Excerpts from THE PROMISED WOMAN
Mother M. Angelica
Eve—The First Woman

In the beginning, when God created Adam, it was soon apparent there was something lacking. The magnificent beauty of the new creation lacked a dimension. Adam must have looked around and tried to find out exactly what was missing. The whole world was literally his and yet he was not completely satisfied. He needed someone to share the fruits of his work as he tilled the soil and made things grow. (Gen. 2:5)

God saw this and said, "It is not good for man to be alone, I will make him a helpmate." So He fashioned all the wild beasts and the birds and brought them to Adam to name.

Adam was filled with one of God's beautiful perfections—Goodness. He wanted to share his joy and happiness with someone—someone like himself. So God cast Adam into a deep sleep and from his rib formed Eve. God blessed them saying, "Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and conquer it." (Gen. 1:28) Adam and Eve were created in the image of God. They were above all creation because they were intelligent human beings. After the Fall they saw themselves as they really were—nothing—nothing but finite, weak, human beings, slow of comprehension, victims of their own passions and very much aware of themselves. The truth of what they were, without God's gifts must have been a shattering experience.

Seeing their nothingness, they were ashamed, and covering themselves, they hid because they suddenly realized the great difference between themselves and God.

Fear was born. It replaced the childlike simplicity they possessed when they were grateful children of a loving Father.

They had been told that if they ate the fruit they would die. They expected a physical death then and there, but pride is first a spiritual death and it brought with it all the consequences of that kind of death—evil tendencies, unruly passions, bitterness, regrets and darkness.

God told them the consequences of their decision. First, He addressed the serpent—master of pride—and told him that from henceforth he would crawl on his belly and eat dust.

Every human being would look down upon this once angel of light and regard him as dust—an enemy to be trampled on and avoided by everyone except those who, like himself, decided that dust was what they wanted to be.

His pride caused his fall from heaven; his pride incited Eve to imitation—but now, all men would see him as he is—a spirit of darkness. The war that ended in heaven—began on earth.

And then the Mercy of God came through as Beautiful as it is Infinite. He told the father of lies that He would set another Woman against him and her seed would crush his head.

A new Adam and a new Eve would come and these two would not disappoint Him. They would be mortal enemies of the serpent and crush his head—his pride—with their holiness and humility.

This Messianic prophecy declared war between the two kingdoms. Some of Eve's descendants would choose one side and some the other, but there would be two people who would crush the tempter's pride. The tempter rejoiced that he had seemingly spoiled God's plan through a weak woman. God would use a weak Woman to crush his head. Through Eve and her seed, pride came into the world and with it every other evil. Through another Woman and her seed, God would redeem the world. He would bless it with greater opportunities—so great that those who corresponded would be called "sons of God."

Mary—The Promised Woman

As the centuries passed and mankind lived in more darkness and became more depraved, God sent His prophets to encourage and enlighten His creatures. Though His creatures chose to rule themselves, He would not abandon them.

Through Noah, the Father showed His Mercy by preserving the human race because of the holiness of one man.

Through Abraham, He gave an example of Faith and Hope,—Faith in an invisible God and Hope in His promises. He tested that Faith when He asked Abraham to sacrifice His only eon, to prefigure the sacrifice He Himself would make by giving His Son to redeem the world.

Through Jacob, God brought forth the twelve tribes of Israel. From one of these would come His Son and the Woman.

Through Joseph, God prefigured His Son, Jesus, who would be sold for a few pieces of silver and the Father would use man's jealousy to redeem His people.

The burning bush which Moses saw prefigures the God-man, while the fire symbolizes the union of Divinity and humanity. Also there is the future role of the Woman who was on fire with love for God and became a Mother while remaining a Virgin.

The Good News

Did the angel of darkness, the serpent, sense that the time the Prophets foretold had come? Surely with his great intelligence and memory he never lost sight of and never ceased hearing the curses heaped upon him in the Garden.

He must have stalked the earth looking for a Virgin who would conceive and bear a son. In his pride he looked for someone famous and popular with thunder from heaven proclaiming her birth. The great deceiver was about to be deceived.

In Elizabeth's sixth month the Angel Gabriel appeared to a young virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph. Her name was Mary—a very common name among the Jewish people.

It was the dream of every Jewish woman to be the mother of the Messiah. Why was Mary troubled when the Angel called her highly favored? "Listen," he said, "you are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called, 'Son of the Most High.'" Mary replied, "But how can this be since I am a virgin?" She was a virgin and intended to remain so.

"The Holy Spirit will come upon you," the Angel answered, "and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so, the Child will be holy and will be called Son of God.

As all of Heaven waited to see what choice this Woman would make, she folded her hands and said, "I am the Handmaid of the Lord; let what you have said be done to me."

And then the same Power that said to nothingness, "Be made," enveloped the Woman like a shadow—elevated her to a state of union with God unheard of before and unthought of since.

As our union with God must be with all Three Persons, so Mary's union progressed from Daughter of the Father to Spouse of the Holy Spirit, to Mother of the Son. The new Eve renewed what the old Eve had lost—union with the Trinity. We too are sons and daughters of the Father. We too can be spouses of the Spirit. We too can be mothers of the Son for her Son was one day to say that he who did the Will of His Father was His brother, mother and sister.

