Tower of Ivory


The unusual sounding title, "Tower of Ivory", is another found in the Song of Songs: 

Your neck is like an ivory tower.
Your eyes are pools in Heshbon,
    by the gate of Bath-rab′bim.
--Song of Songs 4:4ab

First our lover compares his beloved's neck to the tower of David, a tower made ready to withstand a battle. Now, he compares his beloved's neck to a tower of ivory. Many times the phrase "ivory tower" is used to describe someone (especially someone in the academic field) who is completely separated from reality, but still claims to understand what is going on in the world. Thankfully, this is a meaning we would never ascribe to Our Lady. 

Mary is an ivory tower in the sense that she is strong, upright, courageous, pure and lovely. Mary is an example of true strength. It took immense courage to accept God's will when Gabriel presented it to her. That courage carried her forward through her marriage to Joseph and the birth of her only Son. Mary was strong when she let Him go on His way, knowing the plan of God had to be fulfilled. She stood beside Him when He hung on the cross, unafraid of what might happen next. And throughout her life, she possessed the loveliness and purity of one who has given her entire life to Christ. This is not necessarily a matter of physical attributes (although in Mary's case, this was true as well). It is primarily the beauty of one who allows the splendor of God to shine through. Blessed Raymond of Capua, OP,  the follower and biographer of St. Catherine of Siena, once had a mystical experience where he saw the face of Christ upon the face of St. Catherine. In this same way, Christ shines through us when we allow Him to possess us completely. Mary knew this without being told. But she did not remain aloof from the world. Instead, she was right there in the midst of everything, the good and the bad, the marketplace and the synagogue, the well and the sewer. She was untouched only in the sense that she, unlike almost everyone else around her, saw God in all things and in everything that happened in daily life. 

Mary, Tower of Ivory, help me to live as you did, in the world but not of the world, placing all my trust in your only Son Jesus Christ, allowing His radiance to shine through me more and more. 

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