“Mondays with Mary” – 5 Quotes from Pope St. John Paul II on Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom

Since yesterday was the 12th anniversary of Pope St. John Paul II’s entrance into eternal glory, I thought I would combine his words on Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom with Mary in Old Testament (a series I have been writing recently) for today’s “Mondays with Mary.” Before we focus on the late Holy Father’s words, let us turn our gaze to understanding the Old Testament Marian symbol – “Created Wisdom.”

In the Old Testament, we see some rather transcendent passages on the idea of Wisdom, which focuses on the divine Person, the Father’s Word, who exists and works before all of creation is formed, most notably, Sirach 24:3-21 and Proverbs 8:22-35. The Church in the liturgical texts has used these transcendent scriptures for two Marian feasts since the seventh and tenth centuries – The Assumption of Mary into Heaven and The Nativity of Mary. In the Lectionary, these passages are commonly used for the Masses for the Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary, headed as “Mary, Seat of Wisdom.”

Since the seventh century, the Church has employed these texts to the Blessed Virgin Mary. This did not happen through simple accommodation, but through the simple and basic understanding of the texts, which “evidently is found in the letter of the text, but at the same time surpasses it, widens it, and enriches it.”

We see then that through the writings of the sacred author, “Wisdom, by way of reflection and participation is ascribed to Mary, the Mother of the Word of God, who from eternity was predestined, as Ineffabilis Deus, in one and the same decree with the Incarnation of divine Wisdom.” Understanding this, it is clear that Mary shares and plays a fundamental role in the mission of the Incarnation as well as the perquisites of the Word who dwelt among us, the hypostatic Wisdom incarnate. Wisdom, which was uncreated, was now incarnate in Mary, making her the epicenter of Life and Truth. She is truly “Created Wisdom.”

Madonna as Seat of Wisdom, 1199

Now that we have come to an understanding of the Marian symbol – “created wisdom”, let us turn our attention to five quotes by Pope St. John Paul II that focus on the Marian title, Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom –

1. “The prophecy and the promise of faith, whose fulfillment was awaited by the whole people, the Israel of divine election, and the whole of humanity: This was Mary’s mystery. Joseph did not know this mystery. She could not transmit it to him, because it was a mystery beyond the capacity of the human intellect and the possibilities of human language. It was not possible to transmit it by any human means. It was only possible to accept it from God – and believe. Just as Mary believed. – Termi, Italy, 1981

2. “Beloved young people! Continue to live in the truth and for the truth! May the Blessed Virgin, the Seat of Wisdom, Mother of the Word who enlightens every man, assist you, enlighten you, and comfort you.” – Rome, Italy, 1979

3. “To succeed in your intentions, entrust yourselves to the Blessed Virgin Mary always, but especially in moments of difficulty and darkness. ‘From Mary we learn to surrender to God’s will in things. From Mary we learn to trust even when all hope seems gone. From Mary we learn to love Christ, her Son and the Son of God…Learn from her to be always faithful, to trust that God’s Word to you will be fulfilled, and that nothing is impossible with God.’” – Washington, D.C., 1979

4. “The cross is the living book from which we learn definitively who we are and how we must act. This book is always open in front of us. Read, reflect, enjoy this new wisdom. Make it your own and you will walk also along the paths of knowledge, culture, and university life, spreading light in a service of love, worthy of children of God.

And look also the Blessed Virgin, standing by the cross of Jesus (Jn. 19:25) where she is given to us as our mother: she is our hope, the seat of true Wisdom.” – Rome, Italy, 1980

5. “Be faithful to the Mother of fair love. Have trust in her, as you shape your love and form your young families. May Christ always be there for you “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” – Krakow, Poland, 1979

Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom…Pray for Us.

Pope St. John Paul II…Pray for Us.

“Mondays with Mary” – Mary in the Old Testament: The “Paradise of God” and “Closed Door,” “Gate of God,” “Gate of Heaven” (Part 5)

The term, “Paradise of God” in reference to the Blessed Virgin Mary derives from the homilies of the eighth century Bishop of Constantinople, St. Germain. Traditionally in the Church, the term “paradise” is a Marian symbol closely associated with the Early Church Fathers, such as St. Leo the Great, St. Proclus, St. Andrew of Crete, St. John Damascene, and others, who developed it in their writings.

