Rorate Caeli

Quasi aurora consurgens
Our Lady in the month of her Nativity

As for many of the Marian feasts, also that of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary originates from the East. In the Latin Church, it seems to have been introduced by the Eastern Pope Sergius I at the end of the VII century. It is a universal Feast and it could not be otherwise, since it concerns the most perfect Creature that God has ever created, destined to be the Mother of God, Mediatrix of grace and Co-Redemptrix of the human race.

Auguste Nicolas, alluding to the silence of the Gospel with regard to the Birth of Our Lady, writes: “As soon as the Gospel lets us know that she exists, when it presents Her to us as Mother, at the same moment the Mother and the Son begin to occupy our attention and we only hear the name of Mary when we hear that of Jesus: Maria de qua natus est Christus. This means that Mary Most Holy is less the daughter of Adam than the Mother of Jesus: that she does not inherit the nobility of Her parents, but, on the contrary, all Her relatives are ennobled by Her.” 

“The Virgin Mary was predestined to be the Mother of God; not only predestined, but created for this ultimate purpose by God Himself, Who wanted to be born of Her and, therefore, it can be affirmed, not in a vague manner but in a very precise way, that She is the Daughter of Jesus without ceasing to be His Mother, the Daughter of God and the Mother of Man…and that according to a beautiful expression of a Father of the Church, Her genealogy commences with the Divinity and ends with the Humanity of Her Son.”

The Soul of Mary Most Holy was certainly the most beautiful one created by God. In fact, according to St. Peter Damien, after the Incarnation of the Word, this was the greatest work and in itself the most worthy one that the Almighty had done. St. Bonaventure affirms that the Virgin Mary had in fullness all that which the Saints have in part. And St. Vincent Ferrer, speaking of the holiness of Our Lady before Her Birth, says that She surpassed that of all the Saints and Angels together. That it not surprising if one considers that the Virgin Mary was destined to be the Mother of God and it was, therefore, fitting that God would adorn Her from the first moment by an immense grace which was of a superior order to that of all the other Angels and men, the grace having to correspond to the very great dignity to which God had destined Her. St. Bernard says that Our Lady was so sublime in sanctity, that to God it was not fitting for Him to have another Mother than Mary Most Holy and to Her it was not fitting to have another Son than God.

The second reason which explains the lofty sanctity of the Virgin Mary is based on Her mission as Co-Redemptrix of mankind and Universal Mediatrix of grace. Richard of St. Victor writes that Our Lady “desires the salvation of all, goes in search of it and obtains it; or rather, through Her, the salvation of all had been wrought”: She, therefore, in union with Her Son and dependant on Him, co-operated in the Redemption of mankind. That means that – in virtue of such cooperation – every grace which descends upon mankind is dispensed by means of Mary. Therefore the Angel Gabriel called Her “full of grace” because whilst to others grace has been given in a limited way, to Mary Most Holy it was given entirely. And that happened , affirms St. Basil, so that She would be able to be worthy Mediatrix between God and man. Otherwise, if the Virgin Mary had not been full of Divine Grace, “How would She have been able to be the stairway to Paradise, the Advocate of the world or the true Mediatrix between men and God?”

St Alphonsus de Liguori rightly observes that if Our Lady had to intercede for men before God, it is evident that She had to be dearer than all the others together, because She had to intercede for all. Therefore Our Lady merited to be made the worthy Reparatrix of the world, because she was the holiest and most pure of all creatures.

How amazed, then, was the whole of creation at the Birth of this creature, the most amiable in the eyes of God, because She was the one most full of grace and merit! Hugo of St. Victor affirms that the Virgin Mary can be compared to the dawn which ends the night, because the centuries which preceded Her had been in darkness. Mary Most Holy is the true forerunner of the light of grace: She is the Star that announces the Sun of Justice, Who will be born from Her womb. In fact, “all the time which passed from the fall of Adam to the Birth of Our Lady, was an endless darkness, a long, deep, icy night. And yet at times a star rose to brighten up those times: it was the holy Patriarchs and Prophets who enlightened the ignorance of those people by their virtue.” But the holiness and virtues of all the Saints turn pale compared to the Mother of God. “The Virgin Mary is the most refulgent dawn, Whose magnificent splendour obscures that of the ancient Fathers.”

Editorial of De Vita Contemplativa, Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate. [Italy]
[Contributor and translator: Francesca Romana]