I’ve been reading through a book on Marian Consecration, called 33 Days to Morning Glory (let me know if you’re using it!). It has taught me so much of what it means when we consecrate ourselves to God through Mary. Powerful stuff.
My Response to the question?
.@lcorbo13 I would present myself w/empty hands. All my merits given to Mary, so I would be dependent upon her to defend me before her Son.
The parish of my childhood is named Our Lady of Perpetual Help, after the fifteenth century icon of the Blessed Mother, holding her frightened son in her arms, the signs of His forthcoming passion in the background.
Today – June 24 – marks the feast day of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, also called our Mother of Perpetual Succour. Let us remember her, especially in our moments of difficulty, fear and/or doubts, that like the Child Jesus, we too may leap into her waiting arms and find our consolation, help and protection.
O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known that
anyone who fled to thy protection,
implored thy help,
or sought thy intercession
was left unaided.Inspired with this confidence,
I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother;
to thee do I come;
before thee I stand,
sinful and sorrowful.O Mother of the Word Incarnate,
despise not my petitions,
but in thy mercy hear
and answer me.
O piissima Virgo Maria,
non esse auditum a saeculo,
quemquam ad tua currentem praesidia,
tua implorantem auxilia,
tua petentem suffragia,
esse derelictum.Ego tali animatus confidentia,
ad te, Virgo Virginum,
ad te venio,
coram te gemens
verba mea despicere;
sed audi propitia
Mary, God Bearer (Theotokos), Holy Mother of God, Pray for Us!
Note: The term Theotokos in reference to Mary as the Mother of God, was defended by St Cyril of Alexandria (whose feast is also celebrated on June 27th), against Nestorius’ claim that Mary could not be the mother of God because Jesus had two distinct persons – Divine and Human – and Mary could only be mother of the human person of Jesus. The Nestorian heresy was condemned at the Council of Ephesus 431, which affirmed the teaching that Christ is a divine person who assumed human nature.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 971) teaches:
The Church’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship (Paul VI, MC 56). The Church rightly honors “the Blessed Virgin with special devotion. From the most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been honored with the title of ‘Mother of God,’ to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs…This very special devotion…differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and greatly fosters this adoration.” (LG 66) The liturgical feasts dedicated to the Mother of God and Marian prayer, such as the rosary, an “epitome of the whole Gospel,” express this devotion to the Virgin Mary (Paul VI, MC 42).
It was a terrible day; an incomprehensible day. Just hours ago my son was in this very room with his closest friends for the Passover. It was a festive night – one of the holiest nights – and yet, it was a night like no other I have ever known. With Jesus, I have come to expect the unexpected, but nothing could prepare me for this.
It began as Passover always does, with prayers and songs, the questioning of why this is the holiest of nights, and the retelling of Israel’s deliverance from the Egyptians. From memory the ancient covenant at Mount Sinai was retold; and how God brought his people into the Promised Land. But at one point, Jesus spoke of a betrayer in our midst. That one of his inner circle was ready to hand him over. How our hearts were cut to think of it. ‘Is it I, Lord?’ echoed the voices of his friends. An examination of our hearts became a burden – have we betrayed him in some way? Then Peter was told that he would deny Jesus, not once, but three times!
There was a growing sense of awe and uneasiness at the thought, suggesting that after this moment, nothing would every the same again. The mood of finality increased at the height of the Paschal feast. He spoke words at the breaking of the unleavened bread, saying, “Take it; this is my body.”And again with the Cup of Atonement, he altered the customary words, stating, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.” The nuance wasn’t lost; I could tell by the faces of those gathered that they understood they were on unfamiliar ground. Questions began to form in their minds, yet, no one dared ask my son tonight. They ate the unleavened bread and drank the cup, pondering what he meant in the subtle changes words he chose to say.
