15 August 2010

Last Sunday in Rhode Island – the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.

I’ve finished packing for Pittsburgh, for the most part – I leave for the iron city on Tuesday morning. I am glad, though, that before I had to leave I was able to stay for the Feast of the Assumption at S Stephen’s – I enjoyed the Mass immensely, particularly the procession through Our Lady Chapel to pay our respects to the Blessed Virgin. At times before I had criticised Catholic Mariology as giving Mary too great a Docetic gloss, paying too much attention to her divinity and perfection, and not enough to her humanity; I found, though, that (on the contrary) the Catholic devotions we use in the High Church tradition put me for one in greater mind of her very human vulnerability. The story of the revelation to Mary of her role in the grand design, even her song of praise in the Gospel of St Luke, is brimming with both the existential wonder and terror of her humanity before a God who had placed her very firmly ‘on the spot’. Part of the conceit of asking for Mary’s intercession, as well, is the emphasis on her closeness to us as the ‘advance representative’ of humanity in a state of salvation (as Fr Alexander put it in his sermon today). Of course, the socialist in me is quick to point out that God chose as the vehicle for bearing humankind’s salvation the teenage peasant bride of a lowly working-class woodworker – a socially marginal figure in multiple respects.

Actually it was a bit hard for me to ask her prayers of intercession even today; I feel blessed at the opportunities I do have now with grad school before me, in spite of my own past failed endeavours, and I thought it fit only to seek after just a small portion of the Blessed Virgin’s strength in the event that I too am placed ‘on the spot’. I’m simply grateful for being put in mind of that.

Tuesday: I plan to move in, get settled in, perhaps see a Pirates game with my dad before he goes up to take my sister Catherine back to Beloit College for her junior year. Then to get acquainted with the city and with my future classmates! So far, they seem like a good crew. I’ll be sure to keep my gentle readers in touch with my impressions of Pittsburgh.


  1. Matt, I didn't realize that you were leaving Providence. All the best!

  2. Thanks, Bill, and the best to you as well! I will be coming back to Providence on breaks, though, and I do plan to stay in touch with S Stephen's.