All posts tagged: Mother of God

The Mother of God and Psychoanalysis

One of the memorable and almost lyrical books I read as part of my private instruction prior to entering the Church was the great Jesuit theologian Henri de Lubac’s The Splendor of the Church. The book is a fine example of what I would call “devotional ecclesiology.” It does not—as my own book on the papacy does—concern itself with the more impersonal structures and offices of the Church, but rather with the personal nature of “Ecclesia Mater,” Mother Church, whose maternity is seen vis-à-vis the Mother of God. That book, and that phrase, came back to mind in reading of the recent announcement by Pope Francis that he is instigating a new feast for Pentecost Monday celebrated in honor of Mary, Mother of the Church. Why this feast? The official decree says that it aims at a “growth of the maternal sense of the Church.” What, I wonder, does the “maternal sense of the Church” really mean? Here, naturally, my mind turned to post-Freudian psychologist D.W. Winnicott, whose research did so much to advance our …

Whence Comes the Arresting Sorrow of the Black Madonna of Częstochowa?

At Jasna Góra There is David’s Ladder which Angels ascend and descend Holy envoys, reconciling man, With God.[1] Watching my three daughters during the Christmas season is not exactly a tranquil experience. What begins with an honest and innocent desire to play and re-tell the Christmas story using Playmobil or Fontanini nativity figurines ends up in a squabble over who gets to hold the kitschy statue of Mary and play with her (detachable!) veil, resulting in looks of self-satisfaction in the one who in the end possesses Mary, and tragic resentment on the part of those who are stuck with a dinky shepherd instead. Like my girls, I have been fascinated by this woman since my childhood. She has beckoned and drawn me, and waited for me, wherever it is that she has led me. When I encountered her in her home on Jasna Gora in Częstochowa at the age of nine, I knew she was my queen, my mother, my protectress, my patroness, and my advocate. But I did not know why. I found myself …

Am I the Mother of Christ?

A famous reading in the Advent Liturgy of the Hours from Isaac of Stella, Cistercian abbot and contemporary of Bernard of Clairvaux, makes the claim that, among other things, the Christian believer can, like Mary, be a mother of Christ. Beyond the breviary, this has actually become a kind of spiritual commonplace. Every believer can conceive Christ through his or her faith, in a way analogous to Mary. Speaking for myself, I have never known what to make of this comparison. It seems to rest on the double meaning of the word “conceive:” one can conceive in one’s mind, and one can conceive in the womb. But, methinks, these are really, really different realities despite the double entendre. For that reason, perhaps, the comparison has always seemed inert to me, leaving me utterly unmoved. What actually does move me is the wondrous virginal conception of the Word of God in the womb of Mary, the great Mother of God, something so much more stupendous and altogether more marvelous than the metaphorical version of my conception …