Monday, December 5, 2011

Mary, Masterpiece of the Holy Spirit

Part Three of the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, begins with this title and picture:
El GrecoSaint John Contemplates the Immaculate Conception, Church of SainLeocadia and Saint Roman; Museum of Santa Cruz, Toledo. 
I found the commentary on this picture illuminating, and hope you do too!

   Mary, the Panhagia (all holy), is the masterpiece of the Holy Spirit (Panhagion).  Her existence, from her immaculate conception to her glorious assumption into heaven, is completely sustained by the love of God. The Spirit of the Love of the Father and the Son makes of Mary a new creature, the new Eve. Her heart and mind are intent upon the adoration of and obedience to the heavenly Father. She is his beloved daughter and she is also dedicated to the acceptance and service of the Son whose mother and disciple she is. Her soul is likewise intent upon her surrender to and cooperation with the Holy Spirit for whom she is a treasured sanctuary.
   In this image Mary is surrounded by angels playing musical instruments and making merry, her head crowned with the divine love of the Holy Spirit, symbolized by the dove. Mary is the mother and protector of the Church (at her feet there is a faint glimpse of a sacred edifice). Through her efficacious, motherly intercession with Jesus, she pours out upon the Church the abundance of heavenly graces (symbolized by the tuft of blooming roses).
   Below at the left, the Apostle John in contemplation of Immaculate Mary represents everyone of the faithful who sees in the Blessed Virgin the perfect model and likewise the teacher and guide for living in the Spirit.
   In his book Life in the Spirit and Mary Fr. Christopher O Donnell, O.Carm., writes:
   In her relationship to the Spirit, Mary is our model. If Jesus is to be born in us, we too need to be overshadowed by the Holy Spirit. We need to be receptive and open to his action. When we allow him to touch us and make of us a new creation (see 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15), we are in the obedient state of Mary, eager to receive. This involves continuous docility to the Spirit. The great work that he does within us is to make us adopted children of the Father, so that we too with Christ can cry "Abba, Father" (Rom. 8:14-15, 23).
  What is important is that our attitude be truly marian, for the Mother of God said a "yes" to a relatively unknown future. Afterward the Spirit guided her. But it is noteworthy that Mary is led to divine truth also by other persons who themselves received revelation. It was to the shepherds, not to Mary, that the angels announced the birth of one who was saviour, Christ the Lord (Luke 2:10, 17). The old man Simeon was inspired by the Spirit and prophesied about the child and about Mary: her Son will be salvation, light, glory, a sign of contradiction, and Mary's own soul will be pierced (see Luke 2:30-35).
. . . (B)e alert to the danger of an illuminism-that is, any tendency to prefer direct revelation to other means at arriving at truth. Mary was once directly enlightened by God, at other times indirectly. So . . . though we know the power of the Spirit to guide us directly, we must also value his guidance through other persons, through the Scriptures, through the teaching of the church. 


  1. Our Blessed Mother is such a wonderful example to us of complete surrender to the will and glory of God.

    Thank you for sharing this.

  2. Agree, Daily Grace. Was just listening to The Little Drummer Boy. Hope when we play our best for Him, Mary smiles at us. We are trying to emulate her.