Her garments were humble and poor, yet clean, . . . arranged and worn without pretense, but with the greatest modesty and propriety. At the time when, without her noticing it, the embassy of Heaven drew nigh unto Her, She was engaged in the highest contemplation concerning the mysteries which the Lord had renewed in Her by so many favors during the nine preceding days. And since, as we have said above, the Lord himself had assured Her that His Only-begotten would soon descend to assume human form, this great Queen was full of fervent and joyful affection in the expectation of its execution and inflamed with humble love, She spoke in her heart: "Is it possible that the blessed time has arrived, in which the Word of the eternal Father is to be born and to converse "with men? (Barauch 10, 38). That the world should possess Him? That men are to see Him in the flesh? (Is. 40, 5). That His inaccessible light is to shine forth to illumine those who sit in darkness? (Is. 9, 2). O, who shall be worthy to see and know Him! O, who shall be allowed to kiss the earth touched by His feet!"
"Rejoice, ye heavens, and console thyself, O earth (Ps. 95, 11); let all things bless and extol Him, since already His eternal happiness is nigh! O children of Adam, afflicted with sin, and yet creatures of My Beloved, now shall you raise your heads and throw off the yoke of your ancient servitude! (Is. 14, 25). O, ye ancient Forefathers and Prophets, and all ye just, that are detained in Limbo and are waiting in the bosom of Abraham, now shall you be consoled and your much desired and long promised Redeemer shall tarry no longer! (Agg. 2, 8). Let us all magnify Him and sing to Him hymns of praise! O who shall be the slave of Her, whom Isaias points out as His Mother (Is. 7, 4); O Emmanuel, true God and Man! O key of David, Who art to unlock Heaven! (Is. 22, 22). O eternal Wisdom! O Lawgiver of the new Church! Come, come to us, O Lord, and end the captivity of Thy people; let all flesh see Thy salvation!" (Is. 40, 5).
In order that the mystery of the Most High might be fulfilled, the holy Archangel Gabriel, in the shape described in the preceding chapter and accompanied by innumerable Angels in visible human forms and resplendent with incomparable beauty, entered into the chamber, where most holy Mary was praying. It was on a Thursday at six o'clock in the evening and at the approach of night. The great modesty and restraint of the Princess of Heaven did not permit Her to look at him more than was necessary to recognize him as an Angel of the Lord. Recognizing him as such, She, in her usual humility, wished to do him reverence; the holy princes would not allow it; on the contrary he himself bowed profoundly as before his Queen and Mistress, in whom he adored the heavenly mysteries of his Creator. At the same time he understood that from that day on the ancient times and the custom of old whereby men should worship Angels, as Abraham had done (Gen. 38, 2), were changed. For as human nature was raised to the dignity of God Himself in the person of the Word, men now held the position of adopted children, of companions and brethren of the Angels, as the Angel said to Evangelist Saint John, when he refused to be worshipped (Apoc. 19, 10).
The holy Archangel saluted our and his Queen and said: "Ave gratia plena, Dominus tecum, benedicta tu in mulieribus" (Luke 1, 28). Hearing this new salutation of the Angel, this most humble of all creatures was disturbed, but not confused in mind (Luke 1, 29). This disturbance arose from two causes: first, from her humility, for She thought Herself the lowest of the creatures and thus in her humility, was taken unawares at hearing Herself saluted and called the "Blessed among women;" secondly, when She heard this salute and began to consider within Herself how She should receive it, She was interiorly made to understand by the Lord, that He chose Her for His Mother, and this caused a still greater perturbance, having such an humble opinion of Herself. On account of this perturbance the Angel proceeded to explain to Her the decree of the Lord, saying: "Do not fear, Mary, for thou hast found grace before the Lord (Luke 1, 30); behold thou shalt conceive a Son in thy womb, and thou shalt give birth to Him, and thou shalt name Him Jesus; He shall be great, and He shall be called Son of the Most High," and the rest as recorded of the holy Archangel.
Our most prudent and humble Queen alone, among all the creatures, was sufficiently intelligent and magnanimous to estimate at its true value such a new and unheard of sacrament; and in proportion as She realized its greatness, so She was also moved with admiration. But She raised her humble heart to the Lord, Who could not refuse Her any petition, and in the secret of her spirit She asked new light and assistance by which to govern Herself in such an arduous transaction; for, as we have said in the preceding chapter, the Most High, in order to permit Her to act in this mystery solely in faith, hope and charity, left Her in the common state and suspended all other kinds of favors and interior elevations, which She so frequently or continually enjoyed. In this disposition She replied and said to holy Gabriel, what is written in Saint Luke: "How shall this happen, that I conceive and bear; since I know not man?" At the same time She interiorly represented to the Lord the vow of chastity, which She had made and the espousal, which His Majesty had celebrated with Her.
