Mary, Mother of Christ and Mother of the Church
When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. (Jn 19:26-27)
I’m sure that you have heard this verse numerous times in the account of Christ’s passion, but do any of us really understand what this means for us? It is in this very verse that Jesus graciously grants to us Mary as Mother of the Church and to all of humanity. Let’s break this open a bit.
Blessed Pope John Paul II said at his General Audience on November 23, 1988 with regards to this particular verse that, “It is not merely a gesture of a family nature, as of a son making provision for his mother. But it is a gesture of the world’s Redeemer who assigns to Mary, as “woman,” a role of new motherhood in relation to all those who are called to membership of the Church. In that moment, Mary was constituted ”one might almost say consecrated” Mother of the Church by her Son on the cross.”
Christ knew that we needed a Father, and we had one – our Heavenly Father. But He knew that we also needed a Mother. Now you might be asking why. What will she do for us, and how will having her as our mother bring us any benefit? Well, where Christ is, there is Mary, and where Mary is, there is her Son. We cannot separate them from one another. We cannot love Christ without loving His mother, and likewise, we cannot love Mary without loving her Son even greater. In this particular oneness and selfless love between a mother and her child, Mary was found at the foot of the Cross, there with her Son, sharing in His agony with Him. There is, I believe, a great significance in who Jesus gave His mother to just before he completed His paschal sacrifice. This disciple whom Jesus loved, the one who was there with Mary, was John. John, meaning “Yahweh is gracious.” Jesus graciously gave His mother a new role as mother of us all, wanting her to love us as she had loved Him: “Mother, behold your son.” He also gave her in a particular way as mother of Priests. Without Mary’s fiat throughout her life, we would not have her Son. Likewise, without John and the other Apostles, we would not have our Blessed Lord in the Eucharist today.
Secondly, Jesus gave us His mother to be our mother too: “Son, behold your mother.” Jesus wanted us to love her as He had loved her. He wants us to take her into our heart and home. Our Lady desperately wants us to allow her into our lives so that she can be a Mother to us. Our Lady said to St. Juan Diego in the hills of Tepeyac, ” Hear me and understand well, my son the least, that nothing should frighten or grieve you. Let not your heart be disturbed. Do not fear that sickness, nor any other sickness or anguish. Am I not here, who is your Mother? Are you not under my protection? Am I not your health? Are you not happily within my fold? What else do you wish? Do not grieve nor be disturbed by anything.” These words are meant for all of us. St Bernard of Clairvaux, Father and Doctor of the Church said regarding Mary’s desire to love us, “In dangers, in doubts, in difficulties, think of Mary, call upon Mary. Let not her name depart from your lips, never suffer it to leave your heart. And that you may obtain the assistance of her prayer, neglect not to walk in her footsteps. With her for guide, you shall never go astray; while invoking her, you shall never lose heart; so long as she is in your mind, you are safe from deception; while she holds your hand, you cannot fall; under her protection you have nothing to fear; if she walks before you, you shall not grow weary; if she shows you favor, you shall reach the goal.”
Although Mary has always been my mother, she really became my mother in a whole new way after I left home at the age of 18. I grew up in a household where my mother was not a mother to me in the way that I needed. She did provide the physical necessities for me, and I am very grateful for that. However, something was missing, which was an emotional and spiritual mothering of me. This is where the Blessed Mother came in. A mother is there to comfort you in your sorrows, to teach and guide you in your growth in holiness, and to lead you in your faith in Jesus Christ. She is there to provide for you and protect you. She cleans you up when you are dirty, she tends to your scrapes when you fall, she wipes your tears when you weep. She rejoices in you and takes joy in your successes. She helps you when you fail and encourages you to keep going, and keep growing. She takes care to provide you physical nourishment and ensures you receive proper spiritual nourishment. She sacrifices for you. And she does so in so many ways which you are not even aware of.
The Blessed Mother is this. She dries our tears and comforts us in our sorrows. She leads us to her Son. She is perfect, full of grace, and so she is the model of holiness, next to God Himself. She too rejoices in us. She protects us and is our advocate. Best of all she ensures that we receive proper nourishment through reception of her Son in Holy Communion.
So, how do we really make Mary our Mother? Mary herself has given us two ways that we can devote ourselves to her. The first is by praying the rosary. Mary came as Our Lady of Fatima to three young children in Fatima, Portugal, and among the many things she said to them she asked that they pray the rosary daily for peace in the world and for souls to be saved. This was directed to all of the faithful as well. The second way is by wearing the brown scapular. The scapular was given to St. Simon Stock by Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, worn primarily by those in the Carmelite order but also by others in religious life as well as the laity. It is worn as part of a special devotion to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, as we are clothed in her mantle of protection. It is also practiced in saying the rosary or the Little Office of Our Lady.
Chris and I are also both very blessed to be a part of the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites. Secular Carmelites are, along with the Friars and Nuns in the Discalced Carmelite order, daughters and sons of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, being clothed in her mantle, and sharing in the same call to holiness, the same mission, and having the same charisms, except in our own state of life.
You may also consider making a Total Consecration to her. St. Louis de Monfort, in Total Consecration to Mary, No. 28, says that it “consists in surrendering oneself in the manner of a slave to Mary, and to Jesus through her, and then performing all our actions with Mary, in Mary, through Mary, and for Mary.” This slavery is a holy slavery, “a slavery of love and free choice. This is the kind chosen by one who consecrates himself to God through Mary, and this is the most perfect way for us human beings to give ourselves to God, our Creator.” Chris and I consecrated ourselves to Mary the night prior to our wedding, and Mary has played a huge role in our lives and in our marriage. We could not do this without her help and intercessions. I look to her as my mother in all things, being consecrated to her in a holy slavery, and I look to her also to teach me how to be a mother like she is a mother. I encourage you all to consider making the Total Consecration to Mary by St. Louis de Montfort. She wants to be your mother. Let her be. Let her love you and lead you to her Son, in whom you will find true joy and happiness. She wants nothing more than to be your mother and to lead you to her Son.
There is another great way to devote yourself to Mary, which is through the Militia Immaculata, founded by St. Maximilian Kolbe. The Militia Immaculata is a worldwide evangelization movement encouraging total consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary as a means of spiritual renewal for both individuals and society as a whole. Chris and I consecrated ourselves to Mary through the Militia Immaculata on the night before our engagement. I truly believe that we could not have prepared for our wedding like we did without this consecration to Our Lady.
Another great way to make Mary your mother is through spending time with her and asking her help to prepare you for reception of Holy Communion or for time spent with Jesus in Eucharistic Adoration. St. Maximilian Kolbe said that “there is no better preparation for Holy Communion other than offering it to the Immaculate…She will prepare our heart in the best way possible, and we will be sure to give Jesus the greatest of joys and to show him the greatest of loves.
After Holy Communion let us pray to the Immaculate once more, so that she herself may welcome Jesus into our soul and make him happy as no one ever before has been able to do.”
If you have done the Total Consecration, or are part of the Militia Immaculata, or have any other particular devotions to Mary, I encourage you to recommit yourself to Mary on a frequent basis, even daily. Renew your Total Consecration, on a yearly basis. Why, you might ask? I would just say this, that we often renew our Baptismal vows, we say the Creed at Mass every Sunday, so why should we not recommit ourselves to Mary? Mary wants to bring her Son all the glory. Get to know Mary and you will get to know her Son. Likewise, when you get to know Jesus, you cannot help but to get to know His mother.
”Jesus honored her before all ages, and will honor her for all ages. No one comes to Him, nor even near Him, no one is saved or sanctified, if he too will not honor her. This is the lot of Angels and of men.”
–Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe, Martyr
You can visit this page to hear Chris’ talk on True Devotion to Mary
Posted on May 26, 2012, in Blessed Virgin Mary, Brown Scapular, Carmelites, Catholic, eucharist, Eucharistic Spirituality, faith, family, Love, Militia Immaculata, mother, OCDS, Parenting, prayer, Rosary, Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites, St. Louis de Montfort, True Devotion to Mary and tagged blessed mother, Blessed Virgin Mary, Brown Scapular, Carmelites, Catholic, Catholic Church, Disciple whom he loved, Eucharist, Jesus, John, love, Mary, Militia Immaculata, Mother's Day, OCDS, Prayer, Rosary, Scapular, Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites, St. Louis de Montfort, Total Consecration, True Devotion to Mary. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.