Virginity and Humility

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A friend has written with a seasonal quotation from Bernard of 
Clairvaux's sermons on Advent:

"Who is this Virgin so reverently saluted by the angel? and so lowly
as to be espoused to a carpenter ? Beautiful commingling of
virginity with humility! That soul is in no small degree pleasing to
God, in whom humility commends virginity, and virginity adorns
humility. But how much more worthy of veneration is she, in whom
fecundity exalts humility, and child-bearing consecrates virginity.
"Virginity is a commendable virtue, but humility an indispensable
one. The first is of counsel, the latter of precept. Of the one it
is said, "He that can take, let him take it." Of the other, "Unless
you become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom
of heaven." To the one reward is offered: the other is exacted under
a threat. Again, we can be saved without virginity, not without
humility. A soul that has to deplore the loss of virginity may
still be acceptable to God by humility: without humility, I will
venture to say that even the virginity of Mary would not have
been pleasing to Him, the Divine Majesty. Upon whom shall my
spirit rest, if not on him that is humble and peaceable He says
not on the virgin, but on the humble. If, therefore, Mary had not
been humble the Spirit would not have rested on her. If the Holy
Spirit had not rested on her, she would never have become
fruitful; for how without Him could she have conceived of Him?
Therefore, as she herself testifies, in order that she might
conceive of the Holy Ghost, God the Father "regarded the humility
of his handmaid," rather than her virginity. And if by her
virginity she was acceptable to Him, nevertheless, it was by her
humility that she conceived Him. Hence it is evident that it was
her humility that rendered even her virginity pleasing to God."
Posted December 21, 2007 @ 11:15 AM by Phil Ryken

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