Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Something about Mary

Dr. Swift is an Anglican of a High Church Evangelical disposition.

We are quite comfortable in the bell-tower to chant our Psalm, to cross ourselves, to kneel at the drop of a hat, and we are entirely in favour of crucifixes, candles, and other such trifles allowed by Elizabeth, of blessed memory.

But at the same time, we find lace on men disturbing. We are quite happy with Latin Mass, but it must be the Latin Book of Common Prayer. And while we deeply admire the Pope, we are firmly convinced that he should mind his own business.

We are in short, good, catholic minded Protestants, c. 1570.

That means, among other things, we are suspicious of Mary.

Mary, idolatrous shibboleth of Polish boot-blacks and Filapina house-maids.
Mary, inspiration of Popish Queens, and odd, Lady Marchmain-like aristocrats.
Mary, prop of bad art, milk-sop milk-maid of sickly piety.

Mary, the plain weird.

But we are nearly in Advent. And we are forced to turn our minds, and our thoughts, to the Virgin Mother of the Lord.

Mary, the simple peasant girl, drawing water for Joachim and Anna.

Mary, betrothed to Joseph, the carpenter, a good man, a solid man--an older man.

Mary of the Magnificat, that soaring hymn of hope that the weak, the poor, the lowly and the broken will no longer be shut out.

Mary, the burning eyed, at the Cross, where the sword pierced her own soul, and her Son's side.

Mary, the mother of the Church, sitting in the kitchen with John Evangelist, and the other Apostles, dispensing wine, stew and advice.

Mary at Pentecost, receiving the devouring fire.

And we find ourselves awestruck. Mary isn't simply a model of virginal sweetness (pace bad art). She is a woman of fire, of faith, of blood, of suffering.

The woman who said "Yes."

Hail, Mary, full of grace.

Yes. Just one little word.

A word for the whole world.

Here's the gorgeous, if sadly rare, Caccini Ave Maria.


Daniel O'Connell said...

Mary ah Mother of God... got to love those catholic protestants the world needs more of them

Fr Longenecker said...

I recommend 'Mary-A Catholic Evangelical Debate' by Dwight Longenecker and David Gustafson.

Swift said...

Very kind of you to drop in, Reverend Father.

I am of course aware of your wonderful books--I read "Adventures in Orthodoxy" with admiration and pleasure, as I have "A Sudden Certainty" and your blog. "The Path to Rome" I admit did make me rather cross, but then, you're probably not suprised about that.

I will look out for the Mary book, though--welcome!

Bearhunter said...

And just for you, since I know you're a big fan of the Irish language...

'Se do bheatha, Mhuire, ata lan de grasta.
Ta an Tiarna leat; is beannaithe thu idir mna agus is beannaithe tora do bhruinne Iosa.
A Naomh Mhuire, mhathair De, gui orainn na peacai
Anois agus ar uair ar mbais, amen.

Shame I haven't worked out how to do sinne fadas over the necessary vowels, but hey...