Two Paths

To Jesus through Mary.  This is what we commonly hear or read; it is a phrase, a devotion, and a spiritual path followed and cherished by many of the faithful.  It is, as Adrienne von Speyr tells us in, Handmaid of the Lord, a path for those, “who must attain to God through what is human, because God seems to exalt them in himself.” Von Speyr states that this path through Mary is not a detour, but a, “simple approach, prepared and planned by God himself.”

It was that of St. Joseph, who, already on the path of holiness, was “bound directly to the human person, Mary, in order to become through this bond a servant of the Incarnate Lord.”  Joseph grew in obedience, for example;  von Speyr writes:  Mary is, “so completely in obedience that her obedience is like an overflowing spring which draws Joseph into itself.”

But what of those who are already in a strong union with the Lord, who have a deep, contemplative prayerlife, who experience an intimate relationship with Jesus, but have not yet experienced a deep Marian devotion?   

These are they, like the beloved John, says von Speyr, who are, “led to the Mother through the Son.”  Like John, they are, “first claimed by the Lord for himself and only then brought together with Mary and given over to her.”  von Speyr writes:  “If Joseph attains to God and to holiness only through Mary, God draws John immediately into his friendship and binds him as the Lord’s friend to the Mother of the Lord.”

“There will always be many, like John, who are led to the Mother through the Son; but also many others, like Joseph, who are led to the Son through the Mother.  These two movements, which in the beginning are very clearly emphasized in certain individuals, will later be the paths on which many can wander.”


26 thoughts on “Two Paths

  1. I was just thinking after reading your reflection, Gabrielle, how God knows us so well. He allows for the diversity in our nature, our contrariness, and offers us different ways to reach Him, alternative means of travelling, but always the same goal in mind – His kingdom and His love. Thanks, Gabrielle.

  2. G

    I don’t really get the led to the mother by the son. If anyone can explain the context of this I would appreciate it. Is it said in the sense that he leads us to her as if she were our guru (to borrow a term) so that we can behave like her?

    It is easier for me to relate to the “led to the mother” language if we interpret that as we are being led to the school of Mary. This is were we lose a lot of non-Catholics because the language is so subtle. One could easily interpret this language as a deification of Mary. I have to admit that I still have a little trouble with it.

    I tend to interpret our existence as living in the dimension of time, and then those who have passed into the dimension outside of time. It is there that people continue to live either in hell, purgatory, or in heaven. I would assume that God makes it possible to for those in that dimension to see and hear us. So it follows that we should include them in our lives through prayer. Because they exist parallel to us, it would be difficult to forsake our predecessors. Please if you could shed some light I would appreciate it. 🙂

  3. Well, G will elaborate far more and more sweetly, but one quickly thinks of Mary of Magdala as being led to the mother by the Son. It wasn’t initially Mary, Jesus’ mother whom the Magdalen ran to with or for anything, for Jesus met some of His followers out in the public square when the final leg of His ministry began.. and Mary His mother did not hang out in public squares. Hence, the Magdalen would’ve only heard of Jesus’ mother as well as perhaps only glimpsed her.. unless Jesus sent the Magdalen to her, which we don’t know.. but we do know that she ended up with Mary at the foot of the Cross. Either from Jesus’ own words, or from John’s retelling, Mary of Magdala would’ve understood that His Mother was to be thought her own.

  4. I feel like one of those who has been led to the Mother through the Son. Through Charismatics and Cursillo I was introduced the the Lord in a way that deepended my faith. By the inspiration of the Spirit I was introduced to the Rosary as a means to gain even greater insights into the mysteries of our faith.

    I don’t dwell on the intricacies of who leads whom to whom. I know that Mary has a very special role in our salvation as the one who bore the Incarnate Word. It is also obvious through the revelations of Lourdes and Fatima that Mary has been designated as a special emissary by the Living God. She is the self-described “handmaiden of the Lord,” servant of God and Mother of God.

    Mary leads us to Jesus and Jesus leads us to honor his Mother.

