Tuesday, December 15, 2009

From Mary's virginal womb came forth all holy splendors

“The one who was born of the Father before all centuries in time, clothed in humanity, leaving this Most Holy Virgin after his birth much more pure and holy; that if before he [Christ] was born of her she was most pure, as immensely in her were growing the worthiness and plenitude of graces, as the rivers that enter the sea most full of her, that would be so close and joined to God this grace of the Incarnation of the Divine Word and birth from her, made flesh, taken from her most pure flesh, so much more it [the Incarnation and birth of Christ] increased an immense sanctity and greatness when it was thus achieved, in effect, this infinite good, for which by God was elected this Lady and perpetual Virgin.

He was born of her taking the dowry of subtlety; the one that gives to the glorious bodies in heaven, he took it for himself here, as it was just and due to the new birth [Christ is the new Adam], according to the humanity of the Incarnate Word, Only Son of God, and appeared the kindness and humanity of God Our Savior, not by the works of justice that we did but according to his infinite mercy he made us saved; the incomprehensible Word of God appeared covered with the veil of the flesh of a beautiful child, more [beautiful] than all the sons of men wrapped [in clothes] by his Mother Most Holy, the One who extended the Heavens that He created and the earth, and all that sustains it; reclining Him in a manger and holding Him in her virginal arms, sustaining Him with her virginal breasts provided by Heaven with the milk to nourish the Creator of all; from her virginal womb also came forth all holy brilliance [splendors, glories], for this holy birth was all filled with resplendent glory, as birth of God Humanized [made Man]; thus said St John: The Word became flesh and we beheld his glory as of the only Son from the Father.”

-- Cecilia del Nacimiento: Obras Completas translated by ocdsister

Mother Cecilia of the Nativity (Cecilia del Nacimiento) lived in the late XVI thru early XVII century Spain. She’s a disciple of the famous Fr Tomás de Jesús. She had an excellent theological and literary formation. This literal translation preserves Mother Cecilia’s style of long sentences, and “old Spanish” poetry and transpositions. Her works are very deep and, consequently, not easy to translate in an “easy flow” fashion. I have inserted some words in brackets to make this passage a little easier for you to read. I suggest you read just one phrase, no more than two lines, at a time. Just one of her phrases is theologically rich enough to “keep you busy” for a while. Though well known in Carmel (especially throughout Spain), to my knowledge, her works have never been translated into English.


Mark said...

Thank you for posting this. I hadn't heard of Cecilia del Nacimiento.

Mother Cecilia's writing has a very "patristic" feel to it. There's a real echo of Church Fathers like Cyril of Alexandria and Leo the Great...

You say she had an excellent theological formation, so I imagine it's possible she could have been steeped in patristic theology.

I look forward to further translations from her Complete Works.


ocd sister said...

Hi, Mark!
You bring up an interesting point. Mother Cecilia, as well as her blood sister Sister Maria of St Albert (also a discalced carmelite), was very well known for her poetry and unusual academic background in the XVI century. There's indication that Mother Cecilia was familiar with at least some of St Bonavenuture's writings. It is also well known that she read Scripture and studied the Fathers of the Church, particularly St Jerome. This accomplished woman studied rhetoric, philosophy, and even translated some of the psalms, among many other things. You can learn a little more about her and her sister in the book "Education and women in the early modern hispanic world" by Elizabeth Teresa Howe. I'll see about translating more of her writings. Cheers!