The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Archive for the ‘Our Lady’ Category

Sept. 15~Commentaries for the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 7, 2018

Note: If I’m not mistaken the Lectionary currently allows alternates for both the first and Gospel readings.; this is reflected below. To ensure my assumption one should consult a current Lectionary or Missal.


Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 10:14-22.

Father Callan’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 10:14-22.

Navarre Commentary on 1 Corinthians 10:14-22.


Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Hebrews 5:7-9.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Hebrews 5:7-9.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Hebrews 5:7-9.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM: Psalm 116:12-13, 17-18

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 116.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 116.

Pope St John Paul II’s Commentary on Psalm 116:10-19.


Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on John 19:25-27.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 19:25-27.

St Cyril  of Alexandria’s Commentary on John 19:25-27.

Navarre Commentary on John 19:25-27.


St Cyril of Alexandria’s Homiletic Commentary on Luke 2:33-35.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 2:33-35.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 2:33-35.

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Commentaries for the Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 26, 2016

Today’s Mass Readings.

Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Timothy 4:1-8.

Navarre Bible Commentary on 2 Timothy 4:1-8.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 71.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 71.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 2:41-51.

St Augustine on Luke 2:41-51. On 42-52.


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May 31: Commentaries for the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 26, 2016


Today’s Mass Readings. Note that there is an alternate first reading.

Today’s Divine Office.

My Notes on Zephaniah 3:14-18.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Zephaniah 3:14-18.

Alt 1st Reading: Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on Romans 12:9-16. On 9-21.

Alt 1st Reading: Father Callan’s Commentary on Romans 12:9-16.

Alt 1st Reading: Navarre Bible Commentary on Romans 12:9-16.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Isaiah 12:1-6.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Luke 1:39-56.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 1:39-56.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Luke 1:39-56.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 1:39-56.

Pope Benedict XVI on Mary’s Magnificat.

Catholic Encyclopedia on the Feast of the Visitation.

Catholic Culture on the Feast of the Visitation.

St Bede the Venerable on the Feast of the Visitation.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Luke 1:26-28

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 1, 2012

Text in red represent my additional notes.

Luk 1:26  And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth,

And in the sixth month; i.e., after the conception of Elizabeth. Hence John the Baptist was just six months older than our Lord.

Nazareth. See on Matthew 2:23.

In the sixth month has been taken-along with other time references and the mention of Gabriel-as suggesting an allusion to the “Seventy weeks of years” prophecy in Daniel 9:24-27. See here for more details.

Luk 1:27  To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David: and the virgin’s name was Mary.

To a virgin espoused. From these words, some conclude that the Blessed Virgin was already really married to Joseph; others that she was only promised in marriage by her family. The latter opinion would seem more probable because otherwise she would have been actually living with St. Joseph, as was customary with those really married. See on Matthew 1:18.

Actually, the Jewish concept of espousal and marriage differs considerably from ours. As I noted in some comments I added to Maldonado’s commentary on Matt 1:18-24~The Jewish marriage process was twofold: (1) the espousal period, which could last up to a year.  During this period the couple lived apart but were still considered to be husband and wife; it is for this reason that Matthew can speak of Mary in verse 18 as “espoused” (NAB, “betrothed”) and also refer to Joseph as her husband in verses 16 and 19; and call Mary “thy wife” (NAB “your wife’) in verse 20. (2) the ratification of the marriage took place when the groom went to the house where his s=espoused wife was living and brought her back into his own home. This is what is being referred to when the angel says fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife (see verses 20 & 24). It is this process which is behind the marriage imagery of Matt 25:1-13; Jn 3:29-30.

Of the house of David. St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin were
both of the family of David. Our Lord was therefore truly”the Son of David” on his mother’s side.

Mary. This name is derived from the Hebrew “Miriam,” which signifies “Star of the Sea,” or, in Chaldaic, “Lady.” These represent common interpretations, however, we do not in fact know with certainty what the name means.

Luk 1:28  And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

And the angel being come in. It is the common opinion that our Blessed Lady was rapt in devout prayer when the angel entered her room.

Full of grace. This is the Catholic translation of the Greek, κεχαριτωμενη, and is in conformity with the authority of the Latin Fathers, and of the ancient Syriac and Arabic versions of this passage. Protestants widely differ as to the meaning of the word. The Authorized Version translates it, “highly favored.” Literally,the term would seem to mean “highly pleasing,” or “highly
favored,” or “singularly endowed.” Since, therefore, it is grace alone which renders one highly pleasing in the sight of God, the translation “full of grace” would seem to be most correct. Just as Solomon was called “The Wise One,” and our Lord, “The Just One,” so here our Blessed Lady is addressed as “The Highly favored One,” i.e., favored above all others.

The Greek κεχαριτωμενη (Kecharitomene) is a present passive participle. As a present participle it refers to something which took place in the past, the effects of which continue. As passive in refers to something Mary has received.  Since the word is based upon charis (grace), or, to be more exact, on charitoo (made graced), and since the word is passive, perhaps a better translation into English would be “filled with grace.”

The Lord is with thee. By “Lord,” we are here to understand YHWH (God); not our Lord, whom as yet our Blessed Lady had not conceived.

Blessed art thou among women. These words, although found in most MSS., are wanting in the Vatican and a few other ancient MSS. Our Blessed Lady is here compared, not with the whole of mankind, but with all other women (but see  Lk 1:48).

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Father MacEvily’s Commentary on Luke 1:26-28

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 1, 2012

Luk 1:26  And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth,

The Evangelist minutely describes the circumstances of time, place, persons, & c., in order to gain greater credibility, and more clearly demonstrate the divine origin of the history he is about to give of the adorable mystery of the Incarnation, and of the reparation of the human race.

The sixth month, is generally computed by interpreters from the conception of Elizabeth. It was usual with the Hebrews, as well as with the Romans, to compute time from some very remarkable epoch or occurrence. The conception of the Baptist, which was the inception of a new order of things, the beginning of a second and more exalted creation, whereby God was to renew the face of the earth, was deservedly regarded as the most remarkable occurrence from which to date the conception of the Son of God. Moreover, God wished that the relations between John the Baptist and his Eternal Son should be so intimate that the years of the .latter should be counted in connexion with the former. This sixth month, is understood as completed, and the order of events so arranged, that John, who was to be our Lord’s Precursor, to bear testimony of Him in due time, could commence to do so even from his mother s womb (v. 41).

The Angel Gabriel. The same who had promised Zachary a son (v. 13). Although of the highest rank of Archangels, he is still called an Angel by St. Luke, as this latter term designates his office of messenger, which, in this instance, was tho highest privilege he could enjoy. Gabriel, the name signifies the strength of God, well befitting him who was to announce the coming of the Almighty. The same messenger who predicted to Daniel the coming of the Son of God at a distant futurity, is now employed to announce His immediate coming in the flesh. To an Angel was this exalted message to an immaculate Virgin appropriately intrusted.

Sent from God, immediately without the intervention of any higher angelic spirit, as when he was formerly sent to Daniel (8:16), to show the great importance of the mission confided to him. God, the Blessed Trinity, this mission being an actus ad extra, common to the three Persons of the adorable Trinity.

To a city of Galilee named Nazareth. It was situated in Lower Galilee, in the Tribe of Zabulon (see Matt 2:23).

Luk 1:27  To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David: and the virgin’s name was Mary.

To a virgin espoused to a man. The Greek word for espoused μεμνηστευμενην, also means, married, a signification the word bears (chap. 2:5), (see Matt 1:18). The word is meant to convey, that although married, she continued a virgin, free from all carnal intercourse or defilement.

Whose name was Joseph. The Holy Ghost designates him as a just man (Matthew 1:19). He was fitly typified by the great Patriarch Joseph, whose affecting history is recorded (Genesis 27:1) The life of the one may be regarded as the counterpart of the life of the other. Both were singular models of chastity, of patient endurance, and of all supernatural virtues. The Joseph of Egypt, preserving food for his people, plentifully supplied them with bread in the day of dire distress. Our Joseph guarded the Bread of Life, which he gave to a famishing world. The power which Pharaoh, bestowed on the Patriarch Joseph, though very great, was  but a feeble type of the great intercessory power of our Joseph, who, next to his Virgin Spouse, exalted to an inconceivable degree above all created beings, is our most powerful intercessor in the high court of heaven. As Pharaoh of old, when the famishing multitudes cried to him for bread, referred them to Joseph, Ite ad
Joseph (“go to Joseph” Genesis 41:55); so does the Almighty refer us in our spiritual necessities to His foster-father, the guardian and protector of His helpless infancy, when he was forced to fly from the wrath of a sanguinary tyrant. To us does he say, as Pharaoh said of old, Ite ad Joseph.

Of the house of David. A descendant of David, from whom the Messiah was to spring. Joseph and Mary were both of the family of David (see Matthew 1:16). What the Angel says (v. 32), The Lord God shall give him the throne of his Father David was said of our Lord in virtue of His maternal descent, for He had no father on earth. Mary, His mother, must therefore be of the same family of David with her husband Joseph, who is also called elsewhere, the Son of David " (Matthew 1:20), and said to be of the house and family of David (2:4).

And the virgin’s name was Mary. t. Jerome (de nom. Heb.), tells us, that Mary, in the Greek, μαριαμ, an indeclinable noun, derived from the Hebrew Miriam, signifies, in Hebrew, Star of the Sea, also, bitter sea; and in Chaldaic, Lady. Both meanings admirably befitting her who is the glorious Queen of Heaven and Earth, and our Star to guide us amidst the storms and darkness of this world to the haven of eternal security and rest. At all times, Christians address the Blessed Virgin with the peculiar title of Our Lady. St. Bernard tells us, that of such virtue and excellence is this name, “that the heavens exult, the earth rejoices, and the angels send up hymns of praise when the name of Mary is mentioned”(Hom, super missa est]; and in the same place this seraphic advocate of Mary calls on those who are in tribulation of mind or body, “to look up to this Star, to call on Mary,” &c. There is no other name, after the adorable name of Jesus, so venerable, so calculated to inspire all saints and sinners with such hope, such unbounded confidence during life, and especially at the decisive moment of death, when the devil, knowing he has but a short time, puts forth all his strength to compass our ruin. Then it is, that she who is powerful (ipsa enim potens est), shall shield her devout children under the protecting shadow of her wing, and put to flight our infernal adversary.

Luk 1:28  And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

And the angel being come in. From this it is commonly inferred, and indeed, it is asserted by the Holy Fathers, that the Angel found the Blessed Virgin alone in her private closet. Although there is nothing said here of how she was occupied, it is regarded as certain that she was not idle, but rather occupied with some employment becoming a pure virgin. Not unlikely, she was engaged in prayer, as she is usually represented in all pictures of the Annunciation, and in devotional exercises having reference to the long-expected Messiah, the future deliverer of her people. St. Ambrose (L. 2 in Lucam) remarks, “She was alone in her private closet, where no man could see her, but only an Angel could find her.” It is generally supposed that, owing to the angelio gift of subtilty, the Angel having invisibly penetrated the walls of her dwelling, and appearing in a visible form, reverently and on bended knees, saluted as his Queen, Her who was shortly to be constituted Queen of men and angels. Some hold that this occurred in the silence of night, while she was engaged in prayer, before retiring to rest. It was at this hour also Christ was born. It was “while all things were in great silence, and the night was in the midst of her course, thy omnipotent ivord leapt down from heaven from thy royal throne” (Wisdom 18:14-15). Likely, he filled the chamber with heavenly effulgence, as happened when the Angels announced the birth of the Son of God to the shepherds (2:9).

Said to her, the words to her,should likely be connected not with said, but with being come in, to her, or where she was alone in secret (as it is in the Syriac, and found in Holy Fathers, Ambrose, hie, and St. Bernard, on the words, missus est. Said, Hail, full ofgrace, &c., ingressusAngelus adeam,dixit; ave gratia plena, &c., employing the very words communicated by God, when sending him on this most solemn and important message.

Hail. The corresponding Hebrew form, shalom lach, which latter form very likely was used by the Angel, ειρηνη σοι, pax tibi, signifies peace to thee; or, joy to thee, and may be either precatory of good, “may joy or peace be to thee,” pax vel gaudium sit tibi, wishing her the abundance of all blessings, spiritual and temporal, or congratulatory, on account of the abundant blessings of peace and joy she already possesses, pax vel gaudium est tibi. In this form, which was usual with the Hebrews at the meeting of friends, the Angel conveys to the Virgin, that his entrance was of a pacific character; that he was a good and not a bad Angel; the bearer of joyous and not of evil tidings, such as the Angels afterwards came to announce, at the birth of the Son of God, Peace and tidings of great joy to all the people. St. Luke instead of ειρηνη σοι, employs  χαιρε, which latter form was more conformable to the idiom of the language then in use. The same is used by our Lord, or rather, His words are so rendered (Matthew 28:9). In this salutation, the Angel accomplished four things: 1. He reverently salutes the Virgin; 2. He propounds the subject of his message (v. 31); 3. He points out the mode of its accomplishment (v. 35); and thus, 4. He replies to the difficulty (v. 34) which presented itself to the mind of the Virgin. Some of the Holy Fathers (Origen, Hom. 6 in Lucam; Bede and Ambrose, hic) observe, that the whole message was singular and extraordinary, such as was never before addressed to any human being.

Full of gracegratia plena. This is the rendering given by all Catholics of the Greek, κεχαριτωμενη, which is the Perfect Passive participle of χαριτόω. This translation is confirmed by the authority of the Fathers, and by the most ancient copies of the Bible. It is the same in the Syriac and Arabic versions. Protestants, while rejecting the Vulgate rendering, differ nearly as widely among themselves on this point as they do from Catholics. Hardly any two of them agree on the precise translation of the word, which is found only in another passage of the New Testament (Eph 1:6) εχαριτωσεν ημας, and rendered gratificavit nos, “made us acceptable.” Besides the unanimous consent of the Fathers, the Catholic or Vulgate rendering, gratia plena, can be established on intrinsic grounds as well. The word κεχαριτωμενη, literally rendered, would signify, one made pleasing (gratificata), which involves (a) the state or condition of being thus rendered pleasing; and (b) the quality or thing that renders us pleasing. Now, that which makes us pleasing to God, is sanctifying grace; hence sanctifying grace is involved in the word κεχαριτωμενη. Secondly, the fulness of grace is conveyed in the very form of the verb; for, as is known to all Greek scholars, verbs terminating in όω, always denote plenitude, abundance either communicated or received or possessed, according as the verb may be used in the Active or Passive voice, as might be illustrated, if necessary, by numerous examples. Hence, on this principle, κεχαριτωμενη denotes abundance, fulness of grace. Again, from the Angel’s omitting to address the Virgin by the ordinary name of Mary, it is clear he applies κεχαριτωμενη to her as her peculiar title, her distinguishing characteristic epithet, applicable to her alone, and to no one else, as our Lord is called, the Just One; Solomon, the Wise One, because possessing these qualities in a degree not reached by any other human being. So here the application of Ke^aptrw/xev^ to the Blessed Virgin, never before applied to any one else, shows she possesses the quality or plenitude of grace conveyed in the word, peculiar to herself alone, and distinguishing her from the rest of mankind.

Although full of grace is applied to our Lord (John 1:17), and to St. Stephen (Acts 6:8 both using the words πληρης χαριτος, different from that used by Luke), still we must bear in mind, so far as our Lord is concerned, there can be no parallelism, since the plenitude must be interpreted, having due regard to persons; and hence, in our Lord, the plenitude of grace was, as St. Bonaventure observes, the fulness of the great, inexhaustible fountain, plenitudo superabundantiæ, while in the Blessed Virgin was the fulness of the great river next the source or inexhaustible fountain, plenitudo prerogativæ, and in all the rest of men, a plenitudo sufficientiæ, the rivulets sharing it in a limited degree, sufficient to procure the salvation of them all. As regards St. Stephen, besides that the fulness of grace predicated of him only denotes the grace required for him as minister and witness of God, and in regard to her it denotes the abundance of grace required for her dignity of Mother of God, πληρης χαριτος is not applied to him as his peculiar designation, as κεχαριτωμενη, is to the Blessed Virgin. That the term, κεχαριτωμενη, is assertive of her present state of acceptableness, owing to the fulness of grace she possesses, and not precatory of good in regard to future favours, is clear from the Greek which is in the passive past tense, and refers to past occurrences, the effect of which remains to the present. In the present instance, there is no limit to the period past; and hence, it implies, that the Virgin was full of grace from the very first moment of her conception or existence. The words, full of grace then imply 1st, perfect exemption from all sin, original or actual, even the slightest, and all inclinations to sin, from all passions whatsoever leading to sin; 2ndly, the possession of all virtues, of all graces, in a degree so supereminent, that no virtue, no grace, no gift of the Holy Ghost was ever granted to any human being that she did not possess in an eminent degree, although the exercise of them might not always take place. So that every action of her life was virtuous, praiseworthy, and she attained eminence in grace and sanctity to such a degree as rendered her worthy to conceive in her sacred womb and receive within her, the source and fountain of all grace and sanctity, the eternal Son of God Himself (Lucas Brugensis, and Menochius). Suarez, quoted on this passage by Lapide, asserts, that at the first instant of her conception, the Blessed Virgin received a greater grace than was ever conferred on the highest angel, and owing to her perfect correspondence and faithful co-operation from her conception till the hour of her death, she acquired such degrees of grace and merit as exceeded that of all angels and men together, and God, therefore, loved the Blessed Virgin more than the entire Church, militant and triumphant, including men and angels.

The Lord is with thee. This was an ancient form of salutation in use among the Jews (Judges 6:13; Ruth 2:4). The words are understood by some commentators of the future abode of our Lord, in her chaste womb, in the mystery of the Incarnation, which it is clear from v. 31, did not yet take place. But taken in connexion with the context, and the words, full of grace, blessed art thou amongst women, which are in the present, the phrase must be understood of her present condition. They express the cause of her being full of grace. She was so, because the Lord was with her. These words imply a singular and special assistance on the part of God, which preserved her from all sin, filled her with all grace, and fitted her for the great end for which she was destined. The words, the Lord is with thee, and the like, both in the Old Testament and in the New, when uttered by God, or by one commissioned by Him, always denote a special assistance on the part of God, and His presence with, the person addressed, for the purpose of effectually accomplishing the end for which such assistance is given (see Murray, de Eccles. vol. i., 200-214).
Hence, as the end, for which, these graces were conferred on the Blessed Virgin, was the most exalted, that God ever accomplished, viz., the Incarnation of His Son, these graces, which thus fitted her and rendered her worthy, were the greatest ever conferred on any mere creature. The words, however, although denoting the present abundance of grace arising from God’s special favour and assistance, very likely, imply also God’s special future dwelling in her in His Incarnation, in view of which the present graces were so abundantly given, just as the following words, Blessed art thou amongst &c., although referring to the present, clearly have reference to the future Incarnation: for, it is with reference to it, St. Elizabeth addresses the Virgin in these identical words, after she had received the Son of God within her sacred womb (v. 42).

Blessed art thou among women. These words are omitted in some few MSS., the Vatican among the rest. But they are found in most MSS., and generally quoted by the early Fathers. Blessed by the Lord, who is with thee. This benediction is subjoined, as the effect of the Divine favour, and implies the amplest gifts and benefits bestowed on her by God at the present moment. It does not refer to the great respect and reverence which the Blessed Virgin was to receive from men in after ages. The form, benedicta tu, is, by a Hebrew usage, equivalent to, benedicta es. For, the Hebrews employed the demonstrative pronoun in place of the verb substantive of the present tense; and she was thus blessed at that moment in the singular graces she then possessed, that rendered her worthy to be the dwelling-place of the Son of God, and of the destination in store for her, to be immediately accomplished.

Among women. Above all other women. The comparison is not between her and the rest of mankind, but only between her and all other women. Hence our Lord is not included in the comparison. This benediction contains a tacit opposition to the curse pronounced against women in general (Genesis 3:16); and the special benediction, which distinguishes the Blessed Virgin from all other women, consists in her being a mother and a virgin at the same time; a virgin, whose great purity and humility attracted from heaven into her sacred womb, the God of all sanctity; the mother, of the Eternal Son of God. She has all the blessings, and none of the losses. She was blessed beyond virgins, widows, mothers; beyond virgins, who have the curse of sterility ; beyond widows, who while gaining the blessing of freedom of mind, suffer the loss of society, while she with the greatest freedom, enjoyed the society of her holy and chaste spouse Joseph; beyond mothers, who with the blessing of fecundity, suffer the loss of virginity. Mary had the one without losing the other. From v. 31, it is clear, the Incarnation had not yet taken place. Hence, the special blessedness here predicated of Mary, had reference to her future destination to become Mother of God, and to her having been so prepared by God with such an abundance of grace and the gifts of sanctity, as rendered her fit to become His dwelling-place, an incomparable blessing which was immediately to be conferred on her.

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St Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on John 19:25-27

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 8, 2012

25 But there were standing by the Cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.

This also the inspired Evangelist mentions to our profit, showing herein also, that none of the words of Holy Writ fall to the ground. What do I mean by this? I will tell you. He represents, as standing by the Cross, His mother, and with her the rest, clearly weeping. For women are ever prone to tears, and very much inclined to lament, especially when they have abundant occasion for shedding tears. What, then, induced the blessed Evangelist to go so much into detail, as to make mention of the women as staying beside the Cross? His object was to teach us that, as was likely, the unexpected fate of our Lord was an offence unto His mother, and that His exceeding bitter death upon the Cross almost banished from her heart due reflection; and, besides the insults of the Jews, and the soldiers also, who probably stayed by the Cross and derided Him Who hung thereon, and who presumed, in His mother’s very sight, to divide His garments among themselves, had this effect. For, doubtless, some such train of thought as this passed through her mind: “I conceived Him That is mocked upon the Cross. He said, indeed, that He was the true Son of Almighty God, but it may be that He was deceived; He may have erred when He said: I am the Life. How did His crucifixion come to pass?and how was He entangled in the snares of His murderers?How |633 was it that He did not prevail over the conspiracy of His persecutors against Him? And why does He not come down from the Cross, though He bade Lazarus return to life, and struck all Judaea with amazement by His miracles?” The woman, as is likely, not exactly understanding the mystery, wandered astray into some such train of thought; for we shall do well to remember, that the character of these events was such as to awe and subdue the most sober mind. And no marvel if a woman fell into such an error, when even Peter himself, the elect of the holy disciples, was once offended, when Christ in plain words instructed him that He would be betrayed unto the hands of sinners, and would undergo crucifixion and death, so that he impetuously exclaimed: Be it far from Thee, Lord; this shall never be unto Thee. What wonder, then, if a woman’s frail mind was also plunged into thoughts which betrayed weakness?And when we thus speak, we are not shooting at a venture, as some may suppose, but are led to suspect this by what is written concerning the mother of our Lord. For we remember that the righteous Simeon, when he received the infant Lord into his arms, after having blessed Him, and said: Now lettest Thou Thy servant depart, O Lord, according to Thy Word, in peace; for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, he also said to the holy Virgin herself: Behold, this Child is set for the falling and rising up of many in Israel; and for a sign which is spoken against; yea, and a sword shall pierce through thine own soul, that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed. By a sword he meant the keen pang of suffering, which would divide the mind of the woman into strange thoughts; for temptations prove the hearts of those who are tempted, and leave them bare of the thoughts that filled them. |634

26, 27 When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple standing by, whom He loved, He saith unto His mother, Woman, behold thy Son! Then saith He to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour the disciple took her unto his own home.

He took thought for His mother, paying no heed to His own bitter agony, for His sufferings affected Him not. He gave her into the charge of the beloved disciple (this was John, the writer of this book), and bade him take her home, and regard her as a mother; and enjoined His own mother to regard him as none other than her true son—-by his tenderness, that is, and affection, fulfilling and stepping into the place of Him, Who was her Son by nature.

But as some misguided men have thought that Christ, when He thus spake, gave way to mere fleshly affection —-away with such folly! to fall into so stupid an error is only worthy of a madman—-what good purpose, then, did Christ hereby fulfil?First, we reply, that He wished to confirm the command on which the Law lays so much stress. For what saith the Mosaic ordinance? Honour thy father and thy mother, that it may be well with thee. His commandment unto us did not cease with exhorting us to perform this duty, but threatened us with the extreme penalty of the Law, if we chose to disregard it, and has put sin against our parents after the flesh on a par with sin against God. For the Law which ordered that the blasphemer should undergo the sentence of death, saying: Let him that blasphemeth the Name of the Lord be put to death, also subjected to the same penalty the man who employs his licentious and unruly tongue against his parents: He that curseth father or mother shall surely be put to death. As, then, the Lawgiver hath ordained that we should pay such honour to our parents, surely it was right that the commandment thus proclaimed should be confirmed by the approval of the Saviour; and as the perfect form of every excellence and virtue through Him first came into the world, why should not this virtue be put on the same footing as the rest? For, surely, honour to parents is a |635 very precious kind of virtue. And how could we learn that we ought not to lightly regard love toward them,even when we are overwhelmed by a flood of intolerable calamities, save by the example of Christ first of all, and through Him? For best of all, surely, is he who is mindful of the holy commandments, and is not diverted from the pursuit of duty in stormy and troublous times, and not in peace and quietness alone.

Besides, also, was not the Lord, I say, right to take thought for His mother, when she had fallen on a rock of offence, and when her mind was in a turmoil of perplexity?For, as He was truly God, and looked into the motions of the heart, and knew its secrets, how could He fail to know the thoughts about His crucifixion, which were then throwing her into sore distress?Knowing, then, what was passing in her heart, He commended her to the disciple, the best of guides, who was able to explain fully and adequately the profound mystery. For wise and learned in the things of God was he who received and took her away gladly, to fulfil all the Saviour’s Will concerning her.

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Bishop MacEvily’s Commentary on Luke 1:41-50

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 11, 2012

Text in red are my additions.

Luk 1:41  And it came to pass that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost.

“And it came to pass.” The Evangelist uses theee words to convey that he
was about to relate something unusual and extraordinary.

“That when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary” &c. The effect caused by the Virgin’s salutation was twofold—the infant in his mother’s womb, and Elizabeth herself were filled with the Holy Ghost. ” She first heard the voice of the Virgin; but, the infant was the first to feel the grace; she heard in a natural way, he leaped with joy on account of the mystery; she perceived the arrival of Mary, he became sensible of the presence of the Lord ” (St. Ambrose). He was the more worthy, as being destined to be the precursor of the Son of God; and it was to him, as such, the voice of the Virgin was, by divine impulse, first and chiefly addressed. Now, was verified the promise of the Angel that “from his mother’s womb, he would be filled with the Holy Ghost” (v. 15), and through him his mother also was filled with the same Spirit. It is clear it is to the same Spirit, viz., Holy Ghost, reference is made in both places. Elizabeth herself attributes this, not to any natural cause, arising from advanced pregnancy; but, to the salutation of the Virgin, and this the Evangelist wishes to convey here. “When Elizabeth heard the salutation,” the effects described followed.

“The infant leaped” The Greek for “leap,” (σκιρτάω = skirtaō pronounced: skeer-tah’-o), means, to “bound,” as young animals do. But it is afterwards said, he did so “for joy.” (v. 44). Hence it is commonly held by the Fathers, that this was the effect of miraculous interposition, and not of natural excitement, since it is attributed solely to the salutation and voice of the Virgin- and also, that John was gifted with reason, at least in this passing away, although St. Augustine is of a contrary opinion, and says the effect was produced, “dicinitus in infante, non humanitus ab infante.” However, the former opinion is the more common, as “joy” supposes knowledge. Whether he continued to enjoy the use of reason during the remaining three months in his mother’s womb, and during his infancy, must be a mere conjectural matter, regarding which there is a great diversity of opinion. It is commonly held that the Baptist was, on this occasion, cleansed from original sin. The Evangelist carefully notes that the joyous greeting of the infant was prior to the effect it caused in Elizabeth, filling her with the Holy Ghost, which she would seem to have received out of the abundance divinely bestowed on her infant, the order of grace thus reversing the order of nature, in which it is the mother that imparts the vital spirit to the infant shut up in her womb; here, on the contrary, it was from the infant the spirit of grace was communicated to the mother.

“And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost.” The gifts of the Holy Ghost were now bestowed on her in greater abundance—”filled,” &c., )—and had the effect of bestowing on her a clear knowledge of the cause of the infant’s rejoicing and of the Mystery of the Incarnation. They conferred on her also supernatural knowledge (as Ven. Bede remarks, as well as St. Gregory, Hom. 1. in Ezechiel) in regard to the past, present and future—the past, “blessed art thou that hast believed”—evidently showing, she knew the words addressed to Mary by the Angel—the present, “the mother of my Lord,”’ &c. (v. 43), thus showing, she knew the Son of God was borne in Mary’s womb. She also knew the meaning of the exultation of the infant in her own womb; and the future, “those things shall be accomplished,” &c. (v. 45), predicting as certain the accomplishment in due time of the Angel’s promises.

Luk 1:42  And she cried out with a loud voice and said: Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.

“And she cried out with a loud voice,” &c, from the evident impulse and inspiration of the Holy Ghost, with whom she was filled; and from admiration of the wonderful mysteries revealed to her, owing to which she could not contain herself, even in the presence of the Son of God and His Blessed Mother, crying out with a loud voice, in the very words in which the Angel had before addressed the Blessed Virgin, from the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit, “who,” as St. Ambrose observes, “never forgets His own words “
(Lib. 2, in Lucam).

“Blessed art thou amongst women. “Blessed” by God, in His wonderful gifts. It does not refer to her future praises by men. ” Amongst,” &c.—before, or above, all other women, as you are virgin and mother at the same time—mother, not of a mere man, but mother of God. The pregnancy of the Virgin, at this early stage, could be known to Elizabeth only from the revelation of the Holy Ghost.

“And blessed is the fruit of thy womb.”   “And” has the force of the causal particle, because her blessedness arose from the great privilege of Divine maternity. ” The fruit of thy womb,” shows our Blessed Lord was really conceived and begotten of her, as mother. These words allude to the promise made to David regarding Him—”De fructu ventris tui ponam super sedem tuam” (Psalm 132:11); and she uses this form of expression rather than, Blessed is the Son you have conceived; because this Son was still in her womb. Mary is said to be blessed beyond all other women, but her Son is said to be “blessed” absolutely, without any comparison with others, as God, essentially so; as man, owing to the wonderful mystery of his Incarnation, wherein the human nature of our Lord was hypostatically united to the Person of the Divine Word. In these words is shown, that all the blessings conferred on the Virgin were traceable to her having been made Mother of God. From Him, all her blessedness flows. She was blessed and filled with grace in a limited degree, but He, superabundantly—”Of  His fulness we have all received” (John 1:6). “By a double miracle, the mothers prophesy by the spirit of their infants” (St. Ambrose).

Luk 1:43  And whence is this to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

“And whence is this to me?” &c. How could such wonderful felicity fall to the lot of one so unworthy of it? It is solely the effect of the Divine goodness and condescension. These words by no means argue ignorance on the part of Elizabeth, but only her great humility, and her admiration of the wonderful mystery wrought in Mary, and a deep sense of her unworthiness to be visited by one, who was exalted to the sublimest dignity of Mother of God.

“That the mother of my Lord” &c. That one so exalted “should come to me,” who am so unworthy of such a privilege.  “Of my Lord,” the “Word Incarnate now in her sacred womb. He had been, therefore, by this time united to the human nature. Hence, the Blessed Virgin has been properly called, Theoticos (Theotokos). These words of Elizabeth to Mary are very similar to those addressed by the son of Elizabeth to the Son of Mary (Matthew 3:14). By calling this infant, still shut in his mother’s womb, her “Lord,” Elizabeth plainly conveyed, that she regarded Him as the Eternal Son of God, as also did David, when he said, “The Lord said to my Lord ” which is applied by our Redeemer Himself to the Messiah (Matthew 22:44).

Luk 1:44  For behold as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.

From the exultation of the infant in her womb, the instant the voice of Mary reached her ears, even before she could grasp the meaning of her words, Elizabeth, enlightened by the grace of the Holy Ghost for this end, at once concludes, that the Virgin bore in her womb the Eternal Son of God, whose precursor saluted Him by anticipation from her own womb. While interiorly enlightening the mind of Elizabeth with His grace, which alone could give her the certain knowledge of the great event referred to, the Holy Ghost also wished to give an external corroborative sign, in the leaping of the infant in her womb, which, as Elizabeth conveys, resulted from the salutation of Mary, and was a certain sign of the presence of the Son of God.

Luk 1:45  And blessed art thou that hast believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord.

“Blessed art thou that believest.” Hence, unlike Zachary, who was punished for his hesitation and unbelief, with which the faith of Mary is here contrasted, Mary firmly believed all the Angel told her from the beginning. Elizabeth here attributes the blessings to be conferred on Mary to her faith, as the beginning and root of justification; but not to her faith only.

“Because those things shall be accomplished” &c. Some of the things promised her by the Angel were already accomplished. “Thou shalt conceive” &c. This portion was accomplished, as she had now conceived. ” He shall be great” &c. This and all the other privileges resulting from it shall be conferred in due time.

“Spoken to thee by the Lord,” viz., by the Angel on the part of the Lord, as already referred to in the salutation (vv. 31-33). It is held by some that the words, “because these things shall be accomplished,” &c, were the object of Mary’s faith, thus immediately connecting them with “believed”—she believed that they would be accomplished. Others, more probably, say that they are the cause of her blessedness. She was blessed on account of the things which she believed would surely happen. The analogy of ὅτι (hoti, pronounced: hot’-ee) favours this opinion (See Matthew 5:3-10; Luke 6:20-21). Note: ὅτι is translated in our text as “because”: because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord.

Luk 1:46  And Mary said: My soul doth magnify the Lord.

“And Mary said,” &c. Seeing the praises bestowed on her by the Angel, and the repetition of the same by Elizabeth, Mary, who was “full of grace,” and now bore in her sacred womb, the great fountain of all grace, of whom, therefore, it is not said, on the occasion of the following inspired Canticle, as was said of Elizabeth, that she “was filled with the Holy Ghost,” because utterly unnecessary, now, in the fulness of her humility, refers all she possessed, as was meet, to the proper source, Almighty God, from whom all she had was received. As if she said, Elizabeth, you praise me, you congratulate me on the wonderful things God has been pleased to do for me. But knowing, that of myself, I am and have nothing; that all these come to me from the infinite bounty of God; I do, therefore, in the fulness of truth, and with the deepest feelings of gratitude, extol His goodness and merciful bounty.

This Canticle, the first of the New Testament, and the most perfect ever composed or uttered, is not unlike that of Anna, the mother of Samuel, uttered under similar circumstances: “My heart hath rejoiced in the Lord, and my horn is exalted in my God,” &c. (1 Sam 2:1, &c.) It may be said to consist of three parts. In the first, from v. 46, to v. 50, the Virgin recounts the singular benefits conferred on herself, and blesses God for them, above all, for the conception of the Son of God in her womb. In the second part, vv. 50-54, she praises God for the blessings bestowed on the entire Jewish people, at all times, before the advent of the Son of God, making special allusion to the victories of God’s people over Pharaoh, and the Chanaanite nations. In the third part, vv. 54, 55, she refers again to the mystery of the Incarnation, promised of old to the Fathers.