Following the feast, my son and his closest friends went to the Garden of Gethsemane, as they often did, to pray. That was the last I saw of my son until this afternoon. John came rushing in the room early in the morning with news. The Chief Priests had Jesus arrested. No reason was given. It was Judas who led the soldiers to him. John took me to look for my son, and we found him on the road leading out of the city to Golgotha. Oh, the crowds! The soldiers! The yelling! My heart almost broke then, seeing my child bloody from beatings, bearing a cross too heavy. Could I have carried it for him? I wanted to protect him from his suffering, but the best I could do was to offer the pain of my own mother’s heart with the sacrifice of my son. Through the streets he stumbled and fell, got up again, but the weight was too much to bear. Somehow, he went on, every painful step resonating in my sorrowing heart. When, Son of Mine, did you ever prepare me for this moment?
Nothing could have prepared me. I have always known at some unspeakable level that Jesus would not grow old: But how am I made ready to understand that my son, who as a babe was worshiped by kings, today, treated as a dangerous criminal was hung up on a cross to die? The pain is too much to bear.
But then, from the Cross, the words of our last Passover together come back to me. “This is my body… this is my blood.” It strangely consoles the pain of my heart, and I turn to trust that God’s work continues on.
It has come through a several mediations this past week for me to pick up again Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary.
On the title page to de Montfort’s preliminary remarks, he is quoted:
“The more the Holy Spirit finds Mary, His dear and inseparable spouse, in any soul, the more active and mighty He becomes in producing Jesus Christ in that soul, and that soul in Jesus Christ.”
These words remind me very much of the role of Mary by her participation in the mystery of the incarnation, the Word – Christ Jesus – made flesh:
“Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:30-33).
The Holy Spirit is Mary’s Spouse. Where Mary is, her Spouse is. And, with them, Jesus Christ.
A side thought that came, reflecting on these words in view of the Incarnation:
no Mary – no Jesus; know Mary – know Jesus
To come to know Mary we surprisingly find her always pointing us to her Son. May she intercede for us, that her Spouse the Holy Spirit enlighten our hearts and minds to know and love her Son, our Lord Jesus.
Mary prays. Twitter friend, @Prayersheart graciously allowed me to post her watercolor on my blog. I found myself invited by the image to pray a decade of my Rosary with Mary, she who is crowned with twelve stars (Rev 12:1).
As we wait for the coming Messiah, let us stop and spend a moment with Mary in prayer. She who draws us to her Son, and leads us to contemplate the redemptive mysteries of salvation that were accomplished on the Cross.
November 29th we begin the novena for the preparation for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is one of my personal favorite novenas, in part because of the hymn, Tota Pulchra es, Maria, sung at the conclusion of each day’s novena prayer. I fell in love with the hymn when I was a postulant, and it has remained one of my favorite every since.
The other reason I love this Novena, is what it tells of our own redemption. Each day of the novena reveals a part of the mystery God’s redemptive mercy. Enjoy the hymn, scrolling down to each day’s reflection, as together we unfold the importance of the Immaculate Conception in God’s salvific plan.
May Mary, conceived without original sin, pray for us!
Tota pulchra es, Maria,
et macula originalis non est in te.
Tu gloria Jerusalem,
tu laetitia Israel,
tu honorificentia populi nostri.
Tu advocata peccatorum,
O Maria! O Maria!
ora pro nobis,
intercede pro nobis
ad Dominum Jesum Christum.
(there is a video link at the bottom of the page for those wanting to hear this hymn sung).
Thou art all-lovely, O Mary,
and in thee there is no stain of original sin.
Thou art the glory of Jerusalem,
Thou art the joy of Israel,
Thou art the honour of our people.
Thou art the advocate of sinners,
O Mary! O Mary!
Virgin most prudent,
Mother most clement,
pray for us,
intercede for us
to our Lord Jesus Christ.
1. DAY ONE: Tota pulchra es Maria! You are all-beautiful Mary!
The feast of the Immaculate Conception, inserted in the liturgical time of Advent, invites us to look at Mary, the model with which the Church prepares herself to live the mystery of the Incarnation of the Word.
Mary, who is born free from original sin in order to receive in herself the Word of God, is always ready to help us to free our hearts from every stain of sin and make us worthy to receive her Son, Jesus.
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you. (Tota pulchra)
2. DAY TWO: Et macula originalis non est in te. And the stain of original sin is not in you…
Mary is the mirror of what each one of us would have been without sin and she is the gift of God to sinful humanity so that in Christ it may re-acquire its lost innocence.
