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Mary: the Model of Feminine Authority

Christ executed His first miracle because someone requested it. But this someone is not just anyone—it is His mother. It is precisely because Mary is Christ’s mother, the source of His presence in the world, that she has the authority to request a miracle that would lead her Son to His Passion. Mary possesses this authority because it is tied to her maternal role in the economy of salvation. As the Mother of God she has been entrusted with aiding Christ in His salvific work. She can send Christ to the Cross because she is the source of His priesthood and thus she has a maternal right to nourish its fulfillment. Indeed, Mary has not only the right, but the responsibility to do so.

When Mary leads Christ to the Cross, she undoes the knot of Eve’s disobedience. Eve led Adam away from what it meant for him to be a man and to be the head. Eve brought Adam under the power of her own whim. She misused her feminine power which, as St. John Chrysostom in Homily IX stated, led Adam astray from the will of God. The New Eve uses her authority to lead the New Adam, not to do her will, but to accomplish the will of the Father who sent Him.

This is a key element of feminine authority. Feminine authority is meant to lead men to fulfill what it means for them to be masculine and to fulfill the specific tasks and responsibilities with which they are entrusted in the order of creation and redemption. At Cana, Christ subjects Himself to Mary in the accomplishment of His Father’s business. Or perhaps we should say that Christ, through the mediation of Mary’s maternal authority, discerned and then subjected Himself to the will of the Father. She is the New Eve, the true and effective helpmate of the New Adam.

The essence of woman is to have authority over the divine gift of life. Because of this, Mary is the source of the New Covenant. The Protogospel tells us that this is the meaning of woman. Woman as “mother of all living” was indispensable to the beginning of creation, so too she is indispensable as the source of the new beginning.

The woman of the Protogospel is the woman who will stand at the foot of the Cross on Golgotha and be a true “mother of all living” through the sacrificial offering she makes as the second Eve. The suffering of the woman is an essential part of the work of salvation: “In pain you shall bring forth children” (Gen 3:16). These words apply not only to Eve but also to the New Eve who became the Mother of the Church and of all Christians.

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