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Litany of Loreto - Seat of Wisdom

Sunday, February 06, 2011
Wisdom is more active than all active things; and reaches everywhere, by reason of her purity. For she is a vapour of the power of God, and a certain pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty God: and therefore no defiled thing comes into her (Wisdom 7:24-25).

The Virgin Orans at St. Sophia Cathedral, Kiev
For centuries Christians have prayed to Our Lady that they might be guided in wisdom. At Blackfriars, we'll often begin meetings with the prayer: 'Our Lady Seat of Wisdom, pray for us.' There is a very special relationship between Our Lady and wisdom. In the Old Testament, wisdom is personified as a female figure who brings God's plans to perfection. Whilst the New Testament never applied these texts directly to Mary herself, early Christians began to ask who this figure was. One possibility was to identify this figure with Christ himself, but this was slightly problematic, not only because wisdom is a female figure, but also because the Old Testament described wisdom as a mother who had been created (Sirach 24). So who was this person, so near to God without being God, associated with him in the role of mother of the whole world, this female figure that fulfils His plans to perfection? It was the analogy between this image and that of the woman in Revelation 12 clothed with the sun and crowned with twelve stars, that led Christians to apply the wisdom texts to Mary.

Mary cannot be said to be wisdom without qualification. Only Christ is the eternal uncreated wisdom of God, and only the Church made perfect at the end of time, is to be the final created realisation of this divine wisdom. But Mary is the one who was predestined to be the first created realisation of wisdom. For creation was only able to fully engage with the wisdom of God when Mary in her total receptivity to the divine will, allowed herself to be that seat in which wisdom would makes its home.

Robert Verrill OP


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