Hail Mary, full of Grace!
Dear Friends in Christ,
May is the month of Mary, Our Blessed Mother! The subject of devotion, art, song and numerous pious practices, Myriam of Nazareth a.k.a. The Virgin Mary, the Queen of Heaven, Our Lady etc., is the mother of Jesus and our mother too! Throughout the history of the Church there is a funny little fact; as people move closer to Mary, the closer they become to Jesus. Similarly, the further they move away from Mary, the further they move away from Jesus and His body, the Church! One of the best ways to get closer to Jesus and closer to His Church is to become closer to His mother. Mary’s desire is for all of us to become and stay close to her son. Ad Jesum per Mariam – To Jesus through Mary! Why? Well, how did God the Father chose to give His Divine Son to the world? Per Mariam, through Mary.
How close are you to the Blessed Mother? What does your personal/familial Marian devotion look like? Here in the parish, we have numerous devotional practices invoking our Blessed Mother’s intercession and offering her honor. Daily, after the 9:00 a.m. Mass, the rosary is publically prayed; during Lent and Advent, when we offer weekday Mass at 12:10, the Angelus is also prayed. Every Wednesday evening, the Novena to Our Mother of Perpetual Help is offered. During the months of October and May, we pray the Salve Regina after all the weekend Masses, in the Christmas season we pray the Alma Redemptoris and in the Easter Season, the Regina Caeli. Additionally, we have a May Crowning every year. Another frequent Marian devotion in our parish is the praying of the Holy Rosary at the vigil when someone has died. This is a wonderful and powerful devotion in that it can bring great solace during a painful time of grief and loss.
All of this is wonderful, yet there are still too many Catholics and non-Catholics who do not clearly understand why we honor and pray to Our Blessed Mother and the saints. It used to be due to confusion caused by the influence of our Protestant friends. Today, it is probably more likely an overall ignorance of prayer itself. A little explanation helps a lot. There is only one God and God alone is to be worshiped. To worship anything or anyone other than God is idolatry (false worship and the gravest of sins). The worship that we offer to God is technically described as latria (Supreme worship directed only to the One God in Three Divine Persons). We, however, give honor, praise and veneration to the saints and angels as they are with God in the glory of heaven. We ask for their prayers for us and we ask for their heavenly intercession for us as we strive to serve God here on earth. This is not in place of our worship of God (latria) but in addition to it. In honoring the saints, we honor God who has bestowed His glory upon them. This veneration and honor is called dulia (praise, veneration, respect). Among all of the saints and angels, there is one whom God has honored above all of the rest and so we honor and venerate the one whom God has so honored, The Blessed Virgin Mary. The veneration and praise we offer Mary is distinguished as hyperdulia (the highest praise and respect). This, of course, is not the adoration and worship (latria) that we offer God, but it is praise and honor for the wonderful things that God has done for Mary. The scriptures themselves record that Mary realizes ‘that all generations will call her blessed’ ‘for the Almighty has done great things’ for her in allowing her to be the mother of His Son (Lk 1). The Holy Spirit honors Mary when the Third Person of the Holy Trinity overshadows her at the Annunciation and she immaculately conceives the son of God in her womb. It is in the body of the young Jewish virgin that the eternal Word becomes flesh (The Incarnation) (Mt 1, Lk 1, Jn 1). Jesus too, honors Mary throughout His life. As He hung from the cross on which He won for us eternal salvation and victory over sin and death, Jesus entrusts Mary to St. John, the Beloved Disciple. In doing so, Jesus makes Mary, His own mother, the mother of all who believe in Him (Jn 19). Thus, God the Father honors Mary, God the Son honors Mary and God the Holy Spirit honors Mary. How can we not honor Mary as well? Hail Mary, full of Grace!
In pace Christi,