Since the trickery of the serpent and the sin committed by our first parents in the earthly paradise of Eden, resulting in a original sin (yesterday’s Gospel Reading in the Latin Rite), God, in his infinite mercy, desired to fully restore another earthly paradise through the redeeming work of the Incarnate Word. He (God) prepared the “paradise” of the virginal womb of Mary, in which, in the fullness off time (Gal 4:4) came the Divine Son.

In the Litany of Loreto, the Blessed Virgin Mary has been petitioned by the faithful to answer their intercessions as the “Gate of Heaven.” Mary’s immaculate and virginal womb brought forth Jesus Christ into the world, she then is truly the Gate of Heaven.

In the prophet Ezekiel (44:1-2), it references the mystery of the “closed door” which “shall remain shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it, for the Lord, the God of Israel, has entered by it; therefore it shall remain shut.” The most accurate and detailed scriptural exegetical study of this passage points out that this passage is in reference to Mary’s perfect and perpetual virginity – before, during, and ever childbirth. In Mary’s perpetual virginity, it’s a doorway that is always sealed and always to be closed.

 The image of the Virgin Mother and Infant Christ surrounded by flowers is from the Cistercian Abbey of Heiligenkreuz in Austria.


The image of the Virgin Mother and Infant Christ surrounded by flowers is from the Cistercian Abbey of Heiligenkreuz in Austria.

As Saint Ambrose said, “Christ has passed through it, but not opened it.” Pope St. John Paul II has said that Jesus did not violate Mary’s virginity, rather, he sanctified her virginity.

The elect enter into paradise through the “Gate of Heaven” – who is truly the Blessed Virgin Mary. Psalm 117:20 says, “This is the gate of the Lord, the just shall enter through it.” In the antiphon for the Gospel of the Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary, it says the following – “‘Gate of Heaven’: The gate of paradise, shut by the sin of Eve, has been reopened by you, O Virgin Mary.”

Next week we will continue our Old Testament Series in relation to the Blessed Virgin Mary as we examine Marian Symbols used in the Liturgy.

O Mary, as the Paradise of God and Gate of Heaven…Pray for Us. 

Source:

Burke, Raymond L., Stefano M. Manelli, Luigi Gambero, Manfred Hauke, Peter M. Fehlner, Arthur Burton. Calkins, Paul Haffner, Alessandro M. Apollonio, Edward P. Sri, Charles M. Mangan, Enrique Llamas Martínez, Neil J. Roy, Etienne Richer, Vladimir Zelinskiĩ, and Mark I. Miravalle. Mariology: A Guide for Priests, Deacons, Seminarians, and Consecrated Persons. Goleta, CA: Queenship Pub, 2008. Print.

“Mondays with Mary” – The Blessed Virgin Mary in the Old Testament

It is in the Sacred Scriptures that we see the Blessed Virgin Mary come alive for us in salvation history. It is through the Old Testament writings that we see the birth of Mary into the world. The Blessed Virgin Mary, although a creature like the rest of us, finds her origins in the Heavens (her Immaculate Conception), as did the Incarnation of the Word, for as the Old Testament scriptures speak of her, they also reveal to us the universal Savior and Redeemer. This is so because God willed it to be so.

When we read the Old Testament scriptures, as they were by the Early Church Fathers through a “biblical-theological exegesis” scope, in light of Jesus Christ and the Church, we find in the roots of these scriptures, a very strong sense of the Blessed Virgin Mary, theologically speaking, we find Mariology.

