Who Are You Oh Immaculatae!
Who are you Immaculata?
“Oh Lady, who are You? Who are You, oh Immaculata? I cannot discern, try as I might, what does it mean to be a creature of God. It is beyond my strength to comprehend what it means to be an adopted child of God.
And You, oh Immaculata, who are You? Not solely a creature, nor just an adopted child but the Mother of God; not mere an adoptive Mother but the true Mother of God. That is not a presumption nor a probability but a certainty, an absolute certainty, a dogma of Faith.
But are You still the Mother of God? The title of mother never changes. For all eternity God will say unto You: “My Mother”… The giver of the fourth commandment shall honour You eternally, forever… Who are You, oh Mother of God?… And He, The God made Flesh delighted in calling Himself the Son of Man. Yet people did not understand this. And today there are so very few souls who understand and so flawed is still their understanding.”
Fr. Maximilian, December, 8, 1938
Prophecies which relate to the Blessed Virgin Mary
Mary, whose soul had been enriched with all the treasures of divine grace; Mary, who had been solemnly promised to men in the earthly paradise, and had consequently been impatiently awaited by them; Mary, who, as we have seen, was prefigured by so many invincible heroines, could not be passed over in silence by the divine oracles: for the prophecies, an emanation of the attributes of the divinity, to whom alone is reserved a knowledge of the future, are, without comparison, more splendid and luminous than types and figures.
St. Cyprian says, that it is a tradition taught in the synagogue, and acknowledged by the Church as true, that all the prophets, without a single exception, predicted only of the time of the Messias. By reason, then, of the close connection existing between the Mother and the Son, by reason of the relation in which Mary stands to Jesus, the prophets, in their divine inspirations, could not forget there when they spoke of him; for it is not given to human understanding to fathom the sublime prodigies embraced in the august mystery of the Incarnation, it was necessary, at least, that these mysteries should be in some nammer announced and predicted to men, in order that the least suspicion, the slightest outrage, could never be conceived either against the essential sanctity of the Son, or the purity of her who was to be his mother, without ceasing to be a Virgin. It was necessary, then, that Mary should be predicted as an incomparable creature, with her eminent greatness, her immaculate purity, her miraculous fruitfulness, and all the singular advantages with which the Divine Hand was to enrich her. This we shall easily prove, in speaking of the prophecies which relate to our dear and blessed Mother.
The first who announced our glorious Lady, was her royal ancestor the prophet David, when to the sweet strains for his inspired harp he sang: „The earth hath yielded her fruit”, which according to St. Jerome’s explanation signifies: „Mary, who is also our earth, because on our side she is the daughter of Adam, and formed consequently of the same clay as we, has yielded from her chaste and virginal womb the divine fruit, that fruit of immortality, with which, too, we were to nourish ourselves in the sacrament of the Eucharist”.
The same royal prophet also predicts Mary, when it was given him to see in the future his Christ issuing victorious from her womb, and when he sings: „Arise, O Lord, into thy resting place, thou and the ark which thou hast sanctified”, and he also alluded to Mary, when he said: „God is our king before ages: he hath wrought salvation in the midst of the earth”; word which St. Bernard thus explains: „The womb of Mary is called with admirable propriety ‘the midst of the earth’, since those who dwell in heaven, and those who are beneath the earth; those who lived before us, and we who are now alive; those who come after us, and all their posterity, all turn their eyes to Mary as the centre, as towards the ark of God, as towards the reason of all thing, as towards the hope of all ages. The inhabitants of heaven admire her to rejoice and be consoled: those who are under the earth, by which I mean those in limbo and in Abraham’s bosom, to be delivered: those who went before us to be found faithful and true in their prophecies: those who followed them to be glorified. O mother of God, sovereign of the world, queen of heaven, all generations shall call thee blessed, because thou hast given to all life and glory. In thee, O Mary, the angels find joy, the just grace, and sinners pardon; and well do all creatures turn their eyes to thee, because in thee, and by thee, that is to say, by thy divine Son, the merciful hand of the Almighty has created in a new and spiritual manner, all that he created in the beginning”.
