July 15, 2022

Christ the Cornerstone

Under her many titles, Mary smiles on us always

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson

“Mary was the first, in a way which can never be equaled, to believe and experience that Jesus, the incarnate Word, is the summit, the peak of man’s encounter with God” (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI).

Tomorrow, July 16, our Church honors the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title Our Lady of Mount Carmel. This is the title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary in her role as patroness of the Carmelite order.

The first Carmelites were Christian hermits living on Mount Carmel in the Holy Land during the late 12th and early to mid-13th century. They built in the midst of their hermitages a chapel which they dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. For many centuries, this shrine has been a place where pilgrims journeying to the Holy Land honor Mary and seek to imitate her in a contemplative union with Jesus.

Tomorrow is also the titular feast of Our Lady of Einsiedeln Archabbey Church at Saint Meinrad in southern Indiana. The name Einsiedeln is German for “hermitage,” and is named after the Abbey of Maria Einsiedeln in Switzerland, which established Saint Meinrad Archabbey here in the United States in 1854. The monastery church in Switzerland is built over the hermitage site where the monk St. Meinrad was martyred in the ninth century.

The Blessed Virgin Mary is reverenced under hundreds of different titles. These represent diverse ways of seeing the mother of Jesus and our mother. In recent months, since Russian troops invaded Ukraine, we have frequently prayed to Mary, Queen of Peace. When the COVID-19 pandemic was raging, we joined Pope Francis in imploring the assistance of Mary, Health of the Sick. Earlier this month, we turned to Mary Immaculate, patroness of the United States of America, to protect us as a nation from internal divisions and foreign threats against our cherished freedoms, especially the right to life.

Under the title Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mary is the patron saint of the Americas. She is the one who watches over all of us in Central, North and South America, helping us to be generous, peace-loving people who are enriched by our diversity and who strive to support one another in our efforts to build communities that are just and equitable for all.

In 1931, on the 400th anniversary of the Virgin Mary’s appearance to the peasant Juan Diego on a hillside on the outskirts of Mexico City, Luis Maria Martinez, then Archbishop of Mexico City, offered the following reflection:

At the radiant dawn, on the immortal hill, we see a man covered with a course tilma [cloak] and a lady of heavenly beauty: very pure, because she is a Virgin; sweet, because she is a Mother; majestic, because she has a glimmer of God. The man, Juan Diego, represents Mexico, Spanish America, covered with the tilma of his miseries. The Lady is Mary who comes to tell us that she loves us—who comes to infuse the breath of life in us with her lips. … Mary smiles at us as no one has ever smiled on Earth and looks at us with a look so clean, so soft, and so deep that through her we gaze at heaven.

These beautiful words about the Lady of Guadalupe might just as easily be spoken about the Lady who is honored in southern Indiana, in Switzerland, on Mount Carmel in the Holy Land and in shrines throughout the world. Devotion to her is not limited to any place or title. She is the Mother of all. She comes to tell us that she loves us all, and with her radiant smile and her gentle kisses, she inspires everyone who has an open heart with “a glimmer of God,” the grace of the Holy Spirit indwelling in her now and for all eternity.

Tomorrow, let’s join the monks of Saint Meinrad and Christians everywhere in praying these words:

O, God, you have blessed us with the loving protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Through her intercession under the titles of Our Lady of Mount. Carmel, Our Lady of Einsiedeln, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and many more, hear our prayers and keep us in your constant care.

When we turn to Mary and ask for her protection and care, she never hesitates to respond, as she did to

St. Juan Diego nearly 500 years ago, “Am I not your mother?”

Of course, she will help us. Of course, she will smile on us and keep us under her constant care. That’s what mothers do for their children.

Smile on us, Blessed Mother, and inspire us with your kindness and generosity. Show us, gracious Lady, the way to find the healing power and peace of Christ your Son. Amen. †

Local site Links: