Syria has always enjoyed a rich lyrical tradition dedicated to singing the praises of Mary. The Church of Antioch rendered a special cult to the Mother of God even before the Council of Ephesus: the events that have marked the Nestorian crisis bear witness to the great extent to which belief in Mary’s Divine Motherhood was diffused among the faithful and rooted in their hearts.
Prayer texts are rich in a theology centered on the Divine Motherhood. Their poetry is simple and characterized by a penetrating tenderness.
Among the great Marian hymnists besides Ephrem the Syrian is numbered James of Sarug (451-521). The Syrian-Maronite Liturgy borrows heavily from his lyrical treasures.
~ By Rev. Virgilio Noe
BLESSED are you, O Mary,
and blessed is your holy soul,
for your beatitude
surpasses that of all the Blessed.
Blessed are you who have borne, embraced,
and caressed as a baby
the One Who upholds the ages
with His secret word.
Blessed are you, from whom the Savior
appeared on this exile earth,
subjugating the seducer
and bringing peace to the world.
Blessed are you, whose pure mouth touched
the lips of the One Whom the seraphim
do not dare to look upon in His splendor.
Blessed are you, who have nourished
with your pure milk
the source from Whom the living obtain life
Blessed are you, because the whole universe
resounds with your memory,
and the Angels and human beings celebrate
your feast. . .
Daughter of the poor,
she became the Mother of the King of kings.
She gave to the poor world
the riches that can make it live.
She is the bark laden with the goodness
and the treasures of the Father,
Who sent His riches once again
into our empty home. . .
~ A poem by James of Sarug
Wishing you all a very blessed Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God!
The second bead: scene of the lovely journey
of Lady Mary, on whom artists confer
a blue silk gown, a day pouring out Springtime,
and birds singing and flowers bowing to her.
Rather, I see a girl upon a donkey
and her too held by what was said to mind
how the sky was or if the grass was growing.
I doubt the flowers; I doubt the road was kind.
“Love hurried forth to serve.” I read, approving.
But also see, with thoughts blown past her youth,
a girl riding upon a jolting donkey
and riding further and further into the truth.
~ A poem by Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit (Jessica Powers), O.C.D.
O Jesus living in Mary,
come to live in Your servants,
with Your spirit of holiness,
in the fullness of Your power,
in the perfection of Your ways,
in the truth of Your virtues,
and in the communion of Your Divine Mysteries.
In Your Spirit
and for the glory of the Father,
overcome every hostile power!
There was nothing in the Virgin’s soul
that belonged to the Virgin—
no word, no thought, no image, no intent.
She was a pure, transparent pool reflecting
God, only God.
She held His burnished day; she held His night
of planet-glow or shade inscrutable.
God was her sky and she who mirrored Him
became His firmament.
When I so much as turn my thoughts toward her
my spirit is enisled in her repose.
And when I gaze into her selfless depths
an anguish in me grows
to hold such blueness and to hold such fire.
I pray to hollow out my earth and be
filled with these waters of transparency.
I think that one could die of this desire,
seeing oneself dry earth or stubborn sod.
Oh, to become a pure pool like the Virgin,
water that lost the semblances of water
and was a sky like God.
~ A poem by Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit (Jessica Powers), O.C.D.
John the Baptizer exhorts us to conversion. No one better than Mary can tell us what this conversion entails.
Conversion means turning away from yourself and turning to God instead. So, conversion is beginning to live as Mary did. She is so overwhelmed by the life growing in her body that she is not at all concerned about her own. Her center is not in herself, but in the life she is to give birth for the salvation of the world.
If you live along with Mary, turned away from yourself and turned toward God, then even you will give life to the world. You get to give birth to Christ. He has himself said: “Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother” (Mt 12:50).
If Christmas were only a celebration of an unusual child born two thousand years ago, then we wouldn’t need a long season of Advent to prepare for it. But Jesus is born within you, and preparation for this birth must be made.
John of the Cross writes in a small poem:
The Virgin with God’s Word Carried in her womb Comes toward you If only you had room.
If you prepare a room for God, God will become real in you as he was in Mary.
~ An Advent Meditation by Father Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.
