Saturday, May 01, 2004

On May 1, 1851
Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O., preached a sermon, of which the following notes survive:
On Mary as the Pattern of the Natural World

" 1. INTROD.-Why May the month of Mary?

2. Consider what May denotes. It is the youth of the year; its beauty, grace and purity. Next is its fertility; all things bud forth. The virgin and mother.

3. See how the ecclesiastical year answers to it. Our Lord passed His time in the winter-born at Christmas, etc. He struggles on. We sympathise with Him. We fast in Lent-the rough weather continues. He comes to His death and burial when the weather is still bad, yet with promise-fits of better anticipations. He rises; the weather mends; but, as He was not known as risen, not all at once. But at length it is not doubtful. He is a risen king, and, still the weather gets warmer. As a climax May comes, and He gives His mother.

4. Such is the comparison. Nothing so beautiful in the natural world as the season when it opens. Nothing so beautiful in the supernatural as Mary. The more you know of this world the more beautiful you would know it to be-in other climates-beauty of scenery, etc., etc.

5. But this is not all. Alas, the world is so beautiful as to tempt us to idolatry. St. Peter said, 'It is good to be here' [on Mt. Thabor], but 'It is not good to be in the world.' Say 'Hast thou tracked a traveller round,' etc.; all that is so beautiful tempts us. Hence all Nature tends to sin (not in itself), etc.

6. Here then a further reason why the month is given to Mary, viz. in order that we may sanctify the year.

And thus she is a better Eve. Eve, too, in the beginning may be called the May of the year. She was the first-fruits of God's beautiful creation. She was the type of all beauty; but alas! she represented the world also in its fragility. She stayed not in her original creation. Mary comes as a second and holier Eve, having the grace of indefectibility and the gift of perseverance from the first, and teaching us how to use God's gifts without abusing them. "


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