This imagery not only has to do with the Virgin Mary, but with the nuptial imagery in the Scripture. In Ephesians, St. Paul says, “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church.” And the Church is referred to as “the Bride of Christ.” Therefore, as C. S. Lewis has written, “In relationship to Christ, we are all female.” What this means is that all of us must respond to the call of the beloved. Christ the Bridegroom reaches out to us, and we respond in loving obedience to his love.
Catholicism stands the world on its head, and therefore calls women to service and not slavery – and to this, the Church calls us all (men too). In this way, like the Virgin Mary, women are called to follow the path of self denial – to be little, not large. But if women are to follow the “little way,” so must we all. In the Christian Church, it is the story of both “little women” and “little men,” for sanctity consists of saying with John the Baptist, “I must decrease,” and the Gospel says that unless we become like “little children,” we cannot enter the Kingdom.
We become little by first responding humbly to the call of the beloved, then giving ourselves in sacrificial service to God and our neighbor.
Fr. Dwight Longenecker is pastor of Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Greenville, South Carolina. Visit his blog, browse his books, and be in touch at dwightlongenecker.com.