Heaven in Her Heart (Part 23)

Appendix C:  A Theological Reflection

            The following rather lengthy excerpt is from a book by Fr. Marie-Dominique Philippe, OP, entitled: The Mysteries of Mary: Growing in Faith, Hope, and Love with the Mother of God.  I include it here because it touches on some points I mentioned in this little book, though from a more strictly theological perspective.  Personally, I find it quite beautiful, and it has helped me a lot in understanding and deepening my own relationship with Our Lady.  So if that appeals to you, I think you will benefit from this.  (In this excerpt, I have capitalized “Heart,” for both Jesus and Mary, in order to bring it in keeping with my usage throughout this book.  It is only fitting!)

            “[Mary] is eternally the Mother of the members of Christ: Mother of their divine life, a mother who never ceases to beget them to this divine life; a mother who never ceases to watch over them, carry them, feed them, sustain them, educate them and direct them toward the Heart of Jesus and toward the Father while teaching them to be completely docile to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

            “With a perfect knowledge of our souls—a knowledge she has received from Christ, since all the secrets of our hearts are revealed to her—she gives and communicates to us this divine life as adopted sons of the Father (adopted yet real) and as members of Jesus.  She knows us and calls us by our name; she has received this knowledge from the Good Shepherd Himself.

            “This knowledge is a practical, loving, and efficacious knowledge.  It is a mother’s knowledge concerning her children, one which binds the mother’s heart and intelligence to her children’s heart and intelligence.  We have here as it were a very intimate communication of life, within a loving knowledge.  Mary, as mother, is completely given to our souls, through Christ and the Father.  And it is in this very gift that she is Mother and that she begets us.  This gift has a maternal modality that cannot be separated from the gift we are given by Christ and the entire Holy Trinity.  She can give herself as Mother to our souls, giving birth to divine life in us, only through the will of the Son and of the Father, under the shadow of the Holy Spirit.

love of Mary“In His wisdom, God willed to fully establish Mary as Mother of His Son so that she might fully be Mother of His members, in order that she might eternally play this role as Mother of our divine life.  That is why the gift of this divine life which she gives to her children is realized in this particular modality of maternity.  She is the vital milieu where their divine life can blossom.  She is the one who carries and envelops their Christian life, who disposes their souls to the action of the Holy Spirit and who, in a very intimate and delicate way, completes in them this action of the Holy Spirit so that God’s graces may be completely efficacious.

            “This helps us to understand the manner in which she is present to each of her children in the intimacy of their divine life, their Christian life.  It helps us to understand how there is a kind of special mode to our grace that connaturalizes us with Mary’s grace and spontaneously inclines us toward her and enables us to live in unison with her divine life.  It is in this sense that we must clearly understand that her motherhood for those still on earth is on another level, beyond, as it were, the instrumental action of the sacraments.

            “We should point out that for those who are still living on earth, Mary’s presence in the intimacy of their divine life is a supernatural presence that remains hidden and veiled and is the source of our highest aspirations and our most ardent desires.  Although hidden, this presence is efficacious and real; it is the presence of someone who maternally acts in us, who gives us God’s life and who never ceases to prepare us and make us docile to the motion of the Holy Spirit.

            “Of course, the Holy Spirit can give us the divine experience of Mary’s motherhood of choice and preference with respect to our souls.   He can make us consciously live from this invisible and maternal presence of Mary in the intimacy of our divine life.  He can teach us to say “Mother” while looking at Mary, just as He teaches us to say “Father” while looking at our Creator.  He can unveil for us and help us experience the unfathomable depths of this motherhood; He can lead us to understand the divine quality of her love.  At the Cross, Mary accepted separation from Jesus in order to become the Mother of John’s divine life.  Jesus asked her for this sacrifice so that she might become our Mother, and Mary accepted it with love.  Thus she preferred the divine life of her son John to the joy of her Son’s physical presence, to her Son’s earthly life.  This choice is eternal.  It is with this ‘quality’ of love that we are loved.

            “The Holy Spirit can bury us and experimentally hide us in the depths of the maternal mercy of Mary’s Heart and ask that we remain there, as though in seclusion, like a little child in sinu Mariae [in the bosom of Mary].  The Holy Spirit can ask us to choose her as a Mother in a very special way, with a choice that seeks to match the divine quality of her own choice.  He can require from us an attitude similar to John’s: to choose her as a Mother in order to obey an imperative order from Christ, in order to obey his last will and take her ‘into our home,’ intimately into our life, as he did, to live exclusively with and by her.  It is a divine dwelling that is very hidden, very solitary, and very silent in which the Holy Spirit can establish us.  We have here a very special covenant of love between our hearts and Mary’s Heart.  Each one of us lives in this covenant, but we are not all divinely aware of it.

            “Moreover, Mary cooperates in Christ’s governance upon us, a governance that consists in directing us toward the Father, in leading us through love toward the paternal home.  This governance, which comes from God’s wisdom, is both forceful and gentle, fortiter et suaviter. Mary’s maternal rule over us primarily concerns the blossoming of our Christian life, the perfection of our life of faith, hope, and love.  Mary always hastens the Hour of Christ, as at Cana… She acts ‘forcefully,’ demanding a great deal from us, like a loving mother who has great ambitions for her sons whom she loves so much.  But she acts gently, with infinite delicacy, from within, so to speak, as though we were acting on our own.  She steps aside to leave room for our own initiatives.  She is present in our life of silent prayer to help us live more divinely in Him…

            “This governance especially intervenes in the realm of our human imagination, our memories, our ‘psychological selves.’  This is in fact where most of the battles and struggles are fought, where the majority of temptations occur.  Mary pacifies, calms, simplifies, gets rid of our psychological complexes; she unties them with her maternal and delicate love.  She also acts in our sensibilities and in our physical strength, enveloping everything in her maternal grace.

            “Thanks to this action of maternal mercy, her presence, which is realized first of all in the depths of our divine life at its very source, can take hold of our entire human, imaginative, intellectual, affective and sensitive life, according to God’s gracious will.  This maternal action can take hold of everything.  Since Mary possesses her glorious body in heaven, her maternal action can even include more extraordinary modalities: with more sensible or imaginative forms; as also happens for the presence of Christ’s glorious body with respect to His members who are still here on earth.  Mary can visibly appear to her children exiled on earth to comfort them, encourage them and to remind them of the demands of their Christian life…

            “In heaven, for the elect, Mary’s presence is lived in full light, and all its potentials are made perfectly explicit.  Mary still performs this merciful yet forceful maternal role with respect to the elect.  She illuminates each of the elect and gives herself to each one in particular.

            “With respect to the angels, she exercises a queenship and not an intimate motherhood.  She enlightens and illuminates them, but does not give herself to them as a mother.  Thus her children enjoy an intimacy with her that the angels cannot enjoy.”

            Finally, a passage quoted in the same book, from The Mystery of Mary, by Fr. Rogatien Bernard, OP: “[Mary’s] noblest activity is evidently to see God and to love Him.  Now the Blessed Virgin is so essentially a Mother that she cannot help seeing all her children in God and loving them in Him.  This is her spiritual maternity in its highest aspect, for here we see a creature who has the privilege of seeing those whom she brings forth the way God sees them, and of carrying them constantly in her eternal Heart the way God Himself carries them.  It would be impossible to conceive anything greater in her activity or more profitable for us than this tender gaze in which she enfolds us and with which she penetrates us.”

Mary & Jesus


About Father Joseph

I am a priest and monk currently serving with the Contemplatives of St Joseph in South San Francisco, CA. I am in my 33rd year of monastic life and in my 24th as a priest.

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