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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Regina Coeli, Restore the Earth!

In The Restoration of Christian Culture, John Senior declares that devotion to Our Lady produced the cathedrals of Europe, the glorious flourishing of art and culture in Christendom. John Saward affirms and expands this notion in The Beauty of Holiness and the Holiness of Beauty. Here are a few key passages from Chapter Three, "Tota Pulchra:The Beauty of Our Lady and the Renewal of Christian Culture", parts of which also correspond well with my recent post on wonder:

In the purity of her whole person on earth, and in the glory of her whole person in Heaven, the Mother of God is the Church's image and beginning, the promise of final beauty for the members of Christ. What she is now, the Church is meant to be and one day will be. The Woman clothed with the sun and crowned with the stars is both Mary and the Church: the Church in Mary and Mary in the Church.


There can be no Christian culture without Christ, but without true devotion to the Mother, true faith in the Son soon withers. As Cardinal Newman saw in the last century, the Reformation's Maryless Christology developed, in Liberal Protestantism, into a Christless Christianity...The Theotokos - by her name and her icon, by her lovely person and her loving prayers - is the God-given protector of the truth about her Son. As it was in antiquity, so it is again in modernity: the Blessed Virgin crushes all the serpents of heresy('cunctas haereses sola interemisti in universo mundo').


True devotion to the Blessed Virgin builds up the Civilization of Love because it leads men into the admiration and contemplation that fill her heart, the admiration without which there is no love, the contemplation without which there is no civilization.

The great German Catholic philosopher Josef Pieper has argued that leisure is the basis of human culture. By 'leisure' he means, not procrastination, but contemplation. He compares and contrasts the two powers of the human mind as distinguished by the Schoolmen: ratio and intellectus. The first is discursive activity, the mind examining and searching, arguing and defining. The second is contemplative rest, the mind simply and effortlessly gazing upon the truth. The two operate together in our knowledge in this world, but there is no doubt that the second is the higher of the two. Discursive reason is properly human, but there is something superhuman about contemplative intuition. In Heaven, Thomas and Bonaventure no longer argue and deduce, but they rest and they see, they see and they love, they love and they praise.


There is no culture, then, without contemplative wonder at the beauty of being. Now this natural attitude is perfected supernaturally and most perfectly in Our Lady, who magnifies the Lord for His marvels (cf. Lk 1:46) and ponders the things of Jesus in her heart (cf. Lk. 2:51). It is the Virgin Mary, even more than Martha's sister, who 'hath chosen the best part' (cf. Lk 10:42)...she is pure in her openness and therefore perfect in her contemplation. The gazing at divine beauty is itself a beautiful act, for which the spiritual beauty of chastity is an essential requirement: the man whose reason is clouded by concupiscence cannot see clearly. No human person is purer than the Immaculate, so none is more suited to contemplation.


Anonymous Brian Miles said...

What a beautiful thought...

...that Marian devotion actually "leads men into the admiration and contemplation of her heart."

And yet it rings true. I have often marveled at how readily the various mysteries of the Holy Rosary lend themselves to whatever petition I happen to be offering.

It amazes me.

For instance, when I see how the mystery of the Visitation can so consistently make sense out of my obscure and seemingly unrelated petitions, I am led to believe that I may well be gaining access into the contemplation and admiration of a heart much greater than my own.

Ave Maria!

12:16 PM  

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