Category Archives: Blessed Virgin Mary

Our Lady of Sorrows

lady-of-sorrowsStanding by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. 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. (John 19:25-27)

The day following the Exaltation of the Holy Cross is the feast day of Our Lady of Sorrows: the Holy Mother of God bearing the pain of her Sons death. The feast reminds us to act, like Mary, to stand by the Cross and to hold in adoration the Crucified Lord. This is the drama of the mystery of suffering. Mary says nothing. Love doesn’t always need words. To speak words would be barbarous. Silence is the best response.

In fact, Mary’s dramatic action is what the Gospel records: she ‘was standing by the Cross’. Standing by in silence ought to be our position, too, because we are called to go deeper in our relationship with the Lord in contemplating the height and depth of His agony. Going deeper is accessed in and by silence. Her gift on this feast is the example of contemplation.

Making sense of this feast we need to comprehend the extent and suffering of Our Lady viz. the depth of love between mother and son. Love, the concern for the destiny of another, is the key.

From experience we know that every person who suffers finds Mary always beside him or her. A Mother does not abandon her children, even less in time of suffering. Can you imagine a mother not being present at the beside of her sick daughter? Calvary is impossible to experience without grace; we need the presence of someone who knows what is entailed in being faithful to the path given to us to walk.

Mary, Mother of Sorrows, may I be a comfort for Jesus if He can look down from the Cross and find you, His Mother, and me, holding your hand, “standing by the Cross”.

Nativity of Mary

nativity-of-mary“By Your Nativity, O Most Pure Virgin, / Joachim and Anna are freed from the reproach/disgrace of barrenness; / Adam and Eve, from the corruption of death. / And we, your people, freed from subjection to sin, celebrate and sing to you: / The barren woman gives birth to the Theotokos, the nourisher of our life!”

(Byzantine Kontakion-hymn of the Nativity of the Theotokos)

The Liturgy for the great feast of the Nativity of Mary is full of theology that we can not walk away from, even if they are difficult theological concepts, like “corruption of death” and “subjection to (liabilty for) sin,” referring to our human state before Christ. The beauty of the poetry here to convey what we believe is stunning: the mention of Jesus Christ annulling our “curse” in another well-known hymn, the Troparion of the feast: “By annulling the curse He bestowed a blessing, by destroying death, He gave us eternal life.” What does it mean for us today?

A key to unlock the importance of this feast is understanding the generation before Mary: Saints Joachim and Anna. These two experienced in their life, in their experience, what the Kontakion above speaks of “disgrace of barrenness” or “chidlessness.” Consider what it means for a woman to experience the inability to conceive, or to experience the death of her infant child. What God did was to free Anna from the paralyzing “barrenness” of her body and give her an incomparable blessing –the gift of Life. With Joachim and Anna, God intervened in human history making it possible for them to “live” to their full potential by giving birth to Mary. Life makes all the difference.

The feast is, as St. Andrew of Crete describes it, “the beginning of feasts. It represents the first of the feasts against the Law and the shadows, yet also the entrance of those that lead to grace and truth.”

The Source of Life in His creative energies allows humans to be truly productive and truly human when it was impossible. So today we honor Mary, but we also honor her parents, Joachim and Anna, “the barren woman gives birth.” THE Good News here is that God the Father bestows the same blessing on the Church. As one theologian said, He continues to bless “an ever God-Bearing Church.”

Our Lady of Czestochowa

Mother of God and FrancisPrayer to Our Lady of Czestochowa

Our Lady of Czestochowa, Queen of Poland, pray for us Holy Mother of Czestochowa, you are full of grace, goodness and mercy. I consecrate to you all my thoughts, words and actions – my soul and body. I beseech your blessings and especially prayers for my salvation.

Today I consecrate myself to you, good Mother, totally – with body and soul amid joy and sufferings, to obtain for myself and others your blessings on this earth and eternal life in heaven. Amen

Our Lady of Czestochowa, Queen of Poland, pray for us.

Queenship of Mary

Coronation of Our Lady Gentile da FabrianoToday is the octave day of the Solemnity of the Assumption and we honor Mary in her Queenship.

There are a few times during the liturgical year that the Church uses royal titles for the God and the Mother of God. There may be a slight disconnect for some with the use of titles that denote royalty but what we understand to be regal, majestic, and powerful in this world with kings and queens, it is not at all the same for God and the Mother of God. Indeed, the world’s royals have had, and continue to have a certain amount of power and privilege. What we attribute to the world’s elite is not what we attribute to the Divine. Our theology says that we understand on this plain is far exceeded when speaking of God. For example fatherhood is not the same as Divine Fatherhood; biological father is imperfect but the perfection we have in God is utterly different.

So, what do we say about Mary’s Queenship? Mary is the sinless Virgin who humbly accepted God’s will for her; as a mother she experience a life of great suffering with the death of her Son; Mary’s Queenship exists in the sense that her motherly love and concern for all of us is total and majestic. It is with a special concern for our salvation wrought through her Son’s saving Paschal Mystery of the Cross and Resurrection finds a place in our devotion. Her is a key point: Mary has a queenship, in fact, Queen Mother, because her Son is King. Without this connection to Jesus, the title falls away.

Called a queen does not replace Mary’s essential role as mother. As John Paul said, “her queenship remains a corollary of her particular maternal mission and simply expresses the power conferred on her to carry out that mission.” She is not exclusive in her concern for all of the Father’s creation: her particular mission is for all humanity.

Mary’s mission is recognized as St Germanus preached about Her: “You [Mary] dwell spiritually with us and the greatness of your vigilance over us makes your communion of life with us stand out” (Horn. 1, PG 98, 344).

Vatican II spoke of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin in “body and soul into heavenly glory,” and also teaches Mary was “exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords (cf. Rv 19:16) and conqueror of sin and death” (Lumen gentium, n. 59).

Pope Pius XII instituted the feast of the Queenship of Mary to be celebrated on May 31st, the last day of the month dedicated to Our Lady. The Second Vatican Council liturgical reform moved the feast to today, the octave day of the Assumption.

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Dormition Solesmes AbbeyWe have the great Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary today! We honor the transitus of the Mother of God because what happened to her, is also the gift God wants to give to us. The commemoration of the death of the Blessed Virgin Mary is known as the Assumption because of the tradition that her body did not decay but that she was raised up, body and soul, into heaven. The Eastern Churches call today’s commemoration the Dormition, or falling asleep. The Assumption tradition was already present among right-believing/worshipping Christians in the sixth century. It was thought at the beginning of the 20th century that since that this doctrine so widespread and after consulting the views of the world’s bishops, Pope Pius XII formally and infallibly declared the doctrine of the Assumption to be part of the authentic and ancient dogma of the universal Church on 1 November 1950.

Saint Robert Bellarmino reflects: “And who, I ask, could believe that the ark of holiness, the dwelling place of the Word of God, the temple of the Holy Spirit, could be reduced to ruin? My soul is filled with horror at the thought that this virginal flesh which had begotten God, had brought him into the world, had nourished and carried him, could have been turned into ashes or given over to be the food of worms.”

I think Father David Petras gives an important sum of the feast in this way: This is the mystery the ends of the earth celebrate today, for it has transformed the meaning of human life, and “through he holy Dormition, the world is given new life.”

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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