instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Sunday, May 25, 2014

To know Christ Jesus

Let me see if I can write down, in a coherent way, a thought I just had.

I'll start with this, from Bl. Columba Marmion's Christ, the Life of the Soul:
Christianity is nothing else than acceptance -- with all its remotest doctrinal and practical consequences -- of the divinity of Christ in the Incarnation.
You can test that assertion yourself by re-reading the Gospels, all the while asking, "Is this passage about acceptance of the divinity of Christ in the Incarnation?" (Go ahead, this post will still be here when you're done.)

Here's my thought: Marian spirituality -- the contemplation of Christ through His mother (with all its remotest doctrinal and practical consequences) -- guarantees, in a way few other spiritualities do, that one is focused on acceptance of the divinity of Christ in the Incarnation.

It is in the Incarnation that God sent His Son to save the world, it is in the Incarnation that Jesus made known His Father, it is in the Incarnation that He asked for, and occasionally found, faith. It is in the Incarnation that Jesus suffered, died, and rose again.

If, then, we try to approach Jesus, to get to know Him, to love Him apart from the Incarnation, we are trying to do these things in a different way than Jesus Himself approached us and invited us to know and love Him.

What do I mean by "trying to know and love Jesus apart from the Incarnation"? I mean making as the foundation of our faith anything other than the Incarnation of the Divine Son. A foundation like, say, Scripture. If the written record of the Incarnation supersedes the Incarnation itself as the foundation of our faith, we are building on sand.

I will even say that a foundation like devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, if it does not constantly refer back to the death and resurrection of Jesus, is built on sand. If the Incarnation is somehow prologue or mere fact, with spiritual or Sacramental presence now the root of our faith, then we're doing it wrong.

Having said that, I will add that even Marian spirituality -- which I am trying to suggest is by its nature specially oriented toward the divinity of Christ in the Incarnation -- can become spiritualized, disconnected from the Incarnation, starting rather than ending with Mary as Queen of Heaven and Mediatrix of Grace. This, too, is a foundation of sand.

But if I can get away with saying that true Marian spirituality seeks to know and love Jesus as Mary knows and loves Him, then true Marian spirituality is founded on the Incarnation. How did Mary come to know and love Jesus? Not through spiritual visions or studying Scripture or Eucharistic adoration, but through carrying Him in her womb, giving birth to Him, swaddling and nursing Him, raising Him, cooking for Him, teaching Him, talking with Him, praying with Him to God, listening to His words, suffering with Him at Golgotha, rejoicing with Him Easter morning. Even now, as Queen of Heaven, Mary knows the Eternally Begotten Son as the Son she gave birth to and raised.

Mary knows Jesus, the Incarnate Son of God, better than St. Paul, better than St. John, better than all the Evangelists and inspired writers of Holy Scripture. She certainly knows Him in the Incarnation better than we know Him in the Blessed Sacrament (which Itself is completely unintelligible apart from the Incarnation).

If we too want to know Jesus in the Incarnation, Mary is a safe and sure way.