The purpose of this column is not to parse what the bishop said about Mary on the Feast of the Assumption. I prefer instead to look at what he did not say about her because, it seems to me, what he left out of that homily says much about what is expected of women in the Catholic church.
For instance, Mary answers the angel’s declaration to her by questioning it. An angel! Someone of much higher rank, it would seem, than even apostolic delegates, and only then with a “Be-it-done-unto-me” response to a situation to which, apparently, “no” was a viable answer. Otherwise, why bother to have the conversation?
Even more important, perhaps, is the awareness that despite the seriousness — even the danger — of her situation, Mary did not go to any man — to the high priests of the temple, the local rabbi, her father or even Joseph — for directions about what to do next. She went to another woman for the wisdom she needed and followed that instead. No visitations here.
Editor’s note: Since the Blessed Virgin Mary was full of grace from the moment of her conception, whatever Mary did and however she chose to do it would have been in complete conformity with God’s divine will.
The priest Zecharia was instantly made speechless when he dared question the angel Gabriel, yet Mary’s immaculate state of grace led that same angel to humbly respond to all her queries – and then to wait patiently for her answer – so that according to the “yes” of a humble but sinless maiden of Judea, Salvation might finally be permitted to come into the world.
As the spouse of the Holy Spirit and the one who carried the Son of God in her blessed womb – first in the order of God’s grace – Mary would have had ready access to whatever wisdom and direction she needed – probably before she even knew it. She would also have been virtually invisible to the forces of evil – a spiritual “singularity” of which the evil ones could make absolutely no sense.
There were a number of very practical reasons for Mary’s visit to Elizabeth, but avoiding men (or “dissing” members of the hierarchy) likely had nothing to do with it. Bible prophecy was fulfilled, John the Baptist was baptized/anointed in-utero by the Holy Spirit, with Jesus attending – and Mary was able to safely maintain a low profile, until her wedding – and the subsequent birth of Jesus.
Despite her high level of education, Joan Chittister’s “twisted sister” mentality has once again led her to all the wrong conclusions, simply because she inordinately covets the things of men and lacks basic humility. Pity!