Blessed Virgin Mary: December 2011 Archives
Advent is moving us closer and closer to the Incarnation of the Eternal Word of God--Jesus. Among the rich readings of sacred Scripture we have in the Liturgy, there is today's that recalls for us Mary's visiting her cousin Elizabeth who is pregnant with John the Baptist. The Visitation is the second of the Joyful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary.
Looking at what is given to us to meditate on, the vocation of woman is brought out. Looking around us the culture does't offer too many exceptional models of woman for us to take inspiration.
This morning we prayed the Sacrifice of the Mass with the young women of New York's Dominican Academy, Dominican Father Ignatius Schweitzer said he noticed six characteristics which portray Mary, the Mother of Jesus, as a fitting role model for all people, but noteworthy of women. While Mary may be a little removed from some Christians real experience, I think the lack is filled with Mass readings today.
The six characteristics are:
1. Mary is a woman of faith;
2. Mary puts her faith into action;
3. Mary takes the initiative;
4. Mary brings joy to Elizabeth;
5. Mary is a community-builder;
6. Mary is a caring mother.
It is up to us to flesh out the details of these characteristics because TODAY the Savior is recognized.
A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars
O God, Father of mercies, who placed your people under the singular protection of your Son's most holy Mother, grant that all who invoke the Blessed Virgin of Guadalupe may seek with ever more lively faith the progress of peoples in the ways of justice and of peace.
What did we hear today from the sacred Liturgy about the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary? How close to did you pay attention to the priest praying the Mass prayers on your behalf? What's the import of the feast? To know the answers we have to look at the texts of today's Liturgy. Did you notice when the priest prayed:
1. God preserved Mary from every stain of sin by foreseeing the death of His Son Jesus, and so we pray too, that is, we hope to be cleansed of sin and admitted to communion with Him;
2. we profess belief in God's prevenient grace given to Mary and we hope that He will deliver us from sin;
3. in the Preface, the priest prays that in Mary who was "endowed with the rich fullness of your [God's] grace ... [there is] a worthy Mother for your Son and [which] signify the beginning of the Church; As Pope Benedict said today,
4. in her yes to God's invitation to be the Mother of Jesus, we have the "Lamb would wipe away our offenses";
5. we pray that the singular grace given to Mary may also be given to us.
This Liturgy is a mix of liturgical, dogmatic and systematic theology. BTW, this is fitting way to celebrate the graces given to our nation.
The dogma of Mary's Immaculate Conception was given to us by Pope Pius IX and proclaimed in the document, Ineffabilis Deus (1854), solemnly defining a clear and consistent teaching of the Church since 33 AD.
If you ask the question: What can you tell me about Mary as Patroness of America? Boston's Archbishop (later Cardinal) Richard Cushing wrote an answer.
Famously, the 23 US bishops in 1846 (note: nearly a decade before the dogma's definition) wrote to the Pope asking for Mary under the title of the Immaculate Conception to be bestowed on the country's young Church. The bishops wrote:
We take this occasion, brethren, to communicate to you the determination, unanimously adopted by us, to place ourselves and all entrusted to our charge throughout the United States, under the special patronage of the holy Mother of God, whose Immaculate Conception is venerated by the piety of the faithful throughout the Catholic Church.By the aid of her prayers, we entertain the confident hope that we will be strengthened to perform the arduous duties of our ministry, and that you will be enabled to practice the sublime virtues, of which her life presents the most perfect example.
Pastoral Letter of the Bishops of the United States
Sixth Provincial Council, Baltimore, 5 May 1846