Preparing the Heart: Swollen with the Breath of God


Pierced by the light of God
Mary Virgin,
drenched in the speech of God,
your body bloomed,

swelling with the breath of God.

But in wonder within you
you hid an untainted
child of God’s mind
and God’s Son blossomed in your body.

~Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) from “Antiphon for the Virgin”
translation by Barbara Newman


It must have been extraordinary for a young woman to be told by an angel she was to bear the Son of God.  She is troubled despite his reassurance, completely perplexed about what it all meant.  She asks because she needs to know: how will this happen?

We too are puzzled when God intervenes in our lives in ways that are completely unexpected and sometimes downright inconvenient. We are touched in ways we have never been touched before, as His power “overshadows” us so deeply that we can never possibly be the same. A transformation takes place, we are swollen with the breath of God and new life begins to grow in us.

We are all virgins before God touches our lives, filling us with the light and the Words of His spirit, despite our being sullied by the mire of the world.   What makes Mary unique is her complete and total surrender to His will for her life:  “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.”

Let it be for us as well.  May our hearts be made ready to bloom.





3 thoughts on “Preparing the Heart: Swollen with the Breath of God

  1. Difficult for me to find the appropriate words to describe what I have read here today, Emily. Each quote you have chosen, together with your comment, are sublime in their truth and simplicity.
    And ‘simplicity,’ genuine humility, and pure innate trusting faith are the ‘secrets,’ the foundation, of Mary’s holiness. These enable her to be the first to say ‘YES’ to Him, despite the eventual cost to her, as she (and we) will learn as the infant she holds close to her breast grows and we follow His story to its ignominious but necessary end as His earthly life and ministry cease and He becomes, for all time, Our Savior, the Christ of the Universe.

    Thank you for these insights as we begin another Advent in our Church’s calendar and in our spiritual lives. This coming year, and those that continue for some time, will
    necessitate perhaps as never before in our nation’s history that we grow closer and more faithful to the significance and meaning of that Nativity event over two millennia ago as we seek His guidance, protection, and the belief in the promise that He made to us: that : “…behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
    (Mt. 28: 20b NAB)

    Consider an excerpt from a new book I just added to my library:

    “Blessed Mary! Blessed are you! Bearer of hope for the world! Co-creator –
    graced by divine mystery to mother-love, swelling your belly with redemption!….”
    (From: Soul Sisters; Women in Scripture Speak to Women Today, by Edwina Gateley,
    Maryknoll NY, Orbis Books, 2002, p.27)


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