May 13, 2008
Our Lady, the Church, and the Workers of the
by: Fr. Andrew Younan
Though we neither know nor understand how, since it was the
miraculous work of the Holy Spirit, we do know and understand that
Mary, a virgin, became the mother of the Son of God – we can grasp
the relationship between Mary and Christ, though the causality of
this relationship is beyond us. In the same way, we know that in
every corner of the New Testament Christ is named the Bridegroom,
and the Church the Bride. But, just as we cannot grasp the miracle
of the Virgin Birth of Christ, we cannot grasp how this Heavenly
Marriage takes place, since it is the work of the invisible and
indefinable grace of God.
But the mystery is even deeper than that; the more we try to define
even the relationships between these holy figures, the more we
realize that our definitions are incomplete and unsuitable. Mary is
Christ’s mother, making her (somehow) the mother-in-law of the
Church; but in another sense, she is a member of the Church. The
Church is also somehow his mother, since it is in the baptismal
font, the “womb” of the Church, that Christ is born within the souls
of the faithful.
Mother & Bride
In the book of Revelation, there is a mysterious woman described as
a sign: “And a great sign appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with
the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of
twelve stars; she was with child and she cried out in her pangs of
birth, in anguish for delivery.” (Revelation 12:1-2) Who is this
woman? Her child is attacked by a dragon, as well as her other
children who are described later: “Then the dragon was angry with
the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on
those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus.”
(Revelation 12: 17) The Church is somehow our spiritual mother, and
so is Mary; and Mary is therefore a symbol of the Church.
In the midst of such complexity, our Chaldean Church offers a
beautiful hymn to describe the relationship between the Church and
The Church says to Mary, “come, let us go as one
and appease the Son of the Almighty on behalf of the iniquity of the
You appease him because you suckled him with milk,
I will appease him because he prepared Blood for my wedding feast.
You appease him as a mother, and I as a bride,
for he heeds his mother, and he answers his betrothed.”
The details of the relationship, which are beyond us, are not the
point. The point is that the Lord loves his mother and his bride,
and that they return this love in their own ways which are, though
distinct, both expressions of pure, spiritual love.
The Workers of the Vineyard
The intense love of a bride and the tender care of a mother are the
traits which accompany the ceremony we look forward to on May 15th.
On that day, Reem Salman and Rana Raban will make their vows to
dedicate themselves as nuns for the next two years. This is the
continuation of a formative period in which they will prepare to
become, on the day of their final vow, visible symbols of the
Church, the bride of Christ. Moreover, they will during this time
follow the model given to them by Our Lady, and become spiritual
mothers to the faithful of our Diocese, with special attentiveness
to our youth. Thus their names will be changed, on that day, to Sr.
Miskenta Mariam and Sr. Tarbytha Mariam, names given to them by
their superiors in the Church to reflect their goal of sanctity
(since the names given to them are those of saints), their Chaldean
identity (since the saints are of our own tradition), and the
reality of their Marian patronage.
Our Lady of the Fields, pray for us!!