You Need to Think about Mary's Intellectual Qualities: This Book Can Help You

When you think about Mary, do you think of her as someone intelligent? Someone spiritually smart? Someone penetratingly wise?

We Tend to Think About Mary's Moral Virtues More than We Think About Her Intellectual Qualities 

I tend not to think of Mary as intelligent. That's not to say that I think of her as stupid or dense. Far from it.

It's just that I tend to think of her as someone with great faith and obedience and humility. And I tend to think of her fiat — her saying yes to God's plan — as an act of her will, her personal readiness and willingness to submit to God's own almighty will.

My exclusive focus on Mary's will and her moral virtues distorts my mental image of her.

Here's a part of the text that prompted this realization:

Her delicate interior sensitivity, her deep sense of the supernatural, the continual habit of moving in intimate contact with everything that was divine (we must not forget her Immaculate Conception), her constant recognition of God's will, her delicate intuitive perception of the slightest movements of grace, all these things together enabled Mary to understand perfectly the words of the angel according as he spoke them.

Mary of Nazareth Can Help You Appreciate Mary's Intellectual Qualities

The quotation is from Federico Suarez's book Mary of Nazareth, from the section on the Anunciation.

Notice the how Suarez stresses the cognitive powers of Mary:

  • Her "delicate interior sensitivity"
  • Her "deep sense of the supernatural"
  • Her "constant recognition of God's will"
  • Her "delicate intuitive perception of the slightest movements of grace"
  • Even her "habit of moving in intimate contact with everything that was divine" has a cognitive aspect
    • If you "move" in certain circles, you know certain people, know what they think, know what they're doing, etc. It's a form of knowing from familiarity.

And also notice that in Suarez's account, Mary not only "gets" the message from the angel, meaning she happens to receive a message — i.e., it was given to her and not to someone else.

Mary also "gets" the message in the same sense as when I tell someone, "I hear you. I totally get it."

Mary's Spiritual Intelligence

Mary's cognitive qualities — Mary's intelligence — "enabled Mary to understand perfectly the words of the angel according as he spoke them."

Mary received the message not just because she was specially picked to receive it (she was specially picked to receive it). She was picked because Mary was the only person capable of really receiving the message — of really understanding it and assenting to it intelligently.

The Source of Mary's Spiritual Intelligence: The Immaculate Conception

Suarez stresses the source of Mary's unique intelligence: her Immaculate Conception.

Mary was sinless. Mary did not have the impediments to understanding that we sinners have:

  • pride and self-will,
  • disorderly and distorting passions, and
  • a certain sluggishness of understanding.

Very often I can't see things as they actually are, because something weird within me twists or obscures the reality — sin, sinfulness.

Mary didn't suffer that condition. She could see things just as they are.

She was more perceptive than I am, more intelligent about what's really real and really going on.

If you're at all interested in thinking more about Mary's spiritual intelligence, I encourage you to read Suarez's Mary of Nazareth for yourself.