Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Earlier Mysteries of the Blessed Virgin Mary ~ Her Conception

SOME YEARS AGO, Father Mark organized for our prayer what he has called the mysteries of  The Early Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We discover these events of Mary's early life in the extra-biblical Gospel of Saint James which dates back to the first half of the 2nd century.

Italians speak warmly of Maria Bambina: the Infant Mary, the Child Mary. What a lovely thought! Could it be the beauty of the young Mary that the Canticle of the Hebrew Scriptures is contemplating when it is written:  

"O my dove, let me see your face
let me hear your voice;
for your voice is sweet and your face is lovely."

Canticle 2:14

With a meditation between each Hail Mary and the little prayer itself offered as a kind of rose-gift, the rosary becomes a sensory offering to the Mother of Jesus, who is also Mother to each of us in spiritual things. Perhaps then I can image these Earlier Mysteries of the Blessed Virgin Mary with a pink rose.

Pray that in a hard world, there can still be found within each of us a young and innocent place that delights in giving flowers as a gift - especially flowers to a particularly lovely little girl. Or has the world become too cynical for that?

The Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
in the Womb of Her Mother, Saint Anne
Feast ~ December 8

The Meeting of Joachim and Anne at the Golden Gate
Icons never show carnal things - even nakedness is suffused with grace. Here Joachim and Anne, who so longed for a child, are meeting by the temple in Jerusalem. The city is beautiful - as if the Heavenly Jerusalem has already come down and merged with the earthly. Their bed is behind the elderly embracing couple. This little girl will be conceived as babies are normally conceived. Anne seems to dance. Can you feel their joy?

Our Father...

From the 700's Christians have celebrated a feast day happily recalling Mary's conception in the womb of Saint Anne. This is Mary's Immaculate Conception. But what does this mean? In Jesus Christ, God has  come to be with us in a human body. And God has gone to a great deal of trouble to get the world ready for that visit. From the start, in her own mother's womb, Mary was holy: she never wrecked the beautiful idea God had created for her to be.

Hail Mary!

And God has created a beautiful idea for me to be as well. This idea was conceived in the heart and mind of God. I'm supposed to be an immaculate conception too. Maybe foolishness and even terrible choices have seemingly spoiled things. But God is good and won't allow me to be lost to any of that. God will be born of Mary at Bethlehem, and Jesus will show me again and again, that when God loves, he loves by forgiving. God speaks to us in the psalms: "Even though your sins be scarlet, I will make them white as snow." This is the most hopeful thing most of us will ever hear.

Hail Mary!

Mary is conceived in the womb of her mother, Anne. Later, the Angel Gabriel will tell Mary that her own child, Jesus, will be called Emmanuel. Perhaps this is a kind of nick-name which means, God is with us. And so Mary's womb will be like a heaven on earth. God's plan and dream, that we would belong only to God, is starting to come true. The demons shake and run for cover as they realize in Mary's Conception that their days are numbered.

Hail Mary!

In her great song of praise, Mary sings, "All generations will call me blessed," (Luke 1:46-55). If nothing else on this earth is true, this is: that for over 2000 years each generation has called Mary blessed. And with Mary, I want to recount the marvels and wonders God has done for me. What's that? That God has called me from non-being into life. That God has a purpose and plan for my life. That I have a capacity to give and receive love. That as I live on this earth I can discover God's presence and beauty - God's goodness, truth and joy!

Hail Mary!

Human persons are often filled with good desire: to be with family and friends, to enjoy celebrations, to succeed at school, work or sports. But there is a shadow side to desire too: the desire for power over people, the desire to possess people sexually, the seemingly endless desire for things. Joachim and Anne, Mary's parents, always desired their child as a blessing from God. Our death-embracing country has forgotten this simple truth: that children are a gift from God. Let's pray that every baby in the womb would be desired, protected and welcomed as a gift.

Hail Mary!


The Latin is very beautiful: Tota pulchra es, Maria:et macula originalis non est in te. You are all fair, O Mary, and in you there is no stain of original sin. This means that Mary was free of the passions which cause us to forget God. I must be spiritually wide-awake and on the look-out if I am to participate in this inner freedom which Mary enjoyed. For the would-be disciple of Jesus, this will require some kind of withdrawal from the world, even though I must still live in it. Any thoughts?

