A divine mystery

Daily Reading for December 24 • The Eve of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ

O Virgo Virginum

O Virgin of Virgins, how shall this be?

For neither before thee was there any like thee,

nor shall there be after. —

Daughters of Jerusalem, why marvel ye at me?

The thing that ye behold is a divine mystery.

From The Greater Antiphons At Evensong During Eight Days Before Christmas from the Salisbury Antiphonary, edited by John Mason Neale and Thomas Helmore, in Hymnal Noted: Parts I and II (London: Novello, 1856).

Confessing the Word to be made one with the flesh according to substance, we adore one Son and Lord Jesus Christ: we do not divide the God from the man, nor separate him into parts, as though the two natures were mutually united in him only through a sharing of dignity and authority (for that is a novelty and nothing else), neither do we give separately to the Word of God the name Christ and the same name separately to a different one born of a woman; but we know only one Christ, the Word from God the Father with his own Flesh. . . .

We do not say that the Word of God dwelt in him as in a common man born of the holy Virgin, lest Christ be thought of as a God-bearing man; for although the Word tabernacled among us, it is also said that in Christ “dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily”; but we understand that he became flesh, not just as he is said to dwell in the saints, but we define that that tabernacling in him was according to equality. Being made one kata physin [according to nature] and not converted into flesh, he made his indwelling in such a way, as we may say that the soul of man does in his own body.

From First Letter to Nestorius by Cyril of Alexandria, quoted in Readings in the History of Christian Theology, Volume 1: From Its Beginnings to the Eve of the Reformation, by William C. Placher (Westminster / John Knox, 1988).

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