February 2023 Allocutio
The centrality of Mary in everything
Fr. Paul Churchill
There are two main reasons given to explain why the Son of God came among us. Both views have a basis in Scripture. The first is that he has come in response to the sin of Adam and is operating a rescue mission. The other is that it was already God’s plan to unite with his Creation. The Word was coming anyway when the sin of Adam added an extra dimension to his mission, something that God had already made allowance for.
If in fact God had already determined to unite himself with his Creation and to take it to himself as a spouse would his bride (note Rev 21), if that has been the divine objective of the creation, then the way we look at Mary must be enriched because the whole of Creation has to be built around that place and event of God’s uniting with his creation. Where and how God would unite with his Creation becomes pivotal to how he creates because God first had to conceive and draw up the design of both the God-man but also of Mary and then, with that great event of the Incarnation decided, build up everything else from that and around that, both backward in time but also forward in time. In this way Mary becomes the first of Creation even if historically she will only appear in the Creation “at the appointed time”.
This would seem to be the view of Frank Duff, Louis de Montfort and many others. Indeed the Handbook of the Legion says “From the first the idea of Mary was present to the Eternal Father along with that of the Redeemer of whose destiny she formed part … thus from all eternity Mary was in a position exalted, alone among creatures …” To be that point where the divine would unite with creation had to be unique.
The late Pope Benedict XVI, possibly one of the finest theological minds among Popes, recognised that God might be operating his plan through an evolutionary process. The Pope of course wisely did not canonise such but insofar as current theory allows for a beginning and a process of unfolding which connects all creatures across time, we can see how it could fit into St. Francis vision of all creatures being brothers and sisters or into St. Paul’s saying that the whole of creation is crying out for the revealing of the sons of God.
As St. John says, “The Word was God … All things were made through him and without him was not made anything that was made” (Jn 1:1-2). And St Paul will say “For in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible …all things were created through him and for him” (Col 1:16). The letter to the Hebrews also speaks of the Son “through whom also he created the world!” (Heb 1:2). It is not unfair to say that given the primacy of that moment when the divine unites with the creature everything that precedes the moment of the Incarnation and everything after, has had to take its design from the prototypes that are, on the divine side, the Word and, on the side of creatures, Mary. Mary so is blessed not just among women but every female takes her design from her. And the prototype of the Word made flesh and of Mary are the design from which are made Adam and Eve. We can even say that she is not just the “New Eve”; she is the “First Eve”.
And it is not just from the earthy mucky matter of the Universe (molecules, atoms, slimey cells etc.) that she is made. Her spiritual side (mostly not considered by modern science) is also creature. How God would create that aspect of her also had to take precedence among the designing of all spiritual creatures. The Letter to the Hebrews is clear that the angels were made to serve those subject to salvation (Heb 1:14). This utterly galled Satan who stood before the woman to try and end God’s project ab initio (Rev 12).
No eye has seen, nor ear heard the things God has prepared for those who love him (1 Cor 2:9). We only have a vague idea of where God’s plan is leading since we only see in a glass darkly (1 Cor 13:12). But if we listen again to the Book of Revelation we hear about a new heaven and a new earth: “And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Rev 21:2). The first uniting of God with his creation through Mary is just a prelude to what is to come. How utterly central is Mary in the next few lines? “Behold the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them and they shall be his people and God himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes and death shall be no more … for the former things have passed away” (Rev 21:3-4). It is through Mary he came into this world. By her reality the new dwelling of that New Jerusalem must happen. She is Queen of Heaven and Earth. Indeed given her place then she is the Queen of everything in the Creation.
No wonder we call her Veneranda, she who is to be venerated. She is not just some extra added bit to creation however good and pure. She is, as Frank Duff insists, at the very centre of what God is doing from the start and in some way has also been present at the final moment.
I’d just like to add one other thing here. Such a vision of Mary might seem to make her inaccessible to us. But let us not stray. The humble maid we see in Nazareth just going about her affairs before the Annunciation, the tired woman in the manger just after giving birth to Jesus, the distraught mother looking for her lost son of twelve years, the woman who interceded for the couple in Cana, the woman whose suffering on Calvary is inexpressible, that is the true Mary, the woman God wants us to see because that is precisely what she was made to be, for God and for the rest of us. Let us have a real relationship with her. Let us befriend her. Let us get help from her who has a special connection with God. And that is not just an added option. Given her central significance in the totality of all, it is a must. That is what Frank Duff held.