The angel, sent by God the Father, came down from heaven, for the beginning of our redemption, to salute Mary as blessed; Hail, said the angel to her, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Thus was Mary filled with grace, and Eve made void of guilt. Eve's malediction is changed into Mary's benediction.... The mother of our race brought punishment on the world: the Mother of our Lord brought the world salvation. Eve was fosterer of sin, Mary fosterer of merit. Through Eve we found death, through Mary life. The one wounded, the other healed us. Obedience is exchanged for disobedience, perfidy compensated by faith. With gladness therefore does Mary carry her Babe, with exultation embrace her Son, and bear Him by Whom she herself is borne.... O Blessed Mary, the whole captive world implores thy assent. Tarry not, Virgin, say quickly thy word of answer to the Nuncio, and receive thy Son. Give faith, and feel the power. Behold, she says, the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to thy word. At once, without delay, the Nuncio returns, and Christ enters into the virginal chamber."**


"And she brought forth her first-born son", etc. -- Luke ii. 7.

"Christ therefore is born the salvation of all, whom the prophets bear witness to as King of the nations. He is born of a Virgin, as Isaias declares saying, Behold a Virgin shall conceive, etc. The order of His birth proves the truth of the Lord. It is a pure and stainless Virgin who conceives. Her chaste womb, that pure members held, and an innocent body bore, was filled by the Holy Ghost. Behold the miracle of the Lord's Mother. Virgin she is in conceiving, Virgin in bringing forth, Virgin after childbirth. O glorious virginity, and illustrious fecundity! The Strength of the world is born, there is no groan of her who brings forth; the womb is empty when the Infant is taken, but virginity is not violated. For meet it was, that by giving birth to God the merit of chastity should grow greater, and that integrity should not be violated through the coming of Him, who had come to heal what was corrupted; nor chastity of body suffer injury through Him, by whom the virginity of baptism is bestowed upon the impure. The Child, then, now born is placed in the manger, and this is God's first cradle: nor does the Ruler of heaven spurn these straits, whose abode was a virginal womb."**


"When His Mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost." -- Matt. i. 18.

"Why is it that the secret of heavenly innocence is destined for a spouse and not for a free woman? ... No points, no letters, no syllables, not a single word, no names, no persons, in the Gospel are without divine meaning.

* Serm. 195, De Annunt. Dominica ii. Int. Opp. S. August. (probably by S. Fulgentius).

** Hom. v., Patr. Lat. Tom. 57, p. 235. This passage is continued in ch. iii., infra, on Mary's Sanctity.


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