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than that of this blessed Virgin to high thoughts of self. “And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; and entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost : and she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For,
? lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.” And upon this follows the hymn of the Blessed Virgin, wherein, in lowly, devout, and thankful words, she sets forth the praise of God for His grace and mercy towards her; words so lowly and devout and thankful, that the Church of God hath taken them to herself for daily use, and daily makes them her own; repeating them daily, even as she repeats daily the Psalms of holy David : and in them offering up to God her hymn of praise for the fulness of the gospel blessings.
My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For He hath regarded the lowliness (the low estate) of His handmaiden.
For, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For He that is mighty hath magnified me [hath done to me great things ;] and holy is His name.
And His mercy is on them that fear Him throughout all generations."
Surely herein were fulfilled the words of the prophet : “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” When the Son of God came down from heaven, and was made man, and tabernacled among us, she who was chosen by God to be His mother after the flesh, was meek and lowly, even as she was of eminent purity and holiness. Indeed meekness, lowliness, stillness, quietness, these are the graces which recur to our minds whenever we meditate upon the mother of our Lord. And thus she becomes a
pattern in a measure to all, and a special pattern to Christian women, a pattern of those graces which are suited to their place and station, which make them dear to God, and accepted of Him, and fit them to do Him service. For surely this meekness and lowliness, this stillness and quietness, this modest reserve, are what are set forth, in express terms, by the apostles of our Lord as the special graces of Christian women.
Thus St. Paul ; “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety:" and St. Peter; “ Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands ; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; while they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that ontWard adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves.” Such, no doubt,
even under the Law, were the holy women, the true saints and servants of God.
Such was Hannah, the mother of Samuel; she, whose prayers God heard and granted; she, who was a special type and figure of the Blessed Virgin, both in her lowliness and meekness, and in the devout thankfulness of her hymn of praise. And such, much more, since the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, have been found in the Church of Christ, mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, winning souls to Christ, not so much by the word of teaching, as," without the word,” by their “ chaste conversation coupled with fear.” Mothers, such as the mother of St. Augustine, whose prayers for their children have at length been answered by their conversion to God; wives, whose patient and quiet gentleness has softened and bowed the hearts of their husbands unto Christ's yoke ; sisters, whose purity and meekness have recalled erring brothers into the paths of religion ; daughters, whose filial piety has touched and opened their fathers' hearts to receive the true faith and fear of God. Let Christian women now, by God's grace, be such as they of old
Let them learn to be meek and lowly, still and quiet in all the daily duties of life, after the pattern of the Blessed Virgin. Thus shall they be dear to Jesus Christ; thus shall they also be blessed, both here and hereafter ; blessed here on earth with God's grace and favour, and blessed hereafter in heaven, where in His presence is the fulness of joy, and at His right hand is pleasure for evermore.