Mary the New Eve

Carlos Overstreet's picture

A Blessed Feast of the Conception of the All-Holy Mother of God to all of you!

Before I was Catholic, the person of Mary seemed so strange. Who is this woman whom Catholics adore so much. Why do they speak of consecrating their hearts to her, and bowing low to her name, and wailing at her image. Is it not God whom we are to adore with our whole heart?

Mary is honored because of what she represents for us. She is the example for Christians, showing us what a synergy of our lives with God’s is to be like. Her desires, and her will, completely and freely embraced the will of God. Her beautiful words to the Archangel Gabriel confess this truth: “Let it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38) In this fashion she calls all of us to follow her example, taking upon ourselves the yoke of Christ that is “light and easy” (Matt 11:30).

Just as Eve was made from the flesh of Adam, and it was Eve who tempted Adam into death. Mary’s own flesh is given to Christ, and it is through Mary’s love for God that Christ comes into the world, undoing the fall of man. Through her we are no longer the “poor banished children of Eve.”

Things began to make a bit more sense for me. How could I not rejoice in her life if through her God's saving act is accomplished? What's more is she chose to be God's helpmate, as Eve was Adam's. We saw this proclaimed at the Feast of her Entrance into the Temple. The child Mary, enters into God's abode, and desires not only to follow God, but to do all she can to help mankind. 

Saint Gregory Palamas (14th C.) in his homily on the Entrance of the Mother of God into the Temple says this of Mary's faithfulness:

"With profound understanding she listened to the writings of Moses and the revelations of the other prophets when, every Saturday, all the people gathered outside, as the Law ordained. She learned about Adam and Eve and everything that happened to them: how they were brought out of non-being, settled in paradise and given a commandment there; about the evil one's ruinous counsel and the resulting theft; about their expulsion from paradise on that account, the loss of immortality and the change to this way of life full of pain.

She saw that as time passed, life continued under the inherited curse and grew even worse, God's creature made in His image was estranged from the Creator and became more and more closely associated with the one who had evilly schemed to crush him. No one was capable of putting an end to this impulse which brings destruction on all men alike, or to the uncheckable rush of humankind towards hell.

When the holy Virgin heard and understood this, she was filled with pity for humanity and, with the aim of finding a remedy to counteract this great affliction, she resolved at once to turn with her whole mind to God. She took it upon herself to represent us, to constrain Him Who is above compulsion, and quickly draw Him towards us, that He might remove the curse from among us, halt the advance of the fire burning men's souls, weaken our enemies, answer our prayers, shine upon us with light that never sets and, having healed our sickness, unite His creatures with Himself."

All honor we give to Mary (and all the saints) is in fact honor given to God. As Mary herself confessed “I am the handmaid of the Lord”, so all the saints have become servants to Christ, and in their humility, they pass on the veneration rendered to them to God. As Saint Paul confesses “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20). Who else could be so noble and pure, but the birth-giver of the Lord (Theotokos).

Today proclaims Saint Andrew of Crete (7th C.): “Humanity recovers it’s ancient privileges” and by her “the Transfiguration of our nature begins. Saint Nicholas Cabasilas (14th C.) speaking about the effects of the fall says we are “inheritors of the old leaven”, but that Mary was the originator of the “new leaven” for humanity, bearing for us the bread of life, who is Christ.

Let us celebrate this wonderful and beautiful feast! The days are darker, the nights are colder, but the Church has given us this day for warmth of the heart: to drink to gladden our spirit, to feast for merriment, to rejoice with Christian company, and to receive the Holy and Life-Giving Mysteries of Faith, which were only possible by the graciousness, the humility, and the love, that the All-Holy Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary had for God and His people.

Share this: