Mary Is Made for You

Sometime ago a priest gave what may initially seem a cryptic kind of homily. Personally, I have not heard a homily about Mary such as this, and yet this is precisely the homily that men need (and, by direct extension, what women need men) to hear. The priest began like this:

Mary is a gift to all men . . . Mary offers men, in particular, a way out of a difficult problem. For women, loving Jesus comes easily and naturally. But it does not feel so easy or natural for a man to love another man as intimately as we ought to love our Lord. Mary presents men with a solution to this difficult challenge.1

Now, the rest of this homily is unknown to me, and apparently unknown to the active-duty military officer who relates it, but filling in that blanks will tell us of a man’s special God-given need to live in a most intimate union of love with Mary. It is not too much to say that no man will be fully the man God made him to be without her. What this comes down to is complementarity: male–female complementarity, and complementarity as applied to Mary and a man, is a little-studied but extremely urgent facet of every man’s spiritual life and well-being. This short study is laid out in two sections: one, A Man’s Special God-given Need to Love and be Loved by Mary; and two, What Kind of Relationship Are We Talking About?

A Man’s Special God-given Need to Love and Be Loved by Mary

Allow me to begin filling in the blanks with the end of the article that relates this homily:

Here is where the priest’s words from earlier come into perfect focus. Mary is the Immaculate Conception, the New Eve, perfectly complementary to every human male. As the New Eve, Mary is our helper, perfectly compatible with every human male and yearning to help us master manhood to become who God called us to be in our families, in our marriages, and in society.

With her aid and graces, we can secure the victory delivered for us by the pure sacrifice of her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. As men, consecration to her is not merely a spiritual act of faith, but an essential act of manhood. She completes us, which is not to say God left us half-made and incomplete. Instead, God created us to be in communion with perfect femininity, which we find in her. Like the priest said, Mary is a gift to men.2

Let’s begin with the obvious fact, much debated as of late, that men are men and women are women. Humanity is not androgynous and humanity exists in two genders only, each gender reflecting some aspect of God, each gender completing the other. Even in Heaven men will be men and women will be women — Jesus will always be a man, Mary will always be a woman. This being the case, as the good priest said in his homily, a man simply cannot love Jesus, who has taken a male human nature, with the ease that complementarity offers to a woman. This, the priest says twice, is a “difficult” problem for men. It is. I’ve seen how women love Jesus—a man cannot love Him that way! We men have the glory of being like Jesus, St. Joseph being the most like him when it comes to men, and therefore Jesus and St. Joseph are the prime examples of what a man ought to be; women have the glory of loving Him after the example of Mary, who is what a woman ought to be, and with the intimacy that complementarity offers. So where does that leave men? And, for that matter, where does this leave women, who do not share Jesus’s male human nature?

This leaves us with a wonderful reality: The joy of complementarity and likeness at the level of the divine, not in the sense of God qua God in his divine nature, since in that regard He has no gender, but in the sense of God as man and God as united to Mary. Behind all of this there is the primordial reality of humanity, that “It is not good that man should be alone” (Gen 2:18), and this reality exists perfectly in Jesus and Mary, but it also exists in two ways for every human person: first, in that every man and woman is invited to be swept up into the divine relationship of Jesus and Mary, each singly and after their own manner: a woman as an icon of Our Lady and in a complementary relationship with Jesus, a man as an icon of Jesus and in a complementary relationship with Mary; and second, and to a less perfect degree, in the relationships of earth in regard to parents, siblings, friends, and spouses.

Well, we have not yet fully answered the question of what the priest was talking about, but establishing the reality of the complementary relationship a man has with Mary is crucial. The status quaestionis at this point, then, is this: How does loving Mary help a man love Jesus with the easy manner that women have, since in union with Mary a man is still a man? The answer, in a nutshell, is that Mary exists in such incomprehensible union with God that, although she remains a human person, one cannot love her and at the same time not be loving God. Specifically, we can look briefly at three sources that speak to this reality: Mary in Scripture, Mary’s unity with Jesus, and Mary’s union with the Holy Spirit.

