All our hail, our joy

02 November 2006

DOMINUS TECUM ["The Lord is with thee"], the Lord Christ's being with Mary, is the chief business the Church commemorates in this day. Her being "blessed", and all our being "blessed", "highly favoured", or favoured at all, either men or women being so; all our hail, all our health, and peace and joy, all the angels' visits to us, or kind words, all our conference with heaven, all our titles and honours in heaven and earth, that are worth the naming, come only from it.

For Dominus tecum cannot come without them; he cannot come to us but we must be so, must be highly favoured in it, and blessed by it. So the incarnation of Christ, and the annunciation of the blessed Virgin, his being incarnate of her, and her blessedness in him with her, make it as well our Lord 's as our Lady's day.

More his, because his being Lord made her a Lady, else a poor carpenter's wife, God knows; all her worthiness and honour, as all ours, is from him; and we too take heed today, or any day, of parting them; or so remembering her as to forget him; or so blessing her, as to take away any of our blessing him; any of his worship, to give to her.

Let her blessedness, the respect we give her, be among women still; such as is fit and proportionate to weak creatures, not due and proper only to the creator, that Dominus tecum, Christ in her be the business: that we take pattern by the angel, to give her no more than is her due, yet to be sure to give her that, and particularly upon this day.

For from Christ's being with Mary and with us it is that we are blessed. From his incarnation begins the date of all our happiness. If God be not with us, all the world cannot make us happy, much less blessed. For God hath exalted the humble and meek, the humble handmaid better than the proudest lady. Blessed the devout affection that is always watching for her Lord in prayer and meditations; none so happy, so blessed, as she; the Lord comes to none so soon as such.

This is an extract from Sermons by Dr Mark Frank (Oxford, 1849), quoted in Celebrating the Saints compiled by Robert Atwell (Canterbury Press, 2004, £30 ( CT Bookshop £27 ); 1-85311-565-7).

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