Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Holy Mother, Hear my Cry...

Ever since a friend here in Romania introduced me to the Eric Clapton/Luciano Pavarotti duet "Holy Mother," I have just been listening to this hauntingly beautiful song in a constant loop.

The first instinct of a Christian of the Catholic or Orthodox tradition is that this is a song addressed to St. Mary, as in Holy Mary, Mother of God.

But even as I was hearing it for the first time, I was hearing things in the lyrics that invalidated my first assumption.

The lyrics include, for instance, poetry of the following sentiment:

"Holy Mother, hear my cry! 
I call your name a thousand times.
I've felt the hunger running through my soul.
All I need is a hand to hold...
You know I would rather be
in your arms tonight."

[The studio version uses the lyrics "I curse your name a thousand times. Click here to read my discussion of this variant form.]

Now, I talk to Mary all the time. But this isn't how we Catholics and Orthodox talk to Mary. This is, however, how we might talk to God, when in despair and needing a hand to hold. So this is a beautiful song addressed to the deity under the metaphor of a Holy Mother, rather than the more common metaphor of the Father.

And there's nothing at all wrong with that.

Jesus taught us to pray, saying, "Our Father..." But in Isaiah 66:13, we also read:

As one whom his mother comforts, I will comfort you.
כאיש אשר אמו תנחמנו כן אנכי אנחםכם

God is beyond the genders of his own created order. To call God "Father" or "Mother" is to use an analogy from within creation to describe an aspect of our relationship with Him/Her.

As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states (CCC 239):

We ought therefore to recall that God transcends the human distinction between the sexes. He is neither man nor woman: he is God. He also transcends human fatherhood and motherhood, although he is their origin and standard: no one is father as God is Father.

As proof that the earliest Christian Church had absolutely no problem with exploring God through a feminine analogy, the Odes of Solomon (a 1st Century AD Syriac hymnal) even describe God the Father as having breasts, in a passage that apparently also manages to hint at the Immaculate Conception (Odes of Solomon 19:2-17):

2) The Son is the cup, and He who was milked is the Father:
3) And the Holy Spirit milked Him: because His breasts were full, and it was necessary for Him that His milk should be sufficiently released;
4) And the Holy Spirit opened His bosom and mingled the milk from the two breasts of the Father; and gave the mixture to the world without their knowing:
5) And they who receive in its fulness are the ones on the right hand.
6) The Spirit opened the womb of the Virgin and she received conception and brought forth; and the Virgin became a Mother with many mercies;
7) And she travailed and brought forth a Son, without incurring pain; 

And so, with Eric Clapton, I sing and smile and say:

When my hands no longer play
My voice is still, I fade away
Holy Mother, there I'll be
Lying in, safe within your arms...

Listen to this beautiful song:

Free Gift! Subscribe to receive Dr. Keith's Six Basic Tips for Mastering Any Language.

No comments:

Post a Comment