Pray Brethren

Pray Brethren

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Understanding Patriarchy through Mary

Mary boasts the greatest status among all creatures for she is truly the Mother of God. But to this status, Mary says: Ecce, Fiat, and Magnificat. Rather than saying, “Behold, I am woman, hear me roar,” she says “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to His word... My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord…” As the Ark of the New Covenant and Queen Mother of the Kingdom of God, Mary wields more power than any other woman ever created – yet power is not her pursuit. Mary seeks to follow the will of the Father, the rule of the Father. In other words, Mary supports patriarchy, a word which literally means the rule of the father.

This is why Mary must be hated by Satan and feminists.

But Mary also helps us better understand who God is and our part in salvation history. She did this in 431 when her Motherhood helped Christians recognize the singularity of Christ’s personhood. Today, however, there are many who mistakenly place Jesus and the Devil on an equal, if opposite, playing field as if Jesus and the Devil are two opposing forces of equal strength and power. But Jesus is the infinite and eternal Son of God while Satan is a mere creature whom Jesus could eliminate with the snap of His divine finger. It is really Mary who is the opposite of Satan. While Mary says, “I am the handmaid of the Lord,” Satan says, “I will not serve!” While Satan is the most powerful creature by nature, Mary is the most powerful creature by supernature (i.e. by being full of grace).

Sadly, the Hilary Clinton’s of today’s feminism would find themselves much more in agreement with the individualism and the will to power found in Satan rather than in the humility and submission of Mary to the will of the Father.

We must also not forget the unique relationship Mary has with each person of the Trinity, for in addition to being the Mother of the Son, she is also the daughter of the Father and the spouse of the Holy Spirit. Most importantly, we remember that these relations are gendered. Mary is mother, daughter, and spouse – and for those who like to think of the Holy Spirit as woman or neutered, we recall that Jesus declared the Holy Spirit a “he” and that the Holy Spirit’s work of bringing about the incarnation is very much a masculine act. Understanding this also helps us understand what theologians mean when they talk about Mary as the Icon of the Holy Spirit. The closeness of identity between Mary and the Spirit is only in the way that a wife and a husband share a close identity through their marital union.

There is a knee-jerk reaction to the word “patriarchy” today. But as we pray the “Our Father” and use “Father” when we address our priests this weekend, let us also recall Mary and remember that she is the most patriarchal of all Christians. Our society would crucify any who believed in patriarchy, but like Mary let us be bold enough to go to that cross where life is paradoxically found in doing the will of the Father amidst a culture of death.

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