Monday, 26 December 2016

The Stable in One's Room

'Adoration of the Shepherds,'  Gerard van Honthorst, 1590-1656.

“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Mt 6:6). Will reward you with what? Or rather, with whom, we might ask?

With a sacred moment. An intimate encounter. A healing exchange. A tender embrace. A gift which surpasses all gifts – the Christmas gift himself: the infant Jesus.

For as Jesus was laid to rest in a manger, a feeding trough, within a stable filled with animals; so too Jesus is laid to rest in the heart of every soul who desires Him, even in the face of our own smelly animals – a symbol among many, of our sins and imperfections.

It doesn’t take a sinless heart in order to house the Lord - as much as He loved the sinless heart of His Mother - but only a heart with an opening, a little space, a little manger, with a little straw. There was no room for Him in the inn - because it was filled up. Just as many hearts have room for everyone and everything, other than this infant and His Mother and Joseph. But to make room for this blessed infant, all it takes is a heart with a desire to adore Him. A heart that is humble enough to accept one’s need for Him. A heart that is sorry for the state of one’s soul, but who nonetheless, trusts in His goodness, and offers Him a place to stay. A place for Mary and Joseph too, through a true devotion to them. This is the ultimate means of housing the Infant Christ, for who better than they can tend to this infant?

Where is the stable of Bethlehem today, but in our churches, where our Lord rests in the tabernacles under the guise of bread? Where is the stable of Bethlehem today, but in our very midst, in our own houses, hospitals, and on the streets, where our Lord cries out for our care in our very neighbours?

And where else is the stable of Bethlehem today, but in our very own rooms – literally, on one level, but even more so, within our very souls. That is where the stable is found. Where the infant Jesus, the Word of God made flesh dwells as an infant in need of our love. Our Adoration.

We read in the Gospels that after the angel appeared to the shepherds and revealed to them the glory and place of Jesus’ birth, they said: “Let us go over to Bethlehem to see this thing that has happened…” The Gospel then records that “they went with haste” – they were keen, and eager to see and encounter this child, to behold their Saviour, and to adore Him, pulled as they were by an irresistible force that captivated their hearts and informed them on the deepest possible level: ‘This is no ordinary child, this is God among us who has become an infant; and He wants us to be there. He wants our presence. He wants our company tonight.’

Who on this night (on any night!) can resist to withdraw into one’s room, to shut the door behind one, and there in that secret place, tearing the veil of time and space through a faith that does not see with the eyes, but with the heart that sees with loving belief, pray to the Father of that infant so tender and so mild, with words as simple as the shepherds would have said to Joseph as the Father’s representative: “Show me your son. I have come to adore Him.”

“Ask, and it will be given you” (Lk 11:9). It is without a doubt then. That when you pray tonight, and go into your room a moment from now, and close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. “Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” with a sacred moment. An intimate encounter. A healing exchange. A tender embrace. A gift which surpasses all gifts – the Christmas gift himself: the infant Jesus. Who although being the All-Powerful God, has become a helpless babe who yearns to be wrapped in the swaddling cloths of our affections.

Friday, 16 December 2016

A Nativity Hymn of St. Ephraim in Rhyming Verse Fit For Advent

St. Ephraim the Syrian (306-373 A.D.) is a Father of the Church and since 1920, has been honoured as a Doctor of the Church. He is well known for having composed numerous hymns, poems and sermons in verse. Among his hymns are those on the Nativity of Christ. The following is an excerpt from the first of Ephraim’s Nativity hymns, which I have modified from Rev. J. B. Morris’ English translation by putting it in an AA-BB rhyming scheme.[1]

The following excerpt from “Hymn I” of “Hymns on the Nativity” is fitting for this time of Advent, as it explicates the longing and desire that preceded Christ’s First Coming as an infant in "swaddling clothes". From this perspective we can interpret the entire period of Salvation History before Christ’s Incarnation and birth, as the original and centuries-long Advent. A period in which the holy ones of God longed to see the day of Christ’s emergence from the heavens and from the womb.

