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Mary, Our Mother

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2011/10/06 at 1:00 AM

The months of October and May are special Marian Months, although we honor our Blessed Mother throughout the year with devotions, memorials and feasts.  The celebration of Mother’s Day actually follows an ancient tradition of honoring the lives of Mary and her mother, St. Anne.

On May 13 we celebrate the Memorial of Our Lady of Fatima which recalls the first apparition of the Blessed Mother, in Fatima, Portugal to three shepherd children in 1917.    After a series of apparitions in 1917, many witnessed the “miracle of the sun” on October 13.  The core message of the apparitions of Fatima is that there is a need for: the practice of penance, the frequent recitation of the rosary, the practice of prayer and mortification for the conversion of sinners, prayers for priests, increased devotion of the Faithful of the world to the immaculate Heart of Mary, and the offering of Holy Communion of reparation on the first Saturday of each month.  The fruits of these spiritual efforts will be the salvation of souls and and advances in peace.  Ninety-four years after the apparitions, Fatima remains a place of pilgrimage and spirituality.

On May 31, we celebrate the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to her cousin Elizabeth, which we recognize as the second Joyful Mystery of the Holy Rosary.  As the bearer of the Savior and Redeemer, Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth in her time of need.

Mary’s title “Mother of God” was defined by the Council of Ephesus in the year 431.  While defending Mary’s divine maternity, the bishops of the Church sought to clarify the teaching of Christ’s divine nature.  Jesus is truly divine and yet like us in all ways except for sin.  The Divine Son was born in time of an earthly mother.  Mary has a Mother’s Love for her Son and Savior.  We trust in her gentle intercession.  She is our spiritual mother.  Mary under the title, Mother of God, is the principal patroness of the Diocese of Charlotte.  The Lord entrusted His mother to the beloved disciple from the cross.  Jn 19:25-27.  As we are called to be the disciples of today, we may see in this act that Mary is the mother of the Church, which is the Body of Christ.

On December 8th, the universal Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. The teaching of the Church is that from the first instant of her conception, Mary was kept free from the stain of original sin by a singular grace and the privilege of Almighty God, in view of the foreseen merits of Jesus Christ, our eternal Savior.  In 1846, the bishops of the United States of America proclaimed that Mary under the title of the Immaculate Conception is our national patroness.

All of the Faithful are encouraged to pray the rosary.  It is especially important during the months of May and October and on the Feasts of the Blessed Mother.  I recommend that petitions be expressed prior to each decade of the rosary. One may pray for peace in the world, for vocations, for sanctity and spiritual renewal for those in religious vocations and for greater respect for God’s gift of life.  Scripture has it that we should pray for those who govern and have offices of civil authority.  (At times, we may pray for their enlightenment and conversion.)

Blessed John Paul II encouraged a “daily rosary.” He wrote in his apostolic letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae of 2002: “the Rosary is by its nature a prayer for peace, since it consists in the contemplation of Christ, the Prince of peace, the one who is “our peace” Eph. 2:14.  Anyone who assimilates the mystery of Christ – and this is clearly the goal of the Rosary – learns the secret of peace and makes it his life’s project.  Moreover, by virtue of its meditative character, with the tranquil succession of Hail Marys, the rosary has a peaceful effect on those who pray it, disposing them to receive and experience in their innermost depths, and to spread around them, that true peace which is the special gift of the Risen Lord. Jn 14: 27, 20-21.

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God and Queen of Peace that we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.  Fr. Lawlor

Fr. Mark Lawlor is the Pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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