At St. Paul’s we engage in Marian devotions such as the Angelus and the Rosary and we have a special interest in celebrating Marian Feast Days because we believe that Mary, the Mother of Jesus, holds a unique and important place in the Communion of Saints. The following are some of the dimensions of her significance to Anglo-Catholics:
Mary as theotokos and as an exemplar of living the Christian life: In being approached by the Angel and saying yes to bearing God into the world, Mary is for us a paradigm for all Christians who are asked to give their assent to manifesting God in the world. Mary is, therefore, theotokos, God-bearer, and we are called to be the same. Former Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold commented: “Clearly, the honor and devotion which we accord to Our Lady derive not from her exalted place in the Gospel accounts, but, rather, from what she in her song, Magnificat, terms her ‘lowliness’. Her profound and human struggle to yield herself to the complete undoing of her world and a safe and predictable future leads her to say, ‘yes’ to the deeply disturbing message of the angel at the Annunciation. The price of that assent to bear the Word takes her away from home into exile in Egypt, and brings with it the promise that ‘her heart will be pierced’ because of the child she has been chosen to bear.”
Mary and Magnificat: Giving Voice to God’s Solidarity with the Oppressed: The Magnificat gives voice to God’s action in every generation of overturning the powerful and the lifting up of the lowly. Thus, Mary is seen as expressing God’s solidarity with the poor, the oppressed, and those in need. A Marian spirituality, therefore, is a spirituality deeply committed to the social gospel. This commitment is a central focus of Anglo-Catholicism.
Mary as the One Leading us to Jesus: At the wedding at Cana, Mary comments, “Do whatever he tells you to do” to those who have brought the water jugs forward to be turned into wine, Mary, therefore, is the one who points beyond herself to Jesus, to his words, his life, his death, his resurrection. She is the one who reminds us to “do whatever he tells you to do.”
Mary as a Way to Behold a Feminine Holiness of Life and a Way to Experience Feminine Dimensions of God: While Mary is not viewed as God, she offers many both an experience of holiness of life in a female form and an experience of the love of God within female experience and poured out into the world through a female body. Thus, many who reflect on Mary say that they become more connected to what they perceive to be feminine dimensions of God, dimensions such as acceptance, forgiveness, compassion and mercy.
Mary as First Among the Communion of Saints: As first among the Communion of Saints, Mary is one we pray with, one whose prayers we ask. Many experience prayer with a Mary to be a special comfort in times of need.
Read John Orens’ article “Dancing the Magnificat” to explore Anglo-Catholic Stewart Headlam’s view of Mary.