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Sep 09

Signs and Ceremonies: The Virgin Mary

The following is from Teaching Truths by Signs and Ceremonies or The Church, Its Rites and Services Explained for the People by Rev. Jas. L. Meagher (1882, New York: Russel Brothers).

"St. Ephanius, born in the year 310, says: ‘What shall I say, or what shall I preach of that beautiful and Holy Virgin? God alone excepted, she excels all others. In her nature more beautiful than the Cherubims and Seraphims and all the angelic host, no earthly tongue can sing her heavenly praises, not even the tongues of angels. O, Holy Virgin, pure dove and celestial spouse. Mary thou art heaven, the temple and the throne of divinity; thou hast Christ transcendent in heaven, as thy son on earth thou a bright cloud in heaven, brought Christ to illuminate the world. Thou gate of heaven, whom the prophet plainly and openly speaks in course of his prayer. ‘My sister, my spouse, is a garden enclosed, a fountain sealed up.’ That Virgin is an immaculate lilly, who brought forth the more perfect rose, Christ. O holy Mother of God. O, Immaculate Dove! In thee the Word became incarnate. O, most holy Virgin, whose sanctity stupefies the angels! Wonderful is the miracle in heaven! a woman clothed with the sun, the moon under her feet; wonderful is the miracle in heaven! the bosom of a virgin holds the Son of God. Wonderful is the miracle in heaven! the God of the angels becomes the Child of the Virgin. The angels condemn Eve; now they cover Mary with glory, for she raised up fallen Eve and she sends Adam, fallen from Paradise, into heaven. The grace of the holy Virgin is immense. Hence Gabriel first salutes the Virgin saying ‘Hail full of grace, Hail most holy Mother Immaculate who brought forth Christ, who was before thee.’" (Ch. 7, p. 112-113)

"Mary was mother of the entire Being born of her; but the Being born of her was the Son of God, and therefore she is the mother of God, and being the mother of God, she is higher, nobler, grander in dignity than any other creature that was mdae, but not by nature, for the angels and all the celestial spirits made by God in heaven are superior to us in the rank of creation and in knowledge; but no angel, no spirit in heaven is the mother of God – only Mary was created for that dignity. She is, therefore, not by nature, but by dignity, far above all the creatures that God made, and that dignity is founded upon her Maternity, because she is mother of God; but she is nothing, compared with God, and no one can adore her, none can worship her, for she is a creature, and to adore a creature is idolatry, and idolatry is the giving to a creature the worship that belongs to God alone. Therefore, idolatry is the greatest sin. Therefore, to adore Mary would be a great sin against God. Adoration, then, belongs only to the Divinity. Therefore we can adore only the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost." (Ch. 7, p. 115)

"All her gifts, all her dignity, all her excellences come from her Son; and if she is full of grace, in the words of the Archangel, that grace comes from Christ, for he is the source from whence come forth all graces and blessings that enlightened angels and men. He is the mediator between God and man. No one can go to heaven but through him; but as when we want to get some favor from a great person, we do not go directly to him but to some one of influence who is well known to him, and whom he respects, whom he cannot refuse, and we ask that one to intercede for us. Thus, sometimes, when we want something from God, and we consider ourselves so little and imperfect, and we know the tenderness and the sympathy of a woman’s heart, and we know the influence of a mother over her son, and we go to Mary and ask her to use her influence with her Son as she has already done, when she told Him they had no wine at Cana, and He changed the water into wine at her request. As Moses prayed for the sins of Israel in the desert, and God at the prayer of the just and holy Moses did not destroy the people, as the prophets prayed for the kings of Israel and God heard their prayers, ao God hears Mary’s requests and grants her what she asks. She is now dead; but those who are dead do not rest so as not to hear us, as many people suppose, for the very nature of a spirit is to be active and in motion. Thus our souls are never at rest, but ever exercise the power they have of movement and of action. Thus souls separate in heaven are always in action and in motion. Thus souls in heaven see God face to face; and as everything that takes place here on earth is seen by God, and as those spirits see him they see in God what takes place here on earth; they see in God then our prayers, our sufferings, our needs, and thus we know that Mary sees us when we pray, and hears us, and ask God to grant the favors that we ask of her.

We are not obliged to go to her; we can go directly to God, and thus many of us do. Thus it is with Mary and the saints. We pray to them only as the servants of God, or we see in their holiness God’s greatness in them; and if they are great, it is the greatness of god within them, for God made them what they are. We see, therefore, within them God himself, for God lived in them and moved in them, for they were the temples of the Holy Ghost." (Ch. 7, p.115-117)

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