Monday, November 19, 2018

The Presence of Mary in the Mystery of Worship (La presencia de María en el misterio del culto)

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To the offering of Christ are united not only the members still here on earth, but also those already in the glory of heaven. In communion with and commemorating the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the saints, the Church offers the Eucharistic sacrifice. In the Eucharist the Church is as it were at the foot of the cross with Mary, united with the offering and intercession of Christ (Catechism of the Catholic Church: 1370).

The Blessed Virgin Mary is intimately united both to Christ and to the Church and is inseparable from both. She, therefore, is united in that which constitutes the very essence of the liturgy: the sacramental celebration of Salvation for the glory of God and the sanctification of man. Mary is present at the liturgical action because she was present at the salvific event.

She is next to every baptismal font where the members of the Mystical Body are born to the divine life, in faith and in the Holy Spirit, since it was through faith and the power of the Spirit that their divine Head, Christ, was conceived. She is found next to each altar where the memorial of the Passion and Resurrection is celebrated since she was present, adhering with all her being to the plan of the Father, in the historical-salvific fact of the Death of Christ. She is close to every cenacle where, through the laying on of hands and the holy anointing, the Spirit is granted to the faithful, since with Peter and the other Apostles, with the nascent Church, she was present in the Pentecostal effusion of the Spirit. With Christ, the High Priest, the Church, the liturgical   community, Mary is incessantly united with both, Christ and the Church, in the saving  event and in the liturgical memorial.

So St. John Paul II said: “In the celebration of the annual cycle of the mysteries of Christ, the holy Church venerates with special love the blessed Mother of God, the Virgin Mary, united to her with an indissoluble bond to the saving work of her Son”.

Mary in the liturgy: she is "united with an indissoluble bond to the salvific work of her Son". It is an expression pregnant with meaning that deserves a quiet pause of contemplation and reflection in the light of the theology of the Sacrosanctum Concílium. The text offers a unique appreciation of the association of Mary to the Mystery of the Incarnation, as a principle and foundation of the totality of her association with the saving Economy. Following the thread of the words of the Pope, it can be said that the one who participated in the historical mysteries of his Son intérfuit mystériis is now present in the mysteries made present in the liturgical memorial adest in mystériis.

Hence, the presence of Mary in the saving events of the life of Jesus are the presuppositions for understanding the presence of Mary in the mysteries of the celebrated historical events of the life of her Son, renewed in the liturgy. The mysterious presence of Mary in the liturgy depends on the fact that Christ himself wanted to assume as the constituent element of his salvific action (the theandric act) the action of the Virgin (purely human act). In this case, the act of the Virgin, insofar as assumed by the Word and constitutively inserted in her salvific action, is, therefore, subsistent in Him and, hence, susceptible of being mysteriously re-presented in the liturgical celebration. This hypothesis is based on a double theological intuition.

A)    The first is built on the basis that the saving acts of Christ have been assumed to glory; carried out in history, they remain alive and effective meta-history. It is a theological argument collected in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: "In the Liturgy of the Church, Christ means and performs mainly his paschal mystery. During his earthly life Jesus announced with his teaching and anticipated with his acts the paschal mystery. When his time came (cf. Jn 13, 1; 17, 1), he experienced the only event in history that does not just happen: Jesus dies, is buried, rises from the dead and sits on the right hand of the Father "once for all "(Rm 6, 10; Hb 7, 27; 9, 12). It is a real event, it happened in our history, but absolutely unique: all other events happen once, and then pass and are absorbed by the past. The paschal mystery of Christ, on the contrary, cannot remain only in the past, because by his death he destroyed death, and all that Christ is and all that he did and suffered for men participates in divine eternity and dominates thus all times and in them it remains permanently present. The event of the Cross and of the Resurrection remains and attracts

B)    The second intuition refers to the fact that not only the historical acts of Jesus have been assumed to glory, but also those of his Mother. The latter have been so insofar as they are indissolubly linked to the very acts of Christ (Sacrosanctum Concílium, 103). The historical acts of Mary, inserted in the same economy of the Salvific Event, inseparable from it insofar as the Event had not occurred in its salvific historicity without the presence and cooperation of the Mother of the Lord who always worked in communion with her Son and in the synergy of the Holy Spirit they also remain forever.

