Saturday, 10 October 2015

Lady of the Snow


There is a lady
Comely and most white,
Who in a secret cavern
Hides from the heat.

Yet when the snow falls
Out she comes to greet,
Those admirers that seek
Her face to behold.

O but few there are
Who’ll stroll through snow cold
To seek that fairest white dame,
For fireplace holds.

But when she doth find
A wonderer true,
No more again is he found
For him she hides.



The feast of the ‘Dedication of the Basilica of St Mary Major’ (built in the mid fourth century), otherwise known as ‘Our Lady of the Snows’, is connected to a legend whereby a wealthy Roman couple who were without heirs made a vow to donate their possessions to the Blessed Virgin Mary. They prayed for guidance as to how our Lady wanted them to make use of their donation. On the night of the 5th of August, they had a vision, and on the same night during the height of the Roman summer, snow fell on the summit of the Esquine Hill. Obeying their vision of Mary they built a basillica in honour of our Lady on the very spot that was covered in snow.

'Our Lady of the Snows'
The above poem was inspired by the title of ‘Our Lady of the Snows’, and was in fact written during two days of unusual snow fall on the property at which I live. As snow was relatively novel to myself it sacramentally communicated a mysterious and alluring quality, and this contributed to the mood in which this poem was written. The following speaks of our Lady as the Lady of the Snow, She who hides those that seek Her out of true devotion, hiding them in the safety and intimacy of the secret cavern of Her Immaculate Heart and Womb. She hides from the heat, why? For the heat alluded to is the heat of the human will, and the soul in which the human will dominates is a soul that is in the midst of a sweltering summer. Our Lady hides from such a soul for the heat of the human will repels Her from dwelling in such a soul and from drawing him nigh. Yet the soul that desires to live in Divine and that resigns and surrenders his will to the Divinity’s agenda for him, his soul becomes as it were a winter wonderland in proportion to his desire and surrender. Hence it is written: Yet when the snow falls / Out she comes to greet; for in such a soul She is able to come out of hiding and can dwell therein, poised and eager to greet the soul who desires and seeks after Her the Beauteous Princess of the Divine Will; and the soul does this through living out and deepening in Joseph his true devotion to Mary; hence such a soul, as another Joseph, is an admirer that seeks Her face to behold. O but few there are / Who’ll stroll through snow cold…/ For fireplace holds; for indeed there are those who seek their own will and their souls are in the season of summer; but then there are those who seek the Divine Will and are thus in a state of spiritual winter[1], but who despite desiring to live in Divine Will desire mildly so, and with their own imperfect desire, as opposed to making the Divine Desire that palpitates in this White Dame’s breast their own. Hence such souls are like those who gather around the fireplace, unwilling to venture out in the unknown and coldness of the snow; and if they do venture out they can only do so for so long until they must return to the operation of their human will – to do good for sure, but to do it in their own strength and by their own desire and not by God’s. Thus fire place holds, which is to say, their imperfect desire restrains them from journeying to meet the Lady of the Snow, rendering it impossible for them to live in Divine Will until they cast away their imperfect desire and let the Desire of the Holy Spirit take over – for this Desire alone is enough to sustain and lead one through the cold of the snow –the trials, limitations, and attachments arising from one’s own imperfect self – that one must pass through in order to be one with the Lady of the Snow who will hide the soul from the heat of the human will and shall teach Him how to live in the Will of God. O but few there are / Who’ll stroll through snow cold because few cease to rely on their own faith, hope and love, on their own trust and desire to come to live in Divine Will, thus compelling them to return to their human will’s operation. And because there are few who realise that they must take everything from God in Mary, even the very desire to live in Divine Will; and those who come to learn this lesson and put it into practice very quickly pass through the snow and find the Dame whom they seek. Thus when she doth find / A wonderer true, / No more again is he found / For him she doth hide never to be seen again; since His imperfect new self is gone, and all the imperfect virtues of this new man are hidden in the Virgin Mary so that as a perfect new man he operates in the secret intimacy of this Lady of the Snow who is his Virginal Spouse and Fair Spring too.


[1] Autumn is the passive purgation that disposes the soul in the winter to receive the gift of living in the Divine Will; whilst Spring is the attainment of actually living in It.