Sunday, 20 January 2013

The Marian precedes the Petrine...

Today's gospel reading - the Marriage Feast at Cana - has long been one of my favourites.

I well remember a completely inspirational sermon preached at Walsingham on an NACF pilgrimage, in which the water was seen as signifying (inter alia, of course) our human affections in marriage after the first heady wine of romance was finished, and how Our Lord can transform that thin neutral matter into the true Charity that is participation in the Divine Love - the best wine of all.

Today we had another excellent sermon, focusing particularly on Our Lady's role, and her example of prayerfulness.  Today, of course, we see the power of her intercession, but Father also pointed out her prayer of submission, the great fiat ('be it done to me...'), her prayer of silence at the foot of the Cross, and her prayer of praise and adoration, the Magnificat, too.

(Incidentally, whenever I discuss Marian devotion with my non-Catholic friends, I always say there is really no harm in it: whenever you talk to her, her response is invariably 'Do whatever He tells you...')

It was the point about submission that particularly resonated with me today, because I had recently seen quoted a sentence from the Catechism (which I have subsequently looked up and found that I had underlined and put a big marginal exclamation mark by at some point): This is why the 'Marian' dimension of the Church precedes the 'Petrine.' (§773)

I had already been musing on the Petrine office, the issue of Papal Authority, as we enter this week of prayer for Christian Unity, as it is clearly something that our separated brethren often find troublesome. In part, I think, that is because they often misunderstand it, as though it is some sort of privilege sought by (or worse still, power claimed by) an ambitious papacy to subjugate an ignorant laity.

In fact, we see it, of course, as a gift to the Church, not to the Pope; to provide clarity, certainty, authority, and ultimately unity; to save us from error.

But today's reading and reflection made me view it in another fashion.  Authority is a gift, also, because it enables us to practice humility and obedience; to subdue our intellectual, and indeed our spiritual, pride: to emulate Our Lady in her humility: the 'Marian' dimension of the Church precedes the 'Petrine.' 


Lazarus said...

One of the things that started my move from Anglicanism was the impossibility of obedience: in Protestantism/Anglicanism I found it quite impossible simply to follow as you're always having to make up the theology as you go along.

That's not to say that obedience is the only characteristic of a Christian life. But I found its utter impossibility in much of contemporary Protestantism deeply troubling.

Ben Trovato said...

That's an interesting insight. My mother was a convert from Anglicanism, and said something similar.