Concern

It would be natural after all this for the Woman to have remained in her home alone and undisturbed, but Scripture says that Mary made haste and went to visit her cousin Elizabeth. Her concern for her aged cousin carrying a child, drove her to leave her home and her espoused husband to help Elizabeth in her time of need. It must have been frightening and awesome, as she traveled to Judea to meditate on the Omnipotence she carried in a tiny chamber. In her modesty she would have kept her secret, but God had other plans. As soon as Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, she was filled with the Holy Spirit and with a loud voice proclaimed that Mary was the Woman, "Of all women you are the most blessed," she said, "and blessed is the fruit of your womb."

Like all fathers, God could not keep the wonderful secret too long. He had to tell someone and that someone was Elizabeth carrying the child who was to be His Son's forerunner.

The joy of the visit to Elizabeth soon gave way to anguish of spirit. Only one who has been under suspicion would understand the feelings of her pure heart when she arrived home and Joseph began to cast questioning glances.

It is not recorded in Scripture that she uttered one word in her defense. She had learned to trust every detail of her life to God. She carried His Son; He would uphold her honor.

But day after day it became increasingly obvious to Joseph that she was with child. He loved her too much and understood her too well to question her integrity, but he knew that the Child she carried was not his.

They were espoused, but Scripture says he did not know her. Had he also taken a vow of virginity? They were espoused at least six months and yet he was puzzled.

He saw Mary, the joy of his heart, day after day, and his heart ached. He could not sleep or work and the more attention she gave him at meals or in the shop, the more anguish filled his heart.

And what of Mary? Her loving heart must have been broken to see one so loving in such distress. Should she tell him what really happened? Would he believe such a mystery? Was it her place to explain? How many questions filled her mind!

No-one knew how the Messiah would come and although His coming was prophesied and foretold centuries ago, the reality was so different. No, she would pray and wait for God's time. What profound faith it took! What deep hope she needed to carry on her duties in silence and love.

To see Joseph suffer so much must have wrenched her heart many times. It is always difficult to see those we love suffer and we would go to any length to help alleviate their pain. And yet, Mary—the variant woman—would not explain, even though her silence meant more anguish for Joseph.

The one thing they had in common was their sorrow. Each wanted to speak to the other—one to ask "Why"—the other to answer "How" but neither one spoke a word of what weighed heavy on his heart.

She was too lovely, kind and holy to be doubted, but one thing Joseph knew—he was not the father. He was a just man who loved God above all things and it never crossed his mind that his espoused wife might be the Promised Woman. He knew she was special and this is what made it so difficult to do what he knew he must.

He could not bring himself to expose her to public ridicule but neither could he pretend the child was his, and so he decided to divorce her privately.

Mary must have sensed his dilemma and prayed to the Father for a solution that would set Joseph's heart at rest.

The time of suffering and purification was over and an Angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in his sleep and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you must name Him Jesus, because He is the One who is to save His people from their sins." What overwhelming joy and consternation must have filled his heart. He must have wept with joy and knelt in prayer before the living Ark of the Covenant—the Holy Temple in which dwelt, in a physical manner, the Son of God.

And now three people knew, but the Deceiver knew it not.

Mother And Widow

How different is the Wisdom of God compared to men! If we were in His place, we would have gone to the Temple and enlightened the Doctors of the Law, healed all the sick, made social reforms and written volumes for future generations.

Instead, the Lord of Heaven spent thirty years alone with His Mother doing common work and in union with the Father in prayer. It was necessary to spend so much time with His Mother because of her mission. Later, He would do the same with Peter, James and John, who also had a special mission.

Detachment

Mary's life was a perfect imitation of Jesus. She was humble, hidden, sorrowful and afflicted, but she also knew joys that never entered the heart of man. She is all things to all men that she might understand their failings, though she failed not. She is compassionate with their falls, though she fell not. She followed in the Master's footsteps in order to experience all the sufferings that poor human nature is subject to.

She marveled at His Wisdom as He gave the Beatitudes
—and she followed them.

She admired His zeal as He drove the moneychangers from the Temple
—and prayed for them.

She heard Him speak of His Father and the Spirit to come
—and she praised God.

She saw Him cure the deaf, the blind, the lame and lepers
—and she thanked Him.

She saw Him humiliated by the proud Pharisees and Doctors of the Law
—and she wept.

She heard Him reveal the secret of the Trinity within us
—and she bowed in adoration.

She heard Him one day finally tell His people, "Before Abraham ever was, I Am,"
—and she cried as they picked up stones to throw at Him.

She saw Him raise the dead
—and glorified God.

She saw Him cry over Jerusalem because it did not know the time of its visitation
—and she cried with Him.

She listened as He taught His disciples the mysteries of the Kingdom
—and watched many of them walk away when He revealed the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

She shuddered as He revealed His suffering and death to His Apostles
—and realized they did not understand.

She rejoiced when He told His disciples He would rise on the third day
—only to see that they did not comprehend.

And then
She knew it was over all too soon
—and she prayed.

She, who was filled with grace, could stand beneath the Cross, for she had accepted its burdens with the same love as her Son. She would offer Him as He offered Himself and she would offer herself as He offered her to the world.


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