Loving as Mary Loved

Monday, August 15, 2011 — Week of Proper 15, Year One

Saint Mary the Virgin, Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer)

EITHER the readings for Monday of Proper 15, p. 980

Psalms 106:1-18 (morning) 106:19-48 (evening)

2 Samuel 17:24 – 18:8

Acts 23:12-24

Mark 11:12-26

OR the readings for St. Mary, p. 999

Morning Prayer: Psalms 113, 115 / 1 Samuel 2:1-10 / John 2:1-12

Evening Prayer: Psalms 45, or 138, 139 / Jeremiah 31:1-14 or Zechariah 2:10-13 / John 19:23-27 or Acts 1:6-14

I chose the readings for St. Mary

From the late J. Neville Ward:

The poet W. B. Yeats said once that he believed in what he called ‘unity of being’. His father had taught him the term, arguing that beauty, when truly apprehended, does engage the whole of us. If a musical instrument is properly strung, when one string is touched all the others murmur faintly. Similarly, there is not more (or less) desire in lust than in true love, but in true love there are other effects as well; for in true love desire awakens pity, hope, affection, admiration, and, given the right circumstances, every emotion possible. And when that total excitation happens it becomes clear that something more than this one person is being loved; life is being loved, and God himself.

…This is why there are some features of the meaning of Jesus that make their impact only through devotion to his mother and the thoughts and feelings associated with her in the Christian imagination.

One of these thoughts that are given summary form in her is the idea of the oneness of love. The mother of Jesus is often called (to the embarrassment of the unimaginative) the Mother of God. Her love for her son is one and the same as her love for her God. She becomes in prayer the place where it is said that all human loving reaches its fulfillment as it becomes the love of God, as it becomes loving God.

That does not mean that by some pious mental gymnastics we have always to see only the Creator in the creature. A mother, in one of loves primordial contentments, gazing at her two-month-old baby after he has been fed, is not supposed to pull herself together and think of God, as though she has nearly fallen into idolatry. God does not wish to be substituted for her son, to take the place of her son in her affection. God’s will at that moment is that she love her little human son. God has placed himself, as the object of her love, in the form of her child. It is a kind of incarnation. It would be idolatry only if her loving stopped there, at her child, if her child was all she really loved.

All human loving reaches its fulfillment as it becomes loving God. Our loving others will be more truly loving them, instead of using, possessing, dominating them, as it is ordered by our love of God. The Christian faith is that, as we grow in our loving, our love of the world and our love of God will blend. In heaven we shall love things and people and God in one single love, as the Blessed Virgin Mary loved God and her son in one love.

…Loving is primarily not a relationship to certain people and things considered lovable, but a disposition of the whole self to life. The more widely we love, the more deeply we love; this is because we are in fact becoming more loving, we are able to put more love into each loving relationship. Our loving becomes more a function of the whole self, not of simply a bit of it. Christian faith proposes an ideal of always loving, at all times and all places, so that our love of our children, our desire to have some beauty in our life, our concern about life’s wrongness and what we can do, are all one and the same love of the incarnate Lord. (The Following Plough, Cowley, 1978, p. 112f)

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