quod pro nobis traditum est

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Bearing Salvation

Anyone with a high view of Christ and of Scripture cannot escape the unique role of Mary in God's plan of salvation. It is not common in my tradition to pay much attention to her, whether for fear of being confused with the rest of Christianity, or for fear that recognition given her might take eyes away from Christ. This latter fear has some basis yet may also be applied to an over-emphasis on any teaching or individual found in Scripture.

Taking a step back, however, helps to alleviate such fears and see the Blessed Virgin in light of the fulness of divine revelation. First, how her unique role in salvation history singles her out for recognition and second, how such recognition is advanced by Scripture and Tradition. Both of these may be summarized in the words that Elizabeth spoke out with a loud voice saying, "Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb." The Blessed Virgin, receiving God's word, magnifies Him saying, ". . . behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation." Tradition recognizes that the ever-virgin Mary bears the Son of God by the power of the Holy Ghost and that this same Spirit filled Elizabeth and brought her to speak such things of Mary.

Although raising this topic raises the eyebrows of some and a recitation of a list of errors concerning Mary and the Saints by others it is then we see how the incarnation has truly become a scandal like the cross to follow. If silence on this topic is preferable among Christians then even the Scriptures, as that cited above, must remain silent. Yet both Elizabeth and Mary force the issue. Elizabeth gives honor to Mary and Mary gives honor to the Lord. This is preferable to silence. For this is all in line with a high view both of Christ and of Scripture. Tradition has held fast to these teachings. Rather than taking away from Christ the glory due Him, honor of Mary, only accentuates His greatness and His mercy. For she has received God's word and lived according to it. Through her we have received the Word made flesh. She is indeed blessed among women, blessed to be the Mother of God.

Honor given to the Blessed Virgin Mary recognizes her for her unique role in salvation and this brings her Son more honor. "Holy is his name."

Benedicta et venerábilis es, Virgo María: quae sine tactu pudóris invénta es mater Salvatóris. Virgo Dei Génitrix, quem totus non capit orbis, in tua se clausit viscera factus homo.

Blessed and venerable art thou, O Virgin Mary: who without loss of purity wert found to be the Mother of our Saviour. Virgin Mother of God, He whom the whole world cannot hold enclosed Himself in thy womb and became man.


revalkorn said...

I honor the Blessed Virgin as far as Scripture allows me to honor her. I will not attribute honor to her that Scripture does not *clearly* attribute to her.

Fr. Timothy D. May said...

Indeed, she is "blessed" as Scripture says. This means she is blessed of God. Who and what God blesses we cannot ignore or downplay. If so, then we would have to ignore and downplay those who are Baptized of God.

One way to look at this is what Scripture permits and then focus on what one does or does not do within those parameters. Scripture though is not just telling us what to do and what not to do about the Blessed Virgin. The Blessed Virgin sees God as the source of her blessedness. She bears the Son of God by the power of the Holy Spirit as announced to her by the Angel. Her blessedness tells us about God's work and mercy and about who He is.

Briefly, the miracle of the incarnation is more than a "what does this mean to me" moment in Scripture. Here is a revelation about God and His work and a revelation of what it means for God to choose someone other than me to be "blessed" through all generations.

The vast majority of Christianity, West and East, Luther and many of the reformers, have honored her because God honored her (more than their heirs today). That today we tend to look at how we can minimalize God's revelation of Christ and His work among us tells us more about ourselves. This, and any modern discomfort, however, does not lessen the work of God nor His blessing of the Blessed Virgin. When we lessen the significance of her blessedness we, consciously or not, lessen the significance of God's work in Christ and that Mary served God's loving plan in becoming the Mother of God.