Mary in Scripture

There are many verses that apply to Mary — a book could be filled with them, and in fact it has: the Holy Bible. The Old Testament especially is chock-full of details concerning Mary and the relationship one ought to have with her. In fact, in the Solomonic books, Solomon has one extremely crucial bit of advice regarding a Lady named “Lady Wisdom,” who the saints and the Church have for many centuries taught is a type of Mary, advice that can be boiled down to one little phrase: “Marry this girl!” Clearly he does not mean an earthly marriage, but a spiritual one:

I loved her above health and beauty, and chose to have her instead of light: for her light cannot be put out. Now all good things came to me together with her, and innumerable riches through her hands.3

Her have I loved, and have sought her out from my youth, and have desired to take her for my spouse, and I became a lover of her beauty.4

I purposed therefore to take her to me to live with me: knowing that she will communicate to me of her good things, and will be a comfort in my cares and grief. For her sake I shall have glory among the multitude, and honour with the ancients, though I be young. . . .5

But why “marry” this girl? Because “all good things came to me together with her.” All good things! What are these good things? For starters, she is totally one with God — you get her, you get God; you love her, you love God:

For she is a vapour of the power of God, and a certain pure emanation of the glory of the almighty God: and therefore no defiled thing cometh into her. For she is the brightness of eternal light, and the unspotted mirror of God’s majesty, and the image of his goodness.6

Consider this key phrase from the above passage: “she is the brightness of eternal light, and the unspotted mirror of God’s majesty, and the image of his goodness.” Next, try this experiment: look at the sky on a cloudless day and separate the light from its brightness. You can’t; it’s impossible, they are too interrelated. Or try this experiment: look at someone you love and try to separate the visual image of the person standing before you and the person you love. Again, you can’t do it. So it is with Mary, “the brightness of eternal light . . . the image of his goodness”: to love Mary one cannot but love God, because so absolutely has Mary become one with God that she perfectly mirrors the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in her identity as beloved Daughter of the Father and Mother of the same Son as she loves the Son with the very love of God, the Holy Spirit.

Mary’s Unity with Jesus

Another aspect to consider is Mary’s union with Jesus. In Proverbs, Lady Wisdom says, “Come, eat my bread, and drink the wine which I have mingled for you.”7 The Church tells us this bread and mingled wine is none other than the Eucharist: in Mary’s holy womb God assumes a human nature (God and a human nature “mingle,” without confusion of the natures). She is so one with God that when He becomes incarnate He grows out of the depths of her very self: first He is one with her in heart, then He becomes one with her bodily as well: “Mary conceived Christ first in her heart and then in her body” (prius concepit mente quam corpore).8 His flesh will come only from Mary; they become “two in one flesh” (Gen 2:24). In a union with God that is absolutely unique, “Mary alone offers something to God which is taken up into Himself and with which he is clothed in His being. In this manner she exercises an activity which quite alone as a natural activity fines deitatis attigit, as Cajetan says, i.e., reaches the very godhead.”9 Later, in His Passion, “They encountered one another in a sublime fusion of love: From that point, Mary become one thing only with Her Son. . . .”10

Consider, too, the union of Jesus and the soul in Holy Communion: if not in mortal sin, the soul and Jesus become one. Yet considered next to the reception of the Eucharist by even the most holy saint, the union of Mary and Jesus is simply incomprehensible — if you or I are one with Jesus, what of Mary? Yes, Jesus and Mary exist in a unity, the unity of light and brightness: God Who is good (Jesus) and the living image of His goodness (Mary) are absolutely inseparable. Dante captures the unity of Jesus and Mary in a brilliant manner in Canto XXXII of his Paradiso where, in lines 133–35, Dante notes that St. Anne, Mary’s mother, is not looking up directly at God as everyone else is — she is gazing unflinchingly at her daughter. Focused on her, is Dante saying she is deprived of the vision of God? Not at all: she is seeing God in her daughter, not at all deprived of the vision of God by her Mary-focused vision, since Mary is so transparent that there is truly no medium hindering a direct vision of God as there is in every other creature — she is “the unspotted mirror of God’s majesty, and the image of his goodness.”