The document, The Jewish People and its Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible, produced by the Pontifical Biblical Commission firmly and distinctly says that the mystery of the Blessed Virgin Mary is found –

“…in the texts of the Old Testament explicitly and clearly. The genuine content of every revealed datum ‘finds is realization in Jesus’ (21, 6)…It has indeed been remarked that in the final analysis ‘we Christians, to understand fully the Scripture, not grasping merely the necessarily reductive meaning understood by the Hebrews, but their entire historical-theological content, must always read them not as if still Hebrews under the Old Covenant, blind in relation to the New, but as ‘Christians’ enlightened by Christ. This is to say, we must read them ‘in the light of Christ and of the Church’ so as to grasp the entire content, ‘hidden,’ but historic and real, of Divine Revelation contained in them and made manifest to us.”

Mary as New Ark of the Covenant - Icon

Examining the Old Testament scriptures as a whole in light of the Mariological biblical texts, we unearth many prophecies, Old Testament figures, as well as symbols, that all correspond to the Blessed Virgin Mary as “types” that are then fulfilled, or brought to completion, by her in the New Testament. We see the same “types” as well, even more so with Jesus Christ. Her presence in the Old Testament scriptures illuminates them in a way for us as Christians that that Hebrews failed to see.

These writings have been nurtured by the Early Church Fathers, through Sacred Tradition, by the Magisterium (teaching office of the Church) through the liturgy and through sacred art, from the earliest centuries to our present day.

To conclude today’s post, below are the “Mondays with Mary” where I written about these Old Testament scriptures in light of the Mariological revelations. Simply, it is where we begin to see the mystery of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Old Testament Scriptures –

“Mondays with Mary” – Mary in the Old Testament , Part 1

“Mondays with Mary” – Mary in the Old Testament, Part 2

“Mondays with Mary” – Mary in the Old Testament, Part 3

“Mondays with Mary” – Mary, the New Ark of the Covenant

“Mondays with Mary” – ‘Mother of Fairest Love’

“Mondays with Mary” – The Esheth Yahil (Woman of Valor)

“Mondays with Mary” – Symbols of the Blessed Virgin Mary

As I was writing today’s blog post, I realized there are some Marian prophecies, symbols and liturgical Old Testament Marian Symbols that I have failed to write on so far. In the upcoming weeks, I will focus on some of these for you.

Source:

Burke, Raymond L., Stefano M. Manelli, Luigi Gambero, Manfred Hauke, Peter M. Fehlner, Arthur Burton. Calkins, Paul Haffner, Alessandro M. Apollonio, Edward P. Sri, Charles M. Mangan, Enrique Llamas Martínez, Neil J. Roy, Etienne Richer, Vladimir Zelinskiĩ, and Mark I. Miravalle. Mariology: A Guide for Priests, Deacons, Seminarians, and Consecrated Persons. Goleta, CA: Queenship Pub, 2008. Print.

“Mondays with Mary” – The Blessed Virgin Mary in the Sacred Scriptures

In his document, Marialis Cultus (For the Right Ordering and Development of Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary), Blessed Pope Paul VI says this about devotion to Mary in the Biblical context,

“Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary cannot be exempt from this general orientation of Christian piety; indeed it should draw inspiration in a special way from this orientation in order to gain new vigor and sure help. In its wonderful presentation of God’s plan for man’s salvation, the Bible is replete with the mystery of the Savior, and from Genesis to the Book of Revelation, also contains clear references to Mary, who was the Mother and associate of the Savior.”

The letter, The Virgin Mary in Intellectual and Spiritual Formation, written by the Congregation for Catholic Education in 1988, when speaking about the exegetical research focused on Mary says,

“Biblical exegesis has opened new frontiers for Mariology, ever dedicating more attention to the inter-testamental literature. Some texts of the Old Testament, and especially the New Testament parts of Luke and Matthew on the infancy of Jesus, and the Johannine periscopes, have been the object of continuous and deep study, the results of which have reinforced the biblical basis of Mariology and considerably enriched its themes.”

Furthermore, Pope Benedict XVI in his Apostolic Exhortation, Verbum Domini (Word of God), states the following about Mariology and the Word of God,

“The Synod Fathers declared that the basic aim of the Twelfth Assembly was “to renew the Church’s faith in the word of God”. To do so, we need to look to the one in whom the interplay between the word of God and faith was brought to perfection, that is, to the Virgin Mary…I would encourage scholars as well to study the relationship between Mariology and the theology of the word. This could prove most beneficial both for the spiritual life and for theological and biblical studies. Indeed, what the understanding of the faith has enabled us to know about Mary stands at the heart of Christian truth.”

Mary Ponders The Word of God

Now that you have read through these three quotes focusing on the importance the Blessed Virgin Mary plays in the Sacred Scriptures, let us turn our attention to eight previous “Mondays with Mary” that have focused particularly on this very subject. It’s my hope that you can share this post as well as the previous posts on your social media sites as well as with your family and friends.

1. “Mondays with Mary” – Mary in the Old Testament , Part 1

2. “Mondays with Mary” – Mary in the Old Testament, Part 2

3. “Mondays with Mary” – Mary in the Old Testament, Part 3

4. “Mondays with Mary” – The Esheth Yahil (Woman of Valor)

5. “Mondays with Mary” – Mary in the New Testament, Part 1

6. “Mondays with Mary” – Mary in the New Testament, Part 2

7. “Mondays with Mary” – Mary, the New Ark of the Covenant

8. “Mondays with Mary”- Mary the Word of God 

 

“Mondays with Mary” – ‘Mary, Mother of God’s Word’

As I was preparing to teach Section 1 of Pope Benedict’s Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Verbum Domini, I read his striking words on how Mary play’s such an important part in knowing the deep realities of the Word of God. It is through her “Yes” that we come to know Jesus Christ and it is through her “Yes” that the new covenant begins. From the Annunciation to Pentecost Sunday, Mary is the obedient woman of faith always seeking and ready to do the will of God. She is open and prepared to hear the Word of God in her heart and mind.

As Catholics, we should always be striving to be more like Mary and her Fiat (“Yes”) towards God. The Church is first Marian before she is Petrine. Hans Urs von Balthasar said, “Before men were placed into office, the whole Church was present in Mary.” The Marian dimension allows the Petrine to exist in the Church.

I suggest you read and pray through the words of Pope Benedict XVI. He opens our hearts and minds to Mary and her relationship to the Word of God as he says,

“In our day the faithful need to be helped to see more clearly the link between Mary of Nazareth and the faith-filled hearing of God’s word. I would encourage scholars as well to study the relationship between Mariology and the theology of the word. This could prove most beneficial both for the spiritual life and for theological and biblical studies. Indeed, what the understanding of the faith has enabled us to know about Mary stands at the heart of Christian truth. The incarnation of the word cannot be conceived apart from the freedom of this young woman who by her assent decisively cooperated with the entrance of the eternal into time. Mary is the image of the Church in attentive hearing of the word of God, which took flesh in her. Mary also symbolizes openness to God and others; an active listening which interiorizes and assimilates, one in which the word becomes a way of life.

Here I would like to mention Mary’s familiarity with the word of God. This is clearly evident in the Magnificat. There we see in some sense how she identifies with the word, enters into it; in this marvelous canticle of faith, the Virgin sings the praises of the Lord in his own words: ‘The Magnificat – a portrait, so to speak, of her soul – is entirely woven from threads of Holy Scripture, threads drawn from the word of God. Here we see how completely at home Mary is with the word of God, with ease she moves in and out of it. She speaks and thinks with the word of God; the word of God becomes her word, and her word issues from the word of God. Here we see how her thoughts are attuned to the thoughts of God, how her will is one with the will of God. Since Mary is completely imbued with the word of God, she is able to become the Mother of the Word Incarnate.’

Mary Ponders The Word of God

Furthermore, in looking to the Mother of God, we see how God’s activity in the world always engages our freedom, because through faith the divine word transforms us. Our apostolic and pastoral work can never be effective unless we learn from Mary how to be shaped by the working of God within us: ‘devout and loving attention to the figure of Mary as the model and archetype of the Church’s faith is of capital importance for bringing about in our day a concrete paradigm shift in the Church’s relation with the word, both in prayerful listening and in generous commitment to mission and proclamation.’

