Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Some thoughts on Mariology

That eminent member of the Anglican Communion, Fr Hunwicke has a series of three posts on Our Lady of Victories, his thesis is that modern Catholic devotion to the Mother of God is a bit wishy washy compared to that of a previous age, and compared to that of the Orthodoxy, the following brought a smile to my face.

... if the Orthodox had Hymns Ancient and Modern, they would probably have a translation of it beginning Stand up, stand up, for Mary. Or, taking my fantasy even further, imagine some Orthodox Sabine Baring Gould writing Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war; with the homophorion of Mary, going on before.
It seems strange that the Vatican II placed its teaching on the Blessed Virgin firmly in Lumen Gentium, the dogmatic document on the Church, the problem is that this chapter, the last in the document, is very beautiful but it is almost "bolted on" to the main document which can be read quite happily without the Marian chapter. There is no strong Marian theme running through the documents of the Council. The same can be said for the post-concilliar liturgy: the confiteor with its reference to Mary is optional, mention of her name has been expunged from the offertory and the Libera nos. The replacement of the genuflexion at the Incarnatus est, within the creed by a bow in so many places means these important words go by unmarked, as is the rubrical instruction to bow the head at Mary's name.

The problem is not just an absence of real Marian devotion in the lives of many Catholics but a loss of understanding of that strong incarnational theology of the Father's that gave rise to it. The Sceptre of o/Orthodoxy, "as fiercesome as army in array", no longer guards the deposit of faith with same vigour she once did. A weak Mariology brings with it an assault on the Incarnation, on Grace, on the concept of Divinisation, on the theology of the Church, on Man himself. Contemporary Mariology in the West seems saccharine compared to what happens in the East.

She who once dominated the apses of our churches is now relegated to a side chapel. So many clergy have real difficulty in admitting a Marian hymn or anthem to the liturgy.


pelerin said...

Your last sentence makes me sad. Thank you for giving us the opportunity this morning, once again, of singing the 'Ave Maria O Maiden O Mother' and especially the 'Salve Regina' which I have only ever sung in Notre-Dame, at Lourdes and at St Mary Magdalen's.

C said...

......interesting post.....however it is interesting to see that 2 new orders founded around or after Vatican 2 that seem to be attracting a good number of vocations are deeply Marian - I am thinking here of The Franciscans of The Immaculate and The Society of Our Lady of The Most Holy Trinity.

Elizabeth said...

If we ignore our Blessed Mother whose role in the Church is to lead us to her Divine Son then that is a sure way to take us away from Jesus. There is such little respect and reverence shown to Jesus in the Tabernacle (if you can find it) that it is no surprise that love of Our Lady is being neglected.
Today is such a wonderful and Holy day, St. Peter Chrysologus expresses the truth of this mystery of the Annunciation: "One virgin so receives and contains God in the lodging of her breast as to procure peace for the earth, glory for heaven, salvation for the lost, life for the dead, an alliance of those on earth with the blessed in heaven, and the commerce of God with the flesh." How can anyone not love Our Blessed Mother with all their hearts and try to imitate her with all their will.

MC Man said...

after singing the hymn " as I kneel before you" etc at mothers day mass,the lady who runs our small choir said "I only allow hymns to Mary on mothers day" I think that says it all. MC Man

Henry said...

That Mary is Mother of God surely lies at the heart of doctrine of the Trinity and the Incarnation and of orthodox Christianity? To say that is to assert that Jesus Christ is True God and True Man.

And perhaps the neglect of this lies at the core of our present difficulties.

I have come across a number of clergy who have ignored Mary and their orthodoxy has been suspect through and through.

Kate said...

'To Jesus through Mary'

Victoria said...

I know that the laity have a great role to play in the Church but it is up to the priest by his actions and from the pulpit to bring reverence back to the Church and to revive the devotion to Mary. People are still guided by wise priests.

Hestor said...

I have come across a number of clergy who have ignored Mary and their orthodoxy has been suspect through and through.

This is a good rule to distinguish faithful clergy from the heretical. If they love Our Lady and preach regularly on the Rosary, then you know they will tend to be sound.

Although there are some contradictions to this rule - just looking at the Medjugorje clan will say it all.

georgem said...

