Sunday 29 November 2015

The apparitions of the Madonna

A wonderful theological reading of the apparitions of the Madonna, by Rossi de Gasperis. Something that makes me think immediately of the old and infirm Don Bosco insisting that he was seeing the Madonna in the FMA house of Nizza Monferrato. It is not that Mary appears here and there, says Rossi de Gasperis, but rather that she is always present, seeing that she is risen with Christ and assumed into heaven. And it is the gift and grace and tender mercy of the Lord to allow here and there our eyes to be opened, so that we can see, at least for a moment, things as they are in their heavenly, celestial, spiritual reality. To see, in other words, with the eyes of God. To see as Jesus saw. To see God. 
A way of understanding theologically the visions of the Madonna, in those cases where there is something serious, is perhaps to see them not so much in terms of the Virgin “appearing” in different places, but rather in terms of our eyes opening up contingently to her permanent presence in our history. Mary is the one who is Assumed. Even “in heaven” – i.e., in the definitive scenario of God’s involvement with humanity – there remains the man-woman pair. Jesus is not risen alone, with him is already risen also the Church, as we can see in the martyrdom of Stephen (Acts 7,55-60). Mary is the person who represents all the disciples, of whom she is Mother, historical and mystical sign of the Jerusalem that is the Bride of the Lord. This we can see symbolized in her mantle that covers the many monstrances that are the different churches. One who is in the church is in Mary, because he participates in her spousal response to the visit of God that was “announced” to her. A bit of heaven is therefore already opened up on the earth and in the human condition. One who, thanks to God’s grace, is given to “see”, at least for a moment, the “celestial” dimension of human things, sees Mary. She is the first portion of humanity to be saved, the sign of our final destiny, our vocation. It is not so much, therefore, the Madonna who appears here and there; it is a gift of the Lord that allows the eyes of some men and some women to be opened, for their own sake and for others, in order to accompany and guide the path of all towards “Heaven.” (F. Rossi de Gasperis, Sentieri di vita 2.2:523n7)

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