“My soul,” that is, I myself. She prefers using the term, “my soul,” to convey that her praises, and the ardent expression of her gratitude, proceeded from her inmost soul, and all its faculties ; from feelings the most intense; from all her strength; from her whole intellect, memory, will; from all the spiritual faculties of her mind; from all the senses of her body; from her tongue, to speak of Him only; her hands, to work for Him only; her feet, to lead and conduct only to Him. In the same sense did David say (Psalm 103:1), “Benedic anima mea Domino, et omnia quae intra me sunt, nomini sancto ejus.” Some Commentators distinguish between soul (” anima mea”), and spirit (” spiritus meus”), next verse, as if the former referred to the inferior faculties of the soul, psyche; the latter, to the superior, pneuma a signification the words naturally bear (see 1 Cor 2:15, Commentary on). Others understand “soul,” other intellect; “spirit,” of her will. But, most likely, they both refer to the same thing, which is repeated in different words, in accordance with Hebrew usage. Hence, they both express the soul, with all its faculties. Nor is there any reason for saying of the “soul,” that it “magnifies,” and of the “spirit,” that it “exulteth,” since we find it said of the soul elsewhere, that it exulteth, “anima mea exultabit in Domino” (Psalm 35:9), and, “exultabit anima mea in Deo meo” (Isaiah 61:10). It may, however, be that the one refers to the inferior part of the soul, as it considers natural things; the other, to the superior part, as it considers things celestial and supernatural. “My heart and my flesh have rejoiced in the living God” (Psalm 84:2).

“Doth magnify” that is, proclaims His praises, extols His attributes, His sovereign majesty, magnificence, omnipotence, sanctity, wisdom, bounty, &c. As man cannot add to, or take away from, God’s greatness, all he can do is to proclaim His attributes to the world, just as His “Name is sanctified” by us; when, on the other hand, God magnifies man, He actually makes him great by bestowing on him honours, riches, extended rule, &c.

“The Lord.” The Holy Trinity, to whom alone all praise is due, as it is the Holy Trinity that confers all blessings in the order of nature and grace. The term, “Lord,” conveys the idea of His majesty and power. All that creatures, however exalted, whether on earth or in heaven, either possess, or expect to possess, whether gifts of nature, of grace, or of glory, are received. They come from God alone, from whose heavenly throne above every good gift descends on creatures (St. James 1:17).

Luk 1:47  And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

47. “Hath rejoiced,” from the very moment of the Incarnation, and still rejoices, or as the Greek word, ἀγαλλιάω (agalliaō = ag-al-lee-ah’-o), conveys, bounds, leaps with exultation, not as if my singular privileges came from myself, but from “God, my Saviour.” This is an illusion to Habacuc (Habakkuk) (Hab 3:18), “I will joy in God, my Jesus (i.e., Savior).” In the word “Lord” God is represented as exercising power, displaying majesty. Here the Virgin represents Him under a different aspect, as, bountiful, beneficent in bestowing the greatest blessings. He was the Saviour of all men; but, she exhibits Him as bestowing salvation on herself.

Luk 1:48  Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid: for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

“Because He hath regarded,” &c. Here the Virgin gives the reason of her rejoicing in her God and Saviour, because, He who is the most exalted, the Supreme, Sovereign Being, had, out of His infinite condescension, “regarded” looked upon her with feelings of infinite favour, bestowing upon her such an abundance of gifts, commencing with her Immaculate Conception, and ending with her final, triumphant assumption into glory, as rendered her singularly privileged far beyond the rest of creation, whether on earth or in heaven.

”The humility of His handmaid,” which means His most abject handmaid, whose lowly condition, compared with His exalted nature and lofty dominion, is incomparable (Note: my text at this point is garbled, “inomparable” is a guess on my part in light of the context). The word, “humility,” is understood by some, of the virtue of humility, for which the Virgin was greatly distinguished. But, although the Virgin excelled in humility, as opposed to pride, as she did in all other virtues; still, it is unlikely she would credit herself with humility, or make it the subject of boasting. Moreover, the Greek word ταπείνωσις (tapeinōsis = tap-i’-no-sis), means abjection, lowliness of condition. The Greek for humility as a virtue is, ταπεινοφροσύνη (tapeinophrosunē = tap-i-nof-ros-oo’-nay). Hence, the Blessed Virgin proclaims her humility not in words, as this might savour of pride; but in deed, by loudly proclaiming her abject unworthiness, which rendered her undeserving of the exalted dignity to which she was now raised by God. For, although she makes no express mention of it, she clearly implies the peculiar way in which God was pleased “to regard” her and exalt her to the sublime dignity of Mother of God. Though full of grace and merits, the Blessed Virgin might still in truth proclaim her unworthiness, looking to her own nature, looking merely to herself, without the grace of God, to which alone every thing good she possessed, was due; and also comparing herself, however exalted, with the supreme, uncreated Majesty of God.

“The humility of His handmaid” then means His most abject, unworthy, handmaid, as if “handmaid” did not of itself sufficiently express her lowliness of estate, imitating David, who says, he was not only “His servant, but the Son of His handmaid” (Psalm 116:7). She uses the word “humility,” to express still more, that she was His lowlv, humble handmaid. Similar is the form (Rev 17:11), “the condemnation of the harlot” meaning the condemned harlot.

“For behold from henceforth” &c. The Virgin here assigns the reason why she should regard herself as specially favoured by God, and raised from a vile, abject, lowly condition, to the most exalted dignity. From this day forward, to the end of time, not only the Angel Gabriel, not only Elizabeth, but all generations of men, Jew and Gentile, without exception or distinction, who are to believe in my Son, as the Eternal Son of the Eternal Father (for, it is of the generations of believers only she speaks) shall, on account of the great dignity of Mother of God bestowed on me, pronounce me “Blessed” shall treat me as such, shall honour me, and confidently have recourse to my powerful patronage in their necessities.

This inspired prophecy of the Blessed Virgin regarding the honour and reverence all generations of believers were to pay her as long as the Church lasts on earth, that is to say, to the final end of all things—”all generations”—has been verified from the beginning. Next to her Divine Son Jesus, the Blessed Virgin has been the most cherished and beloved object of Christian love and veneration. The honour and veneration paid to her—while infinitely below the cultus latriæ due to God, and to Him alone, as Sovereign Lord and Master—is still far superior to that shown to all the other saints. The worship paid to them is termed cultus duliæ—or the worship paid to the servants. Hers, hyper duliæ, a worship in degree far beyond that paid to

them, became proportioned to her exalted dignity of Mother of God, also to her transcendent merits, and to the singular graces bestowed upon her, which far exceeded those of all the angels and saints together. (see my note after next paragraph).

If, then, it be true, that all generations of believers, of whom alone there can
be question here, are to call her Blessed, and treat her as such,—and it must be so, unless the oracles of God are falsified—it follows, as a most necessary logical consequence, that those who dishonour her, who omit reverencing her, whose religious tenets teach them to undervalue her, and not proclaim her singularly “Blessed,” and deserving of the highest honour that can be paid to any creature, must not belong to the generation of believers—and almost all heretics, from the beginning, gloried in decrying the Mother of God. It also follows most logically, that every system of religious teaching must be false which does not enjoin on its followers to honour her,—and this is the leading distinguishing characteristic of all systems of religion outside the Catholic Church. Hence, we may infer that devotion to the Blessed Virgin is, at least, a clear, negative note or mark of God’s Church. Let those who fail to show the Blessed Virgin due honour and respect, tremble at this prophecy, emanating from the Spirit of God, which excludes them from the society of the faithful followers of Jesus Christ.

Note: Words worship or discrimination have a wide range of meaning in spite of how they are generally or popularly understood.  Some years ago the Pope condemned “unjust discrimination” against homosexual while maintaining certain justifiable ones.  The media went into a frenzy, asking how discrimination could be anything other than unjust.  They should have consulted a dictionary.  The basic meaning of discriminate is to make a distinction or judgment on the basis of facts or common sense.  To forbid a woman from working as a monitor in a boy’s locker room (or vice versa) is an act of discrimination, but not an unjust one.

Similarly, the word “worship” has a broad range of meaning.  The old English word from which it is derived, weorthscipe, simply means worthiness or respect and can be applied to what is owed to parents, rulers etc., or as synonymous with adoration owed to God.  It is precisely this ambiguity which necessitated the adoption of the Latin latiræ and duliæ (latria and dulia) to avoid confusion.  It should be noted that this same confusion exists in the Bible where the Hebrew שׁחה (shâchâh = shaw-khaw’) and its Greek equivalent προσκυνέω (proskuneō = pros-koo-neh’-o) can be used with a wide range of meaning.  Thus in 1 Sam 24:8 one would do well if writing in Latin to translate as follows: And David also rose up after him: and going out of the cave, cried after Saul, saying: “My lord the king. And Saul looked behind him: and David bowing himself down to the ground, duliæ (i.e, worshiped)”.  This is to show the worhiness or respect one is due because of his office is from God.  Psalm 5:7 (5:8 in some bibles) would be translated: “But as for me in the multitude of thy mercy, I will come into thy house; I will  latriæ (worship) towards thy holy temple, in thy fear.”  Here latriæ, as opposed to duliæ, indicates divine honor or adoration due to God alone.

Luk 1:49  Because he that is mighty hath done great things to me: and holy is his name.

“He that is mighty.” The Greek δυνατός (dunatos = doo-nat-os) means, the Mighty One, the Almighty, “hath done great things in me.” Most Greek copies for “great,” have μεγαλεῖος (megaleios = meg-al-i’-os), wonderful, ineffable things. She refers to the great and ineffable blessings, the abundant fulness of grace conferred on her, but especially to the crowning favour, the highest of all, in being raised to the singularly exalted dignity of Mother of God. In this, the Virgin assigns the cause, why she is to be proclaimed “Blessed,” honoured, revered, invoked by all generations, to the end of time. The Virgin chiefly refers to the dignity, lately conferred on her, of bearing in her chaste womb the Son of God. But this, although known to Elizabeth, as it was to be hereafter known to all the faithful followers of her Son, and celebrated by them, was too ineffable for her to give expression to it, in the fulness of her humility and virginal modesty, thus, in a certain sense, verifying the words, “generationem ejus qui– enarrabit “? (Isaiah 53:88).

“And holy is His name.” The name of God is the same as God Himself. One of His attributes is essential holiness. This is what the angelic song unceasingly celebrates: “Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God of hosts” (Isaiah 6:3). Everywhere the Scriptures proclaim Him as ” the Holy One of Israel.” Hence, our Lord teaches us always to pray,”Hallowed be Thy name” (Matthew 6:9, see Commentary on). The Blessed Virgin, after referring to the power of God displayed in the great work of the Incarnation and the conception of our Lord in her chaste womb—hence, calling Him “Lord” “Who is Mighty”—now refers to His great sanctity displayed in connection with the same great work. Everything in it was pure and holy—the conception from the Holy Ghost, the conception of a pure virgin, “full of grace? sanctified and free from all sin, by His grace. She, therefore, calls Him, “God, her Saviour.” As it was a work of power, that the Son of God should become man, conceived in the chaste womb of a virgin, so it was also a work of sanctity to prepare the Virgin for so great an event, and render her pure and undefiled. Therefore, as the Virgin knew, she was to be pronounced “Blessed” by “all (future) generations,” both on account of the conception of the Son of God, and her own sanctity, she wishes to have all referred to the power and sanctity of God, or, as it may rather be said, that, as the Incarnation of the Son of God and the preparation of the Virgin were both the work of God’s power, sanctity, and mercy, the Virgin extols His power, sanctity, and mercy (v. 50) in reference to both effects.

