Weninger’s Lives of the Saints – The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin

Nativity of the Blessed Virgin MaryArticle

The Catholic Church, in the liturgy of this day, justly admonishes all the faithful to rejoice, saying: “Let us celebrate joyfully the nativity of the Blessed Virgin!” The cause of this rejoicing she explains while she addresses the Queen of heaven, as follows: “Thy birth, O Holy Mother of God, has brought joy to the whole world; for from thee has risen the Sun of Righteousness, Christ our Lord.” She means by this, as several Fathers have taught, that the Blessed Virgin was like the dawn of day which precedes the sun and announces his coming to the world. A man, who has lost his way in a dark forest, and wandered in it all night, longs for the rising of the sun, and when he sees the dawn, he rejoices, for he knows that the sun is near. During many centuries, the world was shrouded in darkness, and man sighed, with painful longing, for the Sun of Righteousness to arise and dispel the gloom. At length, on this day, in the nativity of the Blessed Virgin, we receive the assurance that the sun, so long expected, will soon rise. Hence the Church exhorts us justly to commemorate the birth of Mary with gladness.

Nazareth was the native place of the Blessed Virgin, and the house in which she first saw the light of the world, and which is called the “Holy House” by all the faithful, is still to be seen at Loretto, in Italy. The holy parents of Mary were Joachim and Anna. Although leading a most pious life, they were many years without issue, and when after long continued and most fervent prayers, God seemed still not to hear them, they submitted to His holy will. At length, when they had already grown old, God sent an Angel who announced to them that they would have a daughter, who, blessed by the Almighty above all women, should become the mother of the long-promised Messiah, and whose name should be Mary. Although Holy Writ says nothing of this apparition, it cannot be doubted; for if the Almighty announced the birth of John, the forerunner of Christ, and appointed the name by which he should be called, must we not believe that He did the same before the birth of the Saviour’s Mother? Great as was the joy of Saint Joachim and Saint Ann at this announcement, their gratitude to God was not less for the promised grace. The words of the Angel were fulfilled. Saint Ann, who had been barren so many years, gave birth to a daughter, who, in course of time, became the Blessed Mother of our Saviour. According to Divine command, they called her Mary; for, God wished to make manifest by this name, as Saint Chrysostom remarks, not only the high honor to which he had called her, but also the salvation which man had to expect through her. In the Syrian and Hebrew languages, Mary means “a lady; a light; light-giving; a star of the sea.” And to whom can these appellations be better addressed than to her who was born today? “Christ is our Lord; Mary, our Lady, as she is always called. She has borne Christ, the King of heaven and earth: who can hesitate to call her Queen of heaven and earth, especially as she is raised in heaven above all the Saints?” Thus speaks Saint John Damascene. The whole Church addresses her in the following language: “Thou glorious and blessed Virgin! Our Lady, our Intercessor, our Mediator!” She is our Lady; she is also a light, or “the enlightened,” and more so than all the Saints, because she possessed a much clearer perception of God and of divine mysteries than all the other Saints: for, she was more closely united with the Light that illumines all mankind. She is a light, because, according to the teachings of Saint Anselm and many others, she revealed to the Apostles and Evangelists, many things which she knew of the life and actions of our Saviour, and thus instructed them, and gave them light in matters of faith. She is a light, because she obtained, for so many who sought it by her intercession, wisdom and knowledge in spiritual matters, and does the same still to this hour. She is a star of the sea, because she guides us, by her intercession and her virtuous example, safely through the dangers of this world into the haven of eternal bliss. Hence, Saint Bernard says to all: “When the waves of temptation rise, when you are wrecked upon the rock of sorrow, gaze upwards to the star, call upon Mary! When the waves of pride, of ambition, of jealousy, cast you hither and thither; when anger, or avarice, or cupidity toss the bark of your mind; look up to the star, call upon Mary! Are you disheartened by the greatness and wickedness of your sins; are you frightened by your conscience; are you overcome by the fear of the Judgment and begin to doubt your own salvation – think of Mary! In danger, in anxiety, in doubt, think of Mary, call upon her; let her not depart from your lips nor from your heart. If you follow her, you cannot go astray; if you call on her, you need not despair. If you think of her, you cannot err. If she guards you, you cannot fall; if she protects you, you are secure; if she accompanies you, you will hasten without any danger to the shore of eternal salvation: and you will, indeed, experience that the name of the Virgin is “Mary – Star of the Sea.” This mysterious name, given to the new-born child, is still honored by all true Christians. It is certain that after the most holy name of Jesus, no name is more venerated than Mary’s. And as the two holy persons, Jesus and Mary, were as closely united on earth, as son and mother could be united, so do we unite the two holy names of Jesus and Mary. Both names give consolation in life and in death to those who call upon them; both are terrible to the spirits of hell. Hence, we find, in the lives of the Saints, that they devoutly called upon these names in their suffering, and that they departed this life with these names on their dying lips.

