Who Can Marvel Enough?

“An angel announces, power overshadows, and the Spirit startles; the Virgin believes, by faith the Virgin conceives, the Virgin gives birth, the Virgin remains a virgin: who would not marvel? Then is the Son of the Most High born, God, begotten of God before all ages.  The Word is born as a baby: who can marvel enough?” Bernard of Clairvaux, “On the Proclamation of the Lord’s Birth,” in Sermons for Advent and the Christmas Season, trans. Irene Edmonds, Wendy Mary Becket, Conrad Greenia; ed. John Leinenweber (Kalamazoo: Cistercian, 2007), pp. 44-45.           

In this beautiful sermon for Christmas Eve, Bernard of Clairvaux praises the miraculous manner of Christ’s conception and birth as the Word made flesh.  However, the great abbot does not simply praise the miracle but explains its significance for his hearers (or readers):

“Jesus is born: let them rejoice, all those whose consciousness of sins used to judge them liable to perpetual damnation! The loving-kindness of Jesus far outweighs the extent and number of offenses.  Christ is born! Let them be glad, those assailed by long-ingrained vices! In the presence of Christ’s anointing not one single disease of the soul, however deep-seated, can hold its ground.  The Son of God is born! Let them exult, those wont to desire great things, because a great benefactor has come.” Ibid., 46.

The image to the right is Stammheim Missal at the Getty Museum, Ms. 64, fol. 92.

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