the wounded stag 4

William Johnston writes of Mary as our mystical companion – ‘one whose eyes are fixed on the wounded stag’ and who tells us how to live when she says ‘do whatever he tells you’. Johnston says that Mary is an atmosphere of love in which we can walk, and an atmosphere in which we can be spiritually guided. Jesus came from her and she was with him at his death, she too is part of the resurrection. ‘She is always there – because she shares pre-eminently in the mystery of Christ into which the Christian mystic is necessarily drawn’. It is, he says, nothing initially to do with loving Mary but rather in accepting her love which appears gratuitously. ‘As the wounded stag appears on the hill, so also on the hill appears one of whom it was said, “And a sword will pierce through your own soul also”. As Jesus was wounded with love, so Mary is also wounded with love for us.’ Then perhaps in being loved we are able to reciprocate.

Carl Jung was very taken in the 1950s by the increasing evidence in the catholic church of the importance of Mary for people. He believed that the reintroduction of the feminine went some way to provide a balance to the heavily masculine aspects of the church. He saw that there had been a deep longing in people for the glorification of the feminine (perhaps after the bloodbath of two world wars dominated by men killing each other, and indeed anyone else who got in the way). Jung welcomed the idea to recognize Mary as the Queen of Heaven. ‘Anyone who has followed with attention the visions of Mary which have been increasing in numbers over the past few decades, and has taken their psychological significance into account, might have known what was brewing. The fact especially that it was largely children who had the visions might have given pause for thought, for in such cases the collective unconscious is always at work’.  Jung saw that this sort of movement was a balance to the patriarchal arguments of reason and history. More recently there has been acceptance of the feminine principle of Sophia as the Holy Spirit. Here is the cool breeze and the gentle healing.

The wounded stag is Jesus, and Mary ever alongside him is wounded in turn. And then opening to mystery in contemplative prayer we too become aware of our wounds and also wounded all over again by our increasing awareness of the wounded world in which we live. Then there comes a change of heart and a change in consciousness. Johnston sees that it is this woundedness that demands of us a total commitment to justice and non-violence, if we allow ourselves to know our own pain, then there can be no alternative to knowing the pain of others and our fellow creatures and trying not to make it worse.