Sunday, January 4, 2009

Of the Annunciation of our B. Lady

Fr. Luis de la Puente

Meditations upon the Mysteries of our Holy Faith [Not avalilable for reading online] (volume one) 1619 This was transcribed from Early Modern English but since then I've discovered Modern English version:

Work of Ven. Luis de la Puente

p. 279-297

Of the Annunciation of our B. Lady
Second Part.
The VI. Meditation.
Of the coming of the Angel S. Gabriel to announce to the Virgin the mystery of the Incarnation: and of the manner how he saluted her, and removed her fear.


First, I am to consider what passed in heaven, when the appointed time was arrived wherein God our Lord would make himself man. Imagining how the most sacred Trinity being on the throne of his glory, desiring to give notice hereof to her that was to be the Mother of the Word Incarnate, determined to send her a a very glorious embassage, to move her to accept it: the beginning whereof is recounted by the Evangelist, saying: The Angel Gabriel was sent of God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, to a Virgin espoused to a just-man, whose name was Joseph, of the house of David: and the name of the Virgin was MARYE.

In this embassage I am to ponder, Who sends it; Who brings it; to whom it comes: and upon what cause; collecting out of all, profit to mine own soul.

1. He that sends it, is the omnipotent God, who without having need of his creatures, only of his mere bounty and to do good unto men, delights to communicate with them, and to send them messages, and embassages, using for his ministers herein creatures so noble, as are the Angels; Who (as S. Paul says) are ministers of Almighty God for the good of those that are to receive the inheritance of salvation. And their continual ministry is, to ascend and descend that Ladder that Jacob saw, bringing down messages from Almighty God to men, and carrying up messages and petitions from men, to God.

O God of immense majesty, what is man that thou art mindful of him? Or the son of man, that thou visitest him? Let thy Angels praise thee for the tender love thou bearest unto men, Amen.

2. He that brings this embassage is in archangel so excellent, that he has to name Gabriel; which is to say, fortitude of God; to signify the fortitude that is resplendent in our Lord that sent him; and in him that is to be Incarnate; and the works, that the word Incarnate is to do; and in the ministers that he shall take to publish them, whom this embassador represents; who in the virtue of Almighty God was strong and potent to fulfil whatsoever he commanded him; not only in this case that was so glorious, but in any other how humble soever, as hereafter we shall see. for his glory is, to do what Almighty God commands; and in imitation of him I will procure by God's grace, to cloth myself with his fortitude, to accomplish in all things the divine will.

3. She, to whom the embassage comes, is a poor Virgin, forgotten by the world, espoused to a poor artificer that lived in a little city of so base esteem, that it was hardly believed that any good could come out of it. But she was most holy, and pure, and of the same so esteemed of Almighty God, that she was preferred before the daughters of the kings, and emperors of the world; for in the eyes of Almighty God, there is no such greatness as sanctity; neither in mine ought there to be, I esteeming only what God esteems.

4. The intent of the embassage is, to require the consent of the Virgin to be the Mother of Almighty God; for this our Lord is of so noble a condition, that though he be an absolute Lord, he will not be served by his creatures in such weighty affaires, without their free consent. for though to be the mother of Almighty God was a thing very excellent, yet great afflictions were annexed unto it; it was therefore meet, that the Virgin should of her own freewill accept the dignity with the charge, that she might merit the more, and it might be the more sweet and easy unto her. And so likewise, neither will Almighty God enter to inhabit in men by grace, nor exalt them to the dignity of the sons of God, without their free consent, having attained to the use of reason.

5. From hence I will pass, spiritually to consider this embassage, applying it to myself, and pondering how God our Lord sends me every day invisibly, many embassages with his inspirations; the which (as S. Bonaventure says) are the invisible ambassadors and messengers of Almighty God; and by them he speaks unto me, and discovers his will, and solicits me to give him entrance into my soul, and to employ myself always in his service. And therefore in feeling within myself these inspirations, I am to reverence them as ambassadors of Almighty God, giving him many thanks, for that he vouchsafes to speak unto me by them, consenting presently to all that he requires of me, and beseeching him more often to speak unto me.

O most loving Father, who solicits my consent with so great love and care, as if that which imports me, imported thee; inspire me what thou wilt, for I am ready to consent to whatsoever thou inspirest me, Amen.


Secondly, I am to consider the entrance of the Angel to he Virgin, and the manner how he saluted her; pondering.

1. How he took of air, a most beautiful body of human shape. And in this manner he entered where the Blessed Virgin abode, with rare modesty, reverence, and gravity, and with such an exterior semblance of sanctity, as well declared what interiorly she was; to instruct us what Apostolical men ought exteriorly to be, who (as S. Paul says) are the ambassadors of Christ; and likewise what religious men ought to be, that profess an Angelical life; whose exterior behavior ought to represent sanctity, and to move thereunto all that behold them.

