Sunday, August 10, 2014

Catechesis of the Petrine and Marian Dimensions of the Church, Part 1 of 3

Sinless Virgin Mother Bride

The Marian dimension of the Church involves Mary as the receptive Bride who stands as an archetype for the Church while the Petrine involves the hierarchical structure of the Church. In her Immaculate Conception Mary stands before God as the New Eve, His Beloved daughter of Zion. Here she being sinless and free from original sin is totally free as was Eve to chose to do the will of God. In her sinless and virginal obedience to the will of the Father she becomes the cause of our salvation (St. Irenaeus). Where Eve failed, Mary succeeds, for the wages of the motherhood of Eve is death because she mediates the Fall where the wages of Mary’s motherhood is eternal life. Mary is the true tabernacle filled with grace who always faces the Father in an Eternal and joyful fiat. She attains a unity with the Trinity that surpasses all human expectations and imagination. Through her open receptivity to the working of the Holy Spirit in her soul she receives a supernatural elevation to union with God which bespeaks of her complete and utter holiness. As the handmaid of the Lord she gives herself in total gift and self-surrender to God her Divine Spouse. This is a requirement for virginity as it is meaningless when sought for its own sake but rather it is fecund when it is given freely as a gift of self. Mary’s perpetual virginity is necessary because she must not have divided loyalties; she must belong totally to her Spouse. Here Mary’s motherhood includes a willingness to be poured out for others – for all those embraced by the love of Christ, which involves an openness to all. In these qualities one can see the Church as Virgin and Mother. Holy Mother Church becomes a mother in her openness to the Word of God as she contemplates the sanctity of Mary, imitating her charity, and faithfully following the will of God. She is fruitful like Mary through the preaching of the Word and through the sacrament of Baptism wherein she gives birth to new Christians. For in the Creed we state that by the power of the Holy Spirit Jesus was conceived. The Church imitates Mary in giving birth to her members in a virginal way. For the Church contains in herself the living mystery of maternity. She is feminine and therefore, she is receptive to her Spouse. This spiritual regeneration accomplished through Baptism means that one can see the baptismal font as the womb of the Church being a font of grace as is Mary’s womb. For no one can understand the reality of the Church without considering the Virgin Mother Mary. The Church then as Mary is the Bride of Christ. For she being submissive to her bridegroom is presented before God pure and spotless. She is the Immaculata which is embodied in Mary. The Old Testament is replete with this kind of bridal imagery for God & Israel, especially in the prophetic books such as Hosea.

To be continued... 
--Rev. Harold B. McKale

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