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Jacques Biroat, died in 1666

Jacques Biroat

died in 1666

Excerpts from Sermons sur les Mystères de la Vierge, Paris 1669.

Jacques Biroat was prior of the monastery of Cluny at Beussan, counsellor and preacher at the French court.

Text quoted in French by Réné Laurentin (in Maria, Ecclesia, Sacerdotium, Nouvelles Éditions Latines, Paris 1952, pp. 306-307, 319, 340) and translated into English by John Wijngaards.

At the Presentation, Mary acted as a sacrificial priest

“ It is especially today (on the day of Presentation) that Jesus extends to his mother a share of his own priesthood . . . ”

“ The first task of priests in the Old Testament was to offer sacrifices to God, to consecrate sacrificial victims to God at the altar and prepare them for immolation. It is to perform this first task of the priesthood that Mary enters into the Temple carrying her son in her arms . . . . ”

“We must consider whether Mary had the power to offer Jesus . . . . We know that a priest needs power and legitimate authority to offer victims to God to perform the sacrifice as required. For ‘every high priest is taken for people to offer gifts and sacrifices for their sins’ (Heb 5,1). He is deputed for this purpose and receives the character for it. The Virgin comes to offer Jesus. She has received two powers: one is natural and based on her motherhood; the other is supernatural since she was deputed spiritually by Jesus to offer him thus in the Temple, power which belonged spiritually to the dignity of her priesthood.
How is that? Because Jesus has voluntarily given himself to his mother and deputed her spiritually to offer him as a sacrificial victim. He behaves therefore towards his mother as he behaves towards the priest of the Law of grace. He gives them power over his body and blood on the strength of which they can act and offer him as a sacrifice. Well, why shall we not say that Jesus had done something similar regarding his mother and that, on top of the natural power over his body which she had as mother, he gave her a supernatural and extraordinary jurisdiction over his person, so that she could use it for this purpose and present him in the Temple? It is on this day that she uses this double power for the first time.”

“Mary, of course, had in truth offered Jesus at the moment of his Incarnation and we believe that, from the instant she had given birth to him, she must have taken him into her hands and presented him to the Father; but since this ceremony was a specific occasion, she made of it an opportunity to exercise her function as woman priest and woman sacrificer. Today she has come to offer him solemnly in this Temple. Today she offers him publicly at the altar. Today, as St Epiphanius says, she became both priest and altar.”

“The ceremonies which priests performed . . . , brought about on animals a kind of sanctification and consecration. They were separated from being profane objects and dedicated to God’s use, destined to sacrifice. We cannot say that Mary’s oblation brought about the same effect for Jesus. He is holy in himself and, through the anointing of his divinity, is by nature consecrated to God. But we may say that Mary did two things, one for the present, another for the future. In the present, she puts him, so to say, into the condition of being a sacrificial victim . . . . For the future, this offering will be an incentive to motivate him and prepare him for his sacrifice.”

‘Sermon sur la Purification’, Mystères etc., pp. 177-184.

Mary acted as a priest when she sanctified John the Baptist

“Mary carried the saviour to John the Baptist . . . When a priest carries the blessed sacrament to a sick person, he gives him communion. One could say that he contributes to his justification because he dispenses this sacrament to him which produces grace in the sick person . . . Today Mary fulfils the task of a priest: she carries the Saviour to St.John. She dispenses sanctification on him . . . Mary who carries Jesus is not only the ‘dispensing’ cause of Jesus, but also the instrumental cause of his grace.”

“When the sacred author says ‘as soon as he heard her voice’ (Lk1,44), he wanted to say by this term that the voice of the Virgin cooperated to this sanctification in an active manner and that she served as an instrument for the principal cause to work this miracle. And you will not find this a strange proposition if you care to observe that in the sacraments God makes use of the voice of the persons who are their ministers: he lifts up their words for the production of the grace which they bring about . . . Why should we not think that the words of the Virgin too were miraculously elevated to cooperate in the production of grace and sanctity in the heart of St.John?”

“The reason for this elevation lies firstly in the general kindness which the Saviour had for his mother, by which he associated her in all ministries that respected the redemption of the world.”

‘Sermon sur la Visitation’, Mystères etc., pp. 162-163.

Mary was immaculately conceived because she had to be a priest

“Mary was preserved from original sin . . . to cooperate directly and worthily with the work of redemption, she needed to be set free [from sin] in advance. It is the beautiful reasoning of St. Paul’s which he deduces from the qualities of the Highpriest of Redemption . . . ‘It was proper that such a person was our highpriest: holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners.’ Well, since he [Christ] needed to be highpriest and expiate our sins, he needed to be innocent himself and entirely separated from sinners. Which is to say that if he himself had been stained with sin, he could not have efficiently and worthily performed the functions of his priesthood. If we apply this to his mother and understand that she takes part in the priesthood of her Son and that she is, in the words of St. Epiphanius, the origin of our reconciliation to God, it is clear that she had to be entirely innocent and separated from sinners.”

‘Sermon sur l‘Immaculée Conception, Mystères etc., p. 13.

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