“And holy” &c. “And” means, because. It is because He is uncreated, essential holiness, He brought about such a wonderful effect of holiness, as that His Son—”the Saint of saints” (Daniel 9:24)—should be conceived in my womb, whom He preserved by His grace from all sin and defilement.

Luk 1:50  And his mercy is from generation unto generations, to them that fear him.

This is the second part of the Canticle, wherein the Virgin, after extolling God’s wonderful goodness and mercy towards herself, extols His goodness towards the entire world. “And is from generation” &c. She extols His great “mercy” that is, goodness, beneficence, liberality, manifested not alone in favour of her, but at all times, and to all persons, particularly towards those who “fear” and obey Him. The Greek for “from generation unto generation.” is, “unto generations and generations;” that is, countless generations of men at all times. He has displayed in my regard, the boundless mercy exhibited in times past to our fathers, and He ceases not to manifest it at all times, present and future as well.

“To them that fear Him.” Fear of God, which is ” the beginning of wisdom” is naturally inspired by His Holy name, which is also “terrible.’” This fear implies obedience, or the observance of His Commandments. Although “God’s mercy is over all His works,” and is extended even to those who show no reverence for Him; still, it is, in a special manner and effectually, displayed in saving and remunerating in the end, those who obey Him; since, obstinate unbelievers and prevaricators shut against themselves the gate of mercy, which they scorn to enter. The words of this verse are almost identical with those of David (Psalm 103:17), “And the mercy of the Lord from eternity unto eternity upon them that fear Him.”

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Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 1:39-50

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 11, 2012

Ver 39. And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda;40. And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth.41. And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:42. And she spoke out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.43. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?44. For, lo, as soon as the voice of your salutation sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.45. And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.

AMBROSE; The Angel, when he announced the hidden mysteries to the Virgin, that he might build up her faith by an example, related to her the conception of a barren woman. When Mary heard it, it was not that she disbelieved the oracle, or was uncertain about the messenger, or doubtful of the example, but rejoicing in the fulfillment of her wish, and conscientious in the observance of her duty, she gladly went forth into the hill country. For what could Mary now, filled with God, but ascend into the higher parts with haste!

ORIGEN; For Jesus who was in her womb hastened to sanctify John, still in the womb of his mother. Whence it follows, with haste.

AMBROSE; The grace of the Holy Spirit knows not of slow workings. Learn, you virgins, not to loiter in the streets, nor mix in public talk.

THEOPHYL. She went into the mountains, because Zacharias dwelt there. As it follows, To a city of Juda, and entered into the house of Zacharias. Learn, O holy women, the attention which you ought to show for your kinswomen with child. For Mary, who before dwelt alone in the secret of her chamber, neither virgin modesty caused to shrink from the public gaze, nor the rugged mountains from pursuing her purpose, nor the tediousness of the journey from performing her duty. Learn also, O virgins, the lowliness of Mary.

She came a kinswoman to her next of kin, the younger to the elder, nor did she merely come to her, but was the first to give her salutations; as it follows, And she saluted, Elisabeth. For the more chaste a virgin is, the more humble she should be, and ready to give way to her elders. Let her then be the mistress of humility, in whom is the profession of chastity. Mary is also a cause of piety, in that the higher went to the lower, that the lower might be assisted, Mary to Elisabeth, Christ to John.

CHRYS. Or else the Virgin kept to herself all those things which have been said, not revealing them to any one, for she did not believe that any credit would be given to her wonderful story; nay, she rather thought she would suffer reproach if she told it, as if wishing to screen her own guilt.

GREEK EX. But to Elisabeth alone she has recourse, as she was wont to do from their relationship, and other close bonds of union.

AMBROSE; But soon the blessed fruits of Mary’s coming and our Lord’s presence are made evident. For it follows, And it came to pass, that when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb. Mark the distinction and propriety of each word. Elisabeth first heard the word, but John first experienced the grace. She heard by the order of nature, he leaped by reason of the mystery. She perceived the coming of Mary, he the coming of the Lord.

GREEK EX. For the Prophet sees and hears more acutely than his mother, and salutes the chief of Prophets; but as he could not do this in words, he leaps in the womb, which was the greatest token of his joy. Who ever heard of leaping at a time previous to birth? Grace introduced things to which nature was a stranger. Shut up in the womb, the soldier acknowledged his Lord and King soon to be born, the womb’s covering being no obstacle to the mystical sight.

ORIGEN; He was not filled with the Spirit, until she stood near him who bore Christ in her womb. Then indeed he was both filled with the Spirit, and leaping imparted the grace to his mother; as it follows, And Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. But we cannot doubt that she who w as then filled with the Holy Spirit, was filled because of her son.

AMBROSE; She who had hid herself because she conceived a son, began to glory that she carried in her womb a prophet, and she who had before blushed, now gives her blessing; as it follows, And she spoke out with a loud voice, Blessed are you among women. With a loud voice she exclaimed when she perceived the Lord’s coming, for she believed it to be a holy birth. But she says, Blessed are you among women. For none was ever partaker of such grace or could be, since of the one Divine seed, there is one only parent.

THEOPHYL; Mary is blessed by Elisabeth with the same words as before by Gabriel, to show that she was to be reverenced both by men and angels.

THEOPHYL. But because there have been other holy women who yet have borne sons stained with sin, she adds, And blessed is the fruit of your womb. Or another interpretation is, having said, Blessed are you among women, she then, as if some one inquired the cause, answers, And blessed is the fruit of your womb: as it is said, Blessed be he that comes in the name of the Lord. The Lord God, and he has shown us light; for the Holy Scriptures often use and, instead of because.

TIT. BOS. Now she rightly calls the Lord the fruit of the virgin’s womb, because He proceeded not from man, but from Mary alone. For they who are sown by their fathers are the fruits of their fathers.

GREEK EX. This fruit alone then is blessed, because it is; produced without man, and without sin.

THEOPHYL; This is the fruit which is promised to David, Of the fruit of your body will I set upon your throne. From this place we derive the refutation of Eutyches, in that Christ is stated to be the fruit of the womb. For all fruit is of the same nature with the tree that bears it. It remains then that the virgin was also of the same nature with the second Adam, who takes away the sins of the world. But let those also who invent curious fictions concerning the flesh of Christ, blush when they hear of the real child-bearing of the mother of God. For the fruit itself proceeds from the very substance of the tree. Where too are those who say that Christ passed through the virgin as water through an aqueduct? Let these consider the words of Elisabeth who was filled with the Spirit, that Christ was the fruit of the womb. It follows, And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

AMBROSE; She says it not ignorantly, for she knew it was by the grace and operation of the Holy Spirit that the mother of the prophet should be saluted by the mother of his Lord, to the advancement and growth of her own pledge; but being aware that this was of no human deserving, but a gift of Divine grace, she therefore says, Whence is this to me, that is, By what right of mine, by what that I have done, for what good deeds?

ORIGEN; Now in saying this, she coincides with her son. For John also felt that he was unworthy of our Lord’s coming to him. But she gives the name of “the mother of our Lord” to one still a virgin, thus forestalling the event by the words of prophecy. Divine foreknowledge brought Mary to Elisabeth, that the testimony of John might reach the Lord. For from that time Christ ordained John to be a prophet. Hence it follows, For, lo, as soon as the voice of your salutation sounded, &c.

AUG. But in order to say this, as the Evangelist has premised, she was filled with the Holy Spirit, by whose revelation undoubtedly she knew what that leaping of the child meant; namely, that the mother of Him had come to her, whose forerunner and herald that child was to be. Such then might be the meaning of so great an event; to be known indeed by grown up persons, but not understood by a little child; for she said not, “The babe leaped in faith in my womb,” but leaped for joy. Now we see not only children leaping for joy, but even the cattle; not surely from any faith or religious feeling, or any rational knowledge. But this joy was strange and unwonted, for it was in the womb; and at the coming of her who was to bring forth the Savior of the world. This joy, therefore, and as it were reciprocal salutation to the mother of the Lord, was caused (as miracles are) by Divine influences in the child, not in any human way by him. For even supposing the exercise of reason and the will had been so far advanced in that child, as that he should be able in the bowels of his mother to know, believe, and assent; yet surely that must be placed among the miracles of Divine power, not referred to human examples.

THEOPHYL. The mother of our Lord had come to see Elisabeth, as also the miraculous conception, from which the Angel had told her should result the belief of a far greater conception, to happen to herself; and to this belief the words of Elisabeth refer, And blessed are you who have believed, for there shall be a performance of those things which were told you from the Lord.

AMBROSE; You see that Mary doubted not but believed, and therefore the fruit of faith followed.

THEOPHYL; Nor is it to be wondered at, that our Lord, about to redeem the world, commenced His mighty works with His mother, that she, through whom the salvation of all men was prepared, should herself be the first to reap the fruit of salvation from her pledge.

AMBROSE; But happy are you also who have heard and believed, for whatever soul has believed, both conceives and brings forth the word of God, and knows His works.

THEOPHYL; But every soul which has conceived the word of God in the heart, straightway climbs the lofty summits of the virtues by the stairs of love, so as to be able to enter into the city of Juda, (into the citadel of prayer and praise, and abide as it were for three months in it,) to the perfection of faith, hope, and charity.

GREG. She was touched with the spirit of prophecy at once, both as to the past, present, and future. She knew that Mary had believed the promises of the Angel; she perceived when she gave her the name of mother, that Mary was carrying in her womb the Redeemer of mankind; and when she foretold that all things would be accomplished, she saw also what was as to follow in the future.

Ver 46. And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord.

AMBROSE; As evil came into the world by a woman, so also is good introduced by women; and so it seems not without meaning, that both Elisabeth prophesies before John, and Mary before the birth of the Lord. But it follows, that as Mary was the greater person, so she uttered the fuller prophecy.

BASIL; For the Virgin, with lofty thoughts and deep penetration, contemplates the boundless mystery, the further she advances, magnifying God; And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord.

GREEK EX. As if she said, Marvelous things has the Lord declared that He will accomplish in my body, but neither shall my soul be unfruitful before God. It becomes me to offer Him the fruit also of my will, for inasmuch as I am obedient to a mighty miracle, am I bound to glorify Him who performs His mighty works in me.

ORIGEN; Now if the Lord could neither receive increase or decrease, what is this that Mary speaks of, My soul doth magnify the Lord? But if I consider that the Lord our Savior is the image of the invisible God, and that the soul is created according to His image, so as to be an image of an image, then I shall see plainly, that as after the manner of those who are accustomed to paint images, each one of us forming his soul after the image of Christ, makes it great or little, base or noble, after the likeness of the original so when I have made my soul great in thought, word, and deed, the image of God is made great, and the Lord Himself whose image it is, is magnified in my soul.

Ver  47. And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.

BASIL; The first-fruit of the Spirit is peace and joy. Because then the holy Virgin had drunk in all the graces of the Spirit, she rightly adds, And my spirit has leaped for joy. She means the same thing, soul and spirit. But the frequent mention of leaping for joy in the Scriptures implies a certain bright and cheerful state of mind in those who are worthy. Hence the Virgin exults in the Lord with an unspeakable springing (and bounding) of the heart for joy, and in the breaking forth into utterance of a noble affection It follows, in God my Savior.

THEOPHYL; Because the spirit of the Virgin rejoices in the eternal Godhead of the same Jesus (i.e. the Savior,) whose flesh is formed in the womb by a temporal conception.

AMBROSE; The soul of Mary therefore magnifies the Lord, and her spirit rejoiced in God, because with soul and spirit devoted to the Father and the Son, she worships with a pious affection the one God from whom are all things. But let every one have the spirit of Mary, so that he may rejoice in the Lord. If according to the flesh there is one mother of Christ, yet, according to faith, Christ is the fruit of all. For every soul receives the word of God if only he be unspotted and free from sin, and preserves it with unsullied purity.