2. The Angel in entering saluted the B. Virgin not with vain salutations, but with those divine words that almighty God put in his mouth; saying unto her: Hail, full of grace, our Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou among women. This salutation (as say the holy Saints) was new, and never heard of in the world, invented by the most holy Trinity to honor the sacred Virgin, and to declare her rare sanctity, and new dignity, as the mystery was new for the which is was ordained. for as Christ was a new man contrary to the old Adam; so the blessed Virgin that conceived him, was a new woman contrary to the old Eva. With this spirit, and esteem we are to say and to meditate this new salutation, pondering in every word, the greatness that it signifies, with affections of joy, and thanksgiving; rejoicing that the Blessed Virgin has such greatness, and giving thanks to Almighty God, for giving it her; desiring of him some part thereof, and purposing to imitate what is imitable.


1. First, the Angel to manifest his love, and the joyful news that he brought, and to assure the Virgin, enters saying, Aue: which is as much to say, as Hail: or God save thee; peace be with thee, be cheerful, and assured; for the news that I bring is of peace, and prosperity.

O sovereign Virgin, with all the affection of mine harts, I salute thee, and say, Aue, Hail, God save thee. for by thee began our salvation, conceiving him that was the author thereof: Thou hast changed the name of Eua, defeating her miseries, and replenishing us with mercies: The other Eua was the beginning of sin, thou the beginning of grace. By the other death entered into the world; by thee life. The other subjected us to the serpent, thou hast broken his head. Be cheerful (O Blessed Virgin) for the good lot that hath befallen thee: and renew mine heart that I may daily sing this new canticle of praise with new fervor of spirit, Amen.

2. Secondly, I am to ponder the cause why the Angel in this first salutation, named not the Virgin by her proper name saying; Hail MARYE; but Hail, full of grace; our Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women. This he did, that we might understand, that almighty God gave her new and most glorious names, ass he gave to the Messias, the which for excellency are to be attributed unto her in the Church: so that as we call Salomon the wise, and S. Paul, the Apostle, so we may call the Blessed Virgin the, full of grace, or, the blessed among women. And as the name of the Messias is Emanuel, which is as much to say as, God with us, so the name of the Virgin may for excellency be, Our Lord with thee.


1. First, I will ponder what fullness this is, and how the blessed Virgin was full of grace with all manner of fullness. She was full of the grace that justifies full of charity, faith, and hope, of humility, obedience, and patience and the rest of the virtues; full likewise of wisdom, of knowledge, of piety, and the fear of God, with all the other gifts of the Holy Ghost.

2. Her memory was full of holy cogitations; her understanding of great illuminations of God; her wil of fervent acts, and affections of love and zeal, with inward, and hearty desires of the glory of Almighty God, of the coming of the Messias, and of the redemption of the world. And this fullness she actually had, when the Angel entered to salute her; for she was busied in the contemplation of these mysteries, which was in a manner her continual occupation. Besides this, she was full of grace in her works; for they were all works full, entire, and massive, with that fullness that they might have of pure intention, fervor, and love; So that God could not say unto her, as he said to that other Bishop; I find not thy works full in my presences. [Apoc. 3: [?]]

3. Then will I ponder the greatness of this plenitude; or many vessels are full of precious liquor; but the greater contains the greater quantity; So many saints were full of grace; but the Blessed Virgin, (as says S. Thomas) above all; for she was a much greater vessel, and her fullness was conformable to the dignity of the mother of God, which far exceeds the dignities and offices of the other saints; and she very day with the use of graces amplified the vessel, and made it capable of other greater.

O most sacred Virgin, who is able to recount the fullness of grace that thou hast above all the saints that were filled therewith! They were like rivers; but thou according to thy name, art full like the sea, It glads me that for excellency. S. Gabriel calls thee, the full of grace, it seeming unto him that there was no other that had the like fullness; and that he and his companions in comparison of thee, might call themselves empty. I thank thee most Blessed Trinity for the fullness of grace, that thou gave to this sovereign Virgin; by whose merits I beseech thee, to give me some part thereof, that the vessel of my soul (Though but a little one) may be filled according to the capacity thereof. O Mother of mercy, and immense Sea of grace, seeing the rivers issue out of the Sea whereinto they enter, let there issue from thee some river of graces, to fill the vacant places of my soul, that my works may be full and perfect before Almighty God.


1. IN this word the Angel ascends to the height of the salutation, saying, Our Lord is with thee; that is, he is in thee by excellency in all those manners that he may be in his pure creatures. He is with thee, not only by essence, presence, and power, as he is with all the righteous; but with eminence of grace, assisting in thee with special grace, an amity, and with strict familiarity. He is with thee in all thy faculties, uniting them with himself; He is in thy memory, surprising it that thou may always remember him; In thy understanding, illuminating it, that thou may perpetually know him; and in thy will, inflaming it, that thou may everlastingly love him. He is with thee likewise, assisting in all thine affairs with special providence, and protection, governing thee with his inspirations, and directing thee in all that thou do. He is in thee as in his heaven, in his Temple, in his chamber, in his house of recreation; and shortly he will be in thy womb as thy Son; and therefore for excellency, with a full mouth, I say unto thee, Dominus tecum.

2. I will also ponder, that the Angel says not, 'Our Lord, is, was, or shall be with thee.' but, 'Our Lord is with thee,' to signify that he was, is, and shall be perpetually with her; as if he should say; from thy creation Almighty God was with thee, and now is, and shall be throughout all eternity; He shall not depart, nor be alienated from thee, either shall there be in thee any change that may impair the divine providence.

