The Expectation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The Expectation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Our Lady of the Expectation of Jesus Christ’s Holy Birth
O Virgin of virgins!
how shall this be?
for never was there one like thee,
nor will there ever be.
Ye daughters of Jerusalem,
why look ye wondering at me?
What ye behold, is a divine mystery.
The Expectation Of The Blessed Virgin Mary
Source: Abbott Prosper Louis Paschal Guéranger, O.S.B., The Liturgical Year, Vol. 1, Advent. Westminster, MD: The Newman Press, 1948, pp. 488-9O. Translation by Dom Laurence Shepherd, O.S.B.; December 18
THIS FEAST, which is now kept not only throughout the whole of Spain but in many other parts of the Catholic world, owes its origin to the bishops of the tenth Council of Toledo, in 656.
These prelates thought that there was an incongruity in the ancient practice of celebrating the feast of the Annunciation on the twenty-fifth of March, inasmuch as this joyful solemnity frequently occurs at the time when the Church is intent upon the Passion of our Lord, so that it is sometimes obliged to be transferred into Easter time, with which it is out of harmony for another reason; they therefore decreed that, henceforth, in the Church of Spain there should be kept, eight days before Christmas, a solemn feast with an octave, in honour of the Annunciation, and as a preparation for the great solemnity of our Lord’s Nativity.
In course of time, however, the Church of Spain saw the necessity of returning to the practice of the Church of Rome, and of those of the whole world, which solemnize the twenty-fifth of March as the day of our Lady’s Annunciation and the Incarnation of the Son of God.
But such had been, for ages, the devotion of the people for the feast of the eighteenth of December, that it was considered requisite to maintain some vestige of it. They discontinued, therefore, to celebrate the Annunciation on this day; but the faithful were requested to consider, with devotion, what must have been the sentiments of the holy Mother of God during the days immediately preceding her giving Him birth. A new feast was instituted, under the name of ‘the Expectation of the blessed Virgin’s delivery.’
Expectant Madonna with Saint Joseph; Unknown Master, French; 1425-1450; National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; https://www.wga.hu
This feast, which sometimes goes under the name of Our Lady of O, or the feast of O, on account of the great antiphons which are sung during these days, and, in a special manner, of that which begins O Virgo virginum (which is still used in the Vespers of the Expectation, together with the O Adonaï, the antiphon of the Advent Office), is kept with great devotion in Spain. A High Mass is sung at a very early hour each morning during the octave, at which all who are with child, whether rich or poor, consider it a duty to assist, that they may thus honour our Lady’s Maternity, and beg her blessing upon themselves.
It is not to be wondered at that the Holy See has approved of this pious practice being introduced into almost every other country. We find that the Church of Milan, long before Rome conceded this feast to the various dioceses of Christendom, celebrated the Office of our Lady’s Annunciation on the sixth and last Sunday of Advent, and called the whole week following the Hebdomada de Exceptato (for thus the popular expression had corrupted the word Expectato). But these details belong strictly to the archæology of liturgy, and enter not into the plan of our present work; let us, then, return to the feast of our Lady’s Expectation, which the Church has established and sanctioned as a new means of exciting the attention of the faithful during these last days of Advent.
Most just indeed it is, O holy Mother of God, that we should unite in that ardent desire thou hadst to see Him, who had been concealed for nine months in thy chaste womb; to know the features of this Son of the heavenly Father, who is also thine; to come to that blissful hour of His birth, which will give glory to God in the highest, and, on earth, peace to men of good-will.
Yes, dear Mother, the time is fast approaching, though not fast enough to satisfy thy desires and ours. Make us redouble our attention to the great mystery; complete our preparation by thy powerful prayers for us, that when the solemn hour has come, may our Jesus find no obstacle to His entrance into our hearts.
Mater Admirabilis by Pauline Perdrau; 1844; fresco; Convent of Trinita’ dei Monti, Rome, Italy. "Pope Pius IX titled her ‘Mater Admirabilis’ (Mother Most Admirable) in 1846. She is the patron of all the schools of the Sacred Heart." https://whispersintheloggia.blogspot.com
The Unborn State Is Sanctified By Unborn Jesus
From Unborn Jesus Our Hope by George Peate
By coming into the world as a little unborn baby, and living that existence for nine months, Jesus sanctified the unborn state and the relationship between the unborn child and his parents, particularly the relationship with his mother. Day after day, month by month Jesus was nothing but an [apparently] insignificant unborn baby.
He chose this restricted unborn life to show the depths of God’s love for us. Perhaps the world cannot understand nor appreciate it, but we Christians must!
The modern world would have us judge unborn babies superficially by our limited abilities of observation; what we can observe them doing, learning, achieving and mastering.
Not so with God. He sees us for who we are, rather than what we can or cannot do. As the philosophical maxim states; "action follows being."
When God appeared to Moses He revealed His identity by stating: "I AM WHO AM." So too, it is more important that we discover Who [the] Unborn Jesus is rather than what things He might have done as an unborn baby.
And the same is true for all unborn babies. God designed "personhood" to be a secret core mystery of life to be discovered by oneself and others on nature’s terms, not ours.
Madonna del Parto; Unknown Master, Italian; 1490s; Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice, Italy; https://www.wga.hu
God hides the "unborn person" in the womb, almost in a suspended state of love that is, suspended between God’s creative love for the new creature and the mother’s nurturing love, until the beauty of the infant’s physical development is sufficient to reflect the fullness of the infant soul.
As one professor of pastoral theology has noted "awe is intrinsic to parenting." Months of waiting contributes to the sense of awe that parents experience through pregnancy and birth. And awe is also an essential element in respecting human life as both gift and blessing.
Parents who, respecting nature and nature’s God, patiently wait for the birth of their child, grow themselves in that very virtue [of] patience that they will need most in the upbringing of the child.
The "unborn person" is literally a "buried treasure" of personhood and personality but, like wine, needs to age.
Such a respectful attitude was that held by Mary and Joseph during the [pregnancy]. It should be the attitude of all expectant parents.
Let the earth be opened, and bud forth a Savior: and let justice spring up together:
I the Lord have created him.
O God, Who did will that Thy Word should take flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the message of the Angel, grant to us, Thy humble servants and handmaids, that we who truly believe Her to be the Mother of God may be helped by Her intercession with Thee. Through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
Holy Mary, Mother of God pray for us
Holy Mary, Mother of God pray for us
Grant, we pray Thee, Almighty God, that we who are weighed down by the old yoke of sin, may be freed by the new Birth of Thine only-begotten Son for which we long, Who lives and reigns forever, unto ages of ages. Amen
December 18 - The Expectation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
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