Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Mary's Maternity: Mission and Influence

O Mary, Mother of God, deign to accept my humble homage and grant that I, too, may enjoy the blessed fruits of your maternity.
1. The Feast we celebrate today honours Mary under her most beautiful title and in her most glorious prerogative: Mother of God. This title and prerogative were solemnly proclaimed by the Council of Ephesus, to oppose the Nestorian heresy. Today the Church congratulates Mary for this supreme dignity, which raises her above all other creatures, even to the threshold of infinity, and makes her Queen, not only of men, but also of angels. This is the dominant theme throughout the Mass. The Introit repeats the prophecy of Isaias which, even in the Old Testament, had foretold the sublimity of our Blessed Lady, "Behold, a Virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and His Name shall be called Emmanuel" (Isaias 7:14), that is, God with us. The Epistle (Sirach 24:23-31), applying to Our Lady an extract from the Book of Wisdom, sings the praises of her divine maternity: Mary is "the mother of fair love" in whom is "all grace of the way and of the truth … all hope of life and of virtue," since through her alone God gave to the world His only-begotten Son; through her alone men have had their Saviour. He who wants Jesus must seek Him in Mary's arms; he who wishes to propitiate the Saviour must have recourse to her who is His Mother. How sweetly, then, does her maternal invitation sound in our ears: "Come over to me, all ye that desire me, and be filled with my fruits." Yes, let us go to Mary and we shall not be deceived; in her we shall find all we can desire, because Mary gives us Jesus, the Redeemer, Father and true Food of our souls. Not only does she give Him to us, but, by the example of her wonderful life, she teaches us to love Him, to imitate Him, to follow Him, and to profit as much as possible from His redemptive, sanctifying work. Thus Mary extends her maternity to us too, fulfilling toward us the duties of a Mother, and we can repeat with full confidence the prayer which the Church puts on our lips today: "O Lord … grant that we who believe her to be indeed the Mother of God may be aided by her intercession with Thee." (Collect)

2. The Feast of Mary's Maternity should awaken in our hearts confidence and trust in her who, because of her dignity as Mother, has the greatest influence with her divine Son. In praising the Mother of God, we beg her to use her maternal power in our behalf: "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners." What greater advocate could we find? What more powerful Patroness? Jesus cannot resist His Mother's supplications, nor can Mary resist those who invoke her under her sweetest title: Mother. If every woman is touched when she hears herself called "Mother", will not Mary be even more deeply touched when she is invoked as "Mother of God"? Then let us call her by that name, let us treat her as our own Mother — since Jesus, when dying on the Cross, put at our disposal the treasures of her maternity. Our Lady has a maternal mission to accomplish in our souls. Jesus Himself has entrusted it to her; therefore, it is very dear to her, and she desires to fulfil it perfectly. Yes, Mary wishes to be our Mother, she wishes to use the privileges and treasures of her maternity for our advantage, but she cannot do so unless we entrust ourselves to her care like docile, loving children. Even among those who are consecrated to God, not all realize sufficiently the necessity of giving themselves to Mary as her children, of opening their soul to her maternal influence, of having recourse to her with complete confidence, of calling upon her aid in all their difficulties and dangers, and of placing their whole spiritual life under her patronage. In the natural order a child needs a mother, and suffers both morally and spiritually without one; so also in the supernatural order, souls need a mother, they need Mary, most holy. Without her and her maternal care, souls suffer, their spiritual life is stunted and often becomes lax, or, at least, is not as vigorous as it should be. On the other hand, when souls give themselves to Mary, seek Mary, and trust themselves to her, their interior life progresses rapidly, their journey toward God is more simple and swift; everything becomes easier because there is a Mother's hand to sustain them, there is a Mother's heart to comfort them.

"Your name, O Mother of God, is filled with every divine grace and blessing. You carried in your womb Him whom the heavens could not contain. You nourished Him who feeds the whole world. The Lord of the universe willed to have need of you, for you gave Him the flesh which He did not have before. Rejoice, O Mother and Handmaid of God! Rejoice! You have for debtor Him who gives existence to all creatures; we are all debtors to God, but God is debtor to you!

"O most holy Virgin, you have more goodness and charity than all the other saints and you have greater access to the throne of God than they, because you are His Mother. I, then, who am celebrating your glories and praising your immense goodness, beg you to be mindful of me and my miseries." (St Methodius)

"O great Mother of God, I, too, will say with St Bernard: 'Speak, O Lady, because Your Son is listening to you, and whatever you ask He will grant you!' Speak, then, speak, in my favour, O Mary, my advocate, wretched as I am. Remember it was for my benefit, too, that you were given such power and dignity. God willed to make Himself your debtor by taking His human nature from you, so that you might freely dispense the riches of His divine mercy to the poor and wretched.

"If you, who are so immensely good, do good to all, even to those who do not know and honour you, how much more should we hope in your benignity, we who wish to honour you and love you and who trust in your aid? O Mary, although we are sinners, you can save us, because God has enriched you with mercy and power that surpasses all our iniquity. O most sweet Mother, to you I give my soul, that you may purify it, sanctify it, and consecrate it wholly to Jesus." (St Alphonsus)

**Reflection by Fr. Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen from Divine Intimacy

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