September 8: The Birth of Humanity’s Sole Boast
Mother! whose virgin bosom was uncrost
With the least shade of thought to sin allied;
Woman! above all women glorified,
Our tainted nature’s solitary boast;
Purer than foam on central ocean tost;
Brighter than eastern skies at daybreak strewn
With fancied roses, than the unblemished moon
Before her wane begins on heaven’s blue coast;
Thy Image falls to earth.
Yet some, I ween,
Not unforgiven the suppliant knee might bend,
As to a visible Power, in which did blend
All that was mixed and reconciled in Thee
Of mother’s love with maiden purity,
Of high with low, celestial with terrene!
“And the virgin’s name was Mary” (Lk 1:27). Let us also say a few words about this name, which means “star of the sea” and is most suitably fitting for a virgin mother. For she is most appropriately compared to a star, because, just as a star emits its rays without being corrupted, so the Virgin gave birth to her Son without any injury to her virginity. When the star emits its rays, this does not make it less bright, and neither does the Son diminish his Mother’s virginal integrity. She, therefore, is that noble star risen from Jacob, whose ray gives light to the whole world, whose brightness both shines forth in the heavens and penetrates the depths. It lights up the earth and warms the spirit more than the body; it fosters virtues and dries up vices. Mary, I say, is the distinguished and bright shining star, necessarily lifted up above this great broad sea, gleaming with merits, giving light by her example.
Oh, if any of you recognizes that he is caught between storms and tempests, tossed about in the flood of this world, instead of walking on dry land, keep your eyes fixed on the glow of this star, unless you want to perish, overwhelmed by the tempest!
If the winds of temptations surge, if you run aground on the shoals of troubles, look to this star, call upon Mary!
If you are tossed by the winds of pride or ambition or detraction or jealousy, look to this star, call upon Mary!
If anger or greed or the allurements of the flesh dash against the boat of your mind, look to Mary!
And if you are troubled by the enormity of your sins, confused by the foulness of your conscience, terrified by the horror of the Judgment, so that you begin to be swallowed up by the pit of sadness, the abyss of despair, think of Mary!
In dangers, in straits, in perplexity, think of Mary, call upon Mary. Let her name be always in your mouth and in your heart, and, if you would ask for and obtain the help of her prayers, do not forget the example of how she lived.
If you follow her, you will not go astray. If you pray to her, you will not despair. If you think of her, you will not be lost. If you cling to her, you will not fall. If she protects you, you will not fear; if she is your guide, you will not tire; if she is favorable to you, you will reach your goal. Thus you will experience personally how rightly it was spoken: “And the Virgin’s name was Mary.”
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux