Wednesday, August 06, 2008

"The Beauty of Mary": A Primer for the Faithful ... and the Skeptical

When I first started on my little book about Mary, now titled Behold Your Mother, I did not have what you'd call an intimate relationship with her. Not even a daily Rosary. Sad, but true.

Once I started the book, however, I took a look around and realized just how many "stubborn children" (usually, but not always, non-Catholic Christians) Mary contends with on a regular basis! She loves them anyway ... but what a regular trial we must be for her at times! Like sulky teenagers, we do everything we can to separate ourselves ("She's not MY mother!") -- and yet, the fact of her motherhood has never depended on our willingness to accept it. She loves because it is in a mother's nature to love her children. No matter how ornery.

These past few weeks I've had the pleasure of reading a number of "Mary books," and I wanted to share a few excerpts with you in hopes that these snippets will inspire you to (like St. Augustine) "Take and read." When we are trying to overcome years of ignorance or apathy, truth is the only thing that will seep around and soften those rough edges.

First ... since the Feast of the Assumption is fast approaching, I wanted to offer a snippet from a book entitled The Beauty of Mary, by Rosemary Vaccari Mysel and friends, published by Pauline Books and Media.

First, a little history: "According to theologian Danilo Sartor, OSM, the feast of the Assumption of the BVM was first celebrated in sixth-century Jerusalem. The Emperor Maurice (d.602) ordered the celebration of the Assumption for the entire empire. In the Byzantine Empire, it was called the 'Dormition.' ... By the late 7th century ... four Marian feasts were celebrated in Rome: the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, the Annunciation, the Purification, and the Assumption" (p128).

Caryll Houselander offers this meditation on the feast:

...Even in natural things, it is newness that gives us delight: daybreak, morning in spring. These seem to us promises from heaven, promises of our own renewal.

"I will give you the morning star."

To be born again: that is exactly what Christ has promised to us; not only once, but just as often as our inner life grows old and jaded and dies.

But newness, flowering spring, shadowless morning, are not born of what is decaying, corrupt, and fetid. They are born only of virginity, virginity which is newness, virginity complete as fire and water.

The only virginity like that is the virginity of Our Lady; it is through this virginity that the earth is made new, that the Holy Spirit is wed to humanity.
Because of the beautiful mix of historical and devotional, this book is an excellent starter resource for those who are just beginning to explore their relationship to the Blessed Mother.

For more information on the Blessed Mother, go to my blog Behold Your Mother.