I have many books on the go at the moment. This is a perennial problem of mine: I always pick up new books before I finish the ones I am currently reading. This leads to too many books on the go at the same time which ultimately leads me to giving up on many of them.
My problem right now is that all the books I am reading are all REALLY good. Last week, for example, I read a section from Volume 1 of the Glory of the Lord by Hans Urs Von Balthasar (he is someone I just may mention once or twice over the course of this blog in the coming months and years). The section I was reading was relating to the theological value of subjective experience: its importance, its basis in the Gospels and Scripture, its nature, etc.
I was reading away and got to his section on the subjective experience of Mary. In this short section, he explains why Mary is the Mother of the Church. He claims that Mary is Mother of the Church by virtue of the fact that she is Mother of the Son. So far, so good. By virtue of the intimate relationship she had with her Son, the Church which is His Bride becomes intimate to her as well. By virtue of this relationship, Mary, then, in her maternal gaze upon the whole Church, expropriates from herself the experience of her Son and gives it to the Church (which is, by the way, the basis for the Church’s perfection). As Mother, she wants the whole Church to know her Son the same way she does, and so she opens up her heart for us to experience in her the relationship she has with her Son.
I found this to be moving and beautiful. More importantly, though, it gave me an insight into the rosary that I had never known before. If what Balthasar says is true, then that means that each time we pray the Rosary, each time we meditate on a mystery, we are not simply looking at it in an objective manner, attempting to come to certain facts about the mysteries through our meditation. No. The rosary, instead, is a MUCH more powerful and glorious prayer. It is in the rosary where we ask Mary to take us into her heart. It is in the rosary, in the heart of Mary, that we see each mystery in her eyes, from her perspective. By virtue of our union with her, we come to a more perfect knowledge and experience of her Son.
I got rather excited with this because, though I love to pray the rosary, I have found it difficult at times to be able to participate and meditate on the mysteries. This helps me now see not only the centrality of the rosary, but of Mary herself. When we pray the Hail Mary, we are not just asking her intercession, but we are asking to be placed in her Immaculate Heart, to be lifted up into the love she has for her Son. Mary becomes powerful for us because we learn, from her through the depths of her heart, how to love her Son.
Mary is important and, I dare say, essential for Catholics because she is the perfect example of how to love God the Son, God the Father, and God the Holy Spirit. We can be lifted up into her fiat and ask her to teach us to say yes as she says yes to God. She is the perfect model of faith! I have heard from some that because she is perfect it is tough to immitate her. I respond by saying that she is not unapproachable because of her sinlessness, but absolutely even more approachable because of her sinlessness. By virtue of her Immaculate Conception, she is completely available in a selfless way for the Church. She gives herself totally to the Church so that the Church may have the faith, hope, and love that she has. We tend to think that to be human is to be sinful, as if humanity is identifiable with sinfulness. It is not. Sin is an abomination to human nature and it has no part in us. When we have Mary, when we have Jesus, who both were sinless, we think we cannot immitate them, they were better than we can ever be. Yet, it is because of their complete union with the Father that they both had a perfect freedom, a freedom we yearn for. We think that we are less free the closer we grow to God. Mary and Jesus teach us that we become more free the more intimately united to God we are. They are examples to us because what they live we are called to live as well. Both Mary and Jesus were tempted in every way we are. Yet they still said yes. Let us ask Mary, then, to teach us to say yes as she did, despite fears, despite temptations. Yes is the only word that we can say to God, because it is the only word that fulfills our human nature, our human destiny.