My dear sons, Dom Finnian and Dom Elijah, tomorrow you will pronounce your vows of stability, conversion of manners, and obedience. Today, the Mother of God makes herself very close to you. She is “the mother of fair love, and of holy fear, and of knowledge, and of holy hope. In her is all grace of the way and of the truth; in her is all hope of life and of virtue” (Ecclesiasticus 24:24–25). It is Mary most holy, the New Eve, the Lady of Every New Beginning, who will preside over this new beginning in your life. The Introit had us sing:
All the rich among the people shall entreat thy countenance: after her shall virgins be brought to the King: her neighbours shall be brought to Thee in gladness and rejoicing. (Psalm 44:13, 15–16)
Who are the rich among the people if not all those who, plunged into the death and resurrection of Christ at Baptism, received the kiss of the mouth of God, the Holy Ghost, in Confirmation and, with this Gift of God Most High, were enriched with seven gifts surpassing all earthly richness? You will stand before the altar tomorrow with empty hands: men utterly poor, men with nothing save what God, in His graciousness, has given. Your profession will, mysteriously but really, reactivate the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost. It is by these gifts once given and ever–renewed that you will begin, tomorrow, to walk in the grace of your monastic profession.
Today, you entreat the countenance of the Mother of God. This means that you are looking at the face of the Virgin Mary. It means that between you and the Mother of God there is a exchange of glances — even more, a mutual gaze — in which all that needs to be said is said, a gaze by which you ask, and she grants. A child knows how to ask his mother for what he needs with a glance; and a mother, with a glance, can give her child the assurance of that for which he is asking.
The Mother of God is at every moment leading a cortège of virgins into the presence of the King. Among these are those who, by a special grace, have preserved their virginity in the midst of the world’s seductions and temptations, and also those who, by grace, have recovered the innocence lost by sin. Those who walk with the Immaculate Virgin Mary are, slowly and imperceptibly, virginized by a communication of graces that are in her giving alone. The monk who lives at every moment with the Virgin Mary, will advance in life serenely and joyfully. He will bear fruit even in old age.
The Introit refers to the neighbours of the Mother of God. Who are her neighbours? Our English word <neighbour> is the conventional translation of the Latin <proximus>, meaning one who is near to another, one who lives close to another. Live close to Mary, abide near her, as did Saint Joseph, her most chaste spouse, and as did Saint John the Beloved Disciple, and you with her, and like them, will be brought to God in gladness and rejoicing.