EMBER FRIDAY: "THEY DIE BARREN" BECAUSE THEY DENY THE LIVING GOD
How contrary is this great joy to the culture of death mentality that prevails today: "I simply cannot afford this child; this will interrupt my career or tie me down or demand too much of me." Our post-Christian culture is at war with newborn life, the family and is soon to see a new president who promises to roll back all the pro-life achievements of the last forty years.
We must remember there is no true culture if family life is not held sacred or if its stability is in any way at the mercy of human whims and passion. History verifies this -especially Roman history. If "the power that was Rome, the glory that was Greece," decayed and perished, leaving virtually nothing behind but ruins, it was chiefly because divorce, voluntary and selfish childlessness, and even a deliberate refusal to marry sapped the moral and spiritual strength of the race.
"Steriles moriuntur", is the harsh but ghastly verdict that the greatest Roman historian pronounced on his own people, Titus Livius. "They die barren" (they leave none behind to carry on the empire); they are barren, on the other hand, they are dead within themselves because they refuse to have faith in life and in that faith to hand down its torch to another generation. Hence Rome fell to the uncouth nations of the north, the barbarians, who were more vigorous, because they were not so "perfectly civilized."
But it is the great joy of Mary’s own heart in her tete-et-tete with her own cousin which is the paradigm that all parents should adopt who are blessed by the Lord with new life: "My soul magnifies the Lord; and my spirit hath rejoiced in god my Savior." It was Mary's faith that caused Elizabeth to declare: "Blessed art thou that hast believed because these things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord."
What was Mary’s faith but her belief, total and complete, that she was to be the Mother of God at the words of the angel Gabriel. No less great must be the faith in the heart of every priest who picks up a piece of bread and a chalice of wine and it becomes the same Lord and God that Mary gave birth to from her womb. Great faith is necessary to truly appreciate the Real Presence of Our Lord and God. The proper reception of Holy Communion according to Father John Hardon challenges everything that is human within us if we are truly going to appreciate this heavenly event.
Such great faith and love of God must also reside in a priest’s heart as it did in Mary’s, the Mother of Christ, for the priesthood perpetuates Christ on earth and gives Him and His priceless gifts to successive generations of mankind. Priests imitate the Virgin Mother Mary who is the Mother of God at every single Mass they celebrate when they pronounce the words over the bread: "This is My Body." and then "This is My Blood" over the chalice. They imitate Mary because the life they bring into the world at these holy words is the very same Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of the Lord and God of us all that Mary gave birth to at the Holy Incarnation of her Son.