The Mother of  the Savior
Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O. P.
Nihil Obstat  and Imprimi Potest 1941 and 1948


Article 5 of of The Divine Maternity

and the Plenitude of Grace

These mysteries are those especially which the Rosary proposes for our consideration. 

The Nativity

Mary grew in humility, poverty and love of God by giving birth to her Son in a stable. His cradle was but a manger. But, by contrast, there were the Angels there to sing 'Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will.' Those words were sweet to the ears of the shepherds and of St. Joseph, and still more sweet to the ears of Mary. They were the beginning of a Gloria which the Church does not cease to sing at Mass while this world endures, and the liturgy of eternity has not yet replaced that of time.

   It is said of Mary that she kept all these words, pondering them in her heart. Though her joy at the birth of her Son was intense, she treasured it up in silence. St. Elisabeth alone received her confidences. God's greatest actions defy human expression. What could Mary say to equal what she had experienced?

From Article 5, Chapter II, The Consequence of Mary's Plenitude of Grace

From the instant of her conception, Mary's initial plenitude of grace included the infused virtues and the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost, which are the different parts or functions of the spiritual organism. Even from before St. Thomas's time, habitual grace was called 'the grace of the virtues and the gifts' because of its connection with them; for the infused virtues, theological and moral, flow from grace [in a degree proportioned to its perfection] as its properties, just as the faculties flow from the substance of the soul . . . Furthermore, the infused virtues and the gifts are linked up with charity which makes their acts meritorious, and they keep pace with in in their growth as do the five fingers of the hand with one another. It may well happen that the gifts of wisdom, understanding and knowledge, which are both speculative and practical, will manifest themselves in one Saint more in their practical and in another more in their speculative roles . . . From these principles, which are commonly accepted in treatises on the virtues in general and the gifts, it is usually deduced that mary had the infused theological and moral virtues and the gifts from the first instant of her conception, and that they flowed from and were proportionate to her initial fullness of grace. Mary ---- destined even then to be the Mother of God and men ---- could not have been less perfect than Eve at her creation. Even if she did not receive in her body the privileges of impassibility and immortality, she must have had in her soul all that pertained spiritually to the state of original justice ---- all, and more, even, since her initial fullness of grace surpassed the grace of all the Saints together. her virtues in their initial state must, therefore, have surpassed the heroic virtues  of the greatest Saints. Her faith, lit up by the gifts of wisdom, understanding and knowledge, was unshakably firm and most penetrating. Her hope was unconquerable, proof against presumption and despair alike. Her charity was most ardent. In fine, her initial holiness, which surpassed that of God's greatest servants, was born with her, and did not cease to grow all through life . . . .

Theologians teach that . . . Since Mary received grace and the infused virtues and the gifts in the first instant of her conception in a degree higher than that of the final grace of the Saints, she must have been sanctified in the way proper to adults, that is, by disposing her through actual grace for habitual grace, and by using this latter as a principle of merit from the moment she received it; in other words, she offered herself to God as her Son did on His entry into the world. Mary did not, of course, know then that she would be one day the Mother of God, but none the less she would accept all that the Lord asked and would ask of her . . .

           The Presentation in the Temple

   Mary said her Fiat in peace and holy joy on the day of the Annunciation. There was sorrow too in her heart at the thought of the sufferings which Isaias had foretold would befall her Son. Still more light is thrown for her on the mystery of the Redemption when the holy old man Simeon speaks of the Child Jesus as the 'Salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples: A light to the revelation of the Gentiles'. Mary remains silent in wonder and thanksgiving. Simeon continues: 'This Child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted.' Jesus, come for the salvation of all, will be the occasion of the fall of many, He will be a stumbling block (Is. viii, 14) for many of the Jews, who, refusing to recognize Him as the Messiah, will fall into infidelity and thence to eternal ruin (Rom. ix, 32; I Cor. i, 13). Jesus Himself will say later: 'Blessed is he that shall not be scandalized in me' (Matt. xi, 6).

   Turning then to Mary herself, Simeon addressed to her the prophetic words: 'And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed.' Mary will have a share in the Savior's trials. His sufferings will be hers. Her very heart will be pierced by a sword of sorrow.

Had the Son of Man not come thus on earth we should never have known the full malice of pride's revolt against truth. The hidden thoughts of hypocrisy and false zeal were revealed when the Pharisees cried out for the crucifixion of Him who is Holiness.

 Jesus' fulness of grace had two apparently contradictory effects: the most perfect peace of soul; the will to offer Himself as a redemptive victim. Mary's grace produced two similarly contrasting effects: the pure joys of the days of the Annunciation and the Nativity; the desire to be united most generously to the sufferings of her Son for our salvation. Thus, presenting Him in the temple, she already offers Him for us. Joy and sorrow are wedded in the heart of the Mother of God who is already the Mother of all who will believe in her Son.

The Flight into Egypt

St. Matthew tells us how, after the Magi had come to adore, an Angel appeared to Joseph in his sleep saying: 'Arise, and take the Child and his mother, and fly into Egypt; and be there until I shall tell thee. For it will come to pass that Herod will seek the Child to destroy him.' True to the Angel's prophecy, Herod ordered the massacre of all the children of two years and under, in and around Bethlehem.

 It is Jesus Whom this king fears. He fears where there is no reason to fear, and despises God's anger which he should hold in dread. Mary and Joseph are called to share in Jesus' sufferings. 'Before, they had lived in peace and earned their bread without anxiety by the labor of their hands. But as soon as Jesus is given to them their tranquil calm is broken . . . they must share in His Cross.' [44] The Holy Innocents share also in the Cross. Their massacre shows us that they were predestined from all eternity for the glory of Martyrdom.

   When Herod has died, an Angel appears again to Joseph to tell him that the time has come to go to Nazareth in Galilee.

The Hidden Life of Nazareth

   Mary grew continuously in grace and charity as she carried the Infant in her arms, fed Him, embraced Him and was caressed by Him, heard His first words, guided His first steps.

Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and grace with God and men.' Arrived at the age of twelve years, He accompanied Mary and Joseph to Jerusalem for the Pasch. When the day of departure came, He remained in the city unknown to His parents. It was only after three days that they found Him in the midst of the doctors. And He said to them: 'How is it that you sought me: did you not know that I must be about my Father's business?' But Mary and Joseph 'understood not the word that he spoke to them.'

 Mary accepted in faith what she could not as yet understand. The depth and the extent of the Mystery of the Redemption will be revealed to her only gradually. She is glad to have found Jesus again. But in her joy sounds many an overtone of sadnesses yet to come.

Bossuet has some remarkable reflections on the hidden life, which lasted up to the time of Jesus' public ministry. [45]

   'There are some who feel ashamed for Jesus' sake that He should have endured the wearisomeness of so long a retirement. They experience much the same feelings in regard to Mary, and try to enliven her period at Nazareth by attributing continual miracles to her. Rather let us pay heed to the words of the gospel: "Mary kept all these words in her heart." Was not that a task worthy of her? And if the mysteries of His infancy were so rich a subject for her meditation, what of the mysteries that succeeded them? Mary meditated on Jesus . .  . she remained in perpetual contemplation, her heart melting, as it were, in love and longing. What then shall we say to those who invented so many pretty fables about Our Lady?  What, if not that humble and perfect contemplation did not seem enough in their eyes?

But if it was enough for thirty years of Mary's ---- and of Jesus' ---- life, it was enough for the other years too. The silence of the Scriptures about Mary is more eloquent than all discourses. Learn, O man, in the midst of your restless activity, to be satisfied to think of Jesus, to listen to Him within, to hear again His words . . . Of what are you complaining, human pride, when you say you count for little in this world? Did Jesus count for much there? Or Mary? They were the wonder of the world, the sight that ravished God and angels. And what did they do?  What name did they bear? Men wish to bear an honored name, to take part in brilliant movements. They do not know Jesus and Mary . . . You say you have nothing to do. The salvation of souls is in your hands ---- in part, at least! Do you not know enemies whom you could help to reconcile, quarrels you could mend? Are there not souls in misery you could save from blasphemy and despair? And even if you have nothing of all that, have you not the work of your own salvation, which is for every soul the true work of God?'

   Reflecting on the hidden life of Nazareth and on Mary's spiritual progress in its silence, and reflecting by way of contrast on what the world terms progress, we are forced to conclude: men never talked more of progress than since they began to neglect its most important form, spiritual progress. And what has been the result? That the baser forms of progress, sought for their own sake, have brought pleasure, idleness and unemployment in their train, and prepared the way for a moral decline towards materialism, atheism ---- and even barbarism, as the recent world wars prove, for Mary, on the contrary, we fin the ever more perfect realization of the Gospel words: 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind.' The further she advances the more she loves God with all her heart, for the more she sees the opposition to Jesus growing in the course of His ministry up to the consummation of the mystery of the Redemption.

44. Bossuet, Elevations, 19th Week, 3rd Elevation.
45. Elevations, 20th Week, 9th and 10th Elevations.


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