The holy prince Gabriel replied (Luke 1, 24) : "Lady, it is easy for the Divine power to make Thee a Mother without the co-operation of man; the Holy Spirit shall remain with Thee by a new presence and the virtue of the Most High shall overshadow Thee, so that the Holy of holies can be born of Thee, Who shall Himself be called the Son of God. And behold, thy cousin Elisabeth has likewise conceived a son in her sterile years and this is the sixth month of her conception; for nothing is impossible with God. He that can make her conceive, who was sterile, can bring it about, that Thou, Lady, be His Mother, still preserving thy virginity and enhancing thy purity.
With these and many other words the ambassador of Heaven instructed the most holy Mary, in order that, by the remembrance of the ancient promises and prophecies of holy Writ, by the reliance and trust in them and in the infinite power of the Most High, She might overcome her hesitancy at the heavenly message. But as the Lady herself exceeded the Angels in wisdom, prudence and in all sanctity, She withheld her answer, in order to be able to give it in accordance with the Divine will and that it might be worthy of the greatest of all the mysteries and sacraments of the divine power. She reflected that upon her answer depended the pledge of the most blessed Trinity, the fulfillment of his promises and prophecies, the most pleasing and acceptable of all sacrifices, the opening of the gates of Paradise, the victory and triumph over Hell, the Redemption of all the human race, the satisfaction of the Divine justice, the foundation of the new law of grace, the glorification of men, the rejoicing of the Angels, and whatever was connected with the Incarnation of the Only-begotten of the Father and His assuming the form of servant in her virginal womb (Philip 2, 7).
A great wonder, indeed, and worthy of our admiration, that all these mysteries and whatever others they included, should be entrusted by the Almighty to an humble Maiden and made dependent upon her fiat. But befittingly and securely He left them to the wise and strong decision of this courageous Woman (Prov. 31, 11), since She would consider them with such magnanimity and nobility, that perforce His confidence in Her was not misplaced. The operations, which proceed within the Divine Essence, depend not on the co-operation of creatures, for they have no part in them and God could not expect such co-operations for executing the works ad intra, but in the works ad extra and such as were contingent, among which that of becoming man was the most exalted, He could not proceed without the co-operation of most holy Mary and without her free consent. For He wished to reach this acme of all the works outside Himself in Her and that we should owe this benefit to this Mother of wisdom and our Reparatrix.
Therefore this great Lady considered and inspected profoundly this spacious field of the dignity of Mother of God (Prov. 21, 16) in order to purchase it by her fiat; She clothed Herself in fortitude more than human, and She tasted and saw how profitable was this enterprise and commerce with the Divinity. She comprehended the ways of His hidden benevolence and; adorned Herself with fortitude and beauty. And having conferred with Herself and with the heavenly messenger Gabriel about the grandeur of these high and Divine sacraments, and finding Herself in excellent condition to receive the message sent to Her, her purest soul was absorbed and elevated in admiration, reverence and highest intensity of Divine love. By the intensity of these movements and supernal affections, her most pure heart, as it were by natural consequence, was contracted and compressed with such force, that it distilled three drops of her most pure blood, and these, finding their way to the natural place for the act of conception, were formed by the power of the Divine and holy Spirit, into the Body of Christ our Lord. Thus the matter, from which the most holy humanity of the Word for our Redemption is composed, was furnished and administered by the most pure heart of Mary and through the sheer force of her true love. At the same moment, with a humility never sufficiently to be extolled, inclining slightly her head and joining her hands, She pronounced these words, which were the beginning of our salvation: "Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum" (Luke 1,31).