O Blessed Virgin, I rejoice at the great good thou hast in having with thee God himself, firmly, and constantly enjoying His sweet conversation. Beseech Him that He will be with me through grace, possessing me with such love, that he never depart from me, nor I from him, forever and ever, Amen.


With this fourth word the Angel concludes the salutation, saying, Blessed art thou among women: 1. for that thou shalt be freed from the curse of Barrenness, without loss of Virginity. 2. Thou shalt be free from the malediction of bringing forth with dolor because thou shalt not conceive with pleasure. 3. Thou shalt be blessed among women: because as a woman was the beginning of all the maledictions, that fell upon men, so thou shalt be the beginning of all the celestial benedictions that shall light upon them, by he blessed fruit of thy womb, by whom thou shalt break the head of the serpent, and deliver them from hose maledictions which his cursed suggestion heaped upon them. for the which thou shall be blessed and praised among all women; and both the Angels in heaven, and the men on earth, shall give thee a thousand benedictions, as well the righteous, as sinners; for all have a part in thine abundant benediction.

And I also (thine unworthy servant) do praise, bless, and glorify thee, and do rejoice that all should praise, bless, and glorify thee; and I beseech thee to make me partaker of those blessings which thy most sweet Son our head, by thee as by his neck communicated to the Church. Deliver me (O Blessed Lady) from the maledictions of sin, and punishment whereunto I live subject, that I may bless thy Son, and serve him, world without end, Amen.


Thirdly, I am to consider the manner how the Blessed Virgin received this salutation; for having heard it, she was troubled, and thought within herself what manner of salutation this might be; In which she discovered ofur excellent virtues, wherein we may imitate her; to wit, chastity, humility, and prudence with silence.

1. She showed her excellent chastity, being astonished (as S. Ambrose says) at the sudden view of a man in her chamber, she being alone; for it is the property of a modest, circumspect Virgin, to be astonished at any view, or word whatsoever of a man; As it is likewise the property of a chaste man, to close up his eyes like Job, lest he should have any evil thought against Virgin.

2. But principally she showed her rare humility; for that at such a time as the Angel entered in form of a man, this blessed Lady was recollected in her chamber, in great contemplation of the greatnesses of God, and teh Messias, and of her that was to be his Mother. Through her profound humility, she held a very mean conceit of herself. And when she heard so strange, and yet so plorious salutation, she was astonished, not so much at the sight of the Angel, as because she found in herself no foundation of such praises, and greatnesses as he declared.

3. She showed her prudence in thinking well, what salutation this might be, and to what end it was ordained; And therefore she would not thrust to answer inconsiderately, till the Angel had somewhat more opened himself.

4. She showed how much she loved silence; holding her peace at that time, and returning for answer the exterior semblance of her humble, and bashful amazement.

O must pure Virgin, how well befits thee at this instant that which thy spouse said, Thy cheeks are beautiful like the turtles (a bird shamefaced and chaste) for in them is resplendent the beauty of thy chastity, and the splendor of thy humble wisdom.

5. These virtues of the Virgin are more eminent, comparing her with the first woman Eua, who when she was yet a Virgin, went wandering and gazing through paradise, and to the first question that the evil Angel in form of a serpent did ask her, she made answer, and held a long discourse with him; wherein she discovered pride, curiosity, imprudence, and desire of talking, and other vices, wherein we her children do imitate her. Which considering I am to be astonished, imploring the aid of this most prudent Virgin, that in the like occasions I may follow her virtues.


The Angel knowing the holy disturbance, and fear of the B. Virgin, said unto her: Fear not Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. Wherein I am first to consider, that it is the property of the good spirit to pacify and calm any fear, or disturbance of the heart whatsoever, that it may quietly receive the revelation, and visitation of Almighty God. And albeit the astonishment of the B. Virgin was without any kind of sin or imperfection, yet thereby we may gather, with what care the good Angel endeavors, to take away those disturbances that spring from sin, or our own imbecility. And I for my part am to labor to remove them, lest they hinder me of the visitations of Almighty God, remembering how Christ our Savior reprehended Martha, when he said, Martha, Martha, thou art careful, and art troubled about very many things, when as but one thing only is necessary. And this I am to require of the Angel of my guard, saying unto him,

O most blessed Angel, remove from my heart all vain fear, that it may be capable of divine love; appease the disturbance that it suffers in earthly things, that it may contemplate the things of heaven, contenting myself with that one, wherein consists mine eternal rest, Amen.

