Mary Mother of the Church and our Intercessor
Mary Mother of the Church
“Hail Mary full of Grace the Lord is with you blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb Jesus… Holy Mary mother of God pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death Amen”
Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word (Lk 1:38).
When Mary uttered these words, she opened herself to participate in the redemptive work for humanity. The Fathers of Vatican II Council taught: The motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from the consent which she loyally gave at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven, she did not lay aside this saving office but, by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation. https://ofm.org/blog/marys-intercession/By her maternal charity, she cares for the brethren of her Son, who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and difficulties, until they are led into their blessed home (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 62)
By accepting her Son’s testament of love, she became the Mother of the Church and welcomed all people, as sons and daughters, to be reborn into eternal life in the person of the beloved disciple at the Foot of the cross (cf. Jn 19:25). By giving her mother to the beloved disciple, we also became her sons and daughters. In the New Testament, Mary’s cooperation with God is progressive. It started with the conception and birth of Jesus, thus beginning the redemption work (Lk1:38; Lk 2:7); interceding with him at the wedding of Cana of Galilee (Jn 2:3); attending to Jesus at the cross (Jn 19:25) and her presence at the founding of the Church in the Upper Room during Pentecost (Acts 1:14). She persists with her role as our Mother in heaven even today (Rev 12:17). She is continually telling us to do whatever her son Jesus tells us by obeying His word and Church teachings.
“As Mariners are guided into the port by the Shining of a Star, so Christians are guided to Heaven by Mary” –St. Thomas Aquinas
She was declared the mother of the Church; mother of the entire people who call her most loving Mother on 21st November 1964 during the Vatican II Council (cf. incarnation, passion, Pentecost, and assumption). On 11th February 2018, the memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lourdes, Pope Francis declared this votive celebration in honor of Mary to be a feast for the Universal Church.
The Memorial of Mary under the title, Mary Mother of the Church (Mother of all Christian People) is to be celebrated annually on the Monday after the Pentecost. This will help to promote devotion to our Mother Mary who is the Mother of the Church. Pope Francis says, “The Blessed Mother Mary is not just the Mother of Jesus but the Mother of the Church”. She is an important figure in the life of Christ because everything about her points to Christ.
The more we are united with Mary, the more we are united with Christ because she participated actively in the physical and spiritual life of Jesus. Therefore, seeking Jesus through Mary does not take away the glory from God, but rather gives Him great glory. In one of his writings; St. Augustine says, “Mary is the mother of the members of Christ because with the charity she cooperated in the rebirth of the faithful into the Church.” On the same note St. Leo the Great said, “The birth of the Head is also the birth of the body.” Both the saints indicate that Mary is at once Mother of Christ, the Son of God, and the mother of the members of His Mystical Body, which is the Church. Therefore, we have all the reasons to have recourse to her.
The mother of God is not just someone from history; she is still our Mother today and is always praying, supporting, and leading us closer to her Son Jesus Christ. She is always attentive to our physical and spiritual needs. Pope Pius XII saw Mary, not as an abstract of the study, but a living person, highly favored by God and powerfully intervening in our lives. She continues to give us the son she brought into the world and to gather the whole family of Christ around the mystic Bread, a symbol of unity, peace, and eternal joy of heaven. He went further to say that; to love Mary is to love the Church and to love the Church is to love Mary. She is the Centre of unity in the divided Christian Family. Her motherly influence is capable of remedying the world’s ills, freeing it from its anguish, and leading it towards the way of salvation. She is the cause of our joy since the sorrow brought into the world by Eve’s disobedience has been changed into joy by Mary’s obedience. Wherever she is there is joy (cf. visitation).