Mary’s Unity with the Holy Spirit

Mary also exists in an incomprehensible unity with the Holy Spirit, one that goes far beyond anything we could describe in human or angelic language. Marriage is the most intimate earthly thing we know, however, and so we call her “Spouse” of the Holy Spirit, though, as St. Maximillian Kolbe says, this term does not go far enough. Kolbe teaches they are so close, that Mary is a theophany of the Holy Spirit — “Mary is the Theophany par excellence.”11 Therefore to see her, to love her, to kiss her, is in a real way to see, to love, to kiss the Holy Spirit; “the Holy Spirit and Mary are two persons who live in such intimate union that they have but one sole life,”12 teaches Kolbe. You cannot experience Mary and not the Holy Spirit; when you see her you see Him as a light reflected through flawless glass.

What does this mean in terms of Jesus? To love Mary is to love Jesus’s love, since the Holy Spirit is the love of both the Father and the Son. If you love the Holy Spirit, Who has as a proper name Love,13 you thus love Jesus, because you love His Love, and indeed you love wholly the One God in Three Persons Who is Love (1 Jn 4:8, 16).

It’s as impossible to not love Jesus when loving Mary as it is to love light and brightness separately — if you are loving one, you are truly loving the other. Mary is thus beyond Eve ever was in holiness: Mary from her Immaculate Conception exists, unlike Eve, in a radically incomprehensible union with God. Mary is, then, the means, the “All Holy”14 means, wherein a woman can be truly be like Jesus in her womanly nature (to be like Mary is to be like Jesus) and a man can truly love Jesus with all the complementarity that a woman experiences with Jesus (to love Mary is to love Jesus).

What Kind of Relationship Are We Talking About?

The relationship with Mary of which we speak is spiritual, mystical, not earthly nor carnal, and yet it is more real, substantive, and intimate than any relationship of earth. In fact, St. Maximillian Kolbe, in his theology of Total Consecration to Mary, states that in one’s total consecration to her one is “transubstantiated” into her and becomes like her — we could say a “twin” of Mary — something that applies to men and women both. Yet there is a deeper meaning of the reality of Total Consecration to Mary here, one that also applies to women in a spiritual-mystical way, but applies to men both in the spiritual-mystical sense and in a special way in regard to a man’s complementary relationship with Mary:

By this “transubstantiation” into the Immaculate, St. Maximillian means expressly a personal or spousal union of love with the Immaculate on the part of those totally consecrated to her, a spousal union whose exemplar is the spousal union of the Immaculate with the Holy Spirit. . . .15

This is precisely what Solomon was talking about in regard to Lady Wisdom, a.k.a. Mary: “Marry this girl!” For each man, Mary is “the one,” she is the Girl who is each man’s perfect complement; a living, flesh and blood Immaculate Girl, who has a glorified, spiritualized yet truly physical body. Yes, here is a soul and body, mind and heart that is male and a soul and body, mind and heart that is female in a relationship of perfect complementarity. This is why Venerable Fulton Sheen writes, “She is the one whom every man loves when he loves a woman — whether he knows it or not. . . . She is the woman whom every man marries in ideal when he takes a spouse.”16 Mary is “the one” a man is looking for, and he looks, without realizing, for the closest copy of her he can find in this world.17

Allow me if you would to provide two modern, blatantly obvious instances of the relationship of a man with Mary that we’ve been talking about:

  • Bob Lord (a married man): “I love you. I have always loved you. . . . I deeply love Mary. I always have. I put her on a pedestal, not the way you would a holy person, or a saint, but like the perfect woman whom you’ve found, and will love forever. I want to shout it from the rooftops. ‘I LOVE HER! I’M IN LOVE WITH MARY!!’18
  • Roy Schoeman (a married man): “I was left alone with the most beautiful young woman I could ever imagine, and I knew without being told that it was the most Blessed Virgin Mary. . . . when I woke up I was hopelessly in love with the Blessed Virgin Mary.”19

And some blatantly obvious examples from the saints:

  • St. Bonaventure: “To say that you are my Mother is next to nothing; oh Mary, you are my absolute love!”20 And, speaking on behalf of Mary, in her voice as it were, he writes: “Approach unto me, all you who desire my love, and I will not reject you. . . . And happy is the soul that yields himself to such sweet invitations, and, from an ungrateful enemy, becomes a faithful friend; from a stranger, becomes a servant; and from an unfaithful one, becomes a most dear and faithful spouse.”21
  • St Bernardine of Siena, as a young man, to his cousin (and care-taker) Tobia: “I am in love. I should die if I could not easily see my beloved.”22 She is “nobler and more beautiful than all the girls in Siena.”23 “I am in love with the Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of God, whom I have always cherished. Being on fire with love for her, I have espoused her as a most chaste spouse in whom I have placed all my hope. Loving and desiring her so much, I could wish to look upon her, but as I cannot obtain this grace here below, I have resolved to visit her likeness every day. So now you know who it is I love.”24

