The Power of the Marian Connection (3) — How the Mother of Jesus ‘Connects’ us to the three Persons of God
1. How the Blessed Virgin Mary ‘connects’ us to God the Father
“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to your word.” (Lk. 1:38)
Now, let us consider in what way the Holy Virgin is connected to God the Father and as a direct consequence, in what way she connects us to Him, our God and Eternal Father. Let’s begin by asking the question: what is the nature of the relationship between God, the Eternal Father and the Blessed Virgin Mary? The answer to this question will help us understand the depth of the Virgin Mary’s connection with God the Father as well as how far she can link us to Him. Since, as the saying: “nemo dat quod non habet” holds, no one can give what he does not possess, the Blessed Virgin can link us to the Father only to the extent that she herself enjoys affiliation and union with God; it is thus important to first understand what constitutes the nature, the depth and the significance of her relationship with God the Father.
God is the Creator and Father of every creature on earth and so all are equal before his eyes and have equal access to him as our father. But in the history of salvation, we also see that God, in his providence and in the working out of his inscrutable designs, calls some persons to special tasks and for such purposes, draws them to Himself in a special way. In fact, it can be said, that God from age to age, according to the need of each time and according to the unfolding of his plan for man, creates and brings into the world some special persons, whom He uses to accomplish specific special designs. These persons can rightly be called ‘special’ because of the unique and ‘exceptional’ roles God has assigned to them and for which he draws them to himself and relates with them in a privileged peculiar way.
Among them, in the Old Testament, we can name: Adam himself, the first man, Noah the friend of God, Abraham the Patriarch of God’s people, Jacob, Joseph, Moses with whom He spoke face to face, Joshua, Gideon, Samuel the Seer, Sampson, David in whom His heart delighted, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Esther, Daniel, among others. In the New Testament, we have such specially chosen persons as Mary, the virgin of Nazareth, Joseph the Carpenter, John the Baptizer, Peter and Paul, James and John and the other apostles. Among the earliest Christians who succeeded the apostles, we have such persons as: Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp of Smyrna, Justin the Apologist, Clement of Alexandria, Athanasius the Great, Constantine the Great Emperor, Ambrose of Milan, Augustine of Hippo and such men with whom He conquered the then known world of the Roman Empire.
In the Medieval and Middle ages of the Christian era, there would be no doubt that God chose as special instruments, such persons as St. Benedict, the Abbot, Gregory the Great, Bede the Venerable, Margaret of Scotland, Bernard of Clairvaux, St. Dominic the Preacher, Francis of Assisi, Albert the Great, Elizabeth of Hungary, Bridget of Sweden, Catherine of Siena, Theresa of Avila, among many others who built up the Christian civilization of the Western world. In the last five hundred years, God has also raised up, men and women, whose special mission and friendship with God are not in doubt. Here we recall such persons as: Ignatius of Loyola, Philip Neri, Vincent Ferrer, Alphonsus de Liguori, Pius V, Pius X, St. Pio of Pietrelcina, Theresa of Calcutta, among many others. These bear testimony to the fact that God, in his providence, chooses, prepares, equips and sends into the world some specific and special persons, for some specific and special mission.
The greatest among these specially chosen, specially prepared and specially equipped souls is a maiden from Nazareth named Mary, daughter of Joachim and Ann; who was chosen by the Lord to become the Mother of his Incarnate Son, Jesus Christ. In choosing the Virgin Mary to be the Mother of God Himself, God the Father so highly favoured her; declaring her ‘blessed’ and making her ‘full of grace. (Lk. 1:28,42,48) The salutation, the exaltation and the message of the Angel so marvelled the Virgin, that she was greatly troubled and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. The angel had to intervene, saying: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God.” (Lk. 1:29–30) The message was a special one: therefore, God sent an Archangel to deliver it. (Lk. 1:26–28) The mission was a special one: therefore, God made her ‘full of grace’ — ‘highly favoured’ (Lk. 1:28) sent the Holy Spirit upon her and overshadowed her with the power of the Most High. (Lk. 1:35) From all this, there can be no doubt that Mary is so special to God.
This choice made the Virgin Mary, the most exalted of all humankind, the most honoured of all the generations of womankind, since she was chosen to take the most important and the most exalted role any created being — male or female — can ever take; that is, to be the Mother of God, to share with God himself, both flesh and blood. But most importantly, this choice made the Blessed Virgin to be the creature closest to God and most united to God, since, as has been said, she was to share her own flesh and blood with the Uncreated God. God became man in the womb of the Blessed Virgin. God took flesh and blood from maiden named Mary. Divinity acquired humanity in the body of the Immaculate Virgin, conceived without sin.
At the historic moment of the Incarnation, God took refuge in Mary; God made his dwelling and his fountain, the Immaculate heart and chaste body of the Blessed Virgin Mary. What more can man do for God? What more can one offer the Most High than a body undefiled and a soul unblemished? In what else does the Lord delight? What else does He ask for? What sacrifice is purer and nobler than this? How much nearer can one get to God than to be one with Him and to share all with Him, in body soul and mind? What greater honour would the All-Holy God grant a person than to accept from him not only food and drink, but above one’s own flesh and blood? What greater joy and honour can be bestowed upon a man or woman than to dwell with God, to dine with Him, to repose with Him and to serve Him; and here not only in spirit but also in the tangible flesh? This was the singular honour given to Mary, the Blessed Virgin; and for this she rejoiced and sang. (Lk. 1:46.55)
Having been chosen and empowered to become the ‘theotokos’ — the Mother of God — the Blessed Virgin became a special member of the ‘divine family’, to which, indeed all peoples are called also. As a first fruit, she received before us the joy destined for the ‘Blessed’ in the household of God, the Kingdom of God. Thus, there can be no doubt that the Blessed Virgin is the creature that is most close, most useful and most dear, to God. In surrendering to the will of the Eternal Father and serving Him most faithfully in all things, Mary is indeed, the creature that is most united to God and most connected to Him. At the Annunciation, the Blessed Virgin embraced the will of God and so became fully possessed of God. Her fiat established a link, a connection that unites her with God forever. Therefore, to be united with the Virgin Mary is to be linked to God the Father, to whom she has become united with in her will and in her actions. The Blessed Virgin’s connection with God is surely a blessing for all of us who have recourse to her.
If David could become the man after God’s own heart, (Acts. 13:22; Ps. 89:20; 7:46) then one can only imagine how much more the Virgin Mother of his Only Begotten Son and Spouse of his Holy Spirit would be pleasing to God’s heart. If God could forgive sins and preserve persons for the sake of David his servant, even though he was also a sinful man, how much more would God grant amnesty and blessings for the sake of the Immaculate Virgin Mother of his Only Begotten Son. It stands to reason that Mary, the Virgin daughter of the Most High God, is for all who draw close to her, a trusted link and sure connection to the Most High One.
2. How the Blessed Virgin Mary ‘connects’ us to God the Son
“Behold, you will conceive and give birth to a son and shall call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.” (Lk. 1:31–32)
Over and above the special relationship she has with God the Father, the Blessed Virgin Mary enjoys deeper ties and greater affectionate relationship with God the Son, Jesus Christ. We speak in this manner, since we cannot but use human language, which is so limited and so incapacitated to capture the mystery of God. In reality, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, became the Son of Man through the instrumentality of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Here we find the greatest mystery of the union of God with man. This mystery took place in the womb of a virgin called Mary. Theologian have called it the Incarnation, that is, the taking-on of human flesh by God. We can say that the mystery of the Incarnation was made possible also, by the availability of one who is worthy of the task of giving flesh to the Uncreated God — which itself is a mystery that speaks to the uniqueness and perfection of the nature of the Most Holy Virgin Mother of God. The Blessed Virgin Mary acted as co-creator with the eternal Spirit in bringing about the incarnation of the one and only od-man, Jesus Christ, who in himself, possesses the perfection of both divine nature and human nature.
