The Silence and Admiration of Mary and Joseph

This is the last in the Christmas series from Bossuet’s Elevations on the Mysteries, in this case XV-XII. You can see the earlier post here and thread back through them. It has been a difficult year for us, and the news hasn’t been the cheeriest either. For the season I have opted for something to inspire, and there is no more inspiring preaching than Bossuet’s. I trust that you have been blessed by the series, and may you have a Merry Christmas.

We have seen the shepherds return glorifying God and making him glorified to all those who heard; but now something more marvellous and edifying. But Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart. (Luke 2:19 DRB) And to follow: And his father and mother were wondering at those things which were spoken about him. (Luke 2:33 DRB) I do not know if it is worth more to unite in silence with Mary than to explain the merit by our words; for what is more admirable, after what was announced by the Angel, after all which passed there, than to hear everyone speak and meanwhile wait with closed mouth? She carried in her bosom the Son of the Most High; she saw him come out like a ray of sunlight from a cloud, to say so, pure and full of light! What had she not felt by his presence? And if, approaching him, John, in the bosom of his mother, felt a shaking so miraculous; what peace, what divine joy, would the Holy Virgin not have felt at the conception of the Word which the Holy Spirit formed in her? Could she not say the same thing about her dear Son? However, she allows everyone to praise him; she hears the shepherds; she says not a word to the Magi who came to worship her Son; she hears Simeon and Anna the Prophetess; she only poured our her feelings with holy Elisabeth, whose visit made her a Prophetess; and without opening her mouth to anyone else, she was moved and unknowing. Erant mirantes; Joseph enters his silence in part as his secret; him to whom the Angel told such great things and who had seen the miracle of the virgin birth. Neither one of them spoke of what they saw all the time at home, and never took advantage of the many miracles. As humble as she was wise, Mary let herself be thought of as an ordinary mother, and her Son as the fruit of an ordinary marriage. The great things which God does inside of his creatures naturally work in silence. To grasp it, I do not know what of the divine which suppresses all expression. Because what does one say, and what could Mary say, that would equal what she felt? Thus the secret of God is held under seal, unless he enlivens the tongue and makes it speak. Human advantage is nothing, if they are not known and the world does not take them. That which God does himself, the inestimable value which cannot be tasted except by God and the creature himself. Men, you are vain and vain is the ostentation which you press to make valuable in the eyes of men, vain as you are, all your feeble advantages! Children of men, how long will you have a heavy and carnal heart? Until when will you love vanity and please yourself with lies? All of the goods you parade are false in themselves: the only opinion which makes things valuable and there is only value to him who tastes alone in the silence with God.  Place yourself in a holy place to know that I am God: taste and see how the Lord is sweet. (Psalm 46:10; Psalm 34:8) Love the retreat and the silence: pull back from the tumultuous conversations of the world; be silent my mouth, do not block my heart from hearing God, and stop from interrupting or troubling attention so sweet. Vacate et videte: gustate et videte quoniam suavis est Dominus. Gustate et videte. (Psalm 46:10; Psalm 34:8)

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