The musings and meandering thoughts of a crotchety old man as he observes life in the world and in a small, rural town in South East Nebraska. My Pledge-Nulla dies sine linea-Not a day with out a line.
The Saturday brings us back to Mary. Let us again contemplate her prerogatives; and yet, while so doing, let us still keep our thoughts on holy Church, which has been the subject of our meditations during this week. Let us, today, consider the relations existing between Mary and the Church—they will make us the better understand these two Mothers of mankind.
Before taking possession of the Church, which was to be proclaimed before all nations on the day of Pentecost—the Man-God made a worthy prelude to this kingly possession by uniting himself with Her who is so deservedly styled the Mother and representative of the human race. This was Mary. Of the family of David, Abraham and Sem; immaculate, from the first moment of her existence, as were our First Parents when they came from their Creator’s hands; and destined for the grandest honor which could be conferred on a mere creature; Mary was, during her sojourn here on earth, the inheritance and cooperatrix of the Incarnate Word; she was the Mother of all the living. (Genesis 3:20) She, in her single person, was what the Church, collectively, has been from the day of its foundation. Her office of Mother of God surpasses all her other glories; still, we must not overlook, but, on the contrary, admire and love them.
Mary was the first creature that fully corresponded with the intentions which induced the Son of God to come down from heaven. He found in her the most lively faith, the firmest hope, and the most fervent love. Never had human nature, perfected by grace, offered to God an object so worthy of his acceptance. Before celebrating his union with the human race as its Shepherd, Jesus was the Shepherd of this single sheep whose merits and dignity surpass those of the rest of mankind, even supposing it to have been always, and in all things, faithful to its God.
Mary, therefore, represented the Christian Church before it existed in itself. The Son of God found in her not only a Mother, but the faithful worshipper of his Divinity from the first moment of his Incarnation. We saw, on Holy Saturday, how Mary’s faith withstood the test of Calvary and the Tomb, and how this faith, which never faltered, kept alive on the earth the light which was never to be quenched, and which was soon to be confided to the collective Church, whose mission was to win over all nations to the Divine Shepherd.
It was not Jesus’ will that his Blessed Mother should exercise a visible and outward apostolate, save in a limited degree. Besides, he was not to leave her here till the end of time. But just i the same way as, from the day of his Ascension, he made his Church cooperate with him in all that he does for his elect—so likewise did he will, during his mortal life, that Mary should have her share in all the works done by him for our salvation. She, whose formal consent had been required before the Eternal Word took Flesh in her womb, was present, as we have already seen, at the foot of the Cross, in order that she, as a creature, might offer him, who offered himself as God, our Redeemer. The Mother’s sacrifice blended with that of the Son, and this raised her up to a degree of merit, which the human mind could never calculate. Thus it is, though in a less perfect manner, the Church unites herself, in unity of oblation, with her Divine Spouse, in the Sacrifice of the Altar. It was to be on the day of Pentecost that the Church’s maternity would be proclaimed to the world; Mary was invested with the office of Mother of men, as Jesus was hanging upon his Cross. When his Side was opened with the Spear, that the Church born from the Water and Blood of Redemption, might come forth—Mary was there to receive into her arms this future mother, whom she had hitherto so fully represented.
In a few days, we shall behold Mary in the Cenacle; the Holy Ghost will enrich her with new gifts, and we shall have to study her mission in the early Church. Let us close the considerations we have been making today by drawing a parallel between our two Mothers, who, though one is so far above the other in dignity, are nevertheless closely united to each other.
Our heavenly Mother, who is also the Mother of Jesus, is ever assisting our earthly Mother, the Church, with heavenly aid. Mary exercises over her, in each of her existences—Militant, Suffering, or Triumphant—an influence of power and love. She procures to the Church the victories she wins; she enables her to go through the tribulations and trials which beset her path. The children of one are children of the other; both have a share in giving us spiritual birth—one, the “Mother of divine grace,” by her all-powerful prayers; the other, by the Word of God and Holy Baptism. If, when we depart this life, our admission to the beatific vision is to be retarded on account of our sins, and our souls are to descend to the abode of Purgatory—the suffrages of our earthly Mother will follow us, and alleviate or shorten our sufferings; but our heavenly Mother will do still more for us during that period of expiation, so awful and yet so just. In heaven, the elect are rejoiced at the sight of the Church Triumphant, though she be still Militant on earth: and who can describe the joy these happy children must feel at seeing the glory of the Mother that begot them in Christ? but with how much gladder ecstasy must not these same citizens of heaven gaze upon Mary, that other Mother of theirs, who was their Star on the stormy sea of life, who never ceased to watch over them with most loving care, who procured them countless aids to salvation, and who, when they entered heaven, received them into those same maternal arms, which heretofore carried the Divine Fruit of her womb—that First-Born, (Luke 2:7) whose Brothers and Joint-Heirs we are all called to be!
As long as we dwell in this vale of tears—which is now being turned into a paradise by the presence of our Risen Jesus—let us, sometimes, think of Mary’s joys. Last Saturday, we borrowed a Hymn from the ancient Churches of Germany, in order to celebrate her Seven Joys; let us do the same today.
Rejoice, O Virgin, Star of the Sea, dearest Spouse of Christ! for the Angel of our salvation announced to thee an exceeding great joy. Cleanse us from our sins, O Virgin Mother! and speak to our heart of the joys that never end.
Rejoice, spotless Mother! in that thou conceivedst of the Holy Ghost, and broughtest forth thy Child, as the star emits its ray. Grant, that we may ever be fruitful in works of salvation. Take these barren hearts of ours, and, by thy merciful prayers, make them fertile.
Rejoice, beautiful Lily! at the adoration and gifts paid, by the Magi, to thy newborn Babe. O happy Mother! pray, that we may ever imitate them, and give to God what their gifts signified.
Rejoice, Mother! at the praises spoken by Simeon, when, at thy presenting Jesus in the Temple, he took the Child in his arms. Grant, we beseech thee, that we may serve thy Son with purity and earnestness of heart.
Rejoice, and, with all thy soul’s power, be glad at thy Son’s rising from the grasp of Death. Mercifully obtain for us, that we may rise from our sins, and have our hearts set free from the pressure of its many vices.
Rejoice, in that thou hadst the happiness to see thy Son ascend into heaven, where he is seated on his Father’s throne. Grant, that, at the end of the world, we may, without fear, welcome his return.
Rejoice, O Virgin of virgins! who, after thy life’s course was run, wast raised up, by thy sweet Jesus, above the stars. Grand, that we miserable creatures may be raised from our sins, and, after this miserable life, be led to our true country.—Amen.