Saint John Damascene: the miracle of the Virgin

Born in Damascus around 675, priest before 726 in Jerusalem, preacher attached to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, he died around 749. He is the great defender of images representing Christ and the saints, but this defense is secondary in a synthesis admirably vast. The power of this theologian gives a singular scope to his writings or speeches on the Blessed Virgin. Unjustly condemned to have his hand cut off, it was restored to him by the Mother of God.

Homily for the Feast of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary

Today the strain of Jesse has produced its offspring, on which a divine flower will blossom for the world. Today, he who once made the firmament rise from the waters, creates on earth, from an earthly substance, a new heaven; and this sky is much more beautiful and more divine than the other, because from it will be born the sun of justice, the one who created the other sun. (…)

How many miracles unite in this child, how many alliances are made in her! Daughter of sterility, she will be the virginity that gives birth. In it will be the union of divinity and humanity, of impassiveness and suffering, of life and death, so that in all that was bad may be conquered by the best.

O daughter of Adam and Mother of God! And it was all done for me, Lord! So great was your love for me that you wanted, not to secure my salvation through angels or some other creature, but to restore by yourselves the one you had first created yourself. (…) Today, the creator of all things, God the Word is composing a new book, springing from the heart of his Father, and which he writes by the Holy Spirit, which is the language of God. (…)

O daughter of King David and Mother of God, Universal King! O divine and living object, whose beauty has charmed the creator God, you whose soul is entirely under the divine action and attentive to God alone; all your desires are directed towards that alone which deserves to be sought, and which is worthy of love; you have anger only for the sin and its author.

You will have a life superior to nature, but you will not have it for you, you who were not created for you. You will have consecrated it entirely to God, who introduced you into the world, in order to serve for the salvation of the human race, in order to accomplish the plan of God, the Incarnation of his Son and the deification of the human race.

Your heart will be nourished by the words of God: they will fertilize you, like the fertile olive tree in the house of God, like the tree planted beside the living waters of the Spirit, like the tree of life, which gave its fruit at the appointed time: the incarnate God, the life of all things. Your thoughts will have no other object than what benefits the soul, and any idea that is not only pernicious, but useless, you will reject before you have even felt the taste for it.

Your eyes will always be turned towards the Lord, towards the eternal and inaccessible light; your ears attentive to the divine words and to the sounds of the harp of the Spirit, through whom the Word came to assume our flesh. (…) Your very pure heart, free from all stain, will always see the God of all purity and will burn with desire for him. Your bosom will be the abode of him whom no place can contain. Your milk will nourish God, in the baby Jesus.

You are the door of God, shining with a perpetual virginity. Your hands will carry God, and your knees will be for him a throne more sublime than that of the cherubim. (…) You are the temple of the Holy Spirit, the city of the living God, rejoiced by the abundant rivers, the holy rivers of divine grace. You are very beautiful, very close to God; dominating the Cherubim, higher than the Seraphim, very close to God himself. (…)

O you who are the daughter and sovereign of Joachim and Anne, accept the prayer of your poor servant who is only a sinner, and who nevertheless loves you ardently and honors you, who wants to find in you the only hope of his happiness, the guide of his life, reconciliation with your Son and the sure pledge of his salvation.

Deliver me from the burden of my sins, dispel the darkness heaped up around my mind, rid me of my thick mire, repress temptations, govern my life happily, so that I may be led by you into heavenly bliss, and grant world peace. To all the faithful of this city, give perfect joy and eternal salvation, through the prayers of your parents and of the whole Church.

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Saint John Damascene: the miracle of the Virgin

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