“She was alone conversing with the Alone”

Born of the Virgin Mother of God, the Creator and Lord of all shared our human nature, for he had a real body and soul even though he had no part in our misdeeds. He committed no sin, says Scripture, and no falsehood ever came from his mouth. O holy womb in which God was received, in which the record of our sins was effaced, in which God became man while remaining God! He was carried in the womb, condescending to be born in the same way as we are. Yet when he was received into the arms of his mother he did not leave the bosom of his Father. God is not divided as he carries out his will, but saves the world without suffering any division in himself. When Gabriel came into the presence of the Virgin Mother of God he left heaven behind, but when the Word of God who fills all creation took flesh within her, he was not separated from the adoring hosts of heaven.

Is there any need to enumerate all the prophecies foretelling Christ’s birth of the Mother of God? What tongue could worthily hymn her through whom we have received such magnificent blessings? With what flowers of praise could we weave a fitting crown for her from whom sprang the flower of Jesse, who has crowned our race with glory and honor. What gifts could we bring that would be worthy of her of whom the whole world is unworthy? If Paul could say of the other saints that the world was not worthy of them, what can we say of the Mother of God, who outshines all the martyrs even as the sun outshines the stars?

O Virgin, well may the angels rejoice in you! Because of you they who long ages ago had banished our race are now sent to our service, and to his joy Gabriel is entrusted with the news of a divine child’s conception. Rejoice, most favored one, let your face glow with gladness. You are to give birth to the joy of all the world, who will put an end to the age-old curse, destroying the power of death and giving to all the hope of resurrection.

Emmanuel came into the world he had made long before. God from all eternity, he came as a newborn infant. He who had prepared eternal dwellings lay in a manger, for there was no room for him at the inn. He who was made known by a star came to birth in a cave. He who was offered as a ransom for sin received gifts from the wise men. He who as God enfolds the whole world in his embrace was taken into the arms of Simeon. The shepherds gazed upon this baby; the angelic host, knowing he was God, sang of his glory in heaven and of peace to his people on earth. And all these things together with other marvels concerning him, the holy mother of the Lord of all creation, the mother in very truth of God, pondered in her heart, and her heart was filled with great gladness. She was radiant with joy and amazed when she thought of the majesty of her Son who was also God. As her gaze rested upon that divine child I think she must have been overwhelmed by awe and longing. She was alone conversing with the Alone.

Basil of Seleucia

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3 Responses to “She was alone conversing with the Alone”

  1. Steven says:

    Echo of Plotinus? Cf. Enneads VI, 9, 11, the last line.

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  2. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    A fascinating echo of Plotinus, especially in the context, I would say! Charles Williams interestingly writes with respect to the Holy Trinity, ‘It is not good for God to be Alone’ (I quote from memory, and presume an etymological wordplay: God is not (merely) ‘all one’ but Triune). Basil here seems to engage in a different (if complementary) earnest bold playfulness: the Holy Trinity, being One and Undivided, can be named by the Plotinian ‘Alone’ more justly than Plotinus uses the term himself, and the Incarnate Son, being Undivided from Father and Spirit in His Theandry can with equal justice be so named!

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    • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

      In his book Orthodoxy Chesterton connects the Islamic vision of the divine unicity with its violent history, concluding: “It is not good for God to be Alone.”

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