School of Leader this past Saturday was dedicated to "Mother's Day" and of course, our Blessed Mother. We were privileged to have a Doctrinal talk by our own Father Ed Blanchett which encompassed Both Catholic Doctrinal teaching and human love and longing in a way which could only be woven by a speaker with a deep devotion to the Blessed Mother and a supernatural understanding of her humanity and that of her Divine Son.
Father Ed made us realize how very much God loves us by giving us HIS very own mother. It was also evident how fortunate we are to have such a spiritual priest guiding us along our camino. Thank you Father Ed From a grateful community.
You can read Father Ed's talk in the posting just under this one.
We also had a bit of theater, Some of the ladies dressed up as mothers from the bible. They did a wonderful job speaking in the first person without telling us who they were. Who am I??
Thank you ladies for stepping up and out of your comfort zone. Mary Vitale, Terri DeAndrea, Diane Kerrigan, Mary Weis stepping in for Janice Petruzzi who was not able to participate due to an illness. Prayers for her quick recovery.
Next SOL will be in honor of Father's Day. Hope to see everyone there.
Mary, known as the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Mary, Mary Mother of God and the Virgin
Mary, is the greatest of all saints. The Virgin Mother “was, after her Son, exalted by divine grace
above all angels and men.” St. Paul wrote that “God sent His Son, born of a woman,” to bring about
the union of the human and the divine in Christ. As Christ possesses two natures, human and divine,
Mary was the Mother of God in his human nature. This special role of Mary in salvation history is
shown in the Gospel as she is seen constantly at her son’s side during his ministry on earth. Because
of this role, shown by her “Yes” to Christ into her womb; her offering of him to God at the Temple;
her urging him to perform his first miracle; and her standing at the foot of the Cross at Calvary, Mary
was joined fully in the sacrifice by Christ of himself. Pope Benedict XV wrote in 1918: “To such an
extent did Mary suffer and almost die with her suffering and dying Son; to such extent did she
surrender her maternal rights over her Son for man’s salvation, and immolated him - insofar as she
could in order to appease the justice of God, that we might rightly say she redeemed the human race
together with Christ.” Mary possesses a unique relationship with all three Persons of the Trinity. She
was chosen by God the Father to be the Mother of his Son; God the Holy Spirit chose her to be his
spouse for the Incarnation of the Son; and God the Son chose her to be his mother, the way that God
took flesh, into the world to redeem humanity. While she is not our Mother in the physical sense, she
is a spiritual mother, for she conceives, gives birth, and nurtures the spiritual lives of grace for each
person. As Mediatrix of All Graces, she is always present at the side of each person, giving
nourishment and hope, from the moment of spiritual birth at Baptism to the moment of death.
Mary is “mother” in three important senses: she is the Mother of Jesus; she is the Mother of
the Church; and Mary is our mother.
(I) Mary is the MOTHER OF JESUS
Protestants, our separated brothers and sisters in Christ, are often horrified when we refer to
Mary as the Mother, not only of Jesus, but of God. But their reaction is based on a misunderstanding
of not only what this particular title of Mary means, but also who Jesus is, and what their own
founders, the Protestant Reformers, had to say regarding this doctrine. Before touching on this, let’s
hear what Scripture has to say in Luke chapter 1:
"The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin
betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And
coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what
was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be
afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a
son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the
Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be
done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her. Now, I skipped over Mary’s
question and the angel’s reponse, but the important thing here is that Mary said “Yes” – her famous
Fiat – to becoming a mother. Biologically speaking, a woman is a man’s mother either if she carried
him in her womb or if she was the woman contributing half of his genetic material. Mary was the
mother of Jesus in both of these senses; because she not only carried Jesus in her womb but also
supplied all of the genetic material for his human body, since it was through her—not Joseph—that
Jesus “was descended from David according to the flesh” (Rom. 1:3). Since Mary is Jesus’ mother, it
must also be that she is the Mother of God: because, if Mary is the mother of Jesus, and if Jesus is
God, then Mary is the Mother of God.
As St. Cyril of Alexandria, the 5th Century patriarch of that city, wrote in a letter to Nestorius
the priest – yes, he was a priest: clergy failings are hardly limited to modern times – who proposed
the Christological error that bears his name, a heresy which denied that Jesus was one person both
God and man and which also denied that Mary was the mother of God: “I have been amazed that
some are utterly in doubt as to whether or not the holy Virgin is able to be called the Mother of God.
For if our Lord Jesus Christ is God, how should the holy Virgin who bore him not be the Mother of
God? As St. John has written, the Word made flesh, can mean nothing else but that he partook of
flesh and blood like to us; he made our body his own, and came forth man from a woman, not
casting off his existence as God, or his generation of God the Father, but even in taking to himself
flesh remaining what he was. This was the sentiment of the holy Fathers from the beginning;
therefore they ventured to call the holy Virgin ‘the Mother of God,’ not as if the nature of the Word
or his divinity had its beginning from the holy Virgin, but because of her was born that holy body with
a rational soul, to which the Word, being personally united, is said to be born according to the flesh.”