Triunfo del Cristianismo, Gustave Dore, 1866.
Even today, this season of Advent, which is nearing it’s close, remains a season of desire. A season of longing. A season of hope. Yet not of a kind of wishful hope – hoping for something that might come. But a sure and firm hope, built on Certitude Itself – Jesus Christ. Thus in this preparatory period preceding Christmas Day – the Nativity of Christ – we are being called as the prophets and holy ones of old were called: to rekindle the flame of our desire, and the thirst of our longing, for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Who in His First Coming has come to us in the flesh already. Who in His Third and Intermediary Coming, as St. Bernard so speaks, comes to us today, through the heart that prays, and through the Eucharist in Mass and Adoration. And who in His Second and Final Coming will come to us tomorrow – exactly when, we do not know; when He comes in glory on the clouds with all the angels and saints, to separate the sheep from the goats, and to raise the bodies of all – the just to everlasting life, and the wicked to everlasting fire.

In view of our Lord’s Second Coming our whole life is thus an Advent season. An Advent in which we are called to wait and yearn with hearts filled with desire and blazing with love, like ready brides whose lamps are filled and lit, for the Coming that was, is, and shall be. A Coming – Adventus – which in all its facets we may participate through our faith here and now. Even as did those of old who through their longing to see Jesus the Messiah, tasted the good Presence of Him for whom they pined. 

From Hymn I of Hymns On the Nativity

From thy treasure-house put forth, Lord, from the coffers of Thy Writing,
names of righteous men of old, who looked to see Thy coming!
Seth who was in Abel’s stead shadowed out the Son as slain,
by Whose death was dulled the envy brought into the world by Cain.
Noah saw the sons of God, saints that sudden waxed quite godless,
and the Holy Son he sought, whom turned men's lewdness into holiness.
            The brothers twain, that covered Noah, saw He who came to hide –
the Son of God – the nakedness of Adam, who was drunk with pride.
Shem and Japhet, being gracious, looked for the gracious Son,
Who to set free Canaan from the servitude of sin should come.

Melchizedek expected Him; as vicegerent, looked that he might see
the Priesthood’s Lord whose hyssop cleans the world in purity.
Lot beheld the Sodomites how they perverted nature:
for nature’s Lord he looked who gave His grace through human vesture.
Him Aaron looked for, for he saw that if his rod ate serpents up,
His cross would devour the Serpent that had eaten Adam and Eve as sup.
Moses saw the uplifted serpent that the bite of asps had cured,
And so he looked to see Him who’d heal the wound that ancient fangs on Adam’s hand secured.
Moses saw that he himself alone from God retained the illumining,
and he looked for Him who came and multiplied gods by His teaching.
Caleb the spy bore the cluster on the staff, and came and longed to see the Cluster,
Whose wine would restore the world with all the comfort He could muster.
Him did Jesus son of Nun so long, that he might conceive the force of his own surname:
for if by His name he waxed so mighty, how much more would He surpass such fame?
This Jesus that gathered and carried, and brought with him the fruit in store,
was longing for the Tree of Life to taste the Fruit that quickens all.
For Him Rahab too was looking; for when the scarlet thread from window hung,
which in type redeemed her from wrath, the Truth in type she tasted on her tongue.
For Him Elijah longed, and when on earth he saw Him not,
he, through faith most thoroughly cleansed, mounted up in heaven to see the Sole-Begot.
Moses saw Him and Elijah; the meek man from the depth ascended,
the zealous from on high descended, and in the midst beheld the Son – the Splendid.
They figured the mystery of His Advent: Moses a type of the dead,
and Elijah a type of the living, that fly to meet Him at His coming as He hath said.
For the dead that have tasted death, them He makes to be the first:
and the rest that are not buried, are last caught up to meet Him in sacred mirth.

Who is there that can count me up the just that looked for the Son,
whose number cannot be determined by us weak creatures – this unknown sum?
Pray ye for me, O beloved, that another time with strength endued,
I in another legend may so set forth their foretaste, as I am able to.
Who is adequate to the praising of the Son of the Truth that to us has risen?
For it was for Him the righteous longed, that in their generation they might see Him.

