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Voices Online Edition
Vol. XVIII: No. 2 - Pentecost 2003
Winner of Voices Young Writer's Award Contest

Seat of Wisdom, Help of Students

by Allannah Karas

Allannah Karas is an eighteen-year-old home-schooled high school senior and is the oldest of eight children. Allannah is an avid musician, playing the piano and violin. She sings in three choirs and directs a fourth, focusing on sacred music, including Gregorian chant and polyphony. She is a member of St. John Cantius parish in Chicago. Allannah will be attending Magdalen College in Warner, New Hampshire later this fall. We congratulate Allannah, and her parents/teachers.

[Details about the Young Writers Award.]

The darkness hung like a heavy curtain in the moonless sky. Nothing stirred. Labored breathing came from a figure in black and white who knelt prostrate beneath a ladder he had propped against the garden wall.

"Mother, help me", a muffled voice sobbed, "I know you would not approve of this... but I have to go".

The young monk had resolved to flee. Formal studies presented nothing but an obstacle to him; he couldn't rise above the foot of his class; he had failed as a pupil, as a Dominican.

It was a desperate prayer that flew heavenward that night. Yet that humble plea pierced through the darkness and touched a cord in the tender heart of the Mother of God. With maternal affection, Mary, the Seat of Wisdom, took pity on her little would-be scholar. Coming visibly to his aid, she uplifted his wavering soul and enlightened his clouded mind, granting him the assistance his heart so desired.1

The rest of the story gloriously proclaims the triumphs of this woman's gift. The youthful runaway promptly returned to his monastery, soared to the top of his class, and became a great scholar, scientist, philosopher, theologian and teacher. His incredible erudition and extensive knowledge became world-renowned. Moreover, guided by Mary's heavenly wisdom, he even attained the heights of sanctity. Today this man is known as Saint Albert the Great; and undeniably, he owes both his sanctity and his scholarly greatness to the gracious assistance of Mary, Seat of Wisdom, true help of students.

This one miracle of grace alone would cause one to exclaim, "How incalculable is the wisdom of this holy mother! What grace does she not prepare for those who earnestly invoke her!" She is a mother ever ready to help her children, an advocate par excellence for students in their darkest hour.

Throughout the centuries, the great Fathers, Doctors, and the popes of the Church have hailed this humble maid of Nazareth as the "Seat of Wisdom". For, even while on earth, Mary was singularly blessed with a penetrating, extensive, and insurmountable wisdom and knowledge. Indeed, Mary is thrice the Seat of Wisdom, for she carried Wisdom Incarnate, learned at His feet, and fully possessed heavenly wisdom, the gift of her Spouse. This not only renders her deserving of the title Seat of Wisdom, but also designates her as an invaluable resource and heavenly assistant for the student.

Throne of Wisdom Incarnate
The title Seat of Wisdom, in its first and most literal sense, fittingly belongs to Mary by virtue of her divine maternity. Christ, Infinite Wisdom, dwelt in her womb and through her, came into this world. Thus, Mary's most pure body was the earthly Throne of Wisdom made Man. In addition, her Child, the King of Heaven and earth, reigned on the maternal throne of her lap. As the poet wrote so beautifully:

His throne, thy bosom blest,
O Mother undefiled.
That throne, if aught beneath the skies
Beseems the sinless Child.2

Having thus carried Him in her womb and in her loving arms for the first years of His earthly life, there exists forever an indissoluble bond between Mary, the Throne of Wisdom and her Child, Wisdom Incarnate.

Since Mary brought forth and carried Incarnate Wisdom Himself, the relationship between the Child and mother cannot but be beneficial to the student. As the great saints have taught, the easiest, shortest, most perfect, and surest way to go is ad Jesum per Mariam!3 This maxim equally applies to the student seeking help in his or her studies. Mary, Seat of Wisdom, is closest to Jesus. Consequently, it is best to go through Mary to attain from Christ all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.4 As Abbot Odo in the twelfth century wrote: "Christ, who is called the power and wisdom of God, is the true Wisdom... Whoever desires to have this wisdom must direct his studies toward the Mother for in Mary must he study who is to find Christ!"5

Furthermore, Mary continues to enjoy a mother's rights over her Son, the Eternal Wisdom of the Father. Within her very grasp -- in her arms so to speak -- she still retains possession of Christ, the Source of Wisdom. Therefore this woman, the Throne of Wisdom, is a most powerful mediatrix with Him. Mary -- better than anyone else in heaven or on earth -- can intercede for students before the Omniscient and All-Wise God, her Son.

Pupil of the Source of Wisdom
Ensuing from Mary's divine motherhood is yet another quality that renders her worthy of the title "Seat of Wisdom". This quality is her personal learning. Although she was just small-town Jewish girl, she had thirty years of uninterrupted access to the very Source of Wisdom, God Himself. Day in and day out, she attended this quiet school in the obscurity of Nazareth, learning at the feet of the Master Teacher. The immensity of learning gained from such continued and intimate intercourse with God is mind-boggling. Under the tutorship of her Divine Son, Mary surely scaled the highest summits of wisdom and knowledge ever ventured upon by man. Moreover as the mother, she could have asked Christ anything! Doubtless, her knowledge and wisdom from those daily conversations is "so large, and so profound, and so diversified, and so thorough, that though she was a poor woman without human advantages, she must in her knowledge of creation, of the universe, and of history, have excelled the greatest of philosophers, and in her theological knowledge the greatest of theologians, and in her prophetic discernment the most favored of prophets".6 Also, what a clear understanding of all human and divine mysteries she must have from the revelations of her Son! In sharing the same roof with Wisdom Himself, Mary assuredly enjoyed the most sublime communication of wisdom ever made available to angels or mankind!

