Immaculate Mary and the Holy Spirit
Our Lady is traditionally referred to as the “Spouse of the Holy Spirit.” The usual reason is this: Scripture says that in order for the Son of God to become man in Mary’s virginal womb, the Holy Spirit would come upon her (see Lk. 1:35). Thus through the overshadowing power of the Most High (here meaning the Father) working through the Holy Spirit, Mary would become the Mother of God Incarnate. Yet there is another way to understand this mystery of Mary’s “spousal” relationship to the Holy Spirit. She was entirely united to the Holy Spirit in her whole being as she was created, and this union was never diminished in the least, but rather became more profound throughout Mary’s life. It is this ineffably intimate and indissoluble union with God the Holy Spirit that merits Mary’s title of “Spouse of the Holy Spirit.”
St Maximilian Kolbe, who died in Auschwitz in 1941, reflected deeply upon the mystery of Mary as the Immaculate Conception, the name she gave to herself at Lourdes in 1858. In order to learn more about who Mary is, he reasoned, we ought to begin with the way she spoke of herself. The words, “Immaculate Conception,” writes the saint, “must tell us in the most precise and essential manner who she really is.”
It is the grace of the Holy Spirit that sanctified Mary from the first moment of her existence. St Maximilian wrote in notes for a book he did not live to complete:
“United to the Holy Spirit as his spouse, she is one with God in an incomparably more perfect way than can be predicated of any other creature. What sort of union is this? It is above all an interior union, a union of her essence with the ‘essence’ of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit dwells in her, lives in her. This was true from the first instant of her existence. It was always true; it will always be true…
“Among creatures made in God’s image, the union brought about by married love is the most intimate of all (cf. Mt. 19:6). In a much more precise, more interior, more essential manner, the Holy Spirit lives in the soul of the Immaculata, in the depths of her very being… the virginal womb of Mary’s body is kept sacred for him; there he conceives…the human life of the Man-God… In the Holy Spirit’s union with Mary we observe more than the love of two beings; in one there is all the love of the Blessed Trinity; in the other, all of creation’s love. So it is that in this union heaven and earth are joined; all of heaven with all of the earth, the totality of eternal love with the totality of created love. It is truly the summit of love.”
I will have more to say about the union of Mary and the Holy Spirit later, when we discuss Our Lady’s mediation of grace. For now we have seen the beginning of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It was created and sanctified by the Holy Spirit at her conception. Mary’s Heart was created to be in eternal union with God through the Holy Spirit. Her Heart was created solely to love, in a manner and depth far surpassing any other human person (remember that Jesus is a Divine Person who assumed our human nature), and even to represent us by gathering all created love within her Heart and offering it to the Lord. This was manifested in an especially beautiful and profound way when she said “yes” to God on our behalf, welcoming the Son of God, our Savior, into this world.
To be continued…