reconciling things

“Allow it all to happen: beauty and terror…” Rilke

I’ve been reading a book, Hail, Holy Queen, The Mother of God In The Word of God, by Scott Hahn.  I won’t lie.  It’s been hard, this seeking to understand Mary and her roles as Mother of God, Queen of Heaven, and Mother to us all.  I’ve asked good Catholic friends why I need to accept Mary as my mother and the answers have been sparse and sometimes even without a solid foundation.  I’ve prayed and wept before the Lord asking for direction and understanding.  I confess at one point I was even offended by the whole notion.  But today.  Today. changed. everything.

Mary at the foot of the cross

Let me take you on a journey.  Pieces of a puzzle that fell into place today.  Each one of these quotes comes directly from Hail, Holy Queen, but they were not written together.  I’ve pieced them working backwards through the book.  It was a treasure hunt.  The Lord revealing to me the answers to my tough questions.  Together, these excerpts, make a cohesive statement that will forever change the way I feel about Mary.

To keep things as simple as possible I’ve included page references to the book, but I will at this point take my own voice out of this post and let the following words say it all.

“Woman” redefines Mary’s relationship not only with Jesus but also with all believers.  When Jesus gave her over to His beloved disciple, in effect He gave her to His beloved disciples of all time.  Like Eve, whom Genesis 3:20 calls “mother of all the living,” Mary is mother to all who have new life in baptism.

At Cana, then, the New Eve radically reverses the fatal decision of the first Eve.  It was woman who led the old Adam to his first evil act in the garden.  It was woman who led the New Adam to His first glorious work. (Hail, Holy Queen, by Scott Hahn page 38)

“St. Irenaeus from the first century learned the faith from Saint Polycarp of Smyrna, who himself took instruction from John.  Perhaps, again, it was the influence of John that led Ireneaus to speak of Christ as the New Adam and Mary as the New Eve, as he did in several places.” (pg, 41-42)

The knot of Eve’s disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary…  The knot which the virgin Eve tied by her unbelief, the Virgin Mary opened by her belief…  If the former [Eve] disobeyed God, the latter [Mary] was persuaded to obey God, so that the Virgin Mary became the advocate of the virgin Eve. And thus, as the human race fell into bondage to death by means of a virgin, so it is rescued by a virgin. (St. Irenaeus, pg. 42)

“Finally, Irenaeus extends Mary’s maternity from Christ to all Christians, as he speaks of her as a type of the Church.  He describes Jesus’ birth as “the pure one opening purely that pure womb which regenerates men unto God.”  (pg 43)

Pope Pius X explained,

For is not Mary the Mother of Christ?  Then she is our Mother also.  And we must in truth hold that Christ, the Word made Flesh, is also the Savior of mankind.  He had a physical body like that of any other man: and again as Savior of the human family, He had a spiritual and mystical body, the society, namely, of those who believe in Christ.  “We are many, but one sole body in Christ” (Rom 12:5).  Now the Blessed Virgin did not conceive the Eternal Son of God merely in order that He might be made man taking His human nature from her, but also in order that by means of the nature assumed from her He might be the Redeemer of men.  For which reason the Angel said to the Shepherds:  “Today there is born to you a Savior Who is Christ the Lord” (Lk 2:11).  Wherefore in the same holy bosom of his most chaste Mother Christ took to Himself flesh, and united to Himself the spiritual body formed by those who were to believe in Him.  Hence Mary, carrying the Savior within her, may be said to have also carried all those whose life was contained in the life of the Savior.  Therefore all we who are united to Christ, and as the Apostle says are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones (Eph 5:30), have issued from the womb of Mary like a body united to its head.  Hence, though in a spiritual and mystical fashion we are all children of Mary, and she is Mother of us all.

Scott Hahn continues the discussion…

Here, Pope Pius echoes a teaching that reaches back to Saint Irenaeus… and so, likely, to the apostle John himself.  Remember that Irenaeus described Jesus’ birth as “the pure one opening purely that pure womb which regenerates men unto God.”

“We are made brothers and sisters of Christ–adelphos, “from the same womb.”  Thus we can confidently approach the queen mother of heaven not just because she condescends, in her great mercy, to hear us, but because we are her children, of royal birth, of noble blood.  We can go to her not only because she is Christ’s queen mother but because she is ours. (pg 123)

~~~~~

Mary is the test of how well a Christian has accepted the gospel.  It’s not that she’s the central figure of salvation history.  She’s not; Jesus is.  But our understanding of Mary reveals everything about how we understand Jesus and His saving work.

We live our sonship best by listening to Mary and loving as she loves.  Listening means responding when she says:  “Do whatever He tells you.”  Loving means standing by Christ, even to the cross.  Loving means choosing Him, in every instance, over sin.

Divine motherhood is the place where Eve and the ark are fulfilled in heaven and in your home.  Divine motherhood is the place where the Church’s dogmas become mother’s milk for those who wish to grow in wisdom.  Divine motherhood is the place where mysticism meets theology–in our heart of hearts.

Divine motherhood is the place where God wants Christians to meet Christ, their brother.  I’ll say it again: adelphos means “from the same womb.”  What establishes brotherhood, then, is motherhood.  For Mary to have given us her Son is remarkable.  But for Jesus to have given His mother to us–the very people who crucified Him and sinned against His Father–that’s something great beyond imagining!  After giving us His mother, we can be sure that there’s nothing He would withhold.  (pg 135-136)

2 thoughts on “Why Mary?

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