Mary, Mother of the Church, Pray for Us.
The Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church.*
Lessons from the proper, according to the ordinary form of the Roman Rite:
• Genesis 3: 9-15.
[or, Acts 1: 12-14.]
• Psalm 87: 1-3, 5-7.
• John 19: 25-34.
Lessons from the Octave feria, according to the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite:
• Acts 10: 34, 42-48.
• [The Gradual is omitted.]
• [Sequence] Veni, Sancte Spiritus…**
• John 3: 16-21.
5:05 PM 5/21/2018 — Pope Francis may have created today’s Memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church, and command that it be observed the day after Pentecost; but, a Mass for our Blessed Mother under that title has existed since 1986. It’s based, in large part, on references made by Pope Blessed Paul VI in his 1974 Apostolic Exhortation, Marialis Cultus. It’s somewhat ironic that the memorial would be created by our present pope since, in my last assignment, I would often have recourse to this Mass whenever I was besieged by souls expressing concern, both in and out of confession, for Holy Mother Church and the direction she seems to be taking under the current human administration. I say “human administration” since we know the Church is ultimately guided and governed by our Blessed Lord, Who is only assisted by the men chosen to lead her in this world. Whether those men act in accord with or contrary to our Lord's Holy Will we won't know until the end of all things, when everything will be revealed; in the mean time, we cultivate the virtue of Hope, confident in our Lord's promise that He will be with us until the end of time.
Pentecost is viewed by many as the event that gives birth to the Church, and the popular image of our Blessed Mother present with the disciples in the upper room as they are infused with the Holy Spirit is, I’m sure, the image our Holy Father has in mind for this day, even though we do not know for a fact that Mary was there. As I contemplate the Mother of God under the title Mother of the Church, my thoughts turn naturally not to Pentecost, but to the Annunciation, for it’s that singular event that makes clear our Lady’s relationship to the Church and shows why Her life is the perfect example for all of us. Just as it was for Her, the circumstances of our lives are often not choices we make for ourselves, and we may very well doubt our ability to be faithful in the difficulties they present. But as our Lord said in Saint John, “It was not you that chose me, it was I that chose you” (John 15: 16 Knox); and, because He has chosen us, He will not abandon us. We can pretend that He has, because we don't want to admit to our failures. But that's only because we forget that the gift of Sufficient Grace is not a guarantee that our lives will be problem free. Our Lord said that Himself: “If any man has a mind to come my way, let him renounce self, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9: 23 Knox).
Now, those words may not sound particularly pleasant to us, but what the angel said to Mary at Her Annunciation, our Lord has also said to each one of us, regardless of our state in life: “Be not afraid.” Few phrases occur more frequently in both the Old and New Testaments than “Be not afraid.” That one simple sentence, spoken by God through all eternity, sums up the entire Gospel on the subject of grace.
But so often we are afraid. We’re afraid of obligation. We’re afraid of sacrifice. We are afraid of uncertainty. And to overcome this fear we have to accept what we so often don't want to accept, especially when things aren't going that well: that God has not abandoned us. We must respond as Mary did: “…let it be unto me according to thy word.” Saying that did not mean that Mary understood it all, and I think it is unreasonable to assume that She did, for She did not have clairvoyance. What She did have was Hope. Hope enough to say, " I will not be afraid." Just as we must say every single day: I will not be afraid of following the Lord. I will not be afraid of sacrifice. I will not be afraid of responsibility and obligation. I will not be afraid of the cross. I will not be afraid of things not always going my way.
So, on this new feast of Mary, Mother of the Church, let us ask our Blessed Mother to take away our fear and infuse us with the virtue of hope. After all, the Church is very much a family, and in many families, even though the father is the head, it’s the mother to whom the children are closest, and who ultimately has the greatest influence on them as they grow and mature. May Mary, Mother of the Church, guide us, protect us and intercede for us.
* This memorial is movable, always falling on the day after Pentecost. Thus, the Memorial of St. Christopher Magallanes and his companions is supressed this year.
** Come, Holy Ghost, send down those beams,
which sweetly flow in silent streams
from Thy bright throne above.
O come, Thou Father of the poor;
O come, Thou source of all our store,
come, fill our hearts with love.
O Thou, of comforters the best,
O Thou, the soul's delightful guest,
the pilgrim's sweet relief.
Rest art Thou in our toil, most sweet
refreshment in the noonday heat;
and solace in our grief.
O blessed Light of life Thou art;
fill with Thy light the inmost heart
of those who hope in Thee.
Without Thy Godhead nothing can,
have any price or worth in man,
nothing can harmless be.
Lord, wash our sinful stains away,
refresh from heaven our barren clay,
our wounds and bruises heal.
To Thy sweet yoke our stiff necks bow,
warm with Thy fire our hearts of snow,
our wandering feet recall.
Grant to Thy faithful, dearest Lord,
whose only hope is Thy sure word,
the sevenfold gifts of grace.
Grant us in life Thy grace that we,
in peace may die and ever be,
in joy before Thy face. Amen. Alleluia.