It is beyond doubt that Joachim and Anna were overjoyed at the birth of their child; for if, at the birth of Saint John Baptist, many rejoiced, according to the Angel’s words, though this Saint was only a forerunner of Christ, how much greater must have been the joy at Mary’s birth, of those who knew by Divine revelation that the new-born child was to be the mother of the Redeemer! The joy of the parents was united with prayers to God and other pious exercises. But what did Mary herself do? Many theologians maintain, and not without cause, that the Blessed Virgin was, even before her birth, endowed with perfect reason; for, they say, if God gave the use of reason, at least for a time, to Saint John, Christ’s forerunner, while he was still in his mother’s womb, as we may infer from the fact that he leaped for joy in the presence of the divine mother, why should He not have vouchsafed the same grace, or even a still greater one, to the Blessed Virgin, His future mother? If Eve, the mother of the fallen race, entered the world with the full use of reason, Mary, the Eve of the New Covenant, the Mother of the living God, has surely not been denied this prerogative. As soon as Mary had the use of her reason, she turned to God as her aim and end, and began to love Him and to consecrate herself entirely to His service. The same she did, without doubt, on entering the world. Hence it is so much the more just and right that the Holy Church admonishes us to celebrate this day’s festival with joy: “Let us rejoice at the birth of Mary.”

Practical Considerations

• Mary, the Divine Mother, was born today, and, at the moment of her birth, turning her thoughts to God, she adores Him with deepest reverence; gives thanks to him for all graces received, and consecrates herself entirely to His service. What did you do after you had reached the age of discretion? Oh! how late you turned your thoughts to the Almighty; how late you commenced to serve Him, if you have ever commenced! Begin at least today, what you ought to have begun as soon as you came to the use of reason. Turn your thoughts towards your Creator; worship Him most humbly; give Him thanks for the countless benefits you have received at His hands during your life; consecrate yourself to His service, and begin to manifest that you will henceforth serve the Lord more zealously. Repent, with your whole heart, for not having done it earlier. For in truth, as you have received your life from God to serve Him alone, you ought to have employed it entirely in His service. “No one can doubt,” says Saint Salvian, “that we ought to employ to God’s honor that which He has given us.” Your conscience, however, tells you that this has not been done. The smallest part of the life God gave you has been devoted to His service; a part of it has perhaps been employed in offending Him. Nothing, therefore is left you, except earnestly to repent of the past, and to make the resolution to correct your conduct in future. Begin both of these while it is yet today.

• Great lords and ladies are generally more generous in bestowing gifts at the celebration of their birth-day. Do not doubt that the Divine Mother, though at all times ready to obtain graces for us from God, will be especially inclined to obtain for us Unlay, on her glorious birth-day, whatever we may ask of God, if it is not against our salvation. Address yourself, then, with great confidence, to her, and beg her to obtain from the Almighty the pardon of your sins, and grace to employ the time still left to you, for the service of God and your own salvation. In remembrance of the significations of her name, address her as the Queen of Heaven and Earth, as light, as light-giving, as the star of the sea, as the star of your salvation. Pray to her, that she may safely guide you over this dangerous ocean of life, into the port of eternal rest. Pray to her, that she may give you light to recognize what you have to do, and what you have to avoid, in order to gain heaven. Pray to her, that she may take you into her Son’s service, and retain you in it continually. Make use, with great devotion, of the words of the holy church: “We fly to thy patronage, O holy Mother of God, despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us from all dangers, O ever glorious and Blessed Virgin! Our Lady, Our Mediator, Our Intercessor! Reconcile us to thy Son. Commend us to thy Son. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of thy Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.”

MLA Citation

  • Father Francis Xavier Weninger, DD, SJ. “The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin”. Lives of the Saints, 1876. CatholicSaints.Info. 30 April 2018. Web. 21 January 2019. <>