The phrase “mother of fairest love” is revealed to us in Chapter 24 of the Book of Sirach in the Latin Vulgate text and states,
“I am the mother of fairest love, of fear, of knowledge, and of holy hope; being eternal, I am therefore given to all my children, to those who are named by him. I will again make instruction shine forth like the dawn, and I will make it shine afar; I will again pour out teaching like prophecy, and leave it all to future generations. Observe that I have not labored for myself alone, but for all who seek instruction.”
The Blessed Virgin Mary as the “mother of fairest love” found its genesis in the liturgies dedicated to the Mother of God in the 10th century. In the Old Rite (1962 Missal), there is a specific Mass dedicated to Blessed Mary, Queen of Saints and Mother of Fairest Love. It was not a universal feast for the whole church, but was only celebrated “for certain places.” The day of the feast was May 8.
In his Letter to Families, Gratissimam Sane, Blessed John Paul II uses the phrase, “mother of fairest love” in paragraph 20 when speaking about the love between the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph and love of Jesus Christ. Continuing from yesterday’s blog post, The 20th Anniversary of the Year of the Family, I provide with more great wisdom and insight from the soon-to-be Polish Saint –
“The history of “fairest love” begins at the Annunciation, in those wondrous words which the angel spoke to Mary, called to become the Mother of the Son of God. With Mary’s “yes”, the One who is “God from God and Light from Light” becomes a son of man. Mary is his Mother, while continuing to be the Virgin who “knows not man” (cf. Lk 1:34). As Mother and Virgin, Mary becomes the Mother of Fairest Love. This truth is already revealed in the words of the Archangel Gabriel, but its full significance will gradually become clearer and more evident as Mary follows her Son in the pilgrimage of faith.”
“…This mutual spousal love, to be completely “fairest love”, requires that he should take Mary and her Son into his own house in Nazareth. Joseph obeys the divine message and does all that he had been commanded (cf. Mt 1:24). And so, thanks also to Joseph, the mystery of the Incarnation and, together with it, the mystery of the Holy Family, come to be profoundly inscribed in the spousal love of husband and wife and, in an indirect way, in the genealogy of every human family. What Saint Paul will call the “great mystery” found its most lofty expression in the Holy Family. Thus the family truly takes its place at the very heart of the New Covenant.”
“”Fairest love” always begins with the self-revelation of the person. At creation Eve reveals herself to Adam, just as Adam reveals himself to Eve. In the course of history newly-married couples tell each other: “We shall walk the path of life together”. The family thus begins as a union of the two and, through the Sacrament, as a new community in Christ. For love to be truly “fairest”, it must be a gift of God, grafted by the Holy Spirit on to human hearts and continually nourished in them (cf. Rom 5:5). Fully conscious of this, the Church in the Sacrament of Marriage asks the Holy Spirit to visit human hearts. If love is truly to be “fairest love”, a gift of one person to another, it must come from the One who is himself a gift and the source of every gift.”
“When we speak about “fairest love”, we are also speaking about beauty: the beauty of love and the beauty of the human being who, by the power of the Holy Spirit, is capable of such love. We are speaking of the beauty of man and woman: their beauty as brother or sister, as a couple about to be married, as husband and wife. The Gospel sheds light not only on the mystery of “fairest love”, but also on the equally profound mystery of beauty, which, like love, is from God.”
“Mary was the first to enter this realm [great mystery], and she introduced her husband Joseph into it. Thus they became the first models of that “fairest love” which the Church continually implores for young people, husbands and wives and families. Young people, spouses and families themselves should never cease to pray for this. How can we not think about the crowds of pilgrims, old and young, who visit Marian shrines and gaze upon the face of the Mother of God, on the faces of the Holy Family, where they find reflected the full beauty of the love which God has given to mankind?”
“…All that a husband and a wife promise to each other—to be “true in good times and in bad, and to love and honour each other all the days of their life”—is possible only when “fairest love” is present. Man today cannot learn this from what modern mass culture has to say. “Fairest love” is learned above all in prayer. Prayer, in fact, always brings with it, to use an expression of Saint Paul, a type of interior hiddenness with Christ in God; “your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col 3:3)…The future of each family unit depends upon this “fairest love”: the mutual love of husband and wife, of parents and children, a love embracing all generations. Love is the true source of the unity and strength of the family.”
Let us pray: O God, through the intercession of the Holy Family – Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we ask that the our families today embrace the “great mystery” which will lead us to “fairest love.” May our modern families embrace the cross of Jesus Christ and walk with each other leading each human person in the family directly to the Heavenly Banquet. Amen.