Of all created beings, it is only the Virgin Mary that shares flesh and blood with God himself. This is a prodigy that can never be repeated in the story of our earth. It is a marvel that astounds the angels, confounds the devil and amazes the cultural man, that Supreme Being is consigned to the womb of a woman and entangled with the encumbrance of flesh and blood. Yet it is a design of the inscrutable God and a privilege, a delight that only and only the Blessed Virgin Mary savours. The Holy Virgin is one with Jesus Christ, the second person of God, in all the intimacies and intricacies of flesh and blood. One can say that Jesus possesses the DNA of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Putting it in the revere order, we can say that Virgin Mother of God, possesses the DNA of the Godman — the God who became man, the Incarnate God, the Son of Man — such that she shares it with the Godman. Thus, they are in error who think of her as merely an ‘envelop’, a disposable bag; because she is one with her Son and is always united with Him, both in His glory and in His ministry; because like Mary of Magdala, she has chosen the better part and it cannot be taken away from her; her place is forever established in God.
Of Eve, Adam, the first man, exclaimed: “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. (Gen. 2:23) Of Mary, Jesus Christ, the second Adam and the new man, can say: bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. In the natural order of creation, the woman was taken from the man. But in the ‘new’ order of creation, the man was taken from the woman. But Sacred Scripture tells us, that woman is unlike Eve, who yielded to the lure of the serpent; rather she a masterpiece of Creator, she is the one ‘full of grace’, (Lk. 1:28) whom the Spirit and the power of the Most High overshadows. (Lk. 1:35) Unlike Eve disdained the word of the Lord, she yielded wholly to God and became conformed to Him, through her fiat: ‘let it be done to me according to Your will’. Unlike Eve who doubts the words the Lord has spoken (Gn. 3:2–7); Mary trusts and believes the promises the Lord has made to her. (Lk. 1:38) That woman is the New Eve. She is not under the power of the Serpent. She cannot be deceived. That woman is the maiden of God. She calls herself ‘the Handmaid of the Lord”. (Lk. 1:38) She is, the new spring of grace, the seedbed of the new creation. Unlike Eve, who comes from the flesh and bone of Adam, she is a product of grace and belongs to the order of grace, She is the vessel of God, made fitting to bring forth the New Man, the very author of grace and the new life.
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Like her, the one ‘full of grace, they who belong to her, belong too to the order of grace, where she belongs with her divine Son, the author of all graces. They who come to Mary, draw near to the author of grace, who is her divine Son and they are led to nowhere else than to its very source. Like Elizabeth of the hill country of Judea, they who encounter the Blessed Virgin Mary, come in contact with the well spring of the Spirit and of grace; and so, they soon come to leap with joy and to exclaim in acknowledgement of it. This is because her presence brings God — Father, Son and Spirit — and so her voice of greeting causes the outpouring of grace and profound rejoicing; unlike the first Eve, whose arrival caused the fall of Adam.
The Blessed Virgin is the Mother of grace. She is the mother of the author of grace. In this way, she is our connection to the source of grace and heavenly blessings. She is herself, the dispenser of divine graces. The Saints who knew her have taught us so, with the intensity of uncommon conviction. All who come to her are connected, through her, to her Son, the author and giver of every grace. Just as a son and whatever he owns rightly also belongs to his mother, through her Son Jesus Christ, the treasures of graces also belong to the Blessed Virgin and from it she can obtain anything for anyone who asks of her. Those who come to God through her are specially blessed because she obtains, as mother would obtain, she understands as a mother would understand and she intervenes as mother would intervene. This is the true!
