ON THE NATIVITY OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN
Consider first, that on this day the church devoutly celebrates the birth-day of the great queen that brought forth to us the king of heaven, our Lord, and Saviour Jesus Christ, the source of all our good. This birth of hers was like the first dawning of that happy day, which the Son of God the true Son of Justice, brought us from heaven, in the light of which if we duly walk, during our mortal pilgrimage, we shall come securely to that blessed day which knows no night. On this festival of the blessed Virgin, mother of God, we ought, in the first place to praise and bless God, and to give him thanks for all his graces bestowed upon her; by which he prepared her soul and body, from her very conception, to be a worthy dwelling for his Son, holy and without spot or blemish: 2ndly, to honour him in this blessed virgin, and to rejoice in all the wonders of his power, goodness, and mercy, by which he paved the way for our redemption: 3rdly, to show a true and solid devotion to our blessed Lady, by an earnest application to her for her prayers and intercession, and a zealous imitation of her virtues.
Consider 2ndly, the grounds which all good Christians have, and always had, to be devout to the blessed Virgin: as we find in every age the more eminent any persons have been in the love of Jesus Christ, the more devoted they have also been to his blessed mother; verifying by their practice, in this regard, that prophecy of hers, St. Luke i., ‘that all generations should call her blessed.’ These grounds may be reduced to three heads – her dignity, her sanctity, and her elevation of glory: – 1. Her supereminent dignity of mother of God; the nearest alliance which any pure creature can have with him. and how can we love him, and not love his mother? 2. Her supereminent sanctity: ‘for she was full of divine grace, even before she conceived,’ St. Luke i. 26; how much more after carrying in her womb for nine months the source of all grace and sanctity? And what shall we say of the thirty years she had him always before her eyes, and still more in her heart; and of all the remaining space of her life, during which she was continually growing in grace; God on his part never ceasing to bestow, with a most bountiful hand, and she on her part never receiving his grace in vain, but ever corresponding and co-operating with it; and by this means continually drawing down new blessings? 3. Her supereminent elevation in the eternal glory of heaven, in proportion to the supereminent grace and sanctity to which she arrived here upon earth, (as the one is always the measure of the other,) and the interest she has with her divine Son, in consequence thereof. See, my soul, how many and how pressing motives thou hast to be devout to this blessed Lady.
Consider 3rdly, that as God is the sole author, and the original source of all the dignity, sanctity, and glory which we honour in the blessed Virgin; so all the veneration, which the catholic church pays to this blessed lady, has God both for its beginning and its end. Our devotion to her proceeds from the love we bear her son: we honour in her his gifts and graces: we love and honour her for his sake, and all the extraordinary respect we at any time show to her, we refer to his greater glory. So far then from robbing God of any part of his honour, by the veneration we give her, we honour him indeed so much the more, because all this our devotion finally tends to him, and terminates in him. and thus we always find, that such as are truly devout to the blessed virgin, fail not to be also true lovers of God, and pursuers of all good works.
Conclude to embrace this devotion to our blessed Lady as an excellent means to advance thee in all good; but do not imagine thyself to be truly devout to her, if thou art no ways solicitous to imitate her virtues. True devotion loves, esteems, and honours in her that which God loves, esteems, and honours, viz., her virtues and sanctity. And how can we better show our love, esteem,and honour for virtue and sanctity than by labouring to imitate them?