Thursday, May 13, 2010

Humility: Mother and Child

Giovanni di Paolo, (about 1399–died 1482)
Madonna of Humility
Tempera on panel
61.9 x 48.9 cm (24 3/8 x 19 1/4 in.)
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

One genuinely new Marian theme was the Madonna dell'Umiltà, or Madonna of Humility.

We first see the image in Sienese painting during the fourteenth century.

Here the Virgin is seated not on a throne but on a cushion on the ground. It is assumed that all Virgins seated on the ground, with or without a cushion, were regarded at the time as humble Virgins. The first images of the Madonna dell'Umiltà, datable around 1300, appeared simultaneously on altarpieces, murals and small panels for private devotion.

It is a pose that emphasizes Mary`s humanity and her submission to divine will.

On 12th May 2010, after the Pope said the rosary in Latin and then conducted a candlelight pilgrimage in Fatima, Cardinal Bertone, the Secretary of State, said a vigil Mass for today`s feast of Our Lady, as she is remembered for her apparitions in Portugal.

The Mass was at the Fatima Shrine.

The theme of the Cardinal`s homily was "Humility"

A report is in Zenit.

""In order to enter the kingdom, we must become humble, ever humbler and smaller, as small as possible: this is the secret of the mystical life," he said. "A serious commitment to the spiritual life begins when a person makes an authentic act of humility, moving away from the difficult position of one who always considers himself the center of the universe so as to abandon oneself into the arms of the mystery of God, with the heart of a child."

In those arms, the cardinal reflected, "not only is there power, knowledge and majesty, but also infancy, innocence, infinite tenderness, because he is Father, infinitely Father."

Cardinal Bertone noted how this understanding of God was not known before Christ.

We could not have known it before, he said; "it was only when he sent his Son to us that we were able to discover it."

"The Son became a child and so he could tell us to become children ourselves in order to enter his kingdom," the cardinal continued. "He, the God of infinite grandeur, became so small and humble before us that only the eyes of faith, only the eyes of the simple are able to recognize him."

Christ's becoming a child "called into question the natural instinct of self-assertion that dominates us," he stated. "'Become like God.' Very well, then! God appeared on earth as a child. Now we know what God is like: he is a child."

The secretary of state noted how the "'wisdom of the world" exalts personal success, and seeks it at any cost, even if persons come to be seen as mere obstacles.

"This is what people call life," he said, "but the trail of death that it leaves behind immediately contradicts them. [...] Only someone who loves his brother possesses in himself eternal life, that is to say, the presence of God, who, through the Spirit, communicates his love to the believer, making him a sharer in the mystery of the life of the Blessed Trinity."