My favorite painting of Saint Bernard
This is perhaps one of the most beautiful passages that I have ever read regarding the Blessed Virgin Mary. It's from Saint Bernard of Clarivaux. Bernard dramatizes the anticipation of St Gabriel as he waited for Mary's answer to the prospect of becoming the Mother of God Incarnate. Meanwhile Adam, Abraham, and David eagerly await her reply. As Bernard says to Mary: "Breathe a passing word, embrace the eternal Word."
Ex Homilíis sancti Bernárdi abbátis in Láudibus Vírginis Matris (Hom. 4, 8-9: Opera omnia, Edit. Cisterc. 4 , 53-54)
You have heard, O Virgin, that you will conceive and bear a son; you have heard that it will not be by man but by the Holy Spirit. The angel awaits an answer; it is time for him to return to God who sent him. We too are waiting, O Lady, for your word of compassion; the sentence of condemnation weighs heavily upon us.
The price of our salvation is offered to you. We shall be set free at once if you consent. In the eternal Word of God we all came to be, and behold, we die. In your brief response we are to be remade in order to be recalled to life.
Tearful Adam with his sorrowing family begs this of you, O loving Virgin, in their exile from Paradise. Abraham begs it, David begs it. All the other holy patriarchs, your ancestors, ask it of you, as they dwell in the country of the shadow of death. This is what the whole earth waits for, prostrate at your feet. It is right in doing so, for on your word depends comfort for the wretched, ransom for the captive, freedom for the condemned, indeed, salvation for all the sons of Adam, the whole of your race.
Answer quickly, O Virgin. Reply in haste to the angel, or rather through the angel to the Lord. Answer with a word, receive the Word of God. Speak your own word, conceive the divine Word. Breathe a passing word, embrace the eternal Word.This meditation is stunning in that it wraps up redemptive history into that single moment when the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.
O sweet and immaculate Mary, pray for us that we might be ready to celebrate the birth of thy Divine Son.