The Blessed Virgin Mary, the Word, and the World – Br. Curtis Almquist

John 1:1-5

This icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary, so endearing. On her breast the medallion of the infant Christ. Mary’s arms extended in the orans position, the posture of a priest at the altar. Here Mary pre-figuring how she is carrying and offering the body and blood of Christ who comes from within her.

Mary carries Jesus, who is hidden. God’s taking on our human form, hidden for nine months in his mother’s womb. It will happen again to each of us: Christ’s hiddenness. How Christ who comes to live within us is sometimes so hidden, sometimes working out in the secrecy of our own hearts what cannot be seen. Not yet. Not by us; not by others.

This image of Christ, whom the Gospel of John calls “the Word.” Such a paradox, because the Word pictured in this icon cannot speak even one human word. The Word of God, alive and present in a completely silent way.

And then Mary, whose eyes are not on Jesus. Her eyes are on the world, which she sees and shares with Jesus from her heart. Since the meaning of Christ’s coming is to save the world, the Church’s primary mission must be worldly: the church, not radiating its holiness to a godless world, but giving itself to a world God so loves: people, skies, waterways, plants and trees, birds and creatures big and small. The Church’s primary mission must be worldly, offering God’s love and care to a world dying to be saved.



John 1:1-5 – “The Word was made flesh…”

Ponder These Things; Praying with Icons of the Virgin, by Rowan Williams. (Sheed & Ward, 2002); pp. 41-55.

This Flowing Life: Toward a Contemporary Theology of Humility; Explorations in the Thought of Hans Urs von Balthasar,” by Sue Fisher Wentworth (1995); pp. 114-116.

Support SSJE

Please support the Brothers work.
The brothers of SSJE rely on the inspired kindness of friends to sustain our life and our work. We are grateful for the prayers and support provided to us.

Click here to Donate


  1. Gretchen on December 19, 2023 at 15:35

    Again, Brother Curtis, your words have given me comfort and provided much to think about.

  2. carol carlson on December 19, 2023 at 12:56

    Merry Christmas, Br. Curtis, to you and all your brothers who bring us every day the hidden Word made manifest in our world. God bless you all!

  3. Claudia Booth on December 19, 2023 at 12:46

    Beautifully said, Amen! Merry Christmas, Brother Curtis!

  4. Margo on June 20, 2023 at 11:47

    Oxford University , The Bampton lectures – Yale Divinity School – Jerry Jennings are worth listening to on Mary.

  5. Donna on February 26, 2022 at 12:54

    Thank you for this beautiful reminder. God’s peace to you and your brothers.

Leave a Comment