Godzdogz

Godzdogz

The blog of the Dominican student brothers at Blackfriars, Oxford.

Built on the four pillars of our Dominican life – preaching, prayer, study, and community – Godzdogz offers many resources for exploring the Catholic Faith today.
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Our Lady: Patroness of Preachers

Friday, May 08, 2015

It was God’s will that Christ should come into the world through Mary’s prayerful ‘yes’. So today it is God’s will to come afresh into our world through Mary’s prayers.

Unsurprisingly, then, the Order has a special devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary as Patroness of Preachers. Mary is integrally bound up in the message of Good News and the hope that we proclaim. Through Mary, Jesus received his humanity by which he could manifest his divine glory in human history; through her Son, Mary receives her essential identity as virgin and mother. By God’s will, Jesus and Mary are bound together: by Mary, God took for himself a mother; by Mary’s kinswoman Elizabeth, God provided for the other human support that the young Jesus would need to fulfil his ministry, a friend. So we could make no sense of Mary’s life story without Jesus, and this is something that ought to be true of Dominican life as well. 

As “full of grace”, Mary, who points to Christ with every fibre of her being, is an icon for the preacher to imitate. Like the preacher, she straddles the contemplative and the active, pondering the mysteries she witnesses in her heart whilst serving Christ and the nascent community that gathers around him. No sooner has the Angel Gabriel left Mary than she sets off on the arduous journey to visit Elizabeth, carrying the incarnate Word within her. It is at Mary’s prompting that Christ, somewhat reluctantly it seems, performs his first miracle at Cana: Mary’s prayers launch Christ’s public ministry. But between the finding of the infant Jesus in the temple and the inauguration of the public ministry lies the ‘hidden life’ of Christ who we are told grew in wisdom and stature among men. For Mary we can imagine the daily trudge of a poor mother trying to make ends meet, the hours of hidden service, trusting that somehow the perplexing mysteries that had been revealed to her would one day make sense.

Yet, Mary’s identity is not exhausted by saying that she points away from herself to Christ. Christ points back! Jesus wants to point Mary out to us as a revelation of the Church’s identity. The Lord shows us Mary as a witness to the power of his transfiguring grace, a manifestation of what God can do for us, if we allow ourselves to be formed and re-integrated around his Son. However exalted Mary might be in the order of salvation, however unique the graces that she receives, she is a human being like us. By showing us Mary as the one preserved by grace from sin and assumed body and soul into glory, we see what Christ pledges as the ultimate vocation for each one of us. 

Fr Oliver James Keenan O.P.

Br Oliver James Keenan O.P.

fr. Oliver is Parish Priest of Our Lady of the Rosary and Saint Dominic, London, and teaches dogmatic theology at Blackfriars, Oxford.
oliver.keenan@english.op.org



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