ACCORDING to the mind of the Fathers, Mary's perfect virginity, even aside from the title of Motherhood, ought to be sufficient reason for her preservation from the corruption of the tomb. St. Germanus of Constantinople, extolling the Blessed Virgin, says: Thou art she, who, as it is written, appearest in beauty, and thy virginal body is all holy, all chaste, entirely the dwelling place of God, so that it is henceforth completely exempt from dissolution into dust. Though still human, it is changed into the heavenly life of incorruptibility, truly living and glorious, undamaged and sharing in perfect life.
St. John Damascene: It was fitting that she, who had kept her virginity intact in childbirth, should keep her own body free from all corruption even after death.
St. Bonaventure, the Seraphic Doctor, held it entirely certain that, as God had preserved the Most Holy Virgin Mary from the violation of her virginal purity and integrity in conceiving and in childbirth, He would never have permitted her body to have been resolved into dust and ashes.
St. Robert Bellarmine exclaimed: And who, I ask, could believe that the ark of holiness, the dwelling place of the Word of God, the temple of the Holy Ghost, could be reduced to ruin? My soul is filled with horror at the thought that this virginal flesh which had begotten God, had brought Him into the world, had nourished and carried Him, could have been turned into ashes or given over to be the food for worms.
IV. Practical Application:
Imitation of Mary.
We cannot imitate Mary in her privileges, but we can imitate her in the permanent dedication of herself to God, and constant correspondence with actual grace. Even God does not expect us to attain the sublime sanctity of Mary, but He holds us accountable for the graces that He deigns to give us. We, too, can offer God a free and reasonable service. We, too, have been called by God to a life of union with Him here on earth, and to everlasting glory in Heaven.
Mary's perpetual virginity is the fruit of both the free gift of God, and the personal merit of Mary. That Mary was conceived without sin is wholly a gift of God. But that Mary remained without stain of sin throughout her life is the fruit of Mary's love, the result of obedience to the will of God, the consequence of a free and deliberate oblation of self to God, in cooperation with God's grace.
Our sanctity depends on the same conditions. God gives us a new life at baptism. He gives us all the graces we need to do good and avoid evil. Our progress in holiness is measured by our fidelity to grace, by forgetting our own selves and seeking only God and God's pleasure.
The duty that I have to do, is the will of God for me. Therefore I shall accomplish it faithfully for the love of God.
V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God. R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
O God, Who by the fruitful virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary has given to mankind the rewards of eternal salvation, grant, we beg Thee, that we may feel her intercession for us, by whom we received the Author of Life, our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son. Who with Thee and the Holy Ghost lives and reigns forever. Amen.