Category: Theology

Sing of Mary

This morning I felt called to listen to Marian hymns. One song that I have always loved since childhood was “Sing of Mary” by Roland Palmer (1938). However, as I get older I find myself more and more troubled by the language. The spirit of the hymn is beautiful, but I decided to rewrite it with updated language.

 

Sing of Mary, pure and loving

Gentle mother, evermore

Sing of God’s own Son, ascended

Mary’s Son opened up the door

Tenderest child of tenderest mother,

Holy Master who came to earth

Christ demonstrated our True Nature

Wisest of teachers since his birth


—-

Sing of Jesus, Son of Mary

Wandering in Nazareth

Waking us up to the Oneness in us

Fearless he was, of even death

Constant was the love they showed us

Even when friends had left his side

Teaching us that we are all eternal

Showing us love when crucified


Glory be to the Creator,

Glory be to the Holy Son,

Glory be to the Holy Spirit,

Glory to all—we are all One.

Gratitude for Blessed Mary

Gratitude for what is True

Gratitude for every lesson

Gratitude for me and you

—–

The eternal hum

Some blessed hearts remind us

In a breathless papyrus whisper

Or in a laud of praise

Even the sanctified itinerary

It simulates the ubiquitous thrumming

Others remind us in the harvest

With hues of golds and amber

Even the scientist intimates it

When the spark of light surges

And we start at the beginning again

The tranquility of the stream mirrors it

But so does the crash of the earthquake

It can be heard in a simple cricket trill

And in the surge of the tornado

It is somehow placid but explosive

Every clangor of a parade

Every thrash in a mosh pit

Every child with a stick

The variations are endless

But they expose the same truth

It is uncovered in a flower’s bloom

We affirm it in the moon’s rise and fall

The engine that fuels all of us

Denies our self-contained egoism

Constructed or organic; the beat goes on.

Listen

As the warmth rises up in morning glory,

I ponder in quiet curiosity

I ponder like the Mother did

when greeted by the sweet emissary

I plant like a statue and yearn

I wait for heaven to present herself

The course is unknown and winding

In truth it is never-ending

The divine courier places a message in my palm

But the page is nearly blank

Except for a word in bold—

“Listen” She tells me

Listen to the echo of the Great I Am

It subsists in every soul you meet

Every being is a piece of the Infinite Puzzle

And your purpose lies within their words

Every pain, pleasure, insight, and inquiry

All connections with the perceived other

They led you to the present moment

To the most authentic you

Devote yourself to the service of others

For I told you the last shall be first

In time your heart will become cloudless

But first you must listen

Mary of Nazareth: The Best Fit for the Job

The Blessed Virgin, the Holy Mother, Mother Mary, the Mother of God, Theotokos, etc. These are just a few of many the names given to the mother of Jesus Christ–Mary of Nazareth. Her influence on the sphere of Christian spirituality is far-reaching, whether you consider yourself to be a low-Church Protestant or a huge fan of the Argentinian Jesuit living in Vatican City.

However, regardless of your personal view of Mariology, there is a common denominator in most descriptions of Mary: She had humility. This concept is everywhere, and it is not simply in highly traditional Catholic or Orthodox communities. For example, I have a non-denominational poster in my bedroom that says “Mary, Mother of Jesus: With Gentleness and Humility She Accepted God’s Plan for Her Life.” Also, my favorite religious order, a non-cloistered, progressive, environmentally conscious group of women, is called the Sisters of the Humility of Mary. Neither of these examples are from “radically traditional” sources. It is clear that Mary’s humble nature is a common theological concept.

If the humility of Mary is taken as an demonstration for us to see that we are all equally called to avoid boastfulness and pride, and to understand that we do not exist alone, then Mary’s humility is a very good thing. We are all interconnected, and excessive pride makes us think that we stand by ourselves. Humility could correct this problem. On the other hand, humility has disproportionately been used as a means to make women submissive, to lessen their roles in spirituality and society, and to create divisiveness.

In addition, an overemphasis on humility can cause us to question confidence, certainty, and the notion that possibilities are limitless. We feel too unworthy to ask God for what we really want, and when we do ask, we do not believe that we will really get it. But there is no reason why I cannot believe I am deserving of what I want if I have loving intention behind my desire. There is no reason for me to wait for God to write a customized billboard that says “I choose you! You may have what you prayed for!” There is also no reason for me to accept circumstances that I am unhappy with–I can change them if I rely on love and remain in God’s frequency. Humility should not mean that I must be unfulfilled.

Now, let’s look at a different aspect of Mary’s personality. In the Gospel story of the Annunciation (Lk 1:26-38), we see Mary “humbly accept” God’s plan for her: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord. Let it be done according to your word” (v. 38). We know that this was a frightening encounter–Mary is having a mystical experience, just like the prophets who came before her. However, there is an important aspect missing from her response to God’s call–she lacks hesitation. She only asks how it can be done, since she is a virgin, but she never says, “Please God, pick someone else!” In contrast, God’s most significant prophet of the Jewish Testament does not believe he is fit for the job: “But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?'” (Ex 3:11).

Mary does not say “I am unfit, I am unworthy, I am unholy.” She merely asks a biological question, and then she accepts. That does not sound excessively humble, but rather fiercely confident. Mary could have been stoned to death for being pregnant and unwed, but she knew she was right for the job of God-bearer. The Holy Mother fit in no one’s spiritual or social box. Mary was not a man, she was not wealthy, and she was not educated, but she never acted like she was beneath her role. She thrived at being the greatest prophet to ever live, as the first to believe in Jesus, and the first to tell others to do so. Mary knew that all things were possible if she believed them to be, because God would make all things possible for her. Mary held her head high and took a chance.

There is definitely a place for humility, and it is certainly a quality that the Mother of God possesses, but it is a missed opportunity to skip over her self-assurance, her boldness, and her fearlessness. These are the qualities that we should teach our daughters, and these are the qualities that will help us fulfill our own vocations. We do not need to be uncertain, bashful, or lowly, we need to lift ourselves up and do what we are called to do. Society will not always agree with our decision, but Mary’s society did not agree with hers, either.Esmond-Lyons-A-Modern-Mary

Art by Esmond Lyons: A Modern Mary