Adam looked for Him, for He's the Lord of the Cherub that guarded behind the flaming knife,
Who could minister an entrance and a residence hard by the branches of the Tree of Life.
Abel longed after Him, that in his days He might come, the One foretold;
that instead of that lamb he offered, the Lamb of God he might behold.
For Him Eve also looked; for women’s nakedness was sore, and He capable to clothe them;
not with leaves, but with that same glory that they had exchanged away in Eden.
The tower that the many builded, in mystery looked for One,
Who coming down would build on earth a tower reaching heaven’s sun.
Yea the ark of living creatures looked in a type for our Lord dear;
for He should build the Holy Church, wherein souls find a refuge free from fear.
In Peleg’s days earth was divided into tongues, threescore and ten.
For Him Who by the tongues, to His Apostles divided earth to them.
Earth which the flood had swallowed up, in silence cried to her Lord.
He came down and opened Baptism, and men were drawn on Ark aboard.
Surnamed as sons of God were Seth and Enos, and also Cainan,
for the Son of God they looked, that they by grace might be His brethren.
But little short of a thousand years did Methuselah breathe:
He looked for the Son Who makes heirs of life that never leaves!
Grace itself in hidden mystery was beseeching on their behalf
that their Lord might come in their age and fill up their empty flasks.
For the Holy Spirit in them, in their stead, besought with meditation: up them stirred;
and in Him did they look on that Redeemer, after whom they longed – the Word.

The souls of just men perceive in the Son a Medicine of life; and so they felt desires
that He might come in their own days, and quench with sweetness their ardent fires.
Enoch was longing for Him, and since on earth the Son he did not see,
he was justified by great faith, and mounted up in Heaven to Him to see.
Who is there that will spurn at grace, when the Gift that they of old
gained not by so much labour, comes to us now like freely given gold?
For Him Lamech also looked who might come and lovingly give Him quiet rest
from his labour and the toiling of his hands, and from the earth the Just One cursed unblest.
Lamech then beheld his son, Noah – him, in whom were figured types relating to the Son.
In the stead of the Lord afar off, the type at hand afforded quiet in patience done.
Yea Noah also longed to see Him, the taste of whose assisting graces he had tasted.
For if the type of Him preserved living things, how sure He was upon souls to bestow life elated!
Noah longed for Him, by trial knowing Him, for through Him had the ark been established.
For if the type of Him thus saved life, assuredly much more would He in person all life assist.
Abraham perceived in Spirit that the Son’s birth was far away;
instead of Him in person he rejoiced to see even His day.
To see Him Isaac longed, as having tasted the taste of His redemption on the rock;
for if the sign of Him so gave life, much more would He by the reality unlock.

Joyous were today the Watchers, that the Wakeful came to wake us!
Who would pass this night in slumber, in which all the world was watching thus?

[1] For Morris’ original English translation of which this is a modified version, see Ephraim Syrus, “Hymns on the Nativity,” in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Phillip Schaff and Henry Wace, eds. (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers Marketing, 2012), 13:224-225.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Mary, The Immaculate Conception & The Tree Life

Illumination of the Tree of Life and Death, Berthold Furtmeyer, 1481.

It is a long held tradition to interpret Mary as the Tree of Life. After all, the fruit of Her womb was Jesus the saving Fruit of Eternal Life (Lk 1:42; 1 Cor 15:20). Tertullian (160-220 C.E.) speaks of Jesus being the fruit, sprung from the shoot of Mary – the shoot, we might say, of the Tree of Life:

In what sense, really, is Christ the fruit of her womb? Is it not because he is himself the flower from the stem which came forth from the root of Jesse, while the root of Jesse is the house of David, and the stem from the root is Mary, descended from David, that the flower from the stem, the Son of Mary, who is called Jesus Christ, must himself also be the fruit?[1]

Now whereas the first Adam was barred from the tree of life because of his transgression, Jesus the second Adam opened the gate to Mary the Tree of Life. The “way to the tree of life” (Gen 3:24) once shut to all, is now opened to all who abide in Christ as adopted sons of the Father. There is no one who eats of the Fruit of the Tree of Life – which involves having a personal relationship with Jesus – without plucking forth this Fruit, knowingly or unknowingly from Mary the Tree of Life the one through whom He willed and wills to come to men.

Mary as the Tree of Life

Concerning the Tree of Life, in ‘The Mirror of the Blessed Virgin Mary’ St. Bonaventure (1221-1274) writes:

The Angel showed John "the tree of life, bearing its fruits every month, and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of nations." The tree of life is Mary, the Mother of Life; or the tree of life is the tree of the Cross; or else the tree is Jesus Christ, the Author of Life, who is also the Fruit of Life. Those healing leaves are edifying words and deeds. If even the leaves are healing, how much more healing and life-giving is the fruit? Therefore, that we may be healed by this fruit, let us approach its tree; let us draw near, I say, to Mary. Let us pray with St. Anselm [1033-1109]: "Hear me, O Lady! Heal the soul of thy servant who is a sinner, by virtue of the blessed Fruit of thy womb, who sitteth at the right hand of his Almighty Father."[2]

In contrast to an overly literalistic biblical perspective which disregards the spiritual senses of interpretation, Bonaventure employs the allegorical and typological method of biblical interpretation, illustrating how a single biblical image or symbol may serve as an allegory or type of more than one New Testament reality. For he acknowledges that the Tree of Life on one level is Jesus Christ, on another level the Cross, and on another level Mary.

We might refer to this as the hierarchy of allegorisation – where multiple meanings or truths are revealed by a single literal or symbolic biblical image, without either such truth conflicting with one another. If we were to speak holistically we might say the Tree of Life symbolises Mary in relation to the mystery of the Cross in Jesus Christ. Why indeed is Mary the Tree of Life – the source of the Fruit of Salvation? Because of the redemption wrought by Christ on the Tree of the Cross. A redemption which preveniently preserved Mary from contracting original sin – that is, which brought about Mary’s Immaculate Conception.

The Mystery of the Immaculate Conception Hidden in Genesis 3:24

Along the line of interpretation that Mary is the Tree of Life, when we read Genesis 3:24 we catch a glimpse into the mystery of the Immaculate Conception. The verse is as follows:

He drove out Adam; and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.

Immaculate Conception, Francisco de Zurbará, 1660's.
Here in the Fall narrative we have God casting Adam out of Eden “lest he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever” (Gen 3:22). He places cheribum and a flaming sword which turns every way to keep Adam from being able to access the Tree.

Allegorically speaking, Mary the Tree of Life was planted in the garden of the world in the soil of Anne’s once barren womb. The Lord had ordained that it would be on the boughs of this Tree that He would bloom in the flesh, becoming Incarnate. Thus He willed that this Tree would remain free from the taint of original sin. Why? Firstly, because He the All-Pure deserved pure flesh. Secondly, because He in His omnipotence could carry out such a deed; thirdly, because it was the greatest thing He could do; and fourthly because he could, and it was the greatest thing he could do, He willed as such because in no greater way could He fulfil the commandment: “To honour thy… mother.” Appropriating Pope Pius XII’s words in regards to the Assumption of Mary, and applying them to the Immaculate Conception:

Since our Redeemer is the Son of Mary, he could not do otherwise, as the perfect observer of God's law, than to honor, not only his eternal Father, but also his most beloved Mother. And, since it was within his power to grant her this great honor, to preserve her from the corruption [of original sin], we must believe that he really acted in this way.[3]

So unrestrained in His generosity and in preparation for His earthly dwelling, He willed it and it came to be: that Mary, immediately as she was conceived, was guarded by the grace of God, the grace of Christ’s redemption. Which like a flaming sword prevented the tainted hand of Adam from reaching - through the ages by means of descent - Mary's blessed body and soul. Thus safeguarding this spotless Tree of Life, for which reason She was preserved from contracting Adam’s taint – original sin, and was thus conceived immaculately.

Redeemed by the Tree of the Cross

Tree of the Cross, Panel Galleria dell'Accademia, Pacino di Bonaguida, 1302-1340 (active).

We might ask, “Why the flaming sword?” The sword has strong connections to justice, and fire to love. It was God’s act of love by which He preveniently justified Mary – thus redeeming Her body and soul at the very instant She was conceived. How was this justification of love accomplished? We know it was on the Cross, because we “are justified by his blood” (Rom 5:9) and “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. [For as the Scripture states:] ‘By his wounds you have been healed’.” (1 Pet 2:24).

Mary was no exception – She was redeemed by Christ. Her redemption simply took place in time before the event of the Crucifixion, but nevertheless, She was redeemed by the Cross and by this single redeeming sacrifice, as it was the fiery sword of loving justification emanating from the Cross through eternity, which preserved Mary from contracting original sin. Pius IX, in defining the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in Ineffabilis Deus declares as such:

the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin…[4]

Genesis 3:24 highlights this fact: that Mary’s Immaculate Conception was wrought by the saving act of Christ on the Cross. For in the Septuagint the Greek word for tree used is not δενδρον (dendron) but ξυλον (xulon) which can mean cross, and is in fact the same word used in the New Testament, in addition to σταυρος (stauros/stafros) when speaking of the Cross (i.e. Acts 10:39). In fact, specifically, ξυλον refers to the vertical beam – the trunk – of the cross, and σταυρος to the horizontal beam placed at the top. Gen 3:24 could thus be read as follows:

He drove out Adam; and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the cross of life.

Thus on the underside of the mystery as Mary being the Tree of Life, is the superior mystery of the Cross – revealing that Mary is the Tree of Life because of the Cross, through the Cross, in the Cross, who brings forth from Her womb the healing (or saving in Greek) fruit – Jesus Christ – for the nations (Rev 22:2).

Possessing the Tree of Life

How happy is the garden of the soul wherein this blessed Tree of Life is planted, for such a garden is an Eden in the eyes of the Lord, and such a soul shall reap a rich harvest of everlasting fruits borne by this Tree for the glory of the Father. The Scriptures speak of this, for it is written: “She [Wisdom personified in Mary] is a tree of life to them that lay hold on her: and he that shall retain her is blessed.” (Prov 3:18). The very Wisdom (Mary – the Tree of Life) whose Immaculate Conception is identified in the Book of Wisdom, where She is described as “the unblemished [κηλίδωτον] mirror of the power of God” (7:26).

St. Louis de Montfort speaks in ‘True Devotion’ how it is only in possessing this Tree of Life, through a true devotion to Her, that the life of Christ comes to grow within one’s soul to the greatest possible extent.

If Mary, the Tree of Life, is well cultivated in our soul by fidelity to this devotion, she will in due time bring forth her fruit which is none other than Jesus… One reason why so few souls come to the fullness of the age of Jesus is that Mary who is still as much as ever his Mother and the fruitful spouse of the Holy Spirit is not formed well enough in their hearts. If we desire a ripe and perfectly formed fruit, we must possess the tree that bears it. If we desire the fruit of life, Jesus Christ, we must possess the tree of life which is Mary.[5]

Sharing in the Fruitfulness of Mary

The Christian in and of themselves is a tree planted in the field of the Church that yields fruit of merits and good works to God – but an ordinary tree, concerning which it is written about in Nehemiah 10:35 where the first fruits of “trees” in the plural are referenced – fruit which such trees are to yield to God. Thus ordinarily the Christian is a tree which might yield thirty, sixty or a hundred fold (Mt 13:8).

Yet who can compare to Mary the Tree of Life, who did not yield a quantifiable thirty, sixty or a hundred fold, but a full fold beyond measure since the fruit of Her labour was Jesus the Infinite One in whom innumerable graces, merits and divine attributes abide: The Fruit in whom all fruits are contained. As Louis de Montfort states:

Mary amassed such a multitude of merits and graces during her sojourn on earth that it would be easier to count the stars in heaven, the drops of water in the ocean or the sands of the sea-shore than count her merits and graces. She thus gave more glory to God than all the angels and saints have given or will ever give him. Mary, wonder of God, when souls abandon themselves to you, you cannot but work wonders in them![6]

How fortunate then is the Christian soul who instead of relying on his own shrub of sanctity planted beside the river of the water of life, allows the very Tree of Life to be planted beside the River who is Christ Jesus that dwells in every baptised heart! Such a soul, like Joseph, possesses the Tree of Life – the Virgin Mary – within himself, and forfeits the imperfect fruits of his own toils, instead making his own, and offering to God, the yield of Mary Herself! This sublime favour, wrought by possession of the Tree of Life within, only belongs to those who practice a true devotion to Mary: which involves living a consecration to Mary out, not according to the letter of outward piety, but according to the spirit and truth in which outward piety is symptomatic.

This divine fecundity which is a sharing in the fullness of Mary’s grace, as a child shares in its mother’s treasures, and a spouse in its beloved’s goods, is described in Ezekiel where we read the promise of the Lord, who says:

I will multiply the fruit of the tree and the fruit of the field, that you may never again suffer the disgrace of famine among the nations. (Ez 36:30).

καὶ πληθυνῶ τὸν καρπὸν τοῦ ξύλου καὶ τὰ γενήματα τοῦ ἀγροῦ, ὅπως μὴ λάβητε ὀνειδισμὸν λιμοῦ ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν.

Here the word tree is in the singular, and in the Septuagint is the exact same word (ξύλος) used in Genesis in referral to the Tree of Life. “I will… multiply” in the Greek is καὶ πληθυνῶ and in the Hebrew is וְהִרְבֵּיתִי֙ and is the same very word used by God when He is promising Abraham that he will have more descendants than the stars (Gen 17:20; 26:4,24).

Through a Marian lens, what else is God promising but that those who possess the Tree of Life within the field of their souls, through a true devotion to Mary, will yield not simply thirty, sixty or a hundred fold, but with, in and through Mary, will yield more fruit than there are stars, and there are estimated to be over one billion trillion stars in the observable universe! For this reason, such a soul “may – on the condition it perseveres along this way of the Cross/Tree of Life (ὁδον του ξύλου της ζωης) – “never again suffer the disgrace of famine among the nations.” Which is to say such a soul shall never suffer spiritual fruitlessness, for it will be Mary within who’ll be bearing the fruit, and Mary’s fruitfulness is infallible.

Conceiving the Tree of Life Within One’s Soul

The Book of Revelation describes how this Tree is planted beside the river (22:2). A river which the Father’s and early ecclesial writes interpret as signifying Christ, baptism, and the graces that flow from the Trinity. All which find their fulfilment in the gift of living in the Divine Will, above all in beatitude, and secondarily in this life. Such a river flows through the heartland of every soul in the state of grace.

The simple manner in which the Tree of Life may be planted or immaculately conceived by the interior riverside of our souls, is simply by means of desire for this gift and reality. Since in Proverbs we read: “a good desire is a tree of life” with the Greek word for “tree” δενδρον being used (13:12). Thus if this is the case, we can extrapolate this principle to say that “the good desire is the tree of life”.

In other words, the desire to possess Mary within oneself, to dwell in Her and be one with Her, which is akin to desiring to live in the fullness of God’s Kingdom, of His Will; is in one sense synonymous with possessing this sublime gift. Not that the desire for the Tree of Life and the Tree Itself is synonymous, but such loving desire efficaciously plants the presence of Mary within the soul along with Her fullness of grace.

In one sense She is present already in the souls of all those in the state of grace insofar as where God dwells, Mary dwells – just as in the old covenant where wherever God’s Presence was, there – as the seat of such an especial presence – dwelt the Ark. However, in the soul in grace, Mary’s presence is somewhat potential, and is only actualised by means of a true devotion to Her. Such devotion causes the life of Mary within the soul to sprout and gestate.

As St. Ambrose [337-397 C.E.] says, "May the soul of Mary be in each one of us to glorify the Lord! May the spirit of Mary be in each one of us to rejoice in God!" "When will that happy day come," asks a saintly man of our own day whose life was completely wrapped up in Mary, "when God's Mother is enthroned in men's hearts as Queen, subjecting them to the dominion of her great and princely Son? When will souls breathe Mary as the body breathes air?" When that time comes wonderful things will happen on earth. The Holy Spirit, finding his dear Spouse present again in souls, will come down into them with great power. He will fill them with his gifts, especially wisdom, by which they will produce wonders of grace. My dear friend, when will that happy time come, that age of Mary, when many souls, chosen by Mary and given her by the most High God, will hide themselves completely in the depths of her soul, becoming living copies of her, loving and glorifying Jesus? That day will dawn only when the devotion I teach is understood and put into practice.[7]

How privileged we are that we live on the threshold of such a time, which can nevertheless be today for ourselves by means of cultivating and tending to this most blessed of all trees that ever was and will grow in the field of the Church: the Virgin Mary, the Immaculate One, who was immaculately conceived and is the Immaculate Conception. That seed which can germinate and flourish within us spiritually, as it did physically in St. Anne, by means of our true devotion to Her. For yes, “If Mary, the Tree of Life, is well cultivated in our soul by fidelity to this devotion, she will in due time bring forth her fruit which is none other than Jesus.”

[1] Tertullian, De Carne Christi 21. Trans. and ed. by Ernest Evans, 1954, transcribed by Roger Pearse, 2002, available from
[2] Bonaventure, The Mirror of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Chapter XVIII.
[3] Pius XII, Munificentissimus-Deus, Apostolic Constitution, Defining the Dogma of the Assumption, November 1, 1950, 38.
[4] Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus, Apostolic Constitution, Defining the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 1854.
[5] Louis de Montfort, True Devotion, 218, 164.
[6] Louis de Montfort, True Devotion, 222.
[7] Louis de Montfort, True Devotion, 217.