When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman…so that we might receive adoption as sons (Gal.4:4).⧾
On this the last day of the Christmas Octave and the first of the New Year, we celebrated the divine maternity of our Mother and Queen, the Blessed Virgin Mary. Today’s Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God celebrates the divine Motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary and by extension her perpetual virginity and the virgin birth. These privileges were hers by virtue of her indispensable role in the Mystery of Salvation. They are dogmas of the faith that speak of Our Lord’s divinity, and today we affirm our belief in them with great joy. This is the oldest of all Marian feasts and it celebrates not only Our Lady’s unique role in the Mystery of the Salvation but also our share in this mystery. She is the Mother of Jesus, true God and true Man for she brought forth the Saviour in the flesh, but she is also our Mother in the order of grace. The Son of God who is consubstantial with the Father, as we profess in the Creed, is in His humanity consubstantial with the Mother. How truly blessed we are to have so beautiful and so good a Mother! How can we ever cease to sing her praises?
We cannot overstate the importance of Our Lady not only in the Mystery of the Incarnation but also in the life of the Church and by extension, in our own spiritual life. The early Church Fathers said of Our Lady: Concerning Mary, there is never enough. De Maria numquam satis. This is not pious exaggeration. Our Lady reveals the true identity of the Church as servant of the Word of God and she is our model and teacher in our own individual spiritual commitment. Our Lady is the one who most perfectly identifies with Christ, her Son. In the intimate connection among the mysteries of the Christian faith (nexus mysteriorum) Our Lady is never absent. If we read Sacred Scripture with attention and without bias we see the truth of this Catholic approach to the Mystery of God. One does not find Jesus without going through Mary. This was true at Our Lord’s Nativity: The shepherds went with haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph and the Child lying in a manger (Lk. 2:16). And it was no less true as Our Lord offered His Redemptive Sacrifice: for we read in John’s gospel that standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas and Mary Magdalene (Jn. 19:25).
Sadly, recently Our Lady’s unique role in the Mystery of Christ, a truth undeniably attested to in Sacred Scripture was denigrated and dismissed by the pope. This is completely unacceptable and it must be called out as a very troubling development in a pontificate replete with troubling statements. If the pope’s comments were meant to be an outreach of sorts to non-Catholic Christians who do not share our love and veneration of Our Lady, it was at best imprudent. The trivialization of Our Lady leads to the trivialization of her Son. It is a sad and undeniable reality that in those countries where devotion to Our Lady has been neglected and forgotten because of heresy, the Christian faith barely survives. Those who will not have Mary as their Mother cannot have Jesus as their brother; and those who do not have Jesus as their brother cannot have God as their Father. In order to completely relativize our faith; which means that in order for us to accept that all religions are equal, it is necessary to destroy our faith in the divinity of Christ. If Christ is truly God, how can any other religion be equal to Christianity? Denials of Our Lady’s prerogatives as a Mother of God are a step in that direction; not a frontal assault but an attack nonetheless. Will you stand idly by while our faith is undermined and Our Lady is insulted?
Our Lady is no ordinary woman because she the Virginal Mother of One who is more than just a man, but of Jesus Christ, true God and true Man. Hence we honour her as Mother of God (Theotokos).
The Second Vatican Council taught that Mary, a daughter of Adam, consenting to the divine Word, became the mother of Jesus, the one and only Mediator. Embracing God’s salvific will with a full heart and impeded by no sin, she devoted herself totally as a handmaid of the Lord to the person and work of her Son, under Him and with Him, by the grace of almighty God, serving the mystery of redemption. Rightly therefore the holy Fathers see her as used by God not merely in a passive way, but as freely cooperating in the work of human salvation through faith and obedience. For, as St. Irenaeus says, she ‘being obedient, became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race.’ (Lumen Gentium, 56).
What is important for us to note is that Our Lady was not used by God in a passive way. Through faith and obedience she cooperated in the work of human salvation and that is what we are called to do as mature, devout and practising Catholics. Our Lady’s faith precedes and accompanies us as beacon and a model of Christian maturity. It is part of the grandeur of Christ’s love not to leave us in the condition of passive recipients, but to draw us into his saving work, and in particular, into his Passion. This is said in the famous passage of the Letter to Colossians: ‘In my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his Body, that is the Church’ (Incarnationis Mysterium, 10; Bull of Indiction of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000). Like Our Lady, we too are drawn into the saving work of Christ through faith and obedience; and when we come to understand this truth we see how every prayer, every sacrifice, every penance, every act of charity is at the service of the saving Mystery of Christ and nothing is without value or meaning. This is when we come to understand that in prayer, love and sacrifice we stand before God for all (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross). This is holiness; and it is not difficult to define because it is the perfection of charity, of sacrificial love.
God never abandons His faithful ones. Not long before the French Revolution of 1789 which unleashed a violent persecution of the Church which continues in our time through the infiltration of the Church by unbelievers and those intent on destroying her, God raised a prophet for our times, Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824). She is a witness to the truth of the Scriptures and the events therein prophesied and fulfilled. She was privileged by God with sensory visions disclosing the earthly life of Our Lord, Our Lady and of the progression of salvation history from Genesis to the Apocalypse. I make mention of her because as you may have read in the parish bulletin, a book is available. Its title is The Holy Rosary through the visions of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich. If you wish to deepen your faith, become a more spiritually mature Catholic, then this book of prayer will enable you to immerse yourself in the marvelous historical events which occurred in the life of Our Divine Redeemer and His Holy Mother and which celebrate throughout the liturgical year. Our faith is not founded upon empty words; nor are we carried away by mere caprice or beguiled by specious arguments. (St. Hippolytus, On the Refutation of All Heresies). The violence that has been done to Sacred Scripture in faculties of theology, seminaries and schools has resulted in an almost complete loss of faith. The Scriptures have been “demythologized” to complete irrelevance. It is imperative that we do everything we can to strengthen our faith in view of our apocalyptic times and by God’s providence, this book was published this year. God never abandons His faithful ones.
As we begin this New Year, resolve to pray the Rosary every day: if possible, the full rosary, fifteen decades. Visit Our Lady’s Shrine today, and honour her who is both Our Mother and Our Queen. There you will find two cards: one which explains the mystery of vicarious life, a life of generous love for God and neighbour. The other is a holy card with an image of Blessed Anne Catherine; but more importantly, with a prayer that I propose we make our very own in the coming year and which on this great Feast of Our Lady’s Divine Motherhood, I pray in our name as we end our meditation: O God, let us serve the work of salvation following the example of the faith and the love of Mary. ⧾