In the Church’s tradition the same biblical images are applied, either in turn or simultaneously, with one the same ever increasing perfusion, to the Church and to Oulr Lady. Both are the New Eve; Paradise; the Tree of Paradise, whose fruit is Christ; the great tree seen in the dream of Nabuchodonosor, palnted in the center of the earth. Both are the Ark of the Covenant, Jacob’s Ladder, the Gate of Heaven, the House built on the mountaintop, the fleece of Gideon, the Taernacle of the Highest, the throne of Solomon, the imrpegnable fortress. Both are the City of God, The mysterious city of which the Psalmist sang; the vailant woman of the Book of Proverbs, the Bride arrayed for her husband, the woman who is the foe of the serpent the great sign described in the Book of Apocalypse-the woman clothed with the sun and victorious over the Dragon. Both are-after Christ-the dwelling place of wisdom, even wisdom herself; both are “a new world” and “a prodigious creation”; both rest in the shadow of Christ.
There is in all of this something more than a case of parallelism or the alternating use of ambivalent symbols. As far as the Christian mind is concerned, Mary is the “ideal figure of the Church, the sacrament of it and the “mirror in which the whole Church is reflected.” Evrywhere the Church finds in her its type and model, its point of origin and perfection: “The form of our mother the Church is according to the form of His mother.” Our Lady speaks and acts in the name of the Church at every moment of her existence-“she shows forth in herself the figure of the holy Church”-not, of course, in virtue of some decision which is an after thought nor, obviously, because of an explicit intention on her part, but because she already carries the Church within her, so to speak, and contains it, in its wholeness, in her own person. She is “the whole of the Church,” as M. Olier puts it: “The Church, both kingdom and priesthood, gathered into one single person.” All that is prophecied by the Old Testament concerning the Church receives a new application, as it were, in the person of Our Lady, whose type the Church thus becomes: “How beautiful are those things which have been prophecied of Mary under the figure of the Chruch!” And conversely, the things told us by the Gospels about Our Lady are a prefiguring of the nature and destiny of the Church: “As with Mary, also with the Church.” “The sacraments of the Church lie hidden,” in everything which they say about her: “Thus the Virgin Mary, who was the best part of the Old Church before Christ, merited being the Bride of God the Father in order to become also the pattern of the new Church, the Bride of the Son of God.” ~THE SLENDOR OF THE CHURCH by Henri Cardinal De Lubac