The Sarabite: Towards an Aesthetic Christianity

There is a continuous attraction, beginning with God, going to the world, and ending at last with God, an attraction which returns to the same place where it began as though in a kind of circle. -Marsilio Ficino

Friday, February 24, 2006

On Devotion to the Mother of God


We know that the Christian message has to do with Christ, but is it essentially anything else? I would argue that our Faith is essentially bound up with the Church ("caput et corpus: Christus totus": head and body, the whole Christ). By extension, real Christianity is liturgical: you cannot have the Church without the assembly at worship (ekklesia) in an orderly, traditional manner. But is Christianity essentially Marian? Can one be a Christian without devotion to Christ's Mother?

Devotion to the Mother of God is essential to being a Christian. If Christianity is something that is not based on ideas but rather on people, or rather on the person Christ, the way our Faith is revealed is personal. There is no person Christ without the person Mary, there is no Incarnate God without a mother. Origen said in his commentary on the Gospel according to St. John that no one could understand this Gospel without having been born again of the Virgin Mary. Christ is not a distant divine figure that is far away from us; he is in us and is being born in us, always through the intercession of His Mother.

I once heard a Russian Orthodox abbot say that he who does not believe in the Mother of God does not really believe in God. These are harsh words, but for me they ring very true. If you do not believe that God made Himself so vulnerable that He put Himself in the hands of a young girl in first century Palestine, you simply do not believe in the Christian God. If you do not believe that Christ has a special relationship with His mother, you do not believe that Christ truly became man. Thus, you really do not believe in the Incarnation, and are no better than an atheist.

One of the bishops of the Society of St. Pius X once said in a sermon that the Virgin Mary is the greatest sign that God loves us. She is a sign of the heights toward which God wants to take us. Although this can be deemed as unscriptural and unecumenical, a tender love of the Mother of God is the best sign that your relationship with God is not just based on reading a book or your own reasoning. It is a sign that you deeply love Christ, to the point that you share His loves. This is indeed "folk religion" often beyond the bounds of theology. Anyone, however, who has a living Faith will appreciate God's sublime gift of His own Mother to believers.

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