Particularly now that she reigns as queen in heaven, the Blessed Mother continues to be a veritable fountain of knowledge, and an excellent resource for the student. Also, as the most erudite and learned woman who was ever born, she is perfectly qualified to help any student in any intellectual field. Her knowledge came directly from the Omniscient All-Wise God Who can neither deceive nor be deceived. Thus possessing an exceedingly comprehensive and extensive wisdom, she has it in her power to efficaciously assist anyone from pre-school to graduate school. Moreover, no matter what the student is studying, Mary can help with it. It makes no difference if it is the newest technological innovation or the oldest philosophical observation. With her unique, God-given education, she can reach out to students in all fields of study: language, medicine, theology, computer science, modern history, music, engineering, art, etc. Mary holds a degree in universal wisdom, having graduated from the school of God Himself. Consequently, she can surely share her wisdom and learning with all aspiring and struggling students across the world and until the end of time.

Seat of Heavenly Wisdom
In an even more blessed way -- in a spiritual sense -- Mary deserves the appellation Seat of Wisdom. Espoused to the Holy Spirit, Mary received the fullness and perfection of all His seven gifts, the foremost of them being wisdom. As a result, there exists a marvelous link between Mary and this gift of wisdom. On earth, she possessed and practiced wisdom to such a degree that Saint Louis De Montfort has categorized heavenly wisdom as one of her ten principle virtues. Mary, who was completely attuned to heavenly things, always viewed things in God's perspective and acted in the light of true wisdom. One example of her wisdom was manifested on Calvary. Although it was disgraceful to the Jews and foolish to the Gentiles, Mary supported her dying Son in His plan of redemption. For, with the virtue of heavenly wisdom, Mary was wise in the ways of God.

Indeed, Mary and heavenly wisdom are so closely united that several Old Testament passages about Wisdom have been borrowed to refer to this most blessed woman, the Seat of Wisdom. The Church frequently uses such texts in liturgies of the Blessed Virgin Mary, e.g.: "The Lord possessed me in the beginning of His ways, before He made anything from the beginning. Now therefore, ye children, hear me: Blessed are they that keep my ways. Hear instruction and be wise, and refuse it not".7 Thus has man recognized and honored Mary's complete and perfect possession of this great gift and the virtue: divine wisdom.

As regards the student, Mary's heavenly wisdom is certainly most profitable. For, in the eyes of God, the science of love far surpasses the love of science; and wisdom according to God tilts the scale compared to any human wisdom. Moreover, although there certainly is "a difference between the wisdom of an illuminated and devout man, and the knowledge of a learned and studious scholar",8 the former wisdom complements and enhances the value of the latter. Consequently, this highest, spiritual wisdom is immensely beneficial to the student.

In the first place, as a complement to the student's learning, Mary's heavenly wisdom is unsurpassable. For, with this wisdom, accompanied by grace, the student can get much more out of learning than a mere accumulation of facts. This wisdom illumines all fields of studies, enabling the student to understand his lessons in God's perspective. As Saint Isidore of Seville once wrote: "Teaching unsupported by grace may enter our ears, but it never reaches the heart. When God's grace does touch our innermost minds to bring understanding, then His word [all Truth], which is received by the ear, can sink deep into the heart". Scholarly truths that penetrate the heart derive a greater value since they contribute to the salvation and sanctification of the soul. For, with this heavenly wisdom students can analyze their lessons in the light of grace and apply them to their own lives with God. Thus Mary's spiritual wisdom complements schooling by transforming scholarly learning into a means of advancement toward God.

This wisdom not only increases the value of what is learned, but it also crowns the efforts of the student through its role in the sanctification of study. Heavenly wisdom crowns all scholarly efforts by guiding the soul, mind, heart, and will to God as the Supreme End. By doing all one's schoolwork for God, by learning in the light of heavenly wisdom and with a spiritual outlook, the student can acquire merit for eternity. Accordingly, wisdom converts the student's efforts to something much greater. Directed by wisdom, the student will grow closer to God and by means of his or her work, attain eternal life.

Thus, in Mary, Seat of Wisdom, the student will always find immense potential for both academic and spiritual excellence. For, Mary ever remains the throne of Wisdom Incarnate, the pupil of the Source of Wisdom and the possessor of heavenly wisdom; hence, she is the best help of students, and the Seat of all wisdom worth striving for. Mary and her wisdom worked miracles for her servant Albert; so even now she can and will most effectively intercede for those who cry out to her as the Seat of Wisdom, help of students. May no Christian neglect to call upon Mary in school and all throughout life!

O Mary, Seat of Wisdom, true help of students, pray for us!

1 Sister Mary Jean Dorcy, OP, Master Albert. New York: Sheed & Ward, 1955, Ch. 9.
2 As quoted by Cardinal J. H. Newman, The Mystical Rose. St. Paul Publications.
3 Saint Louis de Montfort, True Devotion to Mary. New York: Montfort Publications, 1980, p. 74.
4 Cf. Colossians 2:3.
5 Monsignor Charles Dollen, Listen, Mother of God! Reflections on the Litany of Loreto. Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, 1989, Ch. 24.
6 Cardinal J.H. Newman, The Mystical Rose. St. Paul Publications, 1955.
7 Proverbs 8:22,32-35 (Epistle, Mass for feast of the Immaculate Conception).
8 Thomas à Kempis, Imitation of Christ. New York: Confraternity of Precious Blood, 1954, Book III, Ch. 31.

[Details on entering the Young Writers Award .]

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