Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

“Christ asked Mary of Nazareth for her human nature.  For her littleness, her limitations, flesh and blood and bone, five senses, hands and feet, a human heart.

 He who was invulnerable asked to be able to feel cold and heat, hunger and thirst, weariness and pain.  He who had all things and had made all things asked to be able to be poor and to labor with his hands and look with wonder at wildflowers.  He who was wholly sufficient asked Mary to give him a heart that might be broken.

 Mary answered, ‘yes.’  To make his body she gave her body, for his humanity, her humanity.  The first utterance in this world of the Word of God was less than the infant’s wail it waxed to, it was the heart of Christ beating in a girl’s heart.”

(The Comforting of Christ, p. 23 by Caryll Houselander - English mystic)

Reflection

Since the fifth century CE (and probably much earlier than that) Christians have paused to reflect on the motherhood of Mary on the Octave of Christmas (January 1).  I believe that the brief quote from Caryll Houselander above points to the wonderment many have felt at the mystery of incarnation, and even more specifically at the courage and trust displayed by Mary to say “yes” to all that Christ required.

I am particularly taken with the last sentence – “The first utterance in this world of the Word of God was less than the infant’s wail it waxed to, it was the heart of Christ beating in a girl’s heart.”  The heart of Christ beating in Mary’s heart!  It makes me yearn for Christ’s heart to beat in my heart too.

So how does that come to pass?  How can we, like Mary, have the Word of God come alive in us, and grow in us, to be real in us?  I suspect that it is in the little word, “yes.”  Mary said, “yes,” and her “yes” changed all of human history.

Now in contemporary American culture I imagine that rather than pondering the motherhood of Mary, many more people will spend January 1 watching a ball-game, sleeping off the New Year’s Eve festivities, and a few will be making the list of resolutions intended to guide them through the new year.  I intend to have a very short list this year.  I simply want to cultivate the habit of listening for God’s voice and saying, “yes!”  No counting the cost, no second guessing the wisdom, no time to think up a list of reasonable excuses for why I should disobey or disregard the God I love, only a simple and humble and obedient, “yes.”

Prayer
O Hail Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy
Hail our life our sweetness and our Hope
To you do we cry poor banished children of Eve
To you do we send up our sighs mourning and weeping through this vale of tears
Turn then most gracious advocate your eyes of Mercy toward us!
And after this our exile show unto us the blessed fruit of your womb Jesus
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary, Alleluia.  
(Traditional hymn of Mary as sung at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit)