Page 1

Institute for Christian Spirituality Through Her Intercession

Seton Hall University, May 2012




Institute for Christian Spirituality presents

Through Her Intercession k Editor-in-Chief Stephen B. Kass Associate Editor

Assistant Editors Jason J. Makarow Carolina D. Soares Public Relations and Marketing Department Christine Aromando Lorraine Joyce Photographer Stephen B. Kass Designer Linda Campos Eisenberg

k Š 2012 Seton Hall University. All rights reserved. This material may not be reproduced, displayed, modified or distributed without the express prior written permission of Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology. INSTITUTE FOR CHRISTIAN SPIRITUALITY




Table of Contents Introduction


Stephen B. Kass, M.A.

Mater Dei: The Highest of God’s Creatures


Father Pablo T. Gadenz, S.S.L, S.T.D.

Christ and Mary: Our King and Queen


Father Mark Francis O’Malley, Hist.Eccl.D.

The Sword that Pierces Sin


Jeffrey L. Morrow, Ph.D.

Mary As A Model Of Discipleship


Zeni V. Fox, Ph.D.

On Mary’s Role in Our Return to Paradise


Gregory Y. Glazov, D.Phil. (Oxon.)

Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant


Father Pablo T. Gadenz, S.S.L, S.T.D.

Mary and Ecumenism


Monsignor John A. Radano, Ph.D.

Our Lady of Fatima and the Miracle of the Sun


Father John S. Grimm, J.D., S.T.L.

Woman, Behold Thy Son; Behold Thy Mother


Stephen B. Kass, M.A.

Assessing the Assumption


Father Donald E. Blumenfeld, Ph.D.

The Rosary: The Circle of Life Eric M. Johnston, Ph.D.







ways that Mary can lead the faithful to her son by praying the Hail Mary and the rosary. Essay topics also address the ways in which Mary can be viewed as the Mother of All Christians through her role in ecumenical dialogue and the messages she brought to thousands of people, believers and non-believers, at Fatima. Additionally, theological


By Stephen B. Kass, M.A.

demonstrates the numerous ways in which the Blessed Mother transmits the light of her Son. The Blessed Virgin Mary speaks to her children in the same way in which she addressed the stewards at the Wedding Feast of Cana, directing them to do whatever of different images within the Seminary and the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception

After people read the Wedding Feast of Cana in John’s Gospel, they emphasize that that Jesus saves the celebration from disaster by changing the water into wine. Others

the Blessed Mother.

marriage through His presence at the wedding and the demonstration of His divinity

Our FEAST lectures were a reminder that many blessings have been poured upon our

behind this extraordinary sign of Jesus’ divine nature is the direction given to the stewards of the Wedding Feast by Jesus’ mother, Mary. In the middle of this pericope, the Blessed Mother tells the servants to, “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5 RSV). After

the reader to contemplate the many ways the Blessed Mother intercedes for all of the faithful. The invitation to attend her son’s glorious and heavenly banquet is one that is extended to all. The table has been set and the new wine of salvation has been poured. All of this is possible and comes about Through Her Intercession.

that results from listening to Mary and obeying the Word of God is something that may themes in this Gospel account.

of Theology, through the intercession of our Blessed Mother, has received countless graces. Throughout the Seminary’s Sesquicentennial celebration, a series of FEAST (Formational Evenings at the School of Theology) lectures were given by faculty and staff of the Seminary to recognize the intercessory role of Our Lady in the history of this institution. Each Thursday evening, during the course of two academic semesters, FEAST lectures were held at the Seminary on a variety of different Marian themes. These lectures were open to the public and were given by faculty and staff of the Seminary. At the conclusion of the FEAST lecture series, the speakers were invited to FEAST lectures given in recognition of the Seminary’s Sesquicentennial.

of the Blessed Mother’s role in the Church today. There are essays which address dogmatic topics such as the Assumption and her role as the Theotokos, the Mother






These words, from an early 20th century hymn, actually have a very long history. They can in fact be traced back more than a thousand years, to the works of the Greek Fathers. For example, the eighth century doctor of the Church St. John Damascene, in commenting on a verse of the Song of Songs, “You are all beautiful, my companion” (Sg 4:7; literally, “my near-one” in the Greek Septuagint (LXX)),3 applies it to Mary and notes that she is higher than the angels, “She is all-beautiful, all near to God. For she, surpassing the cherubim, exalted beyond the seraphim, is placed near to God.”4 Another great theologian of the East, St. Gregory Palamas (14th century), echoes these thoughts in one of his sermons: The Mother of God is so much closer to God than others who draw near to Him that she is able to intercede more powerfully than any of them, and by

Mater Dei: The Highest of God’s Creatures By Father Pablo T. Gadenz, S.S.L, S.T.D.

There is a familiar hymn which begins by calling all the choirs of angels to praise God: “Ye watchers and ye holy ones, Bright seraphs, cherubim and thrones, Raise the glad strain, Alleluia! Cry out, dominions, princedoms, powers, Virtues, archangels, angels’ choirs: Alleluia!”1 The second verse of the hymn continues the call to worship, but the words are now directed to someone else, “O higher than the cherubim, More glorious to whom these words are addressed. The next phrase of the verse, however, helps to clarify the matter, “Thou Bearer of the eternal Word, Most gracious, magnify the Lord.

writes of the highest order of angels in heaven, “And the seraphim stood round about him” (Is 6:2 LXX), whereas David says of the Mother of God, “Upon thy right hand did stand the queen” (Ps 45:9). Do you notice the difference in their standing? You can also see from this the difference in honour between the seraphim’s rank and hers, for the seraphim are “round about” God, but only the Queen of all stands beside Him. She is admired and praised by God Himself, as though He were extolling her to the powers around Him in the words used in the Song of Songs, “How beautiful is my companion!” (cf. Sg. 4:1; 6:4 LXX).5 Documents of the Church’s Magisterium also express this teaching. For example, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, of the Second Vatican Council, says that Mary is “[p]laced by the grace of God, as God’s Mother, next to her Son and exalted above all angels and men.”6 Thus, Mary is higher than all human persons and higher even than all the choirs of angels; she indeed is the highest of God’s creatures, the one nearest to God. Indeed, she is placed “next to her Son” Jesus Christ, who is a divine person with a created human nature and is Himself “far superior to the angels” (Heb 1:4; cf. Heb 1:13-14). Though he was made “for a little while lower than angels” (Heb 2:7, 9) in the self-emptying of His Incarnation, even to death, death on a cross (cf. Phil 2:7-8), Jesus after His Resurrection and Ascension is greatly exalted (cf. Phil 2:9), far above all the angels (cf. Eph 1:20-21).

evident that these words address the Blessed Virgin Mary.2 She is the one who is “higher than the cherubim, more glorious than the seraphim.”

It is in virtue of Mary’s fullness of grace (cf. Lk 1:28) that she has this exalted dignity that raises her above her position in the order of nature. Moreover, Mary’s fullness of grace was given to her precisely to prepare her to be the Mother of such an exalted Son. As Lumen Gentium being the Mother of the Son of God […]. Because of this gift of sublime grace she far surpasses all creatures, both in heaven and on earth.”7 We thus arrive at the title of this





essay: Mary is “Mater Dei: The Highest of God’s Creatures.” Especially in the context of All Saints Day,8 as we recall the cloud of witnesses in heaven, all the angels and saints, who surround us (cf. Heb 12:1), we consider Mary the Mother of God and our Mother, Queen of the angels and saints, the highest of God’s creatures. Mary, Mother of God Mater Dei). In several places in the

21). In John’s Gospel, at the wedding at Cana, we are told that “the mother of Jesus was there” (Jn 2:1). Similarly, Jesus’ mother is present at the foot of the cross (Jn 19:2527). In the Acts of the Apostles, “Mary, the mother of Jesus” is gathered in prayer in the upper room with the Eleven (Acts 1:14). In addition to these references to the “mother of Jesus,” there is also one verse that refers to Mary as the “mother of the the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth cries out, “Whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Lk 1:43). Here we begin to see how the truth of Mary’s motherhood goes hand-in-hand with the truth of Jesus’ identity. If Jesus is Lord, as the kurios that the Greek version of the Old Testament (the Septuagint) used to refer to the Lord God of Israel, then Mary the mother of Jesus is also the mother of the Lord.

Mary, all of which capture this truth that she is the mother of Jesus the Lord, the Son of God. For example, the earliest recorded Marian prayer, from a papyrus found in Egypt, written in Greek, and dated by some scholars to the third century, begins with the words: “Under your mercy, we take refuge, Mother of God.”9 In this phrase, the vocative form of the Greek word Theotokos is used, meaning literally “God-bearer” or she who gives birth to God. This prayer is perhaps more familiar in its Latin form as the Sub Tuum Praesidium, Mother of God,10 despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us from all danger, O ever glorious and blessed Virgin.”11



At the Council of Ephesus (431 A.D.), the use of titles such as Theotokos or Mater Dei reached the level of Church dogma. As with most of the Church’s Councils, the Council of Ephesus was called to clarify a controversy that had arisen.14 Nestorius, Theotokos, explaining that Mary was not Mother of God but only Mother of Christ (Christotokos) or Mother of the man (Anthropotokos). The controversy was thus Christological in its essence, though it had implications for Marian devotion. Nestorius’ view met with protest around the Christian world. In particular, Cyril of Alexandria wrote to Nestorius defending the title Theotokos. Eventually, to resolve the dispute, the Council of Ephesus was convened. Amidst tumultuous proceedings, Nestorius was then deposed and the title Theotokos

afterwards the Word descended; what we say is that, being united with the

called the holy Virgin “Mother of God” (Theotokos). This does not mean that the nature of the Word or his divinity received the beginning of its existence from the holy Virgin, but that, since the holy body, animated by a rational soul, which the Word united to himself, according to the hypostasis (kath’hupostasin), was 15

Theotokos, Mary the Mother of God, a dogma which, in the Latin Church, is now commemorated on the octave day of Christmas, January 1, with the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. The Christological orientation of the Church’s Marian teaching is evident,16 both in the teaching of the Council of Ephesus itself and in its current liturgical commemoration connected to the celebration of the birth of Christ. Indeed, Mary is Mater Dei, the highest of God’s creatures, on account of her relation to Christ, the Son of God. Mary, Higher Than the Angels and Saints Having discussed the Christological reasons for Mary’s exalted dignity and fullness

By the time of the Council of Nicea (325 A.D.), there is clear evidence of the use of the title Theotokos. St. Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria and great defender of Christological doctrine against the Arians, writes that “Christ became man, Theotokos).”12 Also in the fourth Mater Dei. On other occasions, he uses the title Mater Domini, Mother of the Lord, following Elizabeth’s words from the Gospel of Luke.13

For help in understanding this doctrine, we turn to the Church’s common doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas. In the Summa Theologica, been considering, stating that “the Blessed Virgin Mary is raised above all the choirs of angels,” and concludes that on account of “the fact that she is the mother of God,” she has a dignity such that she could not be better than she is.17 He also treats this doctrine in his commentary on the Hail Mary, where he writes that Mary surpasses the angels in three ways: in dignity, in her close association with God, and in her fullness of grace.





For this reason, he explains, the angel at the Annunciation showed her reverence, saying “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.”18



chastity (Lk 1:34: “Since I know not man”).23 Other virtues could easily be added, for example, Mary’s faith (Lk 1:38: “Be it done to me according to your word,” and Lk 1:45: “Blessed is she who believed”), and her charity in visiting Elizabeth and at the wedding at Cana.

sometimes raised by theologians, “Was even Mary’s initial grace greater than that of the above the angels, but also Mary at the Annunciation and thus Mary in the initial grace given to her (i.e., at her Immaculate Conception). Commenting on the Annunciation Ineffabilis Deus, When the Fathers and writers of the Church meditated on the fact that the most Blessed Virgin was, in the name and by order of God himself, proclaimed full of grace (cf. Lk 1:28) by the Angel Gabriel when he announced her most sublime dignity of Mother of God, they thought that this singular and solemn salutation, never heard before, showed that the Mother of God is the seat of all divine graces and is adorned with all gifts of the Holy Spirit. […] Hence, it is the clear and unanimous opinion of the Fathers that the most glorious Virgin […] was resplendent with such an abundance of heavenly gifts, with such a fullness of grace and with such innocence, that she is an unspeakable miracle of God—indeed, the crown of all miracles and truly the Mother of God; that she approaches as near to God himself as is possible for a created being; and that she is above all men and angels in glory.19 A contemporary theologian, commenting on this question in light of Pius IX’s teaching, states that “Mary’s initial grace was given her to prepare her to become the Mother of

Mary’s holiness is thus manifested in her living out of the virtues. By imitating Mary, the model of all the virtues, Christians can strive toward the holiness to which they too are called. This is the teaching of the Second Vatican Council: But while in the most holy Virgin the Church has already reached that perfection whereby she is without spot or wrinkle, the followers of Christ still strive to increase in holiness by conquering sin (cf. Eph 5:27). And so they turn their eyes to Mary who shines forth to the whole community of the elect as the model of virtues.[…] Seeking after the glory of Christ, the Church becomes more like her exalted type, and continually progresses in faith, hope and charity, seeking and doing the will of God in all things.24 The high level of Mary’s holiness should therefore inspire all of us to strive for the heights of holiness, by imitating her virtues. Here it is helpful to recall that the Second Vatican Council also taught the universal call to holiness, a teaching strongly emphasized by Blessed John Paul II in his Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, issued at the beginning of the third millennium: First of all, I have no hesitation in saying that all pastoral initiatives must be set in relation to holiness. […] It is necessary therefore to rediscover the the Church Lumen Gentium, dedicated to the “universal call to holiness.”

of a person to be God’s mother; therefore Mary’s initial grace exceeds the grace of any angel or saint.”20 Of course, Mary’s initial fullness of grace does not mean that she did not grow in grace throughout her life, as indeed she did, “for she was a wayfarer and

ecclesiology with a kind of spiritual veneer, but to make the call to holiness an intrinsic and essential aspect of their teaching on the Church. [...] This as

the possibility of a continuous increase in grace exists. We can say that Mary’s initial

turn becomes a task, which must shape the whole of Christian life: “This is the


Holy Mary and the Call to Holiness: Imitating Mary’s Virtues One other comment from Aquinas merits further consideration. In discussing Mary’s fullness of grace over and above the grace of other saints, he says that “[s]he practiced the works of all the virtues, while other saints were conspicuous in certain particular virtues. […] But the Blessed Virgin is an example of all virtues.”22 By way of example, he then mentions how she is a model of humility (Lk 1:38: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord,” and Lk 1:48: “For he has regarded the humility of his handmaid”) and of

only certain Christians: “All the Christian faithful, of whatever state or rank, are called to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of charity” [Lumen Gentium, 40]. […] [I]t would be a contradiction to settle for a life of mediocrity, marked by a minimalist ethic and a shallow religiosity. To ask catechumens: “Do you wish to receive Baptism?” means at the same time to ask them: “Do you wish to become holy?” It means to set before them the radical nature of the Sermon on the Mount: “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48). As the Council itself explained, this ideal of perfection must





not be misunderstood as if it involved some kind of extraordinary existence, possible only for a few “uncommon heroes” of holiness. The ways of holiness are many, according to the vocation of each individual. […] The time has come to re-propose wholeheartedly to everyone this high standard of ordinary Christian living: the whole life of the Christian community and of Christian families must lead in this direction.25 One could add that this “high standard of ordinary Christian living” is concretely proposed to everyone in the person of Mary, who is higher than the angels and saints. As the model of all the virtues, she is the standard of Christian holiness toward which to correspond to God’s grace and grow in virtue, we look to Holy Mary as our model. Close to God and Close to Us: Mary’s Intercession exalted, higher even than the angels, she is for that reason far removed from other human beings like ourselves, who struggle with sin. The noted Mariologist, René from the rest of mankind?”26 “[i]n fact, the very opposite is true,” because it is “sin which divides,” whereas grace “opens outward and unites.”27 Paradoxically, the higher one is raised by God, the greater is one’s call to serve (cf. Mk 10:43-44). This is true of “the Son of Man,” Jesus Christ, who came “not to be served but to serve” (Mk 10:45). It is also true of His par excellence.”28 Mary’s exalted dignity and holiness thus do not alienate her from us, but rather establish her greater solidarity with the human race, of which she is spiritual mother (cf. Jn 19:27). Along these lines, Laurentin also cites the December 4, 1963 address of Pope Paul VI at the Second Vatican Council: “In the Church Mary occupies, after Christ, the highest place and the one nearest us.”29

This is what Blessed Pius IX exhorts Christians to do, at the conclusion of Ineffabilis Deus:



been appointed by God to be the Queen of heaven and earth, and is exalted above all the choirs of angels and saints, and even stands at the right hand of her only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, she presents our petitions in a most 30

Mary is thus not only a model to be imitated, but a mother who assists us by her intercession. Honoring Mary: Marian Devotion When we invoke Mary’s intercession, we also show her special honor and veneration. 1:48). We should realize, however, that because of Mary’s exalted status, such honor will always fall short. According to St. John Damascene, “Neither the human tongue nor the mind of the angels that live beyond this universe can give worthy praise to her.”31 Similarly, Blessed Pius IX states that “God alone excepted, Mary is more excellent than all, and by nature fair and beautiful, and more holy than the Cherubim and Seraphim,” 32

Certainly, the special honor due to Mary is entirely distinct from the adoration given to the Triune God. To use technical language, to God alone do we give the worship of latria, To the saints and angels in general, we give the honor of dulia, respectful veneration. Regarding Mary, this honor is of the same kind as that given to the saints and angels but reaches a singular eminent degree, and so is called hyperdulia.33 In conclusion, as we seek to imitate Holy Mary’s virtues, we invoke her intercession and honor her, aware also, as Dante says in his Divine Comedy, that the one “who seeks 34

Dante also notes that Mary is the “most humble” yet the “most exalted of all creatures,”35 “lifted up the lowly” (Lk 1:52), raising Mary, the Mother of God, to be the highest of creatures. The Almighty has thus done great things for Mary. And through her intercession, the Almighty has done and will continue to do great things for us. Amen.

With a still more ardent zeal for piety, religion and love, let them continue to venerate, invoke and pray to the most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God,

Father Pablo T. Gadenz, Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies, received his

and fears. Under her guidance, under her patronage, under her kindness and protection, nothing is to be feared; nothing is hopeless. Because, while bearing toward us a truly motherly affection and having in her care the work of our salvation, she is solicitous about the whole human race. And since she has

Gregorian University in Rome. Among his research interests are the use of the Old Testament in the New Testament and the theological interpretation of Scripture, building bridges between exegetical study and the Church’s theology and liturgy. Father Gadenz is a priest of the Diocese of Trenton, and he assists on weekends at Christ the King Parish in Long Branch, NJ.






