Monday, 27 July 2009

Chaplet Meditation 1: The Blessed Virgin accepts her role and destiny Part 1

When I wrote about the Annunciation in my first book, I did so from what might be called a general point of view. However, because the atmosphere of what I wrote then (8 years ago) still seemed to be hanging about me, I wondered why. I've decided to reproduce certain bits of the text and then perhaps comment on them later, in the specific light of what they convey to us about sprititual motherhood of priests.

From the entry for December 20 in 'Gardening with God: Light in Darkness' Burns & Oates Continuum Internationsl. Copyright Jane Mossendew 2002

"In the Old Testament angels are often unrecognised by the people they visit; they are only partially understood and sometimes cause fear. In the New Testament, Zechariah is troubled at the very sight of an angel. 'Fear fell on him,' says Saint Luke. The old man seems poleaxed, even before Gabriel speaks to him, and his doubting response is punished by dumbness until his son is named. Mary on the other hand does not seem much frightened. Perhaps in the very economy of his language, Luke intends to make it clear that her recognition and acceptance of the angel are immediate and calm. Has God already led her so deeply into contemplation that she is able to react in such a still, receptive way? She IS troubled by the TERMS of Gabriel's greeting, but only because she cannot at first comprehend HOW they can apply to her. She ponders them rationally in silence. Gabriel reads her mind and explains. Her response is totally different from Zechariah's. His had the flavour of, 'What you say is not possible.' Mary's conveys, 'HOW will what you say be MADE possible?' She offers no argument against God's ability to make this amazing thing happen, but gently enquires how it will be so.

"Everything we know of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, marks her as the complete antithesis of her forebears. She does not, like Sarah, laugh at God's plan, she has no jealousy of another woman and her son, no dynastic ambitions. She stands, the perfect opposite of her ancestors ....And so whilst Gabriel tells Mary of Elizabeth's pregnancy, we and the whole world, as St. Bernard of Clairvaux so effectively puts it, wait for Mary's decision in regard to her own. Can she have known, he continues, what actually hung on her answer? Did she know that our salvation depended upon it? God knew of course, 'Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel, which means God is with us' (Is. 7::14). Given Mary's circumstances, and whatever the answers to St. Bernard's questions, her 'fiat mihi', despite its familiarity to us now, is eternally stunning. She was no passive instrument, but accepted God as Master of the future and made the act of perfect compliance with his will to effect our freedom through the redemptive incarnation of his Son. She spoke the word, and received the Word.

But Jesus was Mary's son in the flesh as well. Maisie Ward, in her 'Splendour of the Rosary', mentions the medieval vision of Sister Eulalia, during which Mary, described as 'the Mother of all Nature', tells of the deep thrill of joy she feels when we linger on the words 'the Lord is with thee' in our repetitions of the angelic salutaion. Then it seems to her that Jesus is within her even as he was during his preparation to come into the world to save sinners. She knew unutterable bliss at the time, and remembers it whenever the Dominus tecum is said with proper attention. The historicity of the vision may be doubtful, but it enshrines an insight that has profoundly affected my own praying of the Hail Mary."

And it always has done, from the day I learned of it until now. A thing like that can never change.


  1. I am a little confused Jane.
    I see the post for the Chaplet but where does this post go. Is it like a supplemental reading?

    Are we too start this today?
    God bless you!

  2. Linda:

    I'm sorry if this is confusing. I'm not quite sure what you mean by 'Where does this post go?'
    It was just meant to help focus on the first 'lesson' of the Chaplet. I wanted to do a new meditation but it's been impossible because of answering email responses which have come as the result of setting up the blog. In that sense this post is not a meditation as such, but reading it may help you into your own. I would have done more but have been so busy

    No, in one sense, you are not 'to start this today'. In another sense, if anything you read here is helpful, it is meant for you to use. In the meantime just pray the Chaplet! And please email me whenever you wish at

    God bless, and keep in touch.

  3. Thank you Jane,
    It is a beautiful meditation and I don't think it needs any fixing. I understand now.

    So beautiful!

  4. Thanks Linda. I'm so glad and relieved.

    God bless,