Mary and Piety
Taken from THE MARY BOOK
SHEED and WARD, 1950
with Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur
WE DO NOT love men, but we keep the rule of the road. To go from here to there and to perfect the mode of transit still fascinates us apart from any high-flown sentiment of promoting the brotherhood of man. To ignore geography means ignoring craftsmanship. Cooks and surgeons, engineers and people who ask for the train, and indeed every mind awake and body asleep lives in the universe on which here is not there, though you were to make the two places replicas of each other. It is the sub-rational and subconscious pressure of this spatial circumstance that a Germanized or Anglicized Christianity could not handle. It could edify Saints; it could convert sinners; it could lift up ideals and quicken aspirations and instruct minds, but it could not sanctify things. Precisely because it lifts its eyebrows with rational superiority at the localism of what it has dubbed superstitution, the Protestant theology has nothing to say to the subhuman facts in human nature. It is always in the situation of expounding a redemption wrought by a God Who did not know what He had to redeem until the scientists found it out for Him.
Rome was the world of Jesus. Mary was His Mother. What was the rejection of Rome has meant in politics, the neglect and contempt of Our Lady has meant in piety. "To fail," says an Anglo-Catholic, "in giving Our Lady that place in our thought and devotion which God gave to her in choosing her to be the Mother of His Son, with all that such a choice involved, is to fail in our understanding not only of her but of Jesus." The history of the past four hundred years is sufficient proof of that statement.
"It is untrue to say that the Church puts Mary in the place of Jesus, but it is true to say that the modernist critic puts Jesus in the place of Mary. For he makes Our Lord only the full flower of the evolution of our race, the highest peak of human achievement, when in truth He is more than all of this, and in so doing lowers Him from the place the Church has always seen that He occupies, to that which she has ascribed to Mary, the creature 'chosen and blessed by God.' " [Bede Frost, The Riches of Christ, pp. 133-137.]
We have not disposed of Our Lady by adducing parallels from pagan cults; but we have found it easier to accept creeds which reduce Christ to mere humanity than that which exalts His Mother to the highest place in Heaven. That in itself is a state of mind which must make any professed Christian pause. Did God send His Son, born of any woman that happened to be handy? If so, it was not God Who sent His Son. What was the event in which she took such a part? Who, in other words, was the Child in her womb? There is only one way to avoid the cult of Our Lady --- by denying consciously or unconsciously the deity of Jesus. In her devotion to the sacred humanity the Church was compelled by reason as well as drawn by her piety to exalt the mysterious intimacy of the Son of God and His Mother. By forgetting His Mother, Protestant communions not only blurred and theorized the man Jesus of the Gospels so that He became the mythical image of any moral preference, but dismissed the Son of God from contemporary history. It followed that the supernatural ceased to be an event or an act, and became the "metaphysical necessity" of idealism, the mere vanishing point of human imagination. From thence onwards it is a short step to the position that the Christian religion is a refined eccentricity, or a series of myths which served for a season to popularize good morals. And at last, man returns to his splendid isolation as the magician whose God is a complex of natural laws under the control of human wisdom. But "The Blessed Virgin did not conceive the eternal Son of God merely in order that He might be made man, taking His human nature from her, but also in order that by means of the nature assumed from her He might be the Redeemer of men. Hence Mary carrying the Saviour within her may be said to have also carried all those whose life was contained in the life of the Saviour." [The Mystical Body of Christ, p.227. Pius X, Ad diem illum.]
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