Thursday, 11 February 2016

A Unique Perspective on the Blessed Mother during Lent

Introduction :

In Masses, in honour of the Blessed Mother during Lent specially on Saturdays, Catholics are encouraged to remember Mother Mary's presence in the ministry and Life of Jesus Christ.

During the Lenten Season, as We journey with the Lord through his last days, the figure of his mother is never far away.

Mary walks in front of us, and behind her son. She is the model of the faithful disciple of the Lord.

The Church Liturgy for Lent presents Mother Mary to the faithful as the model of the perfect disciple.  Mother Mary is the faithful Listener. She faithfully conforms herself to the word of God.

Heroically, she follows in Christ's footsteps as he carries the heavy cross. It is she who bears witness to Jesus's act of love as she suffers and dies within her heart uniting the most agonizing sorrow and pain with Christ's own.

Mother Mary is also her son's first and most faithful disciple. As soon as he was born, Mary dedicated herself to him.

Mary at the Foot of the Cross :

As the season of Lent progresses, the Church's liturgy is drawn more into the remembrance of and meditation on Our Lord's last journey to Jerusalem and his profound sacrifice of salvation.

The Lord's Passion, self-offering, love of the faith, and death on the cross all become the central themes of the liturgy.

Clearly, the Church's Liturgy recognizes the presence of the Mother in the Son's Passion.

Two major Marian Themes dominate our meditation during this season with reference to Mary and the Passion.

The first relates to Mary's faithfulness in following Christ and her sharing in His Passion. The second acknowledges the part Mary plays in achieving our salvation.

This has always been the understanding of the Church that Christ so profoundly unites us to himself so that our suffering, as Christ's Body is joined to Christ's suffering, and is offered to the faith for the redemption of all.

Consistently, Church Tradition has seen Mary's suffering as the first and the most profound suffering of any follower of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Mother Mary was his "Disciple  and His Mother". As, The Stabat Mater (Sorrowful Mother) puts within her mouth the words : "What suffering could be like to mine ??

If any suffering is to be added to Christ's for the sake of salvation can any suffering be as great or as powerful as Mary's ??

At the Foot of the Cross, Mary is proclaimed as the Faithful Disciple, the New Eve, Handmaid of the Redeemer, the Mother of God's Children, Mother of Zion, Model of the Church, and Bride of  Christ.

As Mother of the Redeemer, Mary suffers with the Compassionate High Priest and shares in his suffering.

Christ made her the Mother of his disciples and all the faithful rejoice in her. She is the image and model for the Church, designed that the Church might look to her and see in her its own path to have courage in the face of Passion and Death and keep constant faith with the Bridegroom, namely Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Partner in Christ's Passion :

Again at the Foot of the Cross when Mary, though she was the Mother of Christ "by the power of  the Holy Spirit", she became a further gift of divine love by being "A Partner in His Passion," a Mother who suffered with him.

Mary's participation in the Passion and Suffering of Jesus Christ is foretold in the prophecy of Simeon, "He is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and a sword shall pierce your own heart." ( Luke 2:24-25)

The destiny of the Son and the Mother are joined together. The joining of the suffering of the Son and the Mother is the fulfillment of the Father's plan of Salvation.

The New Eve- Mother Mary, stands by the Cross of the New Adam, Jesus Christ. It is the Father who places the "Woman", this Mother at the side of the Son. It is the Father who decrees that she "should suffer with him".

The Church celebrates the suffering of Mary  at the Foot of the Cross, because she stands there with the Lord as the faithful servant of God, the faithful disciple of the Lord, and the representative of both the hope of Israel and the faith for the Church.

She is "firm in faith", "strong in hope", and "burning with love". As her Son suffers, Mother Mary does not spare her own life, rather she stands with him.

She suffers His every pain and torment. His death brings death to her heart. His Resurrection restores her to life.

Just as Mary, brought forth the Christ Child from her own womb, just as she gave birth to the Incarnate God, she now stands at the Cross bearing witness to the birth of Christ's Body, the Church.

" She endured the greatest of pains in bringing forth to new and divine life the family of the Church".

Always in Mary's suffering, has the Church seen the Blessed Mother as a "Martyr".

"How blessed was the Virgin Mother in her sufferings: she gained the palm of living martyrdom at the foot of the cross of her Divine Son.

Commending of Mary :

As one of his final acts, Jesus Christ turns to his Mother Mary and Saint John and says : "Woman, Behold your Son, Son Behold your Mother" (John 19:25).

It is hard to believe that some Christians, Theologians, and Biblical Scholars see in this sacred action of Christ only a simple work of  "House - Keeping". Is it reasonable to suggest that the Lord, in the final moments of his earthly life after preaching the profound sermon of his passion on the cross with his own sweat and blood, would now interrupt the act of salvation with such a mundane arrangement ??

That the Lord turns to his Mother Mary and his beloved disciple in the midst of the very offering of the Sacrifice of the Lamb, surely indicates the sacredness and absolute importance of his words and their meaning.

Could any words, or action, coming as they do at this moment of Christ's Passion, not be given more weight ??

Conclusion :

The Church sees in the commendation of the Virgin Mother to Saint John, the decree of the Lord for the Church to make a home for the Mother in the midst of her children.

The profound words of the Mass, ring out the Lord's deepest intention when it states that in John, the beloved disciple Christ made all his disciples "living signs of his own love for her ".

They are to receive Mother Mary "As a Precious Inheritance from their Master". The Lord Jesus Christ, the child of Mother Mary, entrusts his disciples to his Mother, so that they too maybe the children of Mary.

Present in the midst of the children of God,  - the Church, Mary is the Mother of all.

Mother Mary does for all her children, what she did for her own Son - Jesus Christ.

As, her children we are to look to her with "great confidence in her unfailing protection".

In short, we can say that Mary challenged the system and the soldiers and remained at the foot of the cross demonstrating invincible hope.

Credits and References :

Don Bosco's Madonna, Mumbai
March 2010, Vol -11 N0-11
"The Blessed Virgin Mary in the Church's Liturgy for the Season of Lent"
By Father Benedict O'Cinnsealaigh
Pages 28-30


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