Adrienne von Speyr - Mary’s Unity in Christ’s Unity

Throughout her entire life, Mary is completely one with herself. She is simply a human being who is always satisfied with her given state of life. As a child, she is a child among children. In her rounded personality, she experiences fully the state of childhood, as it corresponds to her age. But she does not shut herself off from the outside world. She simply is what she is without reflecting upon it: a playing child, a learning child, a knowing child. She distinguishes herself from Eve by remaining perfectly open and willing (without especially underscoring her willingness) for everything new that is given her by God, or perhaps more generally, for everything good that comes to her from good. Since she is without sin, there is nothing in her to hinder this reception.

Thus God does not constantly represent a problem for her. She possesses an open naturalness, a self-ease and happy-go-lucky nature, which knows no scruples and is not constrained by any self-preoccupation in its readiness for all good things in the surrounding world. She does not have the “conscience” of a sinner, who is compelled to question himself all the time about whether and to what extent and in what way and with what effect, and so on. She naively loves all good things. She knows that God always gives her good things, even though they do not always expressly lead to a pious act or to a conscious prayer.

It is this unproblematic openness that allows her to give her answer to the angel. She recognizes God’s messenger in the angel and, in him, God. She therefore sees in him the opportunity to open herself guilelessly to him, just as she stands open to everything that comes from God. There is certainly the question of how she, as a virgin, is to give birth. She cannot see an answer to this but knows that the answer lies in God. She does not ask about this on the grounds that she might only give her Yes under certain conditions, but rather she asks in order to be better able to give her unconditional Yes. She knows that nothing will be required of her other than this Yes. God will take care of all the necessaries. Nor is this Yes simply supra worldly or otherworldly. Within it resides the perfection of her creatureliness, of her personal uniqueness in being able to say Yes to everything good in the world and in her life. It is an act of total submission and servitude to God, but also an affirmation of everything good in his work. She knows, of course, that it concerns the most earnest, the most responsible things in Israel’s expectation and in her faith, things into which she enters through her Yes. In addition, however, she also knows that she is one of God’s creatures, whose nature and joys and human everyday life are granted by the Creator: she knows that God speaks to her not only through great but also through the most inconspicuous occurrences. And, because she is completely one, these two spheres do not diverge from one another. There is not one part of her consecrated to God and another left to her own care, but rather there are various ways of considering her intact unity. Through her Yes to God, she chooses neither a cloistered existence remote from the world nor a special form of asceticism. What was and is in her is not denied, since it originates in God and coheres to his goodness. In her Yes resides such wholeness that there is room in it for everything. She will doubtless have to do without and persevere through hardship, but everything lies in the hands of God, and she will do nothing on her own to sacrifice other things that God wants to leave to her. She will not deny her being or her gifts or her life, in the form in which God has given it to her, so long as God does not explicitly demand this. She will not rush into her gift of self or take charge of things of which God apparently does not wish to take charge just now, though at any moment he might: this may mean doing without things, or it may mean deliberately fostering them. Thus, in the handmaid of the Lord, humanity also continues to exist as God created it and as it should be according to his will.

God the Father and God the Son have now resolved upon the Incarnation of the Son, and the Son has chosen Mary as his Mother. He has sought her out, not simply on the grounds of her general characteristics as a woman, but also because she is this personality with these specific characteristics. He makes himself dependent on her body, but also on her entire being, her life, and her surroundings. He chooses her because, as Mother, she accepts him. As man, he will be the son of this mother. He will be physically and spiritually tied to her in the way that human children are to their parents. He chooses this truly human tie in order to acknowledge and affirm, in the blessed humanity of his Mother, the essence of human nature as the Father desired it and to give to this nature a new impulse toward the divine. She is the true creation, as it emerges from the hands of the Creator and returns to God without distancing itself or severing its unity. And he, God, will live in her. But she, this special human being, is at the same time just a human being. She is therefore a human being who stands in place of all other human beings. All others will live through him in her, the pre-redeemed. She is the one human being who lives in unity with God. Yet this unity stands for all unities that all men as men represent or should represent. She is simply the first and most successful example.

In bearing the Son within her, her human unity has been stamped with a new character. God the Son is in her, while being distinct from her, insofar as he is completely incomparable. Yet he belongs to her unity, first, because he has chosen her and, also, because, through his life in her, he actually extends and strengthens her unity toward the Father and toward the triune God in general: her entire spiritual-physical, supernatural-natural unity. Bearing the Son, the Mother is no less a human being than she was before. She is a human being furnished with exceptional new characteristics. But she has remained herself, indeed, she has become more and more fulfilled and more and more herself at each stage of the way. It would be perverse to think that the pinnacle of her personal life was her Yes to the angel or the birth on Christmas night and that thereafter it was all sort of downhill. Rather, it has to be said that she remains a human being in the fulfillment given her, in an opening to God that can at any time be extended or reshaped as God desires but never again made narrower. God deflects all obstacles that might alienate her from him. Mary is the full human being who has within her the whole space to which God lays claim. Yet God neither hollows her out nor wants her to be less human in his favor. He rather sets about revealing the complete fullness and differentiatedness of her being and, thereby, the being of man in general. A relationship to God and to eternity is always the opposite of making all things equal: differentiation. The Son chooses as his Mother the one human being who belongs completely to God and in whom there is nothing that could be turned against the Father. It could be thought that in doing this the Son makes things easy for himself. He prepares himself a nest in which everyone would be more than happy to sit. Would it not have been better to choose a sinner whom he could convert through his coming? But that is not at issue now. In the choice of Mary resides his utmost regard for the Father: the Son wants to show him that the human being whom he, the Father, had in mind at the creation actually does exist. And Mary is so loyal to the Father that in her own Son she sees both the one who has been appointed by the Father (for she is always one with the Father’s will) and increasingly, through the Son, the Father himself. However, it will be much harder for the Son to take her, the innocent, with him into his Passion and to make use of her purity in a way that involves her in the work of redemption and makes her Co-redemptrix. It will be much harder to involve one who is immaculate in all this than a convert, who has many personal things for which to atone and therefore gladly cooperates in bearing a share of the common guilt. The sacrificing of the Mother here approaches the killing of the “innocents.”

The Son’s resolve to save the world is a divine and therefore an eternal resolve. But, from the outset, this divine resolve contains within it his human resolve: the Yes that he gives as man to his existence as God. Ind