Consecration Renewal – Day 22

Day 22 of Consecration Preparation from 2008 (or renewal)

From “Mary, Human and Holy” (Antonio Bello)
Chapter 21: Woman of the People

A couple of things arose in this chapter that I don’t agree with, so I’ll just get them out of the way first. Bishop Bello states that Mary, “…did not possess any special dynastic ancestry. The heraldry of her family did not boast of noble crests like Joseph’s. Although he worked as a carpenter, he sprang from the illustrious house of David. Mary, however, was a woman of the people.” Now, as far as I know, the Catholic Church has decided that the Blessed Virgin was also of the house of David; the Messiah was to come from the lineage of David, and since Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus, it follows that His lineage from David came through Mary. I imagine we can find this discussed in many places if we research it enough, but for example, we see it in the Catholic Encyclopedia, and also at the website of Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio in the writings of Pope Saint Leo the Great (died 461).

Also, I cannot accept the basis of thought that Bishop Bello expresses in relation to the way Mary was chosen by God.  Here are some examples:  “The Lord chose Mary from among the people”; “He found Mary in the maze of alleys…”; “She was chosen from among the young women…”; “He discovered her there…”  I know that in this book Bishop Bello has augmented what we actually know about Mary from Scripture with his own beautiful imaginative renderings of what her life may have been like, and I find the majority of these imaginings very meaningful, profound and move me to deeper reflections on Mary, but in this instance I think that there is a real, very basic theological issue involved. Without going into too much detail here, we know from Marian theology and also from the mystics (I think of Adrienne von Speyr and Venerable Mary of Agreda as just two examples) that Mary was chosen from all time to be the Mother of God, that she was pre-redeemed from the beginning of creation, that she was raised in the temple, that she was the Immaculate Conception, that she was protected from sin throughout the course of her life – Mary was known by God from all eternity. She was not just “found”; she was not simply “discovered”.

I hope I am not being too picky here, or misinterpreting Bishop Bello in any way, for I agree with his intention in this chapter, which is to show Mary’s earthly life as one of the common people, one of the poor, and rightly so.  She lived in poverty, she was one of the anawim – poor, disenfranchised, marginalized.  But despite the poverty, she also shared in the beautiful heritage of her people; she “belonged to the remnant of Israel, which had survived the devastation of national tragedy. She belonged to that nucleus which kept alive the promises to the patriarchs and the hopes of the prophets…”  She “mingled with the pilgrims going up to the temple and accompanied their psalm singing.”

Holy Mary, woman of the people, thank you for sharing life with the people….Thank you because, while being the Mother of God, you did not withdraw into the dwelling of your spiritual aristocracy…

Give us a greater awareness of being a people.  We believers, who call ourselves the people of God, feel the duty to offer a strong witness of communion.  You, “the great pride of our nation” (Jud 15:9), stay at our side in this difficult undertaking.


8 Responses

  1. If one stands in the middle of the street in front of the police department here — and understandably, one doesn’t do so very often — if one looks left, one sees the church that houses the soup kitchen. If one looks right, one sees the public library. In the library, one may find someone reading the saints on how we are now His hands, His feet (or His neo-Boanerges). In the soup kitchen, because so many there are hurt and angry and as lost as a nameless puppy in a zoo, one can sense a greater feminine presence — a gentle holy Queen, her burlap apron full of bread and roses.. I did not realize that until tonight.

  2. God forgive me, I am too often one of those “in the library”, and I think Mary is bringing this to my attention recently, through Bishop Bello for one thing.

  3. OMG, I’m sorry — please know that I erased the ” (like me) ” from the “one may find someone…” She may’ve just told me to go back to the soup kitchen. Unfortunately, and overall, the contrast I’d wanted to make is that we do act as His feet and His hands, but when it comes to Mary, since she has appeared here on earth quite often, she comes and does some things Her Very self. I dunno.. this made more sense when it was all still in my mind. I hope I did not offend thee, G.

