The negation of Mary is directly linked to the anti-feminine, anti-maternal, and anti-family nihilism that grips us today. Long a stumbling block for Protestants, Mary is increasingly rejected and mocked in the godless, death-infatuated cultures that stand strongest in formerly Protestant, but now almost entirely atheistic, lands. The story of Mary, however, helps bring to light the fullness of God’s love and the place of motherhood and family in salvation history, which is precisely what the West must be reminded of if it has any future.
The battle for Mary is a fight over the centrality of motherhood and family in the human experience. As such, the negation of Mary undermines a culture’s understanding and appreciation of motherhood and family. In working to strip Mary from European and American culture, Protestant crusaders set motherhood and family on a collision course with eventual irrelevance. By sabotaging the most graceful and fruitful image of motherhood—the Holy Mother herself—anti-Marian Protestants prepared the ground for the anti-feminine, anti-filial nihilists who control the cultural levers today. It isn’t coincidental that the lands with the strongest “feminist” movements are those which first negated the presence of Mary from the heart of western culture.
Creation was consigned not just to Adam, but also to Eve (Gn. 1:27; 2:21-22). The drama of the fall and the Protoevangelium attached to the fall was similarly consigned to both Adam and Eve (Gn. 3:15). Second-century Church Fathers like St. Justin Martyr and St. Irenaeus identified the promise to Eve that from woman there would come the Son to crush the head of the Serpent as the first prophecy about the coming of Christ. It is essential to recognize how Eve is bound up with this prophecy and how woman is tied to the promise of our redemption. For Church Fathers like Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, the Protoevangelium pointed to Mary’s maternal role in salvation.
The story of the deliverance of Israel from the bondage of sin (Egypt) is intimately bound up with that of the Ark of the Covenant. Moses and the Israelites carried with them the bread from heaven (manna), the tablets of the law, and the rod of the priesthood. The Ark helped give strength to the Israelites in crossing into Canaan and defeating their enemies. David subsequently took the Ark of the Covenant into the earthly Jerusalem (2 Sm. 6) and leapt and danced before the Lord contained in the Ark (2 Sm. 6:16).
The Spirit of God, through the New Testament writers, ensured that the connection between Mary and Eve, Mary and the Ark, and Mary and family life and salvation would all be visible to those with eyes of true faith. Indeed, St. John of Damascus wrote that “the Ark foreshadows the holy Virgin Mother of God.” He also perceived that the Burning Bush foreshadowed the fruitful and grace-filled creation containing the Lord: “The bush is an image of the Divine Mother.” These are among the most important images of Mary which drive the Catholic understanding of Mary as at the center of God’s loving, salvific plan.
That Protestants are unable to see Mary’s role in salvation testifies to their nihilistic spirit. This monumental rejection of the Blessed Mother, through whose veins coursed the blood of God the Son, demonstrates that Protestantism is, at its heart, a religion of negation. Protestantism began in negation and knows nothing beyond negation. The disordered Protestant mind has made it so that much of Christianity lacks a true feminine model to embody the fullness and fruitfulness of femininity in God’s soteriological plan.
Mary was, first and foremost, a mother. As a mother she bore the Divine Son and Sacrificial High Priest who saves the world and gathers together God’s family. Mary’s forming of the Christ in her womb illuminated the first commandment of God, “to be fruitful and multiply.” She stands forever as a model of true femininity and motherhood—a strikingly countercultural image in our cold, sterile, death-soaked culture that shuns womanhood, fertility, and family. Devotion to Mary cannot be separated from motherhood and, therefore, the sacramental and holy nature of the family—something which all Protestants, reject, knowingly or not, likely because of their devaluation of Mary and ignorance of the role of family in God’s plan of salvation.
The Holy Mother as the New Ark of the Covenant is one of the most powerful images of Mary which needs to be recovered across our culture writ large. St. Proclus writes, “Mary is venerated because she has become mother and handmaid, cloud and chamber, and ark of the Lord….For this cause let us say to her: Blessed art thou amongst women, who alone hast healed the grief of Eve; who alone hast borne the world’s price.” St. Ambrose beautifully writes, “[W]hat shall we say is the Ark, but holy Mary? For as the Ark bore within it the tables of the Testament, so Mary bore the Heir of the same Testament: it preserved within it the Law, she the Gospel; it had the voice, she the word, of God.” This was well-known and accepted in all corners of Christianity until Protestantism destroyed this rich and fruitful reality of God’s salvific love.
The Ark of the Covenant, as we know, was taken into the earthly Jerusalem by David, who was a Christ figure. St. John the Apostle continues with this great and revelatory supersession of Scripture when he describes the Ark of the Covenant in heaven: “A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth” (Rv. 12:1-2). Here we see the Ark and pregnant Mother combined as one, also establishing clearly that motherhood is connected to salvation and that the “woman clothed with the sun” is Mary.
Mary represents the fullness of femininity in our feminist, or anti-feminine age, which seeks to destroy the essential female nature created by God. It isn’t coincidental that the anti-Marian ideology of the Protestants has degenerated to the anti-feminine ideology of the present age which is strongest in lands which first adopted Protestantism.
Mary is the great counter-cultural force and the embodiment of fruitfulness, grace, and faith—all things that our modern world desperately needs. The Assumption of Mary reminds us of the centrality of motherhood and maternity to salvation. Those who lose sight of this reality inevitably sink into the abyss of sterility.
The fruits of the negation of Mary are now visible for all to see. The antidote to our anti-filial and sterile anti-culture is the Holy Mother of God, and the Feast of Her Assumption forever reminds us of the place of motherhood and family in our Catholic lives and in all of salvation.