Is Mary the incarnation of the Holy Spirit?


#1

I recently received a shock. I have come to this site with the name D. Caldera, and I searched for discussions on Jeremiah 31:22 which refers to the woman who compasses a man. Lo, and Behold, I found the subject started by Thal59 - my old ID - back in 2006! Seems I was here before. Since that time, on and off over the past 11 years, I have never found a convincing explanation as to how Jeremiah’s words “a new thing” and “created” makes sense. Some have said something in the sense that the woman plays a reverse role by wooing or courting the man. But how is that a new thing or an act of creation? ( I recently watched the DeMille movie The Ten Commandments and the daughters of Jethro danced (wooed) Moses, Charlton Heston, hoping to be selected for wife.) All current explanations go off into numerous grammatical and translator tangents that they don’t seem likely.

I know this will set the Protestant’s hair on fire - but a thought occurred to me. To compass something means to contain it, to surround it, or to limit it. To me, the expression “a woman shall compass a man” means she will equal him, contain all that he has or is, or reach his total limits. Most of us Catholics see the “woman” as Mary (the virgin described by Isaiah) and “the man” as the Messiah or Jesus. There may be an additional metaphorical concept of Israel coming to God, but I am certain the woman described is Mary. Now we go to the words “new thing” and “created.”

If Mary is the incarnation of the Holy Spirit, it would be a new thing and an act of creation. As the incarnate vessel of the Holy Spirit, she would be the “feminine” element of God referred to by the Jews as the Shekinah - “(The Shekhina(h) (also spelled Shekina(h), Schechina(h), or Shechina(h)) (Biblical Hebrew: שכינה‎‎) is the English transliteration of a Hebrew word meaning “dwelling” or “settling” and denotes the dwelling or settling of the divine presence of God. The Shekhinah is the feminine aspect of Divinity, also referred to as the Divine Presence.” [copy&paste from Wikipedia.]

As the Shekinah incarnate, Jesus dwelled inside her. Her perfect sinless immaculate conception makes her a fit vessel to bear Jesus. (No mere mortal woman, however pious, is fit to bear Jesus.) She is described as the new Ark of the Covenant in which God is present. It explains her perpetual virginity, her sinless life, and her assumption bodily into Heaven as Christ ascended bodily. And it makes the “Triune” God Father, Mother, and Progeny - a divine and eternal family unit unto himself. I do not say I believe this to be fact - but it seems to explain Jeremiah’s words. What say you?


#2

She is not the incarnation of the Holy Spirit in the sense that Christ is God incarnate. Yet St Maximillian Kolbe taught that her union with the Holy Spirit is so profound that it approaches (but does not reach) the union of divinity and humanity found in the person of Christ. He called her a quasi-incarnation of the Holy Spirit. It would be heretical to say that she IS His incarnation.


#3

In Our Lady of Revelation Mary told Bruno Cornacchiola (the seer of the apparition) that She was the Daughter of the Father, Mother of the Son and Bride of Holy Spirit.


#4

Absolutely not…that would make her God, and she is only (and i dont say “only” lightly) the Mother of the incarnate God, and not God herself.


#5

No. From my understanding the word incarnate means to be “of the same substance”; that is why the Church added the words “consubstantial with the father” meaning “of the same substance” as the Father when referring to Jesus in the Creed.
Mary is not incarnate, (not of the same substance) of the Holy Spirit.
Is she sinless, yes, is she immaculately conceived, yes, is she the mother of He who called Himself, “The Son of Man”, yes, is she ever virgin, yes. She is not, however, of the same substance of any one (or all) of the Three Persons of the Trinity.
My two cents.


#6

Actually, I’ve heard many Protestants make this accusation.


#7

Mary is the Mother of Jesus. She is not God.

You see here the dangers of private interpretation of Scripture.


#8

St. Maximilian Kolbe certainly offered up a unique approach to Mariology. I find his view on the relationship between Mary and the Holy Spirit fascinating, yet even as someone myself who has a high Mariology, I do find the term “quasi-incarnation” problematical. I think Kolbe should have just dropped the term altogether and would just have kept going forth with his ideas about the relationship between Mary and the Holy Spirit. The term “quasi-incarnation” just doesn’t feel right to use, and I feel like it approaches very very wrong ideas about Mary and the Holy Spirit. It just goes a little too far in my opinion.

To set is straight, Mary is in absolutely no way the incarnation of the Holy Spirit. Mary is a creature. She is not in anyway to be given the same status as God. She is not to be worshiped. Mary, however, is the greatest creation of God, and to her we offer hyperdulia, which is the highest form of veneration, yet it is far from worship.


#9

True, but properly understood I don’t think the term is necessarily heretical.
It does, however, give rise to many potential misunderstandings and excesses… the same issue that some find with the title “co-redemptrix” (though I personally have absolutely zero problem with that title).


#10

I have no problem with the term “co-redemptrix” because it as a title conveys a theological concept that dates back to St. Irenaeus of Lyons (110 A.D - 202 A.D), and this concept has been thoroughly fleshed out and has been a major part in the tradition of the Church since at least the 2nd century.

The term “quasi-incarnation” is new and based on a newer approach to Mariology. When used “properly” it isn’t technically heretical, indeed; but it still makes me and others a little uncomfortable to use even when used/understood “properly.” It really just doesn’t sound or feel right.


#11

If by it, you mean that she is a Temple of the Holy Spirit, I have no problem with it.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE)

19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

The difference with her is that He did that from the moment of her conception.

But, if you mean that the Holy Spirit emptied Himself of divinity to become a woman, no.

Philippians 2:6-8Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE)

6 who, though he was in the form of God,[a] did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself,[b] taking the form of a servant,[c] being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.


#12

I’ll have to look it up in William Hones Lost Books Of The Bible but in the notes before the first book The Gospel Of Mary which went on to inspire or was similar to the Protovangelium it explains such a group that believed in what your saying existed.

They had a name but they were a herectical group.

They weren’t the only ones either other groups have popped up claiming the same.

Nothing new is under the sun.

Mary represents our full human capability to be in union with the will of God.

No other human being has surpassed her grace other than of course Christ himself.

While it is true in the hierarchy of Heaven that Mary is above even the Seraphim as she holds an even greater honor being the Holy Theotokos the God bearing one she is however just a created being like us and the angels she is not God.


#13

There are lots of problems with your theory. In order to explain one scripture passage you make others far more difficult and even nonsensical.

Gospel of Luke 1:35; “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” If Mary is the incarnation of the Holy Spirit, than why would the Holy Spirit have to “come upon” her? If Mary is the Holy Spirit, why didn’t she already know that this would take place and how it would take place? According to Luke 1:34 she didn’t know this and had to ask for clarification.

When Mary visits Elizabeth, Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit and proclaims to Mary (Luke 1:41-42). I don’t think the Holy Spirit is talking through Elizabeth to Himself (or herself as Mary), something like a schizophrenic Holy Spirit.

Luke 1:47 “[Mary states]…and my spirit rejoices in God my savior”. Did the Holy Spirit need to be saved?

Luke 2:19 “But Mary kept all these things pondering them in her heart”. This of course is after searching for Jesus and finding him in the temple. Wouldn’t the Holy Spirit know where Jesus was? The Holy Spirit would not have to “ponder” these things because he would already know these things.

Jesus tells the apostles that the Father “will send” (future tense) the Holy Spirit (John 14:26). If Mary is the incarnation of the Holy Spirit, than the Holy Spirit had been with them before Jesus was.

There are many other scriptures that do not make sense if Mary is the incarnation of the Holy Spirit.

Just by reading Jeremiah 31:22, I can come up with several explanations that I believe make sense, and better yet, do not lead into heresy as they are completely compatible with Christian orthodoxy.

continued…


#14

How long wilt thou go about, O thou backsliding daughter? For the LORD hath created a new thing in the earth, a woman shall compass a man” (Jeremiah 31:22).

  1. The woman is Mary and the man is Jesus. Jesus was fully God and fully man even as he developed within the womb of Mary for nine months according to his human nature. Thus the woman Mary “compassed/contained” the man Jesus within her womb. Jesus’ humanity was created and God taking on flesh and being born of a woman was certainly “a new thing”. This also fits nicely with Genesis 3:15 where the woman’s seed will crush satan. Through Jesus’ obedience, he is “limited” by the woman (Luke 2:51), and only begins his public ministry through her at the wedding feast of Cana (John 2:1-11).

  2. In the Old Testament and in the time of Jesus, women were not viewed with equal dignity. But the New Covenant Christians taught women had equal dignity while at the same time keeping the diversity of the two sexes as uniquely man and woman. Woman is completely equal to man in terms of the spiritual life, relationship with God as adopted children, and their ability to attain heaven through the merits of Christ. This fits your definition that a woman will “equal him, attain all that he has or is, or reach his total limits.” This came about by the “creation” of the Church or the new creation of being “born again” in Christ. This teaching of equality was by the standards of the cultures of the time certainly “a new thing”.

To hopefully illustrate some of the thought at the time (which is NOT a Christian view) the Gnostic “Gospel of Thomas” states: “Simon Peter said to them, “Let Mary leave us, for women are not worthy of Life.” Jesus said, “I myself shall lead her in order to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every woman who will make herself male will enter the Kingdom of Heaven” (verse 114 quoted from “The Nag Hammadi Library”). I will restate, that this is a heretical view help by the Gnostics and rejected by Christians. Even the Jewish view according to the Talmud states: “Sooner let the words of the Law be burnt than delivered to women” (Talmud, Sotah 19a). And “Any evidence which a woman (gives) is not valid” (Talmud, Rosh Hashannah 1.8). I use these quotes only to illustrate the view that women were not equal to man in terms of their relationship to God and salvation except within Christianity.

Continued…


#15
  1. The woman is the Church, and the man is mankind within the Church. Similar to how the singular man Adam or Jesus are used as representing all mankind (1 Cor 15:22). God/Jesus “created” or founded the Church, and this is “a new thing” hinted at in the Old Testament, but finally revealed in the New Testament revolving around the New Covenant. It is the Church (the woman/ the bride of Christ) which “compasses the man” by lifting mankind up through the graces, merited by Christ, poured out in the sacraments to heights mankind could not reach alone apart from grace even to the point of “partaking in his divine nature” (1 Peter 1:4). The Church is Holy and without blemish (Eph 5:27) because God is its chief corner stone (Eph 5:20) and Jesus is its head (Eph 5:23). Because of this, the bride (Church) and groom (Christ) are “equal” in their perfections and the Church “contains/compasses” all mankind and all that has been revealed to man by God for salvation.

In my opinion, both option 1 and 3 work very well, but option 3 seems to best fit the context of Jeremiah 31:21-22. Israel (Old Testament Church) is referred to as a “faithless daughter”. But the flip side to that is the “new thing” which will be a woman. This implies a “faithful daughter” which, contrasted with Israel, implies the New Testament Church and not a singular specific woman (Blessed Virgin Mary). Again in my opinion, option 2 is the weakest view of these three because it was only culturally in the eyes of man that women were inferior, but women have always had an equal standing in the eyes of God (Genesis 1:27) in the plan of salvation. These are just three plausible explanations and there very well could be others that explain it without departing from orthodox Christianity or setting this Catholic man’s hair on fire.


#16

It won’t just set protestant’s hair on fire.

Calling the Blessed Mother the incarnation of the Holy Spirit is blasphemy. The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Trinity and existed as God from eternity.

Collyridianism (Mary worship) has been condemned.