  4. Maybe he just wanted to highlight the fact that Mary was just a poor girl, as if in reality, her lineage did not mean much in practical terms. I mean she did not reap any earthly benefits from being of the house of David. Focussing on the technicalities of doctrine can muffle the song the Bishop wants to sing, which is a love song to an young girl in an obscure and tribulated corner of this world, was chosen by God to bring His Son to us. When you think a minute, Jesus Himself was just some guy who lived and was put to death in a Godforsaken place, but who miraculously changed the destiny of the world. And I don’t say this in spiritual terms. When has it ever happened that one man changed the way the entire world live and think? The social and human development mankind has undergone is mostly due to the revolution of Christianity. And yet, in human terms, Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and all the rest are just folks, with nothing remarkable about them (again, in human terms).

  5. I remember a diatribe between a priest and a young woman, a friend of mine a few years back. The priest told her that Jesus was born exactly the way any person is born, through the birth canal, and was not miraculously extracted from Mary’s womb. This girl was shocked at such an affirmation, saying that he was being too crass and he told her that she is not very “real”, and that people need to face facts and stop keeping up the romantic notion that Jesus just appeared, and that Mary only served as a vessel for bringing him into the world, but did not give birth to him in the same way any woman brings a child into the world. She may have been spared a painful birth he said, but…etc… This girl was very upset about this, so she asked another priest, and he said “just like you wouldn’t go and ask any woman about the gory details about childbirth, let’s leave Mary alone in this intimate mystery of her life. Whether or not she had labor pains, broke water, had to push to get him out are irrelevant and just none of anyone’s business, so you stop being so curious, and tell the other priest that he should be sensitive enough not to want to shock people who aren’t ready to hear too much information. All this issue does is avert your attention from what is truly important, to what is trivial.” So, I will allow Bishop Bello the poetic license he took because he wanted to make evident that Mary accepted to be one of us, just like Jesus, out of mercy for us.

    “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
    6Who, being in very nature[a] God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
    7but made himself nothing,
    taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
    8And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    and became obedient to death—
    even death on a cross!
    9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
    10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
    11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.”

  6. I agree with you both.

    In the movie that came out here a few years ago, “The Nativity” (parts of which can be accessed at YouTube), I watched with great fascination the story of His human birth as it truly must’ve been.. Not that some director is authority –not even saints are authority– but I have long thought (at least for myself) that unless we come to know Jesus’ (and Mary’s) humanity, we really don’t grasp all that we should, neither about Sorrows nor about the Ascencion and the Assumption.

    I have to unplug for a few days, now — new(er) laptop next week, hopefully easily hooked in to my wifi network.. I will catch up then. God love you all.

  7. Carol, good heavens, no offence taken; didn’t even occur to me; we’re great communicators for bloggers, aren’t we. 🙂 No, I could just feel the “not enough” in my being one of those library types (although we have our calling too). I know myself well enough to know it’s not in me to be an activist or work for social justice causes in the same way as a Bishop Bello or a Dorothy Day, but there is more I could do in a hands-on way, of that I am certain.

  8. Pia, in terms of the book as a whole, you know I love Bishop Bello’s poetic and imaginative reflections; even in the Editor’s Note near the front, it says, “…he freely uses the Gospel narratives as a springboard for speculating about her life”, and I am benefiting greatly from this. I point these two things out only because they caught my attention, one historically and the other theologically, and I wanted to discuss them. Re the lineage, as you say, in terms of Mary and Joseph’s actual earthly life of poverty it didn’t have any effect, but I was reading all sorts of articles on the Internet with great debates back and forth on this topic; even my son asked me this very question only a few weeks ago: how can Jesus be of the line of David if Joseph was only His foster father, so I mention it here for information purposes primarily. Re the other though, it’s not that I am reading the book for doctrinal error – by no means, and I’m not inferring that Bishop Bello didn’t know his Marian doctrine – of course he did! But I know, for example, from a former pastor of mine who worked alot with evangelicals who were converting to Catholicism and who weren’t familiar with (and sometimes not accepting of) such things as the Immaculate Conception, they often said things such as any woman could have been Jesus’ mother – that Mary was just the same as any other woman – and that’s the way I was afraid some people might take it in this passage, so again, that’s why I wanted to bring it up. But as I said in the post, I do understand the intent of the chapter as a whole – to show us that Mary was one of the common people, and that she lived her life with all the hardships and worries of everyone who lives with poverty.

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