This is the acceptable time for you to arise and begin your journey, dear friend.
This long, often dark, and usually strange journey—which all in search of God must undertake — is a journey inward; for he dwells within you. He is within all who have been baptized in his name and who abide in the state of his grace.
The coming of a new year is a good time to start on this journey. It is Epiphany, the manifestation of Christ to the world, and our journey is like that of the holy three to Bethlehem. Before you start, go and sell all you possess. Trade it for a share of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Without these gifts you cannot reach the King.
Myrrh is a sweet-bitter herb, hard to grow to maturity. Its other name is humility. You have to fill your hands full with it. But where shall you find it? There is only one soil, one garden, where it grows in profusion—Mary. Therefore, before you start on this journey, you need to find and cultivate Mary. There won’t be much work to it. No. All you will have to do is to sit at her feet and listen to her silence. Let it flow from her. Gather it up carefully as it falls, drop by drop, into your cupped hands.
First, there is the sweet silence of a young girl, who has just said her immense fiat to God, and who now feels the fruit of his love grow within her. Then there is the bitter tasting silence of the Mother of all Sorrows, who stands straight, unflinching, compassionate, under the cross of her dying Son, ceaselessly repeating her fiat again and again, in passionate love and utter humility, with lips that mirror all the suffering and pain that ever was, is, and shall be in this world. Now your cupped hands hold enough myrrh to bring to the King. Only the boundless humility of the little girl and the sorrowful woman can produce such exquisite scent.
Frankincense. For this, you will have to search well within yourself. It is the stuff that church incense is made of. It produces the beautiful gray-blue smoke that rises up to the very throne of God, in a silent chant of love and perfume.
Where within yourself will you find the poverty, chastity, and obedience of which your frankincense is made? Alone, it is hard to find or to come by. But there is one person, a creature like you, who can show you where they dwell. She is Mary, the mother of the Holy Pauper, who had nowhere to lay his head, except the beam of a cross. Mary, who was chastity itself— a Virgin Mother—is so transparent, so translucent in purity, that when you look at her, you see God. Mary, who obeyed so perfectly, so swiftly and with such a passionate abandonment of love, all gathered up in one single word: fiat! Ask her to show you where these virtues lie in you. Then your hands will overflow with frankincense, and you will be able to see the King of Glory.
Still, you must find gold. You know that miners go far and dig deep into the bowels of the earth for it. So must you. Dig deep, I mean. Descend into the depths of self, your true self. Come up with your selfish self dead. Then you will have more gold to give the King of Love than your weak hands can carry. To come before his countenance, you must be emptied of the self that alone can keep him from filling you. But gold, dear friend, is heavy. And to carry it on the long journey to the King you must have help. It lies close, so very close. If you give up your selfish self completely, if you surrender it—and with it yourself, all that you have and are — to Mary in a passionate total consecration of love for her and her Son, she will call on the angels, archangels, principalities, powers, dominations, cherubim and seraphim to carry your gold.
Before you realize it, you will be kneeling before her Son and our King, kneeling with hands full of gifts for the Christ Child. And your Epiphany will last until you die. And when you die, Mary will be there to take your soul and present it to God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—a soul immaculate and white as souls who belong to her are.
Listen well. There is no way to Jesus but through Mary. Without Mary there would be no Christmas, nor Epiphany. No magi, no kings undertaking long journeys by the guidance of one bright Star.
The star is Mary. Without Mary, we would have no Golgotha, nor Cross, nor Easter! Without Mary you would not be a Catholic, nor would I.
All this came to pass, all this was given to us, because a little girl almost two thousand years ago, said one single small word—fiat! Why, then, seek elsewhere a short cut to God, when it lies so close at hand, so easy of reach?
Mary is a garden enclosed of unsurpassing beauty. Open the gates of this garden, dear friend, and enter. You will find him whom your heart seeks so passionately. He is waiting for you within those lovely gates.
From Queen Magazine, 1955, Restoration January 2024