Saturday, August 15, 2009

St. Mary the Virgin

In my previous existence as a Roman Catholic, the feast of St. Mary the Virgin was called the "Assumption". The Orthodox Church celebrates the feast of the Dormition (Falling Asleep) of Mary. Though the theology of the feast has little direct Scriptural basis, nevertheless in the sensus Ecclesiae, the sense of the Church, there is a rather long tradition, since about the 8th century, of celebrating the Mother of Jesus, the Godbearer (Theotokos), as the Council of Ephesus expressed it in 431.

The window above, in the Chapel of the Assumption at St. Charles Seminary, Carthagena, OH, dates from the early part of 1961, the year that the chapel was completely remodelled. The window has always been one of my favorites, perhaps because of the memory of this day in 1961 when I, along with nine others, made a final profession of fidelity to the Society of the Precious Blood there, as well as of a day three years later when I was ordained a priest there.

At a silent retreat day in 2005 at Bishop's Ranch, Healdsburg, I jotted down a few musings on St. Mary, generated by some of the talks. Just as pregnancy takes nine months, so collaboration with God in creativity, whatever form it may assume in our life, takes a long time. Both pregnancy and collaborating creatively isn't just a private process. Mary, for example, in her pregnancy goes to an older relative, Elizabeth, for mentoring, support, feedback. Only after that does Mary sing her Magnificat. We need the "other" in our collaborating with God to be creative, whatever that may be, and to give birth as God wants. We need the other to "hear our song".

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