"In the darkness something was happening at last. A voice had begun to sing. It was very far away and Digory found it hard to decide from what direction it was coming. Sometimes it seemed to come from all directions at once. Sometimes he almost thought it was coming out of the earth beneath them. Its lower notes were deep enough to be the voice of the earth herself. There were no words. There was hardly even a tune. But it was, beyond comparison, the most beautiful noise he had ever heard. It was so beautiful he could hardly bear it. ...
"Then two wonders happened at the same moment. One was that the voice was suddenly joined by other voices; more voices than you could possibly count. They were in harmony with it, but far higher up the scale: cold, tingling, silvery voices. The second wonder was that the blackness overhead, all at once, was blazing with stars. They didn’t come out gently one by one, as they do on a summer evening. One moment there had been nothing but darkness; next moment a thousand, thousand points of light leaped out—single stars, constellations, and planets, brighter and bigger than any in our world. There were no clouds. The new stars and the new voices began at exactly the same time. If you had seen and heard it, as Digory did, you would have felt quite certain that it was the stars themselves which were singing, and that it was the first voice, the deep one, which had made them appear and made them sing."
In this quote from the first book of The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis tells how the world of Narnia was created as Aslan sang a song. "It was," as the storyteller tells, "the most beautiful noise he had ever heard.... So beautiful he could hardly bear it."
On September 8th, the Catholic Church celebrates the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary, arguably the most beautiful creature ever created by the Creator.
It would not be out of line to compare her creation to the singing of the most beautiful song ever sung.
No other creature was more perfect, more full of grace, than she.
Her whole life was a continuation of that song of love.
Every day of her life, she lived in perfect harmony with the will of God.
She watched her Heavenly Conductor constantly, never taking her eyes off of His guiding hand.
She never sang a note out of tune.
She never improvised or sought a solo part.
She knew what He wanted of her, and she wanted nothing else but to play her part perfectly.
And she did.
St Augustine says of this day:
Dearly beloved, the day of the blessed and ever venerable Virgin Mary so long desired, is here. Let our land rejoice in the greatest exultation. Let it shine in the light of the birth of such a virgin. For she is the flower of the field, from her bloomed the precious lily of the valley. Through her birth the nature inherited from our first parents is changed. their sin is blotted out. That unhappy curse of Eve in which it was said: In sorrow shalt thou bring forth children, is, in the case of Mary, ended, for she bore the Lord in joy.
Eve mourned; Mary rejoiced.
Eve carried tears in her womb, Mary joy.
Eve gave birth to the sinner, Mary to innocence.
The mother of the human race brought punishment into the world; the mother of the Lord salvation.
Eve was the source of sin, Mary of grace.
Eve harmed by bringing death, Mary helped by giving life.
The former wounded, the latter healed.
Obedience replaced disobedience; fidelity atones for infidelity.
Now Mary may play melodies upon the organ. Now may the active fingers of the young mother strike the timbrels. Now may choirs sing out with joy. Now let the sweetest Songs mingle with the varying harmonies. Hear how she, our timbrel-player, sings:
My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. Because he has regarded the lowliness of His handmaid, for, behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. Because He Who is mighty has done great things for me.
The miraculous new birth conquered the prevalent error. The canticle of Mary silenced the wailing of Eve.
Today, let us give thanks for the gift par excellence, the gift of this wonderful woman who, today, is mother to us all.
As St Alphonsus Liguori says,
Before the birth of Mary the world was lost in the darkness of sin. "Mary was born and the dawn arose," says a holy Father. Of Mary it had already been said: Who is she that cometh forth as the morning rising? As the earth rejoices when the dawn appears, because it is the precursor of the sun, so also when Mary was born the whole world rejoiced, because she was the precursor of Jesus Christ, the Sun of Justice, who being made her Son, came to save us by His death; hence the Church sings, "Thy nativity, O Virgin Mother of God, announced joy to the whole world; for from thee arose the Sun of Justice, who has given us life eternal." So that when Mary was born, our remedy, our consolation, and our salvation came into the world; for through Mary we received our Saviour.
This child being, then, destined to become the Mother of the Eternal Word, God enriched her with so great grace, that in the first moment of her Immaculate Conception her sanctity exceeded that of all the saints and angels together, for she received grace of a higher order--one that corresponded to the dignity of Mother of God.
O holy child! O full of grace! I, miserable sinner that I am, salute and adore thee. Thou art the beloved one, the delight of God; pity me, who on account of my sins have been hateful and abominable in His sight Thou, O most pure Virgin, knewest from thy very childhood so well how to gain the heart of God, that He never did and never will refuse thee anything, and grants thee all that thou askest. My hopes are therefore in thee; recommend me to thy Son, and I shall be saved.
When Mary was destined to be the Mother of God, she was also destined to become the mediatress between God and sinners. Hence the angelic St. Thomas says, "that Mary received sufficient grace to save all men," and therefore St. Bernard calls her "a full aqueduct, that of her plenitude we all may partake."
O my Queen, mediatress of sinners, perform thy office; intercede for me. My sins shall not prevent me from trusting in thee, O great Mother of God; no, I trust in thee; and so great is my confidence, that were my salvation in my own hands, I could place it in thine. O Mary, receive me under thy protection; for that is all my desire.
A prayer from today's entry in The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Guéranger, OSB
At length, O Mary, our earth possesses thee! Thy birth reveals to it the secret of its destiny, the Secret of that love which called it from nothingness, that it might become the palace of the God who dwelt above the heavens. But what a mystery, that poor, weak humanity, inferior to the Angels by nature, should be chosen to give to the Angels their King and their Queen! Their King they will soon adore, a new-born Babe in thine arms; their Queen they reverence today, admiring thee in thy cradle as only Angels can admire. In the beginning these morning stars, these noble spirits, contemplated the manifestations of Almighty Power, and praised the Most High; yet never did their eager gaze discover such a marvel as that which delights their eyes at this hour: God, more purely imaged under a corporeal veil, under the fragile form of an infant one day old, than in all the strength and all the beauty of their nine angelic choirs; God, so captivated by such weakness united, by His grace, to such love, that He made it the culminating point of His work by determining to manifest his Son therein.
Queen of Angels, thou art our Queen also; accept us as thy liegemen. On this day, when the first movement of thy holy soul was towards God, and the first smile of thy lovely eyes was for thy happy parents, may holy Anne allow us to kneel and kiss thy little hand, already filled with the divine bounties of which thou art the predestined dispenser. And now, grow up, sweet little one! Let thy feet be strengthened to crush the serpent, and thy arms to carry the treasure of the world! Angels and men, the whole of nature, God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, all are awaiting the solemn moment, when Gabriel may fly down from heaven, to hail thee full of grace, and bring thee the message of Eternal Love.
IMAGES:La Nativité de la Vierge, Philippe de Champaigne; Blue Madonna, Carlo Dolci; Madone, Herman Richir; The Virgin with Angels, William Adolphe Bougereau (all images in the public domain)