Homilies: September 2007 Archives

And the Virgin's Name Was Mary

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The Most Holy Name of Mary

Sirach 24:17–21
Luke 1:46–48, 49–50, 53–54
Luke1:26–38

Victory in the Name of Mary

In 1683 Pope Innocent XI extended the existing Feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary to the universal Church to thank Our Lady for the victory of John Sobieski, king of Poland, over the forces of militant Islam. On September 11th, 1683, Muslim Turks attacked Vienna, threatening the Christian West. The next day, Sobieski, invoking the Blessed Virgin Mary and placing his forces under her protection, emerged victorious.

A Feast Restored to the Roman Missal

In the culture of the Middle East one thinks more readily in terms of centuries than in terms of years. It would seem that Osama Bin Ladin chose September 11th for the attack on the United States in memory of that attack on the West on September 11th, 1683. Symbolic dates are important. Pope John Paul II restored the feast of the Holy Name of Mary with the publication of the Third Typical Edition of the Roman Missal in 2002, one year after the attacks of September 11th, 2001.

The Invocation of the Name of Mary

The Holy Mother of God is no stranger to the struggles of her children in this valley of tears. She is attentive to every situation that threatens this world of ours, to every assault against the Church and, when we invoke her Holy Name, she is quick to intervene. When it comes to calling upon the Name of Mary, there is no struggle too global and too enormous, and no struggle too personal or too little. In the Bible, the name wields a mysterious power. Names are not to be pronounced casually or lightly. Names are not to be taken in vain. The invocation of the name renders present the one who is named. So often as you pronounce the sweet Name of Mary with devotion and confidence, Mary is present to you, ready to help. So often as you pronounce the sweet Name of Mary, you have her full and undivided attention.

As Oil Poured Out

The saints, drawing on a verse from the Song of Songs, compare the Name of Mary to a healing oil. “Thy Name is as oil poured out” (Ct 1:2). Oil heals the sick, gives off a sweet fragrance, and nourishes fire. In the same way the Name of Mary is like a balm on the wounds of the soul; there is no disease of the soul, however malignant, that does not yield to the power of the Name of Mary. The sound of Mary’s Name causes joy to spring up; the repetition of Mary’s Name warms the heart. If you would touch the Heart of the Father, pronounce the Name of Jesus; if you would touch the Heart of Jesus, pronounce the Name of Mary.

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Monday of the Twenty-Third Week of the Year I
Votive Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Good Counsel

Colossians 1:24–2:3
Psalm 61:5-6, (R. 7a)
Luke 6:6-11

Warning and Teaching

After listening to the teachings of the Holy Father over the past three days, it occurred to me that what Saint Paul says concerning himself in today’s First Reading applies also, by the grace of God, to Pope Benedict XVI:

“We proclaim Christ in you, the hope of glory,
warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom,
that we may present every man mature in Christ.
For this I toil,
striving with all the energy
which he mightily inspires within me” (Col 1:28-29).

To Present Every Man Mature in Christ

For the past three days the Holy Father has given himself tirelessly to an intense proclamation of Christ, the Hope of Glory. He called upon all Catholics, and not just those of Austria, to fix their gaze upon the Face of Christ and upon His open Heart. He warned every man. He taught every man in all wisdom. His teaching addressed all the members of the Church: bishops, priests, deacons, religious, monks, nuns, and lay faithful. His desire was none other than that of the Apostle: to present every man mature in Christ.

The Thoughts of God’s Spirit

Like those who watched Jesus teaching in the synagogue, there were those who watched the Holy Father “so that they might find an accusation against him” (Lk 6:7). The secular media, largely hostile to all things Catholic, cannot be trusted to provide objective coverage of the Holy Father. In First Corinthians Saint Paul says: “Mere man with his natural gifts cannot take in the thoughts of God’s Spirit; they seem mere folly to him, and he cannot grasp them, because they demand a scrutiny which is spiritual. Whereas the man who has spiritual gifts can scrutinize everything, without being subject himself, to any other man’s scrutiny” (1 Cor:15-16).

Yesterday evening, the Holy Father closed his apostolic journey with a visit to the Cistercian Abbey of Heiligenkreuz. There he pronounced a discourse that was nothing less than his Charter for Monastic Life in the Third Millennium. Pope Benedict XVI addresses point by point the substance of Benedictine life for this generation and for all generations to come. It is a text that one needs to read on bended knee with profound humility and docility.