As we contemplate in the Mother of God a life totally shaped by the word, we realize that we too are called to enter into the mystery of faith, whereby Christ comes to dwell in our lives. Every Christian believer, Saint Ambrose reminds us, in some way interiorly conceives and gives birth to the word of God: ‘even though there is only one Mother of Christ in the flesh, in the faith Christ is the progeny of us all. Thus, what took place for Mary can daily take place in each of us, in the hearing of the word and in the celebration of the sacraments.’

If you have been reading “Mondays with Mary” over the weeks in September, October, and November, you would have seen what Pope Benedict XVI asks for in this section. He says, “I would encourage scholars as well to study the relationship between Mariology and the theology of the word. This could prove most beneficial both for the spiritual life and for theological and biblical studies.”

By no means am I a biblical scholar, but I have tried to provide my readers with an understanding between Mariology and the theology of the word in the blog posts about Mary in the Old Testament and New Testament. If you have not read these previous posts, it’s my hope that you can read them soon.

Mary’s role in Salvation History is fundamentally important for the life of the Church, however, her role in relation to the Word of God is just as important. Next time you read the Scriptures on our own, read them in the daily missal at Mass, or just listen to them at Mass, ask that the Blessed Mother help you to take the Word of God to your heart and say – “Yes!”

“Mondays with Mary” – Mary in the Old Testament, Part 3

Today, we continue with the third part of Mary in the Old Testament. In the month of September, we looked at Mary in the Old Testament in two parts – part 1 and part 2. Both of these blog posts focused on the women of the Old Testament and how Mary fulfills each of these women in the New Testament. If you have not read parts 1 and 2, I would suggest clicking on the links provided and read through them before reading part 3.

As with these blog posts, you will need your Holy Bible, so make sure it’s accessible.

The types of Mary below weren’t just thought up in the past few hundred years of Church History, but they find their origin with the early Church Fathers. The early Church Fathers are the key to truly understanding Catholicism. If you have never read any of the early Church Fathers, I would suggest reading about them as soon as possible. I have written on quite a few of them here. I would also suggest Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and his book, The Church Fathers, as a starting point as well.

1. Mary as the Ark of Noah (Read Genesis 6:9) – Just as the Ark of Noah escaped the floodwaters that flooded the earth because of the sin of man, so too, does Mary escape the effects of sin in her Immaculate Conception.

2. Mary as Jacob’s Ladder (Read Genesis 28:12) – Just as in the dream of Jacob (who would become Israel), Jacob’s ladder reached from earth into Heaven. On the ladder were the angels ascending and descending from Heaven. Mary is seen as Jacob’s Ladder because she intercedes for those here on earth from Heaven.

3. Mary as the Burning Bush of Moses (Read Genesis 3:1) – When God appeared to Moses in the Burning Bush on Mount Sinai, the fire did not consume the bush. There is a twofold fulfillment here when it comes to Mary. First, the bush held the presence of God, as it is with Mary; she carried God within her womb. God was physically present in Mary. Second, the material of the burning bush did not burn or corrupt. The effects of original sin did not corrupt Mary’s material body.

Mary with Child - light

4. Mary as the Tower of David (Read Song of Solomon 4:4, 12) – In the Old Testament book, Song of Solomon (also known as Canticle of Canticles), we read about the impenetrable Tower of David. Mary is seen as the Tower of David because the tower was an enclosed and inviolable garden, which mirrors her purity and perpetual virginity.

5. Mary as the Temple of God (Read 1 Kings 8) – The Temple of God, which was built by King Solomon, the son of King David, represented the sanctified (holy) house of God. Mary is seen as a Temple because she would be the tabernacle personified. She carried in her womb the presence of God. When the Israelites traveled in the desert for 40 years long before the Temple was built, the Ark of the Covenant, which contained the presence of God, was kept in the Tabernacle, which means, “tent.” Next week, we will focus on Mary as the New Ark of the Covenant.

On a side note, Jesus is the one who is fulfillment of the Temple – See the Gospel in Readings for the Third Sunday of Lent.

6. Mary as the “Seat of Wisdom” (Read Wisdom of Solomon 7,8 [9-12 if you have time]) – In the book of Wisdom, the term – created wisdom, was written in the feminine gender. This is seen as the foreshadowing of the Blessed Virgin Mary as the great “Seat of Wisdom.”  [Connections to Esheth Yahil or “Woman of Valor” in Proverbs 31] More to come on this topic in 2 weeks!

Source:

Miravalle, Mark. Introduction to Mary. Queenship Publishing, 2006. 

“Mondays with Mary” – Mary in the Old Testament, Part 2

Today, we continue with the second part of Mary in the Old Testament. In the month of November, we will return to this theme again. Last week, in Part One, we discussed how Mary is foreshadowed and fulfills the Old Testament women of Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Miriam. For this week, we will focus on: Deborah, Judith, Esther, and the heroic mother of the Maccabees.

As last week, you will need your Bible for this blog post, so make sure you have it handy.

Mary crushing the head of the serpent

1. Deborah, Prophetess and Judge: Read Judges 4

Deborah, a prophetess and one of the twelve Judges of Israel, leads the General Barak into battle. Deborah helps Barak by attacking Sisera. Another woman, Jael, finally kills him by driving a spike through his head.

Mary is the woman in complete enmity with Satan. She participates with Jesus by crushing the head of Satan (read Gn 3:15). Genesis 3:15 is known as the Protoevangelium (First Gospel). It’s the first time we read about Mary and Jesus in the Scriptures. This is why you often see statues and pictures of the Blessed Mother crushing the head of the serpent. Mary plays an integral role in the action of destroying the Devil.

2. Judith, National Jewish Hero and wife of Manasseh: Read Judith 8-15

Judith fights to save her people and cuts off the head of the Holofernes, a general in the Army of Nebuchadnezzar. The head represents man’s exclusivity. Like Deborah, Judith is a national hero, who rises up among the Israelites to defeat the enemies of Israel.

Judith, who was called “blessed by the Most High God above all women on earth” (Jdt 13:18) is fulfilled by Mary in Luke 1:42 – “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” Like Judith and Deborah, who crush the ahead of their oppressors, Mary crushes the head of Satan and is incomplete opposition of the evils works caused by Satan.

3. Esther, Queen Mother: Read Esther 4:16; 7:1-10

Esther is the Queen Mother, who risks her life and enters the chamber of King Ahasuerus (Xerxes) to save the Jewish people from an unjust law that would kill them. She is very brave and knows that she could be killed for her actions, but carries on with her mission. Like Judith, she trusts in the God’s absolute providence. God’s plans may not always be clear and concise, but in the end he will be the victor.

Mary, the Queen Mother and Mother of Jesus Christ the King, participates in the mission of redemption with her Son, which saves all of humanity from everlasting death and loss. In the Old Testament, the queen was often the king’s mother, since he had many wives. For an explanation of this subject, read the blog post – “Mondays with Mary” – The Queenship of Mary.

Queen Mother

4. Mother of the Maccabees: Read 2 Maccabees 7:1-41

The heroic mother of the Maccabees watches and supports as her seven sons face martyrdom for not breaking the Covenant (dietary laws). She in the end is also martyred.

Like the mother of the Maccabees, Mary, the Mother of Jesus, watches and cooperates in the death of her Son while He is on the cross, to bring salvation to the world. This foreshadows the seven Sorrows of Our Lady that she bears in her Immaculate Heart (read Lk 2:35; Jn 19:26-27).

Reflections for this week:

– When was the last time you defended the Catholic faith from someone who attacked it? If you find that you must do it this weekend, don’t back down and explain it.

– If you are a mother, how do you embrace your mission on a daily basis? Could your mission as mother improve for your children?

_____________________________________________

Sources:

My Class Notes from Mary in the Modern World Course at Franciscan University of Steubenville

Miravalle, M. (2006). Introduction to Mary. Goleta, CA : Queen Publishing.