Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Who Is She That Cometh Forth?

When I was in college, I was a member of the Legion of Mary. What I liked most about being a member, besides our door to door evangelization on the streets of Santa Paula CA and a certain fellow member who would literally take his shoes off and shake the dust off his feet whenever we met with hostility, was reciting the prayers at our meetings. The Legion of Mary has some beautiful and inspiring prayers and the prayer I liked most was the Catena Legionis. And the part of the Catena I liked most was the antiphon...

Who is she that cometh forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in battle array?

And the part of the antiphon I liked most was the "terrible as army set in battle array." I love this description of Mary, so opposed to popular artistic depictions that would have us believe Mary is some sort of modestly clothed Barbie doll. There's nothing "terrible" about Barbie, at least not in the classic sense. But there is something "terrible" about Mary. The kind of strength that she had to give her life over to God and his plan for our salvation, to raise the son of God in her home and be subject to the persecutions of the world even from His birth, to stand at the foot of the cross and witness His cruel death knowing Him and His innocence more than any other human and then to hold His sacrificial body in her arms and lay Him in a tomb, trusting all the while in God's power, goodness and faithfulness. Such strength is something mighty, something terrible as army set in battle array. Such strength could only come from God.

I've been thinking about this again as I consider anxiety and the necessity of peace of soul. I can only imagine that the source Mary drew upon for her strength was a peace of soul and certainty of "things unseen" as vast and deep as the oceans. No "trouble" could stand against the tide of her prevailing faith. All struggle must have been like ripples on the surface, affecting nothing.

Mary, mother of the toddler Jesus, pray for us who have recourse to thee.