Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church
Father Patrick Butler, LC
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. After this, aware that everything was now finished, in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I thirst.” There was a vessel filled with common wine. So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop and put it up to his mouth. When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, “It is finished.” And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit. Now since it was preparation day, in order that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath, for the sabbath day of that week was a solemn one, the Jews asked Pilate that their legs be broken and they be taken down. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and then of the other one who was crucified with Jesus. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs, but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately Blood and water flowed out.
Introductory Prayer: You are true goodness and life, Lord. Closeness to you brings peace and joy. You deserve all of my trust and my love. Thank you for the gift of life, my family and above all of my faith. Thank you as well for giving us your Mother at the foot of the cross.
Petition: Lord, help me to grow in my filial love for Mary, your Mother and mine.
1. Standing: Today is a Marian celebration; the memorial of “Mary, Mother of the Church.” Mary, like me, had no particular love of pain and sorrow. The first announcement of her vocation by the Archangel Gabriel mentioned nothing about it, being filled only with messianic promises. However, soon after Jesus’ birth, Simeon completed the dimensions that were to enlighten her vocation: “…and a sword will pierce your heart that the thoughts of many might be revealed.” Recognizing the fulfillment of her calling in the accompanying of her Son during his crucifixion, she does so with a desire to fulfill God’s mysterious plan, not reluctantly, but standing close to Jesus with all the sorrow that this implied for her. Mary never abandons her children when they are suffering.
2. Last Will and Testament: The words Jesus speaks to his mother and his beloved disciple are equivalent to his last will and testament. He bequeaths what is most precious to him to a beloved person. To Mary, he gives the friend that he loves so much, who will also need her help in the difficulties he will face. To John, he gives his greatest human comfort, his mother who is his best disciple. He knows that she needs him, an adopted son, to comfort and accompany her.
3. Mary Makes My Home Sweet: John took his responsibility for Mary seriously, taking her into his own home. Home for John was nothing less than the Church that Jesus founded. Mary was to have the pride of place there, as Jesus’ mother, and as she who knew, loved and served him best. She also took her role seriously, so seriously that she immediately perceived that all those she encountered were her adoptive sons and daughters. In this house that is the Church, Mary is the sweetness of the traditional saying, “Home, sweet home.”
Conversation with Christ: Jesus, I can’t thank you enough for entrusting your mother to me and me to her. I want to take care of her by being an attentive, faithful son or daughter who imitates you. That’s what will console her and make her heart rejoice. Mary, be always at my side and intercede for me before God, in order that I persevere in following your Son.
Resolution: I will make my devotion to Mary very personal, whether it be in spontaneous conversation with her or contemplating the mysteries of Christ’s life while praying the Rosary.