by Ken Rolheiser
The challenge of understanding our Mother Mary

“The Virgin Mary made me understand something that, until now, I had not fully grasped: that, during the Passion, the Holy Spirit somehow became incarnate in Mary. By Him, the Father and Mary were joined together intimately and became one. The Passion of Jesus was also the Passion of the Father, and the Passion of the Father was lived out in Mary.

“The Father borrowed from her, so to speak, her human heart to suffer in her, with her, through her, the Passion of their Son, of their child, in a single fusion of love.” (Rolande Lefebvre, a French mystic)

What a challenging theology. And yet how simple it is to see our role in that incarnation and redemption action. Mary was human, like us. The pain of losing her son is something we experience in a measure when we lose a loved one. But the action of the Spirit in her is not always so easily grasped by us.

The birth of Jesus was the fruit of God’s love for us. Just as Mary offered herself as a vessel, we too can offer ourselves to enflesh that love for others. The Holy Spirit lives in us and enables our hearts to feel compassion for the suffering and disadvantaged.

Of course we may not be asked to endure the agony of Mary at Calvary, but we do meditate on Christ’s suffering and passion. That is most dear to the heart of Jesus and to God. Our hearts too can be vessels used by God to enflesh the divine love that saves the world.

At its best our compassion, as well as our suffering and pain, can be united with the sacrifice of Christ as an atonement for our sins and the sins of the world .That is God’s plan and dear to the heart of Mary.

God delivered us from sin and the effects of original sin through the gift of Mary, the new Eve. Mary’s complete obedience is our model and made possible our salvation in Christ. God rewarded Mary by assuming her body and soul into heaven.

Again, Mary prefigures that glorious day when we will rise, body and soul, into the eternal bliss God has planned for us from the beginning. Meanwhile God shares his very life and Spirit with us in a very real way in the Eucharist, the body and blood of Jesus that  already gives us a part of God that will never die.

What a wonderful plan! God made us to share his Kingdom and love and joy for all eternity. Adam and Eve’s sin spoiled that, but I have long since stopped blaming our first parents. I have proved quite a capable sinner on my own. And now, through the Easter sacrifice of Christ we can be saved.

Mary’s role in all this continues to be front and centre. Repeatedly Mary has appeared to us in various sites and encouraged prayer for sinners. Her Son’s sacrifice is dear to her heart and she wishes nothing but the full effectiveness of that sacrifice. 

Close to Mary in a role of intercession for us is St Joseph who was chosen by God to be Mary’s faithful spouse and the foster father of Jesus. We ask St Joseph to help protect Christianity as he once protected Mary and Jesus. For this reason we venerate St Joseph in the month of March and on May first.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us. St Joseph, pray for us.

(590 words)