Mary, who is the mother of Jesus, is also the Mother of God. This has been understood and
believed for centuries, long before it was solemnly declared by Pope Pius XII back in 1950.
(II) Mary, is MOTHER OF THE CHURCH
This title has a special meaning for us this particular weekend as it will be formally celebrated
as a memorial of for the first time by the universal Church on Monday. In the Gospel according to
John, chapter 19 we first hear of it: “Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s
sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple
there whom he loved, 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 into his home.” Mary was given to
John by Jesus on the Cross. By extension, Jesus gave Mary to be the mother of the Church.
The title “Mother of the Church” was used by PopeBenedict XIV in 1748 and then by Pope Leo
XIII in 1885. Pope (soon to be Saint) Paul VI formally conferred the title Mother of the Church on
Mary during his speech at the closing of the third session of the Second Vatican Council on November
21, 1964: “For the glory of the Virgin and our consolation, we proclaim Mary the Most Holy Mother
of the Church, that is, the Mother of the whole People of God, both the faithful and the pastors.” The
title was used often by Pope St. John Paul II. In his encyclical Redemptoris Mater, the “Mother of Our
Redemption”, the Holy Father reaffirmed Pope Paul’s statement that Mary is the “mother of the
entire Christian people”. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a document which sprang from the
Second Vatican Council and guided by Pope John Paul, says: “Mary’s role in the Church is inseparable
from her union with Christ and flows directly from it.” (964) “After speaking of the Church, her origin,
mission, and destiny, we can find no better way to conclude than by looking to Mary. In her we
contemplate what the Church already is in her mystery on her own “pilgrimage of faith,” and what
she will be in the homeland at the end of her journey. There, “in the glory of the Most Holy and
Undivided Trinity, in the communion of all the saints, the Church is awaited by the one she venerates
as Mother of her Lord and as her own mother. In the meantime the Mother of Jesus, in the glory
which she possesses in body and soul in heaven, is the image and beginning of the Church as it is to
be perfected in the world to come. Likewise she shines forth on earth until the day of the Lord shall
come, a sign of certain hope and comfort to the pilgrim People of God.” (972)
When Pope Francis decreed that the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the
Church be included into the Church calendar on the Monday after Pentecost on February 11th of this
year, Cardinal Sarah, Prefect of the Divine Congregation for Divine Worship, wrote: “Mary is the
mother of the members of Christ, because with charity she cooperated in the rebirth of the faithful
into the Church … the birth of the Head is also the birth of the body, thus indicating that Mary is at
once Mother of Christ, the Son of God, and mother of the members of his Mystical Body, which is the
In the Upper Room, Mary prayed with the Apostles in anticipation of the coming of the Holy
Spirit, as her Son had promised. Pentecost was the birth of the Church – the Mystical Body of Christ.
As mother of Christ, the Head of the Church, she also is the Mother of the Church. As Pentecost
approaches each year, I find myself thinking about Mary as well as the Apostles. That’s not to say
that their Pentecost experience was anything less than astounding – of course it was! But I also find
myself thinking about the Blessed Mother and what her reaction might have been when, and
especially after, the Holy Spirit had descended. Mary had been waiting in the Upper Room with the
Apostles, her Son’s closest friends. As any good natural mother, she would have loved them because
Jesus loved them. She would have wanted the best for them and likely had high hopes for them
because of their closeness to him. She would have loved them despite their failure to stand by her
son when things turned terrible and he was arrested, tortured and crucified. They, on their part,
would have loved and honored her because she was the mother of their best friend. Yes, the Spirit’s
descent was magnificent. But what about what happened afterward? Her Son’s friends – the ones
who had turned on him – are suddenly and deeply converted. They lost their fears, put themselves
aside, and bravely stepped out into the streets to proclaim the Good News. That’s what Mary’s Son
had worked all his life for, what he surrendered himself for, what he died for. Once cowards, they
were now bold, courageous men carrying out her Son’s dream! When I picture this scene, I can see
Mary as the proud Mama, glowing with joy over the transformation in the Apostles, cheering them
on as they went forth. Mary, present at the birth of the Church, is very truly her mother.
(III) Mary is OUR Mother
What this means to each of us here, “where the rubber meets the road”, comes from a very
touching, very human, interaction between Jesus and his mother from John chapter 2: There was a
wedding in Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples were also
invited to the wedding. When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no
wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.”
