“And so the knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by Mary’s obedience. What Eve bound through her unbelief, Mary loosed by her faith.”

(Irenaeus of Lyons)


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All about the New Eve


In Catholic reflection Our Lady is a clothes horse of a kind, the frame on which Catholics hang what we have to say about the potential of every human being (and less there be any doubt, every man as well as every woman). The doctrines of the Immaculate Conception, and the Assumption for example are more about an optimistic understanding of the true nature of every person’s origin and ultimate destination, As she was/is, so we all have the potential to be, Sometimes we loose the run of ourselves on this and overload the poor woman with “notions’ that have their origins in particular cultures or eras,. We project on her perceptions of propriety, particularly in the role of women and falsely give those notion the appearance of universal validity. My personal favourite is the idea (told to us by our very devout primary school teacher) that “girls shouldn’t whistle because Our Lady never did”.

Mary reflected on as the New Eve takes the story of Adam and Eve (every human being) full circle, Now in Christ we have a Saviour who was tempted but did not sin, and a New Eve who is everything that the Old Eve was intended to be and more.

My devotion to Our Lady is anchored in this confidence that she is evidence that the human experience of weakness and temptation is not what was intended.  That through Baptism I have (in principle at least) the same capacities as she had from the moment of her conception. Further, I believe that it is possible for me to join her in the ultimate home of all humanity-paradise.

However Mary is not just a theological frame, she is a person, the Mother of our Saviour and my mother too. The invitation of our faith to have a devotion to her is not just to dress her up as scholarly coat rack, but rather to engage with her as a person of faith, a comforter, and guide. For a woman perhaps there are particular life experiences that resonate, childbearing, motherhood, grief for a child, and so on but I, as a man, am no less invited to imitate the woman who listened, said yes and bring forth Christ to the world. Our experience of temptation might cause us to falter, we can we can imitate the new Eve if we maintain our confidence in what has been given to us in Baptism

 

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