2. Secondly, I will ponder that most sweet word added by the Angel, to persuade the Blessed Virgin not to fear: for that (says he) thou hast found grace with God, which was to say unto her. Thou need not to fear the devil, nor hell, nor visible nor invisible enemies; neither hast thou cause to suspect he greatnesses that I shall presently tell thee of; for I declare unto thee, that thou art received in grace with Almighty God. And this is sufficient to secure thee: for from hence it proceeds that thou art full of grace; that our Lord is with thee; and, that thou art blessed among women; for whosoever finds grace with Almighty God, what benefits shall he not receive from his liberal hand? O happy, and a thousand times happy is that soul that finds grace with Almighty God! If it be held among men for a high felicity to be in grace with an earthly king, how much greater shall it be to be in grace with the king of heaven? From that grace proceeds abundance of riches, honors, dignities, and many other temporal benefits that a king bestows upon his favorite; and yet sometimes, all ends with disgrace; But from this grace proceeds an abundance of virtues, and heavenly gifts that God bestows on his beloved, for the which it is said in Holy Scriptures o the greatest Saints, as of Noe, Moyses, David, and other such like, that they found grace with God: but above all, the most sacred Virgin found much greater, and more nearer grace with Almighty God; yea so near, that she was always with him, and he with her, even to the containing him in her womb as his mother.

O sweetest mother, I rejoice that thou hast found grace before God with such singular favor. And seeing Queen Esther, for that she found grace before king Assuerus, was a cause that her people found the like, and was by him very much favored; be thou our mediatrix, that we may find grace before Almighty God, and obtain that perfect grace which is eternal glory, Amen.

3. But I am very carefully to consider, that albeit Almighty God doth not this favor through the merits of man, but through his mere mercy: yet humility do most of all dispose us to obtain it, by the which the blessed Virgin obtain it. And therefore said the Holy Ghost. The greater thou art, humble thyself in all things, and thou shalt find grace before God: because the might of God only is great, and he is honored of the humble. He says that the humble do him honor, for that they attribute unto him, the honor and glory of all that they have; for the which God honors them much more, and they find greater grace before him.

Therefore (o my soul) if like the Blessed Virgin, thou wilt find grace near unto God, humble thyself in all things unto her. for God resists the proud, and gives his abundant grace unto the humble.


Of the manner how the Angel announced and declared to the Blessed Virgin the Mystery of the Incarnation


The Angel having quieted the holy amazement of the Blessed Virgin, delivered his embassage in this manner: Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bear a Son; and thou shalt call his name IESVS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most high; and our Lord God shall give him the seat of David his Father, and he shall reign in the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

1. In these words are to be pondered the greatenesses, and excellencies of the Son that the Angel promises to the Virgin. The I. is, that he shall be IESVS, and the Savior of the world, with greater excellency than all other that had this name, as hereafter shall be declared. The 2. That he shall be great above all greats, without any limitation: great in his divinity, and humanity: great in wisdom, and sanctity: in life, and in doctrine: in example, and in word: and finally great in power: for that he shall have power above all things, with faculty to make others also great before God, by participation of his greatness. The 3. that in such manner he shall be her Son, that he shall be likewise the Son of the most high God. The 4. that his eternal Father shall give him the Throne, an the Empire over all the elect, figured by the seat of avid, and by the house of Jacob, of whom according to the flesh he descended. The 5. That his kingdom shall be eternal, and have no end. O glorious embassage! O most joyful news! O happy Virgin, to whom such a Son is promised: and blessed Son in whom so great greatnesses are contained: of all which the Angel gave notice to the Virgin, that she might know, that this Son whom she was to conceive, was the Messias promised by the Prophets, of whom so great excellencies were written. From whence I will collect a great estimation, and love of this sovereign Messias, rejoicing at each one of these five excellencies rehearsed, and recording the five wounds that he received on the cross, that unto his elected, and to me he may apply the fruit of them: for on the cross they were all made manifest, as hereafter, when time serves shall be declared.

2. I will now meditate only, how these greatnesses had their original from the most profound humility of the only begotten Son of the everliving God, which is included in the first word spoken by the Angel to the Virgin: Ecce concipies in vtero. Behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb: as who should say; This Savior, and this eternal king being so great, yet will so far humble himself, as to straiten himself to the smallness of an infant conceived in the womb of a woman. And from this smallness his greatness shall have beginning, complying with that of the Prophet Isaias: A little child is born to us, and a Son is given to us, and principality is made upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Admirable, Counselor, God, Puissant, Father of the world to come, Prince of Peace: His Empire shall be multiplied through the whole world, and there shall be no end of Peace.

O Sovereign Prince that descended from heaven, as a son without hands, being without the action of man, conceived in the womb of a Virgin: and then came to be so great a mountain as to fill the whole earth, dilating therein thy kingdom, which is a kingdom eternal, and without end: I humbly thank thee for having chosen so strange a smallness, to be the original of so sovereign a greateness. Grant me (o Lord) that I under-proped not by mine own hands, but by thine, may conceive such resolutions in thy service, that they may increase to very great works of thy glory, Amen.


The blessed Virgin having heard this embassage, said to the Angel: How shall this be done? because I know not man? As if she should say: I doubt not of God's omnipotence, nor of thy promise: but I desire to be informed, how I should obey this commandment, having made a vow not to know man?

