The Virgin Mary’s Crown of Humility

Humility brought about the triumph of Jesus and so must also be the cause of Mary’s glory. She was exalted because of her humility, and in the following manner. We recall that it belongs to the humble person to impoverish himself and strip himself of his advantages. Yet, by a marvelous exchange, humility enriches by stripping away, because it restores all that it takes away. Nothing is more fitting to humility than these words of St. Paul: “as having nothing, and yet possessing everything” (2 Cor. 6:10).

The Blessed Virgin possessed three precious goods: high rank, an admirable purity of body and mind, and, what is above every treasure, Jesus Christ himself. She had a beloved Son, in whom “all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Col. 1:19). Here is a creature different from every other creature, but her very great humility stripped her, in a certain sense, of these advantages.

Elevated above all others by her dignity as the Mother of God, she placed herself among the common people by living as a servant. Separated from all of us by her immaculate purity, she shared the condition of sinners by purifying herself with the rest. Thus we see her prerogatives stripped away by her humility. But there is something more: she even lost her Son on Calvary, and not only because he died, but also because in a certain sense he ceased to be her Son when he substituted another for himself, saying to her, “Woman, behold, your son.”

This article is from a chapter in Meditations on Mary.

Let us meditate on this. It seems as though the Savior no longer knew his mother, for he called her Woman rather than Mother. There is a mystery here: he is in a condition of humiliation, and it is necessary for his Mother to share in it with him. Jesus has God for his Father, and Mary has God for her Son. But the Divine Savior lost his Father and now speaks of him only as his God. Thus, Mary will lose her Son, who now calls her only by the name Woman. And more humiliation is in store: in giving Mary John for her son, Jesus is acting as though henceforth he will cease to be her Son, as if the sacred bond has been broken. This is why he said it: during the years of his mortal life, he fulfilled the duties of a son toward Mary and was her consolation and only support in her old age. Now that he is about to enter into his glory, he takes on sentiments more worthy of God and leaves to another the duties of natural piety.

Mary no longer has her Son, and she will live through a long series of years in this condition. John for Jesus, the servant for the master, the son of Zebedee for the Son of God. It pleased the Son thus to humiliate her. St. John takes the liberty of recognizing her as his Mother, and she humbly accepts the exchange. How deep is her humility! How wonderful her obedience!

Let us gather together into one all of these acts of humility of the Blessed Virgin. Her high rank is covered with the mantle of servitude. Her purity is hidden under the marks of sin. She even loses her Son and consents to have another in his place. Her humility has stripped everything away. Yet we also see that this humility restores every advantage to her: “as having nothing, yet as possessing everything.”

O Mother of Jesus, because you called yourself a servant, today humility prepares a throne for you: climb up to this high place and receive absolute rule over every creature. O Virgin, all holy and all pure, more pure than the rays of the sun, you chose to purify yourself and to be counted among sinners, and your humility will raise you up; you will be the advocate for all sinners, and you will be their principal refuge and hope after Jesus Christ. You lost your Son, and it seemed that he had abandoned you to a foreign land, but because you submitted to such a humiliation with patience, your Son reclaims his rights, he holds out his hand to you, and the whole celestial court admires you, O Happy Virgin, as you rise into heaven: “Who is that coming up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?” (Song of Sol. 8:5). This is the royal entry of the Blessed Virgin. The sacred ceremony is finished. Mary is placed upon her throne, in the arms of her Son, in the eternal noontime of heaven, and it is holy humility that has accomplished the work.

It is now for us to pay our respects to this great Queen and, seeing her so close to her Son, to pray her to assist us by her all-powerful intercession. O holy, blessed Mary, because you are with Jesus, enjoying a holy and blessed familiarity with him, speak for us to his heart. Speak, and your Son will listen. We do not ask you for human glory. Obtain for us only that humility by which you have been crowned. May all those who celebrate your triumph enter profoundly into the knowledge that there is no glory except that which is founded upon humility and nothing truer than the words of the Gospel: the one who humbles himself in this life shall be exalted forever in the eternal joy to which we are being led by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Editor’s note: This article is an excerpt from Bishop Bossuet’s Meditations on Marywhich is available from Sophia Institute Press.

 

Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

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Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet (1627–1704) was a theologian and French bishop. With a great knowledge of St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, he devoted himself to writing in a way that was approachable to every person. Though lionized by the great English converts such as Waugh, Belloc, and Knox, his writing has only recently been made available in English. His Meditations for Advent is available from Sophia Institute Press.

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