Immaculate Conception: Readings for Matins

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From a homily by John of Landsperg (Carthusian Monk +1539)

Our loving and meek Creator, no longer being able to stand the loss of humankind and moved by his own ineffable pity, sent not just any angel but one of their leaders, Gabriel the Archangel, to a city of Galilee called Nazareth. There the parents of the future Mother of God were known to dwell; and we understand that in their house, already returned from the Temple and engaged to Joseph, dwelt the most blessed Virgin.

So he was sent to a virgin. O what a virgin, virgin forever, virgin both in body and in soul! Virgin resplendent with a purity surpassing even that of the angels, a virgin so beautiful that among the countless throng of mankind, she was the very one whom the Son of the Most High wanted to have as his mother!

So to this virgin entered the angel and greeted her, carrying her a message from God, such a message as never before that day had been brought to our earth. And how was it that he entered to her? As in an enclosure she was sitting in her father’s house, praying with a total application for the liberation of mankind, busy with contemplating God, and, as it were, absorbed in him. For because of the exceeding purity of her heart, her soul was ever united to God: so that as often as she wanted to, she could ascend to God in contemplation.

So as she was sitting and entreating God with great fervour that he might deign to send the Messiah, the angel entered into her shelter where she was alone with God and said (very respectfully of course, as it was fitting to address a future Mother of God): «Hail full of grace, adorned with all virtues, every gift and charism! To others it comes partially, but to you has been given the fullness of all grace».

Hail then, O Mary, full of grace, preserved from the tiniest smudge of sin, you are all beautiful, all immaculate, full of all grace. In you there never was even for an instant anything that displeased God; grace filled you and possessed you entirely. The Lord is with you – the entire Trinity! And not in an ordinary way, but in a special and absolutely singular way. For the Lord finds pleasure in you; he who created you finds his delight in staying with you, attracted by your beauty. He surrounds you entirely so that the foes have no access to you; he is always with you and remains in you. He confirms you and surrounds you with his grace; he never leaves you but is preparing within you a fitting dwelling-place for his Son whom he wants to be born from you.

Blessed are you among women – blessed are you above all creatures! For you are favoured with such blessings of the divine sweetness that your almighty Creator has decided to become your Son, and he who in himself is endless has wanted to be born a small child from you! Blessed are you among women, who both enjoy the honours of virginity and are going to be the mother
of the Most High; alone among all women you are to conceive without loss of modesty and give birth without pain. From this conceiving and giving birth you are going to be much purer and holier still.

Taken from: Lectionary for Matins – Year C – 8 December: Readings 9 to 12

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