Saturday, November 2, 2019

Go Trick-or-Treat or Watch Baseball People...

Blessed Mother, pray for us. Holy Mary, pray for us.  Mother of Christ, pray for us. Mary, House of Gold, pray for us.  Mystical Rose, pray for us. Seat of Wisdom, pray for us. Refuge of Sinners, pray for us, Morning Star, pray for us. The litany for the Blessed Virgin Mary became part of how we come to know and love Jesus’ mother in 1587, though it feels to us as if it has always been.

People at the time and even now, probably struggle with some of the names. They provoke, they push, and they invite us into contemplation. It seems, we have as many titles for her, as we have peoples who love her.

I have my favorites, including “Mary, Undoer of Knots,” when I’m feeling overtaxed. Honoring Mary as Queen of the Americas came much later, in 1957, but she has many more names, all of them inviting us to discover how she is Mother to all of us.  The names we’ve given to Our Lady, have come from us, all of us across all of time, and across many cultures, including the name, Our Lady of the Amazon.

You may remember that kerfuffle from last week with the Synod or you may (like most people) have other things to do like watch baseball, prepare for Halloween, eat, pay bills and work. Someone decided it was a good idea to throw the statue gifted to the Pope into the river. Someone else thought it a good idea to document the taking of the statue and throwing it into the river. Some praised this as brave. Others thought it theft. Some thought it the equivalent of the cleansing of the temple, likening the taker of the statue to Saint Boniface and his attempt to disentangle heretical beliefs and practices from Christianity, and others, the act akin to nailing the 99 thesis on the Church door. Bottom line, it's a tad on the crazy side to ascribe to the motives and actions symbolic equivalent of either sainthood or schismatic. It was not idol worshiping or pagan worshiping, to place a gift in the church.  There were no pagans worshiping the statue.  Even if people hold a mass and the statue is present, if they are participating in a mass, the statue is merely present, it is not being given glory or mistaken for anything other than what it is, a statue.  If we need clarity, look to the reality of the gift and the giver.
Having looked at the art, it is a naked mother, identified by the giver as the Blessed Mother, being full of grace, holding our Lord, the egg of the Church.  The literal representation of The Blessed Mother cradling the unborn Christ should not scandalize us. She’s been willing to allow herself to be seen as others would see her so that they might come to know her son.   How she looked in Fatima, is not how she revealed herself at Guadalupe.
The scandal of the incarnation is just that, the tangible reality of Mary gave birth. She wasn’t wearing a long jewel blue polished taffeta cape when she labored in the cave while the angels above sang and announced “Joy to the World and Peace to Her People on Earth.”  She probably sweat. Her most precious beautiful perfect son, our savior did something far more scandalous.

He became flesh. He became man.  He allowed to be born. He allowed himself to be naked, to be cold, to be hungry. We believe we are from the moment of conception on…so depicting Christ unborn, this should not shock.  He scandalously allowed himself to grow up, and to endure that hard long process of growing.  He allowed Himself to be betrayed, abandoned, beaten, to be spit upon, to be mocked, stripped, to be abused, to be hurt. He allowed Himself to be exposed, as we are exposed in all our nakedness, in every moment of our lives so that we might know God’s infinite love and mercy.

Just in case we still don’t get it, Jesus reveals himself as the resurrection.  We will receive new bodies in the end, because our bodies are themselves, gifts God intends for us. He gives us the promise and the assurance of Mary’s Assumption.  We will not be pure spirit. We will not be ethereal, we will exist in substance and reality at the great wedding feast. 

Our Church is the Body of Christ, and we scandalize and scourge it more by our seemingly endless desire to explain why someone else is unworthy of being part of it, than by any art we create to honor Mary or a culture or our Church.  The Church is bigger than cultural art, bad art, inappropriate art and even fantastic art.  Stealing the gift and attempting to destroy it because one does not like it, is not a Catholic response to either the problem being articulated (concerns about the Pope and the Church itself), or to the art itself.  It is at best, the same as a sibling not liking the art work given to a parent by another sibling and throwing it away while proclaiming, “I cleaned up for you Mom.” The paintings in the Sistine Chapel, and the statues like Moses and David, reveal Greco-Roman sensibilities of the beauty of the human body, pagan sensibilities reoriented toward the creation of sacred art.
We are always struggling with the hard reality of being a universal and to the end of time Church, living through the present, reaching out to all people.   The pagans of old, Paul understood yearned for the Divine, as indicated by the temple to the Unknown God.   Imagine what we would have lost, if early Christians in a position to do so, had smashed the temples and the art that came before in a moment of fear over the possibility of the faith being diluted by contamination with other cultures.   This is the hallmark of Catholicism.  Catholic means universal.  Catholic invites all in, it is not in the business (or should not be), of casting out.   The nature of our faith, is scandalous to the world, like the incarnation.  We are to invite everyone to the table, and to discover all the ways in which God really breaks through our real lives, both Catholic and non, to reveal His real love to us.
Immaculate Conception, Singular vessel of devotion, Notre Dame Our Lady, pray for us and we envoke your protection, from our own foolishness, from good, bad and indifferent art, and from rash harsh judgment of each other in all things including, how we are to live out our faith loving others as we are to love your Son. 

1 comment:

Cormac said...

This is very nice and detailed article, however it doesn't cover everything. If you are looking for best parenting tips & tricks reseource you should visit this Parenting Blog where they publish valuable and beneficial articles daily, that gives new and better perspective on Parenting and childcare.

Leaving a comment is a form of free tipping. But this lets me purchase diet coke and chocolate.

If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!