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Mariology I Fr Vermeersch

Mariology I Fr Vermeersch

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Published by Quo Primum

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Published by: Quo Primum on Jul 18, 2008
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MEDITATIONS AND INSTRUCTIONSON THE BLESSED VIRGINPRELIMINARY REMARKS.I. MARY is the Mother of God; but is she His Mother simply as other women have been mothers ofillustrious men, benefactors of humanity?In that case her maternity would give her no merit, and the whole line of her ancestors would shareher glory. Jesus would be the Son of Mary in the same manner as He is the grandson of Joachim andAnna.Such is the Mother of God in the eyes of Protestants, but their heretical idea is repugnant to thewhole theology of our justification; and by their too literal interpretation of the text of Holy Scripture,and their disregard of the living tradition of the Church, they lose sight of the Divine economy of ourredemption. No wonder that this mutilated and soulless religion has preserved only a cold andcolourless image of the Mother of God.But there are some Catholics also who are imperfectly instructed in the truths of their religion, andwhose ideas on the subject of the Blessed Virgin differ but little, though they may not be aware of thefact, from those of the heretical sects,’ and are inconsistent with the practices of Catholic piety. Theyare loyal children of the Church, and follow her in the honours that she pays to the Mother of God,but without realizing or even suspecting the full reason of this devotion.They are ignorant of the place which Mary occupies in the Divine plan, and of the importance ofthe consent which she gave to become the Mother of God; and they are therefore amazed at thelanguage of the Saints, and unconvinced by the arguments used in support of her high prerogatives,while the expressions used in the Liturgy appear to them absurd and exaggerated.In these meditations we shall keep our eyes steadily fixed on the true picture of the Mother of Godwhich the Church has received with the deposit of faith, which she preserves with jealous care, andwhich she studies with affection in order to discover new beauties and graces in it as the ages roll on.The subject necessarily entails the consideration of arguments which may seem difficult to theunderstanding of readers who are unfamiliar with theology, but their attention will be sustained bythe hope of acquiring a better knowledge of the Blessed Virgin and of Jesus Christ her Son, fromwhom she can never be separated.Again, Mary, in her highest exaltation, is nearerto us than her Divine Son. If, as the Apostle tells us, our predestination is modelled on that of JesusChrist, it must still more resemble that of His Mother. The plan of our own sanctification will beunfolded before us in the same order as that of Mary is presented to our view. The reality which fillsus with admiration for her will help us to understand the fullness of God’s mercy to us, and themanner in which we must correspond with His grace.II. Divine love chose the Mother of God, filled her with grace, and conducted her along the pathwhich led to the Heaven where she received her crown. At the outset she was the object of God’schoice, and received graces and prerogatives which were vouchsafed to no other. The path she fol-lowed was the path of the virtues, and it led to glory beyond compare.The third part of our meditations will, then, be divided into three sections, treating of the
and the
of Mary. There is a close connection between them, for do not her graces andher virtues constitute her greatest glories? and, similarly, are not her glories and her virtues graces ?But the practice of virtues introduces the element of a free co-operation, and in the glories the work ofGod appears to us perfectly accomplished. When we have studied the first beginnings of the careerupon which Mary entered by the grace of God, we shall take pleasure in contemplating the height ofglory to which she has been raised for ever by that same grace, seconded by her own will in perfectsubmission to the will of God.III. It remains only to mention the theologians of whose writings we have made use in composingthese meditations. St. Thomas, in the third part of his “Summa Theologica,” has given us a completestatement of the teaching of the Church on the Blessed Mother of God. Among the most learned of hiscommentators is the Jesuit Father, Suarez.
The Divine Maternity is the most sublime of the high privileges for which Mary was selected. It isthat one of her glorious predestinations which first presents itself to the mind, whether of thetheologian who studies the designs of God, or of the simple believer whose piety is his guide.Mary is the Mother of God. The Divine Maternity is the cause and the explanation of all theprerogatives, all the graces, all the glories of Mary.Considering the grace of the Divine Maternity at first in itself, and then in its application to thechosen one and in its consequences, we shall see (1)
in what consists the grace
of the Divine maternity;(2) how this maternity is, so to speak,
the stamp of the Personality of Mary;
and (3) what general view itgives us of
the past and the future of the Mother of God.“Sanctificavit tabernaculum suum Altissimus
The Most High hath sanctified His own tabernacle (Ps.45:5).
Besides the relations with God which our reason realizes as existing or possible, there are othersof a higher order, the possibility of which passes our understanding, and which we know only byrevelation. There are
the hypostatic union
the Divine maternity
, and
the sonship byadoption
 Among these,
the Divine maternity takes the second place
. All at once the Mother of God findsherself exalted above the whole created universe, above all possible creations, excepting only thehumanity of the Word.
The Divine maternity is the greatest honour which can be conferred upon amere creature.2. The Divine Maternity could not be the reward of any merit.
We ourselves, though
by nature
unable to bear any fruit of salvation, are nevertheless enabled
to merit even the glory of Heaven; but the dignity of the Mother of God is of a higher order,which this grace cannot reach. It was by a perfectly
free gift of God
