by Fr. P. J. TANSEY
AT the foot of the cross, Mary stands. For what? Two words from Christ characterise her role in the history of salvation: "Woman" and "Mother." Without the Woman, there is no Christ. Without The Mother, there is no Christianity.
In the presence of Life, she is Mother. In the presence of Death, she is Woman. The dying Christ and the living John spell out our devotion to her who is Theotocos, the Mother of God. Mary stands at the heart—yet on the fringe—of that Death-Resurrection Drama, which we call the faith of our fathers.
Tradition has always seen the Christ-Mary-Man relationship in terms of the Holy Spirit, the Wisdom of God. Pope Leo the Great put his finger on the pulse of Christian humanity when he wrote that "Mary first conceived the Christ in her mind before she conceived Him in her body." That statement of faith is the germ of authentic Mariology.
At the centre of every storm, there is a calm. The present conflict between the pillars of the Church and the pill-ers In the Church is as providential as it is prophetic. "Thine own soul a sword shall pierce." At the centre of the Humanac Vitae storm stands Mary, as on Calvary, in eloquent and pregnant silence. We reverence—and fear—a silent woman.
The world is governed by its ideals. The voice of woman in world affairs is a phenomenon of our times. But, no new voice, which speaks to us either in the name of progress or religion, will appeal to us for long, unless it takes us back to Christ. With His coming, and for the first time in her history, Woman was elevated to her rightful place as the custodian of the Divine. The sanctity of her weakness is, and remains, the strength of Christianity. The fact that He chose incarnation, and dependence on her, constitutes and consecrates the cardinal principle of our Christian way of life.
As the world grows progressively weary of its Christian heritage, it is no longer a question of putting Christ back into Christmas campaigns, or supporting Easter vigils and paschal marches, but of recreating Man to the image and likeness of God. That depends, as it always did, on the dialogue between Wisdom and Woman.
C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N-I-T-Y is a very long sentence. Its first word is "Mother."