Our Lady


The ‘Archbishop of Canterbury’ has let out Canterbury Cathedral to the Masons to perform their blasphemies at the same moment as the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster will be Consecrating England to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.


O Immaculate Virgin Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Mother of Grace,
and Queen of the kingdom of thy Son,
humbly kneeling before thee,
we offer thee this country in which we live.
It once was thine.
Before it was robbed of the holy Faith
all its children were thy children,
and thou wast honoured throughout its length and breadth
as its Protectress and its Queen.
Again do we consecrate it to thee;
again do we dedicate it as thine own Dowry.
We offer our own hearts,
that their love and service
may ever grow and increase.
We offer all our brethren
those multitudes who know thee so little
or know thee not at all.
May thy prayer bring back the country’s ancient faith.
May thy intercession lead us to a closer union
with thy divine Son.
We consecrate ourselves to Him through thee.
Obtain for us,
and for England thy Dowry,
every grace and blessing,
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary!

V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.

O Holy Mother of God, Virgin ever blest,
O Mary Immaculate, pray for us,
intercede for us, disdain not to help us.
For we are confident and know for certain
that thou canst obtain all thou wiliest from thy Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ,
God Almighty, the King of ages,
who liveth with the Father and the Holy Ghost,
for ever and ever.




The last scene in Elijah’s life so far is well known. He was walking with his spiritual son Elisha in the region beyond the Jordan when a fiery chariot drawn by horses of fire parts them. As he sees Elijah ascend skywards in the chariot, Elisha cries out: ‘My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its driver!’

The prophet Elijah is in a strange way a figure of the Blessed Virgin. At least, his life is evocative of her. His greatest miracle took place on Mount Carmel, the place more than any other which is used for one of Mary’s titles.  He cast his mantle over Elisesus to call him to the prophetic life. Our Lady casts the scapular, especially that of Mount Carmel, over her spiritual children so that they may imitate her fidelity to the Word. When the famine of three and a half years is about to end, Elijah sends his servant up to the top of Mount Carmel, and he sees at last a cloud no bigger than – what? The modern versions tend to say ‘a man’s hand’; but the Vulgate and the Septuagint, consistently with the Hebrew, which is patient of either sense, say ‘a man’s foot’. It is then a symbol of that heel, which God declared in Eden would one day crush the head of the enemy and bring to an end the famine of the Word of God.

Given such things, it is natural to see the assumption of Elijah, though it was not into the glory of heaven, as a prefigurement of today’s feast.

Yet there is more than this. The cry of Elisha, ‘The chariot of Israel and its Driver!’ seemed to pass into a proverb in Israel. For when Elisha also was at the end of his life, and lying on his death-bed, King Joash of Israel came to see him, and wept, and said ‘My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its Driver!’ (3 Kings 13:14).  It is a cry of sorrow, no doubt, at parting, but also of hope. Joash does not speak to Elisha about the prophet Elijah but rather evokes that mysterious vision before which even Elijah had been silent. Who then are the Chariot of Israel and the Driver thereof? God after all did not need to send them; He could have taken up Elijah without visible means; so they must have some great significance.  It seems to me that they are figures of Mary and Jesus, coming to help the faithful in their dying moments. They do not come bodily, since the faithful do not ascend into heaven bodily until the end of the world. But they come spiritually, as the faithful are to ascend spiritually. Our Lady is compared to the ‘chariot’ and our Lord to the ‘charioteer’, to show that she is perfectly responsive to His will. Thus the same death-bed hope that under a veil of metaphor comforted the faithful ones of the old covenant now comforts the true Israelites who look with face unveiled to where Christ and His Mother await them in a holier place than that to which Elijah himself was taken.

{This came up recently, in a discussion of the Assumption. The relevant verse is near the end. But it’s full of good things; also about our Lady as mediatrix of all graces, and co-redemptrix. It’s daring, perhaps, as the author, Coventry Patmore, not infrequently was. Anyway, it is a Laodicean Marian post, for May.}

“The Child’s Purchase” by Coventry Patmore

 As a young Child, whose Mother, for a jest,
To his own use a golden coin flings down,
Devises blythe how he may spend it best,
Or on a horse, a bride-cake, or a crown,
Till, wearied with his quest,
Nor liking altogether that nor this,
He gives it back for nothing but a kiss,
Endow’d so I
With golden speech, my choice of toys to buy,
And scanning power and pleasure and renown,
Till each in turn, with looking at, looks vain,
For her mouth’s bliss,
To her who gave it give I it again. 

   Ah, Lady elect,
Whom the Time’s scorn has saved from its respect,
Would I had art
For uttering this which sings within my heart!
But, lo,
Thee to admire is all the art I know.
My Mother and God’s; Fountain of miracle!
Give me thereby some praise of thee to tell
In such a Song
As may my Guide severe and glad not wrong
Who never spake till thou’dst on him conferr’d
The right, convincing word!
Grant me the steady heat
Of thought wise, splendid, sweet,
Urged by the great, rejoicing wind that rings
With draught of unseen wings,
Making each phrase, for love and for delight,
Twinkle like Sirius on a frosty night! 

Aid thou thine own dear fame, thou only Fair,
At whose petition meek
The Heavens themselves decree that, as it were,
They will be weak!
Thou Speaker of all wisdom in a Word,
Thy Lord!
Speaker who thus could’st well afford
Thence to be silent;—ah, what silence that
Which had for prologue thy ‘Magnificat?’—
O, Silence full of wonders
More than by Moses in the Mount were heard,
More than were utter’d by the Seven Thunders;
Silence that crowns, unnoted, like the voiceless blue,
The loud world’s varying view,
And in its holy heart the sense of all things ponders!
That acceptably I may speak of thee,
Ora pro me 

   Key-note and stop
Of the thunder-going chorus of sky-Powers;
Essential drop
Distill’d from worlds of sweetest-savour’d flowers
To anoint with nuptial praise
The Head which for thy Beauty doff’d its rays,
And thee, in His exceeding glad descending, meant,
And Man’s new days
Made of His deed the adorning accident!
Vast Nothingness of Self, fair female Twin
Of Fulness, sucking all God’s glory in!
(Ah, Mistress mine,
To nothing I have added only sin,
And yet would shine!)
Ora pro me 

   Life’s cradle and death’s tomb!
To lie within whose womb,
There, with divine self-will infatuate,
Love-captive to the thing He did create,
Thy God did not abhor,
No more
Than Man, in Youth’s high spousal-tide,
Abhors at last to touch
The strange lips of his long-procrastinating Bride;
Nay, not the least imagined part as much!
Ora pro me 

My Lady, yea, the Lady of my Lord,
Who didst the first descry
The burning secret of virginity,
We know with what reward!
Prism whereby
Alone we see
Heav’n’s light in its triplicity;
Rainbow complex
In bright distinction of all beams of sex,
Shining for aye
In the simultaneous sky,
To One, thy Husband, Father, Son, and Brother,
Spouse blissful, Daughter, Sister, milk-sweet Mother;
Ora pro me 

   Mildness, whom God obeys, obeying thyself
Him in thy joyful Saint, nigh lost to sight
In the great gulf
Of his own glory and thy neighbour light;
With whom thou wast as else with husband none
For perfect fruit of inmost amity;
Who felt for thee
Such rapture of refusal that no kiss
Ever seal’d wedlock so conjoint with bliss;
And whose good singular eternally
‘Tis now, with nameless peace and vehemence,
To enjoy thy married smile,
That mystery of innocence;
Ora pro me 

   Sweet Girlhood without guile,
The extreme of God’s creative energy;
Sunshiny Peak of human personality;
The world’s sad aspirations’ one Success;
Bright Blush, that sav’st our shame from shamelessness;
Chief Stone of stumbling; Sign built in the way
To set the foolish everywhere a-bray;
Hem of God’s robe, which all who touch are heal’d;
To which the outside Many honour yield
With a reward and grace
Unguess’d by the unwash’d boor that hails Him to His face,
Spurning the safe, ingratiant courtesy
Of suing Him by thee;
Ora pro me 

   Creature of God rather the sole than first;
Knot of the cord
Which binds together all and all unto their Lord;
Suppliant Omnipotence; best to the worst;
Our only Saviour from an abstract Christ
And Egypt’s brick-kilns, where the lost crowd plods,
Blaspheming its false Gods;
Peace-beaming Star, by which shall come enticed,
Though nought thereof as yet they weet,
Unto thy Babe’s small feet,
The Mighty, wand’ring disemparadised,
Like Lucifer, because to thee
They will not bend the knee;
Ora pro me 

   Desire of Him whom all things else desire!
Bush aye with Him as He with thee on fire!
Neither in His great Deed nor on His throne—
O, folly of Love, the intense
Last culmination of Intelligence,—
Him seem’d it good that God should be alone!
Basking in unborn laughter of thy lips,
Ere the world was, with absolute delight
His Infinite reposed in thy Finite;
Well-match’d: He, universal being’s Spring,
And thou, in whom are gather’d up the ends of everything!
Ora pro me 

In season due, on His sweet-fearful bed,
Rock’d by an earthquake, curtain’d with eclipse,
Thou shar’d’st the rapture of the sharp spear’s head,
And thy bliss pale
Wrought for our boon what Eve’s did for our bale;
Thereafter, holding a little thy soft breath,
Thou underwent’st the ceremony of death;
And, now, Queen-Wife,
Sitt’st at the right hand of the Lord of Life,
Who, of all bounty, craves for only fee
The glory of hearing it besought with smiles by thee!
Ora pro me 

Mother, who lead’st me still by unknown ways,
Giving the gifts I know not how to ask,
Bless thou the work
Which, done, redeems my many wasted days,
Makes white the murk,
And crowns the few which thou wilt not dispraise.
When clear my Songs of Lady’s graces rang,
And little guess’d I ’twas of thee I sang!
Vainly, till now, my pray’rs would thee compel
To fire my verse with thy shy fame, too long
Shunning world-blazon of well-ponder’d song;
But doubtful smiles, at last, ‘mid thy denials lurk;
From which I spell,
‘Humility and greatness grace the task
Which he who does it deems impossible!’

Whether or not one affirms that the statements made by the Roman Catechism and the Holy Office about the centrality of the earth in the universe are binding, one must surely be struck by the relation between St Robert Bellarmine, the Fatima apparitions, and the date of May 13th. It was Bellarmine who was charged with telling Galileo of ‘the declaration made by the Holy Father and published by the Sacred Congregation of the Index, whose content is that the doctrine attributed to Copernicus is contrary to Holy Scripture and therefore cannot be defended or held’ (Bellarmine’s own words). Of all the church’s doctors, it was Bellarmine to whom it fell to make this declaration.

Bellarmine was beatified on May 13th, 1923, and this date was assigned as his feast day, where it still remains on the calendar of the ordo antiquior. Why this date was chosen I have been unable to discover: it is not the day of his death. However, 6 years earlier, on May 13th 1917 there had taken place the first of the apparitions of our Lady at Fatima, and this date was later to be assigned for this feast day. These apparitions were validated by the miracle of the sun, which was seen by a vast crowd to fall from its orbit towards the earth. If God had wanted to give a ocular proof of the Bellarmine declaration, it is hard to see what more striking one He could have offered. 

Researchers at Tufts University, Massachusetts, have discovered that foetal stem cells remain within the mother’s body for decades after birth. Rather than be attacked by her immune system or assimilated into her organism, they retain their genetic identity and even, it seems, help to protect her from disease.

As a recent columnist for the Remnant newspaper remarks, this has interesting implications for theology. Stem cells from our Lord’s human body would have remained living within the Blessed Virgin. But, such baby cells might well have remained hypostatically united to the Word, if they were ever an integral part of Jesus’s body, and never died. The Dominicans in the 15th century maintained (against the Franciscans) that the Precious Blood shed during the passion, since it had been part of Christ’s living body and was destined to be reunited with it at the resurrection, also remained united to the Word, just as His entire body did in the tomb. This has since become the favoured theological opinion.

If this is right, then Mary would have remained a living tabernacle for the Word, not just in her soul but in her body, too.

The late Sr Lucia of Fatima was reliably quoted – for example by Cardinal Ottaviani at a Mariological Conference in Rome – as saying that the 3rd secret was not to be revealed until 1960. She said that this was the will of heaven.

Why 1960? It’s natural to reflect that the 60’s, as a decade, were a devastating time for the Church and the world; the time, among other things, at which the forces opposed to the natural law began to achieve their full dominance of the State. But could there be a reason why one particular year was singled out?

In 1960 the United States Food and Drug Administration approved the contraceptive pill. At one stroke was undermined marriage, and therefore the family and therefore both ecclesiastical vocations and society. Perhaps no other single act has done so much to produce that ‘half-ruined city’ shown to the 3 shepherd children in the 3rd secret.

No, not for all the positive response to my German Autumn Poetry Excesses I would not have subjected you to any more German, had it not been for the encouragement of Aelianus (whom I would accuse, if I was uncharitable, of hoping of Google trafic), and for long-time annoyment with one particular German Marian Hymn.
It used to be a very nice Marian hymn, one just as Marian hymns ought to be: praising Our Lady, assuring her of our devotion, begging her for intercession with the confidence that there is nothing that needs to daunt anyone protected by her;  plus the whole with an appropriately touching tune:


Maria zu lieben, ist allzeit mein Sinn
in Freuden und Leiden ihr Diener ich bin
Mein Herz, o Maria, brennt ewig zu Dir
in Liebe und Freude, o himmlische Zier

Maria, Du milde, Du süße Jungfrau
Nimm auf meine Liebe, so wie ich vertrau
Du bist ja die Mutter, Dein Kind will ich sein
im Leben und Sterben Dir einzig allein

Gib, daß ich von Herzen Dich liebe und preis
gib, daß ich viel Zeichen der Liebe erweis
Von Dir mich nichts scheide, nicht Unglück noch Leid
Dich lieb ich auf ewig, Dich lieb ich allzeit

Ach, hätt ich der Herzen nur tausendmal mehr
Dir tausend zu geben, das ist mein Begehr
so oft mein Herz klopfet, befehl ich es Dir
so vielmal ich atme, verbind ich Dich mir

Du Trost der Betrübten, zur Hilf sei bereit
Du Stärke der Schwachen, beschütz mich im Streit
wenn wider mich kämpfen Fleisch, Hölle und Welt
sei Du mir als Zuflucht zur Seite gestellt.

But then, we had renewal, and a new text.  Now, à la  Eucharistic Prayer IV, we give Our Lady a biography of her own life (It is also incorrect, I am assured, as for however lowly the job of a carpenter might have been, we have no indication in the Gospels that th Holy Family was actually destitute – even if this would be helpful in a Revulutionary Christianity way):


Maria dich lieben, ist allzeit mein Sinn;
dir wurde die Fülle der Gnaden verliehn:
du Jungfrau, auf dich hat der Geist sich gesenkt;
du Mutter hast uns den Erlöser gschenkt.

Dein Herz war der Liebe des Höchsten geweiht;
du warst für die Botschaft des Engels bereit.
Du sprachst: Mir geschehe, wie du es gesagt.
Dem Herr will ich dienen, ich bin deine Magd.

Du Frau aus dem Volke, von Gott ausersehn.
dem Heiland auf Erden zur Seite zu stehn,
kennst Arbeit und Sorge ums tägliche Brot,
die Mühsal des Lebens in Armut und Not.

Du hast unterm Kreuze auf Jesus geschaut;
er hat dir den Jünger als Sohn anvertraut.
Du Mutter der Schmerzen, o mach uns bereit,
bei Jesus zu stehen, in Kreuz und in Leid.

Du Mutter der Gnaden, o reich uns die Hand
auf all unsern Wegen durchs irdische Land.
Hilf uns, deinen Kindern, in Not und Gefahr;
mach allen, die suchen, den Sohn offenbar.

Von Gott über Engel und Menschen gestellt
erfleh uns das Heil und den Frieden der Welt.
Du Freude der Erde, du himmlische Zier:
du bist voll der Gnaden, der Herr ist mit dir.

As a former Protestant, the veneration of Our Lady was a major stumbling block for my conversion. Even now (I have to confess) some ofSt. Louis de Montford’s statements about Our Lady (for all he is my year’s Saint)  quite disturbe me. But such a bland hymn text as the new one presented above would absolutely bore me to sleep, if it would not enrage me sufficiently. If a Marian hymn is not either close-to-kitschy pleeding, or satisfactorily triumphant, or of quiet and queenly dignity, it has no right to exisit, IMnsHO.

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