Be present, drop your veil,
and let me die your beauty apprehending;
this grief that makes me pale
with love, can have no ending
without your presence, every joy transcending.
-- Spiritual Canticles, v.XI, S. Juan de la Cruz
Whenever I see a (latent) thread that keeps appearing in my reading back-to-back over a few days, I'd be intrigued to find out more about it. These past few weeks I've been encountering "Beauty" (outside of Dostoevsky, naturally): in the Pope's reflection on the Beauty of Truth, in the Pope's exhortation to the media to promote beauty, truth and goodness, and today, as the Church rejoices along with the angels upon hearing Mary's fiat, a "humble human event, hidden" that has since been commemorated by the entire Church with deep joy.
Tota Pulchra Est
Amongst those born of a woman, who personifies Beauty better than Jesus and His Mother? Contemplating Mary's fiat, it is easier to dismiss it as a superhuman feat that mere human conceived un-immaculately scarce hope to emulate.
I have struggled with Marian devotions; not in the way that evangelicals and Protestant converts struggled, but to cultivate affection for Our Lady as she rightly deserves from all of us her children.
This Sunday (the real date of the feast of Annunciation), I pondered this question: what can one do to one love our Lady more? How can we love one whom He loves so much? Not all Catholics, though famous for our Marian devotion, have a natural, innate affinity to Our Lady. How can we turn to Mary with confidence as we struggle with our own crosses? How can we turn to her who is a paragon of Beauty?
With these questions still fresh, I attended a little concert sung by the Cathedral Choir of Risen Christ (in which my sister sings) held at Our Lady of Lourdes Church. They sang beautifully as always, but most eloquently, they sang FOUR hymns to her: Schubert's Ave Maria, Fr Carey Landry's Hail Mary, Kachini's Ave Maria, and lastly, a sweet simple hymn of Stella Maris ("Sweet Star of the Sea"), which is the very first Marian hymn I ever heard! Just hearing this last song brought lots of memory & tears: I remember the time when my classmates at elementary school sang it loudly after the masses... with what love my Catholic friends, then little children, sang this! And I remember again the first time I said the Ave Maria. I remember again how sweet, how secure it was to trust a mother completely to help you in any kind of difficulty.
"Stupendous mystery of the faith"
Et verbum caro factum est— this pronunciation that is said at Christmas, can in fact be said for today! The "clump of cells" that formed in Mary's womb at Annunciation is indeed Jesus already—God's essence already manifested and growing until Jesus' birth.
Indeed, it is time to rejoice, for Hell trembles at Mary's fiat.