When I think of picking up where I left off, I think of Luis de León
León was an esteemed biblical scholar at the University of Salamanca in 16th century Spain. His dedication to early modern advances in biblical scholarship, combined with his “converso” Jewish ancestry, made him a suspect character. He was imprisoned in 1572 by the Spanish Inquisition mostly for his maverick translation (i.e. critical of the Latin Vulgate) of the Song of Songs into Spanish. Tradition has it that Luis began his university lecture in January of 1577, his first after returning from four years’ imprisonment, with the words: Dicebamus hesterna die, “As we were saying yesterday…”
I love that sort of unflappable approach to life’s hardships, a sort-of wry smile in the face of adversity that makes of life a divine comedy, an epiphany of hope in catastrophe. Christian hope, anchored in Resurrection faith, can forge in us such stunningly serene confidence; the conviction that all life circumstances, regardless of their tragic character, conspire unto ultimate good for those who love the provident God (cf Romans 8:28). This hope further empowers us to choose love capable of willing the good even of those who wish us ill or do us harm, and see in that ill-will a singular opportunity for being joined with Love-made-flesh, Jesus Christ.
Love was our Lord’s meaning, and we are oned with him only in loving — Julian of Norwich
I will take de León as my inspiration for returning to writing this Blog on a consistent basis. I am grateful to any who care enough to find this welcome news.
It’s good to be back, though I have to say up front that I am not certain I can maintain my past commitment to daily posts. I intend to make them frequent, and if time and inspiration look kindly upon me, I will post daily. But I have become a bit more realistic these days as my life retains its hectic pace and shows no signs of abating. A friend of mine said it succinctly and well when he advised me about how to resume posting again: “Get real, Neal. Better something on occasion than nothing at all.” It’s my tendency to say all or nothing, perfect or fuggetaboutit. Speaking of perfect, another acquaintance once gave me a nice ditty:
I’d rather stumble humble into heaven than stride with pride into hell.
I love rhymes.
As today is the apex of the Christmas Octave, centering on the maternity of Blessed Mary, Theotokos, “God-bearer,” I will leave you with a quote from Pope St. John Paul II on Mary as the icon of women’s dignity:
The remarkable gift to the Mother of the Lord not only testifies to what we could call God’s respect for woman, but also emphasizes the profound regard in God’s plans for her irreplaceable role in human history.
Women need to discover this divine esteem in order to be ever more aware of their lofty dignity. The historical and social situations which caused the reaction of feminism were marked by a lack of appreciation of woman’s worth; frequently she was relegated to a second-rate or even marginal role. This did not allow her to express fully the wealth of intelligence and wisdom contained in her femininity. Indeed, throughout history women have not infrequently suffered from scant esteem for their abilities, and sometimes even scorn and unjust prejudice. This is a state of affairs that, despite important changes, unfortunately continues even today in many nations and in many parts of the world.
The figure of Mary shows that God has such esteem for woman that any form of discrimination lacks a theoretical basis.
The marvellous work which the Creator achieved in Mary gives men and women the possibility to discover dimensions of their condition which before were not sufficiently perceived. In beholding the Mother of the Lord, women will be able to understand better their dignity and the greatness of their mission. But men too, in the light of the Virgin Mother, will be able to acquire a fuller and more balanced view of their identity, of the family and of society.
Attentive consideration of the figure of Mary, as she is presented to us in Sacred Scripture as read in faith by the Church, is still more necessary in view of the disparagement she sometimes receives from certain feminist currents. The Virgin of Nazareth has, in some cases, been presented as the symbol of the female personality imprisoned in a narrow, confining domesticity.
Mary, on the contrary, is the model of the full development of woman’s vocation, since, despite the objective limits imposed by her social condition, she exercised a vast influence on the destiny of humanity and the transformation of society.