31 December 2017

Bartolome Esteban Murillo’s “Holy Family”. Source: arthermitage.org.

Hail, Holy Mother,

who gave birth to the King who rules heaven and earth forever

(Introit, Solemnity of Mary, the holy Mother of God).

        The Church appropriately enters every new calendar year by celebrating the motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Eve “became the mother of all the living,” as Genesis reveals (3:20). However, she enjoyed a maternity confined to the mere physical realm because she and Adam refused to listen to God and lost Paradise as a consequence. The Blessed Virgin Mary, in contrast, is now the mother of all the living who are reborn in Baptism. Her motherhood, therefore, is far superior to Eve’s in two ways.

     First, Mary is the true Mother of God. Because Jesus Christ is both God and Man, and she gave birth to our Savior, then Mary properly enjoys her title as Mother of God. Jesus Christ is one divine Person with two natures. In His divinity, the Son of God is eternal; in His human nature, Jesus was born in time and took that perfect human nature of His from Mary, His Mother, because of her Immaculate Conception, which meant that Mary had no stain of original sin from Adam and Eve. 

     Second, Mary enjoys a superior motherhood compared to Eve because Our Lady is the spiritual mother of all those who are reborn into eternal life at the font of Baptism. Jesus gave St. John to Mary at Calvary just before Jesus’ own Blood and water flowed from His Sacred Heart so that Mary would now be the spiritual mother not only to John the Apostle, but also to the whole Church when Mary was present later at Pentecost. Our Lady is, therefore, not only the mother of the Church in general, but she is also our particular spiritual mother who we can always turn to and invoke.

     In fact, Mary’s mission in her life has not ended simply because she has been assumed body and soul into the glory of heaven. She continues to use her maternal sense to watch over each of us, to pray for us, and to advocate for us before her Son, Jesus. She is the most powerful, as it were, of all the saints. In fact, a person who did not have devotion to Mary cannot have true worship and devotion to God; there will always be something greatly lacking. She is not someone who is optional in our life of faith. Rather, Mary’s role in our life with God is essential. 

     On the one hand, St. Bonaventure makes it clear that anyone “who neglects the service of the Blessed Virgin will die in his sins” because “no one can be saved without the protection of Mary.” If we do not invoke our Blessed Mother, then we simply cannot hope to attain heaven’s eternal promise. Why? Jesus Himself desires that we go to His own Mother. The wedding feast at Cana, her presence at the foot of the Cross, and her presence at Pentecost are but three Scriptural instances where Mary acts as an intercessor before her Son, and her acts of mediation are blessed by Him. Mary’s work, as it were, involves turning our gaze from ourselves to look instead toward her Son as she says to us even today like she did in Cana, “Do whatever He tells you” (John 2:5). 

     On the other hand, for those Christians who do turn to Mary devotedly, St. Hilary of Poiters assures us that “no matter how sinful one may have been, if he has devotion to Mary, it is impossible that he be lost.” This truth from St. Hilary provides us with great hope. Not only do we have to work out salvation each day knowing that we are a combination of both the wheat and the weeds and that those weeds need to be uprooted over time and with persistence, but many faithful Christians are also concerned—especially in today’s secular culture—about family members who have walked away from Jesus and His Church. The Blessed Virgin Mary is always our hope. When we entrust ourselves and our loved ones to her, then we do as St. Padre Pio said: “Pray, hope, and don’t worry.” Our fidelity to God by going to Mary is a great sign of our predestination with Him eternally, and our prayers and sacrifices offered for others is a gift that is never ignored by God.

     Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.   

     May you have a most blessed and holy New Year!

     Fr. Shawn William Cutler

#FrShawnWCutlerBlog #StMBBrookfield#BlessedVirginMary #MotherofGod #StBonaventure #StHilaryofPoiters #StPadrePio