Mother and Maiden



I sing of a maiden

That is makeles;

King of all kings

To her Son she ches.

He came all so still

To His Mother’s bowr,

As dew in April

That falleth on the flower.

Mother and maiden

Was never none but she;

Well may such a lady

Godes Mother be. (1)


Our blessed Lady is a matchless mystery, both as mother and maiden. Though in herself a creature and therefore finite, her divine motherhood is infinite in its dignity. (2) Not even the highest of angelic intellects can encompass the full truth of the Woman who gave birth to God. And as maiden, too, Mary is a mystery without peer. “Mother and maiden was never none but she.” Two realities that nowhere coincide in nature meet, by supernatural power, in her lowly and lovely person. Our Lady receives the office of divine motherhood, yet does not forfeit the state of holy maidenhood: she conceives as a virgin, gives birth as a virgin, and remains a virgin for ever, her whole life long. (3) The Catholic can only bow the knees of his mind before such a profusion of wonders: “Most glorious and beyond our understanding are all thy mysteries, O Theotokos: for with the seal of thy virginity unbroken, thou hast become in full reality a mother, giving birth to the true God.” (4)


This article will sing of the Maiden that is matchless. I shall try to come to her in faith, as her Son came to her in the flesh, with the quietness of reverence, “all so still,” and without the clamor of curiosity. My goal is to let the splendor of truth shine forth from the Mother of Fairest Love. Most of the article will, therefore, be a simple and peaceful meditation on our Lady’s divine motherhood…. However, in places, in the very cause of reverence, a more martial note will be struck. The saints prefer to sing in praise of God’s Mother, but sometimes they are obliged to argue in her defense.


Then Mary’s troubadours become her knights, for this is an apologetic that concerns nothing less than the honor of Heaven’s Queen. Those who admire the Church’s Doctors for the clarity of their understanding of Mary and the warmth of their love for her cannot fail to be stirred by the just anger with which they fight against her foes. Thus, when St Thomas Aquinas addresses the error of Helvidius, who “presumed to say that Joseph had carnal knowledge of the Mother of Christ after she had given birth,” he forsakes his habitual placidity and declaims with the chivalrous zeal of his crusader cousins that this error is “indubitably detestable.” (5)


Matchless Motherhood

Theotokos


The name “Mother of God” is the greatest of our Lady’s titles, and the office it denotes is the reason for all her other privileges. According to St John Damascene, Theotokos “sums up the whole mystery of the economy. If she who gave birth is Mother of God, then He who was born of her is definitely God and also definitely man. . . . This (name) signifies the one hypostasis and the two natures and the two births of Our Lord Jesus Christ.