This prophecy of David concerning Mary is echoed by his son, Salomon, when he says: „Wisdom hath built herself a house, she hath hewn her out seven pillars”. The prophet, according to the interpretation of the Holy Fathers, understands that the wisdom of God, the coeternal Word of the Father, the virtue of God, Jesus Christ who is God, made himself an abode in the womb of Mary, where, on proceeding from the bosom of the Father, he assumed the human form. The womb of Mary is then the house, the temple of the Word made flesh. The fullness of the Divinity dwells in that temple, where he hath hewn out seven pillars to support and adorn it; that is, which he hath enriched with the theological and cardinal virtues; or rather, as St. Bonaventure says, he infused into the soul of Mary the seven graces of the Holy Ghost, in order to render it, by faith and works, an abode worthy of the divinity”.
According to the opinion of St. Bernard and other Fathers, Solomon also prophesied of Mary, when seized with admiration he exclaimed: „Who shall find a valiant woman? Far and from the uttermost coasts, is the price of her”.
Now what creature was ever more valiant than Mary? She was so valiant that, according to the divine promise, she crushed the head of the infernal serpent who impelled the first man to evil.
The whole Canticle of Canticles may be considered as a prophecy relative to the Blessed Virgin, who is the Creator’s daughter for predilection. In fact, the Holy Fathers say that, in the Canticle of Canticles, Solomon predicts the Blessed Virgin, under various figurative expressions, some of which we shall select. First, with St. Jerome and St. Bernard, we find her predicted under the pleasing image of a land where the flowers of the fields and the lily of the valleys bud forth. Now the earth of the fields differs from a garden, in its producing flowers of the fields and the lily of the valleys bud forth. Now the earth of the fields differs from a garden, in its producing flowers spontaneously without man’s sowing or cultivating them; so by a miracle of grace, and without man’s intervention, the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary produces the ever-verdant flower, which is Jesus Christ. We contemplate Mary, in that garden enclosed on every side, where the rarest and most charming flowers are planted, of every hue and every odor, and where the ancient serpent cannot glide in nor distil his venom. She appears to us under the figure of a lily amid thorn, showing herself such by her spotless purity, candid like the lily, like it fragrant in the odor of every virtue, intact amid the thorns which protect it ,because she was to be, by an extraordinary miracle, at once virgin and mother. Finally, with St. John Damascenus, we behold her predicted under the figure of a sealed fountain, giving rise to a pure and limpid stream, that is, to the course of the life of Jesus, without breaking the seal of her Virginity.
Mary, the ornament of the world by her virtues, is predicted not only in this beautiful one of Solomon, in whom there never was the shadow of a fault, but also in the early dawn, in the silent beauty of the moon, in the dazzling splendor of the sun, in the woman who advances so terrible at the head of an army ranged in battle array. And if Mary, as St. Bonaventure says, is like the Aurora, how has she not seattered the dark night of sin? Hallowed in her mother’s womb, she was nurtured in the light of grace, and brought forth the Eternal Sun of Justice, who inundated her with his splendor before he was seen on earth. And if she is like the silver moon, when that planet is in its fullness, how could Mary be aught but all beautiful, since she is fully illuminated by the Eternal Sun of Wisdom and Truth, which is god, whose effulgence she reflects on the whole universe? And if it shines after the likeness of the sun, which alone of all creatures can strikingly represent the Eternal Sun of Justice, what is this but to say, that as the sun by its light surpasses all the other orbs of light, so Mary shines with a greater glory than all the other Saints in heaven, those luminous stars that surround and adorn the throne of God? Is she not as terrible as an army ranged in battle array, she who overcame the proud enemy of the human race, and who alone has destroyed all the monsters of heresy which have appeared in the world, as the Church chants in her honor?
The prophet Isaias predicts our august Queen still more clearly. „In the last days, the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be prepared on the top of mountains, and it shall be exalted above the prophet, Pope St. Gregory thus speaks: „Under the name of this mountain, we may well consider the august Virgin Mary, mother of God, inasmuch as she was truly like a mountain by the eminent dignity to which she was predestined, and that she rose above all God’s chosen creatures. Under this image of an elevated mountain, who can refuse to recognize Mary, who, judged worthy to conceive the Eternal Word, rose by her merits above all the choirs of angels and reached the very throne of the divinity? The inaccessible elevation of this mountain is well prophesied in these words of Isaias: ‘In the last days’, that is, at the time of the coming of the Messias, ‘the mountain for the house of the Lord shall be prepared on the top of mountains’. In fact this mountain was above the summit of the mountains, inasmuch as Mary’s glory outshone the glory of all the saints. Now the mountain designates elevation, as the house signifies abode; the words mountain and house, therefore, suit Mary perfectly, since, enriched with incomparable merits she prepared in her virginal womb an abode for the only Son of God. She would not be the mountain placed on the top of mountains, if her divine fruitfulness had not raised her above all the choirs of angels: she would not be the house of the Lord, if the Divinity of the Eternal Word of the Father, had not, under the veil of humanity, chosen her womb as his abode.
On the throne where the same prophet sees the Lord seated, the Holy Fathers also recognize the Blessed Virgin; and indeed the Son of God descended from heaven into the chaste womb of Mary, as into his own sanctuary; for Mary, by the singular graces with which she was endowed, was found worthy to give him both her flesh and her blood. Hence St. John Damascenus, addressing Mary, says: „Thou art that royal throne which angels surround with respect, to adore their Creator and King abiding there”.
According to the Fathers, the very virgin whose childbearing the prophet announces, that is Mary, is also foretold under the image of that prophetess whom Isaias approached to understand the words which by God’s order he had written in his book. The name of prophetess, as St. Basil remarks, suits her perfectly, both because she prophesied truly in her celebrated Canticle, the Magnificat, and because Isaias approached her by God’s order to learn the signification of the words which he himself had written in his book by God’s dictation. Now on beholding in spirit this virgin prophetess become fruitful and bear a son who was to be called „Hasten to take away the spoils”, the prophet understood the mystery which God had decitated to him; in fact, Christ, born of a Virgin, overcame the devil, and quickly despoiled him of all his conquests.
Isaias still more clearly predicts her when he says: „Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel”. In these words, as St. Jerome well observes, we must not understand merely a virgin who preserved her virginity till marriage, but virgin remaining such after childbirth, a unique virgin, the Virgin by excellence. All these things are verified solely in the Blessed Virgin Mary, as she alone conceived without losing any thing of her purity, and bore a son, who being the Word made flesh, dwelling among men, was the true Emmanuel. Hence St. Matthew, after relating the admirable conception of the Son of God, by the operation of the Holy Ghost in the chaste womb of Mary, concludes thus: „Now, all this was done that it might be fulfilled, which the Lord spoke by the prophet saying: Behold a virgin shall be with child and bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us”.
Can we but understand as said of Mary, what the same prophet writes in another part of his prophecies: „And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root”. The Holy Fathers and interpreters all accord in saying that the rod is the Blessed Virgin; the flower, Christ; and the root, the family of David. The gentle St. Bernard explaining this prophecy, says: „It is evident that the Blessed Virgin mother of God is the rod, and that her divine Son is the flower; pure and ruddy flower, chosen out of thousands; a flower on which the very angels long to fix their gaze; a flower whose balmy perfume recalls the dead to life, and the flower too of the fields and not of the garden. But o Virgin”, pursues the Saint, „thou art the sublime rod! Thou risest to him who is seated on the throne, to the God of majesty! O truly heavenly plant, most precious and most holy! O true tree of life, worthy to bear the fruit of salvation!”.
