Saturday 2 January 2016

And another thing

I have continued to think about the Holy Father's sermon on the Holy Family, about which I have already posted.

In particular, I have been thinking about the Immaculate Conception, and the difficulty that poses for us, inheritors of Original Sin, to read Our Lady's words accurately.

One of the effects of Original Sin is that our passions are not properly subject to our souls: that is the seat of the will and the intellect. But in Our Lady, preserved from Original Sin and its effects, that is not the case. Her passions are subordinate to her will, that is her capacity to love, and her intellect, her capacity to know.

Further, we know that any turning of the will away from the will of God is a sin: so by definition Our Lady never allowed her will to deviate from the will of God. 

Her intellect was also endowed with those preternatural gifts which the rest of us lost through Adam's sin: knowledge of God, of her relationship to Him and of Her eternal destiny.

It is in that context that we have to read Our Lady's words to her Son, both here in Luke 2, and also, for example, at the Annunciation and at the Wedding Feast in Cana.

It is of course tempting to read Our Lady's words as 'containing a certain reproach,' but is that correct, given her Immaculate status? Certainly, if a normal mother said those words, reading reproach into them would seem completely reasonable; but in this respect (freedom from Original Sin and Actual Sin) she is not a normal mother. 

All I believe we can legitimately read into them is the intellectual question they pose: "How could you (whom I know to be all-good) do this which has caused us such distress?"  - Faith seeking understanding. And it is no defect in her intelligence that means she does not understand all her Son does; it is natural for the human intellect to be unable to fathom the full mysteries of God - indeed, that is what we mean by a mystery.

So just as her words at the Annunciation (unlike the very similar ones of Zachary) do not display any failing in Faith, so her words here do not display any failing in Love; nor do her words at Cana display any failing in Hope.

Indeed, Cana is in some ways my favourite: when Protestants level the charge of Mariolatry at us, I reflect that it is a charge made in ignorance. Anyone who has turned to Our Blessed Mother for counsel or comfort knows that she always ends by telling us the same thing: 'Do whatever He tells you!' The Mother always points to the Son, and to honour her is to draw closer to Him.

As always, I issue the usual disclaimer: I am no trained theologian, and if I have got anything wrong in this post I invite correction. Indeed, as I have mentioned before, one of the delights of blogging is to provoke those wiser, better instructed, or more holy than myself to educate me.

Alma Redemptoris Mater, 
Quæ pervia cæli porta manes, 
Et stella maris, 
Succurre cadenti,
Surgere qui curat, populo: 
Tu quæ genuisti,
Natura mirante, 
Tuum sanctum Genitorem
Virgo prius ac posterius, 
Gabrielis ab ore
Sumens illud Ave, 
Peccatorum miserere.

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