15 August 2022

S Bernard says it all

An unofficial translation of a Reading in both forms of the Divine Office for Most Holy Name of Mary, September 12.

From the Homilies in praise of the Virgin Mother of S Bernard the Abbot.

'And', the Gospel writer says, 'The Virgin's name was Mary'. Let us say a few things about this Name also, which is said to mean Star of the Sea, and very suitably fits the Virgin Mother. For she is very suitably compared to a star since, just as without any loss to itself a star sends out its ray, so without suffering any loss to her virginity the Virgin bears a Son. Nor does the ray lessen the brightness of the star; and neither does thre Son lessen the integrity of his Virgin Mother. So she is that noble Star risen from Jacob, whose ray pours light upon the whole world, whose splendour shines before all other things in the heavens above and penetrates to the lowest places below, shining also throughout all lands and warming minds rather than bodies; fosters virtues; burns away vices. She, I say, is the distinguished and special star raised above this great and broad sea, shining with her merits, shedding light by her examples.

Whoever you are who understand that in the floods of this age you are walking among squalls and storms rather than on land, do do not turn your eyes from the brightness of this star, if you do not wish to be overwhelmed by the squalls. If gales of temptations arise, if you run aground on rocks of tribulations, look upon this star, call upon Mary. If you are tossed around by waves of pride, or ambition, or depression, or envy, look upon the star, call upon Mary. If anger or greed or the lure of the flesh strike the poor little ship of your mind, look upon Mary. If you are thrown into confusion by a great mass of sins, or bewildered by a sense of disgust in your conscience, or terrified by a horror of judgement, and you begin to be sucked down by a whirlpool of grief or an abyss of desperation, think upon Mary.

In dangers, in tight corners, in dubious matters, think upon Mary, call upon Mary. Let her not leave your lips, let her not leave your heart, and, so that you may win the help of her prayer, do not abandon the example of her way of life. As long as you follow her, you have not strayed from the path; as long as you call upon her, you are not without hope; as long as you think upon her, you are not lost; if she holds you fast you do not fall to the ground; as she protects you, you are without fear; with her as your guide, you are not wearied; with her favour, you reach your destination and thus experience within yourself how fittingly it was said: 'And the Virgin's name was Mary'.

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