3. How the Blessed Virgin ‘connects’ us to God the Holy Spirit
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” (Lk. 1:35)
In affirmation of the unbroken divinity of the Son of Man — the Incarnate God — and in acknowledgement of the role the Holy Spirit played in the conception of Jesus, the Christ, in the womb of His virgin-mother, Sacred tradition describes the Blessed Virgin Mary as the spouse of the Holy Spirit. Both the Gospels and the Creeds of the Christian Faith confirm that the conception of Jesus in the womb of the virgin, Mary, came about by the power of the Holy Spirit. “And the angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore, the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35) In the project of the Incarnation of God, the Blessed Virgin was the sole ally of the Holy Spirit. No one else was and none could have been, save for the one destined by divine design to be and specially and primordially prepared to bring the mysteries of God to concrete realization.
To bring about the plan of God for human salvation, it was necessary that the Blessed Virgin enter into a special partnership and relationship with the Third Person of God, the Holy Spirit. Even before the days of Pentecost came about, the Holy Spirit had descended upon her and overshadowed her with the power of the Most High God. The Virgin Mary cooperated with the Holy Spirit, becoming a co-worker with Him in the divine project of the Incarnation and of salvation as a whole. But she also became, thereafter, a vessel of the Holy Spirit, Who, as Sacred Scripture shows us, seeks out devout souls, sanctifies them and uses them (as a springboard) to reach out to a world in need of sanctification and salvation; a world in need of a divine comforter and helper. The Blessed Virgin is the first and principal tool of the Holy Spirit, called to serve the Messianic mission of the Christ. She was the first to savour the warm embrace of the Divine Spirit and to know His immeasurable power: She remains His trusted ally — spouse and servant — in bringing Christ to the world and in bringing men to the world to the knowledge of Christ, the knowledge of salvation.
It is important to point out that, so to speak, the Blessed Virgin belonged to the Holy Spirit as spouse and temple before she belonged to Christ as mother and matron. It is important to recall that it was the Holy Spirit who brought Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, to the Holy Virgin. It is important to keep in mind that the Blessed Virgin Mary first served and communed with the Holy Spirit before she served and nurtured the Christ. She was first spouse before she became mother. Even though the mystery of the trinity and the unity of God does not admit of any divarication, yet within the realm of human understanding, it can be said, that the Holy Virgin first yielded to the Holy Spirit before she yielded to the Christ. It was her submission to the standards of the Holy Spirit that brought about the glorious theotokos, her divine motherhood. At the incarnation, at the visitation, at the wedding at Cana, at Pentecost, and even at her many apparitions, the Blessed Virgin has remained at the service of the Holy Spirit, to bring joy and to bring help to the people of God and to call men back to their creator and their Saviour.
Therefore, the Blessed Virgin Mary is, without doubt, a vessel of the Holy Spirit. She is an instrument used by the Godhead — Father, Son and Spirit — to reach us. She is thus, a sure link for us to the Holy Spirit, her divine Spouse. The Virgin Mary became the first in the Messianic dispensation, so to speak, to become a Temple of the Holy Spirit, a dwelling place pleasing unto the Third Person of God; from whence the Divine Spirit stretches forth and pours forth His salvific effect upon the world. The Blessed Virgin conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and acts by the power of the Holy Spirit, as we see in the event of the Visitation, at the home of Zechariah and Elizabeth. “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why am I so honoured, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:41–45) Wherever she goes, she brings to it the Spirit who overshadows her, she brings joy, so profound, so powerful that it penetrates the womb; and this is the blessing of those who let her into their homes and their lives.
Since they days of Elizabeth and John — the baby that leapt for joy in her womb — the Holy Spirit has continued to fill souls with grace and with joy, at their encounter with Blessed Virgin Mary — his most chaste spouse. Since the day of the Visitation, the Blessed Virgin has continued to be an instrument of divine visitation and of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to all those who welcome her in their homes and in their hearts. Since the day of the Annunciation, the Holy Spirit has continued to bring about the birth of Christ in the souls of the faithful, by means of the same instrument by which He first brought about the Incarnation — the Holy Spirit. The faithful who are connected with Mary are blessed; they are linked to the Holy Spirit, who fills her and operates through her. This link, this connection, is priceless and powerful, because it is of she, who alone is the spouse of the Divine Spirit.
Michael Richmond Duru
24th May 2022