“Fra Angelico” by Florenz (1446)
In the last decade, a depth of appreciation has grown in my heart for the historic church. In my youth, I had no regard for the roots of Christianity, and my ignorance about the great heritage of meaningful tradition, often based upon significant biblical truth, left a void in my spirit.
In these last years, though, my husband and I have had the privilege of becoming close friends with a Catholic priest from England and an Orthodox priest from Romania. Their dedication and white-hot faith for our Savior has inspired our journey with God and caused us to appreciate the great contribution to the world of the historic church. Their lens of faith and life magnifies our own experiences, and we feel very indebted to their heroes of faith. We see such beauty in some of their liturgy and tradition.
Once I criticized the forefathers of Christianity’s “over emphasis” on the person of Mary. As some, I did not see her as Deity and definitely not someone who must mediate between God and man for the sins of man. After all Martin Luther helped Europe and later the whole world understand that man doesn’t need man or woman to approach God for his sin. He only needs the blood of Jesus.
Still there is some truth to the great respect given Mary, as the mother of Jesus.
As a teenage girl, who found favor with God and man, she was the first person on this earth to trust the Son of Man–something every believer wrestles with daily–trust. Mary was the first to know that struggle. She was also the first to find Him utterly faithful.
Although the words of the angel were strange to her, she chose to believe them. And she suffered reproach for her choice. That makes her the first person to suffer for the sake of Jesus as well. Later, the Word tells us that “a sword pierced her soul.” Her lot was not an easy one.
During this season of light, I am pondering Mary’s great prayer–I am inspired by it–the Magnificat or the Song of Mary. God laid a heavy burden on the shoulders of a young, Jewish girl; and she rose to the challenge and passed the test with flying colors. She is worthy of my admiration. Here is her prayer of adoration that has been the center of liturgy and music for centuries.
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour;
he has looked with favour on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed;
the Almighty has done great things for me and holy is his name.
He has mercy on those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm
and has scattered the proud in their conceit,
Casting down the mighty from their thrones
and lifting up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away empty.
He has come to the aid of his servant Israel,
to remember his promise of mercy,
The promise made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and his children for ever. (Luke 1 46-55)