This morning while praying the rosary on the way to work, I was considering the relationship of Mary to the Apostles. When she stood at the foot of the cross, Jesus said to John, “There is your mother.” And to Mary, “there is your son.’
This passage has a depth of meaning I’m only beginning to understand. While we all know that in this, Jesus gave Mary not only to John, but to John as a representative of Himself [Jesus], and thus, making Mary the Mother of the Church. Here, though, I want to explore a little of the historicity and the spiritual depths relating to that which prior to this, I had not realized.
I realized that meant that, along with the other women who had followed the long tradition in the culture at that time of caring for their teachers, so Mary continued to care not only for John, and for the Apostles, she probably received in her motherly way any followers of Christ, her Son. Yet, by extension, while she walked the earth John and the Apostles would have had a special relationship with the Mother of the Lord. In realizing who HE was, they would have had a reverence for her probably not given to any other woman.
It’s historical. It’s traditional.
Although I haven’t studied it in depth, I do know that throughout the history of the Church there has been some animosity between the priesthood and religious sisters. The early Dominican friars didn’t want to take time from preaching publicly to the need for spiritually caring for the cloistered contemplatives. As a result, Dominic and his successors found it necessary to intervene to explain that were it not for this powerhouse of praying women, their preaching ministry would not survive. In our very century, I know of Sisters who were badly treated by pompous priests who had no respect for them and treated them as indentured servants or worse.
Today, though, I can’t think of a single young (ie under 50) faithful religious Sister who has had an experience such as that, for things have changed in this regard, much for the better. In fact, the priests I know obviously have a great deal or respect and high regard for the religious sisters with whom they have contact, and vice versa. I realize that this relationship is one probably very much like that of Mary and the other women who cared for the Apostles through prayer and other types of material support that made it possible to evangelize the world. In turn, I see how priests seem always ready to also care for the needs of the various religious communities within their sphere of influence.
*There is a great deal more to the animosity and bad feelings of some religious sisters and priests than I have written and I do NOT intend this paragraph to be complete, nor is it completely accurate. As it's not the point of my post, please refrain from any combox diatribes, although I would welcome links to respectful and faithful scholarly articles fairly describing this reality.