Saturday, July 26
Mary in the Redemption by Adrienne von Speyr:
Mary from the Perspective of a Twentieth-Century Mystic -- Part IV
"Hierusalem," says the LXX translation of Psalm 121, "quae aedificatur ut civitas cuius participatio in ipsum." In other words, Jerusalem is built as a city that shares, or is at unity, in itself. For von Speyr, "Mary," in the same way, "is completely one with herself" (27). Thus begins von Speyr's beautiful chapter on "Mary's Unity in Christ's Unity." This is another major theological theme of Mary in the Redemption. In this chapter, by stressing the complete humanity and the balance of Mary's personality, von Speyr helps to tone down the intimidating and almost divinizing image of Mary that crept into Catholic theology and especially devotion in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Mary "possesses an open naturalness, a self-ease and happy-go-lucky nature, which knows no scruples and is not constrained by any self-preoccupation in its readiness for all good things in the surrounding world" (27). This imagery is novel and healthy for a Catholic perception of Mary: while she certainly is the Queen of Heaven, the Ark of the Covenant, and all the other titles bestowed on her by the Church, Mary is also humble and unassuming. "Being the handmaid was a goal in itself for the Mother," according to von Speyr, but "for the Son, however . . . the Queen was the goal, and so his handmaid must make her most palpable act of obedience by letting herself be made his Queen" (71-72). In this image, though destined to be queen, Mary on earth is not a governess or headmistress wagging her finger at the Child Jesus (and thus at us) and keeping him in line, but rather a true, balanced ideal, not an unapproachable one. She thus becomes, appropriately, the kind of girl that any man (certainly this one) would love to marry, an important image since the Church, as the Bride of Christ, is always trying to become more like Mary.