O Virgo Virginum

O Antiphons

O Virgo virginum,
quomodo fiet istud?
Quia nec primam similem visa es
nec habere sequentem.
Filiae Ierusalem,
quid me admiramini?
Divinum est mysterium hoc quod cernitis.

O Virgin of virgins,
how shall this be?
For neither before was any like thee,
nor shall there be after.
Daughters of Jerusalem,
why marvel ye at me?
That which ye behold is a divine mystery.

Christ is born to us. Glorify him.

The Virgin shall bear a Son. And he shall crush the head of the serpent. Mary. Birthgiver of God. Mother of our Lord. Our Lady.

This was almost the only time of year that, growing up Protestant in the Restoration Movement churches, that I ever heard much about Mary. We were exhorted to the submission and obedience she exhibited. And we marveled that a human woman would give birth to Him who was Everlasting God. But I don’t ever recall meditating overlong on the significance and singularity of Mary.

God spent not only all of Mary’s life co-working with her to prepare her for the Incarnation, he spent all of human history working to the day when Mary gave birth to her firstborn, a Son. Mary’s Son is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. There was no other woman God could have depended upon to give her humanity to our Lord. “At the right time” Paul says, “Christ was born of the woman.”

This is a marvel. We do well to wonder, that through the long ages, out of the countless people who’d lived, God kept narrowing his focus, the point of the wedge became smaller and smaller, until it all coalesced in one young woman in Roman-occupied Israel. In a moment of time, in the space of a breath, in an as-yet-unformed intention, hung all the labors of God from before the creation of the world.

“Let it be to me . . .” says the Virgin. And in a mystery shut to human pretension, him whom the heavens and earth could not contain, condescended to be circumscribed in the womb of Mary. And with the Virgin’s “Fiat mihi,” her “Genoito moi,” all of heaven and earth now rejoices at the mighty act God has done.

Never before her, nor ever since, has any woman been so favored by God. Truly, the Birthgiver of God, is she whom Gabriel called, “Full of grace.” Truly, as Mary herself prophesied, all generations have called her “Blessed.” In her womb was accomplished salvation, the union of humanity with God by his great mercy.

Christ is born to us. Glorify him.

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