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Posts Tagged ‘Mother of God’

I’ve been meaning to see this movie for quite some time, and was finally able to do so recently by the courtesy of a relative.

Very powerful and moving film, based on the true story of a family miraculously reunited after being separated by the 2004 tsunami in Thailand.  The film overall shows how certain primal themes of the human soul can come to light in the midst of great catastrophe.

Bennet-Family-The-Impossible

We meet the Bennet family — consisting of dad Henry (Ewan McGregor), mom Maria (Naomi Watts), and sons Lucas, (Tom Holland), Thomas (Samuel Joslin), and Simon (Oakley Pendergrast) — as they vacation in Thailand for Christmas; they are relaxing and playing by the pool at their resort, and then the tsunami hits…virtually washing everything away.

Maria_Lucas

The first sign of hope we see after this is when Maria and Lucas find each other in the wreckage.  At first, the swift-flowing currents make it hard for them to reach one another.

But they overcome, and they embrace.

Maria offers Lucas the comforting encouragement proper to a mother, and then when she becomes badly injured and, ultimately, ill, he gives her the tender care of a dutiful and loving son.

Some people may disagree with me on this — they’ll say: “Hey, a parent is a parent, and a child is a child.”  But deep down, I think we can sense the reality is something different.  A father’s relationship with his daughter is special in a way that a father-son relationship is not, and vice versa.  A mother’s relationship with son or daughter is special and unique in a way that either child’s relationship with their father is not, and vice versa.  Likewise, a mother’s relationships with son and daughter differ as much as they the father’s.

Such is the incredible richness of the human family.

Lucas_MariaIn Maria and Lucas we see an example of the particular filial bond between mother and son, embracing as it does both the fierce nurturing of the mother and the tender, doting care of the son.  Let’s face it: This moves us deeply, right?

But I think it does more than merely tug at our heartstrings.  Indeed, it strikes a chord deep in our souls that resonates into our thoughts and emotions.  In my opinion, it speaks of a primordial reality older than the ages, yet always pregnant with the hope of new life.

What is arguably the greatest illustration of this was sculpted by Michelangelo in the 16th century:

PietaHere we see the Virgin Mary cradling the body of her Son after the Crucifixion.  Talk about a mother’s care for her child.

But yes, this relationship also went the other way — in fact, in this case the Son’s care for His Mother came first.  This finds expression in the wonderful doctrine of Mary’s Immaculate Conception.  Knowing from all eternity what kind of mother He wanted, the Word of God granted Mary of Nazareth an unprecedented and singular grace: Freedom from all sin, both original and personal, right from the very moment of her conception.

It was as if He saw her walking toward an unseen hole in the ground and stopped her before she got to it, so that she could have a special partnership with Him in saving the rest of us who had already fallen in.

Maria_Lucas_Daniel(I am reminded of Maria and Lucas helping other people, like the little boy named Daniel, in the wake of the tsunami)

To me, any such mother-son relationship as that portrayed in “The Impossible” is a type of that great archetypal Mother-Son relationship.

This was the aspect of the movie that struck me as most profound.  I have a couple of more minor thoughts I’d like to share as well, but I will include these in a follow-up post (hopefully by the end of the week).

Image of Michelangelo’s “The Pietá” from Wikipedia; others obtained through a Google image search

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First, a very Happy New Year to everyone.  I hope your time has been filled with joy and feasting.

It is fitting, I think, that the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, and the first day of the new year are celebrated at the same time.  In her virgin motherhood, Mary gave the world a brand new beginning in the Word, Who “make(s) all things new” (Rev. 21:5).

Virgin Mary

The Vatican II document “Lumen Gentium” refers to Mary as the “Daughter of Sion,” and so she is.  The Hope of Israel was given to her first, and from her hands it came to Israel and the world.

I mention this as a kind of segue into a connection I want to make between Mary’s Virginity and the desert nation of Israel.  In a book called “The Hermitage Within,” an anonymous monk spoke of the desert this way:

The sea of sand, like the frozen mountain peaks, is nature in its virgin state as it issued from the Creator’s hands; on it still seems to repose the Spirit of God which hovered over the waters at the beginning of the world (“The Hermitage Within,” I.1 — bold mine)

Depending on where you live, you might think of the hardships and barrenness of winter when you read this.  And this feature of the month of January can be all the more saddening after the Christmas trees have come down, and all the holiday festivities ended.  I’m not going to go too deep into this here — I hope to do another post on this topic in the coming weeks; but I will say that if we stay close to Mother Mary, we can see this as a sort of “virgin desert” freshly prepared for new life.

Even in my life of faith, the end of the holiday season and the beginning of January have made me feel sad.  But I am finally beginning to realize something that, God-willing, will change my life for the better: Any time a new year begins, signifying that the world and humanity have made it another year, this is a fresh sign of the faithful love of the God by Whose providence all things are sustained.

Mother Mary, let us share your joy on this your day.  And if I have done anything at all to offend or dishonor you, I am so very sorry.

Image from Wikipedia

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St. Mary MajorToday is the optional memorial of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome, which I think gives me a good opportunity to talk about the Virgin Mary as the Mother of God.

Many people object to this title.  After all, if God is God, then He doesn’t need a “begetter,” right?  And given the eternity of God, wouldn’t Mary have to have been begetting Him from all eternity?

Obviously, this scenario is preposterous.  And yet in 431 it was decreed at the Council of Ephesus that Mary was indeed the “Theotokos” (Greek for “God-bearer”), much to the delight of the faithful (it is said that the city was lit with the fires of celebration after the pronouncement was made).

Let’s put this whole issue in context…

The Council of Ephesus came in response to the claims of Nestorius, Archbishop of Constantinople, who held, contrary to traditional orthodoxy, that the man Christ Jesus was not God in the flesh; rather, the Eternal Son of God became specially united with the man Jesus of Nazareth, so that wherever the latter went he made the Son uniquely present to everyone he met.

Against Nestorius, the Council affirmed that Jesus of Nazareth was none other than the Son of God made flesh; that two natures, divine and human, dwelt perfectly in Him.  Although His personhood is in His divine identity as the Son, Jesus Christ was — and is eternally — one Person, fully God and fully human (because of the human nature He united with His divinity).

It is for this reason that the Virgin Mary was officially acknowledged as the Mother of God.

There are some who reject this, pointing out that Mary was the mother of Jesus’ human nature only, not His divine nature.

Theotokos

But mothers are not the mothers of natures, are they?  They are the mothers of persons.  Think of your own mother — she has a special relationship with you and with each of your siblings (if you have any) as unique human beings, not just with your “human natures.”

Just so, Mary was the mother of the Person of Jesus Christ.  At the risk of being redundant, I will say again that Jesus was and is, in His divinity and humanity, one Person.

Therefore, Mary is truly the Mother of God.

In and through Christ, she is also the mother of the Church…but that is a topic for another post.

Thanks for reading, and feel free to comment if you have anything to say (provided there is civility, of course).

Images from Wikipedia

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