1. In this answer, the holy Virgin discovered as well great wisdom, as excessive love of virginity: and therefore with much reason, holy Church calls her, the most prudent Virgin. for though the promise of the Angel was so great, yet she was not presently hooked or caught therewith, until she might perceive how it would accord with her vow she had made of chastity; unto the which she was so entirely affected, that she made difficulty to be the mother (though it were of such a Son) with the loss thereof. And albeit she knew by the Prophecy of the Prophet Isaias: That the Mother of the Messias should be a Virgin, yet she would prudently examine the revelation of the Angel, to see how it agreed with the revelation of the Prophet. From whence I will collect a fervent and hearty love of chastity, avoiding as much as lies in me, all whatsoever that may be any occasion to impair it; yea though it carry with it an appearance of piety and religion. for in imitation of the most sacred Virgin, I am to examine well the spirit, that shall incline me to a thing, wherein there may be danger: fearing lest it may be the spirit of Satan, who (as says the Apostle S. Paul) transfigures himself into an Angel of light, to deceive those which are either very simple, or over-confident, or exceeding zealous of other men's good, without regarding their own.

2. Secondly, I am to consider in these words, (being the first that we read of the Blessed Virgin) four circumstances with the which she did speak them; in the which is portraited an admirable rule how to speak prudently: for these words were but few; and no more then necessary; and in a case of great importance: and in very humble, and decent manner. It seems that the Virgin held firmly in her memory the counsel of Ecclesiasticus, which says: Young man, speak in thine own cause scarcely more than is needful: if thou be asked twice, let thy answer have an head, that is, let it be brief, and to the purpose. In many things be as it were ignorant: and hear holding thy peace, and withal asking. All this the B. Virgin marvelously observed, in these brief words, which she uttered not till the Angel had spoken to her twice. And though she had occasion to enlarge herself in this question, yet she touched no more than the necessary point, and that with great brevity, declaring the vow of chastity that she had made, with humble, and chaste words, but sufficient for the Angel to understand her, saying unto him: I know not man.

O most sacred Virgin, with much reason was the divine spouse pleased with thy lips, saying: That they were like a girdle of scarlet in grain, and like the honeycomb that distills by little and little: for thy words are well girt, and much pondered, and uttered with repose, sweetness, and charity. And seeing this rule in speaking is so pleasing unto him; beseech him to imprint it in my heart, that my words may proceed from it well ordered, and ruled.


To this question of the Virgin, the Angel made answer saying: The holy Ghost shall come upon thee; and the power of the most high shall overshadow thee. And therefore also that which of thee shall be born, shall be called the Son of God. In these words may be pondered three most excellent promises made by the Angel to the most sacred Virgin;

1. First, that this conception should not be by the work of man, but by the power of the holy Ghost, who from heaven should come upon her to accomplish this work. And for that the works of the Holy Ghost are perfect, he withal descended upon her, with new fullness of grace to dispose her to so sovereign a work.

2. The second, that the power of the most high should overshadow her, preserving her from sensual delight in conception, and forming of her purest blood, the body of this child; as the bird covering her eggs with her wings, gives them life with her heat.

3. The third promise was, a giving a reason of the other two: Because that which was to be so holily conceived, should be the Son of Almighty God; not by adoption, as the rest of the just; but by the union of human nature with the divine person: so that he should be holy, not by privilege, but by the power of his holy conception. O what an exceeding joy cause these three promises in the Virgins!

O most Blessed Virgin, if when the Angel entered thou wast already full of grace: how much more fuller shalt thou be, the holy Ghost coming upon thee with this new plenitude? If before our Lord were with thee, for thy government, protection, and consolation: how much more shall he be now, the power of the most high coming to overshadow thee? Now may thou, o blessed Lady, say with a new title: I sat under the shadow of him whom I desired, and his fruit is sweet to my throat. Thou art seated under the shadow of the most high, which shall take from thee the sensual pleasure in conceiving: and the fruit of thy conception shall be delectable to Almighty God, pleasing to the Angels, sweet unto thee, and to the salvation of us. Much good may do thee (o purest Virgin) so great a fullness, so happy a shadow, with hope of so sweet a fruit. And seeing thou hast this day found so great grace with the Holy Ghost, beseech him to come anew upon me, and with his power to overshadow me, that being seated under his loving protection, I may taste the sweet fruit of his divine presence, Amen.

4. From hence I am to collect, that whereas for the Virgin to conceive the Son of Almighty God, it was necessary that the Holy Ghost should come upon her from heaven, to accomplish this work; and that the power of the most high should overshadow her: so likewise that I may conceive in my soul the spirit of salvation, whereby I become the adoptive Son of God, it is necessary that the Holy Ghost do inspire me, and that the power and omnipotence of God do overshadow me, tempering the heat of my sensual concupiscences, and protecting me in all temptations and dangers: and in this faith, I am to cry to heaven, saying,

O most Holy Spirit, come from on high to my poor soul, sow in it the seed of thy divine inspiration, that it may conceive within itself the spirit of salvation. O power of the most high, protect me with the shadow of thy wings: cover me with them in the day of temptation, that the puttocks of hell prevail not against me, and that I lose not through mine own weakness, what thou hast begun in me by thy grace, Amen.


To what had been said the Angel added: behold Elizabeth thy cousin, she also hath conceived a son in her old age, and this month is the sixth to her that is called barren, because there shall not be impossible with God any word.