THEOPHYL. But he magnifies God who worthily follows Christ, and now that he is called Christian, lessens not the glory of Christ by acting unworthily, but does great and heavenly things; and then the Spirit (that is, the anointing of the Spirit) shall rejoice, (i.e. make him to prosper,) and shall not be withdrawn, so to say, and put to death.

BASIL; But if at any time light shall have crept into his heart, and loving God and despising bodily things he shall have gained the perfect standing of the just, without any difficulty shall he obtain joy in the Lord.

ORIGEN; But the soul first magnifies the Lord, that it may afterwards rejoice in God; for unless we have first believed, we can not rejoice.

Ver  48. For he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

GREEK EX. She gives the reason why it becomes her to magnify God and to rejoice in Him, saying, For he has regarded the lowliness of his handmaiden; as if she said, “He Himself foresaw, therefore I did not look for Him.” I was content with things lowly, but now am I chosen to counsels unspeakable, and raised up from the earth to the stars.AUG. O true lowliness, which has borne God to men, has given life to mortals, made new heavens and a pure earth, opened the gates of Paradise, and set free the souls of men. The lowliness of Mary was made the heavenly ladder, by which God descended upon earth. For whet does regarded mean but “approved;” For many seem in my sight to be lowly, but their lowliness is not regarded by the Lord. For if they were truly lowly, their spirit would rejoice not in the world, but in God.

ORIGEN; But why was she lowly and cast down, who carried in her womb the Son of God? Consider that lowliness which in the Scriptures is particularly praised as one of the virtues, so called by the philosophers “modestia.” And we also may paraphrase it, that state of mind in which a man instead of being puffed up, casts himself down.

THEOPHYL, But she, whose humility is regarded, is rightly called blessed by all; as it follows, For, behold, from henceforth all shall call me blessed. ATHAN. For if as the Prophet says, Blessed are they who have seed in Sion, and kinsfolk in Jerusalem, how great should be the celebration of the divine and ever holy Virgin Mary, who was made according to the flesh, the Mother of the Word?

GREEK EX. She does not call herself blessed from vain glory, for what room is there for pride in her who named herself the handmaid of the Lord? But, touched by the Holy Spirit, she foretold those things which were to come.

THEOPHYL, For it was fitting, that as by the pride of our first parent death came into the world, so by the lowliness of Mary should be opened the entrance into life.

THEOPHYL. And therefore she says, all generations, not only Elisabeth, but also every nation that believed.

Ver 49. For he that is mighty has done to me great things; and holy is his name.

THEOPHYL. The Virgin shows that not for her own virtue is she to be pronounced blessed, but she assigns the cause saying, For he that is mighty has magnified me.

AUG. What great things has He done to you; I believe that a creature you gave birth to the Creator, servant you brought forth the Lord, that through you God redeemed the world, through you He restored it to life.

TITUS BOS. But where are the great things, if they be not that I still a virgin conceive (by the will of God) overcoming nature. I have been accounted worthy, without being joined to a husband, to be made a mother, not a mother of any one, but of the only-begotten Savior.

THEOPHYL; But this has reference to the beginning of the hymn, where it is said, My soul doth magnify the Lord. For that soul can alone magnify the Lord with due praise, for whom he deigns to do mighty things.

TITUS BOS; But she says, that is mighty, that if men should disbelieve the work of her conception, namely, that while yet a virgin, she conceived, she might throw back the miracles upon the power of the Worker. Nor because the only-begotten Son has come to a woman is He thereby defiled, for holy is his name.

BASIL. But holy is the name of God called, not because in its letters it contains any significant power, but because in whatever way we look at God we distinguish his purity and holiness.

THEOPHYL; For in the height of His marvelous power He is far beyond every creature, and is widely removed from all the works of His hands. This is better understood in the Greek tongue, in which the very word which means holy, signifies as it were to be “apart from the earth.”

Ver 50. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.

THEOPHYL; Turning from God’s special gifts to His general dealings, she describes the condition of the whole hole human race, And his mercy is from generation to generation on them that fear him. As if she said, Not only for me has He that is mighty done great things, but in every nation he that fears God is accepted by Him.

ORIGEN; For the mercy of God is not upon one generation, but extends to eternity from generation to generation.

GREEK EX. According to the mercy which He has upon generations of generations, I conceive, and He Himself is united to a living body, out of mercy alone undertaking our salvation. Nor is His mercy shown indiscriminately, but upon those who are constrained by the fear of Him in every nation; as it is said, upon those who fear him, that is, upon those who being brought by repentance are turned to faith and renewal for the obstinate unbelievers have by their sin shut against themselves the gate of mercy.

THEOPHYL. Or by this she means that they who fear shall obtain mercy, both in that generation, (that is, the present world,) and the generation which is to come, (i.e. the life everlasting.) For now they receive a hundred-fold, but hereafter far more.

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Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Luke 1:41-50

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 11, 2012

Luk 1:41  And it came to pass that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost.

And it came to Pass when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, &c. Notice with S. Ambrose, that Elizabeth was the first to hear the salutation of Mary but John was the first to perceive the spirit and effect of her salutation; for to him, as the future forerunner of Christ, this salutation of the Virgin, yea, even of Christ, was chiefly directed. Theophylact says, “The voice of the Virgin was the voice of God incarnate in her.”

It is a question here whether the leaping of John for joy (Vulgate exultavit, Greek έσκίζτησε) was a natural or rational movement. Calvin thinks that it was only a natural one; but all the Fathers and Orthodox Doctors are of a contrary opinion. Origen says, “Then first Jesus made His forerunner a prophet,” and Irenæus (lib. 3 c. 18) says, “He recognised the Lord in the womb, and leaping for joy saluted Him.” And S. Gregory (lib. 3 Moral. c. 5). “In his mother’s womb he was filled with the spirit of prophecy.” So a1so S. Cyril, S. Ambrose, S. Chrysostom. All these maintain that this leaping of John was not only supernatural, but showed an active use of reason, and proceeded from true joyfulness of mind; and this is clear from the words of Elizabeth; The infant in my womb leaped for joy.

Secondly, this is clear, likewise, from the circumstance that John communicated his joy to his mother.

Thirdly, because in like manner the Blessed Virgin rejoiced when she sang the Magnificat, therefore also John rejoiced, who was the chief end and object of the visitation of the Blessed Virgin and of all these wonders.

John at this time received the gift of prophecy, as the Fathers already quoted show. He likewise received the extraordinary gifts which befitted the future forerunner of Christ. For this had been predicted by the angel when he said, “he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother’s womb.” In John, therefore, that saying of S. Chrysostom (Hom. 30) is true, “his leaping was a sign of perfect soundness;” and also, of sanctity.

Hence some think that John was free from sinful desire, and never committed venial sin; but this privilege seems to have been peculiar to the Blessed Virgin, to whom John was inferior. He had, therefore, sinful desire, and did commit venial sin, falling into it unawares, but perhaps, never deliberately. For it is a rule of S. Augustine and of theologians, that whoever has or has had original sin, has also sinful desire, and consequently commits venial sin; but John had original sin, therefore he must have committed venial sin.

Learn, morally, of what advantage the salutation and prayers of the Saints are, and especially of the Blessed Virgin, who by one word of salutation filled both John and Elizabeth with the Holy Spirit. “Not only the words, but the very aspect of the Saints is full of spiritual grace,” says S. Chrysostom. For the Saints, and above all the Blessed Virgin, are full of the fiery spirit of love. Wherefore he who strives to make other men spiritual should first fill himself with the Divine Spirit; for thus when he speaks he will breathe the same forth upon others, for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. God also uses such men as suitable instruments united to Himself. For He is a most pure and powerful spirit; wherefore He accomplishes mighty spiritual results by means of spiritual men full of zeal, as being like Himself

And Elizabeth was filled, &c. She who was before just and holy (verse 6) is now made much more just and holy, and besides received the gift of prophecy. Moreover John, as I said, was first filled with the Spirit, and then filled his mother also with the same; because by his own holiness, merits, and prayers, he obtained for his mother that she should be filled with the Holy Spirit, of which he was himself full. So S. Ambrose says, “Elizabeth first heard the word, but John first experienced the grace. The mother was not filled before the son, but when the son had been filled with the Holy Spirit, he filled the mother also.”

Luk 1:42  And she cried out with a loud voice and said: Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.

And she cried out with a loud vote and said, Blessed art thou among women. Thou art most blessed of all women because thou hast been chosen to be the Mother of God Whom the whole world cannot receive.

Blessed is the fruit of thy womb. The fountain of all the blessings and graces bestowed upon the Blessed Virgin by God was to be the mother of God; for God adorned His mother with every grace in order that she might become an habitation worthy of Him, even that she might be worthy to become the Mother of God, and whom would such a Son bless rather than His mother. Elizabeth therefore, by the inspiration of the Spirit knew that Mary had already conceived, and that the Son of God was incarnate in her. And “He is Blessed, not only as thou art, among women, but, absolutely, above angels, men, and all creatures, as being the Creator and Lord of all. Again the rest of the sons of Eve are all under a curse, because they contract original sin from her and from Adam. Christ alone is Blessed because He is not the natural son of Adam, but was supernaturally conceived in the Virgin by the Holy Ghost.”

She alludes to the prophecy and promise made to David, of the fruit of thy womb I will set upon thy throne, Psa 132:11.

Luk 1:43  And whence is this to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

And whence is this to me, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me? These are words of the greatest humility and reverence; John imitated his mother, saying when Christ came to be baptized of him, “I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest thou to me?”

Lord, that is God, Who is called absolutely the Lord, because He is King of kings and Lord of lords. Hence it is clear—1. That the humanity of Christ was already in Christ endowed with life and united to the Word or Son of God. 2. That the Blessed Virgin is rightly called θεότοκος, i.e., Mother of God and not only χζιστότοκος, Mother of Christ, as Nestorius maintained. 3. That in Christ there are two natures, the human, for this alone could He take of His Virgin Mother; and the Divine, which the Father alone communicated to Him; but one Person, not human, but Divine. For if in Christ there had been two persons, as there are two natures, God could not properly be said to have been born of a Virgin, to have suffered and been crucified, but another person, that is to say, a man, or the person of a man; but now it is properly so said, because there is one person in Christ; which is the reason why the attributes of the one nature may be ascribed in the concrete to the other, so that this man, Jesus, may properly be called God, eternal and Almighty; and on the other hand, God in Him may properly be called man, passible and mortal, yea, He may even be said to have suffered and died; because it is the same Person, which on account of the two natures which It has, is at the same time God and man, and accordingly assumes to Itself the actions and attributes both of God and man. For action belongs to persons; and this sole (divine) Person in Christ is signified alike by the word man, or Jesus, and by the word God or Son of God. Wherefore what is truly said of one is also truly said of the other.

Luk 1:44  For behold as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.

Symbolically, the leaping of John prefigured his own martyrdom; for by his dancing he represented the dancing of the daughter of Herodias, by which having pleased Herod, she asked and obtained of him the head of John.

Luk 1:45  And blessed art thou that hast believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord.

Blessed, &c. Elizabeth, therefore, knew by the Holy Spirit that the Blessed Virgin had believed the angel when he announced the conception and nativity of Christ. “Blessed art thou, both in fact because thou already bearest Christ within thee, and also in hope, because thou shalt bring forth Him Who will make thee and all who believe in Him blessed in heaven: Blessed therefore art thou before God and men.” Elizabeth silently censures the unbelief of her own husband.

Luk 1:46  And Mary said: My soul doth magnify the Lord.

And Mary said, My soul, &c. Fitly does Mary make answer to the praises of herself celebrated by Elizabeth, by referring them to their fountain, i.e. to God. S. Bernard (Serm. in Rev 12) says, “Truly this is a song of high praise, but also of devout humility which suffers her not to retain anything for herself, but gives all back rather to Him Whose blessings bestowed upon herself she was celebrating. Thou, she says, magnifiest the Mother of the Lord, but my soul doth magnify the Lord. Thou declarest that thy son leaped for joy at my voice, but my spirit has rejoiced in God my Saviour. He rejoices as the friend of the bridegroom at the voice of the bridegroom. Thou sayest she is blessed which believed, but the cause of faith and blessedness is the regard of the Celestial Goodness, so that on this account the rather all generations will call me Blessed, because God hath regarded the low estate of his handmaid.”  S. Bernard then shows that the Blessed Virgin, though she was most humble, yet in the faith of the promise made by the angel she was lifted high in soul, so that she doubted not that she was elected to so great a mystery, but believed that she would soon be the true Mother of God and man; for the grace of God so works in His elect, “that neither does humility make them feeble spirited, nor does exaltation of soul make them proud.” God magnifies man in one way, and man magnifies God in another. God magnifies a man when He heaps upon him riches and honours, graces and gifts, and raises him above others; but man cannot magnify God in this way, for he cannot add anything to Him either great or small. He is said therefore to magnify God when he proclaims His greatness, i.e. His majesty, almighty power, holiness, wisdom, &c., The meaning of the Blessed Virgin’s words therefore is, Thou, 0 Elizabeth, magnifiest me in honouring me with the magnificent title of Mother of God, but I magnify God Who has made me great, in giving me so great a Son, Who is God Himself, and has thought fit to bring to pass in me the great mystery of the Incarnation of the Word.

The Incarnation of the Word was the greatest of all the works of God. 1. It was a work of the highest power, to unite heaven to earth, God to man; 2. of the highest goodness, by which God communicated Himself wholly to man; 3. of the highest wisdom, by which He effected this union in a Divine Person, so that the integrity of each nature, the human and the divine, was preserved to it.

With this, therefore, begins the song of the Blessed Virgin, which of all the songs of Holy Scripture, of Moses, Deborah, &c., is the most excellent, as being the most full of the Divine Spirit and exultation. The Church, accordingly, uses it daily in the Office of Vespers, in order that she may by it, in the highest manner, celebrate the glories and praises of God, and render the highest thanks to Him for the Incarnation of the Word and His other gifts, and that she may drink in the same affections of devotion, piety, love, and exultation that in uttering it the Blessed Virgin drank in from heaven.

There are three parts in this song. In the first (verse 46-50), the Blessed Virgin praises God for the peculiar blessings bestowed upon herself by God, especially for the conception of the Word. In the second (verse 50-54), she praises Him for the common blessings bestowed upon His whole people before the coming of Christ. In the third (verse 54 to the end), she returns to this greatest blessing of the Incarnation of the Word which had been promised to the fathers, and made known to herself.

My soul. My soul. Not only my tongue, nor my hand only, but my soul itself with all its power magnifies God. From the inmost recesses of my soul, with all the powers of my mind, I praise and glorify God; I employ and entirely devote all the strength of my soul in His praise; so that my understanding contemplates Him alone, my will loves and celebrates no being but Him, my memory dwells upon nothing but Him, my mouth speaks of and celebrates nothing but Him, my hand performs only those things which tend to His service, my feet move forwards only to those things which tend to His glory.

Symbolically, Toletus says, The Blessed Virgin rightly says my souls. Because she alone had her soul in her own power, and was mistress over it, because she possessed it in patience, having dominion over all its affections and passions. But we do not possess our souls, because we are ourselves possessed by anger, pride, concupiscence or some other like passion. 2. Because she had wholly delivered up her soul to her Son; and those things which belonged to her Son were hers also. Whence her soul having been delivered up to her Son returned entirely to her own power, and she truly calls it my soul. 3. On account of her loving affection for it; for the more any one loves God, the more he loves his own soul. Since, therefore, the Blessed Virgin loved God chiefly above all men, and had never committed any sin, she loved her own soul very greatly. And that which we love, on account of our love for it we call our own. She therefore who so loved her own soul, truly called it her own.

Luk 1:47  And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

And my spirit hath rejoiced. Exultavit. The Blessed Virgin, admiring the divine power, holiness, justice, benignity of the Spirit of God incarnate in her, exults and leaps and sings for joy. Euthymius (in Ps. 9) says, “Exultation is, as it were, an intensified joy, which causes the heart to leap up vehemently with excess of joy, and to be raised on high.” Cajetan also says, “Exultation is an overflowing joy, which breaks forth, modestly however and seriously, in the external signs of gesticulation, singing and jubilation.”

There is an allusion here to Isaiah lxi. 10, I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, and my soul shall be joyful in my God; and still more to the words of Anna, 1Sam 2:1., My heart has rejoiced in the Lord, &c., for as Anna, who was barren, rejoiced in conceiving Samuel by the miraculous help of God, so the Blessed Virgin rejoiced in conceiving Emmanuel (of whom Samuel was a type) by the power of the Holy Spirit.

S. Augustine, writing on the Magnificat, shows that the Virgin here does two things: first, she praises the goodness and mercy of God, as in the preceding verse she had praised His power and majesty; secondly, she pours forth the expression of the sweetness and delight which she had received in the conception of her Son; and in this he says that the Mother of God imitated the angels, who in heaven perform these two things, viz., meditate on the incomprehensible majesty of God, and enjoy His ineffable goodness and sweetness; and they so admire them as to rejoice in and love them. His words are, “Thou hast seen His majesty, thou hast tasted His sweetness; therefore that which thou hast received inwardly, thou hast poured forth abroad, and thou hast rejoiced in His justice. My spirit hath rejoiced; the soul magnifies; the spirit rejoices. In God my Saviour: the word God, denotes His power; the word Saviour (or salvation) denotes His mercy. For these are two things Which the spirits of angels and saints in that fountain of good drink in by eternal contemplation; viz., the incomprehensible Majesty of God, and His ineffable goodness; the one of which produces a sacred fear, and the other love; they venerate God for His majesty; they love Him for His goodness; so that love being joined with reverential, fear may not be lost, and fear being joined with love may not have torment.”

Lastly, as in the conception of the Word the very highest of blessings was bestowed upon the Virgin, so she experienced the very highest exaltation on account of it, so that her spirit seemed to leap forth for joy from her body, and to hasten forth towards God; and perhaps it would have done so, had not God by His power kept it in her body. For when she died several years after, she died not of sickness, but of love, joy, and the desire of seeing her Son, as Suarez and other theologians think. Moreover this exaltation, Albertus says, was not transient, but remained as a habit through the whole of her life. He adds, that on account of her possessing this continual exultation in God, she was above all entirely dead to the world and to this mortal life, so that her life was always hid with Christ in God, and being present in the angelic court she dwelt in the sanctuary of God, and she could say in a more excellent manner than Paul or any other creature, “I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” Gal 2:20.

My Spirit. That is, my soul, as Euthymius and others say; as if my Spirit hath rejoiced, &c., were the same as my soul doth magnify, &c. But the opinion of Toletus and others is better, who think that the spirit is more than the soul; wherefore by the soul they understand the intellect, and by the spirit the will. More simply, by the soul you may understand the lower part of the soul, which regards natural objects; by the spirit the superior part, which beholds spiritual and divine things. The soul, therefore, is natural and contemplates natural things; the spirit is supernatural and contemplates heavenly things. The spirit, therefore, signifies—1. the mind; 2. the vehement and fervent impulse of the mind towards joy; 3. that this impulse is inspired by the Holy Spirit. Moreover, the Spirit, as being the superior, draws the soul and body along with it, so that they likewise may exult with joy, according to the saying in Psalm 84, “My heart and my flesh rejoice in the living God.

In God my Saviour. Vulgate, salutari meo; Greek, σωτη̃ζί μου. The Syriac renders the words in God my lifegiver (vivificatore meo). Who will be-stow life, i.e. liberty, grace, and glory on me and all the faithful.

She says my Saviour—1. Because Jesus is my Son. 2. Because He is also my Saviour, both because He has preserved, me above others from all sin, and filled me with all grace, and because He has made me the mediatrix of salvation for all men, so that I am as it were the cause and the mother of salvation to all who are to be saved.

S. John of Damascus, when the hand with which he had written the defence of the worship of sacred images had been cut off by Leo the Isaurian, and had been miraculously restored by the Blessed Virgin, sang the words, “My spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour, and in His Mother, for He that is mighty hath done to me great things.”

Luk 1:48  Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid: for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

Because He hath regarded, &c. S. Augustine (super Magnificat) says, “This is the grace of her exultation, that He hath regarded the low estate of His handmaiden: it is as if she said, because I exult in His grace, therefore my exultation is from Him; and because I love His gifts on account of Himself, therefore I exult in Him. S. Bernard (Serm. 57 in Cant.) says, “God regards the earth and causes it to tremble; He regards Mary and infuses grace. He hath regarded, she says, the lowliness of His handmaiden, for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. These are not the words of one lamenting or fearing but of one rejoicing. Hence He says to her, Arise quickly, my love, my dove, my fair one, and come away.”

The humility.  Vulgate, humilitatem; Greek, ταπείνωσιν. Humility here properly means lowliness of estate, not the virtue of humility as opposed to pride, for this is called ταπεινοφζοσύνη; for humility alone among virtues is ignorant of itself; and he who boasts of his humility is proud, not humble.

Secondly, however, by humility may be understood the virtue itself of humility; for on account of this God had regard to the Blessed Virgin, and chose her for His mother; for a humble person recognises his virtues as being the gifts of God; wherefore among them he sees also his own humility, but he ascribes it not to his own strength, but to the grace which he had received from God.

As, therefore, the Blessed Virgin here recognises her election to be the Mother of God (which was a far greater thing), so likewise she recognises that she was fittingly adorned for so great a dignity by her humility, virginity, and other virtues which had been imparted to her by God. For a humble person recognises his own, low estate, his misery, his poverty, yea, even his own nothingness, and ascribes all that he is and has to God, Whose he is, and says with the Psalmist, Not to us, O Lord, not to us; but to thy name give glory (Ps 115:1).

Listen to S. Augustine (Serm. 2 de Assump.), “0 true humility which hath borne God to men, hath given life to mortals, made new heavens, and a pure earth, and given liberty to the souls of men. The humility of Mary was made the heavenly ladder by which God came down to earth. For what does regarded mean but approved? For many seem in the sight of men to be humble, but their humility is not regarded by the Lord. For if they were truly humble, then they would not wish to be praised by men, and their spirit would not rejoice in the world but in God.” And S. Chrysostom (Hom. 2 in Ps. 50) says, “The greatest sacrifice of all is humility, for the same man who by sinning has separated himself from God, subjects himself to Him by humility, when he is converted to penitence.” And lastly S. Bernard says, “It is humility which truth begets for us, and it has not heat, and it is humility which love forms and inflames. The latter consists in affection, the former in knowledge: by the former we learn that we are nothing, and we learn it from ourselves and our own weakness; by the latter we tread underfoot the glory of the world, and we learn it from Him Who emptied Himself, and Who, when men sought to make Him a king, fled; but when He was sought for reproaches and for the Cross, He did not flee, but offered Himself willingly.” The Blessed Virgin had both these (humility and love) in an eminent and heroic degree.

For behold from henceforth, &c. S. Augustine says here, “Thou, 0 Elizabeth, sayest concerning me, Blessed art thou who believedst; but I say, From this time (when I conceived the Son of God) all generations shall call me blessed. Mary, who was humble before God, and lowly before men on account of God, obtained witness that she was regarded in both respects: for both her humility before God was acceptable, and her low estate before men was changed into glory. Wherefore it follows, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.”

