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Posts Tagged ‘Virgin Mary’

I’m not a huge country music fan; but I have heard this song on the radio a few times, and I’ve grown fond of it.  I think the words describe the Blesséd Virgin Mary perfectly.  No one “loves us like Jesus does” more than Mary.

(BTW: I am fully aware that the Virgin Mary is not the subject of this song.  But I don’t think I’m stretching things, because in fact all women share in the dignity of Mother Mary)

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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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Actually, I just embedded the full video because I wanted this post to have a visual of some kind.

Click here to view the selected portion, and watch up until 21:06 (it’s less than two-and-a-half minutes long).

In this clip, youth evangelist Gabriel Castillo talks about his experience teaching troubled students at a Catholic school in Texas.  His testimony shows the power of the Rosary, when prayed faithfully.

Please note that praying the Rosary is not required of Catholics.  It is an optional devotion.  But one can gain many graces from it, and I, personally, have profited greatly from it.

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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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SkyIt never occurred to me before that the colors of a lightly clouded daytime sky resemble the traditionally depicted garments of the Virgin Mary…

St. MaryI wonder if whenever we look up to enjoy a blue sky, we should be reminded that Mother Mary is always lovingly watching over us.  She has, after all, been made Queen of Heaven and Earth.  Precisely because she of all creatures surrendered herself to God most totally, she has been exalted to the position of the highest creature in God’s universe — not so that she may enjoy this status for her own sake, but so that her children may obtain many graces through her intercession.

Something else occurred to me in reflecting on the sky and the Blessed Virgin.  Where does the sky get it’s light and splendor?

The sun.

Likewise, from whence does Mary get her glory and splendor?

The Son.

Indeed, as the Catechism says, Mary “is the burning bush* of the definitive theophany” (CCC 724).

And because of that, because the Son of God became flesh through her, she is reverenced even by the angels.  And because of her unique closeness to the Most High, her protection may be most perfectly trusted.

* A reference to the burning bush from which God speaks to Moses in Exodus 3:2-4:17

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Mother MaryFor part 2, click here: https://intothedance.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/the-praises-of-mary-the-new-eve-part-2/

We left off with a comparison of Genesis 1 and John 1, demonstrating that the latter shows Jesus Christ to be the New Adam by following the creation-based trajectory of the former.  In John 2, we see a corresponding revelation of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, as the New Eve.

Here is how the Bible recounts Adam’s discovery of Eve on the “Seventh Day,” after all of creation had been completed:

So the LORD God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. The LORD God then built up into a woman the rib that he had taken from the man. When he brought her to the man, the man said: “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; This one shall be called ‘woman,’ for out of ‘her man’ this one has been taken.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body. (Genesis 2: 21-24)

Before we go any further, let me stress that this is not any indication of inferiority or merely derivative dignity on the part of women.  For the ancient Hebrews, bones represented the whole person.  And so what these verses truly imply — nay, profess — is equality and mutuality between the sexes.

Anyway, let’s move on to John 2:

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” (And) Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.” (John 2: 1-5)

Keep in mind the introductory clause: “On the third day…”  This means the third day from where John 1 left off (and keep in mind that there were no chapters or divisions in the original; these were not added until the Middle Ages).

If you remember our discussion of John 1 in part 2, you will remember that it follows a certain pattern from Genesis 1: “The next day…” “The next day…”  This phrase occurs three times, which makes for a total of four days accounted for in the first chapter of John’s Gospel.

Now, if the wedding at Cana takes place on the third day following the fourth day, what day would that be?  Come on, first-grade math buffs, you know it…

That’s right — the seventh day.

Just as the first Adam finds Eve on the Seventh Day, calling her “woman,” so does the New Adam see his Mother, the New Eve, on the seventh day, addressing her as “woman” (this, by the way, was an idiomatic expression in both Hebrew and Greek that implied no offense or denigration).  Just as on the Seventh Day of Genesis the first marriage takes place, so on the seventh day of John’s Gospel is there a wedding at which Christ, at the instigation of His Mother, will perform his first miracle (turning water into wine), thus inaugurating the new, spiritual marriage between God and man.

As the Mother of God, Mary had a unique and intimate partnership with her Divine Son in His plan of salvation.  The immensity and the great honor of her role are not to be underestimated…yet, that role would cost her.  She would have to give up her Son to a painful death (if you are a mother, please take a few moments to imagine this).  She would have to share in His very sufferings, as prophesied:

…and you yourself a sword will pierce… (Luke 2:35)

Yet through the strength of her obedience and love, Mother Mary has restored to us that which mother Eve lost us by her disobedience and selfishness.  God be praised!

Image from Wikipedia

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Annunciation

For part 1, click here: http://www.intothedance.wordpress.com/2013/05/25/the-praises-of-mary-the-new-eve-part-1/

St. Irenaeus of Lyons, a second-century Bishop, spoke of the Virgin Mary as having untied the “knot of Eve’s disobedience” with her own supreme act of obedience to the Divine Will.

Whereas Eve (like Adam) wanted to go her own way rather than trust in her Maker, Mary responded to the angel Gabriel’s annunciation of her virginal conception of Jesus with total humility:

“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)

St_Justin_Martyr

St. Justin Martyr, a second-century Apostolic Father, contrasted the Virgin Mary with the virgin Eve in his “Dialogue with Trypho,” stating that just as Eve in her disobedience had “conceived the word of the serpent,” bringing sin and death into the world, St. Mary in her obedience conceived the Word of God, bringing redemption and life.

Christ became man by the Virgin in order that the disobedience that proceeded from the serpent might receive its destruction in the same manner in which it derived its origin. (Italics mine)*

Finally, we must take a brief look at the correspondence between Genesis chapters 1-2 and John chapters 1-2:

In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters.  Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.  God saw how good the light was. God then separated the light from the darkness. (Genesis 1: 1-4)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1: 1-5)

All right, so far the connection is pretty clear.  St. John is evoking the Genesis account of creation, and proceeds to imitate the structure of Genesis chapter 1 in the progression of days (“and the next day,” “and the next day,” etc).  In doing so, he shows us that Jesus Christ, God’s own Creative Word, came to restore the first creation, which Adam’s sin plunged into ruin.

But what about the second chapter of these two Books?  We’ll get to that in part 3.  But until then, read Genesis 2 and John 2 for yourself, and see if you can spot a connection.

Photos from Wikipedia

* As quoted by Dr. Scott Hahn here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgeU6d8Bxlo (9:00-9:11)

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