Adrienne von Speyr

[The following are some excerpts from the writings of the mystic and prolific author Adrienne von Speyr, on the relationship of Our Lady and the Holy Eucharist]

“Each day the beginning of the Mass is a kind of embodied expectation and pregnancy of the Church, in union with the Mother.  Here, more than anywhere else, the whole longing of the Ecclesia for her Lord becomes concentrated.  The prayers and readings, taken in their entirety, stand in the same twilight between the Old and the New Covenant, between the announcing of the Son and what he himself leaves behind, between the promise and the life that fulfills it, as the Mother does during her pregnancy.  The whole first part of the Mass, in its strict structure and in the soberness of its reflections and prayers, is comparable with the law of the Old Covenant; and yet, in this, it is like a horn of plenty richly filled with things to choose from, offering something different to everyone.  Here is expressed something of the orderliness and at the same time of the incalculable grandeur of the Mother in her heavenly presence.  In the end it is she who gathers up everything that has gone before and focuses it on the Lord; it is she who gives the Church the spirit and the capacity to guide every prayer and proclamation toward unity in the Lord, who is coming at the Consecration.  Mary and the Church have this in common: their leading to Christ is as consistent as it is manifold, as clarifying as it is enriching.  The Church as liturgical service, the faithful as servants, and the Mother as the one expecting: all three wait together, in a unified readiness, for the coming Lord.

“In the offertory everything is offered to God: along with the gift, the whole soul is offered up as the Mother offered her soul—in an exacting service, not in frivolous enthusiasm or exuberance.  She offered herself as something lowly like bread and wine; but hidden in the lowly gift lay the whole expanse of her assent, out of which the Son could extract heavenly dimensions.  And when the Church, through the priest, presents the bread and wine, he is already offering the Son to the Father, in hidden fashion.  And as the Mother becomes handmaid through her assent, the priest and the whole community become servants of God through the Offertory.  Everything is prepared and offered, then to be received, consumed and transformed by God.  But even the offering is no high-handed act of man placing himself arbitrarily before God, but the Church’s liturgical response to the offer and the demand of God, just as the Mother’s assent was only a response, a seconding of God’s word.

“The Consecration corresponds to the actual descent of the Son into the Mother’s womb.  And just as the Mother receives him in order to give him immediately to the world, so the Lord descends at the Consecration into his Church to give himself to her further in Communion.  The Incarnation is a work of the Holy Spirit, which has the Mother’s assent as its prerequisite.  So the Consecration is also a creative act of the Holy Spirit, which has the Church’s readiness in faith as its prerequisite and, to some degree, as its womb…

“To the Mother, as the Lord’s bride and helpmate, there belongs a role of ‘assistant’ which she performs at the Consecration as she did at the time of the miracles.  She had been expressly present at the miracle in Cana and herself cooperated in it because she occasioned it.  And so she must necessarily be present at the sacramental transformation, of which that miracle was the foreshadowing.  But her action here is wholly merged into Christ’s.  As the bearing Mother, she was ready to give her Son his whole efficacy, and for this she gave him everything that was hers to take along: everything that he wanted to use of her body and soul.  And her unique act of surrender and devotion at Christmas became an act of lasting fruitfulness, so that not only the Lord’s flesh stems from the Mother in its origin, but his whole human nature originates, ever anew and mysteriously, from her as source.  So also does the Mother remain the continual origin of her Son’s Eucharistic self-giving.  When he surrenders himself, her surrender is contained in his, and it is she who teaches the Church to surrender herself according to the Lord’s example.

“At Communion she is involved again, in a new way.  She was the perfect receiver of the Son, and she remains so always and for everyone.  Therefore every reception of Communion participates in her perfect reception.  She received in complete humility and simplicity of spirit, and she gives something of her innocent and virginal acceptance of the Son to whoever receives the Host… She surrounds the communicant and unites her reception of the Son with [the communicant’s], by collecting and preserving for him the graces that he lets fall, out of impotence or heedlessness, and she puts them at his disposal as a reserve at the precise time when he needs them.  Through her everything becomes much simpler than it would otherwise be.  The communicant no longer needs to struggle at length with his preparation, to wonder if he has done everything in order to approach Communion worthily.  The Mother has said Yes and, trusting her Yes, he may receive the Lord without anxiety and without calculation.  Just as the Son brings the sinner to the Father in confession, by filling out his deficiencies and reforming him into a child of God, the Mother supplements the Christian at Communion for the reception of the Son.  Through her helping love his Communion becomes a sufficient and appropriate one.

“From her wholly hidden yet indispensable presence at the celebration of Holy Mass, the Mother’s presence in every ecclesial prayer, celebration and action becomes understandable… She gathers the faithful into both interior and exterior recollection on the Son… And when the encounter with the Lord is so overwhelming that Christians do not know how to bear it, Mary receives those returning from the Communion rail and shows them, by her sheltering nearness, what a simple act of thanksgiving within the space of the church can be… In this maternal care Mary and the Ecclesia are not separable.  The spirit and reality of Mary lives in the Church, and the less apparently she does her work, the more omnipresent she is… It is part of the Christian’s duty in gratitude to thank the Mother for this work of self-forgetting service and to praise and honor her more and more as mediatrix the more she conceals herself behind the Son…” (Handmaid of the Lord, pp. 151-55).

“The unity into which [the Son] entered with his Mother was the unity of the spirit and the unity of the flesh.  This unity can no longer be dissolved: the Son will never deny Mary as Mother, not even in relation to his body.

“When he gives us his body—flesh and blood—in the Eucharist, he gives us the body his Mother conceived and bore, formed and nourished, the body she received from the Holy Spirit… It is impossible for this unity in flesh between the Mother and the Son ever to be broken. The Eucharist does not abolish this unity.  Accordingly, the Eucharist is also always the commemoration of the Mother’s Yes and of her bearing of the Son, since traces of her flesh are to be found in his…

“What is true of his Incarnation and his human nature is no less true of his Eucharistic state.  This, too, stands in the middle of humanity, indissolubly attached to Mary, on the one hand, and to sinners, on the other.  The Eucharistic Body does not deny his origin or thereby his indissoluble relationship to the Mother whom he chose himself…  the Eucharist can neither be contemplated nor adored without also attending to the meaning of the Incarnation…

“Mary is also closely linked to the officiating priest, as the Lord’s Mother, servant, and bride, as the prototype of the Church, as the surrendered office, and also as the one who let the seed of the Father change within her into the incarnate Son.  For this reason, the mystery of transubstantiation is especially close to her own mystery… The priest should actually stand by Mary with as much vitality as if he were for the first time receiving the office she has already returned and entrusted to the Church… Each time the priest receives Communion, there is therefore contact with the Mother, and, as a result, his office is nourished and revitalized.  On the other hand, Mary is never indifferent to any ecclesial Communion because the Church is the bride of Christ and proceeded form her as from a primordial cell.  She attends at each and every reception of the Lord’s Body.  She, too, receives new joy as she lets the recipient know something about how she receives the Lord.  Each and every Communion is for her like a feast of remembrance of her own reception of the Lord, a feast that makes present what has been in a supratemporal way.”  (Mary in the Redemption, pp. 116-19).

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