Blessed. Gerson (super. Magnificat) says, “Thou art worthy of our praises, 0 Holy Virgin, thrice and four times blessed. Blessed—1. because thou didst believe.  2. Because thou art full of grace, according to the salutation of Gabriel.  3. Because Blessed is the fruit of thy womb.  4. Because He, that is mighty hath done to thee great things. 5.  Because thou art the Mother of the Lord.  6. Because thou art fruitful and yet retainest the honour of virginity.  7. Because thou seemest to have none like thee, among those that were before thee, or among those that come after.”

All generations. All future ages and generations of the faithful. Cardinal Hugo says, “All generations, i.e. all nations of Jews and Gentiles, of men and women, of rich and poor, of angels and of men, because all through her have received a saving benefit: men have received reconciliation; angels restoration (of their numbers). For Christ the Son of God wrought salvation in the middle of the earth, that is, in the womb of Mary which by a certain wonderful propriety is called the middle of the earth. For, as S. Bernard says, towards it look both those who dwell in heaven and those who dwell in the lower regions, i.e. in purgatory, and those who dwell in the world. The first, that they may be filled up again, the second that they may be delivered, the third that they may be reconciled. And then, assigning the reason, he adds, from henceforth therefore, 0 Blessed Virgin, all generations shall call thee blessed, because thou hast brought forth life, grace, and glory for all generations, life for the dead, grace for sinners, glory for the miserable. Therefore it is said of her, Judith, c. xv. 10, “Thou art the glory of Jerusalem, thou art the joy of Israel, thou art the great rejoicing of our people, because thou hast done courageously. The first is the word of the angels, whose loss was repaired by her; the second is the word of men, whose sadness was by her changed into joy; the third is the word of women, whose dishonour was done away with by her; the fourth is the voice of the dead, whose captivity was brought back by her.”

The truth of this prophecy of the Blessed Virgin is clear from the event; for we have seen her worshipped and honoured by all nations and generations with shrines, churches, festivals, congregations, societies of religious, vows, supplications, litanies in such numbers as the rest of the Saints joined together do not obtain; yea, to the Blessed Virgin alone is paid the worship of hyperdulia, as to God is paid the worship of latria, while to the rest of the Saints is paid the worship of dulia. Thy honour, thy praise and glory, 0 Blessed Virgin, will live as long as the angels shall live, as long as men shall live, as long as Christ shall live, as long as God shall be God, for ever and ever.

Luk 1:49  Because he that is mighty hath done great things to me: and holy is his name.

Because He that is mighty hath done great things to me. For the Incarnation of the Word is a greater work than the creation of the whole world; wherefore the Blessed Virgin, as being the Mother of God, is greater than all angels, all men, and all creatures taken together. Augustine (Serm. 2 de Assump.) says, “What great things hath He done unto thee, 0 Lady, that thou shouldest merit to be called blessed? I truly believe that thou, a creature, gavest birth to the Creator; a servant, thou broughtest forth the Lord.” “He that is mighty hath done to me wonderful things,” says Titus, “since I, still a virgin, have conceived by the will of God, passing over the bounds of nature; I have been accounted worthy, without being joined to a husband, to be made a mother, not of any one, but of the Only Begotten Son of God.”

Cardinal Hugo mentions twelve great things belonging to the Virgin:—1. Sanctification in the womb of her mother.  2. The salutation of the angel.  3.The fulness of grace.  4.The conception of her Son.  5. Fruitful virginity.  6.Virgin fruitfulness.  7.Her honoured humility.  8. Her ready obedience.  9. The devotion of her faith.  10. Her prudent modesty.  11. Her modest prudence.  12. The dominion over heaven.  S. Thomas (part. 1, qu. 25, art. 6) teaches that it is possible for God to do better works than He has done with the exception of three: the Incarnation of the Word; the maternity of God; and the beatitude of man which consists in the vision of God; for God can do nothing better or greater than these, because nothing can be greater or better than God Himself. The Blessed Virgin is called by Hesychius, Bishop of Jerusalem (hom. 2 de S. Maria), “The entire complement of the Trinity, because both the Holy Ghost came to her, and sojourned with her, and the Father overshadowed her, and the Son, borne in her womb, dwelt within her.”

He that is mighty. Vulgate, potens; Greek, ό δυνατός. This is one of the ten names of God, for the Septuagint used to render the Hebrew word גבר (gibbor), i.e. mighty, strong, whence is derived Gabriel, i.e. the strength of God. The Blessed Virgin, says Titus, adds this—first, that no one may disbelieve this mystery. Let no one wonder if I a virgin have conceived, for He Who hath wrought this work is the Mighty God. Secondly, that she may show that what the angel had promised (verse 35) is fulfilled in her, the power (Greek, δύναμις) of the most high shall overshadow thee. She alludes to Isa 7:14; 9:6, His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God אל גבר (Elgibbor), i.e. mighty, strong as a giant; whence Gabriel announced His birth, whose name signifies the power and strength of God.

And holy is His name. The Blessed Virgin shows that the promise of the angel, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, was fulfilled; and therefore she says, And holy is His Name.

Toletus and Francis Lucas are of opinion that the Virgin here celebrates two great things as done to her by God—1. The Incarnation of the Word, by which she was made the Mother of God, and therefore the mistress and queen of all angels and men; and, 2. Her own Preparation and sanctification for the accomplishment of the Incarnation in her. For as it was a work of power for God to be made man of a virgin, so it was a work of holiness to prepare the Virgin so as to be fit for conceiving in her womb the Holy and Immaculate Word of God. For the Blessed Virgin was so sanctified by the Holy Ghost that she contracted no sin at all, and far exceeded all the angels, even the seraphim, in grace and holiness

But more plainly and fully, we may refer both clauses of this verse to both works, namely, to the Incarnation of the Word as well as to her own preparation and sanctification for It. For each of these was a work of the excellent power as well as holiness of God, because each was accomplished by the coming of the Holy Spirit upon her to sanctify both Christ and the Virgin; according to the announcement of the angel, the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. For Christ was the Holy of Holies, the Fount of holiness, sanctifying the whole world.

The meaning therefore is, God Himself, as signified by His own name, is holy, possesses all purity, holiness, power, perfection, and therefore is to be worshipped, adored, and celebrated in every way. God therefore is holy in all His works, and above all in this most holy mystery of the Incarnation of the Word; by which He sanctified Christ, the Blessed Virgin, and all the faithful.

Lastly, God incarnate is called holy because He assumed flesh and blood for the purpose of offering it to God, both in life, and on the cross, and in His death for the salvation of men. For as S. Isidorus says (lib. 15, Origin. c. 14), ” Nothing was called holy among the ancients unless it was consecrated or sprinkled with the blood of a victim. Also that is holy (sanctum) which is ratified (sancitum) with blood; moreover to ratify (sancire) is to confirm.” See Heb. ix. 12, &c. S. Augustine (lib 2 de Serm. Dom. 31) says, “That is holy which it is impious to violate and defile; and assuredly any one is held guilty of this crime who only attempts or wills it with regard to a holy thing, which nevertheless remains by its nature inviolable and incorruptible.” But S. Bernard (Serm. 5 in Vigil. Nativ.) makes sanctity or holiness consist in clemency and gentleness, according to that saying concerning Moses, Sirach 45:4, He that sanctified him in his faithfulness and meekness; and he continues, “In order that sanctification may be perfect we have need to learn gentleness and courtesy in social life from the Saint of Saints; as He says Himself, Learn of Me for I am meek and lowly in heart.”

Hence some more recent interpreters refer the words Holy is His Name, to the following verse, and His mercy, &c., as if this were the holiness of God; but literally they must be referred to what precedes, as I have said. Hence Euthymius (in Ps. II) says, “He properly is called pious (όσιος) who observes piety and religion in those things which pertain to God; but he is called holy (άγιος) who is made a partaker of the Divine nature by following the path of virtue.” Further, holy (sanctus) in Hebrew is קדש, that is, removed and separated from all vice, blemish, and even from intercourse with the vulgar; as God is especially, Whose holiness and majesty is so far removed, so lofty and exalted, that it infinitely transcends all gods, angels, and men. Whence S. Dionysius (Devin. nom. c. 12) says, “Since holiness is free from all taint, and is purity altogether perfect and immaculate, hence God, from the superabundance of the purity and all the excellences with which He is filled, is called the Holy of Holies.” And Bede says, “His name is called holy because in the height of His marvellous power He transcends every creature, and is widely removed from the works which He has made. This is better understood in the Greek tongue, in which the very word that means holy (άγιος) signifies as it were to be apart from earth: and by imitation of Him in our small measure we are taught to separate ourselves from all who are neither holy nor dedicated to God, by those words of the Lord, Be ye holy, for I am holy; for whoever has consecrated himself to God will rightly appear as one free from the world; for he is able even himself to say, while we walk upon the earth we have our conversation in heaven.”

Christians therefore being called by Christ to fulness of holiness ought to be holy (whence they are continually called by S. Paul holy [or saints]), yea, more holy than all the faithful who lived in the time of Moses, Abraham, &c; for Christianity is nothing else than the life of Christ. Let the Christian therefore so live as it becomes the disciple of Christ, so that his life may be a living image, of the holiness of Christ, so that whoever sees and hears him, may seem to himself to see and hear Christ in him.

Luk 1:50  And his mercy is from generation unto generations, to them that fear him.

And His mercy, &c. As God is all-powerful and all-holy, so is He all-merciful, and that continually towards all who in any age love Him, and therefore fear to offend Him. This is the second part of this song, in which the Blessed Virgin passes from the peculiar benefits bestowed by God upon herself, to those bestowed in common upon all Israel, i.e. upon all the faithful.

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Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Luke 11:27-28

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 4, 2012

Text in red, if any, are my additions.

Luk 11:27  And it came to pass, as he spoke these things, a certain woman from the crowd, lifting up her voice, said to him: Blessed is the womb that bore thee and the paps that gave thee suck.

While our Lord was successfully engaged in refuting the blasphemous calumnies of the Pharisees, a woman in the crowd, admiring our Redeemer’s language and miracles, and, probably, under the influence of some divine instinct, raising her voice, cried out, Blessed is the womb, &c., which simply means, blessed is the mother that gave you birth.  It may be, she was divinely enlightened in regard to His Incarnation, and, like the Angel, who announced it, and Elizabeth who congratulated His Mother upon it this woman proclaimed her blessed among women, as did the Virgin herself, when, under the influence of inspiration, she cried out, Behold, from henceforward, all generations shall call me Blessed. But whether the woman n question was enlightened as to the mystery of our Lord’s Incarnation, or only spoke from a natural admiration of our Lord’s words, and wonderful deeds, she meant to eulogize our Lord Himself, since it is, on account of giving birth to so wonderful a man, she regarded His mother as blessed.

Luk 11:28  But he said: Yea rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it.

Yea, as if He said, without denying this, which would be denying the truth, as His mother had been pronounced Blessed, in several instances (as above), or without asserting and confirming it which would be praising Himself and His Blessed Mother; this may be, I do not deny its truth; but, rather blessed are they &c. The idea conveyed here is the same as in St Matthew 12:50. Our Lord, while giving a preference to spiritual relationship, founded on faith and grace, and on the observance of God’s Commandments, over carnal relationship, includes in this latter respect His Blessed Mother, who far excelled in sanctity, and correspondence with divine grace, all the rest of creation together. He gives a preference to spiritual relationship; because, it was more general. It was not confined only to one, but it extended to all. He does not deny the felicity of of her who gave Him birth in the flesh; but it was more on account of having first spiritually conceived and begotten Him, by grace and faith in her heart, than on account of having given Him birth in the flesh, she was happy.  He extends this felicity farther, to those who hear his word. However, this is not sufficient; they must observe and keep it, carry it out in practice, in word and deed.  Non enim auditores legis iusti sunt apud Deum sed factores legis iustificabuntur (“For not the hearers of the law are just before God: but the doers of the law shall be justified”~Rom 2:13).

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