Monday, June 22, 2015: Saint John Fisher, Disciple of Our Lady

J.M.J. Today's Memorial is that of Saints John Fisher, Bishop and Martyr, and Thomas More, Martyr.

Saint John Fisher, when commentating on Psalm 37, wrote movingly about the Ever-Virgin as the "dawn" that prepares the way for the "sun"--in this case, the Son of God.

". . . we will try to show that by the three reasons we mentioned (nature, Scripture, and reason), this Blessed Lady, Mother of Our Savior, may well be called a dawn.  Before her there was none without sin. After her, the most clear sun Christ Jesus showed His light to the world, expelling utterly by His innumerable beams the darknesses in which all the world was wrapped and covered up to that time.

"We see by experience that the dawn rises out of darkness . . . we may marvel at this Blessed Virgin’s being clean, without a spot of any sort, and shining, even though she came forth originally from sinners who were covered and wrapped in the darkness and the night of sin.  Also, after the dawn, the sun rises, as if it were brought forth and had its beginning from the dawn; likewise, Our Savior Christ Jesus was born and brought forth from this Blessed Virgin and spread His light over all the world . . . Lastly, although it seems as if the dawn were the cause of the sun, it is the sun that is undoubtedly the cause of the dawn.  And likewise, although the Blessed Virgin brought forth Our Savior Jesus, yet He made her and was the cause of her being brought forth into this world.  Thus, you can perceive by nature that the Blessed Virgin may well be compared to a dawn.

". . . every generation of mankind since the creation of Adam was wrapped and covered with the darkness of sin, and although the Spirit of God was ever aloft, ready to give grace, yet for all that, none was found able to receive it until the time this Blessed Virgin was ordained by the whole Trinity to spring and to be brought forth into the world.  By the Providence of Almighty God, she was safely kept and defended from every spot and blemish of sin so that we may well say to her, tota pulchra es, amica mea, et macula non est in te, O Blessed Lady, you are all fair and without spot or blemish of sin (Song 4:7).  The Angel at her Annunciation said, Ave, plena gratia, hail, full of grace (Lk 1:28).  This Blessed Virgin, full of the beams of grace, was ordained by God as a light of the dawn, and she afterward brought forth the bright shining sun with His manifold beams, Our Savior Christ, qui illuminat omnem hominem, venientem in hunc mundum, Who gives light to every creature coming into this world (Jn 1:9).  Take heed how conveniently it agrees with Holy Scripture for this Virgin to be called a dawn. 
"Also, since reason will have it that between two contraries there must be an appropriate mean, so it is marvelously proper that we should call this Virgin a dawn, for just as the dawn is a mean between the great clearness of the sun and the horrid darkness of the night, so this Blessed and holy Virgin is the mean between this bright sun Our Savior, and wicked sinners, and a partaker of both, for she is the Mother of God and also the Mother of sinners.  When Our Savior Christ Jesus hung upon the Cross, He commended St. John the Evangelist to this Blessed Virgin and left him as her son, saying to her, Mulier, ecce filius tuus, Woman, behold your son.  And to Saint John He said, ecce mater tua, behold your mother (Jn 19:26-27).  The name John by interpretation means the grace of God, signifying that by God’s grace and not by their own merits sinners are made the inheritors of the heavenly Kingdom.  Sinners are therefore commended to this Virgin Mary as to a Mother; she is the Mother of sinners.  Saint Augustine says that there seems to be a noble kindred between this Blessed Virgin and sinners, for she received all her goodness for the sake of sinners; sin was the cause for which she was made the Mother of God.  Also if we have taken any goodness, we have it all by her.  Therefore, it is very right that this holy Virgin Mary is the Mother of sinners.  All Christ’s Church calls her Mater miserorum, the Mother of wretched sinners.  She is also the Mother of mercy, for Christ is mercy itself.  Speaking of Him, the prophet says thus: Deus meus misericordia mea, My God and my mercy (Ps 58:11).  Christ is mercy itself, she is the Mother of Christ, therefore the Mother of mercy.  For this reason, as we said before, she must necessarily be a mean between the mercy of God and the wretchedness of sin, between Christ most innocent and wretched sinners, between the shining light and the black darkness, for she is also the mean between the bright sun of day and the dark cloud of night.  None was born before her without sin, whether mortal, venial, or original.  Many before her were men of great virtue and holiness, as were Jeremiah, Elijah, and others, but because they were not clean and without any spot of sin, their virtue and holiness were hidden as if under a cloud.  The Holy Angels, remembering this matter and seeing the Virgin’s light show forth without any spot of darkness after such a long, dark night of sin, said one to another in admiration or marveling: Que est ista, que progreditur quasi aurora consurgens, what is she who goes forth as a rising dawn (Song 6:9).

"Therefore, since this Blessed Lady Mary goes as a dawn between our night and the day of Christ, between our darkness and His brightness, and lastly between the misery of our sins and the mercy of God, to whom should wretched sinners turn for help, so as to be delivered quickly from their wretchedness and come to mercy, but to this Blessed Virgin Mary?  Who can come or attain from one extreme to another without a mean between both?  Let us therefore acknowledge our wretchedness to her and ask for her help.  She cannot fail to hear us, for she is our Mother.  She shall speak for us to her merciful Son and ask His mercy, and He will undoubtedly grant the petition of His Mother and the Mother of mercy.  Let us therefore call to her, saying, O most holy Virgin, you are the Mother of God, the Mother of mercy, the Mother of wretched sinners and their singular help, the Comfort of all the sorrowful; vouchsafe to hear our wretchedness and provide for it a fitting and suitable remedy.  But what miseries shall we most especially show her? Truly, the common wretchedness of all sinners, which the Church has taught us to remember often and which the prophet David has described in the third penitential psalm, about which we shall now speak.  The woman of Canaan prayed to our Lord and was not heard, but His disciples immediately had pity and compassion on her.  So, likewise, it may be that our merciful Lord did not hear our prayers in the other psalms because of our grievous sins.  Let us turn our prayer now to His most merciful Mother, beseeching her to show mercy and as our Advocate call to Almighty God for us."


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