Take time to learn from our mother

a word from bishop les 2 350px

In this Year of Faith it's important for all of us to reflect on how we might learn from Mary to live by faith and to entrust everything with confidence to God.

Devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship. The Church rightly honors the Blessed Virgin with special devotion. From the most ancient times Mary has been honored with the title of 'Mother of God,' to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs. The liturgical feasts dedicated to the Mother of God and Marian prayer, such as the rosary, express this devotion to the Virgin Mary.

In our liturgical calendar, the month of May is when we particularly pray to Our Lady. It is said that the Christian custom of dedicating the month of May to the Blessed Virgin arose around the end of the 13th century. Devotions continue to take place during the month of May each year and in some countries, the Marian devotions are accompanied by pilgrimages to special shrines to Our Lady, such as at Lourdes and Fatima. There are reports that Pontificate of Pope Francis is to be consecrated to Our Lady of Fatima on May 13, 2013 which is the 96th anniversary of first apparitions to the Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco.

In Mary’s life, following on from her courageous ‘yes’ to be the mother of God’s Son, she coped with suffering and poverty at his birth in a stable. There was great confusion when Jesus was presented in the temple and Simeon prophesied that he would be the cause for the ruin and resurrection of many in Israel, and that Mary’s own heart, a sword would pierce. The two examples above of Mary pondering the word of God, show that Mary found the word of God both in divine revelation (the angels' words to the shepherds) and in her own experiences (her encounter with her son in the temple).  Similarly, God speaks to us today through divine revelation (e.g. the Bible, the teaching and preaching of the Church) as well as through our personal experiences, if only we make time to reflect on them as Mary did.

There must have been indescribable sorrow when Mary witnessed her Son die a criminal's death on Calvary. But, from the cross on Good Friday, Jesus gave Mary to us as Mother of the Church. This title of ‘Mary, Mother of the Church’ is authenticated in many Church documents, including those of the Second Vatican Council and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Pope Benedict XVI, speaking on October 4, 2012, showed his confidence in Mary’s intercession with the Son of God:  I wish to entrust to the Most Holy Mother of God all the difficulties affecting our world as it seeks serenity and peace, the problems of the many families who look anxiously to the future, the aspirations of young people at the start of their lives, the suffering of those awaiting signs or decisions of solidarity and love. I also wish to place in the hands of the Mother of God this special time of grace for the Church, now opening up before us. Mother of the “yes”, you who heard Jesus, speak to us of him; tell us of your journey, that we may follow him on the path of faith; help us to proclaim him, that each person may welcome him and become the dwelling place of God. Amen!

The Church sets Mary before us today because we, like her, need faith to journey into the unknown and her faith can inspire us. But we have to ponder more deeply how it is that she lived by faith. St. Luke tells us that she kept all of these things early in the life of Jesus, ‘reflecting on them in her heart’.  In his 2008 apostolic exhortation on the Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church, Verbum Domini, Pope Benedict said that, "ever attentive to God's word, Mary lives completely attuned to that word; she treasures in her heart the events of her Son, piecing them together as if in a single mosaic." This is a very important expression of how her faith worked, and how we're called to live by faith, especially in this Year of Faith.

The need for a mother’s love and support within all of us can be found in Mary – Mother of God and Mother of the Church. As the mother of Jesus, Mary has a central role in the Catholic Church. Veneration of her as the Blessed Virgin Mary has grown over time both in importance and manifestation, not only in prayer but in art, particularly in Michelangelo’s beautiful Pieta ; in poetry and in music.  Alongside Schubert's Ave Maria , the Bach/Gounod Ave Maria has become a fixture at wedding Masses, and funerals. Many of us take comfort in hearing those beautiful words and other Marian hymns sung at special times. That is also why the Hail Mary is the prayer said by so many Catholics across many centuries.

Let us remember to keep in touch with Mary, our Blessed Mother and Mother of the Church, by praying often to Our Blessed Lady in the beautiful Hail Mary:

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you.
Blessed are you amongst 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


  - Bishop Les Tomlinson, Catholic Diocese of Sandhurst, May 2013

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