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EXEGESIS -- ANNUNCIATION AND INCARNATION(CONT.)

"For by the angelic salutation she is comforted; comforted, she is blest, and proclaimed to be fruitful with fulness of grace. For it is written: The Angel was sent to a Virgin. We confess that she is the Virgin of whom we read in Isaias: There shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, that is, the Virgin Mary, and a flower shall rise up out of his root. *, that is, Christ. For He speaks of Himself in the Canticles: I am the flower of the field. **

"And the angel being come in, said to her, Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. O angelic voice full of sweetness and joy! For in saying, Hail, Mary, he presented to the Virgin a heavenly salutation. Whilst in saying, full of grace, he showed that the sentence, by which our first parents became afar from God, was excluded, and the grace of benediction from on high restored, whereby, made free from slavery, they were brought again into paradise. And when he uttered the words, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, not only did he pronounce blessed the fruit of her womb, but that of all those also who following the Virgin Mary should persevere in virginity. O blessed Virgin, O Virgin chosen out from all others by the world's Creator! Him, who before all ages was begotten without mother by the Eternal Father, thou wilt conceive, made mother without co-operation of man. For here the ear was the wife, and the angelic word the husband. Virgin thou wilt conceive, and after childbirth virgin thou wilt remain. And the Son of God will descend into thee, that He who was to ascend with power of sublimity, and the glory of His brightness to the East, may turn the grace of His Majesty to the West. Let not the hearing confuse thee, nor the conception perturb thee. For this conception is no necessity, but the priceless power of God. He will be clothed with flesh, and will hide Himself in thy virginal womb, and the Son of God will begin to be the Son of Man, remaining always what He was. For we believe Him, unchangeable indeed; yet mercifully assuming what He was not, that in thee He may be contained whom the whole world is unable to sustain. By this conception thy virginal chastity will not be lessened, but rather the perfection of chastity will be increased in thee. Mother of the Creator hast thou become, whilst He Himself was with the Father; and when He was born of His Mother, He still remained with the Father.... Thou art made the heavenly ladder; the rod of Aaron, above all others hast thou flowered, that is, beyond all others art thou resplendent with noble virginity. Thou hast become the ladder whereby the glory of heaven has descended to these lower parts, that so humility may be borne aloft to the heights of heaven.... Let us therefore, most beloved brethren, beseech the Virgin to reconcile God to men, and cause concord between things of earth and heaven. May she intercede for the past, and supplicate her Son for the future. O Virgin, give not only corporal food, but the Bread of angels that is coming down into the sanctuary of thy womb; make us to fear the Son of God. For the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.... Hear therefore, and incline thine ear to our prayers, O Virgin who art deservedly praised by us. Thou who art venerated by us as remaining Virgin after childbirth, pray to God for us, that He will bestow constancy, grant patience, that concord may be strengthened, forbearance increased, so that when there shall come the anguish of mourning and misery, of calamity and sadness, thou wilt deign to present us to thy Only-begotten Son, who is the One God, whom we confess as One in substance, Three in Persons....


* Is. xi. 1.

** Cant. ii. 1.

 

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