Sunday, August 15, 2004

Christian Heritage - August 14 & 15

God Likens Himself to a Mother

"Take the example of a mother who loves her child very much, and she takes care of him with the greatest concern when she sees that he is sick. She does not leave the house, she makes food for him with her own hands, and she administers medicines, although they are bitter. Tell me, does this mother love her child, or does she wish to punish him, when she causes him sorrow with medicines? Who can doubt that it is love and not harshness? She is helping, not punishing. But, O good God, who is a better mother of her children than you?

"Behold how much God loves you, O soul. He not only likens himself to a mother, but since it can happen that some mother may forget her child, he adds that he is unable to forget us, whom he loves more than a mother. Therefore if you fall into the sickness of sin, he looks down from heaven in mercy; he is with us, and that we might recover our health, he gives us hunger, persecution, and disgrace to drink as suitable medicine. Thus what you believe to be a whip in your ignorance, is only something like a whip and is actually a sign of his genuine love."

Thomas of Villanova, O.S.A. (AD 1486-1555), Monday after the Fourth Sunday of Lent, Sermon 1, 2: Opera Omnia II, 87-88

That's a very beautiful, extremely sobering image. Thank you, Thomas.

The Assumption of Mary

"Most truly and with grateful heart I say: You, O Mother of God, are not cut off from us even though you have been removed from our midst. You are not far from this perishable world, you who now live in imperishable life; but on the contrary you draw near to those who call on you, you are found by those who seek you in faith.

"Indeed you left the earth to prove that the mystery of the awe-inspiring incarnation did in fact take place. Through your awaiting the natural end of human life, God who was born of you would be believed to have come from you also as perfect man, son of a true mother who was herself subject to the constraints of nature, the decrees of God, and the limitations of an earthly lifetime. For because you had a body like the rest of us, you could not escape death, the lot of all humankind.

"And so, having undergone death to finite things, you have moved to God's dwelling in the imperishable mansions of eternity. You are his companion, O Mother of God: your communion with him will never end."

Germanus [patriarch of] Constantinople (AD 640-733), In dormitionum B. Mariae I: PG 98, 345-348

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