This post comes with a delay of one day (and some hours), in fact it was scheduled for the feast day of Immaculate Conception, which occurs on December 8. But yesterday something went wrong with my time management skills.., so I had to postpone the publication of this note. I hope She will forgive me for this as well as for my laziness in everything has something to do with my “contemplative life,” which is often sacrificed—in spite of what the Martha and Mary episode in Luke (10:38-42) teaches us—to the “religion of doing.”
But as they say, better late than never. So, I would like to share with you an inspiring sermon “In Praise of the Blessed Virgin Mary” by St. Bernard of Clairvaux.
After recalling the evangelist’s statement, “And the virgin’s name was Mary” (Lk 1:26-7), the founder of the Cistercian Order of monks continues explaining that “Mary” means “Star of the Sea,” which “seems to have a wonderful fitness to the Virgin Mother.” And then he says:
Whosoever you are who know yourself to be tossed among the storms and tempests of this troubled world rather than to be walking peacefully upon the shore, turn not your eyes away from the shining of this star, if you would not be overwhelmed with the tempest. If the winds of temptations arise, if you are driving upon the rocks of tribulation, look to the star, invoke Mary!
If you are tossed upon the waves of pride, ambition, envy, rivalry, look to the star, invoke Mary! If wrath, avarice, temptations of the flesh assail the frail skiff of your mind, look to Mary!
If you are troubled by the greatness of your crimes, confused by the foulness of your conscience and, desperate with horror of judgement, you feel yourself drawn into the abyss of despair; in dangers, in difficulties, in perplexities: invoke and think of Mary! Let not the name depart from heart and from lips; and that you may obtain a part in the petitions of her prayer, do not desert the example of her life.
If you think of and follow her, you will not go wrong, nor despair if you beg of her. With her help you will not fall or be fatigued; with her protection you will not fear; if she favorable, you will be sure to arrive; and thus you will learn by your own experience how right it is said: “And the Virgin’s Name was Mary!”
[From The Office of Our Lady, Vol. 2 (Summer) by the Monks of Encalcat Abbey. London: Darton, Longman, and Todd, 1962.
The picture above shows the early 14th-century Madonna di Fiesole, a polychrome terracotta statue by Filippo Brunelleschi, discovered by chance by the restorers of the Museo dell’Opificio delle Pietre Dure, Florence, some three years ago. The statue was presented on December 12, 2008, after being under restoration for two years.]