NOTES 1. John Athelstan Riley, “Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones” in The English Hymnal (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1906), 413. 2. See the discussion in Jaroslav Pelikan, Mary Through the Centuries: Her Place in the History of Culture (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996), 97-98. 3. Unless otherwise noted all Scripture translations are my own. 4. St. John Damascene, Homily on the Nativity, 9, quoted in Luigi Gambero, Mary and the Fathers of the Church: The Blessed Virgin Mary in Patristic Thought, trans. Thomas Buffer (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1999), 403. 5. St. Gregory Palamas, Homily on the Dormition of the Mother of God, 13, in Saint Gregory Palamas: The Homilies, ed. Christopher Veniamin (Waymart, PA: Mount Thabor, 2009), 294-295. 6. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium (November 21, 1964), 66. Text quoted from M. Jean Frisk and Marianne Lorraine Trouvé, eds., Mother of Christ, Mother of the Church: Documents on the Blessed Virgin Mary (Boston: Pauline Books & Media, 2001), 80. See also Lumen Gentium, 69: “exalted as she is above all the angels and saints” (Frisk and Trouvé, 82). 7. Lumen Gentium, 53 (Frisk and Trouvé, 74). 8. The present essay was originally delivered as a lecture on October 28, 2010, a few days before All Saints Day (November 1). 9. Michael O’Carroll, Theotokos: A Theological Encyclopedia of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1982), 336. 10. The phrase “Mother of God” here translates not Mater Dei, but Dei Genetrix (“she who has borne God”), which is the Latin phrase used to translate the Greek word Theotokos in this prayer. Another Latin term used at times to translate Theotokos is Deipara (“God-bearer”), found in the title of the chapter on Mary in Lumen Gentium: “The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God in the Mystery of Christ and the Church.” 11. O’Carroll, 336. 12. St. Athanasius, Against the Arians, 3, 29, quoted in Gambero, 102. 13. Gambero, 194. 14. For a discussion of the Council of Ephesus, including the controversy that led up to it, see Hilda Graef, Mary: A History of Doctrine and Devotion, Rev. ed. (Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 2009), 79-87. 15. J. Neuner and J. Dupuis, The Christian Faith in the Doctrinal Documents of the Catholic Church, 7th ed. (New York: Alba House, 2001), n. 605 (bracketed text in original). The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd ed. (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1997), n. 495, summarizes the teaching of the Council of Ephesus as follows: “the other than the Father’s eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly ‘Mother of God’ (Theotokos)”; see also n. 466. 16. See the Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 487: “What the Catholic faith believes about Mary is based on what it believes about Christ, and what it teaches about Mary illumines in turn its faith in Christ.” 17. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Dominican Province (1948; repr.,Westminster, MD: Christian Classics, 1981), 1:141. 18. See the discussion in St. Thomas Aquinas, The Three Greatest Prayers: Commentaries on the Lord’s Prayer, the Hail Mary, and the Apostles’ Creed, trans. Laurence Shapcote (1937; repr.,Manchester, NH: Sophia Institute Press, 1990), 164-170. 19. Pius IX, Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus (December 8, 1854), quoted from Frisk and Trouvé, 19. 20. Juan Luis Bastero, Mary, Mother of the Redeemer: A Mariology Textbook, trans. Michael Adams and Philip 21. Bastero, 196. 22. St. Thomas Aquinas, The Three Greatest Prayers, 166. 23. Ibid, 166-167. 24. Lumen Gentium, 65 (Frisk and Trouvé, 80). 25. John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte (January 6, 2001) (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2001), 30-31 (emphasis in original). 26. René Laurentin, A Short Treatise on the Virgin Mary, trans. Charles Neumann (Washington, NJ: AMI Press, 1991), 190. 27. Laurentin, 190-191. 28. Ibid, 191. 29. Ibid, 191, note 9. 30. Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus (Frisk and Trouvé, 26). See also Lumen Gentium, 69. 31. St. John Damascene, Homily 1 on the Dormition, 2, in On the Dormition of Mary: Early Patristic Homilies, trans. Brian E. Daley (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1998), 183. 32. Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus (Frisk and Trouvé, 21). 33. See Lumen Gentium, 66; Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 971. See also the teaching of the Second Council of Nicea (A.D. 787) in Neuner and Dupuis, n. 1252. 34. Dante, The Divine Comedy: Paradise, Canto XXXIII, lines 13-15, ed. Mark Musa (New York: Penguin Books, 1995), 580. 35. Ibid, line 2 (Musa, 580). INSTITUTE FOR CHRISTIAN SPIRITUALITY

Christ and Mary: Our King and Queen

By Father Mark Francis O’Malley, Hist.Eccl.D. Pax Christi in Regno Christi — the peace of Christ in the reign of Christ, such was the motto of Pope Pius XI (1922-1939) who instituted the Feast of Christ the King at the to the task of challenging and curtailing the secularization of society. In this regard, in the name he had chosen — Pius IX (1846-1878) and Pius X (1903-1914). Both of these pontiffs sought to emphasize the centrality of Christ in a cultural, intellectual and political climate which stood in opposition to the traditional modes which had

civilization. He envisioned a modern society permeated with Christian values and IM M AC ULATE C O N C EP TIO N S EM IN ARY S C H O O L O F TH EO LO G Y



believed that the problems confronting the world prior to and following the First World War could be traced to materialism, secularism and man’s disordered sense of self. Consequently, individuals and society suffered from a loss of all sense of spiritual authority and belief in a supreme being. It was his conviction that following the Great War, true peace would not return to the world until humanity once again turned to Jesus Christ and acknowledged his sovereignty.1 Pius XI’s institution of the Feast of Christ the King responded to the systemic secularization of society and attempted to resituate Christ at the center of human existence and political affairs in the years immediately following the Great War. A similar response was taken by his successor nearly thirty years later when Pope Pius XII (1939-1958) instituted the Feast of the Queenship of Mary in 1954 in order to provide hope and consolation in the aftermath of the Second World War and to strengthen the faithful struggling under atheistic communist regimes.2 The history of the liturgical and devotional life of the Church reveals a certain pattern. Various feasts and commemorations have been introduced into the liturgical life of the universal Church or a particular church in response to the needs of the faithful, either to strengthen their faith, to offer consolation, or to provide examples of Christian living. with persecution and possible martyrdom, the liturgical cult of the martyrs emerged. When Christianity gained tolerance in the Roman Empire, the faithful were in need of other examples of how to live out their faith with vigor and so developed the liturgical commemoration of confessors — those who did not die for the faith but who nonetheless pastors and other holy men and women provided the faithful with examples of virtuous lives dedicated to Christ and the service of others.



In Quas Primas, the document by which Pius XI decreed the liturgical celebration of

Jesus Christ and his holy law out of their lives; that these had no place in either private affairs or in politics.”3 With such a denial of divine rule in public and private life, Pius XI concluded that, “there would be no really hopeful prospect of a lasting peace among nations. Men must look for the peace of Christ in the Kingdom of Christ…through the restoration of the Empire of Our Lord.”4 rooted in Sacred Scripture and theology and through the ages the Church has attributed kingly titles to Christ.5 truths of faith,6 he believed “nothing would serve better than a special feast in honor of the Kingship of Christ.”7 It was his expectation that an annual celebration of this character and possesses a natural right to freedom and immunity from the state8 and that secular rulers are obliged to publically manifest faith in Christ, adhere to divine commands and govern in light of Christian principles.9 Additionally, it was hoped that through this feast, the faithful would increase in the spiritual strength needed to form their lives in accord with the principles of the Christian faith and place themselves at the service of Christ’s kingdom.10 With respect to the relationship between the kingship of Christ and the individual Jesus Christ, Pius states, “must reign in our minds…which should assent…to revealed truths… He must reign in our wills, which should obey the laws and precepts of God. He must reign in our hearts which spurn natural desires and love God above all things… He must reign in our bodies…which should serve as instruments for the 11

Feasts in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary have continually arisen in the Church, out of a local devotion, in response to heresy, as a way of clarifying belief, as a result of apparitions, and most often as a means of providing consolation to the faithful. The Feast of Corpus Christi was instituted during a period when reverence and devotion to the Eucharist had grown lukewarm. Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus developed in large part as a response to the harsh spirituality of Jansenism,which emphasized the wrath of God and the wretchedness of the human person over the love of Christ and the working of grace in the life of the believer. Clearly, instituted feasts and Church approved devotions are a pastoral response on behalf of the Church to the spiritual needs of the faithful. Both Pius XI and Pius XII were following in this tradition when they inaugurated the liturgical celebration of Christ the King and the Queenship of Mary, respectively.


What was the outcome and what were the fruits of the institution of this feast? Were the goals of Pope Pius XI achieved? It would be hard to say as it is impossible to measure the spiritual fruitfulness, which is known to the Lord alone. In the temporal sphere, political life was to some extent realized, perhaps most notably in the Catholic Action movement to which he lent considerable moral support. This is true especially in Italy, where following World War II, the Catholic Action movement effectively replaced Nazism and fascism and provided much of the Christian democratic leadership and value structure in post-war Italy and other European nations.12 Hopeful as the post-war advances were, they were unable to substantially stem the tide of secularism, which has contributed to the post-modern fog hovering over the political and cultural landscape of Europe today.13 In 2006, Pope Benedict XVI alluded to this reality IM M AC ULATE C O N C EP TIO N S EM IN ARY S C H O O L O F TH EO LO G Y





and echoed the sentiments of his predecessor Pius XI as he encouraged the youth of today to place God at the center of human activity, “We must make

The institutions of the feasts of Christ the King and the Queenship of Mary were a supernatural response to the cultural, social and political situation of twentieth

once again present in our lives, that we do not live as though we were autonomous, authorized to invent what freedom and life are. We must realize that we are creatures, aware that there is a God who has created us and that living in accordance with his will is not dependence but a gift of love that makes us alive.”14

dominion of Christ’s kingship and his Mother’s queenship, neither Pius XI nor Pius XII sought a temporal restoration of Christendom. Their hope was to bring about a restoration of the primacy of Christ and divine precepts in the lived reality of the individual believer and thus illumine all the pathways of society with the light of Christ. How then are the Kingship of Christ and the Queenship of Mary acknowledged in our own lives?

The introduction of the Feast of Christ the King into the Church’s liturgical life was carried out in a rather low-key manner by means of a document to the bishops of the world. In contrast, the institution of the Feast of the Queenship of Mary in 1954 was a media event. Pius XII, who at the time was considered the most Marian of popes, established May 31st as the liturgical feast of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary.15 The announcement and subsequent festivities were the culmination of the Marian Year of 1954. Throngs of the faithful lined the streets of Rome as a procession composed of ecclesiastical and secular dignitaries, clerics, religious and laity accompanied an image of Mary and the child Jesus known as Salus Populi Romani as it made its way from the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore to Saint Peter’s Basilica. Pope Pius XII received the much venerated image within the crown over the head of Mary as a symbol of her reign as queen in heaven and on earth.16 Similar to the kingly titles attributed to Christ, the queenly character of Mary also is rooted in Scripture, in early and medieval writings, in the writings of popes and saints, in artistic renderings of her reaching back to the early Church,17 and in the devotional expressions of the faithful through the centuries. This rich tradition was recalled at considerable length in the October 1954 encyclical letter Ad Caeli Reginam by which Pius proclaimed the Queenship of Mary.18 Pius’ recounting of this Marian tradition served as a tribute to Mary and as an acknowledgement of a sustained request from lay faithful, theologians and members of the hierarchy that Mary be proclaimed universal Queen in a formal manner.19 After recalling the tradition, Pius rested the theological virtue of her divine motherhood20 and Queen by virtue of her exceptional association with Christ in the work of our redemption.21 Her Queenship is equal in reach to the

The liturgical commemoration of Christ the King, celebrated on the last Sunday of the Church year, provides an opportunity for us to examine the strength of our commitment to Christ. To what extent do we allow Christ to have dominion over us? Our Lord does not impose himself upon us; rather he wants to be invited daily into the various aspects of our lives. We acknowledge the Kingship of Christ each time we engage in the devotional practice of making the words of the apostle Saint Thomas our own during the elevation of the consecrated host and sacred chalice at Mass: Dominus meus et Deus meus — “My Lord and my God” (Jn 20:28). Most likely as we participate at Mass on Christ the King Sunday, the following words will be on our lips as we sing the familiar hymn, To Jesus Christ Our Sovereign King: To you, and to your church, great King, We pledge our heart’s oblation; Until before your throne we sing Christ Jesus, Victor! Christ Jesus, Ruler! Christ Jesus, Lord and Redeemer!23 We pledge our heart’s oblation – that is to offer as gift the totality of who we are – is this fact or fancy? My Lord and my God – is this aspiration a lived reality in our lives or simply

the sciences, academia, and the personal lives of some of the Christian faithful. While we take care that we do not reduce Christ and our Christian faith to what Cardinal Francis George of Chicago has referred to as a “hobby” or something we acknowledge and participate in on the weekend, but has little effect in our daily living.24

and its annual celebration would serve as a source of consolation and hope for a war-wearied Christian faithful and help “preserve, strengthen and prolong that peace among nations which daily is almost destroyed by recurring crisis.”22


As a safeguard to the “hobby” approach to Christianity, we do well to examine the consistency and quality of our conviction as Christians: Is Christ’s rule a touchstone in my lived reality? Is He Lord of my thoughts and affections, of my work and leisure? Does the reign IM M AC ULATE C O N C EP TIO N S EM IN ARY S C H O O L O F TH EO LO G Y



Is He Lord in all of my secular activities and civic responsibilities, or have I fallen into a mindset of practical atheism and secularism? What place does the Lord hold in my daily life? Do I make time for prayer in order to spiritually enter into the court of the King? A sincere examination of conscience is essential lest our proclamation of Christ as King become a matter of pious fancy rather than a lived reality. Until before your throne we sing/In endless jubilation. this goal we must undertake the task of becoming the saints the Lord wants and expects us to be by acknowledging His Kingship and directing our deeds and affections accordingly. This is certainly not an easy task. Yet, it is to Mary, our Mother and Queen, that we turn for assistance in conducting ourselves in a manner proper to our heavenly citizenship (Phil 3:20). The motherhood and Queenship of the Virgin Mary are inseparable. To Mary, our Mother,we look for comfort and consolation and it is before Mary, our Queen, that we stand in order to obtain the grace needed to order our lives aright as “members of the household of God” (Eph 2:19). Turning our gaze to Christ and Mary our King and Queen, we pray: Christ Jesus victor, Christ Jesus ruler, Christ Jesus Lord and Redeemer – rule in my life. Hail, holy Queen enthroned above — Mary, my Mother, take me by the hand and assist me through this life to the throne of your Son. Father Mark Francis O’Malley is Assistant Professor of Church History at Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology. Following his priestly ordination in 1995, he served as parochial vicar at St. Aloysius Parish in Caldwell, NJ; St. Genevieve Parish in Elizabeth, NJ; chaplain of the Newman Catholic Center for Rutgers Newark/ NJIT; and director of Emmaus House of Discernment, Newark, NJ. Father O’Malley University, Rome. Father O’Malley also has pursued his interest in manuscripts and document form at the Center of Manuscript Studies at the University of London. NOTES 1. Pope Pius XI, Encyclical Letter, UbiArcano Dei Consilio, 23.“The inordinate desire for pleasure, concupiscence sows the fatal seeds of division not only among families but likewise among states; the inordinate desire for possessions, concupiscence of the eyes, inevitably turns into class warfare and into social egotism; the inordinate desire to rule or to domineer over others, pride of life, soon becomes mere party or factional rivalries, manifesting lese majesté and even in national parricide. These unsurpassed desires, this inordinate love of the things of this world, are precisely the source of all international misunderstandings and rivalries.” 2. Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Letter, Ad Caeli Reginam, 2. “Following upon the frightful calamities which before


4. Ibid. 5. Ibid, 7-17. 6. Ibid, 21. “Pronouncements usually reach only a few and the more learned among the faithful; feasts reach them all; the former speak but once, the latter speak every year – in fact, forever. The Church’s teaching affects the mind primarily; her feasts affect both mind and heart…Man is composed of body and soul, and he needs these external festivities so that the sacred rites…may stimulate him to drink more deeply of the fountain of God’s 7. Ibid. 8. Ibid, 31. 9. Ibid, 32. 10. Ibid, 33. 11. Ibid. 12. Battista Mondin, The Popes of the Modern Ages: From Pius IX to John Paul II (Vatican City: Urbaniana University Press, 2004), 84, 102-104. 13. Cf. Romano Guardini, The End of the Modern World (Wilmington: ISI Books, 1998); Pope John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Ecclesia in Europa; Richard Koch and Chris Smith, Suicide of the West (London: Continuum, 2006); Joseph Ratzinger, Europe: Today and Tomorrow (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2007); George Weigel, The Cube and the Cathedral: Europe, America, and Politics Without God (New York: Basic Books, 2005). 14. Pope Benedict XVI, “Message, Preparation of XXI World Youth Day,”L’Osservatore Romano, April 12, 2006, English edition. 15. A revision of the liturgical calendar following the Second Vatican Council transferred the liturgical commemoration of the Queenship of Mary to August 22. 16. “The Queenship of Mary,” TIME Magazine, November 8, 1954. 17. A. Ildefonso Schuster, “Maria Regina nell’Arte Paleocristiana in Roma” in Maria: Regina della Chiesa (Milano: Editrice Massimo, 1954), 262-265. 18. Pope Pius XII, 7-33. 19. Gabriel M. Roschini, The Divine Masterpiece, trans. Peter J.R. Dempsey (Cork: Mercier Press, 1954), 43. “As the Kingship of Christ so the royal Queenliness of Mary extends to all things and persons…Little wonder then, if in various Marian Congresses, national and international, a desire has been expressed that the Church should solemnly proclaim the royal dignity of Mary by instituting the Feast of Maria Regina, of Mary Queen of Heaven. It is a wish and desire too, of many that the Church may solemnly proclaim this truth.” A similar appeal was made in 1953 by the cardinal-archbishop of Milan (Blessed) Alfredo Ildefonso Schuster, see: A. Ildefonso Schuster, Maria: Regina della Chiesa (Milano: Editrice Massimo, 1954), 5. 20. Pope Pius XII, 34. 21. Ibid, 35-37. 22. Ibid, 51. 23. Martin Hellriegel, “To Jesus Christ, Our Sovereign King” (No. 497) in Worship: A Hymnal and Service Book for Roman Catholics (Chicago, IL: GIA, 1986). Monsignor Hellriegel, a priest of the Archdiocese of Saint Louis and a pioneer of the liturgical movement in the United States, composed the text of this well-known hymn in 1941 during his tenure as pastor of Our Lady of the Holy Cross, St. Louis, Missouri. It is commonly believed that Hellriegel composed this English rendition of the Gregorian chant Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat as a rebuttal to the dominion claims of the Third Reich. The hymn has the distinction of inclusion in the English the liturgical movement, see: Godfrey L. Diekmann, “Martin Hellriegal,” Worship 55 (1981): 260-261. 24. Francis George, The Difference God Makes: A Catholic Vision of Faith, Communion, and Culture (New York: Crossroad, 2009), 175. “If God is a threat, he has to be done away with. Friedrich Nietzsche ‘kills’ God, and God’s existence is explicitly denied in many less spectacular ways. But there is a more subtle way of reducing the threat that God’s power might have for us, and that is to tame God. This is the kind of secularization we live within the United States. This God is a name for everything we cherish, whatever else he might be. This God is like a pet brought out for construct. This God certainly makes no demands on us, because he has no power. We cannot permit him to have power, lest we lose our freedom. But if God can make no demands, then religion is necessarily a hobby. It is what we do in our leisure time, particularly in the kind of leisure time we have invented with the weekend… It is a leisure time, a time of self-expression. If religion is one form of self-expression, and if you want to express yourself on what you do with your free time. Religion is a leisure-time activity, not a way of life… Religion is useful for celebrating but not for changing anything, because God can have no power… The crisis of faith in this kind of culture is not limited. It is not a crisis of belief in a particular dogma or in a moral teaching of Christ. It is a crisis of belief in the all-powerful God. It is a loss of the conviction that spirit has power. Spirit is at best an epiphenomenon of matter.”

3. Pope Pius XI, Quas Primas, 1.








“A Sword Will Pierce Through Your Own Soul Also” Simeon’s prophecy comes at the tail end of his hymn of praise, where he announces the arrival of the redeemer of Israel: “Lord, now you let your servant go in peace; prepared in the sight of every people: a light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people Israel” (Lk 2:29-32 RSV).1 Jesus’ Mother is depicted throughout the Church’s tradition as Daughter Zion. At times within the New Testament, she represents Israel as a people, and Simeon’s prophecy here evokes her own time of testing and suffering. The phraseology Simeon uses, that a “sword will pierce through” (in Greek: dieleusetai romphaia) recalls a passage in the Old Testament concerning Israel’s time of testing and suffering, “if I bring a sword upon that land, and say, Let a sword go through (in Greek: ) the land; and I cut off from it man and beast” (Ez 14:17 RSV). Thus Simeon’s words to Mary connect her with the people Israel, suffering useless, but rather it is part of a much broader redemptive plan.2 First and foremost, we see that suffering, rather than being a futile nadir, becomes an opportunity for exercising love. In the context of Ezekiel, the idea is that through

God fully once more. Moreover, throughout the Old Testament, as well as the New Testament, suffering is viewed as redemptive.3

The Sword that Pierces Sin By Jeffrey L. Morrow, Ph.D.

described by Ezekiel. She is already holy and pure, yet there is a commonality here, namely, that of love. In the context of Mary’s suffering, which in Simeon’s prophecy is linked with her Son’s redemptive work, the suffering is one borne for the sake of love. Mary’s maternal suffering is linked to Jesus’ own. As a committed and affectionate mother, she cannot help but share in his tribulations. In so doing, Mary participates in the redemption from sin. Such suffering, united to Jesus’, may be transformed into an act of love with redemptive value.

a sword will pierce through your own soul also” (Lk 2:35 RSV). Simeon’s prophecy is clearly connected to Jesus’ passion and death, where, as St. John records, Our Lady was present (Jn 19:25). After taking a look at Simeon’s prophecy, I hope, in this brief

end, we will see that Christian discipleship entails suffering, a suffering that can be transformed into love.


Knowing the pain and suffering of losing a child, Abraham nonetheless was willing to go through with God’s command, believing that his obedience would somehow to be present at the offering of her only Son. And even when Simeon warns her of the pain yet to come in her life, Mary embraces her calling to be the Mother of God. Her IM M AC ULATE C O N C EP TIO N S EM IN ARY S C H O O L O F TH EO LO G Y



Fiat from the Annunciation does not falter as she grows in the realization of what her motherhood will mean; rather, she continues doing God’s will throughout her life,



spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow with him” (Rom 8:15-17 RSV). After describing the problem of Original Sin (Rom 5), Baptism as the remedy for sin (Rom 6), and the remaining post-baptismal challenge of concupiscence (Rom 7), St. Paul delves into the mystery of suffering and its role in

before she can receive her Son’s life back. “Standing by the Cross of Jesus” description of Mary here, and we are left to ponder her standing by the very wood on which is nailed her Son—the child whom she bore, nurtured, supported and loved. With soldiers casting lots for his garment, Jesus entrusts His disciple John to His mother

with him” (Rom 8:17 RSV). Suffering is an opportunity to be more closely aligned with Christ. Suffering provides Christians with opportunities to love. As Pope Benedict XVI explains, “The incarnate obedience of Christ is presented as an context. The mystery of the Cross does not simply confront us; rather, it draws us in and gives a new value to our life.”7 We cannot avoid suffering, our lives are full of suffering, suffering is inescapable, but the good news is that following Christ, as

transforms into an act of redeeming love. Pope John Paul II wrote: [I]t was on Calvary that Mary’s suffering, beside the suffering of Jesus, reached an intensity which can hardly be imagined from a human point of view but which was mysteriously and supernaturally fruitful for the redemption of the world. Her ascent of Calvary and her standing at the foot of the Cross together with the Beloved Disciple were a special sort of sharing in the redeeming death of her Son.4

thereby participate in Jesus’ mission of redeeming love. Unlike Mary, we are in constant

the trials of life we are slowly burned clean; we can, as it were, become bread, to the extent that they mystery of Christ is communicated through our life and our suffering, and to the extent that his love makes us an offering to God and to our fellowmen.”8

It is there, beside the cross, that Mary’s soul is pierced by the sword mentioned in strive to unite our pain to Christ’s and to love as she loved.

