There is no rose of such virtue
As is the rose that bare Gesù.
For in this rose contained was
Heaven and earth in little space;
Res miranda. [a wonderful thing]
The angels sungen the shepherds to:
Gloria in excelsis Deo:
Gaudeamus. [Let us rejoice.]
Leave we all this worldly mirth,
And follow we this joyful birth;
Transeamus. [Let us go across.]
The iconography of the Nativity story is rich with meaning, and the lyrics of this medieval carol touch upon some of that meaning in the opening verse: “There is no rose of such virtue / As is the rose that bare Gesù.”
Virtue is the quality that identifies the mother of Jesus; virtue carries and nurtures the seed, and to it gives birth. The incarnate God, Christ Within, is brought into being through spiritual gestation in virtue.
Our tradition doesn’t rely on a single story to communicate the reality of our condition and the transformation that is our fulfillment, our new birth. The richness of its figuration offers many opportunities to imaginatively grasp and thereby learn what we’re called to.
“The Mediate Role of Virtue” is an essay on a different story in Scripture (found in Luke 16) that harbors the same theme of the necessity of virtue for the coming of the Lord. This essay, first posted in December 2016, can be found here.