Monday, July 12, 2010

What's on My Mind? Mary, Fair, Bright, Terrible as an Army in Array

Facebook presents a little box on your Home page that asks "What's on your mind?"

Today I had to answer: Mary, the Mother of God, and our mother too.

Madonna del Parto (Pregnant Madonna) Portrayed as Ark of the Covenant

Who is she that cometh forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in array? Douay Rheims Bible, Canticle of Canticles 6:10

After I came back to the Church after 16 or so years of successive phases as a scoffer, atheist, new ager, heretic, I had to pray my way around the accusatory name of Mariology that some folks give to devotion to Mary. In prayer, I asked Jesus "What's all this about Your Mother? Please show me." He continues to show me. I realize more and more all the time about how appropriate it is that the Church deeply loves Mary.

One of Mary's titles is Ark of the Covenant. Mary carried the Creator of the Universe in her womb for nine months. If there had been any stain of sin in her, she would have been destroyed. Remember the story about when David was returning the Ark to Jerusalem, and how that one unfortunate man, Uzziah, put his hand on the Ark to steady it and then died? Even if Mary had any sin in her (and the Church's teaching is that she was conceived without original sin and that she never sinned after her conception), I believe that sin would have been burned away in the fire of God who physically dwelled within her.

We all must go through a purification in which the dross is burned out so that we can stand in the Presence of God. The Church teaches that she had no dross to burn away.

Another amazing thing to me is that God formed Himself from her DNA alone. In that sense, Mary and Her Holy child were one in flesh.

Mariolatry implies worship, but hey maybe that might actually be an appropriate response to this Wonderful Woman. Mary's body was assumed after her death and lives with the glorified body of Christ. She doesn't have to wait, as we have to wait, for the Last Judgement to be with God in our physical bodies. She has already been divinized as we all shall be. The divinization of all Christians is stated in the Scripture, don't get all accusatory on me for saying it.

Behold what manner of charity the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called, and should be the sons of God. ... Dearly beloved, we are now the sons of God; and it hath not yet appeared what we shall be. We know, that, when he shall appear, we shall be like to him: because we shall see him as he is." 1 John3:1,2

We all are called and are now sons of God, adopted, co-heirs with Christ. And when He shall appear, we shall be like to Him because we shall see Him as He Is. Mary has seen Him as He is and must be like to Him already.

Mary was conceived without original sin. Unlike our first parents, who also were created without sin, she did not sin. She lived in perfect obedience. And who more fully lived in union with the Will of God? She lives in His Will still.

When the Angel Gabriel, God's messenger, came to announce that Mary would be the mother of the Most High (think of that!) he gave Mary a new name, never given to anyone before or after her: Full of Grace.

Hail, Full of Grace.

From an online article called The Meaning of The Meaning of Kecharitomene: Full of Grace (Luke 1:28) I learned that the term we translate as full of grace, Kecharitomene, "denotes continuance of a completed action."" The term also indicates that grace and divine favor have been bestowed "for a special vocation...." The author writes, "[T]hat final definition is essentially coextensive with the Catholic understanding of the why of Mary's sinlessness ... it is communicating precisely that Mary was immaculately conceived."

And the Angel said this extraordinary thing, The Lord is with thee." And there is even more: "Blessed art Thou among women."

Blessed is she indeed, who was prepared by God to be fit to be the Mother of the Son of the Most High.

Hail Mary, Full of Grace. The Lord is with Thee. Blessed art Thou among womenn. And Blessed is the Fruit of thy Womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

I am reminded of Jewish author Roy Schoeman's conversion story in which he was waken from a sleep and brought into the presence of the most beautiful young woman you could possibly imagine. He knew nothing about Christianity but immediately knew he was in the presence of the Blessed Virgin Mary. To be with her was so great a joy because of the holiness and love that she radiated, that he wanted to worship her. She told him, that is not me, it is all from my Son.

Gregory Thaumaturgus (205-270 AD):

O purest one
O purest virgin
where the Holy Spirit is, there are all things readily ordered.
Where divine grace is present
the soil that, all untilled, bears bounteous fruit
in the life of the flesh, was in possession of the incorruptible citizenship,
and walked as such in all manner of virtues, and lived a life more excellent than man's common standard
thou hast put on the vesture of purity
has selected thee as the holy one and the wholly fair;
and through thy holy, and chaste, and pure, and undefiled womb
since of all the race of man thou art by birth the holy one,
and the more honourable, and the purer, and the more pious than any other:
and thou hast a mind whiter than the snow, and a body made purer than any gold

By the way, I just realized that in Dante's Divine Comedy, Mary is the one who gave Dante the opportunity to turn out of the dark wood and go through the Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso for his enlightenment and conversion. Beatrice prayed to Our Lady for Dante, and Our Lady's answer to Beatrice's prayer is what set the whole journey in motion. Mary greets him when he arrives at the highest level of heaven, and it is through her that he at the end of the Commedia obtains a vision of God.

Wonder Woman, pray for us!

No comments: