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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Crushing the Head of the Serpent

©2009, Randall A. Beeler

In touring a Presbyterian church that had been seized from its original Catholic faithful,  G. K. Chesterton noted that the Presbyterians opted for a curious solution to the problem of a courtyard statue of the Madonna and Child: objecting to the implicit veneration of Mary, they could not very well chisel away the Mary and have the Infant Jesus suspend Himself in the air; thus, they chiseled away the Christ Child.

Chesterton's point emphasizes what has been attributed, variantly, to Saints Athanasius and Gregory, as well as the Cappodocian Fathers: "What is not assumed cannot be redeemed."
The Fathers' point is central to the theory of atonement: Christ completely assumes the humanity He redeems. Like us in all things but sin, Christ is the spotless lamb (cf. 1Ptr 1:19), offered as us, in place of us:
But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man. (Phil 2:7, RHE)
To then account for His humanity being free of sin, we today celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception—which is, after all, a proclamation about Jesus Christ's humanity rather than a "worship" of Mary.

To think that Christ could somehow assume humanity without being born, or to suppose that, being born of a bearer of original sin, he could avoid being tainted by original sin, is about as tenable as carving away the Madonna in the expectation that the Christ Child stone image will remain suspended in the air.

Mary is the bridge between our humanity and God's humanity.
It was through the Blessed Virgin Mary that Jesus came into the world, and it is also through her that he must reign in the world … Mary is the sealed fountain and the faithful spouse of the Holy Spirit where only he may enter. She is the sanctuary and resting-place of the Blessed Trinity where God dwells in greater and more divine splendour than anywhere else in the universe, not excluding his dwelling above the cherubim and seraphim. No creature, however pure, may enter there without being specially privileged. (Saint Louis de Montfort, from Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin)
And no one but the Christ exits there without being specially privileged.

Mary is the embodiment of the Father's special grace of an untainted humanity for His Son, that His Son might redeem our tainted humanity.

Nurtured in the amniotic fluid of Mary's womb, Christ washes us clean of sin. Nursed on Her breast, Christ feeds us the Bread of Life from His very Flesh and Blood and thereby leads us to the land of milk and honey. How can Mary be anything but immaculate?

The enemies of the Immaculate Conception are ultimately the enemies of God's lifting up the lowly and casting down the mighty from their thrones. For the Feast of the Immaculate Conception fills us hungry ones with good things (cf. Lk 1:46-55).

Mary crushes the head of the serpent (cf. Gen 3:15) because She reminds Satan that his pride is defeated by those whose spirits rejoice in God their Creator—those who do not call the work of their hands, "god":
And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it done to me according to your word. (Lk 1:38, RHE)
Wherever Mary has appeared, She has come to the poor and lowly—at LaVang, at Fatima, at Lourdes, at Guadalupe.

"Guadalupe" means "guardian against the wolves." Our Lady of Guadalupe is the Patroness of the Americas, and the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is the Patronal Feast of the United States.

May our nation and our world be guarded from the wolf. May we dare to be poor and lowly. May we pray to come to Christ through the Vessel by Which He comes to us.

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