On this first day of the year the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God. In this extract from the writings of Hans Urs Von Balthasar we contemplate Mary’s and our transformation through faith in the Word of God:
At the point where all roads meet which lead from the Old Testament to the New, we encounter the Marian experience of God, at once so rich and so secret that it almost escapes description. but it is also so important that time and again it shines through as the background for what is manifest.
In Mary, Zion passes over into the church; in her, the Word passes over into the flesh. The incarnation of the Word occurs in the faith of the Virgin. She relies not so much on the appearance of the angel as on the angel’s word, which is a Word from God. The lightning-flash of the miracle has no counterpart in her human experience; this experience begins afterwards, as a temporal echo of this miracle. it begins with a blind sense of touch, with the bodily sensing of a presence – the sense of touch as the fundamental, unerring sense – and this experience of seeing and hearing which comes with the birth. The gradual separation into two, of the one natural consciousness of the body at that stage when the mother’s consciousness still embraces both bodies, is like an imitation, within the economy of salvation, of the mystery of the Trinity; and, no less, like an imitation (the first and the closest imitation) of the mystery of the two natures in the one Person. The mother is still both herself and her child.
Seen in the light of Mary’s simple experience of motherhood, which in her has become a function of the archetypal act of faith, all closed consciousness of self and all closed experience of self become problematic: the experience of self must open out, through faith, to an experience that encompasses both oneself and the other – oneself and the burgeoning Word of God. At first, as with Mary, this seems to be growing in the self, until in this very growth it becomes evident that it is the other way around: it is the self that is contained within the Word of God.
From The Glory of the Lord Vol. 1, in The Glenstal Book of Readings for the Seasons, 90 – 91
(Icon image by the late Sr Paula Kersey ocso of St. Mary’s Abbey, Glencairn)