“MARY, THE CHASTE SPOUSE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT”

INBOX
QUESTION:
“Hello brother, I heard from the homily of
my parish priest that Mary is the spouse of the Holy Spirit; although I didn’t get
his explanation on that, and when I asked him privately to explain it to me, he
asked me to go get a book on Mary from the Bookshop, till now I have not found
any book on it. Can you kindly explain the fact that Mary is the Spouse of the
Holy Spirit; if possible with biblical proof? Thank you.
RESPONSE:
“MARY,
THE CHASTE SPOUSE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT”
Dear bro, the notion of Mary being the
spouse of the Holy is to bring about a concise understanding of the
relationship between the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Holy Spirit as it cuts
across the Scripture and Traditions of the Church. It is important to recall
that St. Francis of Assisi and St. Louis de Montfort both called Mary Spouse of
the Holy Spirit. How old is this title for Mary? It predates St. Francis, and
some sources say it as ancient as the Fathers of the Church.
The most appropriate place in the
Scripture to begin a study of the relationship between Mary and the Holy
Spirit, it seems to me, is in the first chapter of Luke. When Mary asked the
angel how it could be that she would bear a son, since she was a virgin. The
angel answered her, “the Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of
the Most High will cover you with its shadow.”
This short scriptural passage has a great deal of meaning and wide ranging
implications for understanding God’s gift to Mary as mother of the Messiah.
First, Mary received the Holy Spirit, you might say she was baptized or
immersed in the Holy Spirit, and therefore the Gift of the Holy Spirit was made
available to her in a special and unique way. This allowed her to exercise or
use this Gift according to the will of God. More precisely, the Holy Spirit, in
the fullness of His power was able to move Mary to perfectly accomplish the
will of the Father.
The second point is that when we read,
“the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow”, we see
in this passage a reference connecting various Old Testament and apocalyptic
scriptures. In Exodus 24,
we read that the cloud covered the mountain where God gave the Ten Commandments
to Moses, and His glory settled on Sinai (Horeb). The cloud also covered the
Tent of Meeting (Ex 40), and no one was able to enter because the glory of God
filled the tabernacle. Similarly, in 1Kings 8, 10-11 when the priests had
dedicated the new Temple the cloud again filled the Temple and no one was able
to enter. The word “shadow” in Luke chapter 1 implies cloud and thus
suggests that Mary like the Temple, tent, house or tabernacle of the Old
Covenant, becomes the dwelling place of God signaling the beginning of the New
Covenant. We can see from this overshadowing by God that Mary became the chosen
Temple of God and that the Glory of God filled her such that Mary was able to
say, “God has done great things for me, (Lk 1:49).”
The overshadowing of Mary by the Most
High also reminds us of the Spirit hovering over the waters in Genesis 1 prior
to creation. In Mary’s case God was creating a home for himself in the womb of
Mary, a human body, Emanuel: God with us. This work of creation by God in
Genesis ended with the creation of man, the first Adam. The hovering of the
Spirit over Mary ended with the incarnation of the New Adam, Jesus; God in
flesh. In this the Blessed
Virgin Mary becomes the Spouse of the Holy Spirit.
Human words themselves are inadequate to
describe this truth and require the action of the Holy Spirit in the soul of
the hearer in order for its profound gravity to emerge. In fact, Mary’s faith
was perfect since she conceived the Son of God, perfection itself. She did this
by means of her faith. Let
us be clear that neither does a prophet bring forth the Word of the Lord by his
own power nor does a miracle worker bring forth a miracle by her own power.
Likewise, Mary did not bring forth the Christ by her own power. Rather, acting
in the power of the Holy Spirit each brings forth the work of God. In the same
vein, both God and the Virgin Mary acted together and brought forth the Eternal
Word in the flesh (Jesus Christ).
The special presence of the Holy Spirit
over Mary as described above did not cease with the conception of Jesus. Upon
learning from the angel that her relative Elizabeth was pregnant with the
precursor of the Messiah, John the Baptist, Mary went to visit her. At hearing
Mary’s greeting, her cousin, Elizabeth, was filled with the Holy Spirit and
prophesied. This is reminiscent of Numbers 11, when the cloud was over the Tent
of Meeting and the seventy-two elders received some of the Spirit God that had
given to Moses. In this case, after the Holy Spirit had overshadowed the
Blessed Virgin Mary, Elizabeth receives the Holy Spirit and prophecies; and
what was the divine prophecy? “Blessed are you among all women and blessed is
the fruit of thy womb” this prophecy became so significant because one whom the
Holy Spirit had chosen as His spouse becomes the Most blessed of all women.
In fact, throughout the history of the
Church whenever the mother of Jesus appeared and in some way spoke to the
people, Lourdes (1858) and Fatima (1917), and so forth, the people were filled
with the Holy Spirit. When people are filled with the Holy Spirit the first
fruit is repentance, that is, recognition of one’s sinfulness and the desire to
change or reform one’s life. A good example of this is the apparition and
miraculous image of Mary given in Mexico City in 1531 which, in a few years,
led to the conversion of eight million aboriginal people to the Christian
faith. Just looking at the miraculous image, these people were filled with the
Holy Spirit and asked for baptism. In a similar way the foetal John, within
Elizabeth, also received the Spirit as he leapt for joy at the presence of the
Messiah and His mother; and that was understood as the baptism of John in the
womb of Elizabeth.
Mary’s relationship with the Holy Spirit
cannot be overemphasized; it is evident in the faith she had that Jesus
intervened in the wine problem at Cana. She was so intimately in touch with the
Holy Spirit that she knew it was the hour to ask Jesus to begin his public
ministry. Her words to the servants were also prophetic; inspired by the
Spirit. These words witnessed in a general way to the Messianic role of Jesus
when Mary said, “Do whatever He tells you.”
Significantly, Luke places Mary among the disciples praying for the promised
Paraclete after the ascension of Jesus; “All these joined in continuous
prayer, including Mary the mother of Jesus” (Acts 1:14; Luke is the author
of Acts..). When we consider how seldom Mary is mentioned in the scriptures we
can appreciate that her mention here in the upper room is in some way essential
to the Good News. Remember, Mary was the only one of the disciples already
filled with the Holy Spirit.
This same Holy Spirit that overshadowed Mary to bring about the incarnation of
the Eternal Word of God at the annunciation was now hovering over the disciples
to bring forth the birth of the Church at Pentecost. This overshadowing was
more than a physical manifestation of the Spirit of God; it was co-incidental
with the hearts and souls of the disciples being filled with the love of God
and the power of the Holy Spirit. Elizabeth too was filled with the Holy Spirit
and prophesied.
In understanding the Blessd Virgin Mary as the Spouse of the Holy Spirt, we must bear it in mind that the incarnation of the Son of God was not brought about by a physical activity (intercourse), but by what I already described in the spiritual sense as “the overshadowing power of the Holy Spirit”. Hence, Mary was immersed in the Spirit as a drop of dye in the ocean and the Holy Spirit so filled her that she was truly aglow in the Spirit. Being thus lost to herself in the Spirit she was able to allow the Spirit to act through her as through His own body. In other words, there was absolutely no resistance to the Holy Spirit in Mary so that the Spirit could act fully and completely through her.

We pray, imploring the intercession of
the Blessed Virgin, that she may ask the Holy Spirit to fill us with its gifts
and fruits. Amen.

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