I set aside fiction for Lent this year, intent upon digesting more spiritual reading in it’s place. It’s not such a great sacrifice, really; I wasn’t in the fiction mood before Lent anyway. But you know when putting forth any measure of spiritual effort, even the most inane fiction on the shelves is suddenly very tempting. I’ve been working through a few works, but my favorite so far has been Frederica Mathewes-Green’s study on Mary, The Lost Gospel of Mary.
I haven’t read any Frederica since I was a newly chrismated young’un in the Church, and it was nice to get back to her writing, easy and beautiful. What has been a special Lenten boon is her excellent historical and spiritual references on why we venerate Mary in the first place. Why she is cherished as she is.
My protestant background rebelled mightily against the love and honor given to the Mother of God when we were converting to Orthodoxy. It was certainly the biggest sticking point in my conversion, and now, 14 years later, I realized that I never fully digested it. I made peace, yes; and I fell in step, for the most part; but I never really took her in at more than an intellectual level. Thanks to Frederica, I’ve made some inroads.
I’d love to write about it, but it seems I can’t. Thankfully, it’s never too late to find yourself working further up and further in. Welcome to Lent.
“Creation is reborn.” In On the Incarnation (AD 320), St. Athanasius says that when a portrait is damaged it is not thrown away, “but the subject of the portrait must go in and sit for it again, and then the likeness is redrawn on the same material” Christ’s Incarnation likewise redraws the “image of God” on material human life. He fills the damaged human nature with divinity, healing and restoring it to its first beauty.
~ Frederica Mathewes-Green, The Lost Gospel of Mary
This is salvation.
Peace for the journey,