The Mother Of Christ by Father Vassall-Phillips Part 24

Henceforth we are the adopted sons of God. He has also given us a place by His side in His human Mother's heart. We are the children of Mary, for our Brother is Mary's Child.

My readers may like to make their own, a beautiful prayer of St. Anselm, once Archbishop of Canterbury:

"O my Queen! God has made thee His Mother, that thou mightest become the mother of all who believe in Him. Accept, then, O most Blessed Virgin, for thy children all those whom thy dear Son was not ashamed to call His Brothers." 

Our Blessed Lord is not our Brother only. He is also our Head and we are Members of His Body. With this thought before his mind, St. Augustine, having pointed out that Mary is not only in spirit, but also in body, both Mother and Virgin," proceeds as follows :

"Yet she is not indeed Mother in spirit of our Head, who is the Saviour Himself—of whom rather spiritually she is born, because all who believe in Him (amongst whom she too is) are rightly called children of the Bridegroom—but, clearly, she is Mother of His Members—that is of us, since by her charity she co-operated that the Faithful should be born in the Church—and they are members of that Head. But, corporally, she is Mother of the Head Himself."

Corporally, we are not her children, and cannot be. She has but one Child, who is the Fruit of her womb. His Name is Jesus. On the other hand, spiritually, she cannot be His Mother—rather she is, from this point of view, His Daughter. Spiritually barren, however, she can never be, for charity is ever a fruitful mother, and she is the Queen of Charity. By her charity Mary co-operated in the Redemption of the world—giving her consent to the Incarnation, and standing beneath the Cross—in this manner undoing the work of Eve. Thus does she become spiritually the mother of the Members of her Son. When by Baptism we became Members of His Body, we were made in Christ, not only sons of God, but also children of the Mother of our Head. Such is the thought of the great Augustine. We dare not divide Christ. The One Christ, who is God, is the Head of the Body of which we are members. Consequently the Mother of God is the Mother of the members of His Body.

Similarly, St. Epiphanius :

" Mary is signified by Eve, who received in figure the appellation of Mother of all the living. For Eve was called Mother of the Living, even after, subsequently to the transgression, she had heard the words : * Dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt re turn.' It is, indeed, a marvel that after the P"all she had this great title bestowed upon her. True it is that according to the exterior the whole race of man upon earth has been born from this Eve, but in reality it is from Mary that Life is truly born to the world, so that by giving birth to the Living One, Mary might also become the Mother of all the Living. Thus, then, in a mystical sense Mary is called Mother of the Living."

We may observe, that to the mind of Epiphanius, the mystical (spiritual) maternity whereby Mary becomes the Mother of all the Living—that is of all who receive the Divine Life of Christ in Baptism— transcends our exterior (corporal) descent from our first parents. It creates a bond and kinship not of the body, but of the soul. That which is above nature must ever surpass that which is purely according to nature. It belongs to a higher order. It is from our human mother that we have received corporal life ; our mother Mary bestowed upon us spiritual life when she bore and gave us Jesus our Lord, who is our Life.

We may also quote St. Ambrose :

"Christ before the Virgin—Christ from the Virgin—born indeed of the Father before all ages, but born of the Virgin for the sake of the ages. . . . A Virgin therefore it is who has borne us in her womb, a Virgin who has brought us forth, a Virgin who has nourished us with her own milk, of whom we read: ' How great things has the Virgin Jerusalem wrought."

The Virgin, then, brought us forth spiritually in Christ her Son as His Members, and still discharges the offices of a mother to us her children, nourishing us mystically with her milk, lavishing on us a mother's care—a mother's love.

The Abbott Guarric, a disciple of St. Bernard, applies to the Blessed Virgin the prophecy of Isaias : " Thou shalt no more be called Forsaken, and thy land shall no more be called Desolate ... for thy children shall dwell in thee." (Is Ixii. 4, 5.) He continues thus:

"Why, O heretic, dost thou raise up thy head ? Why dost thou snatch the mystery of piety to turn it into an occasion of thine unbelief ? One indeed she bore, who, as He is the Only Son of His Father in Heaven, so is He the Only Son of His Mother upon the earth. For she did not, as thou dost wickedly blaspheme, afterwards bear other sons; but the seal of stainless virginity in the Mother remained as the Mystery of Catholic Unity shown forth in her Son. Yet, she, the only Virgin Mother, whose glory it is to have given birth to the Only Begotten of the Father, embraces this her Only Son in all His Members, and is not ashamed to be called the mother of all those in whom she knows that Christ, her Son, has been formed already or is now being formed on earth."