Marian Thoughts – 5 May – “Mary’s Month!”
From the Sermons of St Sophronius (560-638) Father of the Church
(St Sophronius was a courageous leader of the Jerusalem Church during the Islamic conquests of the seventh century, Bishop Saint Sophronius I has his liturgical memorial on 11 March).
The blessings of the Father shone upon men through Mary
‘Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you.’ Could anything transcend the joy that is yours, O Virgin Mother? Could anything surpass this race granted by God to you alone? Is it possible to think of anything more gratifying and more splendid? Nothing can even approach the marvel that we see in you. All things lie far below the grace that is yours; in comparison, even the best of them take second place and their brilliance is overshadowed.
‘The Lord is with you’ and who has dared to strive against you? God has been born of you, who would stand in your way and not gladly give you first place and supremacy? For this reason, when I contemplate the privileges that put you above all creatures I cry out to you in highest praise. ‘Hail O favoured one, the Lord is with you.’ The joy that comes from you is shared not only by mankind but also by the powers of heaven.
Truly, ‘you are blessed among women’ for you have changed the condemnation of Eve into a blessing. Because of you, and through you, Adam who hitherto was cast down and condemned received a blessing.
Truly, ‘you are blessed among women’ for through you the blessing of the Father came to mankind and reprieved them from the age-old sentence.
Truly, ‘you are blessed among women’, because through you, your ancestors found salvation. You were to give birth to the Saviour who would win for them God’s salvation.
Truly, ‘you are blessed among women’ for without the seed of man you bore the fruit that gives a blessing to the whole earth and frees it from being condemned to produce only thorns.
Truly, ‘you are blessed among women’, for though you are a woman like any other woman you will in actual fact become the Mother of God. If the one to be born of you, is in truth God incarnate, you rightly deserve to be called ‘she who gave birth to God’, inasmuch, as you truly did give birth to God.
You have God enclosed within your womb. He lives in you according to the flesh and comes forth from you like a bridegroom, giving joy to all and sharing His divine light with all mankind.
In you, O Virgin, as in the clear brightness of heaven, God ‘has placed his tent’ and He ‘will come forth from you like a bridegroom from his chamber’. Like a giant He will run the course of His life to bring salvation to all living things. That course ‘will stretch from one end of the heavens to the other’ filling all things with the life-giving warmth of God’s radiance.
From the Little Office of Mary