The Completion of “What is Lacking in the Sufferings of Christ in Our Flesh”

(Col.1:24 RSV), provides us an important context for understanding the important role suffering can play for all of us as disciples of Christ.5 Commenting on this passage, with which Pope John Paul II opened his Apostolic Letter on the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering ( ), the Holy Father explains: “These words seem to be found at the end of the long road that winds through the suffering which forms part of the history of man and which is illuminated by the Word of God. These words have, as

Again, Pope Benedict makes clear that, “It is on the Cross that we see it, hidden yet powerful: the glory of God, the transformation of death into life. From the Cross, new life comes to us. On the Cross, Jesus becomes the source of life for himself and for all. On the Cross, death is conquered.”9 We must follow Mary’s lead in drawing close to lives as Christ’s disciples. Moreover, it is there at the cross that we might transform our suffering into prayer for the others who so desperately need our help. The sword that Simeon once foretold to Mary did indeed pierce her soul. However, because she allowed the pain of suffering with her Son, rather than shunning it, that sword also pierced sin, becoming a part of Christ’s victory over death and destruction. Mary’s innocence and purity were coupled with maternal compassion, and


Romans: “When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our

this attack on sin. Mary shows us that we also can share in Christ’s passion by uniting our suffering to His own. We will not be able to avoid suffering, but by accepting it and offering it, we have the opportunity to transform it into love. Whenever we






follow Mary and hear the Word of the Lord, and obey it (not least of all when we embrace suffering in love for the others) we, in the words of Pope Benedict, “give God a new chance to be born in our time, too.”10 I owe thanks to Fr. Pablo Gadenz for fruitful conversations on themes brought up in this paper, and for pointing me to useful sources. I also owe Maria Morrow thanks for critiquing a draft of this article. Dr. Jeffrey Morrow, assistant professor of Undergraduate Theology, earned his Ph.D. at the University of Dayton. He serves as a senior fellow of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, and is an active member of La Société Internationale d’Étudessur Alfred Loisy, the American Academy of Religion, the Society of Biblical Literature and the College Theology Society, among other professional organizations. NOTES 1. This translation is from the International Commission on English in the Liturgy, taken from the Vespers in Christian Prayer: The Liturgy of the Hours (New York: Catholic Book Publishing Co., 1976).The “light for revelation to the Gentiles” (Luke 2:32) is evocative of several passages from the Book of Isaiah, where we read about a light to the Gentiles/Nations/Peoples, e.g.: “I have given you as a covenant to the people [‘am], a light to the nations [goyim]” (42:6b); “a law [torah ‘amim]” (51:4b); “nations [goyim] shall come to your light” (60:3a); and especially, “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations [goyim], that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth” (49:6). 2. Cf. John Paul II, Apostolic Letter, 3. See Gary A. Anderson, Sin: A History (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009), 43-54. 4. Pope John Paul II, 25. 5. Jean-Nöel Aletti, Saint Paul. Épître aux Colossiens (Paris: Gabalda, 1993), 134-137. Here I am following

Mary As A Model Of Discipleship By Zeni V. Fox, Ph.D.

6. Pope John Paul II, 1. 7. Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth Part Two: Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2011), 236. 8. Ibid, 240. 9. Ibid, 165-166. 10. Pope Benedict XVI, Light of the World: The Pope, the Church, and the Signs of the Times: A Conversation with Peter Seewald (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010), 159.

The concepts of disciples and discipleship, are more familiar to Roman Catholics in recent years, as the fruits of the Biblical scholarship of the second half of the 20th use of Scripture in our liturgies and personal prayer life, such Biblical categories are better known to us. Our United States Bishops focused the task of evangelization in our time on this idea of disciples in their statement: Go and Make Disciples: A National Plan and Strategy for Catholic Evangelization in the United States, an anniversary edition in English and Spanish in 2002.1 Certainly discipleship, a word once not widely used by us, has come into common parlance today. This article will the Gospels, and examine Mary as the model of discipleship.





The Biblical Tradition of Discipleship The word “disciple” appears 250 times in the New Testament. Usually it refers to the disciples of Jesus, but there are several references to the disciples of the Pharisees as well. It was common at the time of Jesus for rabbis (or teachers) to have disciples. The Pharisees called themselves disciples of Moses, “attaching themselves thereby 2 The word means, literally, “to walk behind” or “to follow.” A disciple was one who learned from a teacher by following him. Disciples offered various services to the ones they followed, showing respect by carrying their sandals, leading their donkey, and in general, preparing the way for them when they were coming to teach. Each of these examples reminds of ways that the disciples of Jesus showed their respect to Him.


in the kingdom (Mt 20: 20-22). Another is the witness of the women at the foot of the Cross. Luke tells us of “the women who had come from Galilee with Jesus” and were following behind as they brought his body to the tomb (Lk 23: 55), and John names them: “Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala” (Jn 19:25 JB). Mark’s Gospel adds Salome to this list, adding an interesting detail: “These used to follow him and look after him when he was in Galilee. And there were many other women there who had come up to Jerusalem with him” (Mk 15: 40 JB).

Discipleship was a way of learning marked by sharing in the life of the master. One learned from what he said, and what he did. One learned by imitating him. In ancient times, most learning was done this way. Still today, we can note how often learning is focused on observing what a master does, and listening to what he says in the context of the work being done. We know that people are apprenticed to a trade as a carpenter or plumber. Some do student teaching with a master teacher; some serve as interns in hospitals (they make the Grand Rounds, learning from what is said, and what is done), what is required is watching, listening, and imitating, in order to learn.

his disciples when they saw Jesus passing by. John said, “Look, there is the Lamb of God,” and the disciples of John then followed Jesus. When Jesus saw them he asked what they wanted, and they asked where he lived (Jn 1:35 JB). “Come and see,” Jesus replied, and they went and stayed the rest of that day. The invitation is to follow, to be with, and so to become a disciple. This was the way to learn the ways of Jesus, of being meek and humble of heart, of reaching out to the downcast and marginalized, of praying to “Abba” with trust and love. Jesus and Disciples Jesus called many people to be his disciples. We read about the call of The Twelve, and the sending of the seventy-two. However, note that there are a number of others named had an intensive experience of discipleship. They traveled with him, shared meals But there were others who traveled with Him, some of whom were women. One example of this is the story of the mother of the sons of Zebedee, who approached Jesus as he is traveling to Jerusalem and asked that her sons have a place of prominence INSTITUTE FOR CHRISTIAN SPIRITUALITY





In addition to those who traveled with Jesus, apparently there were others who were called, but who lived out their discipleship in their own place. They learned deeply



traveled with Him. We think here of Martha and Mary. And, sadly, there were those who were called but turned away, such as the rich young man. We also know that some answered the call, but became unfaithful, as did Judas.

did not address women, surely not when they were alone, and an apparent outcast from their community. Furthermore, this woman was a Samaritan, and as she informed Him, Jews did not speak to them. Nonetheless, Jesus called her into conversation with Him, Jesus invited her to spend some time with Him — even as He had invited Andrew. Jesus begins: “Give me a drink.” She is shocked, but nonetheless tarries, and as she spends time with Him, the relationship grows. Jesus then goes deeper: “If only

The call to be a disciple was an invitation to share in Jesus’ own mission. This was done

husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband.” And she believes in Jesus.

others, and a willingness even to suffer for them. The characteristic mark of a disciple is love of God and neighbor. The second way of acting like Jesus was to perform the actions that he performed, inviting others to freedom, bringing healing, and proclaiming the good news to the poor, the marginalized and all who suffer. The call to the disciples

know Jesus by spending time with Him, of entering into an ever deeper relationship. As in the story of Andrew, the Samaritan Woman also goes to invite others: “Come and see a man who has told me all that I ever did; I wonder if he is the Christ.” And the result was that “Many Samaritans of that town believed in him on the strength of the woman’s testimony” (Jn 4: 29-30, 39).

disciples of all the nations” (Mk 28:18 JB). We do not know this woman’s name, but John’s account tells us that she was the Stories of Disciples A fuller understanding of discipleship emerges when one looks at the stories of particular disciples: for example, Andrew, the Samaritan Woman, Joseph of Arimithea and Martha and Mary. Examining varied details of each story will reveal different ways of being a disciple, and suggest the relevance of their lives to ours today.

disciple who traveled with Jesus, but rather one who followed without leaving home, a disciple in her own place. Joseph of Arimathea. As with Andrew, the story of Joseph of Arimathea is found in all

Andrew. The story of his call to be a disciple appears in each of the four gospels. Not many stories are told by each of the evangelists. John gives the fullest account in his

gospels give different details, which help us to think about Joseph, and know him better. Matthew tells us that that he was “a rich man of Arimathea” and that he had

As noted above, the account begins with John the Baptist naming Jesus as the Lamb of God, and concludes with the invitation of Jesus to come and see where He lived. We read that they went, and spent the rest of the day with Him. We note here that relationship is a primary dimension of discipleship.

was wealthy enough to not only own a tomb, but one hewn from rock (Mt 27:57- 60 JB).

The next act in this story is of Andrew meeting his brother Simon Peter early the next morning. He told him: “We have found the Messiah,” and took Simon to Jesus (Jn 1:41 JB). Here we see a pattern which will reappear: Jesus called Andrew to be a disciple. Then Andrew calls another, Simon Peter. In John, this motif will be repeated more than once. Inviting others into discipleship, often by the witness of ones’ life, is part of discipleship. Andrew: one of the twelve, who traveled with Jesus — a disciple.

John tells us that Joseph was a disciple, “though a secret one because he was afraid of the Jews.” He went to Pilate to ask that he be allowed to remove the body of Jesus. Permission was granted, and he was helped in his task by Nicodemus. John says that and he brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds” (Jn 19:38-39 JB). We might say that they were both “closet disciples,” and both men of means.

The Samaritan Woman. We meet the Samaritan Woman when Jesus does — at the well, in the heat of the day, alone. All the women of the village certainly came to draw water at the well, but not during the hottest part of the day. This detail signals to us that she was marginalized in her community. Jesus addressed her, a surprise, because men

Mark’s Gospel indicates that Joseph was “a prominent member of the Council,” and that “Joseph boldly went to Pilate and asked for the body” (Mk 15:42-44 JB). Clearly, he was of a social status, not only because of his wealth but also his position, to have the entré needed to not only go to Pilate, but to do so boldly. Even as a disciple of Jesus, Joseph continued in his position on the Council, a disciple in secret — perhaps precisely because of his work. He did not take a public role until a need arose. Furthermore, he





was able to meet the need precisely because of his position and wealth. He, too, stayed in his own place, but his discipleship was very different from that of the Samaritan Woman. Martha and Mary. We do not have the story of the call of Martha and Mary to discipleship, but we have a lengthy account of the sisters in John, a shorter one in Luke, and a story about Mary in Mark. John gives the most detail, in chapter 11, the story of Lazarus, and chapter 12, the story of the anointing with nard. What are some of the things that we know about these women? First, we know that they are sisters, and Lazarus is their brother; they seem to be a close family. Martha appears to have her own home, and Jesus liked to spend time there. Some say she may have been a widow. Their relationship with Jesus was quite intimate. Two parts of their story illustrate this. First, they were willing to share a family disagreement with him. (Martha said to Jesus: “Lord, do you not care that my sister is leaving me to do the serving all by myself? Please tell her to help me” (Lk 10:40 JB). Second, they sent for Him when Lazarus was dying. (Only those closest to a family are asked to come to gather around a death bed.) Martha and Mary seem to have had some wealth. One sign is that they had a home in which guests could be entertained. A second is the very expensive perfumed oil, which

hundred denari and the money given to the poor” (Mk 14:3-6 JB).3

they maintained their individuality in their relationship with Him. When Jesus visited them, Martha was “distracted with all the serving” while Mary “sat down at the Lord’s feet and listened to him speaking” (Lk 10:39 JB). Both are modalities of discipleship. At times the Church has seen Mary as the model of those in contemplative life, and Martha of those in apostolic religious orders. And yet, both of these are dimensions of the lives of individual disciples today — at times actively engaged, at times withdrawing to listen more intensely for God’s word. Yes, some will live one mode more than another, but discipleship will include both. Andrew, the Samaritan Woman, and Joseph each listened, and acted — this is the way of discipleship. Martha and Mary are disciples who lived at home and who practiced hospitality toward Jesus, together. They are disciples who supported Jesus through table fellowship, and who called on Him in their own hour of greatest need. As a disciple, Mary is a model of extravagant love, as we picture her using her own hair to wipe the perfumed oil from Jesus’ feet.



Mary as Disciple of the dimensions of discipleship by exploring the stories of men and women who in many ways are like ourselves. They model for us ways that discipleship is lived out in our homes, our places of work, and our ministries. At the heart of these examples is the relationship with Jesus. That relationship, and the particularities of each one’s life situation, gives rise to the diverse ways that these disciples shared in His mission. Mary had the most intimate relationship with Jesus, as the one who gave birth to Him, nurtured Him as a child and teenager, stood at the foot of His Cross, and was present in the Upper Room when He sent His Spirit on His disciples. Mary shares most fully in the mission of Jesus, inviting all her children into discipleship. By pondering some stories of Mary found in the New Testament we can understand this invitation more fully. The Annunciation. angel comes to call. Countless paintings have depicted this scene, usually with an opulence of surroundings and clothing that may not be accurate historical descriptions. However, the colors and fabrics suggest the inner beauty and richness of this woman, and the devotion of the artists to her. We all know the story well. One detail in the account suggests that this is a story of Mary’s call to discipleship. The Jerusalem Bible says, “Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favor. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son…” (Lk 1:31 JB). Listen. This is what disciples do. And Mary responds, “I am the handmaid of the Lord; let what you have said be done to me.” Mary’s response is one of surrender, surrender of her body, of her being to Jesus, the child in her womb. This is radical discipleship. Her begins her relationship with Jesus, who is both her son and her Lord. The next scene is that of the Visitation. We read, “Mary set out at that time and went as quickly as she could to a town in the hill country of Judah” in order to visit her days, and yet Mary, now pregnant, seems to have made it alone. One commentator says, “Mary went quietly and prudently to her older and more experienced cousin.”4 Disciples share communal life whether that of The Twelve, or the sisters Mary and Martha. Mary sought community in her visit to Elizabeth. In the we hear echoes of various psalms, and of the Song of Hannah. For example, after the birth of Samuel, Hannah’s prayer, in part, was: “My heart exults in Yahweh, my horn is saving… He raises the poor from the dust, he lifts the needy from the dunghill… .”





Mary knew the religious tradition of her people so deeply that she could call on it spontaneously, incorporating phrases and images in her own prayer. In taking Jesus to the Temple, Mary showed that she practiced the religious tradition Law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord — observing what stands written in the Law of the Lord…” (Lk 2:22-23 JB). Discipleship is lived out, in a personal relationship with Jesus but also by drawing on the riches of the religious tradition, praying within it, and practicing its customs. Pondering All Things in Her Heart. Luke gives us two examples of Mary trying to the end of the story of the visit by the shepherds. “As for Mary, she treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Lk 2:19 JB). The second is after Jesus was presented by his parents at the Temple, and Simeon and Anna had each offered praise and thanks for Him. When they returned home to Nazareth, Luke says “His mother stored up all these things in her heart” (Lk 2:52 JB). She pondered these puzzling things, worrisome things, things that could not be understood. She pondered them, seeking to discern their import. Discipleship does not necessarily make the path clear, does not necessarily take away worry and confusion, not then, and not now. Yet, the disciple places trust in Jesus, even while pondering.



These accounts remind us about an important dimension of discipleship, true in Jesus’ time, and true in our own. Discipleship is about relationship with Jesus, but it may not be a warm, intimate, feeling-kind of relationship. Rather, it is a relationship which sorrows when Jesus seems to be absent, which waits trustfully when petitions are not answered, which accepts that for those who live the life of the Spirit, the family bond is transcended by a wider love. It is this discipleship which held Mary at the foot of Mary to the Upper Room after the Ascension of Jesus, to be with the other disciples, including several other women — praying, and waiting. Mary teaches all who desire to be disciples: listen, surrender, deepen communal life, live into the riches of religious tradition, ponder what is worrisome, pray, wait… .5 Zeni V. Fox, Ph.D., Professor of Pastoral Theology, earned her Ph.D. from Fordham University. Her primary interest is the emerging phenomenon of lay ecclesial ministry in the Church in the United States. As an advisor to the United States Bishops’ Committee on the Laity and Subcommittee on Lay diverse Church representatives, including canonists, diocesan leaders, leaders of lay organizations and theologians, from this country and beyond. NOTES

Scenes from the Public Life of Jesus. Our imaginations can consider the years between the time of the infancy narratives, and the time when He began His ministry, thought to have been when he was about thirty. We expect that there was an intimacy in the family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, a peaceful context in their home for Jesus’ increase “in wisdom, stature and favor with God and man” (Lk 2:52 JB). And yet, even as early as the They had sought Jesus for three days, surely with great sorrow and anxiety, but He does not offer words of apology for their concern. His response is not solicitous of them at all: “Did you not know that I must be busy with my Father’s affairs?” (Lk 2:49 JB).

1. National Conference of Catholic Bishops (Washington, DC: United States Catholic Conference, 2002). 2. Dictionary of the Bible, John L. McKenzie (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Company, 1965), 200. 3. Although the woman in this account is not named, the fact that the event took place in Bethany suggests that it is a story about Mary, especially since it echoes the story told in John 12. 4. Edith Deen All the Women of the Bible, (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988), 160. 5. Sources consulted in preparing this chapter include: Catholicism, Richard P. McBrien (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1994); The HarperCollins Encyclopedia of Catholicism, Richard P. McBrien, general editor (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1995); The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, Raymond E. Brown, Joseph A. Fitzmyer and Roland E. Murphy, eds (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1990); and Dictionary of the Bible, John L. McKenzie (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Company, 1965).

At Cana, when Mary tells Jesus that the bride and groom have no wine, he responds, “Woman, why turn to me? My hour has not yet come” (Jn 2: 4-5 JB). True, her trust is response to the need she had named to her son. But His words to her continue to puzzle us even today. And when Jesus is sitting with a crowd around Him and word comes that His mother and brothers had arrived and were standing outside, His response is “Who are my mother and my brothers?” (Mk 3:31-35), which is surely painful for many mothers to hear.





AVE maris stella, Dei Mater alma, atque semper Virgo, felix caeli porta.

HAIL, O Star of the ocean, God’s own Mother blest, ever sinless Virgin, gate of heav’nly rest.

Sumens illud Ave, Gabrielis ore, funda nos in pace, mutans Hevae nomen

Taking that sweet Ave, which from Gabriel came,


changing Eve’s name.

These are all very Catholic (and Orthodox) Christian ideas. As such, they can be contrasted with frequent Protestant silence if not downright hostility to such ideas. An example of this silence is offered in the beginning of the most famous poem on the motif we are discussing, John Milton’s Paradise Lost. The fourth line shows that our restoration to Paradise is accorded here only to “one greater Man,” that is to the second Adam, Christ. If credit is to be given to anything feminine here, the scripturally careful Milton limits himself to invoking the aid in composing his poem to a Muse, a mythological feminine spirit of inspiration. Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste Brought death into the World, and all our woe, With loss of Eden, till one greater Man Restore us, and regain the blissful Seat, Sing, Heavenly Muse...”1

On Mary’s Role in Our Return to Paradise By Gregory Y. Glazov, D.Phil. (Oxon.)

In turning to consider what Scripture says about Mary’s role in our return to Paradise, it may be helpful to start with some reference points in hymns, art and literature that Ave Maris Stella (“Hail O Star of Ocean”) or Fra Angelico’s Annunciation felix caeli porta, birth to Mary with the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. INSTITUTE FOR CHRISTIAN SPIRITUALITY

Why should Christian tradition accord a role to Mary in our restoration to Paradise? The most succinct classic formulation of the argument was presented by John Henry Cardinal Newman in his essay, The Second Eve, in which he sought to show the antiquity and ubiquity of this conception in the Church, its scriptural moorings, and implications as to Mary’s role in Christian faith: What is the great rudimental teaching of Antiquity from its earliest date concerning her?... She is the Second Eve... ... In those primeval events, Eve had an integral share... She listened to the Evil Angel; she offered the fruit to her husband, and he ate of it. She co-operated, not as an irresponsible instrument, but intimately and personally in the sin; she brought it about. In that awful transaction there were three parties concerned, the serpent, the woman, and the man; and at the time of their sentence, an event was announced for the future, in which the three same parties were to meet again, the serpent, the woman, and the man; but it was to be a second Adam and a second Eve, and the new Eve was to be the mother of the new Adam. “I will put enmity IM M AC ULATE C O N C EP TIO N S EM IN ARY S C H O O L O F TH EO LO G Y





between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed.” The Seed of the woman is the Word Incarnate, and the Woman, whose seed or son He is, is His mother Mary. This interpretation, and the parallelism it involves, seem to me undeniable; but at all events (and this is my point) the parallelism is the doctrine of the Fathers, from the earliest times; and, this being established, we

to these words. If this is a wrong interpretation, what is a better way to understand Jesus’ response? I propose that the criterion for understanding this response would be the wider context of Luke’s Gospel.

and Rome; ... St. Justin Martyr (A.D. 120-165) represents Palestine; and St. Irenaeus (120-200) Asia Minor and Gaul, or rather... St. John the Evangelist... they do not speak of the Blessed Virgin merely as the physical instrument of our

passages in which Mary appears in St. Luke’s Gospel. Here, let us focus on three: Elizabeth’s words to Mary at the Visitation (Lk. 1:41-45), the description of her response to what the shepherds related to her and Joseph (Lk. 2:7-19) and Jesus’ words about her and his brothers after he presented a version of his Parable of the Sower (Lk. 8:15-21).

of doctrine which they exhibit, and again, the antithetical completeness of it, show that they themselves did not originate it.2

If the fathers did not originate this doctrine, how may it be seen in Scripture? Two Gospels have the most to say about Mary: St. Matthew and St. Luke. As St. Luke presents many scenes in which Mary is praised and blessed, let us look more closely at how he presents these scenes to understand the reasoning behind them and to see if these reasons shed light on the teaching that Mary’s role in our salvation is the reverse of Eve’s.

