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Question of the Week

The Blessed Virgin Mary – an Anglican perspective Reverend Scott McLeod

Anglicans do honour the Saints – most Anglican parishes are named after Saints, after all. Within the Anglican Communion, and spectrum, it may not look the same as the veneration of the saints within the Roman Catholic tradition, or the Orthodox traditions, but Anglicans do place a high importance on the Saints. In a book called For All The Saints, a book produced by the National Church, compiled by Stephen Reynolds that lays out the Anglican church year calendar, the introduction by Reynolds starts with “Whenever we say the Apostles’ Creed, we confess our belief in “the communion of saints.” A little later it states “The habit of remembering “the friends of God” has been one of the great delights of Christian people since the dawn of the Church. The reason for this is neither fancy theology nor subChristian superstition. It is simply that the history of God’s mighty acts of salvation is always a personal history.”

And a little later again, “When the Church enrolls a person on its Calendar and commemorates that person in its liturgy, it does not make a saint where no saint had existed before. Instead, it recognizes a singular truth: God showed Christ specially at work in and through this person’s life, and therefore this person really was a saint all along.”

Mary, the mother of Jesus, does have a particular place and role in that God was specially at work in and through Mary’s life. Although there may be differences of how that is celebrated between the High Church Anglo-Catholic tradition of Anglicanism and the Low Church Protestantism of Anglicanism, but Mary undeniably has an important place within the Anglican Church. In the Church calendar we have no fewer than five days in the year dedicated to Mary – March 25 – the Annunciation of the Lord to the Blessed Virgin Mary, May 31 – the visit of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Elizabeth, August 15 – the feast of St. Mary, the Virgin, September 08 – the nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and December 08 – the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Besides days dedicated to Jesus (which is basically every day) no other saint gets as much recognition or as much time dedicated to them, as Mary.

Reynolds also says that “The Church believes that the divine purpose of justice, mercy, and love is revealed in the stories of particular persons. Indeed, it is through the stories of individual saints that the Almighty renews and strengthens the witness of the whole community of “the holy people of God.” Through Mary’s particular story, and part of the Gospel narratives we see how she was an amazing example of what it meant to make oneself humble before God, and to surrender one’s ego and ambition to allow God to work in and through her doing infinitely more than she could have asked or imagined. Her response to God’s call is an example of faithfulness and devotion that also speaks to the incredible liberation that God promises. In Mary’s Song, known as the Magnificat, found in the Gospel of Luke, generations of people have found inspiration and encouragement in their faith, and a reassurance of God’s promises that we are all loved, and forgiven equally, no matter who we are, a young woman from the ancient Middle East, or us here today. God’s promises to us are true, and Mary is an amazing example of, and inspiration to faithfulness to God, and the Gospel.

** all quotes from Stephen Reynolds, compiler of For All the Saints