1. In these words the Angel pretended three marvelous things: the first, to reveal to the Blessed Virgin a thing that would give her much content, because of the abundance of her charity, whose property is to weep with those that weep, and to rejoice with those that rejoice. And as the Blessed Virgin had a feeling of the barrenness of her cousin, because of the grief that she receive thereby: so she rejoiced at the news of her being with child, because of the great joy that it would give her.

2. The second was, to confirm his embassage with some sensible token: as if he should say: seeing she hath conceived that was old, and barren, thou may well believe that a Virgin shall conceive, for with Almighty God, nothing is impossible, he can do the one with as great facility as the other. Whereby we see how it is the property of the good spirit, to chastise the incredulous that require a sign, or a miracle with an affection of incredulity, as this S. Gabriel himself chastise Zacharias, because he asked a sigh to be assured that he should have a son, himself being old, and his wife barren, whereas contrarily to those that have faith, he gives a sign, albeit they ask it not, as he did to our Blessed Lady the Virgin, to cheer, and to comfort her, and by the way to confirm her more and more in her faith. From whence I will collect how much it imports constantly to believe the matters of faith: for to believers, our Lord uses to give interiorly greater signs of his truth, which he denies to the incredulous, according to that of the Prophet Isaias: If you believe not, you shall not understand.

3. The third was, that the Angel pretended to discover the fundamental reason of all that had been spoken, adding that so glorious word, that to Almighty God nothing is impossible: which is to say, He can do all that he will, and can accomplish all that he promises: especially those two miraculous things that I have told thee of: to wit, That the barren, and the Virgin may conceive, and bring forth. From whence I will collect two other for my spiritual comfort. The 1. that by the omnipotence of God our Lord any soul whatsoever, that has been long time barren of good works, how deep rooted soever this barrenness be in it, maybe altered, an become fertile. And as barren Elizabeth conceived John, which signifies grace, so it may conceive in itself the fruits of grace, and of benediction, very gracious and pleasing unto Almighty God. And with this hope, I am to cheer, and animate myself to pretend this happy fertility, remembering what is said by the Prophet Isaias, and Apostle S. Paul: Rejoice thou barren that bear not, break forth, and cry thou that travail not: for more Children shalt thou have that wast barren like Sara, than she that was fruitful like Agar. The 2. is, that as our B. Lady the Virgin by virtue of the Holy Ghost might conceive, and have a Son which should be worth a hundred thousand: so those which promise, and keep Virginity, shall conceive spiritual children, which shall be incomparably more worth, than any carnal: our Lord fulfilling unto them that promise, which he made them thereof by the Prophet Isaias, as was declared in the first part, and the 20. Meditation.


Of the final answer given by the Virgin to the Angel, consenting to his embassage.


The Blessed Virgin having heard all that was spoken to her by the Angel, said unto him: Behold the handmaid of our Lord, be it done to me according to thy word. And here I am to consider what a longing desire the Angel had, expecting the answer of the Virgin: and not only the Angel, but the Holy Ghost himself her spouse, who spake unto her heart that of the Canticles: Let thy voice sound in mine ears, for thy voice is sweet, and pleasing unto me. And he himself likewise inspired into her, the words she should say, exercising therein some most excellent virtues, wherewith she perfectly disposed herself to be the worthy mother of Almighty God.

1. The first was, great faith, giving credit to he words of the Angel, and believing that she might be a mother, and a Virgin, imagining highly of the omnipotence of God.

2. The second was, profound humility in the midst of those greatnesses that were offered unto her, calling herself handmaid of our Lord: and consequently judging herself unworthy to be his mother, placing herself, as much as lay in her, in the lowest place, as is that of the handmaids.

3. The third was, great obedience, and resignation into the hands of Almighty God, offering herself to fulfill what the Angel said, and all whatsoever God should command her. O most prudent Virgin, who hath instructed thee, to conjoin with such excellency things so far distant? If thou believe that thou art the mother of God, why call thou thyself his handmaid? And if thou hold thyself for a handmaid, why do thou offer thyself to be the Mother of God? What hath a mother to do with being a handmaid? And how are they compatible, a faith of such baseness, with a faith of so great highness? and so profound an humility, with so exalted a magnanimity?

O height of the wisdom of Almighty God! O miracle of his omnipotence! Thine (o Lord) are these marvels, and thou art he that hast knowledge and ability to conjoin Mother and Virgin: Handmaid and Mother: Humility and Magnanimity: and the faith of all this, with human understanding. O Heavenly Father, thou that hides thy secrets from the proud and reveals them to the humble; and therefore where humility is, there dwells thy wisdom: teach me to choose with humility the lowest place on earth, and to pretend with magnanimity the highest in heaven; conjoining the nothing that I am of myself, with the much that I may be by thy grace, Amen.


for that mysteries are many which are included in these words of the Virgin; it will not be amiss to meditate every one by itself; pondering the spirit therein contained for our profit.


