November 30, 2015

Theotokos: Monday of the First Week of Advent

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Theotokos: Monday of the First Week of Advent

“to a virgin betrothed” (Luke 1:27)

In her classic contemplation on Mary entitled, The Reed of God, Caryll Houselander wrote, “That virginal quality, for want of a better word, I call emptiness.” Mary’s virginity can be more personally understood through her profound emptiness.

Numbers 30:4-6 outlines prescriptions for a Jewish woman vowed to perpetual virginity and complete consecration to the Lord. Steeped in Biblical wisdom, the early Desert Fathers wrote that Mary vowed such Old Testament consecration, embracing the fullness of Biblical virginity. In other words, Mary had long intended to remain a virgin and had made such a promise to God before and after the betrothal.

Mary’s virginity points us to her emptiness. She was empty of anything that was not of God. She was empty of anything that would prevent her from resting in her deep union with the Father. Yes, she was empty; however, her emptiness wasn’t a “lacking” in essence. Her emptiness came from her deep union, a union so important to her that she had made a vow of virginity even as a married woman.

Many of us panic at the sheer thought of emptiness. A subtly compulsive need of always having to have something fill us is an epidemic fed by the pace at which we live. We are encouraged to fill our lives with more and more so that we won’t have to face our fear of emptiness. The emptiness of the Theotokos is an invitation to us. What needs to be emptied from our lives? What are we filling our lives with, yet remaining unfulfilled in the end?

Spend some time with Mary and ask her what needs emptying so that you might receive as she did.

For your prayer

Mary would have often prayed with Psalm 63. Prep your imaginative prayer by slowly reading Psalm 63. Then, imaginatively pray with Luke 1:27 and ask the Holy Spirit to “show” you Mary in Nazareth.

“Father, I ask for the grace today to empty my heart of anything that is not of you.”

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© Fr. Mark Toups, 2015