Monthly Archives: November 2012

Blessed Virgin Mary and the Chalcedonian Christ

Virgin Mary with Child_KofC

“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? ” [Luke 1:42-43]

The Blessed Virgin Mary, upon being greeted by the Archangel Gabriel, was addressed as a queen, acknowledged as “full of grace” and placed in the presence of God, “The Lord is with you.”

And the angel said to her:

“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.  He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,   and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end. [Luke 1:30-33]”

What does this mean about the identity of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity in keeping with the Chalcedonian formula?  How can God be born of a human, Mary and appear human without being divided?

The Chalcedonian formula describes the 2nd Person of the Trinity, the Son of God:    “…indeed born of the Father before the ages according to divinity, but in the latest days the same born of the virgin Mary, Mother of God according to the humanity; for us and for our salvation, one and the same Christ, only begotten Son, our Lord, acknowledged in two natures without mingling, without change, indivisibly, undividedly, the distinction of the natures removed on account of the union, but rather the uniqueness of each nature being kept and uniting in one person and one substance, not divided or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son only begotten God Word, Lord Jesus Christ, just as from the beginning the prophets taught about Him and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself taught us, and as the creed of the Fathers has handed down to us. [cf. Denzinger #148, Council of Chalcedon, A.D. 451]”

How might we understand, then, the Incarnation of the Word in Mary?  Let us think in terms of the indivisibility and divine love of Father and Son.  Jesus Christ said, “…For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. [John 6:38]”  Jesus lives to be obedient to His Father’s Will; the Word enslaves Himself to His Will – the Will of the Father God and so He is able to say perfectly that “I and the Father are one. [John 10:30].”  And so where is the Will of God in the Incarnation?  During the Incarnation, was not at least a facsimile of the Will of God the Father present already in the Blessed Virgin (“the Lord is with you”)?  Is she not a perfect image of obedience through her fiat of “Yes!”  Humanity says “yes” to Divinity.  And so the Word, ingrafted with the power of the Father’s Will, overshadowed by the Holy Spirit brings forth the full Presence of God in the most holy womb of Mary, His most humble and obedient servant.

There are two distinct natures which are together in the Person of the Son: divine and human which form the Hypostatic Union.  But how might we understand this union of two natures more directly?  How does this Incarnation happen?  We don’t really know, but we can try to understand.  In humanity, the human seed  live only to be joined to the human egg and the two undergo a miraculous transformation.  In like fashion, but in an inestimably special way, so does the Word live to be joined to the Will.  The human seed and egg  come together under the control of the human soul, and life is germinated.  Likewise, the Word and the Will come together under the control of the Spirit and un-caused Life is Communicated.  “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. [ John 1:4].”

In regard to His divine nature, why does God “communicate” divine Life in the Son instead of “germinate” divine Life in the Son?  We have to remember that God’s essence is pure Spirit and He is eternal.  Whereas God’s creation (humanity) is caused by God and can therefore be “germinated,” divinity exists without cause (God does not cause Himself because only God can cause everything and anything to exist – He is the “Uncaused Cause.”)  And so He communicates Himself as He truly Is.  He Is Life in the Son.  This is why Jesus Christ prophesies:

“I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh…he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day…It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life [John 6:51, 54, 63].”

And then Jesus Christ institutes the Holy Eucharist at the Lord’s Supper:

“And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ [Luke 22:19]”

He communicates Himself in His body!  God in His essence is pure Spirit; in the Son, who is risen, He has both divine and glorified human nature.  When Jesus Christ, the risen Lord really communicates Himself, He is truly and actually Present.  He communicates Himself to our souls and our bodies – our whole persons.  This is why we truly do eat Him during Holy Communion – the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass –  that we may be healed and have eternal Life in us at the Resurrection.

St. Paul warns everybody about partaking of the Lord’s true Presence without the right dispositions – that it would affect their bodies as well as their souls:

“For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.  That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. [1 Corinthians 11:29-30]”

And so in the Chalcedonian Christ, the Prosopon, the Hypostasis of the Son, the 2nd Person of the Trinity, is formed in Mary’s womb – Word and Will through the Spirit to Life and seed and egg through the soul to life.  Is this not a perfect “marriage” of divinity and humanity in Mary’s holy womb?  But, Mary knows no man.  How could this be?  From whence come seed?  She is a Virgin.

There is no human seed; only the effect of seed is there.  God causes this effect in her miraculously.  Indeed, there is no impurity in her – no stain of Original Sin – not ever.  There is no other human joined to her, but only the divine God Himself.

Finally, we must not misunderstand nor take lightly who the Blessed Virgin Mary is in the “eyes” of God and to us.  She is very special.  She is immaculate, unlike all of the rest of creation.  She is the Mother of God, the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our true discipleship and relation to Jesus, we are also Mary’s children.  What has happened in her is truly and utterly miraculous, and only she is worthy and right and prepared for such a miracle.