You have no idea how difficult it is to find an image of Mary, mother of Jesus, as an irresistibly strong and beautiful woman. Her head is mostly covered and she is looking very pure and holy. That image wouldn’t necessarily do for Catholic priest, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. According to him, G_d was on fire for Mary.
I’m in a serious Teilhardian phase. I want to be him when I grow up. I keep coming across stuff he wrote that others have unconsciously picked up on and integrated into their own thinking. But I hadn’t read much on his devotion to Mary, mother of Jesus, and Mother of G_d. I’m more of a Protestant than I thought. I never really grocked the whole devotion to Mary thing. Teilhard loved his own mom, and he loved Mary a lot, which makes sense. The RC’s intuitively got that traditional theology was missing the sacred feminine. Mary emerged subversively through the patriarchal structure to fill the void, much like Sophia, divine wisdom, infiltrated traditional Jewish theology (along with Shekinah). You gotta love how truth will not be denied.
But his take on Mary really blew my socks off. Check this out:
“The world’s energies and substances—so harmoniously adapted and controlled that the supreme Transcendent would seem to germinate entirely from their immanence—concentrated and were purified in the stock of Jesse; from their accumulated and distilled treasures they produced the glittering gem of matter, the Pearl of the Cosmos, and the link with the incarnate personal Absolute—the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen and Mother of all things, the true Demeter…(the mother goddess of fertility in the Greek Pantheon).
Mary is portrayed as the epitome of Beauty, (and its fertile nature), achieved after 13.7 billion years of evolution. She is Beauty incarnate, so hot that G_d cannot resist, ahem…union with her. (In the language of the birth narrative, “The Spirit overshadowed her…”) Mary’s feminine beauty draws G_d to her. But before we get there, let’s take a look at a Roman poet’s take on the power of feminine beauty.
“In me is seen that side of beings by which they are joined as one, in me the fragrance that makes them hasten together and leads them, freely and passionately, along their road to unity…
I am the beauty running through the world, to make it associate in ordered groups; the ideal held up before the world to make it ascend.
I am the essential Feminine.
Every monad (individual), be it ever so humble…obeys in its movement an embryo of love for me.
When a man loves a woman he thinks at first that his love is given simply to an individual like himself whom he envelops in his power and freely associates with himself.
Soon, however, he is astonished by the violence of the forces unleashed in him at my approach.
He thought it was simply a partner who stood by his side: and now he sees that in me he meets the great hidden force, the mysterious latency, that has come to him in this form in order to lead him captive…
He who takes me, gives himself to me, and is himself taken by the universe…
The true union, however is the union that simplifies, and to simplify is to spiritualize.
The true fertility is the fertility that brings beings together in the engendering of Spirit.”
Teilhard sees in Mary the personification of the alluring cosmic power of Beauty, G_d, in short, couldn’t resist Mary’s radiance, and in an act of divine passion for Beauty, G_d was drawn into union. This is how the universe does it. As Teilhard puts it:
That “third”, according to the Christmas myth was Jesus of Nazareth, the manifestation and fruit of the union of G_d and Mary, matter achieving its goal in an incarnation of Love between G_d and Mary.
Jesus—fruit of the irresistible passion between G_d and Beauty, personified in Mary. Ya gotta love it. But surely this divine allurement to beauty needs to be generalized to the whole universe—the cosmos as G_d’s incarnated body. The Formless One falling in love with the beauty of diverse form.
I’ll end with Teilhard’s own poetry using Mary’s voice.
“Long before I drew you, I drew G_d towards me…Only love has the power to move Being. If God, then, was able to emerge out of G_dself, G_d had first to lay a pathway of desire before G_d’s feet..spreading before G_d’s divinity a sweet savour of beauty. Now do you understand the secret of the emotion that possesses you when I draw near?” Yep, I get it.
We liberal Protestants need to move beyond the interpretation of the virgin birth as somehow reflecting the biblical writer’s discomfort with human sexuality. It’s not about disgust over human sexuality, but rather, the biological urge to procreate is transcended, but included, in the spiritual desire for union and to give birth to the next iteration of the human species). In any case, we now know that “virgin” is a mistranslation of the Hebrew word for “young woman” in Isaiah.
Wouldn’t you love to hear a Christmas Eve sermon focusing on G_d’s passion for the archetype of beauty, manifest in Mary, and how the consummation of their passion resulted in a birth that changed the world? Silent Night, Holy Night indeed…