If You Are Seized With Anguish

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Twenty-Third Sunday of the Year C

Wisdom 9:13-19
Psalm 89: 3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14, 17 (R. 1)
Philemon 9b-10, 12-17
Luke 14:25-33

A Salutary Anguish

I was reading not long ago the counsels of Staretz Ambrose of Optino on having a daily rule of personal prayer. “Every day,” says the Staretz, “read one or more chapters of the Gospel, standing (the attitude of prayer). If you are seized with anguish, read again until it has passed. If it returns, read the Gospel again.” The reading of the Gospel does not always fill us with comfort, light, and sweet assurance. Sometimes the reading of the Gospel produces anguish. A salutary anguish.

Who Then Can Be Saved?

When the disciples heard Jesus say that, “it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” (Lk 18:25), they experienced a salutary anguish and replied, “Who then can be saved?” (Lk 18:26). If you heard today’s Gospel, for instance, without being seized with a certain anguish, perhaps you didn’t really hear it at all? “And so it is with you; none of you can be my disciple if he does not take leave of all that he possesses” (Lk 14:33).

The Vice of Proprietorship

We hear this teaching of Jesus in its absoluteness and immediately begin to look for loopholes, for a way around it, under it, or over it. We call it impossible, forgetting that Jesus also says in another place — again concerning possessions — that “the things that are impossible with men, are possible with God” (Lk 18:27). “Surely this does cannot apply to me,” one thinks; "one must be reasonable. The scholars are not in agreement on the interpretation of the text." But if one stays with today’s Gospel and refuses to pass over it or around it, one is obliged to look at what Saint Benedict calls, “the vice of personal ownership” (RB 55:18). Vice. Not a very nice word. One does not ordinarily think of a monastery as a place of vice. And yet, Saint Benedict puts his finger on what may well be the last vice to disappear from a monastery, the last vice to be eradicated from the heart of a monk: the vice of personal proprietorship.

Imago Dei Invisibilis

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Twenty-Second Friday of the Year I

Colossians 1:15-20

Christ Jesus is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn of every creature:
For in Him were all things created in heaven and on earth,
visible and invisible,
whether thrones, or dominations,
or principalities, or powers:
all things were created by Him and in Him.
And He is before all, and by Him all things consist.
And He is the head of the body, the church,
who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead;
that in all things He may hold the primacy:
Because in Him, it hath well pleased the Father,
that all fullness should dwell;
And through Him to reconcile all things unto himself,
making peace through the blood of his cross,
both as to the things that are on earth,
and the things that are in heaven.

Doxological Christology

Today’s passage from the Letter to the Colossians is well known to us. Some of you may even know it by heart. In our monastic cursus of the Divine Office it is the New Testament canticle at Vespers on Thursday of the Second Week; in the Roman Office, it occurs as the New Testament Canticle at Vespers every Wednesday. It is, in fact, a hymn inspired by the Holy Spirit, addressed to the Father, in celebration of the mystery of Christ, a wonderful example of “doxological Christology.”

Thanksgiving

In praising the glory of the Father — the mystery of the Son comes into focus to “enlighten the eyes of the heart” (Eph 1:18). The hymn englobes the whole “economy” of God: redemption, creation, the resurrection and lordship of Christ and, at the end of the text, a confession of the mystery of the Cross, radiating peace over heaven and earth (Col 1:20).

Through Him

Perhaps you noticed that, although the whole hymn celebrates Jesus Christ, He is never explicitly named. Instead, all throughout, the pronoun “He” is repeated again and again. The effect is not at all unlike that of the, “Through Him, with Him, and in Him . . .” that concludes the Eucharistic Prayer.

Indeed Right and Fitting

This is not the only point of resemblance with the Eucharistic Prayer. If you take the text on your own, in lectio divina, and repeat it slowly, you will see that it is crafted like the Roman Preface of the Mass. In fact, if you put the traditional opening of the Roman Preface at the beginning — It is indeed right and fitting, it is our duty and leads to our salvation, that we should praise you always and everywhere, Lord, holy Father, almighty and ever-living God, through Christ our Lord — and if you add, at the end, the traditional conclusion of the preface — And therefore, together with all the Angels, we never cease to praise and glorify you, as we joyfully proclaim, Holy, Holy, Holy — you have, with very few adjustments, a magnificent Eucharistic text, a rich Christological Preface.

