Friday, April 8, 2011

Hail WHO? Part Four -- I Will Put Enmity Between You and the Woman

Greetings, Coffee Talkers!

We're now on the 4th night of the "Hail WHO? -- What Do Catholics Really Believe About Mary" series.  For any who are just joining us, this series began in response to many questions that I have received about Catholic devotion to Mary, mother of Jesus, and in particular to a well-articulated and complicated question about Mary, which you can read here.

I offer my sincere thanks to all who have been reading the series so far around the world, and for the positive feedback I have received. I hope that clarifying what Catholic Christians believe about Mary will help to serve as a bridge toward greater Christian unity. As always, I also welcome any clarifying comments, questions, or concerns you have about the Catholic understanding of theology of Mary, especially since I'm bring out the Mariological big guns here. Read, pray, and ask away!

Tonight, I'll present the second part of my paper "Open Wide the Gates - Mary as the New Eve," in which we'll examine the verse "I will put enmity between you and the woman" and what this means in regard to Marian theology. So grab your coffee, and enjoy!

Open Wide the Gates - Mary as the New Eve

I Will Put Enmity Between You and the Woman --
Mary, Immaculate Adversary of Satan

"Constituted in a state of holiness, man was destined to be fully 'divinized' by God in glory. Seduced by the devil, he wanted to 'be like God,' but 'without God, before God, and not in accordance with God.'" (14) Eve, confronted by the cunning words of the serpent, did not call upon God for help. Rather, she preferred her own will to the will of God and, obeying the serpent rather than her Creator, betrayed God's friendship. In a sense, Adam and Eve established an alliance with the serpent when they believed him over God. This alliance with the evil one was passed on to all generations through concupiscence, the inclination toward sin.

The disobedience and disbelief of Adam would be reversed by Christ, fully God and fully man, He who was like us in all things but sin. Similarly, Eve's alliance with the serpent could only be reversed by the one who was sinless. The one creature who remained untouched by Original Sin would reverse Eve's disbelief and disobedience, the woman whose enmity toward the serpent would crush his head and re-establish the spiritual life lost in the Fall. Through this woman and her offspring, the serpent would no longer have mastery over humanity; rather, the restoration of grace and holiness would come about through her. As Fr. Xavier Leon-Dufour beautifully describes, the mystery of the restoration of humanity by Christ
"is concretely accomplished in Mary; and ... this woman, this mother, is not merely a symbol, but thanks to Mary, she has a personal existence[.] Likewise on this point, the connection between Mary and the Church is brought out with such striking force that Mary, as well as the Church, is drawn in outline behind the woman snatched by God from the attacks of the serpent (Ap 12, 13-16), the counterpart of Eve, deceived by the same serpent (2 Co 11,3; Gn 3,13). Such was Mary's role in the plan of salvation." (15)
While Eve, in preferring her own will to God's, established an alliance with the serpent, Mary, in her perpetual Fiat to God, established a complete enmity between herself and Satan and therefore re-established the Divine intimacy lost by Eve. This intimacy is not only restored, however, but gloriously surpassed as Mary receives the Living Word into her very womb, becoming the Go-bearer through her humble submission to the will of the Father and complete receptivity to the Holy Spirit. The Second Vatican Council affirms this, saying,
"Thus Mary, a daughter of Adam, consenting to the divine Word, became the mother of Jesus, the one and only Mediator. Embracing God's salvific will with a full heart and impeded by no sin, she devoted herself totally as a handmaid of the Lord to the person and work of her Son, under Him and with Him, by the grace of almighty God, serving the mystery of redemption." (16)
As Eve was instrumental, though secondary, with Adam in the Fall of the human race, so Mary was instrumental, though secondary, in the restoration of grace. By submitting to God's will in full freedom, Mary is granted surpassing dignity and an essential role in the Trinitarian work of salvation and redemption. Mary's significant role in the plan of salvation is possible because of her humble obedience and her active participation in God's providential design. Indeed, as Fr. Jean Galot, S.J. describes,
"the divine plan provided for the maternal cooperation of Mary, assigning to the woman an essential role in the work of salvation. There was here a congruity with the divine intention of conferring on the woman all her dignity and to commit her fully in the undertaking of the restoration of the world." (17).
14. Catechism of the Catholic Church, #398.
15. Leon-Dufour, Xavier. Dictionary of Biblical Theology. (The Word Among Us Press: Ijamsville, 2000). p. 341.
16. Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Vatican II, Lumen Gentium (LG), 21 Nov, 1964. (New York: Costello Publishing Company, 1996). #56.
17. Galot, Rev. Jean, S.J. "Mary Co-Redemptrix: Controversies and Doctrinal Questions." In Mary Co-Redemptrix - Doctrinal Issues Today. p. 22
To be continued tomorrow!

As always, thanks for joining me here, and know of my prayers.

Peace and all good,

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