Isaias foreetells the Blessed Virgin still better, when after having, with all the desires of his heart, described the victorious Cyrus, that liberator of the Jews, who was to be a figure of Christ, the prophet, animated by the Spirit of God, takes his flight upwards and soars to the true liberator Jesus, who is the end of all prophecy, and cries: „Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just; let the earth be opened and bud forth a Saviour”, thus urging on the happy day when the quickening Spirit should descend on the Virgin, and she fructified by him should bear a son, that the riches of heaven might become riches of earth, and that heaven and earth should form only one single field, a single germination. Now this earth which was to produce the precious fruit of life, perfectly prefigures Mary. The Seraphic Doctor also compares her to the earth: „What is more humble or more useful”, says he, „than the earth? We all tread the earth beneath our feet yet live on its fruits. Do we not draw from the fullness of the earth our food and clothing, bread and wine, wool and linen, and all necessaries of life? What then is more humble, or more useful than the earth? So too, what is more humble or more useful than Mary? Be her humility she is the lowest of all creatures, and by her fruitfulness she is the most useful; for, from whom do we receive what is necessary to our spiritual life, except from Mary?”. The earth for Adam bore only thorns and brambles; but, at the coming of Christ, justice on the earth, and from it sprung the just, apostles, martyrs, virgins, confessors. Finally, Mary was foretold by the prophet under this image of the earth, because supernaturally fructified by the Holy Ghost, she bore our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, from whom and by whom we receive all graces which lead to eternal happiness. „Therefore”, adds the Holy Doctor, „Isaias predicts Mary when he says: ‘Let the earth be opened and bud forth a Saviour’.
Many have believed that Ballam was a false prophet or magician who rendered himself famous by his divinations of presages, and the apostle St. Peter himself calls him mad; yet as the Holy Scripture speaks in such a way as leads us to suppose him a prophet of the true God, we shall cite his prophecy also. Invited by Balac King of Moab to curse the children of Israel, he on the contrary poured forth blessings upon them; and coming to encouraging hopes for that people, he predicts with singular clearness the time of the Messias coming. Aloft on the rugged mountain of Pharga, with incoherent and mysterious words, he cries: „I shall see him, but not now. I shall behold him, but not near. A star shall rise out of Jacob, and a sceptre shall spring up from Israel; and shall strike the chiefs of Moab, and shall waste all the children of Seth”. These expressions, which directly regard the Messias, called in the Apocalypse „the bright and morning star”, may also perfectly apply to her whom the Church salutes justly under the beautiful name of „Morning Star” and „Star of the Sea”.
I God by the voice of the prophets was pleased to make known to the Jewish people his first-born among the daughters, he did not even abandon those who dwelt in the unhappy blindness of heathendom. Foreseeing that few would hearken to the inspired prophecies of the Hebrew, he raised up in various parts of the world, maidens, who, as St. Jerome assures us, had as the reward of their chastity the signal privilege of announcing the future, whence they were called Sibyls. And here, we shall remark with Saint John Damascenus, that those distinguished for the crearness with which they spoke of Mary were the Sibyls of Erythrea, Tibur, and Cuymae .They first revealed the beauteous name of Mary in these words: „A mother named Mary shall spring from the race of the Jews, and of her shall be born, by the sole power of the Holy Spirit, the Son of God called Jesus; and she shall be a virgin before and after his birth, and her son shall be at once true God and true man”. The second reveals the happy land that is to be the home of the Man-God: „Christ shall be born in Behlehem, he shall be announced in Nazareth: happy the mother who shall nurture him with her milk”. Finally, the Cumaean, as St. John Damascenus says, predicts not only that the Magi, led by a star, will come to adore, in the arms of his virgin mother, the King of the heavenly hosts, borne by her, but also penetrating still further in thought, she predicts that in the last age the Son of God shall be humbled.
So great was the faith in these oracles throughout the world, that according to St. Epiphanius, in his life of Jeremias, and of Dorotheusu in his Symbo, temples were erected with this inscription, „Virgini Pariturae”, „To the Virgin Mother”.
According to all that we have stated in this and the preceeding chapter, we have clearly shown the sublimity, glory, and merit of our august Lady whom God from the cradle of the race promised to man as the future mother of the Redeeming Word of that Virgin whom God was pleased to hide beneath the mysterious veil of so many symbols, announce under so many figures, represent in so many invincible heroines, and predict by many prophetical oracles.
“The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary” by Monseigneur Gentilucci (1859)