His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now there were six stone water jars there
for Jewish ceremonial washings, each holding twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told them, “Fill the jars
with water.” So they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Draw some out now and take it to
the headwaiter.” So they took it. And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine,
without knowing where it came from (although the servers who had drawn the water knew), the
headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves good wine first, and then when
people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.” Jesus did this
as the beginning of his signs in Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to
believe in him. I honestly love this Gospel passage: Mary sees a problem with the wine. She goes to
Jesus who, very human son that he is says, “Yeah, so what?” but then accomplishes through his
divinity what mother wants anyway! How many of us have seen our children as Jesus reacted first,
and wish they would act as he did afterwards?!
“Mary is our Mother in the order of grace.” With these words from the Vatican II Constitution
on the Church in the Modern World we get a brilliant insight of the Motherhood of Our Lady, and a
marvelous help to understand the motherhood of all Mothers. To better understand it, we need to
hear the two sentences that come before it: “The Blessed Virgin, predestined from eternity along
with the Incarnation of the Divine Word, as the Mother of God, on this earth was the gracious
Mother of the Divine Redeemer; His associate more than others, in a singular way, and the humble
maid-servant of the Lord. In conceiving Christ, in bringing Him forth, in nourishing Him, in presenting
Him to the Father in the Temple, in suffering with her Son as He died on the cross, she cooperated in
the work of the Savior, in a unique way, by obedience, faith, hope and burning love, to restore
supernatural life to souls. As a result, she is our Mother in the order of grace. As a result, she is our
Mother in the order of grace.” An ordinary Mother does two things to gain that glorious title: she
shares in bringing a new life into being, she takes care of that life so long as she is needed, as long as
she is willing and able.
To put it as simply as possible, Mary’s cooperation in the Redemption is how she shares in
bringing new spiritual life into being, just as any mother cooperates in bringing human life into being.
But, even though Mary’s cooperation was unique, she shows how we can participate in it as well. The
second letter of St. Peter (1:4) says that in it we are made “sharers in the divine nature.” This isn’t
just a one-time event. As we can see in the numerous apparitions that have occurred over the
centuries, Mary continues to care for our supernatural life.
Let’s try to explore that mystery a bit. St. Paul says that in heaven we will see God “face to
face”. Now of course, God doesn’t have a face; souls don’t have physical eyes. But the reality is far
beyond what the words can easily tell us. In this life, when I look at another person, I don’t actually
take the person into my mind--I take in an image. Since the person is finite and limited, a finite image
can let me know about them.
But God is infinite. No image could possibly convey what He’s like. So it must be that the
Divinity wants to join itself to the created human soul immediately, without even an image in
between, so that the soul can know Him even as His Son knows Him, as He knows His Son. Within
that divinity there flow infinite streams of knowledge and of love. The first chapter of John’s Gospel
says that in the beginning the Father spoke the Word. That Word isn’t just a ripple in the air, like our
words are. No, it’s far more, it’s a person: the second Person of the Holy Trinity. Between Father and
Son there is love--again, not the infintely lesser type of love we understand, but another Divine
Person, the Holy Spirit, proceeding by way of infinite love.
Only a being who is at least partly divine could possibly understand these infinite streams of
knowledge and of love. But that’s exactly what it means to be “sharers in the divine nature”, which
we are, by the life of grace. Mary, by offering her limited flesh for God’s purposes of expressing His
divine and infinite love, helped to gain that sharing for us, at a cost so great that, as we said, only God
can comprehend it. So Mary really is our Mother in the order of grace.
But a mother does more than bring life into the world: she also takes care of that new life, so
long as she is willing, able, and needed. For most of us, there comes a time when Mother isn’t so
much needed, as we become adults and more independent. But in the spiritual life, we remain
children – we have to, for “unless we become as little children we shall not inherit the kingdom.”
Jesus tell us. Or, to put it more clearly, we always stand in the need of grace as long as we have not
yet entered the mansions of our Father. That grace, every grace, comes to us through Mary for, as
Vatican II taught, she is the Mediatrix of all graces.
My dear Cursillistas, I said that an earthly Mother should give care as long as she is willing and
able. Sadly, some earthly mothers stop being willing. But not so our Heavenly Mother. The children
she brought into life by such tremendous pain she will never forget. She is always willing. Also, an
earthly mother may come to a point at which she is unable to help, howsoever she way want to do
so. But not so our Mother in Heaven. Since I started my talk with a quote from Pope Benedict XV, it’s
only fitting that I end it with another: he said that Mary held a “suppliant omnipotence”. This means
that, while not being omnipotent herself, all that God can do by His omnipotent power, she, with and
through her Son, can obtain by asking Him for it. And that she does.
Holy Mary, Mother of Jesus, Mother of the Church, our Mother, pray for us now and at the
hour of our death. De Colores!
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