At the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City in 1999, Pope St. John Paul II elevated Our Lady of Guadalupe’s feast day to a solemnity. The Holy Father proclaimed her to be the empress of all the Americas.
This message went deep into my heart and I said to God, “Does this mean that the Holy Father is telling us of the ultimate triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary—she who is destined to crush the head of the Evil One with her heel? Is this a prophetic utterance that is foreshadowing a glorious restoration that we cannot see as yet?
Let us pray that this is so.
Be like little children, resting with total confidence in the heart of our Blessed Mother. Every day, she shows us how to incarnate her Son and his words. The Sanctifier will bring pain, but if we surrender and remain still, Mary will transform that pain into joy. When all of us place our trust in her, we find ourselves together in the heart of Jesus.
~ A Meditation by Catherine De Hueck Doherty
Wishing you all a very blessed Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe! ❤ Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, ora por nosotros y el mundo entero!
O my Mother, most holy Virgin Mary, be always my model, my support, and my guide.
“And Mary, rising up in those days, went into the hill country with haste into a city of Juda.” These words are from today’s Gospel (Lk 1, 39-47). Mary, in the exquisite delicacy of her charity, has such a profound sense of the needs of others, that as soon as she hears of them, she acts spontaneously and decisively to bring help. Having learned from the Angel Gabriel that her cousin was about to become a mother, she goes immediately to offer her humble services.
If we consider the difficulty of traveling in those days, when the poor, such as Mary, had to go on foot over difficult roads, or at best, by means of some rude conveyance, and also the fact that Mary remained three months with Elizabeth, we can readily understand that she had to face many hardships in performing this act of charity. However, she was in no way disturbed: charity urged her, making her wholly forgetful of herself, for as St. Paul says: “Charity seeketh not her own” (1 Cor 13,5). How many times, perhaps, have you omitted and act of kindness, not to spare yourself a hard journey, but only to avoid a little trouble. Think how uncharitable you are and how slow to help others. look at Mary, and see how much you can learn from her!
Charity makes Mary forget not only her hardships but also her own dignity, which was greater than that given to any other creature. Elizabeth is advanced in years, but Mary is the Mother of God; Elizabeth is about to give birth to a man, but Mary will give birth to the Son of God. Nevertheless, before her cousin as before the Angel, Mary continues to look upon herself as the humble handmaid of the Lord, and nothing more. Precisely because she considers herself a handmaid, she comports herself as such, even in respect to her neighbor. In your case, perhaps, although you know how to humble yourself before God and recognize your lack of perfection in the secrecy of your heart, it displeases you to appear imperfect before your neighbor, and you quickly resent being treated as such. Are you not anxious to have your dignity, education, and ability recognized, as well as the more or less honorable offices or charges which have been entrusted to you? Your dignity is a mere nothing, and yet you are so jealous of it. Mary’s dignity approaches the infinite, yet she considers herself and behaves as if she were the least of all creatures.
~ A Meditation by Father Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, O.C.D.
O Mary, how great is your humility when you hasten to serve others! If it is true that he who humbles himself will be exalted, who will be more exalted than you who have humbled yourself so much?
“When Elizabeth caught sight of you she was astonished and exclaimed: ‘Whence is this to me that the Mother of my Lord should come to me? But I am still more astonished to see that you, as well as your Son, came not to be served, but to serve… It was for this purpose that you went to Elizabeth, you the Queen, to the servant, the Mother of God to the mother of the Precursor, you who would give birth to the Son of God, to her who would bring forth a mere man.
“But your profound humility in no way lessened your magnanimity; the greatness of your soul was not opposed to your humility. You, so small in your own eyes, were so magnanimous in your faith, in your hope in the Most High, that you never doubted His promises, and firmly believed that you would become the Mother of the Son of God.
“Humility did not make you fainthearted; magnanimity did not make you proud, but these two virtues were perfectly combined in you!
“O Mary, you cannot give me a share in your great privileges as Mother of God; these belong to you alone! But you want me to share in your virtues, giving me examples of them in yourself. If, then, sincere humility, magnanimous faith, and delicate, sympathetic charity are lacking in me, how can I excuse myself? O Mary, O Mother of mercy, you who are full of grace, nourish us, your poor little ones, with your virtues!” (cf. St. Bernard).