The Blessed Virgin invites us today to ask the Holy Spirit for a new heart so that we may receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist with the same sentiments that Mary, his Mother, had, receiving Jesus, the Word made Flesh.
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you. (Tota Pulchra)
3. DAY THREE: Tu gloria Jerusalem. You are the glory of Jerusalem.
In Mary shines forth the glory of God: the Father pours the fullness of his grace into her, the Holy Spirit overshadows her and makes her mother, the Word takes flesh in her virginal womb and from the cross gives her as Mother and glory of the Church.
Mary is the Mother of our life and today she wishes to share with us her very glory by means of a clearer awareness of the Trinity dwelling in us and wanting to reveal itself to us.
O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you. (Tota Pulchra)
4. DAY FOUR: Tu laetitia Israel … You are the joy of Israel
Mary is the channel of joy. No creature has been filled with joy as Mary. The source of every joy is the Word, her Son: “Now I proclaim to you a great joy…a Savior is born to you, Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). After the Angel’s announcement, Mary explodes in a hymn of joy which is the highest and most ineffable: “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Luke 1:47).
Today, with Mary, let us celebrate the joy that overflows when Christ enters into our life. To be converted is to progress in joy (GD 5)
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you (Tota Pulchra)
5. DAY FIVE: tu honorificentia populi nostri … You are the honor of our people
The mission of Mary towards the people of God is a supernatural reality which is active and fruitful. As Mother, she has the task, through the course of the centuries, to reproduce in us the spiritual features of her Son.
Let us look at Mary today as the Mother of our faith, our hope, our love, and beg her to obtain for us from the Father, the giver of every gift, these virtues that are so necessary for our personal holiness.
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you (Tota Pulchra)
6. DAY SIX: Tu advocata peccatorum … You plead for us, sinners
The inaccessible God made himself accessible through Mary. The New Woman is next to Christ, the new Man. Through Christ, the plan of God for the salvation of all mankind has been accomplished in her. (MC 57).
Mary, now in glory next to her Son, is our advocate. Here on earth she is a powerful aid for those on their way towards heaven.
Today let us pray to Mary, especially for those who have been called to our Father’s House.
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you (Tota Pulchra)
7. DAY SEVEN: Virgo prudentissima … Virgin most prudent
Mary knows the way to go to God. She is the teacher of prudence: she makes an unconditional offering of her life to the Father saying to him: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord, let it be done to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38).
Mary’s “yes” is for each one of us a safe path to follow, with her sentiments, because in obedience to the Father’s will, we become like Mary, “mothers” of Christ, the Savior of the world.
Today, our unconditional “yes” will be lived in union with the “yes” of Mary.
O Mary, conceived without sin; pray for us who have recourse to you (Tota Pulchra)
8. DAY EIGHT: Mater clementissima … Mother most clement
The clemency of God shines forth in Mary. She continues to remind her Son: “They have no wine”. She is the intuitive woman who sees and provides everything for our eternal salvation. She is the Mother of indulgence, goodness and love. She takes the hand of those who hold out their hand to her and she walks with us, day by day, towards our ultimate goal, our Father’s House and our eternal happiness.
Today, let us put our hand in Mary’s and entrust ourselves completely to her, even in the most difficult and painful moments.
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you (Tota Pulchra)
9. DAY NINE: Intercede pro nobis ad Dominum Jesum Christum … Intercede for us with Our Lord Jesus Christ
The privileges of Mary: Immaculate, Virgin, Mother of Christ, Mother of the Church, Mediatrix and Assumed into Heaven, are all derived from and converge in the person of the Word made flesh. The Father wanted her like this, so that she could become the Mother of his Only Son and, only as a consequence, the Mother of all humanity. Mary gives us Jesus. Mary is the way to Jesus. Mary is the Mother who conceives and makes Jesus grow in us to perfect stature.
Today, let us repeat in us the interior attitudes of Mary. Let us live in her Mother’s heart and allow ourselves to be led by her, just as Jesus did when he lived in her womb.
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you (Tota Pulchra)
The Bright Maidens posed this theme for this week (Tuesday): “Mary, our Guide”.
