Saturday, 11 April 2015

Did Jesus appear to the Virgin Mary before he appeared to the Magdalen?

This week the meditations in MAGNIFICAT have offered alternative answers to this question. On Monday, the meditation was an extract from Dom Prosper Gueranger's The Liturgical Year vol.7:
Meanwhile, our Risen Jesus has been seen by no mortal eye; he has sped to his most holy Mother. He is the Son of God; he is the vanquisher of death; but he is, likewise, the Son of Mary. She stood near him to the last, uniting the sacrifice of her Mother's heart with that he made upon the cross: it is just, therefore, that she should be the first to partake of the joy of his Resurrection.
The Gospel does not relate the apparition thus made by Jesus to his Mother, whereas all the others are fully described. It is not difficult to assign the reason. The other apparitions were intended as proofs of the Resurrection; this to Mary was dictated by the tender love borne to her by her Son. Both nature and grace required that his first visit should be to such a Mother, and Christian hearts dwell with delight on the meditation of the mystery. There was not need of its being mentioned in the Gospel; the tradition of the holy Fathers, beginning with St Ambrose, bears sufficient testimony to it; and even had they been silent, our hearts would have told it us.
And why was it that our Saviour rose from the tomb so early on the day he had fixed for his Resurrection? It was because his filial love was impatient to satisfy the vehement longings of his dearest and most afflicted Mother. Such is the teaching of many pious and learned writers; and who that knows aught of Jesus and Mary could refuse to accept it?
For Saturday, the vigil of the Feast of Divine Mercy, we are offered this extract from Adrienne von Speyr's meditations on the Gospel of St Mark: Mark, Meditations for a Community. Adrienne comments on the text "He appeared first to Mary of Magdala":
The Lord appears first to the former sinner. She is the first to experience his being alive. And from this, she comprehends the cross. All the sins of the world, also her own, which were so visible, struck the Lord on the cross. But because she is no longer a sinner but, rather, was converted by the Lord already before the cross, he appears to her. She is surely to embody in her person the absolution that is granted to all sinners on the cross.
But beyond this, the Lord placed her under the cross as one who has been converted, as one who loves and does penance in a very profound union of her suffering with his suffering and also of her suffering with the suffering of his Mother. And if the Holy Spirit has found it right to leave the Mother's suffering in mystery and not to mention her joy at the Resurrection of her Son, then it is as if Mary Magdalene is sent ahead in order to represent all those who suffered together directly with the Crucified, above all, the Mother of the Lord. From the outside, she remains, above all, the former sinner, who with the apparition on Easter morning receives the certainty of absolution for the whole Church.
 Adrienne gives an account of Mary's joy at the Resurrection in a chapter of her book The Handmaid of the Lord entitled "Easter". Her words very carefully nuance the primacy of Mary's joy and the absence of a physical apparition.
On Easter morning [the Virgin Mary] is again, as she once was at the angel's apparition, sheer open expectation. She does not anticipate any particular apparition. But her faith is so open that anything can appear within it space. And there he stands before her, her Son in the glory of God, and he fills this space with a fullness which surpasses all human senses. He not only fills the emptiness at hand; he fills it to overflowing, in the way the Godhead brims over man's every expectation. Her first Yes to the angel, her first joy at the conception, her first jubilation in the Magnificat, are like a tiny human beginning compared with this storm of the Easter assent and this fire of a new Magnificat. The first Yes to the angel was full of responsibility for the future. It was spoken wholly in joy, but with the background of the coming suffering as the price she was to pay for this joy in her conception. But the joy of the new assent is so great, it so outshines all else, that it can survey as if from a mountain peak all past suffering and separations and those which are perhaps to come..... She could formulate and utter her first assent herself - could give it expression in the song of the Magnificat. Her new Yes is nameless. It flows into the eternal Yes of God himself like a river into the sea and is washed over and absorbed by it. What she says now is a jubilation that is beyond words.
The two writers do come from very different times, and very different contexts, in the life of the Church, which may go some way to explaining their difference in perspective. But I do find Adrienne von Speyr more compelling than Dom Gueranger.


Patricius said...

"...the absence of a physical apparition..."

Surely, however, absence of (scriptural) evidence is hardly evidence of absence!

lindi said...

I'm not a theologian but am a mother. I think the second quotation says that Our Lord did not appear in a physical manner to His Mother - apologies if I misunderstood this. I find that explanation so lacking in humanity. Do you not believe that Jesus went to Our Lady and spoke to her that first Easter morning ?