  5. As a parent, when you watch The Passion you realize just how much honor she deserves. I think we have to consider that before Mary there might have been Anna of Jerusalem, who mistook the visitation for a dream and went back to sleep, or flat out said “no not me.” How many women and for how many centuries were women saying “no”, before Mary said “yes”. God could not force this to happen, I won’t even use language to describe that situation, it was merely by her act of faith, and courage that we received our salvation. If she had said “no” we still might be waiting for Christ. So Mary literally opened the floodgates of salvation, and invited the eternal God into time.

    Yes we honor her, but the language that we use to describe our devotion to Mary is imprecise. So a more precise form of my question might be–for what purpose is Jesus leading us to His mother at this point in history?

  6. Hello everyone. I can only pop in for a minute right now, and may not be able to get back until Tues. or Wed. evening. I really appreciate the comments and the discussion here. I do intend to have some more posts along these lines, and I hope we will be able to explore some of JT’s points/questions. What I’m doing right now with these posts is actually just feeling my way around, sharing some of what I find, and trying to learn more about the reasons behind the “to Mary through Jesus”, in the lives of contemplatives in particular. I hope you’ll stick with me and help!

  7. This is all very interesting. I would be inclined to agree with Terry’s outlook on things, and I think it would be a terrible pity if people got anxious or even felt guilty that they didn’t think highly enough of Mary or were not drawn to her the way others are.
    I’m no expert in these matters but I think if we open our hearts and minds to Mary and Jesus and John, all three will find accomodation there, but in their time, not ours. It’s good to think about all this and air our views. Thanks, Gabrielle.

  8. Mary was pre-selected/pre-sanctified, John, or we’d not have the dogma of her Immaculate Conception. That is in regards to her own conception – she was conceived in the usual way by Anne and Joachim, but without original sin. The angel awaits her answer, but the Lord knew her answer already, for her heart was given to Him always and I believe she was consecrated unto Him by her parents.. so perhaps the angel awaited only that question that would come forth that only he as emissary of the Lord could answer with Authority, “How is this to happen, for I do not know man,” which meant she would never know man – a consecrated virgin. As for your question, the purpose of Jesus leading us to Mary, I didn’t read it that way, but this life truly is exile for us. We’re working our passage to Home. Our original mother, Eve, let the ball drop. Mary our Mother, the new Eve, does not. In a way, the Church is Mother until we get Home. But Mary is, as mediatrix, still hands-on for us along with that, hence the importance of approved apparitions, and for some of us, the insights given in praying her Rosary which is a School of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection on our behalf. Jesus gave her to us, and us to her from the Cross.. so we go to Love through a love that was with His Humanity for all his life, death, and resurrection, and who was, due to not bearing Original Sin, assumed into Heaven and is now Queen of Heaven.

    I’m anxious only that I do her a disservice in not feeling anything daughterly or subjectly for her. Yet I feel that it is a gift He wants us, the adopted, to have, because that will not only do her proper honor, but will bless and protect us even more until we safely arrive. I look to Jesus the Son of God whom I truly believe lived, died and rose to open Heaven unto me once again, via divinely taking on the full cost of my sin, to recommend me to Mary in the ways He knows will be most efficacious.. and I guess I trust that will happen because of how God the tender Father once took my soul via the Holy Spirit and placed it firmly in His Son’s grasp..or so it had seemed to me. I trust she is Mother, tho’, with or without the accompanying feelings; our adoption as well as redemption is Consummated on His Cross, which she shared in by virtue of inseparable sorrow.

  9. I am very ignorant of Maryology (sp?). When we start talking about Mary’s immaculate heart and that terminology, frankly I am lost. I don’t understand it. Why not just talk to God about it?

    Why is she a mediatrix? Again, I simply don’t understand.

    As far as my earlier description of Mary being one of many women who were given the opportunity, I cannot say for sure if that it is original thinking on my part. I actually thought about the immaculate conception dogma when I was writing it down. If I am channeling something I heard, then I heard it from EWTN. What you said makes more sense, but there might be merit in what I wrote.

    Typically I stay far away from these issues, in order to accept the teaching out of obedience and faith. I am willfully ignorant, but two weeks ago a protestant actually asked me why we “worship” Mary. I was able to explain why we don’t, and her role. But it certainly was not as grand as it should be. Lately I am starting to want to know more. I almost feel compelled to know more.

    For the record I am not a Marion, but it would not be hard for me to become one. I sleep with my rosary in my hands, and when I wake in the night I pray. I also carry a ring rosary in my pocket most of the time. I have my Grandma’s rosary too. It is probably close to 70 years old. (Imagine beads worn away.)

    Our portrayal of Mary makes much more sense than the protestant view. They tend to treat her as almost a surrogate egg donor. Sorry to be mean, but they do.

  10. Sorry let me share a quick story. About 4 years ago, I was at work, and felt this strong need to go outside and walk around the pond that was outside the office, and to pray the rosary. I pray it on my fingers. The pond is about a 3/4 of mile in circumference. So I am on the first 3rd of the trek praying, and I see a woman sitting on a bench on the other side of the pond. It is way to far to see any detail. In my mind pops the following thought. “She’s praying the rosary too, go sit by her and tell her you are praying with her.”

    No way, I tell myself. That is wishful thinking, I am not getting into that stuff. I come around the top of the lake a hundred yards or so she is just sitting there. About 10 yards out, there it is a rosary ring around her finger. I was shocked!!!!!!!

    Sit down, sit down and tell her, sit down and tell her you were sent here. Five yards, I slow a bit. I am in front of her, she is in prayer. A few yards past, I slow more. Just go back and tell her that you were sent to pray. I knew she was sent too. It’s too weird. I keep walking. Okay, I will go around again, and tell her on the second pass. I get to the place where I saw here first, perhaps 10 minutes later. She is still there on the bench. I go to the top and come around, and when I am in sight of the bench again she had left. She was still in shouting distance though. I thought about it, but no. I could not do it. I think I sat down on the empty bench and just puzzled about that for awhile. I felt that I failed.

    Does anyone have any insight into this? Perhaps why it occured?

  11. Mary lived God’s Will perfectly and unlike her Son she did not have Divine Nature. Also unlike the Zechariah Mary did not doubt God’s Power but rather gave her Fiat with true humility.

    There is so much about Mary but words fail…..I love her dearly. Mary always points to her Son as it should be.

    Thanks Gabrielle for a lovely reflection:)


  12. That IS weird, John. But you didn’t fail at anything except connecting more with a sister for a minute– but I’d have felt the same way. You both did indeed pray together; sometimes, I think a spiritual friend not visible to us just wants us to know that. And maybe you had started out the day by giving it to Him to work it as He saw fit?

    There was one time I did that, and then felt all but pulled to the church office, and wasn’t sure why. As I sat there visiting with the secretary (who had once asked me if she and I could get together some Easter food baskets for some poor people she knew, and deliver them), she said, “Mary’s in the hospital, you know.” I hadn’t known that. “She’s not doing well, you know.” I hadn’t known that either.. “Hmm,” I said, “Do you think it’d be alright if I went over to see her?” She absolutely beamed,”I’m SURE it’d be alright.” So, off I went.

    I’d had to wait for the elevator while some nurses unloaded a hospital bed with some poor old soul in it. I went up to the ICU, and said whom I was there to see. The nurses informed me she’d just gone down for some tests. (! That was her?? Oh my.. she’d looked so poorly, I hadn’t even known her!) “But her two daughters are over there in her room waiting, if you’d like to speak with them.” I nodded thanks and was about to slip out when I realized two women about my age were looking very expectantly toward me. “Are you Mary’s daughters?” I told them how much I loved their mom, how much she helped me, and how crazy she was about her girls. They opened up wide about how devastated they were; no way were they ready to part with her. Good Lord, the woman was 84! But nope, her “girls” were much too heartbroken to part with her. I told them I’d be praying.. I tried to make them chuckle a bit, and then they exhaled. I saw a huge weight fall from each of them. They each hugged me warmly, and with gratitude. I was puzzled as I walked to my car. I had most definitely been sent, and was thinking I’d made the best of a goofed up situation — but then I realized it wasn’t Mary who’d needed me after all. Mary and I had talked often, and she was fine about her time being up, if that were the case. No.. I’d been sent to comfort her girls!! I got a chance to tell Mary all this a few weeks later, when she was up and running the Rosary again after morning Mass. She laughed and said, “He works in mysterious ways, doesn’t He?” Yeah, He sure does.

  13. And you know what’s interesting? It never fails that when someone tells me they are a nominal Marian (Marianist.. I don’t know the word, if there is one), they always mention the rosary they hold, and often hold unto sleep — I think, rather, more and more.. that Mary is holding them until they fall asleep.

  14. Oh gosh, I couldn’t teach anyone how to tie their shoes, spiritually-speaking. All one can do is what you’ve done here, John, which is to share whatever one has, for that is unique yet not exclusive. It all kinda intertwines two or more hands and makes for some new, sweet prayer rising to Him. Gabrielle is golng to be shocked to see so much activity in this thread from us all, isn’t she? Knowing her, she’ll also be pleased. And although I rarely acknowledge it as such, I love what you all say here.

  15. Goodness! I’ve been under a time-crunch for a few things and forced myself away from all-things-which-bring-me-joy-online, and am indeed pleased to see so much discussion (and only 580 spam comments caught by Akismet!!!) A special thank-you to JT and JM for all your input.

    Ann: Very true, I think, what you said about God knowing us so well, both our natural inclinations/attractions and our “contrariness”, that He offers us different paths, all to one purpose. I also agree that anxiousness/guilt is not helpful, but an opening of our hearts, as you say, and I think we can also try to remember that we are asked to pray for increased love, and an increased desire to love, both God and the Blessed Virgin.

    Terry: Same as you, I think my path was to Mary through Jesus, and yet when I reflect on it as I have been doing of recent, I see how much of what happened to me was no doubt through Mary’s intercession, I just wasn’t aware of it.

    Marie, when we reflect on the perfection with which Mary lived out (and within) the Divine Will, and the depth of her humility, words do indeed fail, don’t they; no wonder Mary can lead us so deeply into contemplation.

    JohnT and JustMe (including all pseudonyms), I will do a separate comment because I have to read everything through again, and I think the computer is going to give me a time-out. I’ll be back!

  16. Just some thoughts re various things mentioned by JohnT and JustMe, which help me to see how I might move forward re Marian posts (which, if I might ask your opinion, might warrant a separate blog, for I dislike working with those “Pages”, because you have to just keep adding on to the Page, rather than making separate posts, each with its own comments). It’s not that I have time for another blog, but I would like to have a place to work through these things, and I think, separate from the Haven. We’ll see.

    Some things I’d like to post about, re JohnT’s comments, because he is definitely not alone:

    – “I don’t really get the led to the mother by the son”
    – “so that we can behave like her?”
    – “deification (No) of Mary
    – “When we start talking about Mary’s immaculate heart and that terminology, frankly I’m lost”
    – “Why is she mediatrix? Again, I simply don’t understand”
    – “For what purpose is Jesus leading us to His mother at this point in history?”

    All very important questions, and I don’t think the exploration of them can be done in a combox. But JohnT, one thing – re the possibility of Anna of Jerusalem or any other woman having been a possible mother of our Lord and said no, that is most definitely not part of Catholic doctrine or dogma (edited to say, nor part of our teaching or tradition, since not everything is dogma, etc.) as JustMe has explained. The Blessed Virgin was the only choice from the beginning of time, and as JustMe has said, she was pre-selected, pre-sanctified, born without original sin, and in fact, was pre-redeemed.

    JustMe, many of your comments struck a chord, and a few of the things I’d like to mention that will surely work their way into posts are:

    – the example of Mary Magdalen being led to Mary through Jesus, and what actually happened at the foot of the Cross in terms of the Church

    – the Church being our Mother until we get Home, but also, Mary as Mother of the Church

    – the Rosary as a school of Jesus’ life, and how this relates to what JohnT said of the school of Mary

    – not feeling anything; relying on trust

    You know, JohnT, re your story of the woman on the bench praying the Rosary, she may have been calling out in spirit to you, and she too thought she had failed. There is so much mystery in the Mystical Body; we need the Holy Spirit so badly.

