The Path of Life

The Path of Life

Thursday, December 1, 2011


The Flight into Egypt: From a church in Lucerne,
Switzerland, I visited last year.

NOTE: Yet another excerpt from Caryll Houselander's The Reed of God, read to us at dinner last evening in the monastery refectory. This piece, in particular, offers a profound Advent meditation on the Incarnation and what it means for us today. We are to bear Christ to the world in the simplest and even most sorrowful of ways. Mary, the Mother of God, shows us how -- Br. Francis

Our Lady consented not only to bear her own child, Christ, but to bear Christ into the world in all men, in all lives, in all times; not only in secluded lives, protected lives, the lives of holy people, but into the lives of those haunted by worry, by poverty, by debts, by fears and temptations, subject to chance, to accident, to persecution, to the fortunes of war.

She was consenting not only to give birth to Christ, not only to give life to him, to to give him death.

In her brief historical life, of which we know so little, the history of the whole world is concentrated, particularly the lives of all common people of the world, who often to not know themselves that they are Christbearers, living the life of the Mother of God.

She began at once, as she stood up before the angel and uttered her fiat, to live all our lives, and Christ in her was subject to the unknown, to the hazards of life in the world, as he is in us.

The wonderful thing about Our Lady is that in her trust everything is included; she accepted her son as God's son, she accepted his death without doubting God's love, her words were his words:

"Be it done unto me according to thy word."

"Not my will but thy will be done."

She never changed or took back anything, she never made conditions with love.

The sorrows of the whole world, not only the dramatic ones but the daily ones, began to unfold gradually in her life, and the intelligent heart can read into them not only the broad outline of all the world's tragedies but also the smallest details of human existence.

When Christ was born in Bethlehem, one by one troubles crowded in on the Holy Family--the command not to return home, the hardships of the journey into Egypt, the struggle in the foreign country, starting again, trying to build up a trade, to learn the language. Looking about us now we can see all those things which were started and lived so intensely by those unknown peasants Joseph and Mary. We can see them happening all over the world, to everyone in the world. We can see that the human race, with its great vocation to be the Mother of God, is experiencing the very things that Mary and Joseph experienced.

Everywhere the Flight into Egypt goes on: the little home is forsaken, the child in peril, the innocents slain; everywhere the refugees--Jesus, Mary, Joseph--come to us: strangers, foreigners in a strange land from every country.

For them all Our Lady has answered, long ago: "Be it done unto me."

In this great fiat of the little girl Mary, the strength and foundation of our life of contemplation is grounded, for it means absolute trust in God, trust which will not set us free from suffering, but will set us free from anxiety, hesitation, and above all the fear of suffering. Trust which makes us willing to be what God wants us to be, however great or however little that may prove. Trust which accepts God as illimitable Love.

-- Caryll Houselander, The Reed of God

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