ST ANNE, THE MOTHER OF OUR LADY
The home of Anne is set before us, giving an example at once of married life and of virginity, the first in the person of the mother, the second in that of the daughter; of whom the one has just been freed from sterility, and the other, a little later on, is to bring forth Christ in a supernatural birth, adapted by a divine artifice to the circumstances of our nature. Therefore, filled with the divine Spirit, her soul happy and joyous, deservedly does Anne cry aloud: “Rejoice with me, for from my sterile womb I have borne the bud of promise, and, as I had desired, I feed at my breast the fruit of blessing. I have put off the mourning-garment of sterility, and put on the joyful raiment of fruitfulness. Let that other Anne [Hannah], the rival of Phenenna, rejoice with me this day, and let her celebrate with me this new and unexpected miracle, which has been wrought in me, as it was in her.
LET ALL THE BARREN AND CHILDLESS SING IN HARMONY TOGETHER
Let Sara rejoice, she who rejoiced in conception in her old age, and foreshadowed my conception from sterility. Let all the barren and childless sing in harmony together at my visitation made to me from heaven in a wonderful manner.” Likewise, let all mothers endowed with this fruitfulness say: “Blessed be he who granted what they wished to those who prayed to him, and who gave fruit to the sterile, and granted her to bear that most happy bud, the Virgin who was the Mother of God according to the flesh, whose womb was a heaven, in which he dwelt whom no place can contain. And let us also offer praise becoming to these very things, that she who was called sterile now stands forth as the mother of a virgin mother. Let us say to her in the words of Scripture: “How blessed is the house of David, from which you have sprung, and the womb in which God fashioned the ark of sanctification,” that is, her from whom he himself was conceived without seed.
TRULY BLESSED ARE YOU, AND THRICE BLESSED
Truly blessed are you, and thrice blessed, you who have borne an infant given you by the blessing of God, that is to say, Mary, whose very name is likewise to be honoured in the highest degree; from whom came forth Christ, the flower of life; a Virgin whose origin was glorious, and whose child-bearing was above all the world. We also congratulate you, most blessed woman, for truly you have brought forth by the divine bounty the hope of all of us, that is, the child of promise. Blessed indeed are you, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. For the tongues of the godly magnify your offspring, and every joyful word is spoken concerning your child. It is truly fitting indeed, and most fitting it is, to praise her, who received a revelation by the divine goodness, and brought forth for us so great a fruit, from whom came forth the sweet Jesus.
– St John Damascene (Discourse II on the Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary), from: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964