At the pronouncing of this "fiat," so sweet to the hearing of God and so fortunate for us, in one instant, four things happened. First, the most holy Body of Christ our Lord was formed from the three drops of blood furnished by the heart of most holy Mary. Secondly, the most holy Soul of the same Lord was created, just as the other souls. Thirdly, the Soul and the Body united in order to compose His perfect humanity. Fourthly, the Divinity united Itself in the Person of the Word with the humanity, which together became one composite being in hypostatical union; and thus was formed Christ true God and Man, our Lord and Redeemer. This happened in springtime on the twenty-fifth of March, at break or dawning of the day, in the same hour, in which our first father Adam was made and in the year of the creation of the world 5199, which agrees also with the count of the Roman Church in her Martyrology under the guidance of the Holy Ghost. This reckoning is the true and certain one, as was told me, when I inquired at command of my superiors. Conformable to this the world was created in the month of March, which corresponds to the beginning of creation. And as the works of the Most High are perfect and complete (Deut. 32, 4), the plants and trees come forth from the hands of his Majesty bearing fruit, and they would have borne them continually without intermission, if sin had not changed the whole nature. The Divine Child began to grow in the natural manner in the recess of the womb, being nourished by the substance and the blood of His most holy Mother, just as other men; yet it was more free and exempt from the imperfections, to which other children of Adam are subject in that place and period. For from some of these, namely those that are accidental and unnecessary to the substance of the act of generation, being merely effects of sin, the Empress of Heaven was free. She was also free from the superfluities caused by sin, which in other women are common and happen naturally in the formation, sustenance and growth of their children. For the necessary matter, which is proper to the infected nature of the descendants of Eve and which was wanting in Her, was supplied and administered in Her by the exercise of heroic acts of virtue and especially by charity. By the fervor of her soul and her loving affections the blood and humors of her body were changed and thereby Divine Providence provided for the sustenance of the Divine Child. Thus in a natural manner the humanity of our Redeemer was nourished, while His Divinity was recreated and pleased with her heroic virtues. Most holy Mary furnished to the Holy Ghost, for the formation of this Body, pure and limpid blood, free from sin and all its tendencies. And whatever impure and imperfect matter is supplied by other mothers for the growth of their children was administered by the Queen of Heaven most pure and delicate in substance. For it was built up and supplied by the power of her loving affections and her other virtues. In a like manner was purified whatever served as food for the heavenly Queen. For, as She knew that her nourishment was at the same time to sustain and nourish the Son of God, She partook of it with such heroic acts of virtue, that the angelic Spirits wondered how such common human actions could be connected with such supernal heights of merit and perfection in the sight of God.
Thus adorned and deified by the Divinity and its gifts, the most holy soul of Christ our Lord proceeded in its operations in the following order: immediately it began to see and know the Divinity intuitively as It is in Itself and as It is united to His most holy humanity, loving It with the highest beatific love and perceiving the inferiority of the human nature in comparison with the essence of God. The Soul of Christ humiliated Itself profoundly, and in this humility It gave thanks to the immutable being of God for having created It and for the benefit of the hypostatic union, by which, though remaining human, it was raised to the essence of God. It also recognized that His most holy humanity was made capable of suffering, and was adapted for attaining the end of the Redemption. In this knowledge it offered itself as the Redeemer in sacrifice for the human race (Ps. 39, 8), accepting the state of suffering and giving thanks in His Own name and in the name of mankind to the eternal Father. He recognized the composition of His most holy humanity, the substance of which it was made, and how most holy Mary by the force of her charity and of her heroic virtues, furnished its substance. He took possession of this holy tabernacle and dwelling; rejoicing in its most exquisite beauty, and, well pleased, reserved as His Own property the soul of this most perfect and most pure Creature for all eternity.
He praised the eternal Father for having created Her and endowed Her with such vast graces and gifts; for having exempted Her and freed Her from the common law of sin, as His Daughter, while all the other descendants of Adam have incurred its guilt (Rom. 5, 18). He prayed for the most pure Lady and for Saint Joseph, asking eternal salvation for them. All these acts, and many others, were most exalted and proceeded from Him as true God and Man. Not taking into account those that pertain to the Beatific Vision and love, these acts and each one by itself, were of such merit that they alone would have sufficed to redeem infinite worlds, if such could exist.
Even the act of obedience alone, by which the most holy humanity of the Word subjected itself to suffering and prevented the glory of His Soul from being communicated to His Body, was abundantly sufficient for our salvation. But although this sufficed for our salvation, nothing would satisfy His immense love for men except the full limit of effective love (John 13, 1); for this was the purpose of His life, that He should consume it in demonstrations and tokens of such intense love, that neither the understanding of men nor of Angels was able to comprehend it. And if in the first instant of His entrance into the world He enriched it so immeasurably, what treasures, what riches of merits must He have stored up for it, when He left it by His Passion and Death on the Cross after thirty-three years of labor and activity all Divine! O immense love! O charity without limit! O mercy without measure! O most generous kindness! and, on the other hand, O ingratitude and base forgetfulness of mortals in the face of such unheard of and such vast benefaction! What would have become of us without Him? How much less could we do for this our Redeemer and Lord, even if He had conferred on us but small favors, while now we are scarcely moved and obliged by His doing for us all that He could? If we do not wish to treat as a Redeemer Him, Who has given us eternal life and liberty, let us at least hear Him as our Teacher, let us follow Him as our Leader, as our guiding light, which shows us the way to our true happiness.