Father, you have raised an issue that has narked me for some time, which is the widespread obliteration of Marian devotion. I was expecting a couple of hymns in her honour at the church I attended last Sunday. Nope. (I keep wondering why choir directors so often prefer Anglican hymns, especially as I don’t know any of them!)
Is it because Our Lady’s chief trait, that of virtue, is considered “old hat” or not even understood in our modern era? More fool us. Or was it a deliberate suppression in the race to ecumenism in order to silence accusations by many Protestants of Catholic Marian idolatry? Yet Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict have both demonstrated a particular devotion to Our Lady.
We do have another chance in Our Lady’s month of May and I second the suggestion that pps could give a lead - maybe a series of homilies, (if that’s permitted), or at least a mention. Or a note in parish newsletters that there will be a concentration on the Mother of mothers during May.
Parish visits to Walsingham or Aylesford? The rosary, perhaps, and/or the Salve Regina sung in Latin or said in English at the end of every Mass. The English version, Hail Holy Queen, used to be said after all Sunday Masses by priest and parishioners, but has been lost in the “spirit” of Vatican II - as was the lovely Prayer for England, also recited after every Sunday Mass:

“O Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our most gentle Queen and Mother, look down in mercy upon England thy Dowry and upon us all who greatly hope and trust in thee. By thee it was that Jesus our Saviour and our hope was given unto the world; and He has given thee to us that we might hope still more.
Plead for us thy children, whom thou didst receive and accept at the foot of the cross, O sorrowful Mother! Intercede for our separated brethren, that with us in the one true fold they may be united to the supreme Shepherd, the Vicar of thy Son.
Pray for us all, dear Mother, that by faith fruitful in good works we may all deserve to see and praise God, together with thee, in our heavenly home. Amen.”

Who mentions the Dowry of Mary any more? I doubt many young people are even aware that this titular honour was bestowed on this country.
I am tempted to rant on about the Incarnatus Est genuflection being replaced by mean little bows, except to say I notice that hardly any, including some priests, now make any acknowledgement at all.

mafeking said...

St. Alphonsus de Ligouri says that whenever the devil wants to attack the Church he attacks Our Lady first. The reason being that she is the high tower of the Church protecting all the battlements. Once he's captured her it's relatively easy to dismantle all the rest. In so many ways this has happened in both a metaphorical and spiritual sense as Our Lady's statue has been moved from the first thing you see as you enter a Catholic church (i.e. the high tower) to a bit part at the back of the church in one church after another.

Another reason why St. Alphonsus says the devil attacks Our Lady is that because if he can downgrade her it automatically downgrades her Son. It makes Our Lord look just like another man rather than the extraordinary God-Man.

Totally agree with the point about unorthodox priests and Our Lady. Whenever you bring her up with them or the rosary they go quiet and start looking at the floor.

GOR said...

I think Georgem has it right. Post Vat II there was a distinct diminution in devotion to Our Lady and I suspect it had an ‘ecumenical’ basis. Much has been said about ‘Protestant’ influences in Vat II and I believe there is some truth to that. Stung by the criticisms of Protestant sects, we began to be ‘embarrassed’ about our devotions to Our Lady and the criticisms that we placed her above Her Son.

There was a distrust of the ‘pious devotions’ of the faithful – many of which happened to be devotions to Our Lady. We were given to feel that there was too much emphasis placed on the Blessed Mother to the detriment of the worship of God. Marian devotion was seen as ‘childish’ – the devotion of simple, untutored people. But now we were more ‘grown-up’, more theologically astute, so we should lay aside childish things. St. Paul may have even been invoked on this!

Marian intercession was seen as an unnecessary ‘add-on’ by the Catholic Church, was denigrated by other Christians and we took their criticisms to heart. Far from ‘lessening’ our Faith, devotion to Mary increases it. Jesus came to us through Her and we do no service to Him by playing down Her role in our salvation. She gave Him to us and He gave Her to us.

“Son, behold thy Mother” was not just directed to St. John, but to us all.

Henry said...

All this discussion about form of the liturgy makes my brain itch. Can't we just get on with the EF, follow the rubrics as faithfully as we can and be done with all the talk? It is an unnecessary distraction from the more important tasks.