It is important to consider Luke’s overall presentation of Mary, because if we expand the context and look at how he presents her, we shall see that he consistently shows her

exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!... And blessed is she who believed that what was spoken to her from the

This passage praises or blesses Mary above all other women and explains why with the words of the anonymous woman in Luke 11 and the second is synonymous with Jesus’ response to that woman. To believe what is spoken by the Lord, is to hear the word of God and keep it. In presenting Mary in this way, St. Luke could not have understood

One place where this motif occurs, in a slightly veiled way, is in Luke chapter 11:14-28 where an anonymous woman blesses Jesus’ mother: Now he was casting out a demon that was dumb; when the demon had gone out, the dumb man spoke, and the people marveled. But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons;” while others, to test him, sought from him a sign from heaven. But he, knowing their thoughts, kingdom of God has come upon you... As he said this, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked!” But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Lk 11:14-28 RSV). What might be the reason for the anonymous woman’s praise of Mary and Jesus’ response to her. If one “googles” this passage, one will see that many Protestants understand Jesus’ response as a criticism or correction to her. In other words, they the woman that bore me, bless instead those who hear the word of God and keep it.” It is doubtful that any Catholic or Orthodox Christian would offer this interpretation

The second passage in question, Luke 2:7-19 reads:

Lord appeared to them... And the angel said... “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord... And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!” When the angels went away... the shepherds... went... and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them... and all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart (Lk 2:7-19 RSV). The passage in bold elliptically explains the blessing of Elizabeth. It announces that blesses him. It also announces the birth of this child, which touches on the reason





why Elizabeth and the anonymous woman bless His mother. However, as the last sentence is this passage shows, St. Luke is careful to characterize Mary by the virtues that Jesus emphasizes as deserving of blessing to the anonymous woman. To keep what the angels and the shepherds said and ponder them in the heart unpacks the meaning of “hearing God’s words and keeping them,” with the addition that “keeping” is not a passive activity but an active one, it entails “pondering.”



forth what she has heard with patience and become the mother of the Word that she heard and pondered in her heart. To state all this is simply to harmonize the words of Luke 11:28 with 8:21. If this explanation unpacks Luke’s Gospel’s intentions, we can see two things: The God so well and held on to his Word so closely that her hearing and keeping God’s Word yielded a hundredfold, namely Christ Himself and so, according to Luke 8:21,

And as for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bring forth fruit with patience... Take heed then how you hear; for to him who has will more be given, and from him who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.” Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him for the crowd. And he was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you.” But he said to them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it” (Lk 8:15-21 RSV). The words in bold emphasize that keeping the word of God takes patience, whereby the fruit of that keeping is not automatic but requires energy, action or “doing.” “Keeping the Word” is here interpreted as “doing the Word.” The words in the last sentence of this passage explain that those who hear the word of God and “do it,” are Jesus’

us, we can thank and bless her. However, Jesus would not have us bless her without understanding that the mystery of Mary’s spiritual maternity and entry into the Kingdom of God is available to us as well through the hearing and keeping of God’s Word. We are not to praise Mary without imitating her and by means of this imitation we too may become “mothers” of the Word. Finally, if entry into the Kingdom of God entails a return, as it were, to Paradise, or to something better, we see that Luke’s Gospel presents Mary as both a cause and an exemplar of that return. To illustrate this more clearly, we may ask which women Elizabeth was comparing Mary to when she blessed her? Being a Jewess and wife of a high priest, she would have compared her to the heroines of their own race and biblical salvation history. As such, she would have compared her to the mother of the race, Eve, to the matriarchs, such as Sarah and Rebekah, to mothers of great prophets, such as Hannah, and many others.

the biological to the spiritual sphere. I want to emphasize the mystery of spiritual maternity that he points to, omitting for the moment the category of brothers, we may this phrase lines up exactly with his response to the anonymous woman, I venture to add that we have assembled enough clues to understand Jesus response to that woman. Like St. Elizabeth, the anonymous woman praised Jesus’ mother. Jesus’ response to her does not contradict or criticize her for what she said but directs her to understand that the reason why what she said is true has to do with hearing and keeping the

woman who did not believe what the Lord said. This unbelief, once transferred to Adam, led to their loss of Paradise. Sarah too models a degree of unbelief, evident in the famous account in Genesis of her laughing at the words spoken by the Lord that she and Abraham would have a child in their old age:

something spiritually stirring and enlivening within her. This is to say that she hears the Word of God. Jesus’ words to her direct her to hold on and keep what she has heard and experienced and not let go of it, so that by not letting go of it she too may bring

They said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “She is in the tent.” The LORD said, “I will surely return to you in the spring, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?” The LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, and say, `Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, in the spring, and Sarah shall have a son.” But Sarah denied, saying, “I did not laugh”; for she was afraid. He said, “No, but you did laugh” (Gn 18:9-15 RSV).



to His mother but is available to all who hear and keep God’s word. Evidently, the woman blessed His mother because like Elizabeth, she was touched by the Spirit. This is corroborated by the fact that the passage in question highlights how Jesus’ audience responds to the Spirit in Him. Being touched by the Spirit, Elizabeth is moved



Noteworthy in this account is the LORD’s interest in confronting Sarah with the fact of her laughter. According to Freud, laughter has two poles, one expresses contempt afraid and denied her laughter when confronted because of that laughter’s former and belittling it. She was being rude. By taking the trouble to confront her for this unbelief, the LORD was evidently challenging her to not be rude and believe what was being said to her. This means that these words were spoken to her to stir up faith in these words that were spoken to her. This means that when she and Abraham next got together and began to laugh in the Aphroditesque sense of the word, they did so with faith as the letter to the Hebrews suggests by telling us that Isaac’s conception was the result of faith, “By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised” (Heb 11:11 RSV). Evidently, Sarah’s laughter is not symbolic of unbelief only, but of unbelief that has been turned by the Lord into belief (We can hope that in moments when we share Sarah’s initial mood and dismiss God’s words to us, that He will take the trouble to confront us for laughing at Him and dismissing Him and transform this laughter and unbelief into and make her “mother of the nations” (Gn 17:16). Are we not to understand that when Elizabeth blesses Mary among all women, she is announcing that Mary is greater than both Eve, the mother of all living and Sarah the mother of the nations? If we think about Elizabeth’s blessing a little more, we may notice that Elizabeth and Sarah are actually rather similar inasmuch as both were women who conceived by divine assistance after passing child-bearing age. Another woman who belongs to this category is Hannah, the mother of Samuel, one of the Old Testament’s greatest prophets (cf. Jer 15:1). To notice this also prompts the insight that Elizabeth herself is not least among this great company, since she is a wife of a high priest and mother of one who Jesus called the greatest prophet and man born of women (Mt 11:11a; Lk 7:28a). By the logic of Elizabeth and the anonymous woman, this would make Elizabeth the greatest woman of all, except for the one she acknowledges to be even greater on account of her faith - Mary. But what is so great about her son, John the Baptist, and what sets him off as a prophet and a man from all those born of women? What is distinctive about him is that he was anointed in the womb by the Holy Spirit,



the Spirit; Mary because she is espoused by the Spirit. But according to Jesus’ words to the anonymous woman, the same can happen to us, “He who is least in the Kingdom of God/Heaven,” that is, he who hears the Word of God (i.e. in the Spirit) and keeps it, even if it should be minuscule, is greater than even John (Mt 11:11b; Lk 7:28b).

and offers many parables to explain it. According to a hermit, brother Anthony, who important of these because it explains that God’s relationship to us is like the relationship of a Sower and His Seed to ground. This is an analogy that is supported by the fact that the Hebrew words for man (Adam) and earth (Adama) are etymologically related. In the book, The Bread of God,3 Brother Anthony explains that the parable serves to highlight the mystery of the Kingdom, which has to do with transformation. The ground which holds on or keeps the seed sown within it enters into the life of that seed and is in the process transformed by it, lifted up by it, enters into the life of that seed, and in time bears fruit with its own seeds that are sown. The fruit is the fruit of the ground’s keeping of the original seed. The fruit and the children seeds are the children of this keeping. The ground that keeps the seed is their mother. Without the seed, the soil compare to the glory it attains in and through the seed. In the Kingdom of God, entry into this Kingdom involves a process of transformation of the human heart by the keeping of the Word and entry into its Spirit. In the book The Bread of God, Brother Anthony went on to analyze the parables which followed the Parable of the Sower in Jesus’ teaching and their various versions. In doing this, he emphasized the importance of grasping that the versions presented by Matthew, Mark and Luke are not to be confused with each other but to be seen as being told on different occasions and in different locations, as described in the Gospels, and bearing distinct emphases. According to Brother Anthony, St. Matthew speaks of the mystery of understanding God’s Word, St. Mark writes of the mystery of God inasmuch as it exists in Christ’s people, while St. Luke highlights the mystery of God in Christ Himself. Consequently, when we come to the Parable of the Mustard Seed, we see that whereas St. Matthew and St. Mark narrate two separate versions of the parable told by Jesus by the seaside (see Mt 12:2 and Mk 4:1) which speak of a seed cast in a 13:10) which speaks of the seed cast in the Garden (see Table 1.). In these Parables,

all other men. From all this I infer that what makes people great according to Jesus is proximity and relationship to the Holy Spirit. John and his mother Elizabeth are great

imagery in the initial chapters of the book of Genesis which tells us that Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden to the Field, meaning that all of their children, collectively called “the sons of man” inhabit the Field and not the Garden. In this





St. Matthew 13:31-32 31

Another parable He

St. Mark 4:30-34 30

And he said, “With what shall we

St. Luke 13:11-21 11

And there was a woman who ...for

put before them, saying,

compare the kingdom of God? And

eighteen years...was bent over...

“The kingdom of heaven

to what parable shall we compare


is like a grain of mustard


upon her, and immediately she was

seed which a man took

when it may be sown in the ground,

made straight...17 And when He had

is smaller than all the seeds that are

said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame; and all the


As a grain of mustard, which,

And ...Jesus ...13 ...laid his hands

it is the smallest of all

in the ground; 32 But when it is sown

seeds, but when it may

it comes up and becomes greater

be grown/increased it is

than all the vegetables, and makes

things that were being done by him.

greater than the vegeta-

great branches, so that the birds


bles and becomes a tree,

heaven are able to shelter under its

kingdom of God like? And to what

so that the birds of heaven

shade.” 33 With many such parables

shall I liken it?19 It is like to a grain of

come and make nests in its

he spoke the word to them, as they

mustard which a man took and cast


were able to hear it;34 he did not

into his own garden; and it grew and

speak to them without a parable,

became a great tree, and the birds of

but privately to his own disciples

heaven made nests in its branches.”20

he explained everything.

And again he said, “To what shall I


He said therefore, “To what is the

compare the kingdom of God?21 It is like leaven which a woman took and was all leavened.”

Table 1. (Scripture translations as given in the The Bread of God p. 201)

sown in it. The yield depends on many things and the language is conditional (“may be grown/ increased” Mt 13:32; “when it is sown...” Mk 4:32). In St. Luke, which treats of the Kingdom of God in Christ, and where Christ does not involve us, as in Mark, to explain the Kingdom of God, but draws His own comparison, the imagery reverts back to the Garden and there is neither any conditionality about the yield, nor is there any impairment of the soil. The garden, on receiving the mustard seed, is transformed directly into a great tree. Brother Anthony went on to document how the “garden” serves as a metaphor for a woman in the Scriptures and Rabbinic writings and how in this version of the Parable, which focuses on Mary’s role in the Incarnation, Jesus praised His Mother in a veiled manner as the Garden in which He took root and reached His stature.4




The Parables of the Sower emphasizes that our entry into the Kingdom of God requires patience. This is to anticipate that becoming a mother of the word is a mystery fraught with danger and risk. It is possible by hard-heartedness, folly, and impatience to give in to a variety of temptations and despair and lose the Word that is able to transform and save the ground of our hearts. That Word is Christ. In speaking of this reality directly to His disciples at the Last Supper, Jesus compared them collectively to a woman who was in labor and so was in sorrow. He taught them to prepare for the tribulation and anguish of His death and understand it as a labor pain through and on the other side of which they would see him again. The implication is that they should not let go of their faith in Him, no matter what. They should not let go or lose faith in the sorrowful time, which He calls “now” and “hour of death.” In John’s Gospel, the evangelist writes, “When a woman is in travail she has sorrow, because her hour has come; but a child is born into the world. So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and describing the scene at Golgotha, the evangelist continues, “... But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home” (Jn 19:24-27 RSV). Had the disciples, represented as soil, let go of the Word of God sown in their hearts in the experience of Christ’s passion and death, they would have remained little more than soil. Had they, represented collectively, as a woman in labor, lost faith in Christ in the experience of His passion and death, their relationship to Christ would have resulted in little more than a still-birth as opposed to their becoming mothers or brothers of the Word or of Christ. For Christ’s Word to take root on earth and transform His hearers into His Mother and Brothers, it was essential for one or more of them to not let go of God during this anguishing and hope-crossing time. For the Kingdom of God to take root in his disciples and receive the Holy Spirit into their hearts, it was essential for at least one of them to persevere and hold on to Him and His words through this hour. The Gospel of John tells us that Mary, the beloved disciple and three other women stood at the Cross. Does the fact that they stood and did not swoon and fall connote that they continued to stand in faith regardless of beholding His passion and death? This is, at least, is the implication of Jesus’ words to his mother in declaring her at this hour to be “mother” of his beloved disciple, thereby making him his “brother.” As a result, at least one of his disciples, his mother, at this hour of anguish, is shown to





progress to spiritual motherhood and give birth to His brothers. Those who become but also at the time of His dying. At this moment, standing at the Tree of Death, Jesus addresses her as Woman, signifying her role in reversing the unbelief by which Eve lost for us the Tree of Life. The beloved disciple believes in Christ’s resurrection by hearing and not by seeing. As such, he is a model of faith for us. Mary, however, makes him and therefore us, Christ’s brothers in the faith, even before the resurrection, at the hour of death. There will be many moments in life, “now” and at the “hour of death” in which we will be confronted with experiences that threaten to cross out our hopes and dreams. At these moments we can draw strength to not lose hope from Mary who stood and did not lose hope at the Cross. By taking her into our home at such hours, we can hold on to God’s words to us, to Christ, and so become His brothers. In this way, Mary will be for us a maris stella, a felix caeli porta. Gregory Glazov received his B.A. in Classics, Biology and Physics at King’s College, Canada and an M.Phil. and D. Phil. in Jewish and Old Testament Studies from Oxford University. From 1992 to 2002 he taught Theology, Hebrew and Old Testament Studies at Oxford in Plater College, Lady Margaret Hall, Blackfriars and St. Benet’s Hall. Currently, he is an Associate Professor at Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology where he teaches a variety of Scripture classes. His principle interests are in Old Testament Studies, especially Prophetic Literature and the Book of Job, as well as Jewish-Christian relations, the Lord’s Prayer and Hail Mary, and the Jewish Writings of the Russian philosopher Vladimir Solovyov. NOTES 1. John Mitton, Paradise Lost, ed. Susan L. Rattiner, (Mineola, NY: Dover Publications , 2005), 3. 2. John Henry Newman, Mary - The Second Eve, comp. Sister Eileen Breen, F.M.A., (Huerefordshire, England: Fowler-Wright Books, 1953), 5-6. 3. Brother Anthony, The Bread of God, (New York: Vantage Press, 1975), 181-200. 4. Ibid, 198-200.

Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant

By Father Pablo T. Gadenz, S.S.L, S.T.D. Ave verum Corpus natum de Maria Virgine: These are the opening words of a short Eucharistic hymn dating from the 14th century and attributed to Pope Innocent VI (1352-1362).1 The hymn is familiar to many both in its simple Gregorian chant setting and in the more elaborate musical setting by Mozart. Ave verum Corpus natum de Maria Virgine, “Hail, true Body born of the Virgin Mary.” These words express an important truth, namely, that the Body of Christ in the Holy Eucharist, which we consecrate in the Holy Mass, which we receive in Holy Communion, and which we adore in the Blessed Sacrament reserved in the tabernacle or exposed in the monstrance on the altar, is the same Body of Christ that was born 2,000 years ago of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Bethlehem on nine months prior to his birth, while she was in Nazareth, at the Annunciation when Mary pronounced her Fiat in response to the message of the Angel Gabriel. From that point on, and for the duration of her pregnancy, Mary was, in the words 2 Mary carried within in the Old Testament, the Ark of the Covenant carried the Word of God, the Ten





Commandments, written on the stone tablets. Mary thus became the new Ark of the Covenant, a title which Christian tradition also has given her — for example, in the Litany of Loreto — and which is used in Magisterial documents, such as in Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis, where Mary is called the “ark of the new and eternal covenant.”3 In this essay,4 to the Eucharist. Since Mary always leads us to Jesus, by considering Mary as the Ark of the New Covenant, we have the opportunity to consider our own relationship with



was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled upon it, and the glory the Hebrew verb related to the noun form shekinah, the Mishnaic Hebrew word later used by the rabbis to refer to God’s glorious presence dwelling in the Temple and among the people of Israel.9 God, whom “the heavens and even the highest heavens cannot contain” (2 Chr 2:5 NAB), nevertheless came close to his people through his dwelling presence, the shekinah. Thus, the Jewish Targums (the paraphrases of Scripture written in Aramaic and read in the synagogues) comment on Ex 40:34-35, 10

which she as the Ark of the New Covenant carried Jesus in her womb. Mary, the Living Ark of the New Covenant In Nazareth, in the Basilica of the Annunciation built over the traditional site of the Latin inscription on it, Verbum caro hic factum est, (cf. Jn 1:14). As the British theologian John Saward explains, the extra hic (“here”) added to the words of John’s Gospel indicates that“[i]t was there”5 in the town of there in the womb of the Virgin Mary. At the moment of her acceptance of the mission given to her, that is, at the moment of her Fiat, “Be it done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38), the Incarnation took place. “God the Son, without ceasing to be true God, assumed a complete human nature into the unity of his divine person and became true man.” That and blood, a rational soul created and infused into the body and, in the same instant, the complete human nature united to the divine Word.”6 Mary thus became the Ark of the New Covenant, as her womb became the dwelling-place understand this wondrous event in light of its Old Testament type, the Ark of the Covenant.7 Let’s review this background. Recall that long before the construction of the Temple in Jerusalem by King Solomon, the people of Israel had the Tabernacle or Tent of Meeting (cf. Ex 40:2), which was, in effect, a portable temple. In the days of Moses, during the forty years of the people’s wandering in the wilderness toward the Promised Land, the Tent of Meeting with the Ark of Covenant in it was pitched in the center of ple of Israel during their exodus from Egypt, leading them “in a pillar of cloud by 8 Similarly, at the end of the book of Exodus, after Moses received the Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai and built the Tent of Meeting, placing the Ark of the Covenant in it, the cloud of God’s presence INSTITUTE FOR CHRISTIAN SPIRITUALITY

The Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, made several hundred years before Christ, translated the rather common verb in a unique way in Exodus 40:35, using the uncommon Greek verb meaning “overshadow.”11 In the New Testament, this verb episkia is used to describe another cloud, namely, the cloud that overshadows Mk 9:7; Lk 9:34), the cloud from which is heard the voice of God the Father, saying, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him” (Mk 9:7). Indeed, Jesus the Son of God is overshadowed the Word of God written on the stone tablets. Jesus himself is now the shekinah presence of God’s dwelling among human beings. What does that then say about his mother Mary? It suggests that, during the nine months of her pregnancy, she was the dwelling place of God, having within her the Word of God, not written that she will be the mother of the Son of God, he explains, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you” (Lk 1:35). For the word “overshadow” here, Luke uses the same verb suggesting that Mary, on account of the virginal conception of Jesus that is about to take place, will become the new Ark of the Covenant, a living Temple, the dwelling place of God’s presence.12 the antitypical shrine and sanctuary of the divine presence.”13 Such a conclusion also is also supported by recalling the many parallels in Luke chapter 1 between the Temple in Jerusalem while the second occurs, as it were, in a new temple, in the deceptive simplicity of Nazareth, where the Virgin Mother of God is “more exalted than any man-made temple.”14 Several hundred years after Moses’ construction of the Tent of Meeting in the wilderness, long after the Israelites had entered into the Promised Land, the monarchy arose in things he did was to bring the Ark of the Covenant up to the city of Jerusalem as its more IM M AC ULATE C O N C EP TIO N S EM IN ARY S C H O O L O F TH EO LO G Y



permanent location. We read about King David’s transfer of the Ark of the Covenant in two places in the Old Testament: the Second Book of Samuel (chapter 6) and the First Book of Chronicles (chapters 13 and 15–16). In these passages (especially in their Greek version from the Septuagint (LXX)), there are various details, which parallel details of Mary’s Visitation of Elizabeth, as the evangelist Luke further develops the portrayal of Mary as the new Ark of the Covenant. First, David “arose” and “went” (Greek verbs and poreuomai in 2 Sm 6:2 LXX) to bring up the Ark of the Covenant. Second, Judah Sm 7:1; 1 Chr 13:5-6), where the Ark was then located. Third, he was for a time fearful of drawing so near to the Ark of the Covenant that he asked, “How can the ark of the LORD come to me?” (2 Sm 6:9). Fourth, as a result, he let the Ark stay in the “house” of a certain Obed-Edom “for three months” (2 Sm 6:10-11; 1 Chr 13:13-14). Fifth, when David rejoicing (2 Sm 6:12), dancing and leaping (Greek verb in 2 Sm 6:16 Symmachus15; cf. 2 Sm 6:14, 21), accompanied by the shouts (Greek noun in 2 Sm 6:15 LXX) of the people who were sounding (Greek verb in 1 Chr 15:28 LXX)16 their instruments. These things all took place with the transfer of the Ark of the Covenant. Turning to the Gospel passage of the Visitation (Lk 1:39-56), we see how it suggests that Mary is the new Ark of the Covenant, because of the allusions to the story of David’s transfer of the Ark. First, “having arisen,” Mary “went” (same Greek verbs and poreuomai in Lk 1:39), as David did. Second, Mary went to a village in the “hill country” of Judah (the modern-day Ain Karim) (Lk 1:39), retracing the steps of David, as it were, and entering the “house” of Zechariah (Lk 1:40). Third, when Elizabeth saw Mary, she exclaimed: “Whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Lk 1:43), similar to David’s question: “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” Fourth, Mary remained with Elizabeth for about “three months” (Lk 1:56), the length of time that David let the Ark of the Covenant remain in the house of Obed-Edom before bringing it up to Jerusalem. Fifth, the infant John the Baptist in Elizabeth’s womb leapt ( in Lk 1:41, 44) for joy, as David had done, while Elizabeth herself cried out with a great shout ( and in Lk 1:42), as the people of Israel had done. In view of all these allusions, we can see more clearly that the Gospel passage of the Visitation is presenting Mary as the new Ark of the Covenant.17 When David brought the Ark up to Jerusalem, he placed it in a tent (2 Sm 6:17). Shortly thereafter, however, he decided to build a Temple, the house of the Lord (2 Sm 7:1-3). The prophet Nathan then returned, however, to tell him that the Lord would instead build him a house, that is, a royal dynasty (2 Sm 7:11-16). Nathan also explained to David that his son would be the one to build the house of the Lord, the Temple. Indeed, this is what Solomon did after he became king. In the First Book of Kings, we read INSTITUTE FOR CHRISTIAN SPIRITUALITY



about the dedication of the Temple (1 Kgs 8), where once again the cloud of God’s glory appeared (1 Kgs 8:10-12), the shekinah dwelling presence of God. The earthly Temple in Jerusalem thus became the place of God’s dwelling among his people. Eventually, however, the Temple of Solomon was destroyed at the time of the Babylonian exile, and the Ark of the Covenant was lost. The Second Book of Maccabees indicates that the prophet Jeremiah hid the Ark of the Covenant on Mount Sinai (2 Mc 2:4-5). Jeremiah himself prophesied, however, that the day would come when the people would no longer even miss the Ark of the Covenant, “in those days, says the LORD, they will no longer say, ‘The ark of the covenant of the LORD.’ It will not come to mind, nor will they remember it or miss it, nor will another one be made” (Jer 3:16). also prophesied by Jeremiah: “Behold, days are coming, says the LORD, and I will make with the house of Israel and the house of Judah a new covenant” (Jer 31:31). As Christians, we believe that Jesus established this “new covenant” (cf. Lk 22:20; 1 Cor 11:25; 2 Cor 3:6; Heb 8:8, 13; 9:15; 12:24). Now, in the writings of the new covenant, that is, in the New Testament, there are only two references to the Ark of the existed in Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. However, the second occurrence, in Revelation 11:19, refers not to the Ark in the earthly Temple, but to the Ark of the Covenant in the heavenly Temple, “God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen in his temple” (Rv 11:19). Thus, as Jeremiah had prophesied, the earthly Ark of the Covenant is not remade, but instead gives way to the verse of the Book of Revelation with “a woman clothed with the sun” (Rv 12:1), who is described as the mother of the Messiah (Rv 12:5). One, therefore, thinks of Mary, and 18 as the Ark of the New Covenant.

