Emmitsburg Council of Churches

Mary-a Myriad of Models

Father John J. Lombardi

Mary, who is the Mother of God in this Sunday's Gospel…as…

  • Mystic can help all toward deepening communion with God…
  • Mary-as-Be-Holder-of God-not-goddess can help new agers…
  • Mary-as-Maiden-help young and pretty and not-so-pretty youth seeking attraction find the right attraction.
  • Mary-as-Mother-can help ladies-seeking motherhood to have children
  • Mary-the-Virgin can help young men and women remain virginal
  • Mary helped a Cajun Catholic junkie get free
  • Mary-Miriam as Emancipator can help women and men respect one another in true freedom
  • Mary is beautiful and can help those trapped in pornography
  • Mary is not a priest but gives birth to the High Priest Jesus
  • Mary is the "maternal image of God"-so said Pope John Paul II
  • Mary is both strong and feminine-she can help all us be the same
  • Mary-Mother of all the living-she is a Mother to us all.
  • Mary's Magnificent is the most beautiful song in the world-because it's about…

Well, that's a start on the descriptions of the Blessed Virgin Mary. A question from this partial list: Just how can anyone-esp. Catholics-ignore her if she is described as above? Or: How can anyone ignore her if she is so, well, "malleable"? In this Sunday's Gospel-one of the most recalled, painted scenes in the world-the angel visits Mary (the Annunciation) and she becomes the Mother of God. There is no higher title of Mary. What are some of the ways she can help us all?...

Mary-as-Mystic can help all toward deepening, penetrating be-Holding of God-she is called :Queen of contemplatives," precisely because "She treasured all these things in her heart" (Lk. 2:19 ). It's the treasuring within-in silence ,stillness and solitude-that's a key to deeper prayer and union. Since she did why can't you become mystical-which means, really, going deep within to find and behold God? In my travels as a priest I see many ladies eagerly seeking a contemplative life-thru Third Orders (like laypersons integrating Carmelite, Franciscan and Dominican spirituality), and thru retreats, and in Mass and so forth. However it would be good to see Mary leading more men and young boys to the mystical life: it's not just for women men! A pilgrim just gave me a beautiful little book-probably a little appreciated book and reality: "God Dwells In You," by the turn of the century Dominican, Fr Jared: get it-the book and reality, I mean!

Glowing lady Not Goddess: So she, the Virgin as "Holder/Tabenacle" of-God--can help new age persons-who seek a form of "goddess"-feminine aspect of God (see below) find God's gift to us in created-but-divinzed-elevated femininity. This is, perhaps, what new age persons are looking for-and it/she exists-in the Virgin Mary. She, though, is not a goddess, better yet, she is Mother of God and can help folks in these circles find their fulfillment-if we present, preserve and promote Mary as supreme human and god-like human and, oppositely, has happened in recent decades, don't reject or neglect her!

Mary-the-Virgin can help youth remain pure. The most frequent title or descriptor of Our Lady I hear at the Grotto, is "La Virgen (kinda pronounced: Veer-HEN). I sometimes wonder about this-why it is so popular among Latinos--the biggest population that visits the Grotto? Perhaps: because of her unspottedness, the beauty that comes from virginity, the innocence and radiance which emanates from the exclusive-communion-communication-with-God that makes her essence: free from the deepest intimacy which occurs between woman and man she is thus free for the deepest intimacy with God Himself and, thereby, open, like celibate priests and chaste religious, to all souls anytime and anywhere-we, her children.

Mary as Miraculous Mother-Mary conceived Christ by the Holy Spirit-a miracle birth and conception. Today, many women and men are trying to conceive children, with whatever good intentions, by various abnormal ways-thru artificial insemination, test tubes, intravenous fertilization, thru "donor banks" of fertility donated by men and women's fertility, and so forth. These are all against the "natural law" ("prescriptions written within the human person which are Nature's organic natural Way")whereby husbands and wives keep the marital relations between themselves and not with invasive and intoxicating science. Rather, with Mary's conception, there was no "science" but, rather, a sacredness which shows all of us-esp. infertile couples-to choose life in God's Way. Many couples today are choosing to adopt children-whom are seemingly countless and are awaiting love in so varied conundrums of situations-so: adopt don't co-opt and allow the miraculous to manifest!

Mary-as-Maiden-young and pretty can help youth seeking attraction. It's no secret that young women seek to make themselves alluring-by their dress and actions. Yet: Mary-the-most-beautiful-woman was always elegant-pretty not only because of her outward beauty but also because of what is, was within-God-the-Son radiating. In the Book of Genesis, (6:1) "sons of men" were captivated at the beauty of young women: this is never said of the angels likewise gazing at men. Women are often beautiful and alluring; and we should thank God for creating them so and not treat them like objects, nor should women be tempted-even though our current culture promotes it variously and voluminously-to use their beauty to attract wrongly. The Virgin Mary attracts precisely because she is beautiful within and without: and men and women should help each other do and be the same. Sexuality is a gift and should be "used" to crate life and communion. When single persons or celibates like Mary use the gift in their unique way-not in marital relations-they actually utilize and give another gift: the virginal energy and drive saved up and sublimated and redirected toward God, prayer and charitable works-this is not a negation of their vocation but, rather, a privilege!

Mary and Joseph in their pure relations: Jean Paul Sartre and Simone deBeuavoir-famous French "new wave" existentialist philosophers and literary scholars--were supposed to be the liberators of marriage and bourgeois values in the 1930's of Paris. A new book on their relationship-"Tete a Tete", by Hazel Rowley, accounts their torrid affair and denunciation of marriage-with the result: numerous abortions, innumerable affairs, divorces and separations and ongoing war between these sexes and they entrapped. All because of so-called freedom from constraint. It is a painful story, and yet Mary and Joseph's fidelity, honor and nobility-in their marriage vows-under-pressure--can help men and women help each other in marriage and proper love and constraint between the sexes. As Christina Nehring's essay in The New York Times Book Review of this work says: "The danger, when one surveys this battlefield of bruised feelings and broken hearts, is that one renounces all further thought about what caused the carnage. As the widowed Mary Shelley once cried, 'God save me from all freethinkers!' Yes, free thought can lead to freefall, especially since it often comes with the same selfishness and greed that besets all human enterprise."

Mother of all the living: we heard on Immaculate Conception Day from that Eve/Eva was so-named because she "was mother of all the living" (Gn. 3:20 ). Eve lost that title and reality and Mary re-gained it in becoming the Mother of God, by reversing Eve's "No" to God by saying "Fiat-Yes" to God; and Jesus' Proclamation at the Cross: "Behold your Mother" (Jn. )reversed the sin and loss of Eve/Eva-and made St John, there at the Cross, be a representation for all us "children". Besides-Eva backwards is Ave-as in Ave Maria-Hail Mary. Let her be your mother-she loves you as only a mother can.

Mary is beautiful and can help those stuck in pornography. With cordless computers now flooding the market-esp. at Christmas-Cardinal Keeler has warned parents and others to be prudent in purchasing these devices for youth: unmonitored access to pornography -which is gripping, enslaving. Yet: How can one think of the Virgin Mary, or look at her depictations (holy card near your computer?) and seek illicit beauty and the subjugation of women as objects of lust? Array your home,car and office with an image of Our Lady and be freed

Mary helped a Cajun catholic junkie get free. (physically-from drugs) so he -Aaron Neville-could do it metaphysically: witness to Jesus and Mary's love and, actually ,distribute rosaries at his concerts' When I go to a nearby drug treatment center what do most drunks and junkies want? The Rosary. Don't drop it pray it-give them away, and witness, as Aaron Neville does, to the chain-of-the-Rosary which frees from all kinds of enchainment's

Mary is not a priest but gives birth to the High Priest Jesus Christ-she taught Him how to stretch His arms(physically)so He could do it metaphysically on the Cross to give us sinners. Many, many women I know love their femininity and perfectly accept their roles as mother, wife or worker-and the role of men and priests in the world. Like St Hildegard of Bingen, St Teresa of Avila and St Teresa and St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (aka Edith Stein) all who were questioned about but accepted male priests, so can all men and women today-joyfully as did the Mother of God.

