Friday, August 7, 2009

Enemies of Our Lady

Ethiopian Orthodox, sad to say, long called Catholics "enemies of Mary", for they had had bitter experiences of forced Romanization under the one and only Jesuit to be Abuna of Ethiopia, who had reacted against their overzealous doctrines about Our Lady (one group of monks contended that she ought be adored and worshipped!) by attempting to stamp out such abuses, and ended up only further alienating the Abyssinians from the Holy See, in the process earning for Catholics an embarrassingly anti-Marian reputation in that African empire.

De Maria numquam satis, of course, but one must also follow the advice of Cardinal Newman's confessor, who gave him the sage counsel to "love Our Lady as much as you like, so long as you love Our Lord a good deal more". I personally avoid an irreverent overfamiliarity by not all the time baldly speaking of "Mary" and "Jesus" (at the mention of which holy names all Catholics should bow their heads), but by referring to them as "Our (Blessed) Lady" and "Our (Blessed) Lord" respectively.

In regard to the Blessed Virgin (another esteemed title) in particular, I follow the good example of St Clement Mary Hofbauer, second founder of the Redemptorists (and evident model of the F.Ss.R., besides being the namesake of their Christchurch priest), who, if he heard talk of "Mary" without a fit and proper title, would ask "Which Mary do you mean?" - since the Mother of God deserves better than to be spoken of with but scant regard, maybe slightingly, even contemptuously. If even an Archangel in addressing her named her as Full of Grace, with what reverence ought fallen men call upon her, the All-Holy Ever-Virgin Theotokos?

I thoroughly disapprove of the modern Catholic mode speaking of her so plainly and as it were dismissively - just as too many scruple even to name Jesus as Lord and Christ: one fears such irreverence tends to or even signals doubt and disbelief. Against such dangerous laxity (for as Trent avers, irreverence cannot be separated from impiety) I make a stand, and call upon Holy Mary to help me: Dignare me laudare te, Virgo sacrata: da mihi virtutem contra hostes tuos.

The Scriptures bear solemn witness to the debt we owe one so highly exalted by the Lord, both implicitly and explicitly (as Livius teaches, following the Fathers, and thinking with the Church). First and foremost, we have the very self-prophecy of Our Lady in her Magnificat, whereby she gave all the glory to God for His great works in her, yet nonetheless in simple admission of the truth declared that "All generations shall call me blessed" - as my Douay notes, Let Protestants examine whether they are any way concerned in this prophecy.

Those who deny the Mother are but a step from denying the Son; as for their generation, as Proverbs declares (xxx, 11f), "There is a generation that curseth their father, and doth not bless their mother, a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet are not washed from their filthiness" - as they themselves madly aver, when denying any notion of baptismal regeneration.

As Esau hated Jacob for receiving his father's blessing (Gen. xxvii, 41), so such enemies of Holy Mary love her not, but even hate and curse her in their folly. They are like the pagan Balaam, whom God Himself forbade to curse the people He had blessed (Num. xxii, 12); and at best, like him (Num. xxxii, 20), they are so constrained by Truth as to bless despite their trying to resist doing so.

If any reject and revile God's Mother, what must be their punishment, if the Lord of old appointed (Deut. xxvii, 16) that whoso honoureth not father and mother shall be accursed? Such men are sons not of Abraham, but of the Devil (cf. St John viii, 44), a murderer from the beginning and the Father of lies. "But we are not ignorant of his devices" (II Cor. ii, 11), that ensnare and corrupt - as the Protoevangelium reveals, there shall be enmity between the Serpent and the Woman, between his seed and hers (Gen. iii, 15): but hers is the victory, for by the power of God, the grace of the Lord, she and all her true children, the brothers and co-heirs of her Firstborn, Christ, shall tread down Satan and crush him (cf. Rom. xvi, 20f); Gaude, Maria Virgo, cunctas hæreses sola interemisti in universo mundo.

Let us come to the throne of grace (Heb. iv, 16), and with the Magi fall down and adore Our Lord when we find Him with Mary His Mother (St Matthew ii, 11). Let us follow the advice of the Apostle, not merely in saluting every Saint in Christ Jesus (Phil. iv, 21), but let us salute Mary, who has done so much for us (Rom. xvi, 6), let us render honour to whom honour is due (Rom. xiii, 7), let us give glory and honour and peace to one who worketh good (Rom. ii, 10), to she who is full of grace, blessed of all women and of all generations, for having believed all that was told her by the Lord, blessed above all in bearing the Blessed Fruit of her womb (St Luke i, 28. 42. 45. 48), she who by her childbearing has saved us all (cf. I Tim. ii, 15), the rose among thorns, Mary of the race of Judah (cf. Heb. vii, 14), "of whom is Christ according to the flesh, who is over all things God, blessed for ever. Amen." (Rom. ix, 5)

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