Saturday, August 14, 2010

St. Mary the Virgin

Blessed are you among women!
All generations will call me blessed!

In these two phrases from the 2nd chapter of the Gospel according to Luke (the first spoken by St. Elizabeth, the second by St. Mary herself) we find the Scriptural basis for today’s feast. For us, Mary is blessed, “higher than the cherubim, more glorious than the seraphim,” as one beloved hymn puts it.

Holy Scripture makes Mary, mother of Our Lord, the most honored of all the saints. Because of her willing gift of a human body, Christ the Redeemer is born into the world. This is the source of one of her ancient titles: Theotokos (Greek for “God-bearer”).

While August 15th is traditionally associated with her “repose in the Lord” (meaning “falling asleep,” as the New Testament refers to the death of Christians), it is for us the main annual celebration of her life and witness. Mary was there from the beginning of the Gospel story to the Day of Pentecost. She remained faithful when others didn’t. Christ made special provision for her as he was dying on the Cross (John 19: 26-27), showing the Church the honor to be paid to her.

St. Mary has always been a pattern for the Church: attentive, faithful, willing to give of one’s self to God even when perplexed, loving Christ with personal devotion “in season and out of season.” Such was the witness of the Blessed Virgin Mary; such is our calling as we join her in following Christ—her Son and Lord.

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