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God's Human Face

There is, in these eight or nine verses, an inexhaustible richness of content. If I were to linger over a single phrase, it would be verse 15. “He is the image, the icon, of the invisible God” (Col 1:15). Jesus is, to use the title of Cardinal von Schönborn’s book, “God's Human Face.” “No one has ever seen God,” says Saint John the Theologian; “the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has made Him known” (Jn 1:18). Jesus Himself says, “He who has seen me has seen the Father” (Jn 14:9), and Saint Paul adds that God “has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of his glory in the Face of Christ” (2 Cor 4:6).

The Eucharistic Revelation of His Face

Today’s message from Colossians moves us to seek the Face of Christ. One who desires to contemplate the Face of Christ needs to immerse himself in the psalms, the prophets, the Gospels, Saint Paul, and the saints and mystics of every age. One who desires to contemplate the Face of Christ needs to spend time, silent and adoring, before the mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist. And so, we go from the ambo to the altar, where “the Blood of the Cross” (Col 1:20) is given us to drink, and where the Face of Christ, at once hidden and revealed, satisfies the heart’s desire.

Iesu, Iesu, Iesu, Esto Mihi Iesus

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Luke 5:1–11

The Fisherman's Boat

Today’s Gospel opens with the people “pressing upon” Jesus to hear the Word of God. Eagerness to hear the Word is a sign of spiritual vitality. So too is the desire to be close to Jesus. But already Our Lord is intimating that His Word and His presence will be mediated through His Church. “Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the people from the boat” (Lk 5:3). The fisherman’s boat becomes the pulpit of the Word; even more, it becomes an image of the Church called to bear the Word across the waves of history.

Peter's Marian Holiness

After preaching to the people, Our Lord addresses a personal word to Simon: “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch” (Lk 5:4). Duc in altum! Put out into the deep! Simon answers the Master honestly, “Master, we have laboured all the night, and have taken nothing!” — and then he obeys — “But at Thy word I will let down the net” (Lk 5:5). This simple exchange opens for us a window into the soul of the Prince of the Apostles. Peering into his soul, what do we see? We see that Simon Peter, for all his blustering masculinity, in the secret of his soul resembles Mary, the Virgin Mother of the Lord. “How shall this be, since I know not man?” —and then — “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done unto me according to thy word” (Lk 1:34, 38). “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing!” — “But at Thy word I will let down the net” (Lk 5:5). A pattern emerges here. It is the Marian pattern of holiness. There is no holiness that is not Marian. Even Simon must, in some way, be conformed by the Holy Spirit to the Virgin Mary in her humility, in her singleheartedness, in her trusting obedience.

Gratia agentes Deo Patri

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Thursday of the Twenty-Second Week of the Year I

Colossians 1:9-14
Psalm 97:2-3ab, 3cd-4, 5-6 (R. 2a)
Luke 5:1-11

Toward Mariazell

On this eve of our Holy Father’s pilgrimage to the Benedictine sanctuary of Mariazell in Austria, we prepare our hearts to go in pilgrimage with him. Pope Benedict XVI’s pilgrimage will mark the 850th anniversary of the founding of Mariazell, the Basilica of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Another highlight of the Holy Father’s journey will be a visit to the flourishing Cistercian Abbey of Heiligenkreuz, a vibrant community that has more new vocations at present than it has had in the past two hundred years.

Pilgrimages of the Heart

Last week’s papal pilgrimage to the Holy House of Loreto and tomorrow’s pilgrimage to Our Lady of Mariazell underscore for all Catholics the importance of going in humility and confidence to places made holy by the prayers of the faithful through the ages, and by a mysterious presence of the Mother of the Lord in her images. Not all of us are able to make grand pilgrimages, but each of us can make small ones, inner pilgrimages of the heart, outwardly signified by some gesture of faith.

Visits to the Blessed Virgin Mary

Saint Alphonsus wisely recommends a daily visit to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Listen to him: “And now as to the visits to the Most Blessed Virgin, the opinion of Saint Bernard is well known and generally believed: it is that God dispenses no graces otherwise than through the hands of Mary…. Do you then, be also careful always to join to your daily visit to the Most Blessed Sacrament a visit to the Most Holy Virgin Mary in some church, or at least before a devout image of her in your own house. If you do this with tender affection and confidence, you may hope to receive great things from this most gracious Lady, who, as Saint Andrew of Crete says, always bestows great gifts on those who offer her even the least act of homage.”

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Knowledge, Wisdom, and Understanding

Yes, the gifts of God are dispensed through the hands of Mary. This is true of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit because, as the saints teach us, where Mary is present the Holy Spirit rushes in. In today’s First Reading Saint Paul asks that the Colossians be filled with three of these gifts. “We have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Col 1:9). Knowledge, wisdom, and understanding: three of the Holy Spirit’s seven gifts.

Obedience and Thanksgiving

Saint Paul prays that the Colossians may be gifted with knowledge of the Father’s will, but the mere knowledge of the Father’s will is not enough or, rather, it is unbearable and utterly beyond us, without the gifts of wisdom and understanding. We are not saved by knowledge. Our Lord makes this clear in the parable of the two sons (Mt 21:28-31). Going to the first son, and then to the second, the father said, “Son, go and work in my vineyard today” (Mt 21:28). The first son refused, and then turned around and obeyed. The second son said, “I go, sir” (Mt 21:30), but did not go. Mere knowledge of the Father’s will does not make us holy. We are saved and sanctified — that is to say, healed and divinized — by grace and by the gifts of the Holy Spirit that make possible for us to say both the “Amen” of obedience and the “Alleluia” of thanksgiving.

In Darkness

Sometimes it pleases God to withhold the knowledge of His will, or so it seems to us. At certain moments, the will of the Father may be to leave us seemingly clueless. At no time are the gifts of the Holy Spirit more necessary than when we find ourselves saying with the psalmist, “Friend and neighbor Thou hast put far from me: my one companion is darkness” (Ps 87:19).

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Wisdom: The Taste of Love

The gift of wisdom allows me to believe in love when everything around me says, “There is no love for you here.” The gift of wisdom is the faintest taste of love to the palate of the soul, even in those dark hours when, with Job, I would want to cry out, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Jb 13:15). I am reminded of the words of Father Ernest Lelièvre (1826-1889): “I know and am perfectly certain that, of all the calculations I could make, the wisest is to abandon myself to Him.” It is the gift of wisdom makes that kind of resolution possible.

Mercy Above Every Misery

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Twenty-Second Wednesday of the Year I

Luke 4:38–44

Jesus in the House of Simon

Jesus has just left the synagogue of Capernaum. He was teaching the people on the Sabbath; the word of His mouth struck the ears of all by its indescribable authority. Joining to His word a wonderful action, He delivered a man from the unclean spirit who oppressed him. Today’s Gospel begins with Jesus leaving the synagogue and entering the house of Simon.

Simon's Mother-in-Law

It would have been normal, at this point, for Our Lord to want to take some refreshment and there, away from the crowd, to enjoy a moment of respite after the exertions of His ministry. But upon entering Simon’s house what does He find? Simon’s mother–in–law is ill with a high fever. Those in the house — Simon’s wife and Simon himself, no doubt — “besought Him for her” (Lk 4:38).

To Beseech the Lord

Here Saint Luke shows us the prayer of intercession in action. It is striking in its simplicity: “they besought Him for her” (Lk 4:38). This is the secret of an efficacious prayer of intercession: to beseech the Lord. No other verb conveys quite the same meaning: it means to beg eagerly, to importune another, to supplicate, to beg urgently.

And He Stood Over Her

The Heart of Jesus is touched by this prayer. Saint Luke describes what happened then. “And He stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her” (Lk 4:39). There is something divine, something majestic in the demeanour of Our Lord. He stands over the sick woman; He is Lord over all. His mercy is above every misery. Every infirmity is subject to Him; there is no illness, no brokenness, no affliction that can resist His word. He is the Physician of our bodies and of our souls.

At the Monastery of the Glorious Cross, O.S.B., September 4, 5, and 6 will be marked by a triduum of Votive Masses in honour of the Holy Spirit.

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The triduum is being celebrated in supplication for the forthcoming General Chapter of the Congregation of the Benedictines of Jesus Crucified, which will be held in Brou-sur-Chantereine, France from September 19th until October 2nd.

1 Thessalonians 5:1-6, 9-11
Psalm 26: 1-4, 13-14
Luke 4:31-37

Come, Holy Spirit

We begin today a triduum of Votive Masses in honour of the Holy Spirit in supplication for the forthcoming General Chapter of the Congregation of the Benedictines of Jesus Crucified, which will be held in France from September 19th to October 2nd. In a certain sense, a General Chapter must have the same characteristics as the apostolic assembly that preceded the first Pentecost in the Cenacle. What exactly are these? From the description given us by Saint Luke in the Acts of the Apostles 1:13-14, we can learn quite a lot.

In the Light of the Eucharistic Face of Christ

The Blessed Virgin Mary and the Apostles went into retreat in the Cenacle immediately following the Ascension of the Lord from Mount Olivet. Each one carried in his heart the memory of that last glimpse of the Face of Jesus, and each one longed to see His Face again. In the time that stretches from the Ascension to the return of Our Lord in glory, His Face is turned toward us in the adorable mystery of the Eucharist. It is in the Eucharist that our gaze meets His. The Eucharist celebrated, adored, and contemplated must be at the heart of the General Chapter, just as it must be at the heart of our life from day to day.

Under the Leadership of Peter

The second characteristic is a reference to the unique mission of Peter in the Apostolic College. Saint Peter is named first in the list of those who went into the Cenacle. The successor of Saint Peter is the Pope, the bishop of Rome. If we consider the example of the saints through the ages, we see that the most accurate measure of one’s attachment to the Church, one, holy, catholic, and apostolic, is the degree of one’s attachment to the Holy Father. Saint Catherine of Siena referred to the Pope as her “sweet Christ on earth.”

Hans Urs von Balthasar warned prophetically of the critical danger of the “anti-Roman complex.” The core of the Protestant heresy was and remains the assertion of the individual’s perception of truth over the “Splendour of Truth” taught and defended by the Successor of Saint Peter and by the bishops in communion with him. The individual Protestant persists in saying, “I know, I choose, I prefer, and I believe,” over and above what Christ teaches and defines through the mouth of Peter. The Protestant body or sect does the same thing; it is a group of individuals who persist in saying, “We know, we choose, we prefer, and we believe,” over and against what Christ teaches and defines through the mouth of Peter.

When Blessed John XXIII convoked the Second Vatican Council, he composed a beautiful prayer to the Holy Spirit; in that prayer he affirmed that a second Pentecost could take place only “under the leadership of Peter.” We must be wary of a certain kind of creeping Protestantism that sets parts of the body against the whole; it causes certain members of the Body to resist the direction given by the Head. Positively, we must renew the vow of obedience in all its ecclesial implications. History demonstrates that religious institutes flourish in proportion to their attachment to the See of Peter; they decline in proportion to the degree to which they are infected with the “anti-Roman complex.”

Amice, ascende superius

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The Twenty-Second Sunday of the Year C

Sirach 3:17-18, 20, 28-29
Psalm 67: 3-4ac, 5-6ab, 9-10
Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-24a
Luke 14:1, 7-14

The Sanctuary of Humility

Pope Benedict XVI in pilgrimage today to the Holy House of Loreto, called it “the sanctuary of humility: the humility of God who became flesh and of Mary who welcomed him to her womb.” “In following Christ,” he said, “and imitating Mary, we must have the courage of humility.”

Humility: Saint Benedict’s Twelve Steps

Humility. There is no getting around it. But what exactly is it? Saint Benedict never defines humility? The twelve steps in Chapter Seven of the Holy Rule are not definitions. The twelve steps are the traces of humility, clues allowing one to detect, and to collect, the evidence of humility. You know the twelve steps: (1) fear of God, (2) abnegation of self-will, (3) obedience, (4) patient endurance, (5) disclosure of the heart, (6) contentedness with what is, (7) lucid self-awareness, (8) submission to the common rule, (9) silence, (10) emotional sobriety, (11) restraint in speech and, (12) congruity between one’s inside and one’s outside.

Pride: Saint Bernard’s Twelve Steps

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Pride. Saint Bernard, for his part, identifies the twelve steps of pride. If you would diagnose the deadly soul sickness of pride, look for the following twelve symptoms: (1) curiosity, (2) levity of mind, (3) giddiness, (4) boasting, (5) singularity, (6) self-conceit, (7) presumption, (8) self-justification, (9) hypocritical confession, (10) revolt, (11) freedom to sin and, (12) the habit of sinning.