Thank you, Bright Maidens, for getting us to think again about our wonderful Mother, Mary, who does much to lead us to her Son.
I have learned much from Mary through her disposition towards the things of God, especially through her example as a woman of deep prayer. How else could her heart be ready to accept the Angel Gabriel’s announcement that she would bear the Son of God? How else could she accept that ‘her heart too would be pierced’ as prophesied by Simeon at the presentation of Jesus in the Temple? How else could she bear to stand at the foot of the Cross and watch in agony the suffering and death of her Son?
All of these moments – and we presume a lifetime of others not recorded in the Sacred Scriptures – present a picture of Mary as a woman who developed a deep life of prayer from an early age. One of the most prominent examples in the Bible of Mary’s prayer life is her Canticle of Praise, the Magnificat. It is this, I wish to contemplate in this post, as I ask Mary, “Mother, teach me to pray.”
The Gospel of Luke, chapter one describes the scene (verses 39-45). Mary travels to visit her cousin Elizabeth, and ‘when Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, prompting Elizabeth to proclaim, “How is it that the mother of my Lord should come to me? … Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”
To this, Mary responds with these words of praise to God, “Magnificat anima mea Dominum” – my soul magnifies the Lord! (Luke 1:46)
If we ponder her response, we can learn a lot from the young Nazarean. She has just come from a rather arduous journey. She carries a secret that she knows will, in part, be known to all in the coming months. Yet, she is met with such a force in the words of Elizabeth. I ask myself, ‘how would I respond?’ How do I respond when I am caught off guard by something someone says or does? Do I turn to ‘magnify the Lord’? One can only respond in such a way if grounded in prayer.
An example comes to mind of a dear friend of mine, who unfortunately has gone through a rather difficult time with her family. She is quite gifted, but also is often misunderstood and maligned by those who presumably love her. One day, we were talking when she received a phone call. Over the phone, a prominent family member spoke in a very rough tone to her. When the conversation finished, I could see that not all was well. But the reason I remember the incident at all, is because of my friend’s response. I asked her, “Are you okay?” To which she unhesitatingly replied, “Lord, you keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you” (from Isaiah 26:3).
“Magnificat anima mea Dominum!”
My friend, had long ago adopted Mary as a teacher. Mary, the Spouse of the Holy Spirit – “Sponsa Sancti Spiritus” – intercedes to the Spirit that our heart may become like hers – a heart that ponders the working of God in the daily unfolding of our lives. Mary understands us well. Not all was understood by Mary in her lifetime, but she gathered her experiences in her heart, taking them to prayer. Contemplating the mystery of God in her human experience. In her ‘taking all these things to her heart,’ she brought them to God in prayer.
There are so many occurrences in our daily existence that we don’t understand. Things happen that cannot be explained with human understanding. Logic is foiled. It is a temptation to take these moments and enclose them around our human ‘wisdom’, to try and make sense of them, or explain them in human terms. It takes great faith to turn them over to God, especially when the event in question is not one of our liking: a broken relationship; a terminally ill child; an undetermined illness; natural disasters; the loss of a loved one. All of these spark our emotions, and our need to make sense of our lives comes to the forefront, demanding an answer.
That is why Mary is such a good teacher in the school of prayer. So many unanswered questions in her life, taking each one and ‘pondering it in her heart.’
Mary, you always point us to your beloved Son, telling us, “Listen to Him.”
By your humility, you teach us to be humble.
By your obedience to the Spirit, you teach us to listen (obedire).
Mary, teach me to pray.
Teach me in my life’s journey
to have on my lips a song of praise – my Magnificat –
giving praise to the God of All.
Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55)
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen!
“I urge you to retain an appreciation for popular piety, which is different in every culture yet always remains very similar, for the human heart is ultimately one and the same. Certainly, popular piety tends towards the irrational, and can at times be somewhat superficial. Yet it would be quite wrong to dismiss it. Through that piety, the faith has entered human hearts and become part of the common patrimony of sentiments and customs, shaping the life and emotions of the community. Popular piety is thus one of the Church’s great treasures. The faith has taken on flesh and blood. Certainly popular piety always needs to be purified and refocused, yet it is worthy of our love and it truly makes us into the “People of God”.”