Mary is the "maternal image of God"-so said Pope John Paul II. We can see in her, the Mother of God, some of God's characteristics we may otherwise miss-humility, tenderness, affective love. Just recently a pilgrim said she "goes to Mary" because the Son can never refuse her Mother

Mary is both strong and feminine-Mary can help women and men understand we need integrate both characteristics in our lives. She was rugged on the Flight to Egypt and yet suckled the Child-King at her breast; she had to make tough decisions and yet loved her husband Joseph. She is a supreme example of balancing complementary-seeming-opposite virtues and traits within herself and shows both men and women they can do the same while respecting each other's roles in life and personal vocation

Mary as emancipator: In a startling essay in The New York Times Magazine (Dec 4/05), Peter Schnieder narrates the story of a young Muslim wife-mother, Haran Surucu, who was killed by her brothers because she gradually embraced some western, German values and culture. They killed her only after a partial "enslavement" to their brother, and her subsequent "rebellion". This is a sad but unfortunately not unusual story there as the Muslim population deals with enculturation and multiculturalists are afraid to address the sad situation. "But the books of the three Muslim dissidents now tell us what Germans like me didn't care to know. What they report seems almost unbelievable. They describe an everyday life of oppression, isolation, imprisonment and brutal corporal punishment for Muslim women and girls in Germany, a situation for which there is only one word: slavery."

Mary's Magnificat is the most beautiful song in the world. People are "downloading" all kinds of current music by their personal computers to be pleasured and inspired. Yet Mary's "My soul magnifies the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior (Lk 1: 46 ) sings and says what we all want: God, Divine Union, the spiritual ecstasy we all need as humans in this turbulent world. Do you know and love and memorize this Song?!

Mystical Bethlehem: Mary gave birth at that town-now gives "birth" in your soul to Him-the-Child-King within-thru deeper prayer and love.

As Mary was preserved in a singular grace from all sin and stain of it (the Immaculate Conception)so pull out all the bad straw--sin-there's still time to make a confession-and put in fresh, bright virtuous straw for the Lord to dwell within.

Emulate and imitate the Marian virtues: Acceptance/surrender/love/sacred desire/pure receptivity/penetration-by-deepening-purification-and-unifcaiton: to be one with the Savior/

Lots of joy escalated with all other children around Philomena, Paul and Paula Tiller's (our choir leaders) tenth baby-- clamoring to hold the new infant. I saw a mother mothering and a dad shepherding. That was a most eloquent, precious sermon words and planned out texts cannot compare. There was a beautiful joy. Even though it was dark and icy outside on the Guadalupe night (Dec.12), and other anonymous children in various places were abandoned, families split up and crime and poverty continued-like the Light of the Stable-I experienced a beautiful new Start in a seeming Eternal Now of that present presence.

Poems for /Reflection:

The Virgin weighed-
With the Word of God,
Comes down the road:
Won't you help her?...
       -St John of the Cross…

Arise, the Bridegroom comes! And none shall HE possess
But the Beloved Bride who stand s in readiness!
                                   -Angelus Silesius

Vatican II on God's House/The First Reading:

"The Fine arts are rightly classed among the noblest activities of man's activities and genius; this is true of religious art and its highest manifestation, sacred art…The Church has been particularly careful to see that sacred furnishings should worthily and beautifully serve the dignity of worship…Sacred furnishings and works of value are not to be destroyed or disposed, for they are ornaments in God's house" (On the Sacred Liturgy: #122,126)

Bible Readings: 2 Sm 7:1-16; Rom 16:25-27; Lk 1:26-38.

Reminder to Pilgrims to support your local parish and priests, thru frequent Mass attendance, prayer and volunteering: they need your help and inspiration!

Read other reflections by Father John J. Lombardi