A quote from St. Cyril which proponents of Mary’s sinfulness incorrectly use against her

May 21, 2023 • 3 min

From St. John Henry Newman’s Letter to Dr. Pusey in reply to his Eirenicon, page 134
By St. John Henry Newman

3. St. Cyril, in Joann. lib. xii.:—

“How shall we explain this passage? He introduces both His Mother and the other women with her standing at the Cross, and, as is plain, weeping. For somehow the race of women is ever fond of tears; and especially given to laments, when it has rich occasions for weeping. How then did they persuade the blessed Evangelist to be so minute in his account, so as to make mention of this abidance of the women? For it was his purpose to teach even this, viz., that probably even the Mother of the Lord herself was scandalized at the unexpected Passion, and that the death upon the Cross, being so very bitter, was near unsettling her from her fitting mind; and in addition to this, the mockeries of the Jews, and the soldiers too, perhaps, who were sitting near the Cross and making a jest of Him who was hanging on it, and daring, in the sight of His very mother, the division of His garments. Doubt not that she received (εἰσεδέξατο) some such thoughts as these:—I bore Him who is laughed at on the wood; but, in saying He was the true Son of the Omnipotent God, perhaps somehow He was mistaken. He said He was the Life, how then has He been crucified? how has He been strangled by the cords of His murderers? how prevailed He not over the plot of His persecutors? why descends He not from the Cross, though He bade Lazarus to return to life, and amazed all Judæa with His miracles? And it is very natural that a woman (τὁ γύναλον, woman’s nature), not knowing the mystery, should slide into some such trains of thought. For we should understand, if we do well, that the gravity of the circumstances was enough to overturn even a self-possessed mind; it is no wonder then if a woman (τὁ γύναλον) slipped into this reasoning. For if he himself, the chosen one of the holy disciples, Peter, once was scandalized, … so as to cry out hastily, Be it far from Thee, Lord. … what paradox is it, if the soft mind of womankind was carried off to weak ideas? And this we say, not idly conjecturing, as it may strike one, but entertaining the suspicion from what is written concerning the Mother of the Lord. For we remember that Simeon the Just, when he received the Lord as a little child into his arms, … said to her, ‘A sword shall go through thine own soul, that out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed.’ By sword he meant the sharp access of suffering cutting down a woman’s mind into extravagant thoughts. For temptations test the hearts of those who suffer them, and make bare the thoughts which are in them.”

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