Today's feast, recalling the extraordinary way in which the Virgin conceived, celebrates the beginning of our reconciliation and proclaims the unerring disposition of God's mercy and power. There is a profound and wonderful mystery hidden in this conception by which the bond of our transgression is canceled, the divine is joined to the human, and two, that is Christ and the Church, become one body. … Let us model ourselves on the one who gave his life on earth as a pattern of Christian living.
(Sermo 15 de Annunciatione B. Mariae: PL 162, 583-586.)
As an Augustinian canon and later bishop of Chartres, Ivo left many letters and some sermons.
EPHREM OF EDESSA (306–373): Our Lord took upon himself our infirmity
Determined to give his disciples an example they could imitate, our Lord himself became one with them by assuming a human soul like theirs. This enabled him to enter into their sentiments and thus to sow the seeds of comfort in their hearts. He acquainted himself with their fear in order that the knowledge of his resemblance to themselves might restrain them from boasting of their readiness to meet death while it was still far off. Fearless though he was, our Lord actually experienced fear and prayed to be delivered from suffering, even though he knew his prayer could not be granted. … By persevering in prayer Jesus was showing us how much we ourselves need to pray if we are to escape the wiles and snares of the devil. It is only by sustained prayer that we gain control of our distracted thoughts.
(Commentary on the Diatessaron 20, 3-4, 6-7: CSCO 145, 201-204.)
Ephrem, deacon of Edessa, was a great poet who used his talent to write about the Christian mysteries in poetic form.
Hail, Full of Grace
O Mary, when Jesus was conceived in you, he found you a virgin; after being born of you he left you a virgin. He gives you fertility, but he does not violate your integrity. Whence does this happen to you? … Tell me, angel Gabriel, whence this happens to Mary. The angel answers: "I stated this with my greeting, 'Hail, full of grace.'"
-- Sermon 291, 6
Prayer. O Mary, you were a virgin in conceiving, in bearing your child, and in dying. Pray for us to the Lord.
-- The Instruction of Beginners, 22, 40
Acknowledging Sins against Others
All of us have become members of Christ. How do you fail to sin against Christ when you sin against a member of Christ? Thus, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has anything against you, leave your gift before the altar. God seeks you rather than your gift. Christ seeks the one whom he has redeemed by his Blood rather than what you have found in your storeroom.
-- Sermon 82, 4-5
Prayer. Lord, you are my refuge from the torment of the sins with which my heart besieges me. My joy is in you. Redeem me from the sorrow that my sins cause me.
-- Commentary on Psalm 31 (1), 7
ST FRANCIS DE SALES:
Think for a moment of the piety of the Madonna when the angel told her that the Spirit would overshadow her. What sentiments of humility, confidence and courage! At the very moment when she understood that God had given her His heart, that is, His Son, she gave herself to God. … As far as we are concerned, we receive a similar grace in Communion, because not an angel but Jesus Christ Himself assures us that in it the Holy Spirit descends on us. Heavenly power covers us with its shadow and the Son of God really comes to us. He can say that He is conceived and born in us. Truly then, the soul can respond with the Madonna, "I am the servant of the Lord; let is be done to me as you say." [Lk 1:38]
(Spiritual Directory, Art. 12)
Oh, contemplate how Jesus Christ our Savior, at the moment of His Incarnation, took us all without exception on His shoulders, because from that moment He accepted the task of redeeming us by His death on the cross! The Redeemer's soul knew all of us by name, above all on the day of His passion, when He offered His tears, His prayers, His blood and His life for all, and addressed His Eternal Father on our behalf…. O supreme love of the heart of Jesus! What heart can ever bless You as devoutly as it ought?
(T.L.G. Book 12, Ch. 12; O. V, p. 344)
IT is one of the mean and morbid modern lies that physical courage is connected with cruelty. The Tolstoian and Kiplingite are nowhere more at one than in maintaining this. They have, I believe, some small sectarian quarrel with each other: the one saying that courage must be abandoned because it is connected with cruelty, and the other maintaining that cruelty is charming because it is a part of courage. But it is all, thank God, a lie. An energy and boldness of body may make a man stupid or reckless or dull or drunk or hungry, but it does not make him spiteful.
('What's Wrong with the World.')