The Mysteries of the Life of Jesus: Incarnation

Mary’s Role in the Incarnation

Jacques Servais

"The new Adam wanted to associate the new Eve to himself from the beginning, raising her 'yes' to the rank of a co-constituent of the Incarnation."

In the methodological spiritual itinerary St. Ignatius of Loyola sets out in his Spiritual Exercises, the Virgin Mary holds a privileged place. In Ignatius’ mind, the woman whom he loves to call “Madre” or “Señora nuestra” does more than contribute to the coming of the Redeemer by uttering an unreserved “yes” to the event of the Incarnation. Through her exterior and, in particular, her interior participation in the essential moments of her Son’s mission, she plays a decisive role in the work of the Redemption. For this reason, her discreet presence can and must accompany the whole itinerary of the four “weeks” of the exercises. Thus the retreatant is invited to contemplate Our Lady in the various mysteries of the hidden life, the public ministry, and the Passion mentioned by the Gospels, and also, since “Scripture supposes that we possess intelligence,” in the mysteries of the Resurrection and the glory of heaven. In the name of this spiritual intelligence, Ignatius advises the retreatant to invoke the Virgin’s intercession in the “colloquia” of the first week, whose goal is the initial conversion of the sinner. One might think that the incomparable personal purity of the Virgin makes her a stranger to the sinner’s experience. But no, says Ignatius: her fullness of grace places her in such a relationship to her Son that she, more than anyone else, can share the most intimate of his intimate desires (cf. Lk 12:49). Flowing from his mission and completely united to it, Mary’s mission is to correspond to her Son’s saving intention and to accompany its realization with prayer and abnegation. Certainly, her role is without compare, with regard to the other faithful. But her unique closeness to her Son does not hinder her—far from it!—from being at the same time the true “mother of the living” (Gn 3:20), the mother of believers. Her prototypical act of faith draws her near to them in their trials, in the night that she must continually (and ever more deeply) endure until the culmination of the contemplation of the Passion and Cross in the Exercises: the scene of the Pietà.

 

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