In fact, we men are given a tremendous privilege, and in this a way of making Mary happy that can only be accomplished by a man, for it is only a man who has the honor and glory of enabling Mary to experience all three facets of her female personality, the total image of “woman” who is mother, sister, and bride:

St. Theresa[ of Avila]’s words describing the soul’s mystical experience of an overwhelmingly painfully, yet indescribably sweet longing for an ever-more-perfect transforming union with Christ can and should . . . apply to Mary. . . . It is only appropriate that a lover’s longing be experienced, by women, for Christ; and by men, for Mary. Hence, Mary’s role in the economy of salvation must incorporate her gender, for, as a Woman — as The “Woman,” she necessarily relates to human persons as Mother, Sister & Bride. The first two of these roles apply equally to both men & women; but Her role as Spouse can only apply to men, just as Christ can only be a Bridegroom to female religious and other women to whom this grace has been given.25

Conclusion

Mary said to St. Gemma Galgani some words that, while for men and women, have a special resonance for a man: “Long for me; I too am sighing for you.”26 For us men, she completes us perfectly, and as men, in some mysterious way, when we love her we love God; she enables a man to love Jesus with all the ease and joy of male-female complementarity that women experience since in loving her indeed we love Jesus. Yes, there is a special built-in desire for Mary, a tremendous “yearning,” an

inner yearning that beats within the heart of every human being to be one in union with Mary the Mother of God, as was Joseph and as was Christ. Every heart longs for Mary, since this is indistinguishable from the thirst for God inherent in every man. Why? For God is so united to Mary in an indivisible bond of grace, that one cannot be one with God unless one is one with Mary, and vice versa.27

My brothers, love Mary . . . love her with all your manly heart and soul and body, with all your mind and will. Remind yourself, as St. Louis de Montfort said: “Mary is made for me.”28 Yes, made for a man in a special way. As you belonged to Jesus before anyone else, so you too belonged to Mary before anyone else — she has loved you for over 2000 years, and from your conception you were hers and she yours. You will never be the saintly man God intended without her, you will never love Jesus as you ought with her, and loving her is the greatest joy and most astonishing gift from God to each man, and truly we would be horribly ungrateful to not accept this gift with all the ardor of our hearts. And so we end where we began:

“Mary is a gift to all men. . . . Mary offers men, in particular, a way out of a difficult problem. For women, loving Jesus comes easily and naturally. But it does not feel so easy or natural for a man to love another man as intimately as we ought to love our Lord. Mary presents men with a solution to this difficult challenge.” . . .

Here is where the priest’s words from earlier come into perfect focus. Mary is the Immaculate Conception, the New Eve, perfectly complementary to every human male. As the New Eve, Mary is our helper, perfectly compatible with every human male and yearning to help us master manhood to become who God called us to be in our families, in our marriages, and in society.

With her aid and graces, we can secure the victory delivered for us by the pure sacrifice of her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. As men, consecration to her is not merely a spiritual act of faith, but an essential act of manhood. She completes us, which is not to say God left us half-made and incomplete. Instead, God created us to be in communion with perfect femininity, which we find in her. Like the priest said, Mary is a gift to men.29

  1. Matthew Pride, “Mastering Manhood Through Mary,” The Catholic Gentleman, catholicgentleman.net/2018/01/mastering-manhood-mary/.
  2. Pride, “Mastering Manhood.”
  3. Wis 7:8–11. All Scripture citations are from the Douay-Rheims translation unless otherwise noted.
  4. Wis 8:2.
  5. Wis 8:9.
  6. Wis 7:25–26.
  7. Prov 9:4-5.
  8. St. Augustine, “Sermon 215, 4,” in The Works of Saint Augustine Part 3, vol. 6, ed. John Rotelle (New Rochelle, NY: New City, 1993), 160.
  9. Matthias Scheeben, Mariology, Volume I (Lexington: Ex Fontibus, 2014), 159.
  10. Stefano Manelli, “Marian Coredemption and the Mystery of the Eucharist in the Thought of Mother Mary Constance Zauli,” Mary at the Foot of the Cross VI (New Bedford, MA: Academy of the Immaculate, 2007), 325.
  11. H.M. Manteau-Bonamy, Immaculate Conception and the Holy Spirit (Libertyville, IL: Franciscan Marytown, 1977), 32.
  12. Manteau-Bonamy, Immaculate Conception, 44.
  13. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae I, q. 37-38, 2nd ed., trans. Fathers of the English Dominican Province, newadvent.org/summa/1037.htm, newadvent.org/summa/1038.htm.
  14. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd ed. (Washington, DC: United States Catholic Conference, 2000), 493.
  15. Peter Fehlner, St. Maximillian M. Kolbe, Martyr of Charity, Pneumatologist: His Theology of the Holy Spirit (New Bedford: Academy of the Immaculate, 2004), 147.
  16. Fulton Sheen, The World’s First Love (San Francisco: Ignatius, 2010), 24.
  17. A young fellow who was once interested in dating my oldest daughter, a fellow at our parish but I who I barely know at all except by sight, said what drew him to her was her likeness to Mary. Quite the compliment to my daughter, and my wife and I, and a real-life illustration of Sheen’s principle.
  18. Bob and Penny Lord, The Many Faces of Mary: A Love Story (Journeys of Faith, 1987), 11–12.
  19. Roy Schoeman, “Jewish Harvard Professor Roy Schoeman Becomes Convinced Catholic (Talk 1 Prescott Mission),” youtube.com/watch?v=WeDzSfquYcs.
  20. Stefano Manelli, Devotion to Our Lady (New Bedford, MA: Academy of the Immaculate, 2001), 9.
  21. D. Roberto, The Love of Mary (Rockford: TAN, 1984), 17.
  22. Mary Allies, Three Catholic Reformers of the Fifteenth Century (London: Burns and Oates, 1878), 80.
  23. Allies, Three Catholic Reformers, 80.
  24. Allies, Three Catholic Reformers, 81.
  25. Jayson Brunelle, private email to the author, 2018; quoted with permission. He is referring to married women such as Blessed Anna Maria Taigi, who was directly taken by Jesus as his spouse when she was a newly married woman and mother, and indeed had also just recently experienced a conversion in her life. See Albert Bessieres, Wife, Mother and Mystic (Rockford, IL: TAN, 1970), 126.
  26. Benedict Williamson, Gemma of Lucca (St. Louis: Alexander-Ouseley Ltd and B. Herder, 1932), 189.
  27. John Joseph, “Snow White: An Allegory of the Blessed Virgin Mary,” Ten-Stringed Lyre of the New Israel (22 August 2016), tenstringedlyreofthenewisrael.blogspot.com/2016/08/snow-white-allegory-of-blessed-virgin.html.
  28. Louis de Montfort, True Devotion (Rockford, IL: TAN, 1985), §179.
  29. Pride, “Mastering Manhood.”
Keith Berube About Keith Berube

Keith Berube, MA, is a mariologist and the author of the books Mary, the Beloved and Mary: The Rosary, the Relationship, and Dragons (to hit bookshelves in summer 2019), published by Enroute Books and Media. He has been a guest on EWTN with Jim and Joy Pinto and interviewed by WCAT Radio, St. Gabriel Radio, and Tumblar House. Mr. Berube is currently working toward a PhD in systematic theology, specializing in mariology, and teaches at Queen of Heaven Academy.

Comments

  1. This is profound. Spiritual reading like this is rare!

  2. Avatar DAVID A. WILLIAMS says:

    I liken a man’s love for Jesus to that which exists among warriors who fight and, if need be, die for each other. Catholic history is bless with so many such warriors, and one of my best examples is Chaplain Lt. Vincent Capodanno, CHC USNR, who won the Medal of Honor in Vietnam while ministering to his Marines during a firefight, placing his body to shield a wounded Corpsman and Marine from enemy machine gun fire. According to one Marine, he knew the mission was quite dangerous and that his Marines would be in mortal danger, and so Chaplain Capodanno ignored orders to remain at headquarters, but instead accompanied the men into battle. No greater love… ]