Mary our Intercessor
We invoke in the Church the Blessed Virgin under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix. However, this does not take or add anything to the dignity and efficacy of Christ as the one mediator. St. Paul says that there is one and the only mediator who is Christ Jesus who gave himself a ransom for all (cf. 1 Tim 2: 5-6). However, speaking of the maternal mediation of Mary, it does not diminish or contradict Jesus’ mediation. The maternal role of Mary towards men never obscures nor diminishes this unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows its virtue (LG 60). We do not pray to Mary but we ask for her prayers. We pray only to God; whereas we invoke or call upon His mother. Our requests for her intercession do not diminish our devotion to Christ but rather enriches it. She does not obscure her son. When we admire her gifts and praise them, we admire and praise the divinity, goodness, and power of Christ.
The Blessed Virgin is the greatest pattern of prayer especially intercessory. She is the pattern and special intercessor for those who, amid temptation, strive to preserve their identity as children of God. She surrounds any devotees of her with motherly care, enlightens them with her wisdom, and comforts them with her love. She shines forth as a sure hope and solace for the pilgrim People of God (LG8). She is a member of the Church, but a unique member. No real devotee of hers has ever been lost. None who has ever sought her help was left unaided. That is why Blessed Joseph Allamano said: “He who Catholic Faith wants to reach sanctity without Our Lady wants to fly without wings”. Without her intercession, you can do nothing.
St. Thomas Aquinas said, “As Mariners are guided into port by the Shining of a Star, so Christians are guided to Heaven by Mary”. She who was taken to heaven, body, and soul, the Mother of the Church, is working hard for us, her children, to join her in heaven. She is our dear mother who loves us as the apple of her eye. With the confidence of loving sons and daughters, she wants us to have recourse to her while trying to listen to her commands and desires. The latter is concerned with our duty to become good and holy. The title; “The Blessed Virgin Mary, Help of Christians”; has been given to Mary since 1814 24th May by Pope Pius VII to celebrate her extraordinary intervention in the life of Christians during the persecution in the hands of enemies. Therefore, in our journey of faith, we dare to battle with the devil since we have a mother who accompanies and intercedes for us.
Mary is a woman who is attentive and ready to help when the situation seems bad. She is able with a glance to see our needs and act immediately with ease. It portrays a quality of caring mother who is perfectly available in absolute faith. She understands the message of the angel at the Annunciation “nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1, 37). We explicitly see her mediation at the wedding of Cana, where she and Jesus were invited. Through her intervention in breach of wine, Jesus anticipated his future time in the sign that it operates (cf. Jn 2:1ff; 1Tim 2).
In this event at Cana, Mary appears as a collaborator in the history of salvation. By inviting the servants to do what Jesus tells them; Mary becomes the first to engage others to become the new people of God. Here she is already putting in a sense her spiritual motherhood. Just as Moses at Sinai was the mediator of the covenant between Yahweh and Israel; Mary according to the account of Cana, has a mediating role in the realization of the alliance between Jesus and those who serve. Her mediation, therefore, has an intercessory character where she intercedes for humanity.
Our Mother is the seat of wisdom; incomparable wisdom and prudence in the things of God. She is the wise virgin who chose the better part thus became a teacher of truth who hands on to her children the saving deeds and words of her son, which she treasured in her heart (Lk 2:19, 51). She is a model of all virtues. Humanity is striving to attain these virtues, and conquer sin to grow in holiness by raising eyes to Mary who shines as the exemplar of virtues for the whole company of the elect (LG 65). She is the model of worship in spirit.
She is a virgin unsurpassed in the purity of faith whom the Church always strives to imitate. Mary is the mother of good counsel since she is the mother of Christ whom Isaiah in his vision called a wonderful counselor (Is. 9:5). As the pillar of faith, she supports and protects the faith of her children through prayer. She teaches us how to endure in faith as she did following Jesus and standing at the foot of the cross, enduring his death believing that all will be fine. As a mother, she supports the faith of her children from heaven through her intercession pointing to us the way of truth. Mary Our Mother and Mother of the Church, Pray for us your children. AMEN.
*** By Fr. Evans Mochama Mogwanchi ***
The writer is a Consolata Missionary
Excerpt from the Basilican Magazine, 2018 issue