. Were she not born a woman, she could not be a mother. Were she not a mother, she would not have a son. We have her words, though precious few that are recorded Biblically. The last words the Bible records her saying are "Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it." Her birth is the beginning of a life that fulfills this saying and this devotion to her Son gives her the authority to tell the world to be obedient. That obedience brings us to the Cross, to the piercing of the Soul, and the opening of the being to the grace of God.

Our Lady's life is full of grace, and life begins at conception and is revealed at birth. At her Nativity, we see the light of this grace begin to shine, blinding us to the life of Our Lady apart from Her Son. Too much ink has been spilt on forensic analysis of her life. All she wants us to know is her Son and so she is happy to be forgotten by history so that we can be endeavour to be as devoted to her Son as she is. She will take us by the hand to bring us to Him if we allow her, but she wants no attention from us that will distract us from the One who gives grace.

Hail Holy Queen!