#17

Yes, St Maximilian Kolbe had some very beautiful and profound insights into the mystery of the Trinity and of our Immaculate Mother, the Virgin Mary. I think that when Fr. Kolbe called Mary a quasi-incarnation of the Holy Spirit, he means in one respect that the whole being of our Blessed Mother, whatever she stands for especially her maternal love, is a created likeness to a eternal maternal love in the bosom of the Trinity personified in the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the personification of a mother’s love in the bosom of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit is not the mother of the eternal Son of God for he proceeds from the Father and the Son. But the love that the Father and the Son have for each other is very tender and the Holy Spirit is called the bond of union between the Father and the Son analogous to the bond the mother plays (the ‘heart’ of the family) between father and child in human families. The Holy Spirit is personified Love in the bosom of the Trinity and among human relations we especially attribute love to a mother’s love.
“Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you” (Isaiah 49: 15)


#18

Hello De Maria -

You wrote, “But, if you mean that the Holy Spirit emptied Himself of divinity to become a woman, no.” Which is fine, correct, no problem. But then you quote Phil 2:6-8 - why?

Are you suggesting that Jesus “emptied Himself of divinity to become a man”?

I hope there is no suggestion of that in your post, because it is ontologically impossible for Jesus - who is God - to ever empty Himself of His divinity. Jesus, who is God the Son, the 2nd Person of the Holy Trinity, cannot ever NOT be eternal God, He cannot cease being God, 2nd Person of the Trinity. The Trinity is in divine essence eternally Three Persons in the One God.

The Son DID empty Himself of HIs radiant glory, temporarily, to come among men appearing as a simple man - “taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” He allowed that glory to shine through for the chosen men on the mount of Transfiguration, for a moment - but then again made that glory hidden, again for a time.

But neither Father nor Son nor Holy Spirit can “deny Himself” as being God Himself. All creation would collapse into nothing, if God is not Holy Trinity for an instant.

No, Mary is, in the devotion of St. Kolbe, a “quasi-incarnation” - maybe in the same way and sense that St Alphonsus Liguori wrote that Mary is “omnipotent by grace” - in the light of her unique power as an intercessor before God. He made clear that she is not omnipotent in and of herself - not by nature (as only God is), but by His grace.


#19

The priest at my wife’s church said in a homily several months ago, that Mary is equivalent to the Holy Spirit. I asked him later if he had misspoken (no) and if that was actually the Church’s teaching, and he said that it was. I asked him for evidence and he quoted a saint.


#20

Because Phil 2 speaks of Jesus emptying Himself.

Are you suggesting that Jesus “emptied Himself of divinity to become a man”?

I hope there is no suggestion of that in your post, because it is ontologically impossible for Jesus - who is God - to ever empty Himself of His divinity. Jesus, who is God the Son, the 2nd Person of the Holy Trinity, cannot ever NOT be eternal God, He cannot cease being God, 2nd Person of the Trinity. The Trinity is in divine essence eternally Three Persons in the One God.

True.

The Son DID empty Himself of HIs radiant glory, temporarily, to come among men appearing as a simple man - “taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”

I answer that this is also ontologically impossible. Because when we speak of glory with reference to God, we speak of Divine Glory. In other words, something which is part of Divinity. Therefore, if He did not empty Himself of Divinity, He did not empty Himself of Glory.

But if He emptied Himself of Glory, then He emptied Himself of a Divine Attribute, thus of Divinity.

So, you can’t have it both ways. You either accept the terminology which is offered by God’s word or you deny it. Which is it?

He allowed that glory to shine through for the chosen men on the mount of Transfiguration, for a moment - but then again made that glory hidden, again for a time.

True. He showed them His Divinity.

But neither Father nor Son nor Holy Spirit can “deny Himself” as being God Himself. All creation would collapse into nothing, if God is not Holy Trinity for an instant.

Do you define “empty Himself” as “deny Himself”. That’s the problem. I don’t.

No, Mary is, in the devotion of St. Kolbe, a “quasi-incarnation” - maybe in the same way and sense that St Alphonsus Liguori wrote that Mary is “omnipotent by grace” - in the light of her unique power as an intercessor before God. He made clear that she is not omnipotent in and of herself - not by nature (as only God is), but by His grace.
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I agree. That’s why I made sure to make that clarification.

Thanks for your concern, though.

Happy Thanksgiving!


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