P. Benedict XVI to Seminarians. 18 October 2010 – Feast of St Luke the Evangelist
As we celebrate this month of May, walking in a particular way with Mary, the Mother of God, a reminder of some of the pious Marian practices of the faithful recommended by the Magisterium (It is worth going to the link to read the whole text which explains more in detail these beautiful devotions:
1. Prayerfully Hearing the Word of God – The Council’s call for the “sacred celebration of the word of God” at significant moments throughout the Liturgical Year, can easily find useful application in devotional exercises made in honour of the Mother of the Word Incarnate.
2. Angelus Domini – the traditional form used by the faithful to commemorate the holy annunciation of the angel Gabriel to Mary. It is used three times daily: at dawn, mid-day and at dusk. It is a recollection of the salvific event in which the Word became flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary, through the power of the Holy Spirit in accordance with the salvific plan of the Father.
3. Regina Coeli – By disposition of Benedict XIV (2 April 1742), the Angelus is replaced with the antiphon Regina Coeli during paschaltide. This antiphon, probably dating from the tenth or eleventh century(233), happily conjoins the mystery of the Incarnation of the Word (quem meruisti portare) with the Paschal event (resurrexit sicut dixit). The ecclesial community addresses this antiphon to Mary for the Resurrection of her Son. It adverts to, and depends on, the invitation to joy addressed by Gabriel to the Lord’s humble servant who was called to become the Mother of the saving Messiah (Ave, gratia plena).
As with the Angelus, the recitation of the Regina Coeli could sometimes take a solemn form by singing the antiphon and proclaiming the Gospel of the resurrection.
4. The Rosary – The Rosary, or Psalter of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is one of the most excellent prayers to the Mother of God. Thus, “the Roman Pontiffs have repeatedly exhorted the faithful to the frequent recitation of this biblically inspired prayer which is centred on contemplation of the salvific events of Christ’s life, and their close association with the his Virgin Mother. The value and efficacy of this prayer have often been attested by saintly Bishops and those advanced in holiness of life”(235).
The Rosary is essentially a contemplative prayer, which requires “tranquillity of rhythm or even a mental lingering which encourages the faithful to meditate on the mysteries of the Lord’s life”(236). Its use is expressly recommended in the formation and spiritual life of clerics and religious(237).
5. The Blessing for Rosary Beads – indicates the Church’s esteem for the Rosary. This rite emphasises the community nature of the Rosary. In the rite, the blessing of rosary beads is followed by the blessing of those who meditate on the mysteries of the life, death and resurrection of Our Lord so as to “establish a perfect harmony between prayer and life”. As indicated in the Benedictionale, Rosary beads can be blessed publicly, on occasions such as a pilgrimage to a Marian shrine, a feast of Our Lady, especially that of the Holy Rosary, and at the end of the month of October.
“In recommending the value and beauty of the Rosary to the faithful, care should be taken to avoid discrediting other forms of prayer, or of overlooking the existence of a diversity of other Marian chaplets which have also been approved by the Church“.
6. Litanies of the Blessed Virgin Mary – Litanies are to be found among the prayers to the Blessed Virgin recommended by the Magisterium. These consist in a long series of invocations of Our Lady, which follow in a uniform rhythm, thereby creating a stream of prayer characterized by insistent praise and supplication. The invocations, generally very short, have two parts: the first of praise (Virgo clemens), the other of supplication (Ora pro nobis)…Following the prescription of Leo XIII that the recitation of the Rosary should be concluded by the Litany of Loreto during the month of October, the false impression has arisen among some of the faithful that the Litany is in some way an appendix to the Rosary. The Litanies are independent acts of worship. They are important acts of homage to the Blessed Virgin Mary, or as processional elements, or form part of a celebration of the Word of God or of other acts of worship.
7. Consecration and Entrustment to Mary – The history of Marian devotion contains many examples of personal or collective acts of “consecration or entrustment to the Blessed Virgin Mary” oblatio, servitus, commendatio, dedicatio). They are reflected in the prayer manuals and statutes of many associations where the formulas and prayers of consecration, or its remembrance, are used.
Seen in the light of Christ’s words (cf. John 19, 25-27), the act of consecration is a conscious recognition of the singular role of Mary in the Mystery of Christ and of the Church, of the universal and exemplary importance of her witness to the Gospel, of trust in her intercession, and of the efficacy of her patronage, of the many maternal functions she has, since she is a true mother in the order of grace to each and every one of her children.
8. The Brown Scapular and other Scapulars – The history of Marian piety also includes “devotion” to various scapulars, the most common of which is devotion to the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Its use is truly universal and, undoubtedly, its is one of those pious practices which the Council described as “recommended by the Magisterium throughout the centuries”.
The Scapular of Mount Carmel is a reduced form of the religious habit of the Order of the Friars of the Blessed Virgin of Mount Carmel. Its use is very diffuse and often independent of the life and spirituality of the Carmelite family.
The Scapular is an external sign of the filial relationship established between the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother and Queen of Mount Carmel, and the faithful who entrust themselves totally to her protection, who have recourse to her maternal intercession, who are mindful of the primacy of the spiritual life and the need for prayer.
9. Medals – The faithful like to wear medals bearing effigies of the Blessed Virgin Mary. These are a witness of faith and a sign of veneration of the Holy Mother of God, as well as of trust in her maternal protection.
The Church blesses such objects of Marian devotion in the belief that “they help to remind the faithful of the love of God, and to increase trust in the Blessed Virgin Mary”. The Church also points out that devotion to the Mother of Christ also requires “a coherent witness of life”.
Like all medals and objects of cult, the Miraculous Medal is never to be regarded as a talisman or lead to any form of blind credulity(260). The promise of Our Lady that “those who were the medal will receive great graces”, requires a humble and tenacious commitment to the Christian message, faithful and persevering prayer, and a good Christian life.
10. The “Akathistos” Hymn – In the Byzantine tradition, one of the oldest and most revered expressions of Marian devotion is the hymn “Akathistos“—meaning the hymn sung while standing. It is a literary and theological masterpiece, encapsulating in the form of a prayer, the universally held Marian belief of the primitive Church. The hymn is inspired by the Scriptures, the doctrine defined by the Councils of Nicea (325), Ephesus (431), and Chalcedon (451), and reflects the Greek fathers of the fourth and fifth centuries. It is solemnly celebrated in the Eastern Liturgy on the Fifth Saturday of Lent. The hymn is also sung on many other liturgical occasions and is recommended for the use of the clergy and faithful.
All the above taken from Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy published by Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. It is a wonderful document that expresses other elements of pious devotion within the Church.
This post was linked at New Advent under the heading, ’10 popular Marian devotions for the month of May…’
The Bright Maidens posed this question for today: “Why Mary?”
It is a beautiful question to reflect upon as we begin this month of May, traditionally dedicated to Mary, the Mother of God. As I reflect on the question, “Why Mary?”, particular passage of the Sacred Scriptures come to mind that convince me of Mary’s definitive role in our journey of faith, and how she is meant to be honored because of her role in salvation history.
Reason One: Luke 1: 26-38 – the Annunciation
Mary is, like many young women, looking for her future, but as we learn in the Gospel, her plans are interrupted at the words of the angel who tells her she is needed for a special project. she responds “Ecce ancilla Domini. Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum.” I am the handmaid of the Lord, be done unto me according to your word. What an example for us especially for a society that projects an autonomous attitude of focusing mainly on one’s own project.
Why Mary? She shows us that there is a bigger project in life than our own, and that it is manifested only when we, establish a rhythm of prayer that guides our actions and decision, rather than relying solely on our passions and practical desires; in her trusting the Word of God spoken through the angel, she was able to give an example for us, to become ‘Women of Listening’ to the desires of God, and include His will in our plans.
Mary shows us, that in following God’s design that flows from our obedience to His Word and His precepts (commandments), we to can sing a Magnificat of praise: “God has done great things for me, and Holy is His name!”
Reason Two: John 2:1-11 – the Wedding Feast at Cana
At the wedding feast, as the wine was running out, Mary approached her Son, saying, “They have no more wine.” Have you ever wondered about Jesus indirect answer to her? He responds, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come” (v.4). Mary doesn’t wait to clarify. She turns to the serveants and tells them, “Do whatever he tells you.” And it is through her intercession Jesus’ first recorded miracle in the Gospel of John takes place.
In this example, we are encouraged to rely on Mary in a role as an intercessor. She as a mother knows that if she asks her Son to do something, he will do it. It is a sign of her faith in Jesus’ divinity. She doesn’t know how wine will be supplied – that is not in the scope of her concern – but only trusts that Her Son will provide because she has asked Him. Today’s Gospel points to this reality, in the kind of faith Mary exhibits: “If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:14).
Why Mary? Mary, the Woman of Faith, understood these words of Jesus intuitively. She experienced through her relationship with Him that he never disappoints, but brings about everything, so long as it is not contrary to the Father’s will. We then, have recourse to Mary, to intercede on our behalf, just like she did for the wedding couple. And all will be accomplished so to glorify the Father.
Reason Three: John 19:23-27 – at the Foot of the Cross
Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw his mother 11 and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.
Ecce Mater Tua. Behold your Mother. When I first heard the Bright Maidens’ challenge to write a post on the topic, “Why Mary,” the tender scene at the foot of the Cross, was the first thought that came to my mind. It is, for me, the culmination of Mary’s ‘Yes’ at the Annunciation. She had no idea when she first said ‘fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum’ that she would one day find herself looking up at her Son on a tree of pain and suffering. Nothing could have prepared her for that day, where her own heart would be wrenched in two. No prophecy (like that of Simeon in Luke 2:34-35) could have told her how sharp that sword of sorrow would be, piercing her motherly heart. Yet, there at the Cross, participating in the suffering of her Son, she continued to say:
I believe that it is here, at the foot of the Cross, Mary teaches us the most important lesson for Christian living. Her “Yes” to God has no conditions placed upon it. No strings attached. It is freely given to God, with her recognition that Her life is forfeited to whatever it is God wants.
Why Mary? Whenever I, in giving myself to God, wish that I hadn’t been so generous, it is Mary that tells me, “No, Lisa Marie, be generous with your ‘yes’, no matter what it costs you.” Looking to her example, how can I take back my small offerings when she has made it her life project to fulfill what she began as that young fifteen year old girl, in that first ‘yes’ to God? My prayer is, that I too, may be faithful in my own daily ‘yes’ that continues to build on my vows as a religious, my first fiat, allowing the Lord’s project for my life, to become my own.
Today in the Church’s silence, there is a custom of waiting with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, in her sorrow over the death of her Son. From the Canossian Manual of Prayer (1953, p. 252):
The Cross, planted more in the heart of Mary than on the earth; on the Cross, your sacrifice, Jesus, was fulfilled in the Heart of your Mother, now desolate she receives death in her arms. Here is the altar of your priestly consecration, oh Jesus, and of your immolation. From this altar you have were presented in Bethlehem, in the Temple, at Nazareth…and now on Calvary. And on this altar I contemplate with profound piety.
As the Mary welcomes your still body, your Eucharistic body, I too welcome you, but I would like to do the same, for the sake of the immaculate and immolated heart of the Virgin Mother – yours and mine. To this end, I place myself on the altar of this Heart, longing to become a holy sacrifice, spiritually, and worthy of divine communion always.
As we commemorate the Passion and Death of our Lord Jesus this Palm Sunday, my thoughts turn too, to the role of Mary, who is not mentioned Matthew’s narrative, from which we have this year’s readings. My thoughts were prompted by a challenge from a friend.
At the challenge of a friend, I picked up the closest book on hand*, turned to page 56, and wrote down the fifth sentence:
“La Vergine Madre è ai piedi del sacerdote con gli occhi rivolti al cielo, tenendo in braccio il sacro Pegno. Ella sente tutto il peso rovesciato sulla Vittima divina e si unisce ad essa.”
“The Virgin Mother is at the foot of the priest with her eyes to heaven, holding in her arms the sacred Pledge. She feels all the weight placed upon the Divine Victim and unites herself to Him.”
A conversation ensued, based on my translation, since I admitted I didn’t like to use the word ‘Pledge’ in this context. Still pondering this thought, I wrote:
“‘Pegno’ is hard to translate here … because what is happening at the Cross is more than a ‘pledge’ (as we would use the word). It is a reference to a promise, a token (another weak word), a sign (a little better?). It is ‘to pawn’ something. Hmmm. Very interesting indeed! Is Jesus what is pawned, for the promise of our future redemption?”
(To use the word ‘pledge’ would be correct, deriving from the Latin ‘pignus’. And ‘pignus’ is where the word ‘pawn’ comes from.)
Peg responds: “His body and blood pawned for the souls of humanity”.
Yes, the image of Jesus given over for humanity works, but in my thoughts, I was trying to imagine God walking into a pawnshop, with His only begotten Son tucked under his arm, to offer him as a temporary holding…no, the image doesn’t quite work.
Then Deb chimed in:
Could it (the pledge) be similar to the Greek word “arrabon” meaning a down-payment?
She made the connection between the letters of Saint Paul, and his use of the Greek word ‘arrabon’, quoting his letter to the Ephesians:
“In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised holy Spirit, which is the first installment of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s possession, to the praise of his glory.” (NAB)
Deb’s translation uses the word ‘Guarantee’ in place of the NAB’s ‘first installment’. Both translations point to something in the future, that is to come. Something promised and certain.
So, looking back to my translation, how would it read to replace ‘Pledge’:
“The Virgin Mother is at the foot of the priest with her eyes to heaven, holding in her arms the sacred First-Installment/Guarantee. She feels all the weight placed upon the Divine Victim and unites herself to Him.”
The posturing of Mary, it seemed to me, was all wrong. It was too…priestly (eyes to heaven; offering the ‘sacred Pledge’; uniting herself to the weight of the sacrifice), as though she is offering the Divine Sacrifice. But this sentence cannot be fully understood without the following paragraph, which reads:
“Dopo un istante d’ineffabile raccoglimento alza le braccia e, consengnando il Bambino all’Ufficiante, ne fa con lui solenne oblazione al Padre, e supplica di ricevere, il Figlio suo come prezzo dell’umano riscatto.”
“After an inexpressible moment of reflection, she raises her arms, handing over the Child to the Official, makes of him a solemn offering (oblation) to the Father, and begs Him to receive her Son as the price of redeemed humanity.”
So, rather than Mary standing at the Cross, the passage portrays Mary in the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. She is offering her first-born Son. Her offering Jesus in the Temple foreshadows her standing at the foot of the Cross, the altar of supreme Sacrifice. It is for this reason, the first passage can speak of a ‘first-installment’ or ‘pledge’. At His presentation in the Temple, Jesus is the Pledge of future redemption, in that very small, vulnerable Child, offered in the arms of His mother.
This is the Mary we all know and love. She is not the priestess offering the sacrifice, but rather the ‘handmaid of the Lord’, offering the first-fruits of her womb for the service of God and His glory. She presents her only begotten Son in his infancy as the pledge of the future redemption to be brought through his life, suffering, death and resurrection.
What a beautiful example of the Christian life. Luke’s narrative of the Presentation describes Mary, as one who too will experience suffering (and you yourself, a sword shall pierce – Luke 2:35). It is this sword of sorrow that inspired the title for Mary, Mother of Sorrows. She unites herself to her Son in his suffering. We too are called to participate in God’s redemptive work through uniting our own suffering with the Supreme Sacrifice. May we raise our arms and eyes towards heaven, and make a gift back to God all that pierces our heart or afflicts our body, for the service of God and His glory.
As we come together today, to recall the suffering at the Cross, let us carry in our hearts, Mary, the Mother of the Redeemer, who shared in a way the sacrifice of her Son. A prayer prayed every morning by the Canossian Sisters throughout the world may help us in this intention:
Father, you willed that Mary be at the Foot of the Cross
Sharing in the sacrifice of your Son.
Grant, that through her intercession,
we may bear within ourselves the image of Christ
Crucified and Risen,
and spend ourselves with untiring charity
for the good of our brothers and sisters.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
* Taken from Spiritualità Canossiana, Sr. Antoinetta Monzoni, FdCC, 1944