Christians can learn from, imitate, be guided by Mary

Father John A. Kiley

Rev. Msgr. John F. Cox was professor of metaphysics at Our Lady of Providence Seminary at Warwick Neck for many years. He was famously absent-minded. Once he went to a ball game at Fenway Park. When the game was over, he could not find his car. He called the police and reported the car stolen, completely forgetting that he had actually taken the train to Boston. Among Monsignor’s astute observations were these words about the Blessed Virgin Mary: “All creation exists for Mary, and Mary exists for Christ, and Christ exists for God.” These powerful words are still a challenge even after more than fifty years of first hearing them.

All earthly creation and history exists for Mary. When the heavens and the earth came into existence, when Adam and Eve were created, when family life first began, when God selected his chosen Hebrew people, when the Jews endured their tumultuous national life, God the Father intended that all of ancient history would lead providentially and surely to Mary, the maid of Nazareth. When the Apostles brought the Good News to the Roman world, when missionaries extended the Christian faith to Europe, to the Americas, Asia and Africa, when religious and laity pondered the essentials of the Gospel message, they all looked back to Mary’s excellence as the highpoint of God’s earthly creation. No earthly person would ever surpass Mary either in singularity or in superiority. Mary was and is truly unique. All creation, all history evolved to bring forth Mary and still evolves to celebrate Mary. Without Mary, salvation history would never have occured.

Mary, for all her excellence, exists not for herself but for Christ. Mary was conceived sinless in the womb of St. Anne not because of any personal merit of her own but as the first step in her preparation to be the mother of the Son of God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. Mary is uniquely a virgin/mother not through any worth of her own but, again, to hail the arrival in history of the Divine Person who would be Jesus Christ. At the end of her earthly journey, Mary’s acceptance into heaven body and soul was due to no effort of her own, but rather through her sharing in her own Divine Son’s resurrection. So, all of Mary’s singularity and superiority were bestowed on her in light of her Son, Jesus Christ. Mary exists for Christ.

Christ in turn exists for God. It is no accident that the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity is revealed to history as the “Son” of God. A son is an image of his father. Traditionally, a son reflects his father, learns manhood from his father, continues the work of his father, obeys the father. Jesus is the pre-eminent son because he was ever obedient to the Father even in the face of death. Jesus never outgrew his sonship because he knew he could never surpass the Father’s excellence. The Father’s Will is a supreme will so Jesus could do no better than to follow it, to embrace it, to relish it. In consideration of the Father’s excellence, Jesus’ wisest choice was to be obedient. Christ is the quintessential Son, attuned to his Father and his Father’s will from all eternity. Christ exists for God.

God, of course, is, well, God — the omniscient, the omnipotent, omnipresent ground of all being, creator of all and father to all, the beginning of history and the end of history. God just is.

Although Mary surpasses the rest of humanity thanks to her Divinely bestowed privileges — Immaculate Conception, Perpetual Virginity, Divine Motherhood and Bodily Assumption — nonetheless Mary still provides hope for the human race. Men and women believers cannot surpass Mary but all Christians can learn from Mary, imitate Mary, be guided by Mary. She can be “our life, our sweetness and our hope.” Mary remains “the handmaid of the Lord.” Her every action was done “according to (his) Word.” Her instruction at Cana has never been surpassed: “Do whatever he tells you.” In the end, Mary’s greatest claim to fame and her most powerful example is her openness and fidelity to God’s plan for her. In this she offers sure hope to all believers. If God’s Word is mankind’s mainstay, the believer’s lifeblood, the Christian’s strength, then, like Mary, humankind will exist for Christ and, like Mary, find true fulfillment in God’s personal Providence for every man and woman.