It is in this sense that I have just noted where we find a "pre-understanding" of that other important text of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: "The Marian dimension of the Church precedes its Petrine dimension". [CCC, 773.] From the Petrine dimension, certainly, elements as substantial as its fundamental hierarchical structure emerge for the Church ... but, at the same time, the Church is original and constitutively Marian. Mary is present in the consilium salutis from the first moment, as a person actively involved in it. Consilium, project, plan of which She is, at the same time, fruit and cooperatively active with a personal uniqueness, unique and unrepeatable. Thus, the Marian dimension of the Church and, therefore, of its liturgy is not something merely devotional, demanded for affective reasons or sentimental pietism. The Second Vatican Council, confirming the teaching of the whole tradition, recalled that in the hierarchy of holiness, precisely the woman, Mary of Nazareth, is a figure of the Church. She "precedes" everyone on the path of holiness; in her person the Church has already reached the perfection with which she exists immaculate and without blemish. "[ Eph 5, 27.  In this sense affirms John Paul II in an Apostolic Letter it can be said that the Church is, at the same time, "Marian" and "apostolic-petrine". Carta Apostólica Mulieris dignitatem, 27]

But le us return to our theme: Mary's mystic presence in the liturgy. In the Roman Canon, Mary Most Holy is preceded by the significant adverb imprimis, (especially, in a particular way ...) which refers to the singularity of the presence of the Virgin, unparalleled with the angelic presence or with others in the communion of the Saints, because of the glorious and celestial condition of the person of Mary in body and soul.

The questions that we proposed at the beginning of our reflection were of this tenor: can we speak of a presence of Mary in the celebration of Christian worship? In what sense? On what theological bases can we dispose? How much of analogy and distinction? The answers must necessarily be sober. Answers that illustrate but do not exhaust all that the questions they intend to cover. Mary is present in the liturgy in a way "analogous" to how her Son is present. This word "analogous" is taken from the analogy fidei, from the analogy mysteriorum, and points to the nexus of unity of all the mysteries in relation to the unique Mystery of Christ.

In line with these final paragraphs, I take the opportunity to highlight two liturgical testimonies, the one patristic and the other offered by J. Castellano, which could corroborate, each from their own angle, the question we are dealing with: the mysterious presence of Mary Most Holy in the liturgy. They are two different witnesses who, in their respective fields, point to the same feeling:

The first consists in the very significant Byzantine liturgical use, according to which, during the preparation of the gifts, the priest takes a particle of bread not consecrated and says: "In honor and memory of the most blessed, glorious and sovereign Mother of God and ever Virgin Mary and through her intercession, welcome, Lord, this sacrifice that we present on your altar. " The priest then takes that particle of unsacred bread, places it on the right of the consecrated Bread and says: "Standing at your right is the Queen, bejeweled with gold from Ophir, dressed in pearls and brocade (Ps 44)" [ ] M.B. ARTIOLI, Liturgia eucaristica bizantina, Torino, 1988, p. 40-41].

The second testimony is the confession of faith of St. Germain of Constantinople who, through a theology that is simultaneously prayer, during a homily on the Dormition of the Blessed Virgin and while conversing with her, confesses and interprets the faith of the Church in the presence of Mary in the liturgy and, beyond the liturgy, in the life of the People of God:

"O Most Holy Mother of God ... just as when you lived on earth, you were no stranger to the life of Heaven, so you are no stranger either, after your Assumption, to the life of men, rather you are spiritually present to them. .. As in the time you lived bodily with those who were your contemporaries, so now your spirit lives next to us. The protection with which you assist us is a clear sign of your presence in our midst. We all hear your voice and the voice of all of us also reaches your ears ... You watch over us. Even though our eyes are not able to contemplate you, or very happy, You yourself are gladly with us and manifest in different ways to those who are worthy of you”[ S. GERMÁN DE CONSTANTINOPLA, Homilia I de Dormitione, 4; PG 98, 341-348.].

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