Tag Archives: Blessed Virgin Mary

Mary in the theology of St Ephrem

In another place, I posted the following on Mary’s place in the theology of St Ephrem.

The month of May is traditionally known on as the Month of Mary. The Church holds Mary in the highest esteem; she is venerated but not worshipped by Catholics and Orthodox. A Syrian Father, St Ephrem, –the Harp of the Holy Spirit– the fourth century hymnographer, theologian and deacon as something to offer about the Mother of God.

“As lightning illu­mi­na­tes what is hid­den, so also Christ puri­fies what is hid­den in the nature of things. He puri­fied the Vir­gin also and then was born, so as to show that where Christ is, there is mani­fest purity in all its power. He puri­fied the Vir­gin, having pre­pa­red Her by the Holy Spi­rit… having been born, He left Her vir­gin. I do not say that Mary became immor­tal, but that being illu­mi­na­ted by grace, She was not dis­tur­bed by sin­ful desi­res”

“Most holy Lady, Mother of God, alone most pure in soul and body, alone exceeding all perfection of purity… alone made in thy entirety the home of all the graces of the Most Holy Spirit, and hence exceeding beyond all compare even the angelic virtues in purity and sanctity of soul and body… my Lady most holy, all-pure, all-immaculate, all-stainless, all-undefiled, all-incorrupt, all inviolate spotless robe of Him Who clothes Himself with light as with a garment… flower unfading, purple woven by God, alone most immaculate.”

“There is in you, Lord, no stain, nor any spot in your mother.”

“You Jesus and your mother are the only ones who are beautiful in all aspects. Because in you, O Lord, there is no deformation, and in your mother, there is no stain.”

“The two women were pure and simple, Mary and Eve. One of them, however, became the cause of our death and the other, the cause of our life.”

St. Ephrem the Syrian

May is the Month of the Blessed Mother

We begin the month of May and therefore the month of Mary.

“The correct Marian devotion guarantees to faith the coexistence of indispensable ‘reason’ with the equally indispensable ‘reasons of the heart,’ as Pascal would say. For the Church, man is neither mere reason nor mere feeling, he is the unity of these two dimensions. The head must reflect with lucidity, but the heart must be able to feel warmth: devotion to Mary (which ‘avoids every false exaggeration on the one hand, and excessive narrow-mindedness in the contemplation of the surpassing dignity of the Mother of God on the other,’ as the Council urges) thus assures the faith its full human dimension.” (Vittorio Messori, The Ratzinger Report, Ignatius Press, 1985)

What Marian devotions will you take part in this month?

Nativity of Mary

Exercising a motherly care for her poor children in all things and through all things the Virgin Mother calms our trembling fear, enlivens our faith, supports our hope, drives away our distrust, encourages us in our hesitancy.
Adam, you were afraid to approach your Father; you were terrified at the mere sound of his voice and tried to hide amid the trees. And so he gave you Jesus as your Mediator. What shall such a Son not be able to obtain from such a Father? Undoubtedly he will be heard because of his reverence, for the Father loves the Son.
Surely you are not afraid to approach Jesus as well? He is your Brother and your flesh, tempted  in all things as you are, yet without sin, so that he might have compassion. And this Brother has been given to us by Mary. 
Your birth, O Virgin Mother of God, proclaims joy to the world, for from you arose the glorious Sun of Justice, Christ the Lord.
The prudent advice for all Christians is to go to the Maternal Heart of Mary with all our needs and place ourselves in her keeping. Our hearts should never be far from her, trusting always in her real interest in us and our needs. In celebrating Mary’s birthday we recall that she is the gateway for us to all the healing that only Christ can give.
(Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Sermon for the Nativity of The Blessed Virgin Mary, 7.)

The Visitation, God’s in-breaking

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is the in-breaking of God’s joy in history.

The theological explanation of the Vistiation reminds us that at the annunciation, the Archangel Gabriel informs Mary that her cousin Elizabeth is six months pregnant. A startling divine gift.

Then we see Mary hurrying to visit Elizabeth. An interior in-breaking extroverting itself.

I think the key here is Mary’s selflessness and her sharing in the joy of God. Containing the joy she feels is impossible. In her visitation Mary brings the joy of God to both Elizabeth and to John the Baptist who moves in Elizabeth’s womb. 

As we know, this second of the joyful mysteries of the Rosary is about Joy who desires to expand into our heart and abide there. Let’s pray for the movement of joy in our life today.

Virgin Mary gets a bad rap, sometimes

On this first day of the new calendar year, the Novus Ordo Catholic Church celebrates the feast of Mary, the Mother of God. It is, in fact, the 8th day since the Incarnation and traditionally the Church recalls the Lord’s adherence to the Divine Law with his circumcision.

I’d like to highlight something we tend to overlook in our daily journey of faith. That is, the role of Mary, the Mother of God and the Mother of us all, in this walk of faith. What does Mary teach us? Why is she so very critical to our catholic life? Recall, the Church has some central themes in her theology that we need to attend to, namely, the Church is approached from the perspective of the Marian dimension in light of our discipleship.

Some friends wrote the following reflection on Mary that I think needs to be more widely seen and understood:

Sometimes in Christian spirituality, the Virgin Mary gets a bad rap because she is so routinely associated with a damaging and suffocating sentimentality, something sickeningly sweet. But this is really a fiction; the Gospel’s portrait of her reveals something entirely different. There we encounter a Mary who is so open to the Word of God that she actually gives birth to it. At the same time, I believe she knew what it meant to encounter the Lord in the darkness of faith. Can we imagine what it must have been like to learn that she was to give birth to the Messiah? Can we imagine her inner struggle, wondering if this could actually be? And yet, her simple “fiat” is what Jesus commands in this morning’s Gospel. “Blessed rather, are they who hear the word and keep it.” In Mary we discover one who not only heard the Word, she “digested” it; she expressed the whole message of the scriptures in her life. We’re told in several places that Mary “treasured these things, and pondered them in her heart.” That was her fundamental attitude. In a very real sense, she is the archetype of a disciple, of what it means to be a follower of Christ. (NS)

Blessings in 2018!!!!

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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