Knowing Mary: Mary and the Mystery of the Incarnation

mary-2I praise and thank You, Lord God. Creator and Redeemer of the human race, for the endless goodness with which, after having wonderfully created humanity, You determined to redeem it in an even more wonderful way.

In fact, even while we were still Your enemies and while death still exerted its ancient, iniquitous control of all humanity. You were mindful of Your infinite mercy, and from Your throne on high You turned Your gaze on this wretched vale of tears.

You saw the great distress of Your people here on earth and the burdensome inheritance of the children of Adam. Moved by a radical love, You began to plan for our peace and redemption. As a result, when the fullness of time arrived, You came down from heaven to visit us and, in the Incarnation. You appeared in the midst of humanity as true God and true Man, thus fulfilling the expectations of the prophets.

I bless and praise you, Jesus Christ, our Savior, for the immense humility with which You deigned to choose as Your Mother a poor virgin whom You caused to be married to a poor carpenter, Joseph, a holy and upright man.

I bless You for the announcement of Your very fitting Incarnation and for the respectful greeting and deep devotion with which the Angel Gabriel came to meet the Most Blessed Virgin Mary and told her of the Divine mystery of the Son of God, Who was to take flesh in her.

I praise You and give You glory for the great faith of the Virgin Mary, her resolute consent, her humble answer, and all her virtues. These were shown when she replied with docile submission to the Archangel who brought the joyous message: “Behod, I am the handmaiden of the Lord; let what you said be done to me” (Luke 1:38).

I praise and glorify You, eternal Wisdom of the Father, for bringing Your inaccessible sublimity into the narrow prison of our mortality and for the utterly pure conception of Mary that You accomplished through the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35). For into her virginal womb the ineffable power of the Most High descended (Luke 1:350 and from her unblemished flesh formed Your holy flesh.

Thus did You, true God and consubstantial with the eternal Father, become one flesh with us, but without the infection of sin, in order that You might make us one spirit with you through our adoption as children of God (Galatians 4:4).

I praise and glorify You for having determined to set aside Your greatness and make Your own our passibility, our littleness, our suffering and mortality. These You embraced with love in order that You might fil them with Your self-emptying, save us by Your Passion, lift us up by Your humiliation, strengthen us by Your weakness, and by Your mortality lead us to glorious immortality.

I praise and glorify You for the long nine months during which You hid Yourself as a baby in the narrow confines of a virginal womb, while awaiting the time of Your birth. Yet You, as God, are timeless and ageless, and order all temporal things with marvelous harmony.

How lovable and marvelous the condescension with which You, God of endless glory, did not hesitate to make Yourself contemptible and to take on our sufferings in order to save us. Yet you created all things effortlessly!

Sweet Jesus, splendor of the eternal glory, the more You humbled Yourself in the midst of humanity, the more You manifested Your goodness. The more contemptible You made Yourself for me, the dearer You are to me.

I bless and thank you, Lord Jesus, only-begotten Son of the Father, begotten before the world existed, for having deigned, in an indescribable way and out of utter humility, to be born in a filthy stable and placed in a poor manger because You loved holy poverty.

I praise You, beloved Jesus, for Your light-crowned coming, Your glorious birth from the blameless Virgin Mary, Your poverty, and your lowly lodging in such a small and mean manger. Who could imagine the Most High God being made so little for the sake of humanity? How thankful the entire human race ought to be that You chose a narrow manger for its redemption!

What a tender, sweet, and lovable sight to see God having become a Child being wrapped in poor rags and lying in a narrow manger in the presence of the animals! What incomprehensible humility that the Lord of all lords should become the servant of His servants!

Yet even this, Lord God, seemed but little, for You, my Creator, wanted to become my Father. You deigned even to be my Brother and take my flesh in the reality of Your human nature, although without contracting any of the ancient corruption.

Your birth transcends the laws of nature. Since it must repair nature itself, this birth, through a great miracle, differs from the manner in which human beings are born, and with Divine power consoles us in our laborious births.

How fortunate and lovable Your birth, sweet Jesus, Son of an exalted Virgin, that is, of the extraordinary Virgin Mary, for Your birth renews the births of all, improves their condition, shakes off prejudices against them, and rends the decree that condemned nature. As a result, those who are ashamed to be part of the sinful race of Adam can rejoice at Your unblemished birth and be sure of being happily reborn through Your grace.

I thank you, Jesus, only-begotten Son of God, for Your miraculous and glorious birth in virtue of which we have access to the grace by which we live, and we are confident in our hope of the glory of the children of God, which heaven has promised us.

You are the pledge of our redemption; You are the everlasting hope of all of us faithful. To You we humble sinners have recourse, You Who first sought us out when we did not yet know You.

O holy and sweet infancy, which instills true innocence into human hearts; because of it, every period of life returns to You, is blessed, and becomes like You, not in the weakness of human limbs but in the humility of the senses and good morals.

Grant that I may follow in Your footsteps, most merciful Jesus, for in order to give humanity the example of virtue and eternal salvation, You willed to be born at midnight of the Virgin Mary. Enable me, then, to thank You and to sing Your praises with the Angels and the whole heavily host, whom You appointed the happy messengers of Your holy birth.

(The Imitation of Mary, Thomas a` Kempis, Chapter 2)