who stooped to raise fallen humanity
through the child-bearing of blessed Mary:
grant that we, who have seen your glory
revealed in our human nature
and your love made perfect in our weakness,
may daily be renewed in your image
and conformed to the pattern of your Son,
Jesus Christ our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.
A little less me, a little more God. Or perhaps not? "We who have seen...your love made perfect in our weakness". That bit of this Collect describes so powerfully my experience of the Christian life over the years. Much weakness and human frailty and failing, but also the revelation of God's love in and through very failible human beings. And in the shewing of that love (thanks Dame Julian!), there is also the revelation of the glory that is God, not through an abstract perfection but through the flawed medium of the clay of human nature.
Perhaps clay is too sanitised a term. For our human nature is bound up profoundly with our bodies. The glory that is God is in the blood and the sweat and the tears and the snot that is our physical being. And the perfection only reveals itself in the reality of human living, with its agonies and ecstasies. Bernini's Ecstasy of St Theresa, which I stood dazzled in front of in Rome on holiday some years ago, catches brilliantly the truth that it is our very physical humanity in which we experience the deepest reality of God. it is the only medium through which the Divine can touch us. To try to seperate our "holiness" or "spirituality" from our earthly being is folly and dualism to boot.
Mary reminds us that it is solely through our humanity, redeemed by Christ and sanctified by the Spirit, we can know and serve God. Every feast of the Virgin recalls us to celebrate our human-ness. And in celebrating to know God more fully.