helpful by way of summary to note that several of the passages we have considered are read in the liturgy on the Solemnity of the Assumption (August 15), thus emphasizing the typology of Mary as the Ark of the New Covenant. First, at the Vigil Mass of the Assumption on the evening of August 14, the First Reading is the passage from First Chronicles (1 Chr 15:3-4, 15; 16:1-2) about the transfer of the Ark to Jerusalem, suggesting a parallel to Mary’s Assumption, body and soul, to heaven (the heavenly Jerusalem).19 This parallel is further emphasized by the verse used as the response to the Psalm at the Vigil Mass, “Lord, go up to the place of your rest, you and the ark of your holiness” (Ps 132:8).20 The theme continues at the Mass on August 15, where the First Reading is from the Book of Revelation (Rv 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab), mentioning the heavenly Ark of the Covenant




Visitation (Lk 1:39-56), which, as we have seen, echoes the Old Testament passages about the transfer of the Ark. This liturgical emphasis on the Ark of the Covenant as a type discussed above, especially since, as Pope Benedict XVI teaches in his Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini, “the primary setting for scriptural interpretation is the life of the Church” and “the liturgy is the privileged setting in which God speaks to us in the midst of our lives.”21 Mary and the Eucharist Having discussed Mary as the Ark of the New Covenant, let us now consider some aspects of Mary’s relationship to the Eucharist. This is what Blessed Pope John Paul II does in his Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, as he refers to Mary as a “woman of the Eucharist” and notes that “[t]he Church, which looks to Mary as a model, is also called to imitate her in her relationship with this most holy mystery.”22 so as to deepen our relationship with Jesus in the Eucharist. Faith in Jesus’ Real Presence in the Eucharist: Recalling the Annunciation, there is an analogy between Mary’s virginal conception by the overshadowing power of the Holy Spirit (Lk 1:35) and the epiclesis of the Mass, the prayer where the priest stretches out his hands over the bread and wine and asks “the Father to send his Holy Spirit […] so that by his power they may become the body and blood of Jesus Christ.”23 Moreover, as Pope John Paul II notes, “there is a profound analogy between the Fiat which Mary said in reply to the angel, and the Amen which every believer says when receiving the body of the Lord.”24 As Mary believed that the child Jesus whom she would conceive was the Son of God (Lk 1:35), so too we are called to believe that in Holy Communion, we receive “the same Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Mary.”25


in her most holy womb […] how holy, and virtuous, and worthy should not a priest be; he touches Christ with his own hands […]. A priest receives him into his heart and mouth and offers him to others to be received.”27 Awareness of Mary’s Presence at the Celebration of the Eucharist: While Mary was not present at the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper, she is mentioned as being present with the Eleven Apostles and others in the Upper Room in Jerusalem following Jesus’ Ascension into heaven (Acts 1:14). We can surmise, therefore, that she was also present for the celebration of the Eucharist in the early Church, described as the “breaking of the bread” (Acts 2:42; cf. Lk 24:35)28. Blessed Pope John Paul II asks: “What must Mary have felt as she heard from the mouth of Peter, John, James and the other apostles the words spoken at the Last Supper: ‘This is my body which is given for you’ (Lk 22:19)? The body given up for us and made present under sacramental signs was the same body which she had conceived in her womb!”29 As in the early Church, so also today, Mary is still present for the celebration of the Eucharist, and indeed she is commemorated in the Eucharistic Prayer at every Mass.30 Let us pray therefore that Mary may help us welcome Jesus who comes to us in the Eucharist, as she welcomed him at his conception. In the words of Pope Benedict: “May Mary Most Holy, the Immaculate Virgin, ark of the new and eternal covenant, accompany us on our way to meet the Lord who comes.”31 Mary, the Eucharist, and Our Hope for Heaven: On the Solemnity of the Assumption, we celebrate how Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant, was brought body and soul to the heavenly Jerusalem, as also the Ark in the Old Testament had been brought to the earthly Jerusalem. As Pope Benedict XVI explains, “Mary’s Assumption body and soul into heaven is for us a sign of sure hope, for it shows us, on our pilgrimage through time, the eschatological goal of which the sacrament of the Eucharist enables us even now to have a foretaste.”32 Mary, assumed into Heaven, helps us by her motherly interces-

Joy in the Presence of the Eucharistic Jesus: At the Visitation, John the Baptist leapt for

on account of Jesus’ presence in Holy Communion. In this regard, note the following words from the Prayer after Communion on the Feast of the Visitation: “as Saint 26

Reverence for Jesus in the Eucharist: Considering how Mary became a living temple of God can help us appreciate how we, too, become God’s temples and must therefore strive for holiness (cf. 1 Cor 3:16-17; 6:19; 2 Cor 6:16). This is particularly true when we receive Jesus in Holy Communion. Consider some words of St. Francis addressed to priests, which by extension also largely apply to all Christians receiving Holy Communion, “If it is right to honour the Blessed Virgin Mary because she bore him




In conclusion, we return to our hymn: Ave verum Corpus natum de Maria Virgine, “Hail, true Body born of the Virgin Mary.” God is truly present among us in the Eucharistic Body of Jesus, born of Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant. Father Pablo T. Gadenz, Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies, received his S.S.L. Gregorian University in Rome. Among his research interests are the use of the Old Testament in the New Testament and the theological interpretation of Scripture, building bridges between exegetical study and the Church’s theology and liturgy. Father Gadenz is a priest of the Diocese of Trenton, and he assists on weekends at Christ the King Parish in Long Branch, NJ.






1. Matthew Britt, The Hymns of the Breviary and the Missal (New York: Benziger Brothers, 1952), 192. 2. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia (April 17, 2003) (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2003), 55. 3. Benedict XVI, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis (February 22, 2007) (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2007), 96. 4. The present essay was originally delivered as a lecture on November 11, 2010. 5. John Saward, Redeemer in the Womb: Jesus Living in Mary (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1993), 3. 6. Saward, 3. 7. On the typology in Luke 1 portraying Mary as the new Ark of the Covenant, see especially René Laurentin, The Truth of Christmas beyond the Myths: The Gospels of the Infancy of Christ, trans. Michael J. Wrenn (Petersham, MA: St. Bede’s Publications, 1986), 54-58, 150-151. 8. Scripture translations are from the NRSV Bible unless otherwise noted. 9. For a discussion of the shekinah, see, for example, Yves M.-J. Congar, The Mystery of the Temple, trans. Reginald F. Trebett (Westminster, MD: Newman Press, 1962), 93-94. 10. See Michael McNamara, Robert Hayward, and Michael Maher, trans. and eds., gum Pseudo-Jonathan: Exodus, The Aramaic Bible: The Targums 2 (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1994), 157-158, 275. 11. Normally, the verb sh kan is translated by the Greek verbs or . The Greek verb of

in the New Testament is in Acts 5:15, describing Peter’s shadow which falls on the sick. 13. Saward, 28. A recent biblical monograph on Luke’s Gospel similarly notes the use of in Luke 1:35 and explains that Mary is a living Tent inhabited by God’s holiness; see Jean-Noël Aletti, Le Jésus de Luc, Jésus et JésusChrist 98 (Paris: Mame-Desclée, 2010), 51-52: “Gabriel laisse ainsi entendre que Marie est une tente vivante habitée par la sainteté de Dieu, celle même de son enfant.” 14. Saward, 29. On Mary as the new Temple, see also Gary A. Anderson, “Mary in the Old Testament,” Pro Ecclesia 16, no. 1 (2007): 50: “Her body remains holy forever thereafter as a result of housing the Holy One of Israel. And as the temple could be revered and praised […], so Mary could be revered and adored. Not as a god(dess), but as the one who housed God. If one could turn to the temple and say, ‘how lovely is thy dwelling place,’ and attend to its every architectural detail, why would one not do the same with the Theotokos?” 15. Laurentin, 57. Symmachus refers to the translator of one of the Greek versions of the Hebrew Bible other than the Septuagint. 16. As Laurentin, 57-58, explains, the verb (cf. Elizabeth’s crying out in Luke 1:42) is “used exclusively in the OT for liturgical acclamations (1 Chr 16:4, 5, 42), and more especially for the acclamations accompanying the transfer of the Ark of the Covenant (1 Chr 15:28; 2 Chr 5:13: this word not being found elsewhere in the LXX).” 17. See the homily by Pope Benedict XVI on the Solemnity of the Assumption, August 15, 2006, in Maria: Pope Benedict XVI on the Mother of God Visitation], Saint Luke, with various allusions, makes us understand that Mary is the true Ark of the Covenant, that People of God (Israel / the Church) and Mary. For a summary, see Raymond E. Brown, The Gospel According to John (XIII–XXI), Anchor Bible 29A (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1970), 2:732; and Ignace de la Potterie, Mary in the Mystery of the Covenant, trans. Bertrand Buby (New York: Alba House, 1992), 260. 19. On the Ark of the Covenant as a type of Mary considered in her Assumption into heaven, see St. John Damascene, Homily 1 on the Dormition, 12, in On the Dormition of Mary: Early Patristic Homilies, trans. Brian E. Daley (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1998), 197-198: “The company of the Apostles lift you up on their shoulders, the true ark of the Lord God, as once the priests lifted up the typological ark that pointed the way to you; placing you in the tomb, they carry you, as through another Jordan (cf. Jos 3:15), into the true land of promise—to the ‘Jerusalem which is above, the mother of all the faithful’ (Heb 11:10).[…] Your immaculate, completely spotless body was not left on earth, but you have been transported to the royal dwelling-place of heaven as queen, as lady, as mistress, as Mother of God, as the one who truly gave God birth.” 20. See, for example, Lectionary for Mass, (Totowa, NJ: Catholic Book Publishing, 1998), 1:1100 21. Benedict XVI, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini (September 30, 2010) (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2010), 29 and 52. 22. John Paul II, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 53. 23. See the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd ed. (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1997), n. 1353. 24. Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 55. 25. Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 55. 26. See, for example, The Roman Missal (Totowa, NJ: Catholic Book Publishing, 2011), 718. 27. St. Francis of Assisi, “Letter to a General Chapter,” in St. Francis of Assisi, Writings and Early Biographies: English Omnibus of the Sources for the Life of St. Francis, ed. Marion A. Habig (Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, 1973), 105. 28. See John Paul II, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 53. 29. John Paul II, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 56. 30. John Paul II, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 57. 31. Benedict XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis, 96. 32. Benedict XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis, 33. 33. Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1402.


Mary and Ecumenism By Monsignor John A. Radano, Ph.D.

Focusing on “Mary and Ecumenism,” I begin with a brief word about ecumenism, in general. The modern ecumenical movement involves those efforts, over the last century, by separated Christians to overcome their divisions, and seek to establish unity. Christian East, and the Christian West went into schism, which, after 950 years, is not yet fully healed. The 16th century Protestant Reformation led to divisions in the West, centuries, following those events, up until now, Christians have lived in separation. But in the early twentieth century, especially starting with the 1910 World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, a movement began, aimed at overcoming those divisions. Protestants, Anglicans and Orthodox took steps leading to the creation of the World Council of Churches in 1948. During the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church committed itself very strongly to this movement, with its Decree on Ecumenism. The ecumenical movement over the last century has brought many positive results. IM M AC ULATE C O N C EP TIO N S EM IN ARY S C H O O L O F TH EO LO G Y





One important aspect of ecumenism, in trying to overcome divisions, includes dialogue among Christians to try to resolve the theological issues over which they have been divided, including those concerning doctrine and devotion about Mary.

Mary in Baptist-Catholic Dialogue Unlike most other Christian World Communions, the Baptist World Alliance did not

Mary and The Current Ecumenical Situation As is well known, Blessed Pope John Paul II had a very deep devotion to Mary. In his encyclical Redemptoris Mater, he says of Mary:

and the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) on the international level. The dialogue

Why should we not all together look to her as our common Mother who prays for the unity of God’s family and who ‘precedes’ us all at the head of the long line of witnesses of faith in the One Lord, the Son of God, who was conceived in her virginal womb by the power of the Holy Spirit? (30). Certainly, Catholics look to her in this way. Among other Christians, the Orthodox have a deep devotion to Mary, and Catholics and Orthodox share much in common concerning doctrine and devotion about Mary. But in the complex 16th-century Reformation, some positions emphasized by Protestant reformers led to strong reactions to Catholic Marian doctrine and devotion.The Reformers re-emphasized Christ as the seemed to take away from Christ as that one Mediator. They emphasized “Sola Scriptura,” Scripture alone, as the singular authoritative source to which we refer in identifying Christian faith, rather than Scripture and Tradition. Thus, Protestants would later question Catholic dogmas such as the Immaculate Conception and Assumption as lacking Protestants followed. Often, when one side held strongly to a particular position, the other deemphasized it. A recent author has stated that the complex Mariology of the Roman Catholic Church contrasts sharply with the virtual absence of Mary in Protestant evangelical thought.1 Some Protestants have been critical of what they consider excesses in devotion to Mary on the part of some Catholics. Pope Paul VI, with such criticisms in mind, while promoting strong Catholic devotion to Mary, emphasized that such devotion must be free of excesses: “every care should be taken to avoid exaggerations which could mislead the Christian brethren about the true doctrine of the Catholic Church…(and) any manifestation of cult…opposed to correct Catholic practice should be eliminated.”2

different times. However, the dialogue’s report, Summons to Witness to Christ in Today’s World (1990), indicated that the “Place of Mary in faith and practice” was one of the devotion that seems to compromise the sole mediatorship of Jesus as Lord and Savior, and the doctrines such as the Immaculate Conception and Assumption which Catholics proclaimed as infallible and to be believed in faith, seem to have little explicit grounding in the Bible. Roman Catholics, on the other hand, responded that devotion to Mary does not compromise the unique role of Christ. This devotion is rooted in her Intimate basis in the New Testament. Noting that Marian devotion evokes strong emotions and convictions from both communions, the report then made two brief statements aimed at initiating dialogue about Mary when this could take place. It stated that, “Roman Catholics must attempt to understand and sympathize with the serious problems Baptists have with Marian devotion and doctrine. Baptists must try to understand not only the biblical piety and religious practice.”3

report was discussed at the 1990 World Baptist Congress in Seoul, South Korea. Some questioned the biblical grounds for certain aspects of Catholic Marian devotion and therefore the wisdom of Baptists even engaging in dialogue with Catholics. While the Catholic Church in 1990 invited the BWA to engage in another phase of international dialogue, no immediate response was forthcoming.

Thus, ecumenical dialogue about Mary is necessary. The more we can resolve differences, the easier it will be for all Christians to speak together of Mary as “Mother of all Christians,” with the same understanding of who she is. In this context, let us look at developments concerning Mary in several international ecumenical relationships.

of two-day informal consultations from 2000 to 2004. The theme in 2004 was “Mary in the Life of the Church,” and the papers delivered touched on a wide range of Marian issues such as “The Blessed Virgin Mary, God-Bearer, in the Mystery of Christ and the Church” (Catholic perspective), “The Blessed Virgin Mary in Evangelical Perspective” (Baptist perspective). A good discussion took place, but no common statement resulted.4 Despite the lack of a common statement, the willingness to address the topic of Mary was important.






has gone further. More recently there has been a renewed interest in Mary in Baptist and Evangelical circles, with some scholars urging their constituencies to look more closely into what Scripture says about Mary. Marian doctrine, however, is still a neuralgic ecumenical issue for them. To many Baptists, it still seems that Catholics give too much attention to Mary in a way that lessens the attention which must be given to Christ. Nonetheless, in the preparatory session for the second phase of dialogue in 2005, the Baptists requested that discussion of Mary be on the agenda. The general theme of the second phase was “The Word of God In the life of the Church; Scripture, Tradition and years earlier, could not address. These included Scripture and tradition, sacraments, baptism and the Eucharist, the Petrine ministry and “Mary in the communion of the church.”

from both sides. Catholics delivered papers on “Mary in the light of Scripture and the Early Church,” Mary in the light of Ongoing Tradition,” “Mary and contemporary Issues of Inculturation and Spirituality,” and “Marian Issues in feminism.” Baptists delivered papers responding to the Catholic presentations of these themes.5 The report Baptists and Catholics can agree on the special place of Mary in Scripture, Baptists are not convinced that the Catholic dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption can be defended by Scripture. It will be interesting to see what the report shows that they can say together about Mary. But surely, discussion on Mary between Catholics and Baptists can now take place with more calm than it could twenty years ago. Mary in Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue (USA) In Lutheran-Catholic relations, though there has not been extensive international dialogue regarding Mary. The USA Lutheran-Catholic dialogue sponsored a study of Mary in the New Testament6 and also published an extensive treatment on Mary entitled The One Mediator, The Saints, and Mary. Lutherans and Catholics VIII.7

the Assumption. Luther himself professed the Immaculate Conception as a pleasing thought though not as an article of faith (the belief had not attained dogmatic status at that time). But the Lutheran Confessions are silent about it. Lutherans overwhelmingly assertion that all descendents of Adam and Eve except Christ are “conceived and born in sin”(CA 2:1), (2) there are no positive biblical testimonies to Mary’s exemption from Concerning the Assumption, Luther preached on the Assumption and held that not only Lutheran Confessions the doctrine as lacking support in Scriptures and the early patristic tradition (no. 89).

The latter shows a number of convergences on Mary, and also differences. “[A]mong the saints who have played a role in God’s plan of salvation for humanity, Mary, who bore Christ, is in particular to be honored, as ‘God-bearer’ (theotokos) and as the pure, holy and ‘most blessed virgin’ (laudatissima virgo)” (no. 103, 15). “Saints on earth ask one another to pray to God for each other through Christ. They are neither commanded nor forbidden to ask departed saints to pray for them” (no. 103, 17). Lutherans agree that Mary “prays for the church” and is “worthy of the highest honors” but deny that she, or other saints, should be regarded as mediators or propitiators, on the ground that reliance on their merits would detract from the sole mediatorship of Christ (no. 85).

In the Lutheran opinion, as long as the sole mediatorship of Christ is clearly safeguarded, these two Marian dogmas need not divide our churches, provided that in a closer future fellowship, Lutherans, as members, would be free not to accept these dogmas. It is the link between the problem of infallibility and these theological assertions about Mary that makes full agreement unattainable at the present time (no. 101).



Developments Regarding Scripture and Tradition that they lacked support in Scripture. It should be noted that in recent international dialogues since Vatican II, between the Catholic Church with Lutherans, Reformed,





Methodists, Anglicans, there is growing agreement that one can no longer sharply contrast the positions of Scripture alone (sola scriptura) against Scripture and Tradition as sources of Christian teaching. There is growing agreement that Scripture is part of the Tradition, even if Scripture is still “the highest authority in matters of faith.”(John Paul II, Encyclical Ut Unum Sint, No. 79).8 the Anglican–Catholic dialogue which follows.

During the 16th century Reformation, there were reactions to devotional practices which approached Mary as a mediatrix alongside Christ, or sometimes even in His place. Such exaggerated devotions were sharply criticized by Erasmus and Thomas

Mary in Anglican-Catholic Dialogue The Anglican Roman Catholic International Dialogue (ARCIC) has produced the most far-reaching study of Mary, entitled, Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ, (2004). We

to Mary. It also led to the loss of some positive aspects of devotion and the diminution of her place in the life of the church” (no. 44).

Section A. “Mary According to the Scriptures” (nos. 6-30), presents each passage about Mary, “in the context of the New Testament as a whole, against the background of the Old, and in the light of Tradition”(no. 7). It traces in the “summons all believers in every generation to call Mary ‘blessed’… this daughter of Isreal…whom God has graced and chosen to become the virgin mother of his Son through the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit.…And we may even glimpse in her the death.”(no. 30). Section B. “Mary in the Christian Tradition” (nos. 31-51) examines “Christ and Mary in

Scripture as the fundamental touchstone of divine revelation, there was a re-reception by the Reformers of the belief that Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and

Nonetheless, the English reformers continued to receive the doctrine of the ancient church about Mary. They articulated her role in the incarnation, and their acceptance of her as the Theotokos understood as both scriptural and in accord with the ancient common tradition. They accepted that Mary was “ever Virgin.” Following Augusphasizing the unique sinlessness of Christ, and the need of all, including Mary, for a denied the possibility of Mary having been preserved by grace from participation in this general human condition. The Book of Common Prayer’s Christmas collect and preface refer to Mary as “a pure virgin” (no. 45). The Book of Common Prayer also understood to lack scriptural warrant, but was also seen as exalting Mary at the expense of Christ (no. 46). As a result of Protestant-Catholic polemics in that period, Catholics Conception (1854) and Assumption (1950) (no. 47).

of orthodox faith in Jesus Christ, true God and true man.”(no. 31). Exploring the celebration of Mary in the ancient common traditions, it points out that in the early centuries, communion in Christ included a strong sense of the living presence of the saints, with Mary seen in a special place. Themes developed from Scripture and the church, “reveal a deep awareness of Mary’s role in the redemption of humanity.” public prayer (no. 35). Growth in Marian doctrine and devotion took place in the middle ages. Shifts of emphasis, developed in the high Middle Ages when theologians stressed patristic her more closely with Christ in the continuing work of redemption, from Mary as representing the faithful church, to Mary as dispensing Christ’s graces to the Faithful. Other developments in doctrine as well put new emphasis on Mary (no. 42).


In the new ecumenical atmosphere following Vatican II, and new perspective on the relation between Scripture and Tradition, the dialogue has been able to proceed somewhat free of the polemics of the past. Taking into account the biblical framework developed on this theme, the dialogue has considered afresh the “distinctive place of the Virgin Mary in the economy of grace, as the one who bore Christ, the elect of God… . The Spirit is operative within her in the conception of the Savior, and this ‘blessed among women’ is inspired to sing ‘all generations will call me blessed’ (Lk 1:42,48). Viewed eschatologically, Mary thus embodies the ‘elect Israel’ of whom Paul speaks: see at work in the life of Mary, who holds a distinctive place in the common destiny of

(58-63). Anglicans and Catholics in the dialogue are able to say together concerning the Assumption, “…given the understanding we have reached concerning the place of Mary IM M AC ULATE C O N C EP TIO N S EM IN ARY S C H O O L O F TH EO LO G Y



taken the blessed Virgin Mary in the fullness of her person into his glory as consonant with Scripture and that it can, indeed, only be understood in the light of Scripture”(no. 58). Concerning the Immaculate Conception, “In view of her vocation to be the mother reached ‘back’ in Mary to the depths of her being, and to her earliest beginnings. This is not contrary to the teaching of Scripture, and can only be understood in the light of Scripture”(no. 59). Nonetheless, further dialogue is necessary. Some language used in the dogmatic these doctrines concerning Mary are revealed by God in a way which must be held by believers as a matter of faith” (no. 60). Furthermore, for Anglicans, the consent of a

and the Immaculate Conception, understood within the biblical pattern of the economy of hope and grace, can be said to be consonant with the teaching of the Scriptures and the ancient common traditions” (no. 78). In contrast to the two previous dialogues, the Anglican-Catholic dialogue has found Marian dogmas to Scripture, and is close to consensus on some aspects. As with every dialogue, the report resulting remains under the authority of the theologians who produce it, until the churches formally accept it. Mary in Eastern Orthodox-Catholic Relations In Eastern Orthodox-Catholic relations, there has not been a formal dialogue about Mary. However, in the new relationship between the two churches, which began at the time of Vatican II, it has become clear that there are common perspectives on Mary. Problems of Scripture and Tradition, seen in the dialogues above, do not exist. The two traditions can speak together of Mary as their common mother.



of the East and the West, to oblivion.9 During this same period, in exchanges of correspondence and mutual statements, Popes and Patriarchs, after centuries of hostility and separation, began to speak of each other’s churches once again as “sister churches.” and succession, have a common sacramental understanding of the church, and the same hierarchical priesthood. A formal theological dialogue began in 1980, producing important reports. Many other gestures have followed, indicating and building on this close relationship, which Pope Paul VI described in 1971 as “almost perfect communion.” Popes and patriarchs have expressed their conviction that Mary’s intercession has fostered their new rapprochement. In a message on October 29, 1964, to the third Pan-Orthodox Conference at Rhodes, Paul VI called upon Mary’s intercession, and showed Mary as a link between Orthodox and Catholics, “May the Holy Mother of God, who is our mother and yours, whom we honor and to whom we pray with a like fervor, intercede in her kindness so that we may grow continually in the love of her Son, our one Lord and Saviour.”10 Responding, Metropolitan Meliton, President of the Pan-Orthodox Conference, invoked Mary’s intercession in support of OrthodoxCatholic unity, asking that the “the Lord…will through the intercession of his most blessing of brotherhood in Christ….”11 mentioned above, Patriarch Athenagoras, in the tome by which he and the synod of Constantinople remove from memory and midst the anathemas of 1054, asked God’s blessing through the intercession of Mary, “May he, through the intercession of our all-blessed lady, Mother of God and ever-Virgin Mary,” and of Peter and Andrew and all the saints, “grant peace to his church and guard it for all ages.”12 In 1967, the Pope and Patriarch each visited the other. During Paul VI’s visit to Patriarch Athenagoras on July 25, 1967, prayer services at the Phanar, the ecumenical patriarchate’s center in Istanbul, and also at the Latin Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Instanbul, each included beautiful prayers of intercession to Mary. When Patriarch Athenagoras visited Rome, the Pope welcomed him at St. Peter’s Basilica on October 26, 1967 speaking of the protection of Mary, “All of us indeed who are united in the same proclamation of the Gospel and the same baptism, and are

Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Athenagoras I met in

of Mary, the most holy Mother of God and ever virgin…feel deep distress that for centuries we have gone our separate ways…”13

Patriarch in centuries. Important developments followed immediately. On December 7, 1965, Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras signed a Common Declaration calling upon their constituencies to remove from memory and from the midst of the Church the mutual excommunications of 1054, and themselves consigning those excommunications, which many consider the start of schism between the churches

The exchange of visits between their successors, Pope John Paul II and Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios I, shows even more attention to Mary. Returning from his November 29, 1979 visit to Istanbul, John Paul, spoke of the heritage of the Eastern Churches from which the Church of the West has drawn, including, “especially in the





matter of devotion to the Blessed Virgin, to whom the Eastern Christians pay high tribute in beautiful hymns of praise.”14 The most attention to Mary during these visits was given during Patriarch Dimitrios I’s visit to Rome, December 3-7, 1987, during the Marian year, in particular at the 15 The service had as “invincible protectress of Christians, invincible mediatrix with the Creator,…Mother of God,” and calling for her intercession and help, expressing the belief that she “always protects those who venerate her.16 in salvation history, presenting her as a model of spirituality for individuals and for the church. As a handmaid of the Lord Mary can be seen also as a model for the church, “The church, the handmaid of God for His glory and the handmaid of people for their salvation, receives and proclaims the great hope, tirelessly offering her own sufferings and poverty to her lord, whose ‘power is made perfect in weakness’ (2 Cor 12:9).”17 Patriarch Dimitrios spoke strongly of the common Marian heritage shared by the two churches which bind them together as “sister churches.” The fact that this church, St. Christian world our two sister churches have maintained throughout the centuries Mother of God.”18 While stating that she, “dominates in the consciousness of the faithful of both our churches like a common bond and common tradition,” he also

of our two ancient Churches…in times of reciprocal estrangement.” Nonetheless, he said, “the common dogmatic and theological heritage developed about the ….Mother of God can once again construct an axis of unity and reunion of the separate parts…. (and) occupies a central and principle position in the faith of our Churches.”20 Dimitrios praised Mary’s role in salvation history, but always in connection with Christ, and without Mary taking the place of Christ. He spoke of her as “gateway to heaven,” and the “space of the uncontainable” through which the eternal plan of God the Father for salvation of the world in his only begotten Son is realized. The ever Virgin Mary whose free consent was given in obedience to God so that the “sacrament of the incarnation of the Word [is] fruit of the free consent of a human being,”21 “the one who is truly full of grace,”22 the human being “who is closest to the Lord, able to intercede unceasingly for the world, the hope and protection of all of us.”23 19

addresses of Pope John Paul II and Dimitrios’ successor, Patriarch Bartholomew I, and those between Pope Benedict XVI and Patriarch Bartholomew. INSTITUTE FOR CHRISTIAN SPIRITUALITY



Conclusion devotion. In the modern ecumenical movement, dialogue between Catholics and some Reformation churches regarding Mary has led to some important progress in common understanding, while differences remain. The Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue has shown the most convergence and consensus on Marian doctrine and devotion and acknowledgement of her key role in salvation history. Furthermore, it seems clear, even without formal dialogue, that Eastern Orthodox and Catholics hold common views on Mary. Their willingness to invoke Mary’s intercession as their common mother, and acknowledge her key role in salvation historyhas been an important factor assisting Orthodox and Catholics in their continuing efforts to end more than nine centuries of schism. Monsignor John A. Radano, adjunct professor of Systematic Theology, earned his Ph.D. at the Aquinas Institute of Theology. He is a former faculty member and chair of Seton Hall University’s Department of Religious Studies. From 1984-2008, Monsignor Radano served on the western section. NOTES 1. Rita Crowley Turner, “Mary in the Ecumenical Movement,” ed. Nicholas Losskyet. al, in Dictionary of the Ecumenical Movement, 2nded., (Geneva: WCC Publications, 2002), 747. 2. Pope Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation, Marialis Cultis, 32. 3. “Summons to Witness to Christ in Today’s World. A Report on Conversations 1984-1988,” Nos. 56-57, citation in n.57, Growth in Agreement II. Reports and Agreed Statements of Ecumenical Conversations on a World Level, 1982-1998. Edited by Jeffrey Gros, FSC, Harding Meyer, William G. Rusch. Geneva: WCC Publications and Grand Rapids, Michigan/Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, p. 385. 5. “Baptist-Catholic Conversations, Durham,North Carolina, U.S.A, December 14-20, 2008,” IS130(2008):262. 6. Mary in the New Testament: A Collaborative Assessment by Protestant and Roman Catholic Scholars, Edited by Raymond E. Brown, Karl P. Donfried, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, and John Reumann. (Philadelphia: Fortress Press and NewYork/Ramsey/Toronto: Paulist Press, 1978). 7. See The One Mediator, The Saints, and Mary. Lutherans and Catholics VIII, ed. H. George Anderson, J. Francis Stafford, Joseph A. Burgess (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1992). 8. Walter Kasper, Harvesting the Fruits: Aspects of Christian Faith in Ecumenical Dialogue (New York: Continuum, 2009), 87-99. 9. “Toward the Great Jubilee 2000: Mary and the Search for Christian Unity,” Marian Studies, Vol. XLVIII, 1997, 29-42. 10. Towards the Healing of Schism: the Sees of Rome and Constantinople: Public statements and Correspondence between the Holy See and the Ecumenical Patriarchate, 1958-1984, Edited and translated by E.J. Stormon, S.J.; Ecumenical Documents III (New York: Paulist Press, 1987). Here, Document 76, p. 80. and p. 67, para 2, line 11, after “the blessing of brotherhood in Christ…” 11. 5 November 1964, Stormon, Document 77, p. 81. 12. 7 December 1965, Stormon, Document 129, p. 131. 13. Stormon, Document 191, Appendix IV, p. 503. 14. Stormon, Document 409, p. 374. 15. Homilies and statements relating to this visit are found in IS 66 (1988). 16. “O Madre di Dio, non tardare ad intercedere per noi; ors, muoviti a pregare per noi, Tu che ognora proteggi quanti Ti venerano.” Appendix I, IS 66 (1988):36. 17. Ibid 66 (1988):20. 18. Ibid. 19. Ibid 20-21. 20. Ibid 21. 21. Ibid. 22. Ibid. 23. Ibid. IM M AC ULATE C O N C EP TIO N S EM IN ARY S C H O O L O F TH EO LO G Y




If belief in God is so important and God has such regard for our welfare, why does He not speak to us face to face? Lewis’ answer in brief is that God does not speak to us face to face because we do not yet have faces, that is, we do not have natures which are clear and pure and strong enough to behold the Lord of hosts. While the inherent

believing and trusting Him. In other words, the darkness that seems to surround God and the things of God is principally our own darkness. St. Augustine said that when a man sins he turns from God’s light and runs into his own shadow. Until that darkness within a person is purged away and we become innocent and pure of heart like little children, we cannot see God, and we cannot even understand His ways. When we consider that our sin is the reason why holy places are dark and mysterious places, we appreciate the extraordinary grace of Our Lady’s apparitions in Fatima and the Miracle of the Sun. While some say that apparitions are cases of God is, as it were, breaking His own rules, the same could be said of any miracle. Like every miracle, apparitions are a very special dispensation of God’s mercy meant to restore and strengthen faith. Every Marian apparition is in effect a call to conversion, for us to begin again to live as true children of the Heavenly Father, and we have been told that we will not enter the kingdom of heaven unless we become like little children. This is perhaps why the great emissary of God, Mary the Queen of Heaven, appears to children or at least those who possess childlike humility and simplicity. There are

Our Lady of Fatima and the Miracle of the Sun By Father John S. Grimm, J.D., S.T.L.

“Why must holy places be dark places?” This question frames the pivotal issue of the great novel of C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces, which is a retelling of the ancient Greek myth of Cupid and Psyche.1 The question “Why must holy places be dark places?” is a way of formulating humankind’s complaint that God should have made the truth about Himself and His ways clearer, more apprehensible by the unaided use of reason. Why must we believe? We would have proof. Why must we trust? We would have certainty. others regarding God’s existence and goodness? These questions have troubled both believers and unbelievers throughout history.


Guadalupe, Mexico; Paris, France; Knock, Ireland; Lourdes, France; and Fatima, far visited Lourdes and Fatima.2 At Lourdes and Fatima, the visionaries were literally children, St. Bernadette was 14, Lucia was 10 years old, and Blessed Francisco and Jacinta were 9 and 7, respectively. At Guadalupe and Paris, the visionaries were adults, but were both uneducated persons from quite impoverished backgrounds and were likewise childlike in their simplicity.3 Thus it is not as much chronological youth, but visitation.4 Without exception, the visionaries are individuals of irreproachable life from devout Catholic families. In addition to being young, or young in spirit, the visionaries of Marian apparitions have always been poor people: St. Juan Diego was an indigenous peasant, St.

Lucia, Blessed Francisco and Jacinta were from poor families; even the visionaries at Knock were obscure in the eyes of the world. This is in keeping with the scriptural IM M AC ULATE C O N C EP TIO N S EM IN ARY S C H O O L O F TH EO LO G Y



principle of God’s love of the anawim, the poor and dispossessed. As St. Paul says: God chooses those whom the world regards as counting as nothing to reduce to nothing those who think they are something (Cf. 1 Cor. 1:28 RSV). Finally, Our Lady typically comes to regions of great faith, often those which have one of only three passes over the Pyrenees mountains; it is through this pass that the invading Muslim forces entered France from Spain until they were defeated and turned back by Charles Martel. Because of its strategic importance, the landscape of Lourdes widely regarded as a sign of encouragement to the Irish people for persevering in the Catholic faith despite British oppression. And the faith and devotion of Portuguese people is known throughout the world - it is one of very few European countries where the Protestant Reformation never gained any traction. Public versus Private Revelation How is it possible that God sends messengers from heaven to reveal important things in mystical epiphenomena to private seers? Does not the very notion violate the doctrine that the period of public revelation closed with the death of the last apostle? Private revelations, be they locutions, visions or apparitions, while they may reveal things that were previously unknown are different in kind from the inspiration given to the sacred writers of Scripture. Public revelation is “God’s manifestation of revelation of divine truths for humanity’s salvation.”5 All of God’s revealed truths are contained, so to speak, in the apostolic Deposit of Faith, which the Catholic Church alone is entrusted to safeguard and interpret. Any seemingly new development in Catholic doctrine is an unfolding of the truths already present in the Deposit of Faith, nothing essential is ever changed, although the ways the unchanging truths of public revelation are explained can change as the Church deepens her knowledge of them and responds to pastoral need. Private revelation is altogether different. It is a species of the charismatic gift of prophecy, which is never extinguished in the life of the Church. “Private revelation or the entire church.”6 As Pope Blessed John XXIII taught: “private revelation is not given for the purpose of presenting new doctrines but rather is given to guide us in our conduct,” that is in our “living out of the truths of public revelation.”7 For instance, in public revelation we are instructed to pray always and never lose hope (cf. Lk 18:1), in Marian apparitions, that need to pray daily and fervently for souls is repeatedly stressed. In public revelation, we are taught to venerate the saints and to give Blessed Mother an enhanced form of veneration (CCC 971) in private revelation we are told to consecrate ourselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.




“I Come From Heaven”

occurring on October 13, 1917.8 The apparitions occurred on the 13th of every month except for August, when the reputedly Masonic mayor of the town in a gross overreaction to the crowds coming out to witness the apparitions detained the children and prevented them from visiting the site of the apparitions on the 13th. As a result, the August apparition occurred on the 19th.

they saw lightning though the sky was clear. They saw blindingly white light and then Our Lady appeared to them above a tiny Holm oak tree. She was dressed all in white holding a rosary made of gems and kindly said to them: “Please do not be afraid of me. I’m not going to harm you. I come from heaven.” What followed was a conversation between the Queen of Heaven and little Lucia, who spoke for the younger children, in which our Lady responded frankly and simply to Lucia’s questions about their eternal destinies.9 She told them there would be more visitations and that they should “Say the rosary every day, to bring peace to the world and an end to the war.” In great part, her message was a restatement of the message of Lourdes, including a call to penance and prayer, especially daily recitation of the rosary, for the following intentions: peace, the salvation of sinners and in reparation for the blasphemies and indifference of modern man towards God. New elements of the Fatima message include: consecration of the world, especially Russia, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and the Five First Saturdays devotion, which is similar to the First Fridays devotion of Sacred Heart of Jesus. In the second apparition of June 13, 1917, Our Lady again urged the children to pray the rosary daily for peace, and to add at the end of each decade, “O my Jesus, forgive most need of your mercy.” She also encouraged them to trust in the maternal protection of her Immaculate Heart.10

the First World War be ended. The Lady went on to prophesy the coming of an even worse war, obviously referring to World War II, unless her call to prayer, conversion and repentance was not heeded. Our Lady urged the children to make reparation

them greatly. They saw “souls falling like leaves into hell,” and souls in human form




the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”11 In the August apparition, Our Lady repeated her call to prayer for sinners, saying that



responsible for all.”14 So it seems we who are blessed with the gift if faith and the new “Christ-life” as C.S. Lewis calls it, are called to shoulder the burden for those who refuse to believe or who do not practice their faith. This is the doctrine of co-redemption, of course, there is nothing lacking in Christ’s one, perfect and eternal mediation between God and man, but in His kindness, Christ will’s that we the elect have the privilege of participating in His redemption of the world.

she promised that a sign would be provided during the last apparition to help

the Miracle of the Sun, which will be discussed below. Our Lady’s conversations with the children reiterated prior messages, although she named herself “Our Lady of the rosary,” when Lucia asked Her name.

The central focus of our Lady’s messages at Fatima is the salvation of souls, especially mercy for sinners, that they might be given the grace of conversion. The messages are thus evangelical and engaged with the actual state of the world. If the lack of religious faith and practice were a problem in 1917, do any of us realize the depth of the II called for a “New Evangelization,” which includes the traditional mission ad gentes (to the unbaptized peoples) but includes a re-evangelization of the West, especially Europe, formerly the heart of the Church but now bereft of a living sense of faith.12 Pope Benedict as well has repeatedly called attention to the crisis of faith and morality in the Western nations, saying that we are laboring under the “Dictatorship of Relativism.”13 The Church’s God-given role as the repository and interpreter of divine truth is denied and excoriated as intolerable arrogance. Many of the “Mainline” Protestant communions, in the words of the late Fr. Richard Neuhaus, have gone from forces of secular humanism. Often the Catholic Church is on its own among the older Christian communions in its struggle to defend traditional moral norms against moral relativism, especially in the areas of marriage and sexuality. Finally there seems too little being done to respond to Our Lady’s call to make reparation for sins, including the sins of others. Her call to make reparation for the sins of unbelievers presupposes solidarity among human persons regardless of nationality, religion or race. Both Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have repeatedly reminded us that we are not isolated units of organic matter fending for ourselves, nor even isolated groups having no intrinsic connection with other nations or states. We are mysteriously united as one human family, having the same Creator and the same nature. In the words of Fyodor Dostoevsky, later repeated by John Paul in Rei Solliticudo Socialis, “All really are INSTITUTE FOR CHRISTIAN SPIRITUALITY

A story concerning Saint (Padre) Pio of Pietrelcina illustrates this notion of making reparation for the sins of others. A secular priest who was struggling with sin went to San Giovanni Rotundo to go to confession to Padre Pio. Although they had never met, the saint greeted the secular priest by name. The priest was incredulous, and said, “Do you know me, Padre?” To which Pio replied, “Know you? I have been carrying you for years!” By this Padre Pio likely meant that by his holy life of prayer and penance, Pio had merited graces for the poor priest whom he had never met. Because he was a saint

be no less real. Finally, and most controversially, the children of Fatima were given a vision of hell, that was terrifying and which utilized imagery worthy of Dante’s Inferno. The imagery contained in the visions has generated much controversy, even restarting the ancient 15 This vision however is best regarded as containing images stressing sound theological points, that hell exists, a truth found on many pages of the New Testament, and that ending up there is a possibility for us. St Teresa of Avila, the great mystical doctor of the church, reports having a vision where she saw the place in hell prepared for her had she not repented of her sinful ways of her youth. Finally, the children’s vision of hell tormenting souls should not be taken literally. However, Pope John Paul II in recent of the damned soul is best understood as being eternally cut off from his source of life and being and his eternal destiny — union with God in the bliss of heaven. The damned soul will also experience complete alienation from other people. As Dostoevsky has the holy monk Zosima say: “hell is the suffering of being unable to love.”16 The images used to describe this terrible state of the damned soul is of secondary importance. In The Inferno, Dante envisioned hell as a place of unbearable cold, not heat, believing it more in keeping with the essential negation of the good that is the essence of evil.




