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The Fulfilment of Scripture
by Pierre-Marie Dumont
The Virgin with Child appearing to St Francis de Sales
by Carlo Maratta (1625–1713)
The editorial of the month
by Rev. Peter John Cameron, O.P
Not long ago I participated in a Marian symposium. One attendee, a theologian, posed a question to the panel: But doesn’t there come a point when too much attention is given to Mary? My response was: There can never be too much Mary. According to an ancient adage of the Church, “De Maria numquam satis”—“Concerning Mary there is never enough.” Because every time we go to Mary, she gives us Jesus. That is why we begin each new year honoring the motherhood of the Mother of God.
Mother of the Life we need
Shortly after becoming the Vicar of Christ, