On the Birthday of Blessed Mary

On today’s feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Augustine writes in the old Divine Office: “Dearly beloved brethren, the day for which we have longed, the Feast-day of the Blessed and venerable and Ever-Virgin Mary, that day is come. Let our land laugh and sing with merriment, bathed in the glory of this great Virgin’s rising. She is the flower of the fields on which the priceless lily of the valleys hath blossomed. This is she whose delivery changed the nature that we draw from our first parents, and cleansed away their offense.”—St. Augustine.

It is interesting that St. Augustine writes that it was from Mary’s “birth that the nature that we draw from our first parents changed,” (per cuius partum mutatur natura protoplastorum.) Wouldn’t this be better ascribed to Jesus? Even better: How can we call Mary the Mother of God if she was not pre-existent? The answer is simple: Mary is the mother of Jesus’ human nature, but not his divine nature. But Jesus’ center of responsibility, his personhood is divine. And you can’t be the mother of a nature, only the mother of a Person. And this Person is Divine. Thus, Mary is the Mother of God. Christ did not derive His Divinity from her, but He did derive 100% of his genetic make up, his flesh and his blood—His humanity— from Mary alone, since Joseph had no part in this. Jesus’ humanity came from Mary!  And Mary’s humanity came from the most perfect male-female union on earth ever, that of St. Joachim and St. Anne.

When we are baptized, we drown to the family of Adam and we rise in the family line of Jesus. This is why the Apostle Paul writes so much about death and life in his chapter on baptism, Romans 6. But notice who he is writing to: The Romans. In the Roman Empire, to adopt a son or daughter required a process of death certificate granted to the child by the old family. This death certificate was necessary to have in hand before the new family would have the rights and paperwork to the new child. In short, the child would be dead to the first family, and alive to the second family.

So also, we die to Eve and become alive to Mary, above all on her birthday! The birthday of Mary is in some way the birthday of a new humanity since Jesus got His humanity from her and since we are adopted into his family through baptism. The waters of St. Anne breaking were in some since a prefigurement of the waters of our baptism, our new family.  These graces of new life do not originate in Mary, but they flow through her, as Christ came through her once. When we are baptized, we are divinized by God Himself transforming us into tabernacles of the Blessed Trinity. But we also enter a new humanity that Jesus took from Mary, even though He—God— created her most perfect soul, celebrated on the Immaculate Conception (8th of December.) But 9 months later, we have the full flowering of this conception on her birthday, on the 8th of September, today.

This birthday is therefore the birthday of our Mother! This begins not only Mary’s life outside the womb, but a prefigurement of our birth unto eternal life and a new family line prepared for us. So “let our land laugh and sing with merriment, bathed in the glory of this great Virgin’s rising. She is the flower of the fields on which the priceless lily of the valleys hath blossomed. This is she whose delivery changed the nature that we draw from our first parents, and cleansed away their offense.”—St. Augustine

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—Fr. David Nix, www.padreperegrino.org