The Cosmic Mystery of Mary and the Action of the Holy Spirit
The cosmic mystery of Mary draws attention to what the Roman Catholic Church celebrates as her heavenly reign, an aspect of which is the proliferation of Marian apparitions and manifestations around the world particularly in the 19th and 20th centuries. This dissertation underscores that these historical interventions are manifestations of the action of the Holy Spirit in the particular figure of Mary and is attentive to the different ways God’s graces flow to the whole people of God without conflating the person of Mary with the Person of the Spirit. The instrumental nature of Mary’s relation to the Spirit in carrying out Christ’s salvific work is the centerpiece of this study. A key aspect of this work is the mutual recognition of non-Christians in that Mary’s appearances to a number of seers is not contingent on their being or becoming Christian. A number of modern apparitions have assumed political significance because of the social turmoil of the periods when they occurred. Of interest here, is an understanding of the Spirit’s implementation in Mary’s intellect and will, and the reception of her apparition messages in ways that are transformative for ecclesial life and all God’s people. This work includes an exposition of some of the scriptural, ecumenical, interreligious, and ecclesiastical foundations for understanding the Spirit’s action in Mary, and their influence on contemporary mariological discourse since the Second Vatican Council. It reviews some of the key insights from the two-thousand year history of Marian apparitions, the complexity of the phenomenon, and the trends observed during the modern period. Vailankanni (India), Zeitoun (Egypt), and Kibeho (Rwanda) are three case studies included based on the persistence of a Marian cult, pilgrim growth, and contemporary sociopolitical and religious concerns. The rise in Hindu nationalism in India, political tensions and growth of pan-Islamism in North Africa and the Middle East, and the 1994 genocide in Rwanda are studied using the historical-critical method and comparative studies of religion within the scope of apparitions, drawing attention to the marginalization of particular demographics based on religious or ethnic origin. Understanding the Spirit’s implementation in Mary enhances the analysis of the implications of these phenomena. The Spirit’s work through Mary’s cosmic mystery has profound, far-reaching significance for the world church and all God’s people. The three cases reveal how Marian apparitions evolve from obscure events in insignificant places to global centers of Christian spirituality. They make known the hidden potential of the gospel to apply Christian revelation to localized, particular challenges in new situations with permanent, prophetic, and eschatological implications. The permanent examines how the repetitive or apocalyptic nature of Mary’s appeals mobilizes the sensus fidelium through the transforming power of pilgrimage, its impact on Marian devotion, and the emergence of new ecclesial movements. The prophetic addresses Christian and interreligious unity through dialogical encounter, equality for all, God’s justice, and the preferential option for the poor. The global reach of Marian apparitions expresses the oneness of Mary operating under the power of the Spirit, accompanying a global humanity-in-pilgrimage towards the eschatological reign of God.