Tuesday, 20 May 2014

The Blessed Virgin Mary, Holy Mother Of God

It would not be right to let the month of May, dedicated to the Blessed Mother, go by without a post in her honour. She is, for Catholics, the Immaculate Conception Assumed into heaven; she is the “Mediatrix of all Graces” and the Lord’s “Co-Redemptrix”. But the underlying reality at which we thrill most is that she is not only Mother of God, but our Mother too in the life of grace.

Our Blessed Lady is not directly referred too much in scripture, because the purpose of scripture is to present us with the Person of Christ. But her appearances there, as inspired to be written down by the Holy Spirit, are core to understanding Christ and His on-going work of saving souls. They tell us much about the place God has assigned to her in the Redemption.

We see Our Lady from the very beginning; she is promised to us along with the Saviour and is the very enemy of the devil, “I will make enemies of you and the woman; of your seed and her seed. It shall crush thy head” (Genesis 3v15). She is the co-worker of the Redeemer as Eve was co-worker of Adam in the fall. Her participation in The Christ’s Redemptive Suffering is thus made known by the Holy Ghost in the Old Testament and in the New: “a sword will pierce you own soul too, that the secret thoughts of many may be made known” (LK.2v35).

When we see Christ as the successor of David and as the King whose reign will have no end (Is.9v7; Lk.1v33), we recall that it was always the Mother of the King that was Queen in the Kingdom; that even the King honours her and sets her throne next to His (1 Kings 2v17-20). 

When we see the birth of the Church we see Our Lady there with the Apostles (Acts 1v12-14), wherein the Holy Ghost is showing us that there can be no birth of the Body of Christ (which we are –Eph.5v30) without the Mother of Christ.

When we see her asked to become the Mother of God we see her hailed as full of grace (Lk.1v28), using a verb that is not time-limited: she is, and always has been, and always will be, full of grace: Immaculate.

When we see Christ enter public life at the wedding feast of Cana we see He acts at Our Lady’s intercession (Jn.2v2-9); wherein the Holy Ghost is showing that she obtains for us those graces of which we stand in need.

When we see her seeking out her son with His cousins (Matt.12v47) we are told that her blessedness goes beyond her physical motherhood of the Lord to the depth of her soul, in that she who is Blessed among women (Lk.1v42) does the will of the Father (Lk.11v28).

When we see her at the foot of the Cross and hear the disciple told by Christ, “This is your mother” (Jn.19v26), we see ourselves as disciples addressed, since our Lord did speak to John by name by in his capacity as a disciple: we all receive Our Lady as our spiritual mother; she is the mother of every disciple/member of Christ.

What is it we know about mothers? Why do we love them so? We love them because while our father is the protector of the home, our mother is the heart of the home. Mothers sit up with us at nights when we are ill; take us by the hand for our first day at school, and clean and clothe us day after day. We love them because we know they are our best friend, guide and advocate. We love them because they support us in our wholesome needs, and correct us in our destructive desires; we love them because we know we can always be sure of a loving welcome. We know they put us first, and themselves second. This is why we love them: they are always there for us, Even when they must chastise us it is done from love. Our spiritual Mother is no different.

It is small wonder that having been prepared by God for the unique role of Mother of God, she was imbued with the graces of Faith (Lk.1v45) humility (lk.1v46); active service of the Lord (Lk.1v38; 11v28); of active charitable concern for people (Jn.2v2,3). Might we not then see in her a great, if not the greatest, disciple of the Lord? Among the great crowd of witnesses which surround us (Heb.12v1) she must surely be the foremost as the one fashioned by God for God.

Our Lady’s apparitions at such places as Le Puy and Guadalupe*, Lourdes and Fatima do not add to Revelation but call us back to it; they call us back to Christ by insisting on prayer and penance. At Lourdes in 1858 she called us to “Penance, Penance, Penance”; to “Pray to god for the conversion of sinners”. This call was insufficiently heeded, in that she came to Fatima in 1917 to repeat her call to prayer and penance, demonstrating the validity of her message by the Miracle of the Sun on October 13 -one of the rare occasions when a miracle has been foretold as to the time and place it would occur, and one which was seen by believers and non-believers alike; from those at hand and by those at a significant distance. To honour Our Lady and to please her Divine Son, we must do as she asks: we must pray, do penance and meditate on the history of salvation in the Rosary by which we deepen our love for the Saviour and His work of Redemption.

Although a Marian Devotion, the Rosary is biblically based and Christ-centred, narrating the story of our salvation that we may mediate upon its wonder and message. Reciting the Hail Mary is our way of keeping company with Mary as we mediate on the life of her Son; its words taken directly from scripture (Lk.1v28,42); the Our Father is the prayer taught us by Christ (Matt.6v9ff) and the Glory Be our participation in the praise of God (Lk.1v14; Rev.4v14;19v1).

How close Our Lady is to so many who suffer, and how much help to them she can therefore be. For as many do today, she too suffered as a refugee with a small child (Matt.2v24); she too searched for her child when He was three days missing (LK.2v41-43); she too suffered the loss of her husband at an early age; she too watched her Son ridiculed even by His own blood relatives (Mk.3v20,21); she too watched her Son die a torturous death (Mk.15v15-39). Mothers who suffer with the children then, never suffer alone.

Let us not be afraid to honour the Woman whom God has made our Intercessor, our Model of humility, charity and devotion; our Mother and the enemy of Satan. Rather, we might consider that we may be ashamed before her Son if we refuse to honour her. Let us then, honour her who is the greatest advocate we can have before the throne of God bar Her Divine Son, the one Mediator between God and man (1 Tim.2v5). As St Bernard reminded us, where Christ is Head and the source of grace (JN.1v14), and we are the Body receiving that grace (Jn.1v16), Mary is the neck which channels that grace: “The moment you voice reached my ears the child in my womb leapt for joy” (Lk.1v44). How blest by God we are that we have such a mother as our own; that He shares His own Mother with us in so intimate and powerful a way.

*At Le Puy, Our Lady appeared to a sick woman, directing her to a hill upon which the sick lady was cured. Further miraculous healings occurred which demonstrated the power and compassion of God.
At Guadalupe in 1531 Our Lady appeared as Mother of the True God on a hill dedicated to the pagan Aztec god Quetzalcóatl, converting them from paganism to Christ. All of Our Lay’s apparitions call us to God and the Gospel, not to her.


  1. Thank you Fr. for a lovely exposition of Our Lady. I don't think I have ever heard a sermon on Our Lady since I was a boy. It just never happens. The best book about Our Lady is 'True devotion to the Blessed Virgin' by St Louis de Montfort. One can learn so much there. Every Catholic should be familiar with it. It should be read out in RI lessons in Catholic schools.

    1. Thanks for commenting Paul.
      I expect preaching on our Lady is not omitted on her great feast days (Immaculate Conception, Assumption, Mother of God et el) though I have seen other themes taken up from the readings on these days so that scant regard is shown to the Holy Mother. How sad that we cannot praise her giftedness; she who was specially chosen and formed by God for God. We have no problems extolling ourselves...or our favourite theologian...or political activity...or those we bury...
      God Bless.

  2. I once heard a homily, made on the Feast of the Assumption, in which the priest told us that the Protestants had some valid points about Our Lady and that, in his opinion, we did 'overdo' devotion to Her etc. etc. I wrote a letter to him after saying how offended I was that he should use the occasion of such a feastday to decry devotion to Her instead of encouraging it, I received no reply. He left the parish shortly after his homily to marry. You can get a good measure of anyone's faithfulness (and an indication of their personal goodness) in my experience by their attitude to Our Lady.

    1. Thank you, Lepanto.
      Devotion to one's spiritual mother must, in some way, shape or form, be a central part of every priest's life since he is conformed to Christ in a unique way. I think the more devoted we are to Our Lady the more we are devoted to her Son, and the holier we become.
      God Bless.

  3. Dear Fr. I am an atheist/agnost. And originally born into and thus from another faith altogether. But something , not cold logic, speaks in my heart to tell me that This is indeed the most Blessed Mother of all times and ages. No one schooled me yet I adore her every day. in my own way, crudely yes but with genuine love for her.
    I know you will not understand but I tell the truth as it springs to my lips.

    1. Thank you for commenting.
      I think you demonstrate that Our Lady has universal appeal as well as universal motherhood. Her wonderfulness can touch any soul and she will not leave us motherless once we have opened ourselves up to her.
      God Bless.


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