Hail, O rich and shady Mountain of God, whereon pastured the True Lamb, Who hath taken away our sins and infirmities, Hab. iii. 3; Isa. liii. 4; John i. 29, mountain, whereout hath been cut without hands that Stone which hath smitten the altars of the idols, and become the head-stone of the corner, marvellous in our eyes. Dan. ii. 34; Ps. cxvii. 22, 23. Hail, thou holy Throne of God, thou divinest store-house, thou temple of glory, thou bright crown, thou chosen treasure, thou mercy-seat for the whole world, thou heaven declaring the glory of God. Ps. xviii. 2. Hail, thou vessel of pure gold, made to hold the manna that came down from heaven, the sweet food of our souls, even Christ. Ex. xvi.33; Heb. ix. 4; John vi. 49-51. Hail, O purest Virgin, most praiseworthy and most worshipful, hallowed treasury for the wants of all creatures; thou art the untitled earth, the unploughed field; thou art the vine full of flowers, the well overflowing with waters, Maiden and Mother; thou art the Mother that knew not a man, the hidden treasure of guilelessness, and the clear, bright star of holiness; by thy most acceptable prayers, strong from thy motherly mouth, obtain for all estates of men in the Church that they may continually tend unto Him Who is the Lord, and God, and Maker of thee, and of them, and of all, but of thee the Son also, conceived without man’s intervention; obtain this, O Mother, pilot them to the harbour of peace. (Homily of Saint Germanus of Constantinople read at Matins on the feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary)
Pope Benedict XVI’s Wednesday catecheses will remain for ages to come a goldmine of pure doctrine, a treasure–house for the children of the Church. Given that we read this morning at Matins a magnificent lesson from Saint Germanus of Constantinople, I thought it fitting also to offer the readers of Vultus Christi an excerpt from Pope Benedict’s XVI 29 April 2009 teaching on the same saint:
In Christ we contemplate the Face of God
What does this Saint chronologically and also culturally rather distant from us have to tell us today? I am thinking mainly of three things. The first: there is a certain visibility of God in the world, in the Church, that we must learn to perceive. God has created man in his image, but this image was covered with the scum of so much sin that God almost no longer shines through it. Thus the Son of God was made true man, a perfect image of God: thus in Christ we may also contemplate the Face of God and learn to be true men ourselves, true images of God. Christ invites us to imitate him, to become similar to him, so in every person the Face of God shines out anew. To tell the truth, in the Ten Commandments God forbade the making of images of God, but this was because of the temptations to idolatry to which the believer might be exposed in a context of paganism. Yet when God made himself visible in Christ through the Incarnation, it became legitimate to reproduce the Face of Christ. The holy images teach us to see God represented in the Face of Christ. After the Incarnation of the Son of God, it therefore became possible to see God in images of Christ and also in the faces of the Saints, in the faces of all people in whom God’s holiness shines out.
The Beauty and Dignity of the Liturgy
The second thing is the beauty and dignity of the liturgy. To celebrate the liturgy in the awareness of God’s presence, with that dignity and beauty which make a little of his splendour visible, is the commitment of every Christian trained in his faith. The third thing is to love the Church. Precisely with regard to the Church, we men and women are prompted to see above all the sins and the negative side, but with the help of faith, which enables us to see in an authentic way, today and always we can rediscover the divine beauty in her. It is in the Church that God is present, offers himself to us in the Holy Eucharist and remains present for adoration. In the Church God speaks to us, in the Church God “walks beside us” as St Germanus said. In the Church we receive God’s forgiveness and learn to forgive.
His Beauty in the Church
Let us pray God to teach us to see his presence and his beauty in the Church, to see his presence in the world and to help us too to be transparent to his light.