“Those holy heads are too near together for the halos not to mingle and cross.” ~G.K. Chesterton
As you think of the Christmas story this week, notice something very Catholic in it; specifically, the origins of our love and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Our devotion to Our Lady springs from the fact that the Son of God was conceived by the Holy Spirit in Our Lady’s womb, per her consent, and was nourished there for nine months in a life-giving dependency. This dependency of God, who created the universe!, upon a little maiden is striking, and speaks to us of the order created by God for the salvation of our souls. St. Louis de Montfort spoke of this order when he wrote:
“St. Thomas assures us that, following the order established by his divine Wisdom, God ordinarily imparts his graces to men through Mary. Therefore, if we wish to go to him, seeking union with him, we must use the same means which he used in coming down from heaven to assume our human nature and to impart his graces to us. That means was a complete dependence on Mary his Mother, which is true devotion to her.”
This cannot be overlooked when examining the story of Christmas; yet this is what has been done on occasion in the past; and continues to be done: certain men (inadvertently?) demean Our Lady by describing her as just another girl, denying by such talk the order established by God. They deny (perhaps without knowing it) that the Angel Gabriel hailed her at the Annunciation with the title, Full of Grace. They also deny (perhaps without realizing it) Church Tradition, teaching, dogma, instructions from saints; and the words of Church Fathers, theologians, and philosophers, which have lauded the Blessed Virgin Mary as a Singular Lady. Thankfully, we have the Church to prevent us from falling into such error: the error of separating the mingling halos (G.K. Chesterton) of Our Lady and of her Son, Christ Jesus. In an earlier post, I talked about the error of those who attempt to separate Our Lady from Christ, and vice versa. I wrote:
God willed that His Most Beloved Son be born of the Immaculate Virgin Mary. The Bible can not be cut up to forget this important fact: an angel appeared to the Virgin Mary to receive her consent to become the Mother of God. Her consent! Gratitude and honor are owed to this Queen for having taken on something so beautiful, yet so difficult, laden, as it was, with incomprehensible sorrow and sufferings. If she had not said yes…..no, it is best not to think of that. She did say yes, and Catholics remember and esteem her in her Immaculate Conception, in the mystery of her Motherhood, and in her incomparable loyalty and courage in fulfilling the duties of her state in life with never a blemish or stain in her thoughts, words, or deeds. It is nearly impossible to understand her, and perhaps she will not be fully understood until either the Kingdom of God is established on Earth, or as each individual enters the Kingdom of Heaven. For now, as God knows, things are seen in a murky fashion, as if seen through a veil. This veil is often made more dense due to sin that darkens the intellect. Our Lord understood our intellectual deficits; He established the Church to teach and guide, and to fill in those gaps of understanding which afflict us in this life. The Church can be looked to in understanding the mystery which is the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Church has always kept devotion to Mary close to devotion to Her Most Holy Son, and devotion to Jesus close to devotion to Mary. The Church did not make the mistake of splitting them apart, seeing one without the other, for as G.K. Chesterton said: “You cannot chip away the statue of a mother from all round that of a newborn child. You cannot suspend the new-born child in mid-air; indeed you cannot really have a statue of a newborn child at all. Similarly, you cannot suspend the idea of a newborn child in the void or think of him without thinking of his mother. You cannot visit the child without visiting the mother, you cannot in common human life approach the child except through the mother. If we are to think of Christ in this aspect at all … we must admit, if only as we admit it in an old picture, that those holy heads are too near together for the haloes not to mingle and cross.” (G.K. Chesterton from The Everlasting Man) Understanding the idea of the mingling halos of Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary is the beginning of understanding devotion to Jesus through Mary. So when voices call to split these two apart, look to the Church, and refuse to listen.
The following is a longer excerpt from Chesterton’s The Everlasting Man which makes the assertion that it is common sense that Mary, the Holy Virgin Mother, is to be kept in Christmas, kept with Her Son:
“Bethlehem is emphatically a place where extremes meet. Here begins, it is needless to say, another mighty influence for the humanization of Christendom. If the world wanted what is called a non-controversial aspect of Christianity, it would probably select Christmas. Yet it is obviously bound up with what is supposed to be a controversial aspect (I could never at any stage of my opinions imagine why); the respect paid to the Blessed Virgin. When I was a boy a more Puritan generation objected to a statue upon my parish church representing the Virgin and Child. After much controversy, they compromised by taking away the Child. One would think that this was even more corrupted with Mariolatry, unless the mother was counted less dangerous when deprived of a sort of weapon. But the practical difficulty is also a parable. You cannot chip away the statue of a mother from all round that of a newborn child. You cannot suspend the new-born child in mid-air; indeed you cannot really have a statue of a newborn child at all. Similarly, you cannot suspend the idea of a newborn child in the void or think of him without thinking of his mother. You cannot visit the child without visiting the mother, you cannot in common human life approach the child except through the mother. If we are to think of Christ in this aspect at all, the other idea follows as it is followed in history. We must either leave Christ out of Christmas, or Christmas out of Christ, or we must admit, if only as we admit it in an old picture, that those holy heads are too near together for the haloes not to mingle and cross.” ~G.K. Chesterton, from The Everlasting Man
It is a beautiful sight, the mingling halos of Our Lady and Her divine Son; making Christmas night, indeed, a Holy Night.
So, do keep Mary in Christmas, close to her beloved Son, our Holy Redeemer.
That’s what our Catholic ancestors did.
That’s what we do.
~More information on The Everlasting Man by G.K. Chesterton, here.
~Top image: pic of a Christmas card (G. Cameron), December 2021.
^joyful tidings, here.