that human nature was taken andappropriated by the Person of the Word.Similarly, no good works of Mary, though foreseen by Divine Providence, determined the choice ofthe Mother of God. If a special abundance of heavenly graces constituted the fit preparation of thechosen one, these graces are the consequence of the choice, and do not make that choice less a matterof free gift.
3. Let us now apply to the Divine Maternity what we know of the prerogatives of ordinarymothers.(a)
We at once admire the most marvellous of all
the privileges of maternity
, existing or possible—the privilege of bringing forth the God-Man. And by what means did Mary do this? By thecommunication of her own substance. Let us think what this means.The mother in her own womb furnishes the
which is incorporated in her son, or which (tospeak more correctly) constitutes his
. In passing to the son, this substance preserves the stampof its origin, and through all that he takes from her the mother follows her son, and perpetuatesherself in his separate existence.
All this Mary did in reference to the Divine Word
, and so much the more completely inasmuch asChrist had no father among men. If she is not united to the Divinity, she furnishes the flesh which isso united. She passes through something of herself into the Person of the Word of God, somethingwhich keeps for ever the seal of her own personality. In this manner, by a natural operation, Maryalone touches, as it were, the borders of the Divinity.
In this wonderful child-bearing, with whom does Mary co-operate?
 Not only, like other mothers, with the creative action of God, which gives the soul. We know theineffable mystery by which from all eternity God the Father has begotten the Word, the SecondPerson of the Adorable Trinity. Mary gives Him her aid to give to His Word a
birth. It is
impossible to conceive a more exalted office.
The authority of eminent theologians leads us to the consideration of mysteries still moresublime.Let us remember first that in the case of married persons, besides relationship properly so called,which depends on
or community of blood, there is another relationship called
, which makes each of the two persons a member of the family of the other.As Mother of Christ,
Mary is united to Him by the closest consanguinity
.But, on the other hand, between the Word and His own human nature there exists a still closer andmore perfect union,
more indissoluble
than that of any marriage. Instead of simply resulting in themoral union of two persons. this union appropriates to the Person of the Word the nature to whichHe is united.
This nature is taken from Mary
; it contains the blood of Mary. Can we not see thewonderful consequence? In exchange for the nature which He takes from her, the Wordcommunicates toHis Mother an affinity with His Person, makes her a relation of His Person—that is, of God Himself.And in this affinity St. Thomas recognizes the reason of the high honour which we pay to Mary underthe name of
5. But the Maternity of Mary is not the result only, or even principally, of the action of Mary herself.
It comes also in the first place from the Divine influence of her Son
, which, descending upon her,makes her His Mother by uniting to His Divinity the human nature offered by the Blessed Virgin. Theperson of the Word is for Mary that of a bridegroom who dwells within her, and gives Himself as aSon to His bride. Mary is doubly united to Jesus Christ, first as Mother, then as Spouse. And theunion of her created person with the uncreated Person of the Word is the most perfect image of thehypostatic union itself, joining the human nature to the Word who takes it upon Himself.6. What sublime
the Divine Maternity confers upon the Blessed Virgin! He whom HisDivinity frees from all subjection really accepts all the duties which are imposed upon men by law ornatural relationship.
He submits to the directions and commands of His Mother
during Hischildhood and His youth, and during the whole of His earthly life He accepts the filial duty ofreverence and love.
Our admiration of the Blessed Virgin Mother will be greatly increased when we realize that thisincomparable dignity of Mother of God is not a mere adventitious quality bestowed as an accidentaladornment upon a person whose destiny may be more or less sublime; but that it has determinedwhat we shall call
the physical, moral, and supernatural construction of Mary
; that it enters intoMary’s very constitution ; that it is a characteristic of her person.In order that we may grasp this idea more fully, let us consider for a moment the manner in whichother careers are decided upon. God places at the disposal of mankind a visible world, and a supplyof strength, of talents, of natural inclinations and graces. Free, but under the guidance of Providence,men increase and multiply over the earth. From the alliances they form are born other men, endowedwith different qualities of heart and soul, to whom this or that kind of education is given, in orderthat they may acquire the capacity for the employment or condition to which they are called. God,while leaving men to exercise their free will, takes care that these capacities are sufficient for thewants of the Church and of civil society; and prayers and good works may merit for a particularsociety or a particular epoch examples of devotion more numerous, more enlightened, and moresincere.Thus it is that
are freely chosen by men, and yet at the same time providentially given byGod. All are not apostles, nor all prophets, nor all doctors, but
“all these things,”
says St. Paul,
“one andthe same Spirit worketh, dividing to every one according as He will.”
(1 Cor. 12,2).
The more sublime the vocation, the more direct and exclusive is the action of God
, and the lessthe vocation depends upon an arbitrary choice. Our Lord called His twelve Apostles, and said tothem
“You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you.”
(St. John 15,16). Yet it is correct to say that in thecase of the majority of men this or that function has not been assigned to them by any Divine decreeoperating independently of their own free choice. Our Lord chooses His Apostles among those whomHe finds possessed of the requisite dispositions; but the fitness to be chosen was not confined to those

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