Our first concept of woman is as mother – it is she we reached out too when we first leave her womb, it is she who nurses us, takes care of us. As we begin to grow she is always there, scurrying in the background. Always ready to help, to console, to defend.
There comes a time though, when we leave her roost. Our concept now changes from woman as mother to woman as myth/mystery. Usually for men, this time is the beginning of the romantic urges. Woman becomes the stuff of poetry; the muse, the eternal feminine. For woman themselves, they experience this mystery and mythology in their very bodies, becoming aware that they themselves are temples of life, living allegories of beauty and love.
Next comes the concept of woman as partner; different than motherhood, but no less important. She is always there diligently doing her part, as only she can do. She solves a situation in a way a man would never dream of, comes up with solutions, that a man could never think of, solving the problems of life in her own special way. Oh, we men may be vexed at her seemingly emotional and illogical approach to the matter at hand, but we have to admit, (usually in private!) that she always seems to be right. Finally, there is woman as guide; as seer – a temple of wisdom, an oracle of divine intelligence.
How often have our most complex problems been answered by the few simple words from a woman like this? How often have the most learned theologians been awed by the piety and raw faith of those older woman who, despite a lifetime of struggle and disappointment, never seem to give up. How often is it that these women seem to have a direct line of communication with God.
This mythos that is woman holds for Mary as well – in her earthly life as woman, in all of her theological titles and events, and now in her glorified state of heavily queen and intercessor fo all of humanity. She is mother and always will be mother – of the Church, of even God himself. She is mythos and mystery – the unsolved riddle of the icon, the personification of beauty, purity, holiness. She is helpmate, to both God and man by her constant intercession and noble and unique role in salvation.
She is guide and seer the treasure house of wisdom, the muse if your will of divine science, of theologians, seminarians, monks. Her assumption affirms humanity’s hope for the promises of the resurrection. Her numerous privileges confirm that the humble and lowly will be exalted. No surprise then, that she holds the order of Cistercians under her mantle. What could be more monastic? What could be more human? Indeed, what better proof of divine favor?
Hope, for a world without hope; Cause of our Joy for a world that has forgotten the meaning of the word -this is Mary – woman, mother, intercessor, mystery, seer. She is a far cry from what so many millenienist doomsdayers would have us believe. She is hope for a new world, yes a world that is flirting with disaster, but a world that can still, if it wants herald in the kingdom of God. With Mary as our patron, – of the Cistercian order, of the Church, of the entire human race – what have we to fear, what have we to doubt? This is the meaning of her assumption – hope that springs eternal, joy flowing from its source -the mother of God, the patroness of us all.
Fr. Rober Keffer, O.Cist.