Monday, May 13, 2013
When we say, "the Virgin Mary"
When we say, "the Virgin Mary", we are ultimately giving glory to God. For being the bearer of Christ she was before, during, and after birth, kept a virgin - by the very Incarnation. This virginity is distinctively miraculous; thus it is forever fiat, forever deferring, and being made manifest and sustained by God, it shows the benignity of God, the transcendence of God, in the very way by which he manifested himself to us; shows how conformity to him gives him glory and that his glory is our salvation; that the means by which He came into our world was not merely a "means", for he is all love.
In the most pivotal event in the history of the world, in which God became incarnate, the virgin and immaculate woman through whom He was made incarnate was kept virginal.
Realize this, and see it right: her virginity, in conjunction with her humility, magnifies the Lord. Thus is the praise-reason we attribute the title virgin to her: it gives glory to God through her. We do not praise her with the title virgin because it causes us to realize the positivity of chastity and its integration of sexuality in the human person, just as we do not praise her with the same title because we believe that sex is dirty. It's precisely because it is something we clearly did not bring about ourselves, though the human race unknowingly participated.
No, it is to give glory to the God who gives us eros in the first place (simply as an integral part of our being, often to be mortified as the means of actually sustaining and stewarding it, and not as an over-heading occupation to which we were meant to blindly cling as some sort of means of "rocket-packing" our way to the "stars").
Through that daughter in whom we see perfect lowliness and perfect exaltation, set apart from the claims, efforts, toils of the loves of man, God grants us freedom from the fever troubles of self-exaltation (so often concomitant with eros), and with its inevitable downfall the despairing fever troubles of impotency and insufficiency, freedom from Aphrodite and Venus - and that freedom is perfectly lowly and perfectly exalted.
And to give glory to God through the Immaculate fills us with joy as we find our place as children of God, as we find ourselves, our true selves, as we were meant to be, if still in the here and now incomplete: it does not begin with sexuality nor does it end with sexuality, this glory to God as his children, to God for whom our mortification is no obstacle to giving his children an entirely new eros; for whom mortification is not just not an obstacle, but the death through which he can redeem. The power is out of our hands, historically once and for all, and God himself can take up his seat in ourselves.
That which is loss is gain, and that which we hold onto is rendered unredeemable by that very clinging and preoccupation. To act and say otherwise is to say that our God is ineffectual at bringing life through death.
Mortification is a radical trust in the new life that God gives. And radical trust is fiat. It begins with filiality.
We see in the virginal conception of Jesus the reality that God is absolute, and absolutely transcendent, whose ways are not our ways; as well as the fullest identification with man ever achievable: showing us man in his perfect fullness, without sin.
So we see the way in which God comes to us - as inscrutable and ineffable. We see in the way in which God comes to us a revelation about who God is - wholly good, wholly benign, wholly transcendent. We see in the revelation of God the closest and most perfect communion: encountering the man, who is fully man, wholly without sin.