October 27, 2017

Christ the Cornerstone

Remembering Christ with Mary

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson

“Mary’s contemplation is above all a remembering … a making present of the works brought about by God in the history of salvation. … These events not only belong to ‘yesterday;’ they are also part of the ‘today’ of salvation.” 
(St. John Paul II, “On the Most Holy Rosary,” #13)

During the months of May and October, the Church invites us to pay special attention to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God and our mother.

St. Teresa of Calcutta, founder of the Missionaries of Charity, often reminded us that we go to Jesus through Mary.

This insight was not original to Mother Teresa. It has been the constant teaching of the Church from the beginning. Mary’s role has always been regarded as unique.

As the poet Dante expresses it in his Divine Comedy, “Lady, thou art so great and so powerful, that whoever desires grace yet does not turn to thee, would have his desire fly without wings” (Paradiso XXXIII, 13–15).

Mary is great and powerful, but only because, as St. John Paul II writes, “she is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who intercedes for us before the Father, who filled her with grace, and before the Son born of her womb, praying with us and for us” (“On the Most Holy Rosary,” #16). Mary is great and powerful because of her humility and because she is filled with God’s grace.

This truth about Mary is often misunderstood. God’s mother never stands alone. Her special dignity is the result of her closeness to the Blessed Trinity—Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

As the moon reflects (but does not generate) light that comes from the sun, Mary shares with us the grace she receives from God. “Insistent prayer to the Mother of God is based on confidence that her maternal intercession can obtain all things from the heart of her Son,” St. John Paul II teaches. “She is all-powerful by grace … a conviction which, beginning with the Gospel, has grown ever more firm in the experience of the Christian people” (“On the Most Holy Rosary,” #16).

We Catholics do not worship Mary. We honor her, and we follow her, because she is our surest and most consistent guide on the road to heaven which is Jesus himself.

As St. John Paul II teaches, “By meditating on the mysteries of the rosary and by living the same life in holy Communion, we can become, to the extent of our lowliness, similar to [Jesus and Mary] and can learn from these supreme models a life of humility, poverty, hiddenness, patience and perfection” (“On the Most Holy Rosary,” #15).

We can become more Christ-like if we turn our attention to Mary, ask for her guidance and help, and live as she did—faithfully following him to death on a cross and then to resurrection and new life in him.

We believe that the most profound act of worship is found in the Mass, which unites the word of God with the sacrament of Christ’s body and blood. No other form of prayer or devotion can ever replace the celebration of the Eucharist. But devotions like the rosary help us remember what it is that we celebrate at Mass.

By helping us meditate on significant events in the life of Christ, and by allowing us to learn Christ from Mary, the rosary can help ensure “that what [Christ] has done and what the liturgy makes present is profoundly assimilated and shapes our existence” (“On the Most Holy Rosary,” #13).

If it’s true that we learn Christ from Mary, then we should eagerly pursue forms of Marian devotion like the rosary. Christ is our teacher, “the revealer and the one revealed,” but Mary knows her Son better than anyone. “From the divine standpoint, the Spirit is the interior teacher who leads us to the full truth of Christ [cf. Jn 14:26],” St. John Paul tells us. “But among creatures no one knows Christ better than Mary; no one can introduce us to a profound knowledge of his mystery better than his mother” (“On the Most Holy Rosary,” #14).

Every individual, family and parish community should take full advantage of the rosary and other appropriate forms of Marian devotion to help us “remember Christ with Mary,” and to meditate on the mysteries that we celebrate most profoundly in the Eucharist.

May our Blessed Mother Mary lead us to profound personal knowledge of her Son. May she inspire us by her example to live Christ-like lives of humility, poverty, hiddenness, patience and perfection. May we follow Mother Teresa’s example and learn Christ from Mary. †

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