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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Tota Pulchra es, Maria!

"In the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin."

Ineffabilis Deus, Pius IX (translation courtesy of New Advent).

What is key to our understanding of this mystery is that it is not the peripheral teaching which it first appears to be, but strikes at the very heart of the Church's teaching on the Incarnation.

The Church teaches four things about Mary: That she is Mother of God (Theotokos, the 'God-bearer'); that she is ever-virgin; that she is immaculate; and that she was assumed into heaven. This teaching has never changed, despite the recent 'pinning down on paper' of the latter two. I do not wish to discuss this here and since most readers of this blog are probably fairly informed Catholics, I doubt that it is necessary. The key point that I wish to make is that Mary is immaculately conceived, ever-virginal and assumed precisely because she is the Theotokos.

We are all aware of how incomprehensible God's love for us is. And yet, God loves Mary as He would love a mother. Pause and think about that for a short moment. The Son loves the Father infinitely, and this love is at least partly made known to us in the total obedience of the incarnate Word Jesus Christ to the Father's will. And yet, Christ shows this same obedience to His mother. Only twice does she ask something of Him; when she does ask, He responds positively.

How could God, loving infinitely and finding sin infinitely... offensive... create for Himself a mother who is less than perfect? How could He let her be subject to decay? Intimately bound up with her son - after all, she is the only person to have a literal biological relationship with God! - how can Mary fail to share in all the victories of Christ, when she is expected to share His sufferings? It is only right and fitting, in accordance with the infinite justice of God, that her reward should be the greatest in Heaven who suffered most on earth. Mary shares in the tri-fold victory of Christ over sin, death and the devil. She is martyred with Him on the Cross and as such has the first entitlement to a share in His resurrection. Complete. How can she survive that except through the abundant grace of God?

I used to wonder if it were possible that Mary should have sinned earlier in her life, to be cleansed at the time, or in advance, of her fiat. But how would this be consonant with a God Who always does what is best? Prevention is better than cure and, thus, He chose to preserve her immaculately rather than to let her fall and be restored. It was necessary not in the strict sense, but because to do otherwise would not be consonant with His nature. God would not have freely chosen the other way. It wouldn't make sense.

Nevertheless, Mary is redeemed in the same way as us: Through the Incarnation, the Passion and the Resurrection. Or rather, by; as a result of; because of. Had she freely chosen to say 'No', what would have happened? But her will was perfectly in accord with the will of God. I'm just glad she didn't know what she was letting herself in for!

Anyway, I wanted to take a little time out to encourage us all to spend a little time over the next day in order to ponder this great mystery, which touches on that greatest mystery of all: The love of God as shown to us in the Incarnation itself. Revelation in the person of Jesus Christ, which is absolutely necessary since God is absolute.

O Maria, sine labe concepta, ora pro nobis qui ad te confugimus.

Comments [2]

Blogger Perpétua:

Thank you! How you love our Blessed Mother.

Mon Dec 11, 09:49:00 AM GMT  
Blogger Liturgeist:

lol! Someone had to post something... shame I didn't have my notes with me at the time...

Mon Dec 11, 02:51:00 PM GMT  

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