Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Our Lady on Saturday – Why?

On the seventh day, God rested, and hallowed the Sabbath with an everlasting sanctification; in the womb of Mary, God's Son rested, the blessed Fruit sanctifying her uniquely maternal virginal integrity; on the Sabbath, the dead Christ rested in the tomb, having run the great race and perfectly accomplished all His works; and in process of time Our Lady rested in Him, as once He had rested in her, and passed to her everlasting rest, body and soul, "hid with Christ in God" till He, who is our life, shall appear, and manifest shall be the Holy Mother of God, together with all souls faithful to the new Adam and His helpmate, the new Eve.

Is it perhaps out of regard to the Dormition of the Blessed Virgin, as the Easterners so beautifully term her Assumption, that Saturday is Mary's day?

Bl Guerric, Abbot of Igny, one of the earliest Cistercians, indeed, one of the "Four Evangelists of Citeaux", wrote thus in her honour, preaching upon the text In omnibus requiem quæsivi, opening words of the traditional Epistle for the 15th of August, Our Lady's great feast, and alluding also to the traditional passage used for the Gospel on that day in both East and West – I give an English translation first, from a book of mine, then the Latin original, both being abbreviated of course from the full sermon:

A Sermon of Abbot Guerric.

“In all I sought rest.” (Ecclus 24:11) Rest is welcome to the weary. Therefore while we celebrate the rest of God’s holy Mother not only may our bodies be refreshed by this rest but also our hearts may draw breath in remembrance and love of that eternal rest. Mary, too, like any faithful soul, sought rest in all her actions; but today at last she has found it, when at length today she can say: “’Turn, my soul, into your rest, for the Lord has done well to you.’ (Ps 114:7) He who created me, was created from me and found rest in the tent (cf. Ecclus 24:12) of my body; he will not be able to refuse me the rest of his heaven. He heaps up grace for others as a free gift: how should he not return like for like to his Mother?” Rest, then, happy that you are, in the arms of the Bridegroom. He will recall to you amid embraces and kisses, if I am not mistaken, how pleasantly he rested in the tent of your body, how with greater delight he dwelt in the inner chamber of your heart.

Happy is he who in all his labours and in all his ways seeks blessed rest, always hastening, as the Apostle exhorts, to enter into that rest (cf. Heb 4:11). For desire of it he afflicts his body, but already prepares and disposes his spirit for that rest, being at peace with all men (cf. Rom 12:18) as far as it lies with him. Giving the preference, where his will is concerned, to the rest and the leisure of Mary, to the extent that necessity demands he accepts the toil and the business of Martha, yet does this with as much peace and quiet of spirit as he can, and always brings himself back from that manifold distraction to the one thing necessary (Lk 10:42).

For I say this, brethren: unless the Lord finds with us the rest he is seeking, we shall not find in him the rest we desire. “Upon whom will I rest,” he says, “if not with the humble and the quiet and him who fears my words?” (Is 66:2) In order then, my brethren, that he who loves quiet and bestows it may rest in you, make a point, as the Apostle advises, of being quiet. “If you turn back and become quiet, you shall be saved.” (Is 30:15) Let us all then together so make a point of being quiet (cf. 1 Thess 4:11) that in our quiet we may always be occupied with meditation on eternal quiet. May the blessed Mother of God, whose rest we are celebrating, obtain this for us by her prayers from him who rested in the tabernacle (cf. Ecclus 24:12) of her body and her heart. He is eternal rest, Christ Jesus, to whom be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Sermo Guerrici Abbatis.
Sermo 49, 1. 3
In omnibus requiem quæſivi. Grata quies feſſis. Dum ſanctæ Dei Genitricis requiem celebramus, non ſolum corpora recreentur hac quiete, ſed etiam corda reſpirent in recordationem et amorem illius æternæ quietis. Maria, ſicut et quælibet fidelis anima, in omnibus actionibus ſuis requiem quæſivit; ſed hodie demum invenit, cum tandem hodie dicere datum eſt ei: Convertere, anima, in requiem tuam, quia Dominus benefecit tibi. Qui creavit me, creatus ex me, requievit in tabernaculo corporis mei, negare non poterit mihi requiem cœli ſui. Qui enim gratiam ultro cumulat aliis, par pari quomodo non referet matri? Requieſce igitur, o felix, inter brachia Sponſi. Replicabit tibi ni fallor, inter amplexus et oscula, quam ſuaviter requieverit in tabernaculo corporis tui, quam ſuavis in cubiculo cordis tui.

Sermo 49, 2
Felix qui in omnibus laboribus et viis ſuis requiem quærit beatam: ſemper feſtinans ingredi, ut Apoſtolus monet, in illam requiem, ejus deſiderio corpus affligens, animum autem jam illi requiei parans et componens: cum omnibus hominibus, quod ex ipſo eſt, pacem habens; requiem et otium Mariæ voluntate præeligens, laborem autem et negotium Marthæ neceſſitate quidem ſuſcipiens; ſed quanta prævalet pace et quiete ſpiritus adimplens, et ſemper ad illud unum neceſſarium de illa multiplici distractione ſeſe recolligens.

Sermo 49, 4. 5. 6

Hoc enim dico, fratres, niſi Dominus requiem quam quærit, invenerit apud nos, nec nos optatam requiem inveniemus in illo. Super quem autem requieſcam, inquit, niſi ſuper humilem, et quietum, et trementem verba mea? Ut ergo requieſcat in vobis, o fratres mei, amator ille largitorque quietis, date operam, juxta conſilium Apoſtoli, ut quieti ſitis. Si revertamini, et quieſcatis, ſalvi eritis. Omnes ergo pariter ſic operam demus, ut quieti ſimus, ut in quiete noſtra ſemper in meditatione æternæ quietis occupemur. Hoc nobis impetret beata Dei Genitrix, cujus requiem celebramus, ab eo qui requievit in tabernaculo corporis et cordis ejus. Ipſe eſt requies æterna Chriſtus Jeſus; cui eſt honor, et gloria per omnia ſæcula ſæculorum. Amen.

(Unsurprisingly, it may be said that Dormitionists read this passage in their Breviary, both on the great feast itself, and on each successive Saturday if not otherwise occupied.)

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