These operations of Christ our Lord in the first instant of His conception were followed, in another essential instant, by the Beatific Vision of the Divinity, . . for in one instant of time many instants of essence can take place. In this Vision the heavenly Lady perceived with clearness and distinction the mystery of the hypostatic union of the Divine and the human natures in the Person of the eternal Word, and the most holy Trinity confirmed Her in the title and the rights of Mother of God. This in all rigor of truth She was, since She was the natural Mother of a Son, Who was eternal God with the same certainty and truth as He was man. Although this great Lady did not directly co-operate in the union of the Divinity with the humanity, She did not on this account lose her right to be called the Mother of the true God; for She concurred by administering the material and by exerting her faculties, as far as it pertained to a true Mother; and to a greater extent than to ordinary mothers, since in Her the conception and the generation took place without the aid of a man. Just as in other generations the agents, which bring them about in the natural course, are called father and mother, each furnishing that which is necessary, without however concurring directly in the creation of the soul, nor in its infusion into the body of the child; so also, and with greater reason, most holy Mary must be called, and did call Herself, Mother of God; for She alone concurred in the generation of Christ, true God and Man, as a Mother, to the exclusion of any other natural cause; and only through this concurrence of Mary in the generation, Christ, the Man-God, was born.
But She was especially persistent and fervent in her prayer to obtain guidance of the Almighty for the worthy fulfillment of her office as Mother of the Only-begotten of the Father. For this, before all other graces, Her humble heart urged Her to desire, and this was especially the subject of her solicitude, that She might be guided in all her actions as becomes the Mother of God. The Almighty answered Her: "My Dove, do not fear, for I will assist thee and guide thee, directing thee in all things necessary for the service of My Only-begotten Son." With this promise She came to Herself and issued from her ecstasy, in which all that I have said had happened, and which was the most wonderful She ever had. Restored to her faculties, her first action was to prostrate Herself on the earth and adore her holiest Son, God and Man, conceived in her virginal womb; for this She had not yet done with her external and bodily senses and faculties. Nothing that She could do in the service of her Creator, did this most prudent Mother leave undone. From that time on She was conscious of feeling new and Divine effects in her holiest soul and in her exterior and interior faculties. And although the whole tenor of her life had been most noble both as regards her body as her soul; yet on this day of the incarnation of the Word it rose to still greater nobility of spirit and was made more godlike by still higher reaches of grace and indescribable gifts.
WORDS of the QUEEN
My dearest daughter, many times I have confided and manifested to thee the love burning within my bosom: for I wish that it should be ardently re-enkindled within thy own, and that thou profit from the instruction, which I give thee. Happy is the soul, to which the Most High manifests His holy and perfect will; but more happy and blessed is he, who puts into execution, what he has learned. In many ways God shows to mortals the highways and pathways of eternal life: by the Gospels and the holy Scriptures, by the Sacraments and the laws of the holy Church, by the writings and examples of the Saints, and especially, by the obedience due to the guidings of its ministers, of whom His Majesty said: "Whoever hears you, hears Me;" for obeying them is the same as obeying the Lord Himself. Whenever by any of these means thou hast come to the knowledge of the will of God, I desire thee to assume the wings of humility and obedience, and, as if in ethereal flight or like the quickest sunbeam, hasten to execute it and thereby fulfill the Divine pleasure.
Besides these means of instruction, the Most High has still others in order to direct the soul; namely, He intimates His perfect will to them in a supernatural manner, and reveals to them many sacraments. This kind of instruction is of many and different degrees; not all of them are common or ordinary to all souls; for the Lord dispenses His light in measure and weight (Wis. 11, 21). Sometimes He speaks to the heart and the interior feelings in commands; at others, in correction, advising or instructing: sometimes He moves the heart to ask Him; at other times He proposes clearly what He desires, in order that the soul may be moved to fulfill it; again He manifests, as in a clear mirror, great mysteries, in order that they may be seen and recognized by the intellect and loved by the will. But this great and infinite Good is always sweet in commanding, powerful in giving the necessary help for obedience, just in His commands, quick in disposing circumstances so that He can be obeyed, notwithstanding all the impediments which hinder the fulfillment of His most holy will.
In receiving this Divine light, my daughter, I wish to see thee very attentive, and very quick and diligent in following it up in deed. In order to hear this most delicate and spiritual voice of the Lord it is necessary, that the faculties of the soul be purged from earthly grossness and that the creature live entirely according to the spirit; for the animal man does not perceive the elevated things of the Divinity (1 Cor. 2, 14). Be attentive then to His secrets (Is. 34, 16) and forget all that is of the outside; listen, my daughter, and incline thy ear; free thyself from all visible things (Ps. 44, 11). And in order that thou mayest be diligent, cultivate love; for love is a fire, which does not have its effect until the material is prepared; therefore let thy heart always be disposed and prepared. Whenever the Most High bids thee or communicates to thee anything for the welfare of souls, or especially for their eternal salvation, devote thyself to it entirely; for they are bought at the inestimable price of the Blood of the Lamb and of Divine love. Do not allow thyself to be hindered in this matter by thy own lowliness and bashfulness; but overcome the fear which restrains thee, for if thou thyself art of small value and usefulness, the Most High is rich (1 Pet. 1, 18), powerful, great, and by Himself performs all things (Rom. 10, 12). Thy promptness and affection will not go without its reward, although I wish thee rather to be moved entirely by the pleasure of thy Lord.