Monday, August 15, 2011

Mary Mother Of God

Fr. Dale Matson

Anglicans express quite a range of opinions about Saint Mary and her place in the church. We have two portraits of her in our house and I often visualize her as portrayed by Da Vinci in his painting “The Annunciation” (Luke 1:26-38). In it she is visited by the angel Gabriel who kneels before her. She is seated in regal composure receiving Gabriel. The painting is a fitting tribute to her stature. The Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) is a part of our Evening Prayer Service and in it Mary expresses to her cousin Elizabeth and to us, both her humility and the glory of God.

I am certain that my understanding of and experience with Mary may seem superficial when compared with the systematic Mariology of the Roman Church. My understanding is a testimony of sorts and very personal at that. I hope others can relate to my story too.

My mother was an alcoholic who probably self-medicated for an endogenous depression. My father emotionally detached from her and I was at times her confidant. I was also the object of her rage when she was angry. I believe my mother loved me but did not respect me or herself. Although I had two sisters, my mother was my model of a woman and wife. I married a similar woman who was not an alcoholic but who also suffered from depression and rage. I married her because she is what I was familiar with and knew how to relate to, in my acquired and convoluted manner.  My wife and I later divorced after more than twenty years of marriage.

I underwent two years of counseling with an Anglican Jungian therapist. Among other things, she encouraged me to journal and to utilize what is called “Active Imagination”. During some of my journaling I began to dialogue with Mary. I was amazed that she would be so accepting of an ordinary person like me and to accept me as is. This went on almost daily for a number of months. I believe while Eve is our earthly mother, Mary is our spiritual mother. She is the model of all women. For men like me, she is the good mother and the good wife. I believe it was Mary who enabled me to see the best in women and to relate to them in a less neurotic way. What changed was me, not the world around me. I have not dialogued with her since that time.

A year later I met a woman whose middle name is Marie, a French variant on Mary. Both of her grandmothers were named Mary also. I don’t believe she would have been attracted to the earlier me and I know that she would not have been neurotic enough for me to find her interesting either. She accepted me like Jesus accepted me, as is.  In God’s timing and treatment, I met and married a woman who I would not even have had the courage to ask on a date.  I believed prior to that, like a variation of Groucho Marx, that no woman worth having would be interested in me. For women who need healing, I believe Jesus is the model of all men and spouses.

Mary is not only the Mother of God. She is my spiritual mother who I see in my wife and the true feminine within the church of Jesus Christ. Mary is indeed blessed. Amen   

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