The Miracle of the Sun The sixth apparition at Fatima contained the so-called Miracle of the Sun. News reports of the apparitions were causing such a sensation in Portugal and throughout



place in the heavens. Given what we know about the role of the sun’s gravitational pull in keeping all of the planets in place, the slightest actual movement of the sun would, one supposes, destroy the solar system instantly. Thus, the Miracle of the Sun

and were present for the miracle.17 humankind’s role as steward of the earthly “garden,” some mistakenly look to science apparitions. They got more than they bargained for. Immediately following Our Lady’s brief colloquy with the children, every person present even said skeptics witnessed an inexplicable solar phenomenon. First, all were able to look directly into the sun for several minutes without hurting their eyes, then the sun appeared as a spinning disc of brilliant silver.18 It then pulsated and danced in the sky, giving off many colors, red, violet, blue and yellow, before seeming to hurtle towards the ground with such violence that those in attendance cried out in alarm. An instant before the sun seemingly crashed into the earth, it speedily reversed course back to its usual place and appearance.19 All came away from the solar miracle, 20 Upon discussing the phenomenon among themselves, the witnesses, both believer and skeptic alike, soon discovered that each person’s experience of the miracle varied considerably in the details, but all agreed they witnessed essentially the same miraculous phenomena. Only then they noticed that despite each of them being sopping wet prior to the solar event due to the steady downpour all that day, they all stood completely dry, not unlike the experience of most people who are immersed in the spring baths at Lourdes. The Aftermath This solar event was front-page news on some of the leading newspapers in Europe, even of papers dedicated to socialism and opposition to the Church. Later statements from various witnesses were collected and all described the sun appearing as disc of silver, before emitting wonderful colors and “dances.” All describe it as unprecedented and inexplicable. Unfortunately, scientists and astronomers at the time considered the event as unworthy of notice.21 A famous professor and astronomer of the University of Lisbon tersely commented that whatever the people thought they saw, nothing out of the ordinary was detected by astronomical and meteorological observatories that day.22 Thus the only explanation offered by “men of science,” was that all of the witnesses fell victim to some sort of collective psychological suggestion. This explanation was no explanation at all given that nothing of the sort was in fact suggested beforehand. The event took everyone by surprise and people from all over Europe from every imaginable social and religious background all saw essentially the same thing. Evidently, the Miracle of the Sun witnessed at Fatima on October 13, 1917 did not consist in our solar system’s star actually changing substance or direction from its INSTITUTE FOR CHRISTIAN SPIRITUALITY

material. Such a blind faith in the power of science to explain everything and to conquer every problem is not in fact science at all, but an ideology called “scientism.” Just as there is more to the universe and especially more to man than the merely material, for instance the immortal soul, we desperately need systems of inquiry such as philosophy and theology to study the immaterial and the numinous. Shakespeare was right when he has Hamlet say: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”23 Once it was explained to me that the act of transubstantiation involves in fact two miracles and not one. Along with the miracle of the change from the substance of the bread and wine into the substance of the Body and Blood of the Lord, there is a second miracle insofar as the substance of the bread and wine change but the corresponding accidents of bread and wine do not change. In all instances of nature, the accidents of a thing are the same as the substance or underlying reality of a thing. The substance of a thing cannot be directly be perceived by our senses, but when we see the accidents of something, its size, shape, color and the like, we can tell what the underlying substance is. Not so with the Holy Eucharist; our senses cannot tell from the accidents of the Host that its substance is that of Christ’s Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. As St. Thomas Aquinas’ great Eucharistic hymn the Tantum Ergo says: “faith supplies what senses fail to lay hold of.” Perhaps something similar happened at Fatima, but in reverse. Perhaps the underlying reality of the sun remained as it always is, high in the sky, stationary with the rotation of the earth making it appear to move slowly across the sky, golden yellow color etc, while its accidents or visible characteristics so to speak changed in the manner described by all of the witnesses at Fatima that day. Finally, Pascal wrote in the Pensees, “There is enough light for those who desire only to see and enough darkness for those of a contrary disposition.”24 In other words, God has so artfully arranged the world that we live in that the one who genuinely wants to come to know God and the truth about Him can with the help of God’s grace come to believe in Him, but the person who does not want to know the truth about God is not compelled to. Thus, man’s freedom is preserved and he can be rewarded with the gift of faith. As St. Augustine said, “the One who created you without your consent will not one who knocks has the door opened to him. IM M AC ULATE C O N C EP TIO N S EM IN ARY S C H O O L O F TH EO LO G Y





NOTES the people who witnessed it, it was an overwhelming display of God’s supernatural willful suspension or alteration of the normal physical laws of the universe as the behest of some prayer of faith. Even at the large audience that witnessed the Miracle of the Sun is a tiny percentage of the population of Portugal, let alone the world. Thus, for the great percentage of humanity, which will never witness a miracle, their access to this proof of God’s existence and power is dependent on the eye witnesses of the event, as was the case in the greatest miracle of all, the Resurrection of the Son of God. Who will believe such witnesses? Again, only those who “desire to see.”Dostoevsky, in The Brothers Karamazov, captures well this complex interaction of faith, reason and the miraculous. Using the term “realist” not in the abstract philosophical manner but colloquially to mean a sensible, clear-minded individual, he once wrote: “it is not miracles that bring a realist to faith. A true realist, if he is not a believer, will always fact, he will sooner doubt his own sense than to admit it as [a miracle but] as a fact of nature previously unknown to him. In the realist, faith is not born of miracles, but miracles from faith. Once the realist comes to believe, then precisely because of his realism, he must allow for miracles. The apostle Thomas declared that he would not believe until he saw, and when he saw, he said: ‘My Lord and my God!’ Was it the miracle that made him believe? Most likely not; Thomas believed because he wished to believe, and maybe already fully believed in his secret heart even when he was saying ‘I will not believe until I see him.’”25

1. See C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold (New York:Harcourt Brace & Company, 1980). 2. See Vatican: “Apostolic Journeys Outside of Rome,” travels/index_outside-italy_en.htm (accessed October 12, 2011). 3. In Fatima, she appeared to three peasant children, Lucia de Jesus Dos Santos, age ten, Francisco Marto, age nine, and his sister Jacinta, age seven. At Lourdes, our Lady appeared to St Bernadette, age 14. At Knock, the vision was seen by a group of people, some children, some young adult. At Paris (Miraculous Medal) and Guadalupe, Our Lady appear to adults, but both St Catherine Laboure and Saint Juan Diego, were simple-hearted peasants who displayed childlike simplicity and devotion all his life. 4. Indeed, young Francisco of Fatima saw the BVM but never was able to hear her. When he asked why, Our Lady told the others that he had committed too many sins to be worthy to hear her—and this at the tender age of nine! 5. Mark Miravalle, Introduction to Mary: The Heart of Marian Devotion (Goleta: CA, Queenship Pub. Co., 1997), 132. 6. Ibid. 7. Ibid. 8. Our Lady appeared once to Lucia alone in 1925, long after the other two children died. 9. Lucia Santos, Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words: Sister Lucia’s Memoirs, Vol. 2: 5th and 6th Memoirs (Still River, MA:Ravengate Press, 2000). 10. John De Marchi, Fatima from the Beginning, 14th ed., (Fatima, Portugal: Edicoes Missoes Consolata, 2006). 11. Ibid, 78. 12. John Paul II, Encyclical, Redemptoris Missio, 33. 13. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, “Homily for Mass for the Election of the Roma Pontiff,” April 2005. 14. Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov. Trans., Peyer and Volokhonsky (New York: Farrar, Strous & Giroux, 1990). 15. Thomas seemed to think it was both. (Cf. Thomas Aquinas, Compendium of Theology, 180.) 16. Dostoyevsky, 312. 17. Costa Brochado, Fatima in the Light of History (Milwaukee, WI: Bruce Publishing Co.,1955). 18. Joseph A. Pelletier, The Sun Danced at Fatima (Worchester, MA: Caron Press, 1951). 19. Ibid, 126-26. 20. Dictionary of Mary, (Totowa, NJ: Catholic Book Pub. Co., 1999), 135. 21. Costa Brochado, 183-84. 22. Ibid, 184. 23. William Shakespeare, Hamlet (New York: Penguin Classics, 1981), Act 1- Scene 5. 24. Blaise Pascal, Pensées. Trans., W.F. Trotter and T.S. Eliot (Oxford: Benediction Classics, 2011), 149. 25. Fyodor Dostoyevsky, 25-26.

Thus to him who has the desire for God and the truth, more will be given him. To him who has not the desire for God, he will lose what little he has. Our Lady appears to

spiritual ardor will then pour itself out in active love of our neighbors, including making reparation for those who refuse to believe in Him and to adore Him and to love Him. Father John S. Grimm received his S.T.L. with a concentration in Moral Theology of Studies, Washington, D.C. . Upon ordination in 2002, Father Grimm was appointed a Bioethics Spokesman for the Diocese of Wilmington, and he subsequently has written on questions related to bioethics in both Ethics and Media and National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly. He also has presented a three-part Spirituality and Ethics lecture series addressing end-of-life issues in medicine and law as part of the Institute for Christian Spirituality. Father Grimm is currently serving at the Diocese of Wilmington in Delaware and was a faculty member and is currently an Adjunct Professor at Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology. INSTITUTE FOR CHRISTIAN SPIRITUALITY





equally no words to describe what Mary must have felt on that Friday afternoon. What parents would not willingly give their own life to alleviate the pain and suffering of their child? There was nothing the Blessed Mother could do, except to be fully present with her son at the foot of the cross and wait. And yet amidst the anguish, pain and sorrow, there was the hope of new life.

NAB). It is unlikely that another human being could have a better appreciation and understanding of God’s mercy than the Blessed Mother. She carried Divine Mercy in

Mary, like Abraham, willingly surrendered her son and watched as He carried the

is the one who has the deepest knowledge of the mystery of God’s mercy. She knows its price, she knows how great it is.”1 It is because of this that she is the Mother of Mercy. Ultimately, it is Mary who leads the faithful to her son, and invites us to stand at the foot of the cross and gaze upon the Incarnation of Mercy in solidarity with the Beloved Disciple. When Jesus speaks to His mother from the cross, he addresses her as “woman” and

Woman, Behold Thy Son; Behold Thy Mother By Stephen B. Kass, M.A.

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home. – John 19: 25 – 27 NRSV Imagine the anguish of Mary, standing at the foot of the cross watching her innocent son suffering and dying on a Roman cross. If there is a limitation in our language that does not allow us to adequately express Christ’s divine and human nature, there are


woman contributed to the fall and death of humanity in sin, God, the Father willed that another woman would restore that which was severed in the Garden of Eden. Mankind was exiled from paradise through Eve’s disobedience. It is only

mission of Jesus. The conciliar document from Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, that, “The knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by Mary’s obedience; what the virgin Eve bound through her unbelief, the Virgin Mary loosened by her faith. Comparing Mary with Eve, they call her ‘the Mother of the living,’ and still more often they say: ‘death through Eve, life through Mary.’”2 Mary’s role in the history of serpent, he said, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel” (Gn 3:15 NAB). The offspring of Mary, the New Eve, is Jesus Christ, who is the Redeemer for a fallen mankind. This passage from Genesis is often referred to as the “protoevangelium,” the head of sin which is embodied in the serpent. In this third phrase from the cross, Jesus attests to Mary’s role in the Father’s plan of salvation by referring to her as “woman.” IM M AC ULATE C O N C EP TIO N S EM IN ARY S C H O O L O F TH EO LO G Y



In his book, Theotokos, Pope John Paul II, wrote, “…the epithet ‘woman’ which Jesus used also at the Wedding of Cana to lead Mary to a new dimension of her existence as affection but are meant to be put at a higher level.”3 The “higher level” that the Pope in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “Mary’s role in the Church is inseparable from in the work of salvation is made manifest from the time of Christ’s virginal conception up to his death; it is made manifest above all at the hour of his Passion” (CCC 964). The Virgin Mary is not only the Mother of Mercy, she is also, truly, the Mother of the Living. On Good Friday, Mary, the Mother of the Living, and our spiritual mother, carried the light of her son into the world through the birth of the Church. The Blessed Mother is the archetypical Christian disciple. As the Church Fathers attest, she is one who untied the knot of Eve’s disobedience through her faith. She completely surrendered herself to the will of the Father and served her son. She persevered through faith, even when confronted with confusion by the angel Gabriel at the Annunciation and by fear when Simeon prophesized that a sword would pierce her heart at the Presentation. Despite



pondered that which she did not understand in her heart. In many ways, it was on Calvary that the Church was born. Just as Mary brought divine life into the world through the miracle of the Incarnation, the pain she experienced at the foot of the cross helped to bring forth new life in the form of a new Christian community. Who else, other than His own mother, would Jesus entrust the care of this new Christian family? Pope John Paul II wrote, “On Calvary, Mary united herself which took the form of labor pains, the birth of the new humanity. In addressing the motherhood not only in relation to the apostle John, but also to every disciple…In this way, he stresses Mary’s maternal role in the newborn Church, comparing it to her role in the Redeemer’s birth.”4 Out of the darkness that hung over Jerusalem on that Friday afternoon, the Mother of the Living once again brought forth new life into the world. This new life can be found in the words that Jesus offers from the cross. New life is found in the new families that can be born from crisis. Christians have received the gift of belonging to a unique and special family. This is a family that is not based on DNA, but on common spiritual genes. Christ’s love is the origin and basis of all family life and relationships. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “Jesus is Mary’s only son, but her spiritual motherhood extends to all men whom he indeed came to save” (CCC 501). It is through the compassion and solidarity of Mary and the Beloved Disciple that He entrusts the care of His mother to the Beloved Disciple. His words from the cross reveal and create a new relationship. Notice that these two people are both called out to and addressed not by name, but in their relationship to Christ (Mother and Beloved Disciple). This is because names are not as important as relationships and recognizing that we all are beloved children of the same God who calls out to each of us to love and serve Him and love one another. The compassion of Mary and the Beloved Disciple not only created a new family, but it played a part in giving to the entire Church of Christ. By entrusting John, the Beloved Disciple, and His mother into their mutual care, are merely those of a dying son who wanted to ensure that His mother was properly taken care of and looked after. While this is certainly true, there is another dimension to Jesus’ words from the cross. Pope John Paul II wrote, “…these words go far beyond the contingent need to solve a family problem.”5 There is fecundity in this union of a mother and her “new” son that perpetuates the earthly mission of Jesus. Just as Eve was formed from the body of Adam, the new church is formed, united and sustained in its mission through the Body of Christ.






The famous 20th century theologian, Hans Urs Von Balthasaar, described the fruits of the new Christian family that was established through Mary and John, “From this original cell of the Church established at the Cross will come everything which will form the organism of the Church.”6 While John and Mary waited at the foot of the cross, they may have felt helpless, unable to do anything except weep in solidarity with one another and the Messiah who was dying on the cross before their eyes. It was as though they were both suspended, mid-air, in an emotional trapeze forced to wait and surrender any pretenses of having any control over what was happening. Their reassurance came from what might seem to be the most unlikely place – the One who was suffering and dying. Christ’s words to Mary and the Beloved Disciple established a new reality that was born out of tragedy. It was almost as if John and Mary were repeating the Fiat Mary gave to the angel Gabriel at the Annunciation, “Let it be done to me according to thy word.” And so it was, in accepting these words of the Savior, there was transformation, growth and new life. Stephen B. Kass is the Editor of “Through Her Intercession” the Coordinator of Marketing and Development for the Institute for Christian Spirituality at Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology and the Program Coordinator for the Seminary’s Theological Education for Parish Services Program (STEPS). He holds Master’s degrees in Nuclear Engineering and Systematic Theology and is in formation for the Permanent Diaconate in the Diocese of Paterson. He has been married for 16 years to his wife, Beverly, and they reside in Pequannock, New Jersey.

Assessing the Assumption By Father Donald E. Blumenfeld, Ph.D.

NOTES 1. Pope John Paul II, Dives Misericordia, 9. 2. Pope Paul VI, Lumen Gentium, 56. 3. Pope John Paul II, Theotokos: Woman, Mother, Disciple, A Catechesis on Mary, Mother of God, (Boston: Pauline Books and Media: 2000), 189. 4. Ibid, 234. 5. Ibid, 188. 6. Hans Urs Von Balthasar, Mary For Today, (San Francisco: Ignatius Press: 1987), 54.

On the Solemnity of All Saints, November 1, 1950, Pope Pius XII issued the Apostolic Constitution which bears the sub-title Dogma of the Assumption.” points. First of all, he stated that the Universal Church has always recognized and celebrated the privileged position earned by Mary when she accepted her special calling as Theotokos, the God-bearer, or, as we express it more commonly, “Mother of God.”1 Second, he indicated the indivisible union between the doctrine of the papal decree Ineffabilis Deus. Pius XII expressed this eloquently: That privilege has shone forth in new radiance since our predecessor of immortal memory, Pius IX, solemnly proclaimed the dogma of the loving Mother of God’s Immaculate Conception. These two privileges are most closely bound to one another. Christ overcame sin and death by his own







death, and one who through Baptism has been born again in a supernatural way has conquered sin and death through the same Christ. Yet, according to

recorded instances of the Assumption appear in the writings of 6th century Church Fathers such as John Damascene, Andrew of Crete and Gregory of Tours.4 Indeed, the

victory over death until the end of time has come. And so it is that the bodies

Epiphanius, Bishop Constantia, who notes, “Whether she died or was buried we know not.” The controversy endures to the present day, with some Mariologists insisting that Mary died, was buried, and rose, exactly like her divine son, with the result that the Assumption is, in fact, an instance of the resurrection of the dead. The opposing camp steadfastly maintains that the Assumption was a “taking up into heaven” of a living

Now God has willed that the Blessed Virgin Mary should be exempted from this general rule. She, by an entirely unique privilege, completely overcame law of remaining in the corruption of the grave, and she did not have to wait until the end of time for the redemption of her body. Thus, when it was solemnly proclaimed that Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, was from the very beginning free from the taint of original sin, the minds of


Pius XII carefully avoids this insoluble quagmire, speaking only of Mary’s preservation from the corruption of death and her bodily assumption into heaven, without once addressing the issue of whether, in fact, she died at all! The theology of the Orthodox Church refers to the “Dormition (i.e., ‘falling asleep’) of the Theotokos,”

when the dogma of the Virgin Mary’s bodily Assumption into heaven would 2

Finally, Pius XII made a thorough, scholarly presentation outlining the historical roots of belief in the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin. He quoted the great Fathers of the patristic period, in both Eastern and Western Christianity, and further cited both theological and liturgical attestations, beginning with the scholastics and continuing through the Catholic Reformation. He noted the somewhat speculative references to Sacred Scripture, particularly the Psalms and Song of Songs, cited as a basis for faith in the Assumption particularly by the patristic authorities.3 Why concern ourselves, at this late date in Christian history, with yet another Mariological tenet? Ultimately, what difference does it really make in our lives or the lives of those struggling for simple peace and security in their daily lives? I would suggest that this doctrine (coupled with the Immaculate Conception) is of critical interest to contemporary Christians, Catholics, certainly, but also those of the Orthodox

hope, pointing toward our ultimate salvation, and thus remind us of God’s eschatological providence. Less obvious, but perhaps even more intriguing, are their ecclesiological impact. The Assumption event is not mentioned explicitly anywhere in Sacred Scripture, nor are there reliable historiographical documents describing it. Nonetheless, it is

from the Eastern Church, incline to the position that Mary died (as Jesus did) before receiving the gift of new, everlasting life.6 In a sense, the details hardly matter, the apocryphal legends surrounding the last days of the Blessed Virgin did not give rise to the doctrine of the Assumption; rather, in the development of these stories.7 Pope Pius XII was not breaking innovative theological ground, but, in his own words, stating the longstanding belief shared throughout Christendom (MD 12), the or “grassroots” faith held by believers throughout Christian history.8 an idolatrous declaration raising her to divine status, but rather a recognition of what can best be described as the sacramentality of the Theotokos. In her privileged role as Mother of God Incarnate, Mary always directs the attention of the faithful to her Baptist, was not the light itself (Jn 1:8 CSB). True Marian devotion is always centered on Christ.9 Blessed Pope John Paul II reminded the Church of this in his homily for the Solemnity of the Assumption during his pilgrimage to Lourdes in 2004, the last time he would celebrate this feast. The Holy Father traveled to Lourdes to observe the 150th anniversary of the declaration of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception and said, Today the Church celebrates Mary’s glorious Assumption body and soul into Heaven. The two dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption are closely related. Both proclaim the glory of Christ the Redeemer and the holiness of 10





The Assumption of Mary is, in many ways, the clearest example of a Marian event approaches that of Jesus Himself. Indeed, Mary is known to history principally because of the Paschal Mystery. St. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15 that our faith is baseless except in the light of Christ’s resurrection; the entire reason that we even care about



been prepared for ever. And this constitutes the whole content of the Dogma of the Assumption of Mary, body and soul, into heavenly glory, expressed here in these words. Mary is “blessed” because - totally, in body and soul and forever - she became the Lord’s dwelling place. If this is true, Mary does not merely invite our admiration and veneration, but she guides us, shows us of happiness.12

By celebrating Mary’s assumption into heaven, faith in the resurrection of the the existence of this pre-eminent believer, to transform her whole being and to perfect her mission.11 Theologically, there can be no doubt that every gift bestowed on Mary, from the

doctrine of Mary’s Assumption. These are intimately connected, and, to some Incarnation and the Paschal Mystery, the Assumption can well be viewed as their logical outcome. This is an outcome even more intuitive, perhaps, than the correlative

wellspring of God’s love. Her response to the Archangel Gabriel at Nazareth, decades earlier, leads inexorably to the moment of her resurrection and exaltation, as her Son Jesus, by the power of His own resurrection, transforms her and presents her, body and soul, to His Father in heaven.

for us to grasp a chronologically subsequent consequence rather than a preceding one!