The Dance of the Humble

Saint Benedict uses the image of the ladder. With a little imagination, the twelve steps might also be envisioned as a kind of monastic choreography, as the sacred discipline of the dance, the paschal dance from Cross to tomb, from tomb to glory, from the Amen to the Alleluia. While inflexibility is nearly always an attribute of the proud, the humble sister or brother is supple, flexible. The best dancers are supple, and so too, the best monk.

The Lowest Place

Benedictine humility has about it nothing self-conscious, nothing posed, because the sister or brother living it is too absorbed in dancing the dance to stop in front of mirrors, too caught up in the dynamic of the Crucified to pause for effect. Can one strive for humility? I don’t think so. If one is striving to be humble, one is striving to be something. If I am something, I am not nothing, and if I am not nothing, I have not yet found the way to the “lowest place” (Lk 14:10).

Can one consciously train oneself in humility? Again, I don’t think so, for then I am straining to grasp something, striving to win a coveted prize. Humility achieved is no humility at all; it is a kind of possession, a spiritual trophy that one has to keep polished. If I take the lowest place in order to be seen in the lowest place, I’m no better off than the sister or brother who has taken the first place. If I go to the lowest place, calculating that it will get me invited to the highest place, I’m not being humble, I’m being manipulative and shrewd.

The Wisest Investment of All

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The Holy Father is on pilgrimage today to Loreto. My heart is on pilgrimage with him.

Twenty-First Saturday of the Year I
Matthew 25:14-30

The Mediation of Our Lady

On May 11, 2007, during a homily at the canonization of Father Antônio de Sant’Ana Galvão, O.F.M., in Brazil, Pope Benedict XVI gave one of the clearest statements ever made on the Blessed Virgin Mary as Mediatrix of All Graces, when he said: "There is no fruit of grace in the history of salvation that does not have as its necessary instrument the mediation of Our Lady." In saying this, the Holy Father put to rest, once and for all, the scruples and doubts of those who, misinformed of the teachings of the Church after the Second Vatican Council, or simply ignorant of them, somehow thought it inappropriate to call the Mother of Jesus and our Mother the Mediatrix of All Graces.

Grace for Grace

The Blessed Virgin Mary mediates all the graces given us in Christ in two ways. By carrying the Son of God in her virginal womb and by giving Him birth, Mary brought into the world the Source and Author of all graces. “And of His fullness we have all received,” says Saint John, “and grace for grace” (Jn 1:16). The Father, in giving us the Son has also “with Him, given us all things” (Rom 8:32). “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Eph 1:3). The Son, in whom “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col 2:3) is given us through Mary. “And entering the house,” we read in Saint Matthew’s account of the Wise Men, “they found the Child with Mary His Mother” (Mt 2:11). Theologians refer to this as Our Lady’s remote mediation.

Behold Thy Mother

Our Lady’s role did not end with the birth of Jesus, nor did it end with his Ascension, with the Descent of the Holy Spirit, or with her own Assumption into heaven. The motherhood of the Virgin Mary was extended on Calvary to all the members of her Son’s Mystical Body, and this until the end of time. “When Jesus therefore had seen His mother and the disciple standing there whom He loved, He saith to His mother, 'Woman, behold thy son.’ After that He saith to the disciple, 'Behold thy mother.’ And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own” (Jn 19:27).

Munificent

The Blessed Virgin Mary’s universal mediation is an expression of her universal motherhood. By virtue of her peerless participation in the victimal priesthood of her Son, Our Lady received for distribution all the graces merited on Calvary by His immolation. She distributes these same graces to souls according to their need, according to their openness to receive them, and according to her own mercy and munificence.

The Unsearchable Riches of Christ

Mary is the new Eve, the Mother of all the living. Standing at the foot of the Cross and filled in that hour with the Spirit of her Son, she said “Yes” to the unique role in the work of redemption that, from the beginning, the Father had reserved for her. She continues to participate in that work by dispensing “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph 3:8) to all of us, the old Eve's poor children exiled in this valley of tears.

Mary is a true mother and the best of mothers; she loves to give good things to her children. Hidden in the glory of her Assumption, she has entered in “even within the veil” (Heb 6:19) with Christ, our Eternal High Priest. What she obtains in heaven by her omnipotent supplication, she distributes on earth with an indescribable largesse. Theologians refer to this as Our Lady’s proximate or immediate mediation. Saint Bernard says it this way: “It is the will of God that we should have nothing which has not passed through the hands of Mary.”

About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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