Theology - the inner, silent faith of the Church
"The Gospel is not about Mary. But, Mary is definitely about the Gospel." - Fr. Thomas Hopko
Today is the feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple. But really, it isn't something the Church would have normally made any sort of big public deal about - particularly in the age when or place where Christianity was decidedly a minority faith. And the reason being is that Mary (and indeed the rest of the Saints) really are not part of the public message of the Gospel. I was reminded of this as I listened to Fr. Thomas Hopko's podcast about this feast. Instead, the Theotokos is part of the inner Tradition of the Church.
Fr. Thomas notes that Vladimir Lossky, following St. Basil the Great and St. Ignatios of Antioch wrote that the Theotokos is not part of the Kerygma (public preaching) of the Church; she is not part of the Public Preaching of the Gospel which is Christ, Him crucified, and Risen. The Theotokos, among other teachings and traditions, belong to the inner mystery - the "silence of faith" and it is here where our understanding of the Theotokos is to be nurtured and properly understod. Only those who are part of the inner life of the Church can really understand her role and importance.
Now, if you are like me, your mind will wander immediately to gnosticism and the secret wisdom which they deemed necessary for salvation. And therein lies the difference. Understanding of these inner mysteries of the Church is not necessary for salvation, they are not in and of themselves the Truth. Truth is a person, and that is Christ - you must know Him. Far more than an intellectual asset, knowing Him and living the inner life of the Church becomes the foundation upon which the inner mysteries can be built. St. Paul hints to this idea when writing to the Church in Corinth noting the difference between milk and meat (1 Cor. 3:2)
None of this should surprise anyone. Consider that Catechumens were not allowed to be present for the latter half of the Divine Liturgy and were dismissed - and as many of you know this remnant of the service remains, though we do not shuffle anyone out anymore. Additionally Catechumen's would only hear the Gospel of John for the first time at the Paschal Liturgy as it was deemed to not be the Kerygma, but the Theology of the Church. One could say: it is meat.
It's not about keeping secrets like the Mason's (God forbid), it's really about common sense. You don't take Caluculus until you have taken Pre-Algebra, otherwise you'd think Calculus to be the work of a mad man. (maybe it is!) Last night at Great Vespers we read three Old Testament Readings which spoke of The Tabernacle, the Temple, the Ark of the Covenant, and the Closed Gate of the Sanctuary. All of them prophesying and referring to Mary who in turn, as ever, points to Christ. But comprehending that and not seeing it as absurdity cannot come easily without some grounding in Truth first.
Listen to Fr. Thomas' podcast - it is worth your time. A blessed feast everyone!
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 10:16 AM [+]