  17. Yes, we do. And some of us also need tissues, because holy posts in this God-forsaking blog-jungle bring one to tears.
    I’ve long felt that comboxes are more than comboxes, and ought to be, lest they only clap or smack.

    But another whole blog? When could you find time — the askimet buildup alone is a burden.

    We’ll help pray about this.

  18. G

    Thank you and JM very much for schooling me on the Immaculate Conception. I was ignorant. I accept the teachings of the Church without question. I think these questions need to be asked. Like my protestant friend who asked me we owe them a good answer.

  19. JohnT, you know, for example, when we speak of things such as Mary being pre-sanctified, pre-redeemed – these things are great mysteries. Like you, right now I accept the teachings of the Church without necessarily understanding. That’s why I’m drawn now to reading more about the Blessed Virgin, particularly from mystics such as von Speyr; I want to gain a deeper understanding, because too much of what we have been exposed to over the years has been on a rather superficial and sentimental level, I think.

  20. I agree with superficial, sentimental, and I will add superstitious.
    Our Lady is a great mystic. There is no doubt, that is why there is an attraction. Mysticism is the school of Mary. If you tell me to Mary through Jesus, I interpret that as a call to be a mystic too.

    I have a quick Mary story. My family left the church in my early teens. By the time I was 18, I was well on my way to losing my faith. I was away from all faith for nearly 20 years. Upon reverting, I said to my wife we have to get a cross, but not one with a corpus. I could not tolerate it. I got a little thin metal cross to hang on the wall. The Mary stuff was not even on the table becaue of the protestant influence. No Mary no corpus, I just had to start over from the beginning with the Catholics, and maybe in a few months I could find a nice protestant church to attend. It was very important to me to start over with God, because I was so anti-Christian. Within a few months of returning to the church, I knew at that point that we would remain Catholic, but still I big problems and all the Catholic stuff.

    Now one day, I watched Zeffirelli’s Jesus of Nazareth with my wife. I had not seen that movie since I was a teen. The very first scene within the first 15/20 minutes where he does a close up on the actress who played Mary. I swear I burst into tears. I had to bite my lip. I recall trying to keep my wife from seeing me. I may have left the room. When I saw her portrayed as living, I wept. I knew early on that I would follow the contemplative path.

    I just remembered that reading Gab’s post. When I go to Mass now being a parent, in my mind it is so difficult to not recall that scene from the Passion when Our Lady goes to kiss Jesus’s crucified feet. I can barely say AMEN because I am so overcome with emotion. Sometimes my teeth chatter when I break Christ’s body in my mouth. It is difficult to swallow. It is hard for me to keep my emotions under control. Often I look to my wife and she will be weeping silently as we kneel. It is one of the most powerful experiences a human being can have.

    God bless You

  21. “Why not just talk to God about it? Why is she a mediatrix? Again, I simply don’t understand”

    I often find myself in the position of being a mediatrix between my sons and my husband. The boys come to me with a request or an excuse for something they have done, and ask me to break it, very gently, to their father. In the same way, when their father is apparently too hard on them for something, I will speak to him, in gentle terms, so that he may take up the point with the boys again at another level.

    That is as close as I can come to understanding Mary’s role, and banal as it is, it is an analogy that helps me to clearly see that she is truly our Mother.

    So good to read your comments, JohnT. Missing you!!

  22. JohnT: – “to Mary through Jesus” you see as a call “to be a mystic”. I would just reword that a bit; I think it is the path that is given to mystics (don’t take my word on that, there are probably a lot of exceptions). You have a very powerful story; I’m sure the Blessed Virgin has been watching over you for a very long time.

    Anon, hope you had a good sleep. 🙂

    Pia, if it’s banal, then we’ll be banal together, because it is exactly how I was thinking of it yesterday, as I sat outside in the garden for a few minutes thinking about JohnT trying to explain things to his Protestant friend. Yes, we’ve missed JT and we miss you too!

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