Brookline Carmel Bulletin
May 28, 1961
And He said to me, “Let thy dwelling be in Jacob, and thy inheritance in Israel. And take root in my elect.” (Eccus. 24, 13) And I took root in an honorable people, and in the portion of my God His inheritance; and my abode is in the full assembly of the saints. (Eccus 24, 16)
May is the month, in northern temperate climes, when the face of the earth is renewed. At the approach of winter each year, life drains out of the landscape as the vital juices of tree and vine and shrub withdraw beneath the surface, leaving trunk and branches to occupy the earth as so many barren sticks. Signs of it are not in evidence, but plant life is there, compacted into the narrow confines of the roots, dormant, and awaiting Spring. With the coming of May, the sun has already mounted high into the sky. It pours its warm, direct, penetrating rays deep into the soil, activating the life-giving fluid concentrated in the roots and sending it soaring up into the extremities of the organism. Life puts in its appearance once again. Beauty takes the place of bleakness, verdure and flowers barrenness. How can anyone miss seeing Mary in all this?
Our Lord Jesus Christ, Truth Incarnate, loved to speak of Himself as a vine, and of His disciples (among whom we stand, please God) as its branches. This metaphor places in clear light the nature of the relationship existing between Himself and us. Happily, the Church has pursued the comparison further. She identifies the root with Our Lady: Radix Jesse, germinans flosculum (Root of Jesse, budding forth a flower). In doing so, she casts light on the nature of the relationship between Mary and ourselves.
It is the function of the roots to absorb inanimate substances from the soil and introduce them into the life stream of the vine. Under the influence of the energy in sunlight, these substances are synthesized, together with the elements extracted from the atmosphere by the leaves, into the very stuff of the organism and incorporated into it. They enjoy now a higher kind of existence. In this way the plant develops, grows, and bears fruit. There is an analogous process that takes place in regard to the True Vine, Jesus Christ.
At the time of her Immaculate Conception, God infused life in concentrated form into Mary’s soul; He created it full of Grace. Then when the fullness of time, the opportune moment came, the Holy Ghost descended upon her, sending deep into her soul the fructifying rays of His Love and His Omnipotence. She conceived and bore a son, the true vine of which we are the branches. It was the Springtime of the Human Race.
It is God’s Will that no one come to Jesus except through Mary. While our souls were still supernaturally lifeless, she drew us into the mainstream of Divine Life. Under its influence we were transformed into the likeness of Christ and incorporated into Him. We began to enjoy a higher mode of life. Nothing in the soil can become a part of a vine unless it passes through the roots. No member of the human race can become a member of the True Vine, Jesus, unless he enters through Mary.
Roots are at home in the soil; the vine lifts itself up above the ground. Roots find it very easy to diffuse themselves in every direction beneath the ground, to grow, expand and thereby draw into the organism more and more ‘raw material’. And how the soil takes to the roots; it clings to them; it can only be dislodged by means of violence. Mary, too, is quite at home among men: And my delights were to be with the children of men (Proverbs 8, 31). How easily she insinuates herself among us, seeking to draw as many as possible to herself, that she may thus introduce them into the true Vine. And how eagerly we take to her; how strong the affinity! We cling to her, and we will not let her go.
And how does Mary take root in us? By captivating our minds and hearts. She is, after all, the masterpiece of God’s creation: Our tainted nature’s solitary boast (Wordsworth, I think). We stand in awe as we contemplate her glorious prerogatives, her wonderful privileges. We cannot hear enough of her sublime virtues, of her stunning victory over Satan, of her cooperation in the mystery of the Redemption. Then, too, we are conquered by her tender love. How can we withhold our affections from her, we who have experienced her goodness, her loving-kindness, her motherly concern for us all, and her selflessness. How easy to approach her! How faithful!
Take root in my elect! The great Doctors and Fathers of the Church have always interpreted this to mean that devotion to Mary is a sign of predestination. Wherever Mary is loved and honored and revered, there she has taken root. There she is busy at work drawing souls sweetly, gently to her, through her, into Christ.
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