Sunday, December 04, 2016

Advent is a Marian Month

In a wonderful article in the Washington Post, Nancy Ritter reflects on the Virgin Mary.
Here's her conclusion:
I think of Mary, and I am grateful.
I think of Mary, and I am comforted.
I think of Mary, and I am exultant.
I think of Mary, and I am enraged and grieved and ashamed that the sons of men should seek to steal, kill and destroy the daughters of God.
I think of Mary, and still I believe, that what God has spoken to her will someday be accomplished in us all.
Advent is a Marian month. In it we observe the feast of the Immaculate Conception (hers), the Annunciation and stories of Jesus' birth. Syrian Christian Tradition celebrates in the Sundays before Christmas a series of annunciations: to Zechariah, to Mary, her Visitation (to Elizabeth), and to Joseph with the nativity of John the Baptist.
Official Christian teaching has always sought to dissociate Mary from her female identity in these ways: she gave birth to Jesus painlessly and without sexual intercourse (virginal conception) and is thus a model for consecrated virgins; she is God-bearer (Theotokos) of a child both human and divine; she herself is sinless (immaculate conception) and does not carry the curse of Eve. Yet women in Christian tradition continue to identify with Mary precisely because she is a woman. 
In 1877, for example, an American missionary tried in vain to correct the notion that Mary interceded for women in Ottoman Armenia. She reported an encounter:
"There was another very religious women I once met with in one of the villages on Harpoot plain. She said, 'Lady, I love you, and think you are a real Christian, but one thing you say I cannot receive. You say the Virgin Mary is not our intercessor. What should we women do, if we could not call upon the Virgin when in trouble, or suffering? She was a woman, and knows how to pity women like us.' This is what they all say." 
(The photo is a print by Salvador Dali)

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