Mary in the Epistles by Thomas Stiverd Livius. Comments on the Epistles part 13


31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatsoever else you do, do all to the glory of God.

"All human actions," says S. Antoninus, "may be referred to God. He, then, is the most perfect who refers all his actions to God. Since the Blessed Virgin was, of all mankind, alone exempt from every venial sin and imperfection, she alone was able actually to refer all she did to God, always throughout her life." [P. iv., Tit. xv., c. 26, 1. See also infra, 2 Cor. vi. 1.]

33 As I also in all things please all men, not seeking that which is profitable to myself, but to many, that they may be saved.

If this was the zeal of the Apostle for the salvation of souls, how much more was it that of Mary at the foot of the Cross.


1 Be ye followers of me, as I also am of Christ.

If the Apostle can speak thus, how much more can Mary. [See supra, I Cor. iv. 16.]

3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man ; and the head of Christ is God.

7 The man indeed ought not to cover his head, because he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of the man.

8 For the man is not of the woman, but the woman of the man.

9 For the man was not created for the woman, but the woman for the man.

10 Therefore ought the woman to have a power over her head, because of the angels.

II But yet neither is the man without the woman, nor the woman without the man, in the Lord.

12 For as the woman is of the man, so also is the man by the woman : but all things of God.

Most truly and forcibly may these words be applied in a mystical sense to our Lord Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary. Whether such mystical application was in the mind of S. Paul as he wrote or not, all that he here says is entirely in harmony with his teaching elsewhere, viz., that Jesus Christ is the ideal Man, " the second Man from heaven, heavenly;" "the Man Christ Jesus ; "[See 1 Cor. xv. 45-47 ; 1 Tim. ii. 5. 2 Heb. i. 3 ; Col. i. 15.] "the brightness of God's glory and the figure of His substance ;" " the image of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature." [Heb. i. 3 ; Col. i. 15.] As, then, Jesus Christ is the second Adam, so Mary is the second Eve, " the Woman," set forth in paradise to the hopes of our first parents, of whom in the fulness of time the Word became Man, our Redeemer Jesus Christ. [Gal. iv. 4. See infra, Heb. i. 1.] Mary is the glory of Jesus. All her grace and dignity is derived from Him. Yet neither is He, the Man, without her ; but by her, and of her, since He derives His human existence from her : " Of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ." [Matt. i. 16.] Nor in the work of Redemption is He without her ; since she co-operated with Him therein, even as the first Eve did with Adam in the Fall. If the entire passage be read in this mystical sense, it will be seen how beautifully everything contained in it, is applicable to Jesus and Mary.

Well does S. Ambrose say: " Go forth and see King Solomon in the crown, wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals, and in the day of the joy of his heart, because he made for himself, he says, charity from the daughters of Jerusalem. . . .' [Cant. iii. 10, 11.] Blessed Mother, Jerusalem, and blessed womb of Mary, which crowned so great a Lord. She crowned Him when she formed Him, she crowned Him when she brought Him forth ... in that she conceived and bore Him for the salvation of all : she placed upon His head a crown of eternal piety, so that by the faith of them that believe, Christ might become the head of every man. . . . What there was of flesh He assumed from the Virgin, and in her formed the members of the last Adam, the Spotless Man." [De Inst. Virg., Cap. xvi. 103.]
" We must not pass over, Brethren," says S. Augustine, " and chiefly for the instruction of the women our sisters, the modesty, so holy of the Virgin Mary. She had given birth to Christ, the Angel had come to her, and had said to her, ' Behold, thou shalt conceive ... the Son of the Most High.' [Luke i. 31, 32.] She had merited to give birth to the Son of the Most High, and yet was she the most humble. She did not set herself above her husband ; nor did she so in order of name, so as to say, 'I and Thy father;' but she says, 'Thy father and I.' Thus she did not pay attention to the dignity of her womb, but had regard to the conjugal order. It was not the humble Christ, who would have taught His Mother to be proud. She says, ' Thy father and I,' because the head of the woman is the man. How much less, then, ought the rest of women to be proud. Mary, too, is called a woman, not from loss of virginity, but according to the way of speaking proper to her country."

29 Not discerning the body of the Lord.

To discern rightly the Body of the Lord, we must discern rightly His Virgin Mother ; for that Body was made of her. It is just those who have no discernment of Mary who fail to discern Christ's true Body and Blood in the Holy Eucharist.

Thus does S. Ephrem make Mary hold colloquy with her Babe : —"Thou art within me, and Thou art without me, O Thou that makest Thy Mother amazed; for I see that outward form of Thine before mine eyes, the hidden Form is shadowed forth in my mind, 0 Holy One. In Thy visible form I see Adam, and in Thy hidden Form I see Thy Father, who is blended with Thee. Hast Thou, then, shewn me alone Thy Beauty in two forms'? Let Bread shadow forth Thee, and also the mind ; dwell also in bread and in the eaters thereof. In secret and openly may Thy Church see Thee, as well as Thy Mother. He that hateth Thy Bread is like unto him that hateth Thy Body. He that is far off that desireth Thy Bread, and he that is near that loveth Thy Image, are alike. In the Bread and in the Body, the first and also the last have seen Thee. Yet Thy visible Bread is far more precious than Thy Body: for Thy Body even unbelievers have seen, but they have not seen Thy living Bread. They that were afar off rejoiced: their portion utterly scorneth that of those that were near. Lo ! Thy Image is shadowed forth in the blood of the grapes on 1 the Bread ; and it is shadowed forth on the heart with the finger of love, with the colours of faith. Blessed be He that by the Image of His Truth caused the graven images to pass away."