Hail Mary!

Oh, if you know yourself to be here
not so much walking upon firm ground
but battered to and fro by the
gales of this life's ocean,
if you would not be
overwhelmed by the storm,
keep your eyes fixed upon this
star's clear shining.
If the hurricane of temptation rise against you
or you are running upon the rocks of trouble,
look to the star;
call on Mary.
If the waves of pride, or ambition, or slander,
or envy toss you,
look to the star;
call on Mary.
If the winds of anger or greed
or the pull of the flesh beats
against the little boat of your soul;
look to Mary.

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

Hail Mary!

Mary is conceived to be the Mother of the Messiah. But what's Messiah? The Messiah is the long awaited great king, greater even than King David and King Solomon. He would be the one who would rescue and liberate God's people and set them up in freedom from political oppression, abuse and servitude. But Jesus is the Messiah in a bigger, spiritual sense. He wants me freed of hatred, dishonesty, death-dealing addictions and slavery to fear and imaginings. I welcome the Mother of the Messiah-Son.

Hail Mary!


When the Church celebrates Mary's Conception in her mother's womb, oddly enough, the gospel reading for the Mass that day is of Jesus' Conception, announced by the angel who greeted Mary: Hail full of grace, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women, (Luke 1:26ff). Oh, I want to make my own this angel-greeting of Mary: Hail, full of God's intentions, shared life, strength and love! And I want to be a mother of Christ too - conceiving and birthing him spiritually in some new way for this world, which while a paradise, is also a valley of tears.

Hail Mary!


On the feast of Mary's Conception the Church sings: Draw us, O Immaculate Virgin; we will run after you in the loveliness of your ointment, (Canticle 1:3) Here we are - running - like playful children, after Mary, who gathers us. And we are pleased with her whose fragrance is spiritually alluring: the fragrance of her delighting in God; the fragrance of her becoming fruitful in God's Word; the fragrance of her faithfulness to Jesus; the fragrance of her joy which chases away fear, suspicion and coldness of heart.

Hail Mary! 

Glory be to the Father...


  1. This website is so warm and inspirational. I just love reading it. Thank you for these wonderful posts, Fr. Morris! I am glad I found it.

  2. I want to remember this every time I feel defeated. What a special message for us. God loves us and forgives us even in our bad decision making. Jesus frees us from our tears of despair. It gives hope.

  3. St. Louis de Montfort, in his book, the Secret of the Rosary, begs his fellow priests to preach about devotion to Mary and the rosary. Our Lord will pour abundant grace into his soul and he will become an instrument for the Glory of God. The rosary is the instrument to convert the most hardened sinners.
    Thank you for helping us continue to deepen our contemplation on the mysteries of the lives of Jesus and Mary.

  4. The word "polemic" means controversial argument about doctrine and opinion, etc. There's so much of that in Catholicism today - in preaching, blogs, magazines. It signifies a great disunity and dis-ease. I want to avoid all of that - it draws no one. We need to start contemplating or pondering the mystery again. And mystery means: There's so much light in this room, it's hard to make out the thing! That's wonderful and alive!

  5. These reflections are incredible. So much to chew on that I can only take a couple at a time. Inspiring and hopeful and encouraging for this new year. Thank you.

  6. This blog is in its fourth year now and things can get buried or lost. I'm glad you've found these mysteries. Perhaps you might help to bring them forward a bit by telling others who might be interested in your circle of friends. But first read the reply I've made above about polemic. It's killing us.

  7. People are searching including myself. I don't know if we can ever live without the polemic piece. That will be when the kingdom is in its fullest and most pure state, it would mean we either all believe the same or we keep our distance from those who don't and then where is the evangelization? Unfortunately until the fullness of the kingdom comes we continue to encourage and challenge one another. You do both so well! And the one who does these things and the one who receives these things; both are moved a little closer towards that sacred space of Nonpolemicy (?). I wish we could live with much less division, That space is riddled with much confusion. This blog helps to sort things out a little for me, it's my go to space when I really am anxiety ridden and out of sorts.