Bearing God, Echoing the Word: Mary as Contemplative Exemplar




Shellhouse, Grant

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Mary, the Mother of God, is offered in Scripture as a model of prayer after which contemplatives may shape their own prayers. This thesis exegetes Scripture passages involving Mary, and enters into dialogue with numerous Catholic and Protestant theologians throughout time. In doing so, it demonstrates how Christ offers his mother to his Church as a contemplative ideal, and then identifies and analyzes the contemplative virtues that Mary embodies: her selfless and obedient reception of the Word of God, her quiet pondering of its mysteries, her faithfulness in bearing it into the world, and her self-emptying perseverance and humility. These virtues are applied to the contemplative act and presented as ideals in prayer. Finally, this thesis turns to the contemplative action of the whole Christian Church, illuminating how the prayers of each contemplative are connected to the prayer of the whole Church, and arguing that because of this dynamic connection the praying Church takes the contemplative form of the Mother of God.