Ave, Maria, gratia plena

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1925%20Jos%20Gillain%2011%20ans.jpg

This beautiful painting of the Annunciation was the work of 11 year old Joseph Gillain who painted it in 1925, after receiving a box of pastels as a gift. Encouraged by his parents and by his Benedictine schoolmasters at the Abbey of Maredsous, Gillain became a world famous cartoonist. See the exquisite humility of the Virgin and the chaste eloquence of her "Yes," depicted in her outstretched hand. The Archangel Gabriel bows low in veneration of the maiden about to become his Queen. Hovering above is the Holy Spirit, bathing the whole scene in His Divine Light. All of this, the work of an 11 year old boy.

The Annunciation of the Lord
Lady Day

Isaiah 7:10 - 8:10
Hebrews 10:4 – 10
Luke 1:26 - 38

Annunciation and Divine Mercy

Rarely does the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord fall the day after the Second Sunday of Easter, the Feast of Divine Mercy. Might there not be in this an invitation for us to seek out the mystery of the Annunciation in the light of the Divine Mercy, and that of the Divine Mercy in the light of the Annunciation?

The Human Face of Divine Mercy

When the Blessed Virgin Mary said her “Yes” to the message of the Angel, Divine Mercy entered the world and took flesh in her womb. Yesterday Pope Benedict XVI called the Face of Christ “the supreme revelation of the Mercy of God.” Where was that Holy Face formed? In the womb of the Virgin of Nazareth. And what other face did the Face of the Son of God most closely resemble? The face of His Mother, the tota pulchra, the all-lovely one. Mary is, in all truth, the Mater Misericordiae, the Mother of Mercy. Mary gave a human face to Divine Mercy.

When the Time Had Fully Come

No sooner did Mary offer her assent to the plan of God than a tiny human body began to be formed within her virginal womb, a human body indissolubly united to the Divine Son of God. After twenty–four days, the Heart of Jesus, formed by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, began to have regular beats or pulsations. The human Heart of God began to beat beneath the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It was the sound of redeeming love. "When the time had fully come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, 'Abba! Father' " (Gal 4:6-7).

His Merciful Design

It is through the Blessed Virgin Mary that the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Vessel of Divine Mercy, begins to beat in the world. It is through the Blessed Virgin Mary that the world will be brought to the experience of Divine Mercy. What does she sing in her Magnificat? “He has mercy upon those who fear Him, from generation to generation. . . . He has protected His servant Israel, keeping His merciful design in remembrance” (Lk 1:50, 54).

Queen of Mercy

I have never known anyone to have loved Mary without loving the Heart of Jesus, and I have never known anyone to have loved the Heart of Jesus without loving Mary. Mary is, from the first instant of the Incarnation, the Keeper of the Mystic Portal, destined by the Father to stand at the foot of the Cross. From her place in heaven, where her body and soul are “hidden away with Christ in God” (Col 3:3), the Blessed Virgin reigns as Queen of Mercy.

Into the Wellspring of Divine Mercy

If you are ever tempted to doubt of the Mercy of God, go to Mary. She will set your soul at rest in a perfect confidence. If you are struggling to show mercy toward another, or finding it difficult to pardon someone who has hurt you, go to Mary. She will soften your heart. She will anoint it with the Precious Blood of her Son until, with her and with her Son, the Victim Lamb, you become capable of forgiving and of showing the mercy that you yourself have received through her hands. Until the end of time, the work of the Virgin Mother is to draw souls through the pierced Side of her Son into the wellspring of Divine Mercy, the Sacred Heart that was formed by the Holy Spirit in her womb.

Mother of the Victim-Priest

Today’s lesson from the Letter to the Hebrews reveals the very first prayer uttered by Christ the Victim-Priest to His Father. Where did He offer this first priestly prayer of His? In the womb of His Immaculate Mother. When does He offer it? On the day of the Annunciation, at the moment of His Incarnation. “No sacrifice, no offering,” He says, “was thy demand; thou hast endowed me instead with a body. Thou hast not found any pleasure in burnt sacrifices, in sacrifices for sin. See then, I said, I am coming to fulfil what is written of me, where the book lies unrolled: to do thy will, O my God” (Heb 10:6-7).

Our Lady is the Mother of the Victim-Priest. She takes her place at the altar in every Mass. If you would enter fully into the prayer of Christ in His Holy Sacrifice, consecrate yourself to Mary. Her womb was the sanctuary wherein the Word Made Flesh, the Word endowed with a Body, began the liturgy of His Sacrifice. And so, I address her, saying:

Prayer

I pray thee, O Most Holy Virgin Mary,
that I might hear the Heartbeat of redeeming Love,
and that with Thee
I might adore the Heart of Jesus, the Wellspring of Divine Mercy,
formed in Thy womb by the Holy Spirit.

Through the Holy Spirit,
by whose power and overshadowing Thou didst become
the living tabernacle of the Heart of God,
may my soul rejoice in Thy every visitation
and leap in recognition of Him
who through Thee deigns to come to me.

Through the Holy Spirit
by whom Thou wert illumined by faith,
quickened by hope,
and inflamed with charity,
grant that I may believe all that the Sacred Heart of Jesus has revealed,
never despair of His boundless Mercy,
and burn with the fire He came to cast upon the earth.

In the Holy Spirit,
Thou adorest the Heart of Thy Son as the Heart of Thy God;
in that same Holy Spirit,
grant that I may adore the Heart of my God
as the Heart that, hidden in Thy womb, once beat beneath Thy own:
the same Sacred Heart that, pierced upon the Cross,
fills the heavens with glory
and the earth with mercy.
Amen.

3 Comments

O my gosh. The painting is a masterpiece - and he was only 11 when he painted it.

This is now the wallpaper on my work computer. Thank you.

It's so humbling to see such a picture painted by a child.

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About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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