The Blessed Virgin Mary teaches Christians they must open themselves to God’s love, said an expert on theology of the body Tuesday in the Gentile Gallery at 7 p.m.
Christopher West, co-founder of Theology of the Body Institute and a popular Catholic author, discussed the meaning of Mary’s body through the lens of Pope St. John Paul II’s teachings on theology of the body.
According to West, Marian theology can be summed up in a Bible verse, “A tree is known by its fruit,” with the fruit of Mary’s tree being the marriage of heaven and earth.
West said the Bible is about marriage and fertility from beginning to end, from the first couple in Genesis to the marriage of Christ and his Church in Revelation.
The fertility of the earth and creation expressed in the Bible “culminates in the fertility of Mary’s womb,” West said.
West said every woman shares in the dignity brought about through the Incarnation in Mary’s womb, although everyone can learn from the example of Mary.
“This is a theology of a woman’s body,” he said. “Woman teaches us all — male and female — that the purpose of our humanity is to open, to receive divine love, to conceive divine love and bear it forth.”
West said God created the world with beauty to awaken a yearning for him. Mary “is the only human person whose longing was never misdirected,” he said.
“This gave her the ability to rejoice in the beauty of creation in a way that you and I can only barely imagine because she saw all of creation as it really is — so many icons that point to heaven,” West said.
Using a poem by St. Catherine of Siena to make further points about Mary, West said Old Testament verses that mention words such as garden, temple, sanctuary and court are fulfilled in Mary.
West also emphasized the need to learn how to open one’s yearnings to the infinite, following the example of Mary. He named prayer as an important method for doing so.
The talk was followed by a Q&A session.
Freshman Michael Clark said he loved the talk.
“I think sometimes it’s really easy for us to fall into a stoic way of looking at Mary, which strips her of a lot of her beauty,” Clark said. “She’s a real person who wants to know us and bring us to her son.”
The event was sponsored by Corpus Christi Household.