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cried out to our Lord, Blessed is the womb that bare Thee!' He answered, More blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it.' Those words were fulfilled in Mary. She was filled with grace in order to be the Mother of God. But it was a higher gift than her maternity to be thus sanctified and thus pure. Our Lord indeed would not have become her son unless He had first sanctified her; but still, the greater blessedness was to have that perfect sanctification. This then is why she is the Virgo Prædicanda; she is deserving to be preached abroad because she never committed any sin, even the least; because sin had no part in her; because, through the fulness of God's grace, she never thought a thought, or spoke a word, or did an action, which was displeasing, which was not most pleasing, to Almighty God; because in her was displayed the greatest triumph over the enemy of souls. Wherefore, when all seemed lost, in order to show what He could do for us
all by dying for us; in order to show what human nature, His work, was capable of becoming; to show how utterly He could bring to naught the utmost efforts, the most concentrated malice of the foe, and reverse all the consequences of the Fall, our Lord began, even before His coming, to do His most wonderful act of redemption, in the person of her who was to be His Mother. By the merit of that Blood which was to be shed, He interposed to hinder her incurring the sin of Adam, before He had made on the Cross atonement for it. And therefore it is that we preach her who is the subject of this wonderful grace.
But she was the Virgo Prædicanda for another reason. When, why, what things do we preach? We preach what is not known, that it may become known. And hence the Apostles are said in Scripture to 'preach Christ.' To whom? To those who knew Him not—to the heathen world. Not to those who knew Him, but to those who did not know Him. Preaching
is a gradual work: first one lesson, then another. Thus were the heathen brought into the Church gradually. And in like manner, the preaching of Mary to the children of the Church, and the devotion paid to her by them, has grown, grown gradually, with successive ages. Not so much preached about her in early times. as in later. First she was preached as the Virgin of Virgins--then as the Mother of God-then as glorious in her Assumption-then as the Advocate of sinners-then as Immaculate in her Conception. And this last has been the special preaching of the present century; and thus that which was earliest in her own history is the latest in the Church's recognition of her.
MARY IS THE MATER ADMIRA
THE WONDERFUL MOTHER
HEN Mary, the Virgo Pradicanda, the Virgin who is to be proclaimed aloud, is called by the title of Admirabilis, it is thereby suggested to us what the effect is of the preaching of her as Immaculate in her Conception. The Holy Church proclaims, preaches her, as conceived without original sin; and those who hear, the children of Holy Church, wonder, marvel, are astonished and overcome by the preaching. It is so great a prerogative.
Even created excellence is fearful to think of when it is so high
as Mary's. As to the great Creator, when Moses desired to see His glory, He Himself says about Himself, Thou canst not see My face, for man shall not see Me and live'; and St. Paul says, 'Our God is a consuming fire.' And when St. John, holy as he was, saw only the Human Nature of our Lord, as He is in Heaven, ‘he fell at His feet as dead.' And so as regards the appearance of angels. The holy Daniel, when St. Gabriel appeared to him, 'fainted away, and lay in a consternation, with his face close to the ground.' When this great archangel came to Zacharias, the father of St. John the Baptist, he too 'was troubled, and fear fell upon him.' But it was otherwise with Mary when the same St. Gabriel came to her. She was overcome indeed, and troubled at his words, because, humble as she was in her own opinion of herself, he addressed her as Full of grace,' and 'Bles sed among women'; but she was able to bear the sight of