Thursday, 31 May 2012
Her "very bowels embraced him "- the Visitation of our Lady
In his defence of the use of the Benedictus, Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in the daily offices, Richard Hooker states:
They are the first gratulations wherewith our Lord and Saviour was joyfully received at his entrance into the world by such as in their hearts, arms and very bowels embraced him (LEP V, 40.3).
There is a wonderful earthiness in Hooker's reference to the Blessed Virgin - her "very bowels embraced him". Taylor echoes this when he describes her as "she who was now full of God". It is from this truth, this flesh and blood reality of God Incarnate, that the Magnificant emanates.
Already by time of the Venerable Bede - and on the very fringes of Europe - he could refer to what was already established as the "excellent and fruitful custom" of saying the Magnificat at evening prayer:
Therefore it is an excellent and fruitful custom of the holy Church that we should sing Mary's hymn at the time of evening prayer ... meditating upon the incarnation in this way.
And that, of course, is precisely what the Magnificat is: a meditation upon the Incarnation by the human being closest to that event. By the young woman whose "very bowels embraced him". By the girl from Nazareth "who was now full of God". With her we sing the Magnificat at Evening Prayer - sharing in her joy at Yahweh's favour and, with Elizabeth and all generations, calling her blessed, the Theotokos.
Posted by BC at 15:08