The following talk, originally titled “Remembering Who We Are and the Story We Belong To,” was delivered October 19, 2016 at the 2016 Bishops’ Symposiumco-sponsored by the USCCB Committee on Doctrine and the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame.
Much of what I say today you probably already know. But that doesn’t prevent a good discussion, so I hope you’ll bear with me.
As I sat down to write my talk last week, a friend emailed me a copy of a manuscript illustration from the thirteenth century. It’s a picture of Mary punching the devil in the nose. She doesn’t rebuke him. She doesn’t enter into a dialogue with him. She punches the devil in the nose. So I think that’s the perfect place to start our discussion.
When most Catholics think about Mary, we have one of two images in our heads: the virginal Jewish teen from Galilee who says yes to God’s plan; or the mother of Jesus, the woman of mercy and tenderness, “our life, our sweetness and our hope.” We can too easily forget that Mary is also the woman clothed in the sun who crushes the head of the serpent. She embodies in her purity the greatness of humanity fully alive in God. She’s the mother who intercedes for us, comforts us and teaches us—but who also defends us.
And in doing that, she reminds us of the great line from C.S. Lewis that Christianity is a “fighting religion”—not in the sense of hatred or violence directed at other persons, but rather in the spiritual struggle against the evil in ourselves and in the world around us, where our weapons are love, justice, courage and self-giving.
Read more at Crisis Magazine.