The word Ecce, Behold, the Scripture uses to denote, or signify some great thing worthy of much consideration, and the Angel used it in the beginning of this embassage, saying: Ecce concipieis, Behold, thou shalt conceive a Son. And therefore also would the most holy Virgin use the same in her answer, saying: Ecce ancilla Domini, Behold the handmaid of our Lord: for as the Angel had great desires, that our blessed Lady the Virgin should ponder the greatnesses, which he promised her from Almighty God: so the Virgin had as great desires, that the Angel should ponder how mean and lowly a handmaid she was of herself, and how fervent longings she had to obey, whatsoever God commanded her. for the humble, when the gifts they have of God are published, do very earnestly desire that the miseries should be known, which they have of themselves: that those gifts be not attributed to their own merits, but to the bounty of him that gave them, to whom they desire to be very thankful, and therefore very obedient.


In this word, Handmaid of our Lord, the Blessed Virgin declared what a backward conceit she had always had of herself, ever since she had the use of reason. And albeit the name of servant, or bondman, when as it signifies to serve Almighty God with a spirit of fear, and as it were by force, is dispraised in Holy Scripture: yet when servant is joined with love, it is a most glorious name. For the slave is not his own, but his Lord's: he hath not liberty to do what he lifts, but what his Lord commanded him: He serves him neither for salary, nor day wages, but because he is obliged thereunto: He labors not for himself, but for his Lord: neither serves he him only in person, but also all those of his house and family: in the which he holds the basest place, and hath always given him the worst, and that which is most contemptible.

1. All this Blessed Virgin our Lady imagined in herself, when she called herself the handmaid of our Lord. for 1. she held not herself to be her own, but a thing proper to God our Lord, and in his possession: as well for that he created her, as also for that she had wholly dedicated herself to his perpetual service, saying in her heart those words which the Prophet Isaias reports of the righteous: He shall say, I am of God: and with his own hand he shall write, and sign, that he is our Lord's. And as the faithful bondman never flies from his master, nor is at any time absent, neither will serve any other master, because no man can at once serve two masters: so the Blessed Virgin never separated herself one moment from the service of God, neither served she any other Lord but God, fulfilling most perfectly that Precept: Thou shalt adore the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

2. In all other things also, she did not what she list, but hat Almighty God commanded, for she had no will of her own, nor liberty of flesh: but was so fastened to the will of our Lord, as if she had no liberty to depart there from, esteeming herself as a handmaid, that hath her eyes always placed upon the hands of her Lord, suffering herself to be managed by him, and to be moved by every beck that he should make.

3. Besides this, she [ferned? serned?] not God for salary, or day wages, pretending principally any reward: but because as his handmaid she was obliged thereunto, and took delight tin pleasing her Lord. And therefore she had settled in her heart that verity, which afterwards our Savior Christ taught his disciples: when you shall have done all things that are commanded you, say: We are unprofitable servants, we have done that which we ought to do.

4. From hence it proceeded, that all whatsoever she did, or labored to do, she attributed it not to herself, but to her Lord: for albeit it is truth, that the merit and reward was for her: yet she attributed all to the glory of God, and not to her own; saying that of the Canticles: All the fruits of the new, and the old (my beloved) I have kept for thee: that is, all the works of my life present, and passed, I will that they be to thy honor, and glory: for I will neither live nor die to myself, but to thee, because I am thine.

5. Finally, the Blessed Virgin esteemed herself not only as the handmaid of Our Lord to serve him, but also to serve all those of his house, and family: and therefore she dedicated herself to the service of her parents, when she was in the Temple: and of her husband, when she was in his company. And much better than Abigail might she have said, what she said to David: Lo, let thy servant be as an handmaid, to wash the feet of the servants of my Lord. And with this spirit of humility, she always chose for herself the lowest place in the house of God, and the world, and most contemptible in the world; as hereafter we shall see.

6. All these inward feelings had the Blessed Virgin when she called herself the handmaid of our Lord, and esteemed very highly of this title: for she knew how pleasing it was to Almighty God, who used to call by the same name of servant, the Messias his Son, as he was man: and he himself esteemed highly thereof, as appears by what is delivered by the Prophets. and if I desire to be devoured to our Blessed Lady, I am highly to esteem myself for this name, and for the spirit which she includes in the said things; saying to God with David,

O Lord, I am thy servant, I am thy servant, an the son of thy handmaid: thou hast broken my bonds, I will sacrifice to thee the host of praise, and will invoke the name of our Lord: O God of my soul, I highly esteem of myself for being thy servant, because thou created me: and again for being thy servant, because thou redeemed me: I am the son of thy handmaid, because by inheritance, it falls to my lot to be thy slave: but especially I hold myself for the son of thy handmaid the blessed Virgin thy Mother, by whose merits I beseech the to unloose the chains of my sins, and passions, that being free from this evil bondage, I may serve the with liberty of spirit, and may praise, and glorify thy holy name world without end, Amen.


1. It was not without a mystery, that the B. Virgin said not to the Angel: I will do what thou say: but this word, Fiat; Be it done: which God our Lord used when he created the world, saying: Be light made, etc. for the Virgin understood that the Incarnation was as well a work of the omnipotence of God as the Creation of the world: and that with one Fiat of his omnipotence it might be done, though on her part there was no merit of so glorious a thing. Albeit withal she accepted it, saying Fiat, as who should say; Although there were no need of my consent because I am the handmaid of Almighty God, and he may do with his handmaid what he will; And albeit being but handmaid, I merited not that this thing should be done unto me: yet not withstanding, seeing God will have it so, Fiat: Let it be done: for I am pleased wit hall whatsoever that pleases him. Whereby we see the sovereign obedience, and resignation of the Virgin, founded upon the knowledge of her own being nothing, offering herself not to resist the Fiat of Almighty God: as the insensible creatures resist it not, or as that which is nothing resists not, when God says, Let it be done.

2. But that we may the better understand the height of this consenting: we are to ponder, that she not only fixed her eyes upon the greatnesses, foretold her by the Angel; but also upon the terrible afflictions, which that Son who was offered unto her, was to suffer: the which she knew well by the Sacred Scriptures; and that a very great share of them was to light upon his Mother. And yet notwithstanding she accepted this dignity of a Mother, with the most heavy charge of that office. And hereupon she called herself a handmaid, as one that accepted it, not to be served as a Lady, but to serve, and suffer as a handmaid.

I thank thee, most sacred Virgin, for this generous offer that thou makes, with so great magnanimity of heart. Let the Angels in heaven praise thee, and the righteous on the earth, as likewise those that were in Limbo, expecting him. And seeing that all have a share in thy consent, beseech thy Son, to grant me such a resignation of myself unto his holy will, that I may resist nothing whatsoever he commands me, nor any affliction whatsoever that he shall send me; but that to all my reply may be, Fiat. God is my Lord, whatsoever shall seem good in his eyes, let that be done in me his servant, Amen.


It is likewise not without a great mystery, that the Blessed Virgin said not to the Angel: Be it done to me as God commands or wills: but, Be it done according to thy word: for herein she declared the perfection of her faith and obedience. for perfect faith believes whatsoever Almighty God reveals by himself, or by the means of others: and perfect obedience obeys God in whatsoever he commands either by himself, or by the means of his ministers: for he that hears them, hears Christ. Albeit, I may likewise contemplate that the B. Virgin in this point exalted herself above herself, and above all the Angels, and above all whatsoever is created: directing her answer, not so much to the ambassador, as to Almighty Go himself, who sent the embassage,saying to the eternal Father,

Behold here the handmaid of thee, o Lord, be it done to me according to thy word: not only according to what thou commands by this word which the Angel delivers: but according to the desire of what word and speech, which thou speak within thyself, in thy eternity, which is thy only Son, who also desires to be mine. And seeing it is his good pleasure so to be, be it as he commands. In imitation of the B. Virgin, I will also oftentimes say unto Almighty God, with the same understanding that she had: Behold hear me thy slave (o Lord) be it done to me, according to thy word: for I am ready to put in practice all, whatsoever shall be ordained me by thy divine word.


The Angel having heard the answer of the B. Virgin, returned to heave; Et discescit Angelus ab ea. And the Angel departed from her. In this departure, I am to consider.

1. How joyful and contented the Angel was with the answer of the Virgin, being full of admiration with her sovereign prudence, and virtue, and full of joy for having fulfilled what Almighty God gave him in charge: for these two things are matter of special joy to the Angels, and to the righteous: for there is no joy equal to the accomplished by others: for therein, according to that of the Prophet David, consists our life.

2. I am to consider, how the Angel departed presently to heaven, without staying any moment more: to give us to understand, that the Angels having fulfilled that ministry, which Almighty God incharged them with on earth, make no tarrying there, but forthwith return to their center, which is heaven: instructing us, especially such as be Religious, that having fulfilled our ministries with our neighbors, we make no causeless tarrying among them, but that forthwith we retire ourselves to our oratory, which is our heaven, to repose ourselves with Almighty God.

3. And as we after our human fashion imagine, that the Angel entering into Heaven, gave account to Almighty God of his embassage, and presented himself ready to serve again in whatsoever he should be commanded: so we having fulfilled our obligations, are to present ourselves before Almighty God, ready to accomplish whatsoever he shall anew upon us, or give us in charge according to that of holy Job: Shalt thou peradventure send lightnings, and will they go, and returning shall they say to thee, here we are.

O eternal and omnipotent king, make me like one of these celestial lightnings resplendent with thy light, inflamed with the fire of thy love, quick in obeying thy holy will, and thankful in returning to give thee thanks, for the accomplishment thereof.

4. I may likewise piously contemplate, how the Angel S. Gabriel being entered into heaven, preached to his companions the excellent humility, wisdom, and sanctity of the Blessed Virgin; all of them being full of alacrity, for that Almighty God had found upon earth a person that was as pleasing and acceptable unto him, as the inhabitants of heaven: for it is the property of the Saints to rejoice, that there are many others, that supply what they want in loving, and serving with great fervor our Lord God, to whom be honor and glory, world without end, Amen.

Sacred and Immaculate Hearts

Sacred and Immaculate Hearts

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Pillar of Scourging of Our Lord JESUS

Pillar of Scourging of Our Lord JESUS

Shroud of Turin

Shroud of Turin