Today, the feast day of the Nativity of Mary, the Indian Catholic Church celebrates the Day of the Girl Child. Sex selection remains widespread with thousands of female foetuses killed each year. Mary "shows how to live the Christian mysteries". Fr Anthony Charangat, editor of the Mumbai Archdiocese weekly, offers his commentary.
Mumbai (AsiaNews) – Today the day of the Nativity of Mary, the Catholic Church in India celebrates the National Day of the Girl Child. According to the 2011 census, at birth there were 918 baby girls per 1,000 baby boys. This means that foetal selection and selective abortions are still taking place.
Female infanticide remains a serious problem in India because of deeply rooted misogyny. Since it is harder for girls and women to find work or be viewed as equal to men, large sectors of Indian society believe that it is better not to give them life.
With the introduction of ultrasound imaging, tests to determine the sex of the baby, and procedures like amniocentesis, tens of thousands of female foetuses are never born. To curb the abuse of these medical practices, the government promulgated the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Technologies Act (Pc & Pndt) in 1994, imposing a range of penalties against offenders, both medical staff and parents.
On this Day, Fr Anthony Charangat, editor of The Examiner, the weekly paper of the Archdiocese of Mumbai, notes that Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is the "patroness of the Girl Child and protector from violence perpetrated against her."
According to the priest, Mary "stands as our hope" in the constant struggle between good and evil. She is the "archetype for the contemporary women in their legitimate desires to be more intensely involved in the mission of the Church and in the healing of societal wounds." His comments follow.
After Vatican II, the trend in Mariology has shifted away from honouring the privileges and splendours of Mary for their own sake to an emphasis on Mary as one with us. We are being called to contemplate the Gospel mysteries of her life in relation to the mysteries of our own life, and to imitate her perfect response of faith by an authentic Marian spirituality that unlocks for us the Mystery of Mary of the Mount.
While the Council strongly urges us to continue to exalt Mary who "far surpasses all other creatures in heaven and on earth" (LG 54) and to pray to Mary "whose intercession and protection the Church continually experiences" (LG 62), the Council also asks us to focus explicitly on Mary as a type of the Church. It is often easier to honour Mary than to probe her mystery, to exalt Mary than to make our own life like hers: a total faith response to God.
As a help in this direction, Mary is presented in Lumen Gentium in Biblical terms. The Scriptures are our purest source of the knowledge of Mary. Mary herself was steeped in the living waters of the Old Testament. These waters continue to bear life for our contemporary times. Lumen Gentium is very explicit in saying that the Old Testament is to be "understood in the light of further and full revelation." (LG 55) The light of the fullness of revelation occurs when the New Testament is read in the light of the Old Testament, and the Old in the light of the New. Scripture scholars call this the 'sensus plenior' – Scripture interpreters of all times have considered the 'sensus plenior' as a valid inspired meaning of Scripture intended by God.
Here we can barely touch on Mary in Scripture, so vast is the ocean. Thomas Merton has written that unless "we find her [Mary] living in the midst of Scripture, and unless we find her, also hidden in Scripture, wherever and in whatever promises contain her Son, we shall not fully know the life that is in Scripture."
In order to pursue a true picture of Mary, it is good to begin with the prophesy in Genesis 3:15 which all of Tradition has applied to Mary, the Mother of our Saviour: I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed; He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel. This passage signifies the battle which continues to take place between good and evil, wherein Mary stands as our hope.
Turning to the history of the Jewish people, we find a long line of women who are considered types of Mary. We can think of Miriam who guarded the infant Moses, who would eventually free Israel from Egyptian oppression. We think of those heroines like Deborah and Judith who saved their people from ruin — types of Mary in her spiritual collaboration with Christ's redeeming work.
Looking at Mary in this way, we can see her as an archetype for contemporary women in their legitimate desires to be more intensely involved in the mission of the Church and in the healing of societal wounds. Women of today can look to Mary as one who fully and responsibly heard the Word of God and acted upon it.
As a model for every Christian, she shows us how to live the Christian mysteries as we contemplate the Scriptures. She enlightens us to discover the same mysteries in our own life, and to respond in total faith to the problems and challenges we encounter in our times.