The shepherds went with haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph and the Child lying in a manger (Lk. 2:16).⧾
On this the last day of the Christmas Octave and the first of the New Year, we are one with Our Lady, St. Joseph and the shepherds, the first to receive the good news of salvation; and to adore the living God become Man. 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. 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. St Bernard of Clairvaux 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.
Her Immaculate Conception is the first of the privileges granted to her in view of the exalted mission that would be hers as Mother of the Messiah. 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). It is no less true today.
Our Lady’s faith precedes and accompanies us as beacon and a model of Christian maturity. We contemplate her today as Mother of the Messiah but also as an exemplary model of faith in the promise of salvation. She is an exemplar of faith not only for us individually who also believe in the Lord’s words of salvation but also for the Church. Our Lady is for the Church a model and a reference point (nexus) in whom the Church recognizes herself, her vocation and her mission. Our Lady is the Mother and Model of the Church and a strong defence against all heresies. There is an ancient liturgical text that celebrates Our Lady’s necessary role in the history of the Church: Rejoice, O Virgin Mary, for Thou alone have destroyed all heresies. Thou didst believe the word of the Archangel Gabriel. A virgin still, thou didst bring forth the God-Man; thou didst bare a Child, O Virgin, and remainest a Virgin still. Mother of God, do Thou intercede for us (Tract, Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Missale Romanum).
Today we celebrate Our Lady’s Maternity and we resolve to recognise her prominent and essential role both in the life of the Church and in our own spiritual lives. All of us who belong to the family of God have her as a Mother. 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.
Days of trial are now upon us; and in the struggle for the faith that we are experiencing, especially as we contend with the immiseration of the Church and the ever-growing opposition to the Christian gospel, let us remember that Our Lady herself revealed a special devotion to her Immaculate Heart as a remedy for our times: The Devotion of the Five First Saturdays of Reparation. The reparation Our Lady asked for is for five kinds of offences and blasphemies against her Immaculate Heart, namely: 1) blasphemies against her Immaculate Conception, 2) against her perpetual virginity, 3) against the divine and spiritual maternity of Our Lady, 4) blasphemies involving the rejection and dishonoring of her images, and 5) the neglect of implanting in the hearts of children a knowledge and love of this Immaculate Mother.
These blasphemies attack Our Lady’s singular and exalted place in the Mystery of Salvation. I encourage you to make the Five First Saturdays and heed Our Lady’s request for Communions of Reparation. Our Lady is speaking to us as she spoke Sr. Lucia: ‘Look at my Heart encircled with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce it at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. Do you at least try to console me and announce in my name that I promise to assist at the hour of death with the graces necessary for salvation all those who, on the First Saturday of five consecutive months, go to Confession and recite the Rosary and keep me company for 15 minutes while meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary with the intention of making reparation to me’.
On this first day of the New Year, a time of resolutions and new beginnings, let us take to heart Our Lady’s request to make the Five First Saturdays and pray for the Triumph of Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart. Let us heed the message of Our Lady with these three simple words: work, prayer, sacrifice. Let us be faithful to our daily duties and faithful also to a daily discipline of prayer; undertaking both work and prayer in a spirit of sacrifice, a willingness to be conformed to Our Lord in His Sacrifice, the Sacrifice of the Cross which the Mass makes present. Our Lady is present at every Mass because the Mass is Calvary. To each one of us Our Lady says what she said to Sister Lucia of Fatima: My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that leads you to God. In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph. With great confidence then, we go to Jesus through Mary, praying always in supplication: O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee! ⧾