We are meditating on the original, 12th century, version of the “Hail Mary” prayer of the Middle Ages, which goes like this:
Hail Mary, full of grace,
the Lord is with you, untroubled maiden.
You are blessed among women,
you who brought forth peace to people
and glory to the angels.
Blessed too is the fruit of your womb,
who by grace made it possible for us to be his heirs.
Notice the important words here: grace, glory, peace, [being] heirs of Christ, angels. It is a poem of empowerment.
Angels, like the word “glory,” suggest the Cosmic Christ. And angels traditionally usher the soul after death to the next level of existence. The message that humans bring “glory to the angels” and are “heirs” to Christ, along with the emphasis on “grace” and “peace,” stand out as integral to the creation spirituality tradition. In one of his sermons, Meister Eckhart challenges us to be “full of grace” like Mary was.
Notice too what words are absent: “death, fear, sinners” and the guilt and shame that accompanies them. The 16th century version that talks of sinners and fear of death is deeply fall/redemption.
Patriarchy and pessimism ruled over culture and religion in the West, as French historian Jean Delumeau demonstrates in his powerful study, Sin and Fear: The Emergence of a Western Guilt Culture 13th-18th Centuries. A “new fear” was birthed, he says—“the fear of one’s self” which advanced the “dread of God” over the “fear of God….The accusation of man and the world reached its climax in Western civilization” in the sixteenth century, he maintains.
I propose updating the prayer for our post-modern times by adding to the original Hail Mary of the Middle Ages the following ending:
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us heirs and co-workers of God at the hour of our creativity. Amen.
Such invoking of creativity is essential, if our species and the planet as we know it is to survive.
A prayer to the Divine Feminine ought not conclude in a tone of patriarchal self-pity, powerlessness and fear.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society, pp. 163-173.
And Fox, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ, pp. 99-104, 107.
And Matthew Fox and Rupert Sheldrake, The Physics of Angels. pp. 177f.
And Fox, Passion For Creation: The Earth-Honoring Spirituality of Meister Eckhart, pp. 93f., 101.
To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner Image: “The Annunciation” (1914) by John William Waterhouse. Public domain from WikiArt.org.
Queries for Contemplation
How does this new ending to an old prayer strike you as useful for our times? Do you sense a “dread of God” and “fear of self” lurking behind too much Western religion?
Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society
Visionary theologian and best-selling author Matthew Fox offers a new theology of evil that fundamentally changes the traditional perception of good and evil and points the way to a more enlightened treatment of ourselves, one another, and all of nature. In comparing the Eastern tradition of the 7 chakras to the Western tradition of the 7 capital sins, Fox allows us to think creatively about our capacity for personal and institutional evil and what we can do about them.
“A scholarly masterpiece embodying a better vision and depth of perception far beyond the grasp of any one single science. A breath-taking analysis.” — Diarmuid O’Murchu, author of Quantum Theology: Spiritual Implications of the New Physics
The Coming of the Cosmic Christ: The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance
In what may be considered the most comprehensive outline of the Christian paradigm shift of our Age, Matthew Fox eloquently foreshadows the manner in which the spirit of Christ resurrects in terms of the return to an earth-based mysticism, the expression of creativity, mystical sexuality, the respect due the young, the rebirth of effective forms of worship—all of these mirroring the ongoing blessings of Mother Earth and the recovery of Eros, the feminine aspect of the Divine.
“The eighth wonder of the world…convincing proof that our Western religious tradition does indeed have the depth of imagination to reinvent its faith.” — Brian Swimme, author of The Universe Story and Journey of the Universe.
The Physics of Angels: Exploring the Realm Where Science & Spirit Meet
By Matthew Fox and Rupert Sheldrake
When was the last time a scientist and a theologian discussed angels together? What are angels? Many people believe in angels, but few can define these enigmatic spirits. Now visionary theologian Matthew Fox and acclaimed biologist Rupert Sheldrake—pioneers in modern religious thinking and scientific theory—launch a groundbreaking exploration into the ancient concept of the angel and restore dignity, meaning, and joy to our time-honored belief in these heavenly beings.
Passion for Creation: The Earth-Honoring Spirituality of Meister Eckhart
Matthew Fox’s comprehensive translation of Meister Eckhart’s sermons is a meeting of true prophets across centuries, resulting in a spirituality for the new millennium. The holiness of creation, the divine life in each person and the divine power of our creativity, our call to do justice and practice compassion–these are among Eckhart’s themes, brilliantly interpreted and explained for today’s reader.
“The most important book on mysticism in 500 years.” — Madonna Kolbenschlag, author of Kissing Sleeping Beauty Goodbye.