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin has important implications for all the faithful.

unquestionably had on the nascent ecumenical movement, as noted by such prominent Protestant theologians as Paul Tillich and Reinhold Niebuhr. Realistically speaking,

all the followers of Jesus, the apostolic teaching found in St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians makes clear that this destiny awaits all disciples found worthy by the Lord:

the reaction of the separated Christian denominations entered into his thinking at all.

who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a human being, the Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life, but each one in Christ. (1 Cor 15:20-23 CSB) In a homily for the Solemnity of the Assumption, Pope Benedict XVI reinforces this concept. His teachings often derive from the great Church Fathers, and, in this instance, he expands on an idea proposed by St. Augustine to demonstrate the importance of the Assumption in the lives, and hopes, of all believers: St. Augustine says: “Before conceiving the Lord in her body she had already conceived him in her soul.” She had made room for the Lord in her soul and thus really became the true Temple where God made himself incarnate, where he became present on this earth. Thus, being God’s dwelling place on earth, in her the eternal dwelling place has already been prepared, it has already INSTITUTE FOR CHRISTIAN SPIRITUALITY




More interesting to both theologian and church historian is the process Pope Pius chose to follow in the preparatory phase prior to the doctrine’s promulgation. This is best described in Pius XII’s encyclical Deiparae Virginis Mariae, sent to the world’s bishops in May 1946. In this correspondence the Holy Father asked the bishops for their own views on the matter, as well as the among their priests and people. Interestingly, a note on the Vatican web site explains that Deiparae Virginis Mariae was encyclical only in 1950.

of the Assumption, dating to nearly a century previous to his writing, which included petitions from a substantial number of the bishops in attendance at the First Vatican Council (as well as theologians, institutions and private members of the laity). He explains that his purpose was to follow the example set by Pope Pius IX (in the period leading to Vatican I), in seeking the advice of the bishops and faithful concerning the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, which Pius IX declared in the 1854 papal decree Ineffabilis Deus.13 In both these papal inquiries, we see at the very least the seeds of the concept of collegiality, the communion of the world’s bishops with one another, under the leadership of the Bishop of Rome, as taught by the Second Vatican Council in Lumen Gentium, the dogmatic constitution on the Church. Lumen Gentium makes particular note of the responsibility of the bishops, both individually and collegially, to teach the Gospel and the doctrinal tenets of the faith.14 As Cardinal Newman explained, dogma remains immutable (that is, the core truths never change), while doctrine develops, in the sense that its description becomes more detailed and explicit with the passage of time. This has been emphasized recently by our current pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI, in the context of discussing the historical continuity that the Second Vatican Council shared with all prior magisterial teaching: The Church’s teaching authority cannot be frozen in the year 1962 – this must be quite clear to the Society. But some of those who put themselves forward as great defenders of the Council also need to be reminded that Vatican II embraces the entire doctrinal history of the Church. Anyone who wishes to be obedient to the Council has to accept the faith professed over the centuries, and cannot sever the roots from which the tree draws its life.15



eternal life, won for us by Christ’s redemptive suffering, death and resurrection. It is a lens through which we are able to glimpse the course of both doctrinal development and Church history as a whole moving incrementally but steadily toward our contemporary context. Finally, and most importantly, the Assumption is one more bringing her Son to us, and leading us ever nearer to Him. Father Donald E. Blumenfeld, Director of Pastoral Formation and Adjunct Professor of Pastoral Theology, earned his Ph.D. in Theological Studies at the Graduate Theological Foundation. Father Blumenfeld was a member of the and he has served as Campus Minister at Ramapo College and as Chaplain at Union Catholic High School. He also is an Adjunct Professor of Religious Studies at Seton Hall University. NOTES 1. Pope Pius XII. 3. 2. Ibid, 4-6. 3. Ibid, 26. 4. Frederick Holweck, “The Feast of the Assumption”. The Catholic Encyclopedia, http://www.newadvent. org/cathen/02006b.htm (accessed March 9, 2011). 5. Lawrence P. Everett, “Mary’s Death and Bodily Assumption”, library/view.cfm?id=469 (accessed March 8, 2011). 6. Stephen J. Shoemaker, “Death and the Maiden: The Early History of the Dormition and Assumption Apocrypha,” St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly 50, no. 1-2 (January 2006): 66. 7. John Haldane, “Examining the Assumption,” The Heythrop Journal 43, no. 4 (July 2002): 417. 8. Pope Pius XII, 12. 9. Anthony J. Kelly, “Mary: Icon of Trinitarian Love,” Australian eJournal of Theology 16, no. 13 (March 2009): 4. 10. Pope John Paul II, Homily of the Holy Father John Paul II on his Pilgrimage to Lourdes, http://www.vatican. February 25, 2011). 11. Anthony J. Kelly, “Mary: Icon of Trinitarian Love,” Australian eJournal of Theology 16, no. 13 (March 2009): 28. 12. Pope Benedict XVI, Homily for the Solemnity of the Assumption, http://www. benedict_xvi/homilies/2011/documents/hf_ben-xvi_hom_20110815_ assunzione_en.html (accessed April 15, 2011). 13. Pope Pius XII, Deiparae Virginis Mariae, 1-4, pius_xii/encyclicals/ documents/hf_p-xii_enc_01051946_deiparae-virginis-mariae_en.html (accessed March 8, 2011). 14. Pope Paul VI, Lumen Gentium, ii_vatican_council/ documents/vat-ii_const_19641121_lumen-gentium_en.html (accessed April 14, 2011). 15. Pope Benedict XVI, Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church concerning the remission of the excommunication of the four Bishops consecrated by Archbishop Lefebvre, benedict_xvi/letters/2009/documents/hf_ben-xvi_let_20090310_remissione-scomunica_en.html (accessed April 14, 2011).

On many levels, then, we see that the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is of special reminding us that the entire mystery of salvation is the story of divine love for






As in the prayer life of the Church and in our own prayer life, the rosary gradually accumulated extra prayers over time. The Fatima prayer, “Oh my Jesus…” was added in the 20th century, but even the “Our Father” and the “Glory Be,” not to mention the introductory and concluding prayers, are not original to the rosary.2 This is beautifully demonstrated by the varying practices of ending the rosary with a “Hail Holy Queen” or adding various litanies, and prayers for the Pope, among others. All of these prayers are worthy and helpful, but they are not the real substance of the rosary. I think we will pray all the other prayers better if we understand what it is they are surrounding. In fact, even the mysteries are not original. We tend to think of each Hail Mary as a kind of timer, ticking in the background to make sure we spend enough time meditating on each mystery. However, in the beginning, this was not the case. Understanding the origin and roots of the rosary will help us to fully contemplate the mysteries. ty of them. The rosary began with a string of beads that were used to count the 150 Hail Marys. If we ask the question “why 150?” the answer may not be apparent. The Hail Marys originally served as a proxy for the 150 Psalms for those who were either ten Hail Marys are called a “decade,” the full 150 used to be called “a psalter.” Monks and hermits used to pray all 150 Psalms in a day — or, perhaps, as we with our 150 Hail Marys, over a few days. When they memorized the Psalms (which is not that hard, if you pray them every day), all they needed was a chain of beads to help them count their way through. The Psalms were seen as a distillation of the Bible, “all of Scripture, in the mode of praise,” according to the Fathers of the Church.3 For the monks and hermits, praying the Psalms was a way to pray the whole Bible.

The Rosary: The Circle of Life By Eric M. Johnston, Ph.D.

In this article, I will offer some background on the rosary, and then show how a brief commentary on the Hail Mary can contribute to our understanding of this great prayer, which has been called “The Circle of Life.” The life of our soul is grace, and the substance of the rosary’s circle is the Hail Mary’s teaching on grace. I hope that a meditation on this prayer will provide intellectual stimulation and become food for prayer as well.


Most, probably know


For those who did not have the time to pray all the Psalms, or for those who did not have the books or the education to know the Psalms, a simpler way was devised to achieve the same desired result. In many ways, the Hail Mary is like the Psalms. It is a distillation of Scripture, the whole Gospel condensed into a few words — words of prayer, because we do not really understand the Gospel unless it leads us to prayer. Originally, the rosary was simply a way to follow the monks by moving through the 150 Psalms, and so entering into the heart of Scripture. The beautiful thing about the Psalms is that they cover every situation and aspect of the human condition. There are Psalms of celebration; Psalms of calamity; Psalms that worship God, and rebuke Him, and beg Him for help, Psalms that talk about God’s role in nature, God’s role in history, and God’s role in our own heart. Everything is there, and one of the reasons for praying the Psalms is that they address the full spectrum of the human condition. IM M AC ULATE C O N C EP TIO N S EM IN ARY S C H O O L O F TH EO LO G Y



The Hail Mary serves a similar function as the Psalms (and can even help us learn to pray the Psalms). That is one of the reasons why the Mysteries were added to the rosary — not to cover up the Hail Mary, but to illuminate its profundity, to show how the Hail Mary guides us through the whole of Christ’s life, the whole of Mary’s life, and the whole of our own lives. Each mystery takes us deeper into the richness of this



experience despair and hope, God’s distance and His presence. He can say, in that one Psalm, “I am a worm, and no man,” and then “from my mother’s womb you are my God... They have pierced my hands and my feet... But you, O Lord, be not far from me.” And He can end, “in the midst of the assembly I will praise you... All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord... Let the coming generation be told of the

which the Hail Mary so beautifully encapsulates. The prayer begins “Hail” — a strange word for modern ears. However, it is beautiful to use the old language of prayers because, it lends a certain weight to our prayer and ties us to a long tradition. It is unfortunate that we often do not know what “Hail” means. The English “Hail,” like the Latin Ave, and the French Je te salue, is related to the idea of “health.”4 It is a kind of greeting: “Good health, my friend! May it be well with you!” The Greek word, the word St. Luke reports when he tells of Gabriel’s greeting to Mary, goes even deeper than that. Kaire immediately should remind us of the true meaning of the Gospel. The word “gospel” is a literal old-English translation of the Greek word evangelion, which means “good tidings” or “good news.” The Hail Mary is, indeed, like the Gospel, good news. Already

How can one person possess all of this? Theologically, one can talk about God’s presence in suffering, His transcendence, which is absence and presence at the same time; one eternal. Perhaps even more powerfully, one can pray the Hail Mary as we meditate on the mysteries of the life of Jesus, the life of Mary, and our own lives. That is not an idea anyone can understand after a single encounter, but something that must be entered into and meditated upon. This is something that requires repetition, over and over and over again, through all 200 Hail Marys of the modern rosary. If this is repeated, day

mean? The best way to answer this question is to pray the rosary, to follow her through all the mysteries, and see God’s grace at work in her and then to pray it again, time and time again until one begins to see the world in the light of God’s grace, and see how that grace sinks into every facet of one’s life.

too, at Gethsemane, and the pillar, and at the Cross, what do we pray, over and over

not make the Sorrowful mysteries stop being sorrowful. At the foot of the Cross, Mary weeps,5 remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but yours be done” (cf. Lk 22: 42-44). Dominican preachers love to point out an interesting choice of words in John’s Gospel Stabat Mater. She weeps, but she does not collapse. Something holds her up, some mysterious inner strength. God’s gift of grace, so freely given to the Blessed Mother

charis, like the English word “favor,” has two, related meanings.6 God looks on Mary with favor. In Luke’s account of the Annunciation, from which we take this phrase, the English translators often like to say, “You have found favor with

The other meaning of favor is something someone does for you. It is not only that God likes Mary, He also gives her favors. In fact — this is profound — the most perfect favor He gives her is to make her likeable. She has not “found favor” with God because of some personal initiative; but neither does God favor her by somehow overlooking what she is really like. God has caused her to be favorable; that is the real meaning of

profound darkness. her, her very self, into the kind of person He likes. That is good news! Psalm 22, the Psalm Jesus invokes as He hangs on the Cross (cf. Mt 27:46; Mk 15:34), conveys the same theme. In this one Psalm, the Psalmist cries “My God, why have you forsaken me,” and in the next breath, “You are enthroned in the holy place, O glory of Israel! In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them.” He can

Mary is “full of grace.” The Greek word, kecharitomene, is impossible to translate. The root idea, charis, is about grace, or favor, with both the senses of likeability and a free gift. The “o” in this Greek word means that a change is effected; the





person in question, Mary, is “graced,” or “begraced,” made graced, changed. The grammatic tense, the perfect, is indicated by “ke-,” means that this grace is not partial; it is complete. Mary has been totally infused with God’s grace, made likeable all the way, by a gift that that is completely given. St. Jerome’s Latin translation, gratia plena, full of grace, expresses this as well. Mary is full of grace because the Lord is with her. God is with us! Emmanuel! Again, this is nothing less than the Gospel message itself. The Lord is in her womb, in her arms, and accompanying her back to Nazareth. He is at Cana, and in the Jordan, preaching, and



In fact, to say “the Lord is with you” says more about Mary than about the Lord. God is everywhere; he is with us whether or not we are with Him.9 When Gabriel tells Mary that the Lord is with her, he is not making the obvious point that God is everywhere.

present to Him. The true gift of grace is to have God’s face shining upon our mirror, so

When we pray “the Lord is with you,” we gradually discover the full intensity of the Jesus is with her, too, when He weeps in the Garden, and is scourged, and crowned with thorns, and driven to the Cross. He is profoundly with us, loving us till the end (cf. Jn 13:1), completely, without running away, even though He could. Mary stands, is with her. What favor! How the Lord must love her, to stay with her even to the very end Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Jesus is with her, too, in a new kind of absence, at the Ascension. The Ascension is a strange, bittersweet mystery. In Luke’s Gospel, the evangelist says the disciples, heaven. However, in Acts, the angels to say to the apostles, “why do you stand looking into heaven?” and promising that He “will return” (Acts 1:11). We are glad that He is in heaven, but we wish he were here with us! This is a poignant moment to pray, “Mary, the Lord is with you. It reveals, in fact, the inner core of His presence, a presence revealed even more fully at Pentecost. The Lord is not only with Mary physically, standing beside her, but He is even more powerfully, perfectly present in her heart, by His grace. Grace and the presence of the Lord are the two sides of one relationship, like a face in the mirror. The presence of the Lord is the 7 Grace is God-with-us; grace is the

St. Augustine indicates that, Mary conceived Christ in her heart before she conceived Him in her womb.8 The Angel Gabriel originally said, “The Lord is with you,” not after the

He loves us, has favor for us, enough to be with us, and he gives us the favor of His presence, and of hearts that are continually present to Him. Whenever we look to Him, we discover His gift of making us present to Him. The gift of grace is the gift of being present to God. In the next phrase of the Hail Mary, we move on from the words of the angel to those of Elizabeth, at the Visitation “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb” (Lk 1:42). There are two things we should notice about these phrases. The be with you,”“and with your spirit,” which is a standard Hebrew form of address. This is not what Elizabeth says. She emphasizes Mary’s womanhood, and talks about Jesus in relation to her womb.

is thoroughly a woman. She relates to Christ as a woman, bearing Him in her womb, nursing Him at her breast, cooking His meals, sweeping their house and weeping at His death as only a mother could. She is also present to others as she visits Elizabeth, she expresses her maternal care for the couple at Cana, she travels with the women, standing at the cross, she receives the Beloved Disciple, not as a friend or comrade, but as a mother’s son. At Pentecost, she does not proclaim that she is the most holy, and closest of Jesus’ disciples (even though she was) but humbles herself among the other disciples who are gathered together. Mary is blessed as a woman, and lives her life among women and men who commit their lives to her son.

as the Annunciation looks forward to His coming, even after he has gone up to heaven and even at Gethsemane, where Mary is not physically present, but where the Lord’s suffering expresses His intense proximity to the heart of those he favors.

The theological point to take from this is that grace perfects nature. To be full of grace does not mean that Mary becomes something different, some disembodied, genderless, rootless spiritualized creature. No, Mary is a woman, in a particular place. It is beautiful, in her to see her look back to her own lineage, the promise God made to her ancestors (cf. Lk 1:72). This line is central to all the other assertions of her prayer, she is telling the history of her people, and recalling the words of another matriarch, Hannah, as she does it (cf. 1 Sm 2:1-10).





It is important to note that Elizabeth’s words reveal a parallel between Mary and Jesus: blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Blessedness has to do with perfection,10 the blessedness of Mary is, somehow, parallel to the blessedness of Jesus. What happens in Him, happens in her, and happens in us. Now, Jesus is the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father. Mary is not. He is the parallel to the Incarnation. God the Father lives in the faithful in a way that is similar to the way He lives in the Son, so that the blessedness of the faithful is like His. Grace, say the theologians, is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the whole Trinity, in fact, living in the human heart.11 The fathers of the Church say humanity is divinized, or made like God.12 Central among the words in the second half of the Hail Mary is the title, “Mother of God.” Here we consider the unfathomable mystery that the very one who



Mary. In the Hail Mary, and in the rosary’s call to repeatedly pray the Hail Mary, we have the opportunity to meditate on this most perfect articulation of God’s great gift to us, the Gospel of grace. Dr. Eric M. Johnston is assistant professor of Undergraduate Theology at Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology. Dr. Johnston completed his Ph.D. in Medieval Theology at The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., in 2008. His doctoral dissertation is titled “The Role of Aristotelian Biology in Thomas Aquinas’s Theology of Marriage,” one topic within his broader interest in Aquinas’s theology of grace. He also is interested in topics related to spirituality and political philosophy. NOTES

Son of God, and son of Mary.13 That title, those words, are a pearl of great price. We precede this title with that simplest and most noble title, Holy Mary. What does it mean to be Holy? It means to be like Mary! It means to be with God, even when God may seem absent, to be fully transformed by the favor of His presence, and fully likeable to God; to be blessed as Jesus is blessed, which includes being fully human, women and men, doing the ordinary things in everyday life and sanctifying them. The Second Vatican Council reminds us that all people are called to live lives of holiness.14 The Hail Mary reminds us that holiness means to be like Mary. “Holy Mary, Mother of God,” puts together the two sides of the mystery of Mary. On the one hand, she reveals who Jesus is, on the other hand, she shows what Jesus does for us. Jesus makes her holy, lifting her into His own divine life. Mary leads us to Jesus, and in Mary, Jesus shows what He does “Pray for us sinners.” The mystery of intercession teaches volumes about the meaning of grace. Why do we say “pray for us” except because we are sinners? We need God’s help, because we cannot save ourselves. And yet

1. Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 19, 21. 2. Thurston, Herbert, and Andrew Shipman, “The rosary,” in The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 13. (New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912), October 10, 2011). 3. Cf. Athanasius, “On the Interpretation of the Psalms,”ed. Athanasius Shaefer, http://www.athanasius. com/psalms/aletterm.htm (accessed October 10, 2011). 4. Oxford English Dictionary,”Hail,” (accessed October 10, 2011). 5. Wikipedia, “Stabat Mater,” (accessed October 10, 2011). 6. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae I-II, q. 110, a. 1. 7. Ibid, q. 112. 8. St. Augustine of Hippo, Sermon 293, 1-3. 9. See Augustine’s Confessions, Book One, chapter two: “Why do I request you to come to me when, unless you were within me, I would have no being at all?” And Book Ten, chapter twenty-seven: “You were with me, but I was not with you.” Also the fabulous Chapter One of St. Anselm’s Proslogium: “Lord, if thou art not here, where shall I seek thee, being absent? But if thou art everywhere, why do I not see thee present? . . .” 10. Arndt and Gingrich’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament makarios as “blessed, fortunate, happy.” Eulogetos is also often translated as “blessed,” as in the Canticle of Zechariah, Luke 1:67: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,” but this has the sense of “praised.” See also Liddell and Scott’s Oxford Greek-English Lexicon. 11. St. Thomas Aquinas, I-II, q. 43, a. 4, arg. 2 & ad. 2. 12. Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I-II, q. 112, a. 1. (The Leonine editors cite St. John Damascene, chapter 19, as Thomas’s proximate source.) 13. Thus the Council of Ephesus, 431, treats the profession of Mary as “Mother of God” as necessary to genuine Christology. 14. See “The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church,” Lumen Gentium, 39-42.(“The Universal Call to Holiness”)

of grace, we can be changed, not by our efforts, but by the gratuitous grace of God. Finally, we pray, “now and at the hour of our death,” putting this present moment, and our constant need for God’s grace to be poured into our lives, against the backdrop add these words, “both now, and the hour of our death” to remind us, through all those thousands of Hail Marys, that our position in relation to these mysteries is one of makes present to us a power and a goodness far greater than our own. INSTITUTE FOR CHRISTIAN SPIRITUALITY






Institute for Christian Spirituality Journal, May 2012  
Institute for Christian Spirituality Journal, May 2012  

Institute for Christian Spirituality presents Through Her Intercession