We call Mary our Mother by many different titles, all relating to some aspect of her holy Motherhood in relation to the most Holy Trinity. She is Mother of God, the Immaculate Conception, the Spouse of the Spirit, and the Daughter of the Father. We invoke her as Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all Grace, and Advocate. We address her as “Our Lady” in relation to the myriads of places that have been graced by her maternal presence. She is the perfect creation, the Crown of Creation, the Perpetual Virgin, and the one who was assumed body and soul into heaven.
The purpose of this present work is to explore her relationship with God the Father. The Father, who is the principle of creation, in a unique way, shares his creative power through his Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit with Mary. Just as spouses share in the creative power of God the Father, so too does Mary share in that power. By virtue of the fact that she is “full of grace,” the Immaculate Conception can even more rightly be called a co-creator. We will begin by looking at Mary, our Mother, in the new light of the Theology of the Body.
The Theology of the Body and Mary
Fr. Donald Calloway, M.I.C., in his essay in The Virgin Mary and Theology of the Body, said that Mary “is the very real and concrete creaturely embodiment of the content of John Paul II’s Theology of the Body” (1). He shows how the Theology of the Body is mirrored in the four Marion dogmas. In the Immaculate Conception, the concept of the body as a gift (2) is expressed. Mary, as the Immaculate Conception, perfectly lived (and now gloriously lives) her gift of femininity. In this we salute her as the Crown of Creation, the beloved one who was “courted” at the Annunciation, and who bore, as a true woman, the God-man.
Mary delights in her body, especially in its God-given sex: femininity. It is precisely in her gift of being a woman, that Mary was fashioned and called by God to be the Theotókos. The gift of her body is exactly what helps her to become the Theotókos (3).
The nuptial meaning of the body (4) is perfectly realized in the second Marian dogma, Mary’s Perpetual Virginity. In Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter Mulieris Dignitatem (On the Dignity and Vocation of Women) he builds upon the phrase found in Gaudium et Spes that says, “Man can fully discover his true self only in a sincere giving of himself” (5). Men and women were created “to exist mutually ‘one for the other’” (6), in a spousal way. There is no woman or man who can escape this reality. We were truly created for each other. A woman can live this “sincere gift of self” by giving herself completely to her spouse in marriage, or by giving herself completely to God, living as a virgin. “These two dimensions will find their loftiest expression at the ‘fullness of time’ in the ‘woman’ of Nazareth: the Virgin-Mother” (7).
By freely choosing virginity, women confirm themselves as persons, as beings whom the Creator from the beginning has willed for their own sake. At the same time they realize the personal value of their own femininity by becoming “a sincere gift” for God who has revealed himself in Christ, a gift for Christ, the Redeemer of humanity and the Spouse of souls: a “spousal” gift. One cannot correctly understand virginity—a woman’s consecration in virginity—without referring to spousal love. It is through this kind of love that a person becomes a gift for the other (8).
Father Calloway compares the dogma of Mary, Mother of God, with the theological concept of the body that the body is fruitful (9). This concept states that “(s)ince the body is a ‘sacrament’ meant to be given away to another in nuptial love, a nuptial love that expresses an existing communion of persons, each human body has within it the capacity for bearing fruit” (10). Man was created in the image of God, who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a most Holy Communion. Because man was created in that image, it is written in man’s heart to express it. Human beings are called to give and receive in love, just as the three Persons of the Trinity give and receive. The love between the Father and the Son is so perfect that there exists the “fruit” of their love: the Holy Spirit. Just so, man is called to bear fruit. Mary, the Crown of Creation, the perfect woman, in her immaculate capacity to be the Spouse of the Spirit, also became the perfect image for us of