Sunday, August 16, 2009

Making Room for Mary

Brought up in the Baptist tradition, Catherine Fox shares how the Blessed Virgin Mary has become an important part of her faith:

These days I worship at Lichfield Cathedral, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and St Chad, which seems a good setting for a tentative attempt at solving a theological problem like Maria. If, for example, I am happy to ask a fellow Christian to pray for me, and I take seriously the Communion of Saints, then it is not doctrinally suspect to ask one of the saints in glory, perhaps Mary, to intercede on my behalf. Is Mary simply one disciple among many, or does she have some soteriological role as the mother of God? Did she give birth “without defilement”? Can a former Baptist find a way to sing “True Theotokos, we magnify thee”?

In the end, these are intellectual exercises. My understanding of Mary is more instinctive and visceral, coming through the experience of motherhood. My first brush with it came the Christmas after my first son was born. He was premature, and at four months old, still tiny. As the choir sang “Hush, do not wake the infant king. Soon will come sorrow with the morning, soon will come bitter grief and weeping: sing lullaby”, I found myself crying. Tears splashed on his head as I realised that for all the ferocity of maternal love, I could not protect him from bitter grief and weeping. Later, as he and then his younger brother were growing up, I could no longer bear the Passion narratives, and showed my sons up on the Good Friday March of Witness, weeping when the Gospel accounts, dulled by childhood familiarity, sprang hideously to life. Mary, at the foot of the Cross. How could she stand there? How could she stand anywhere else?

Read it all.

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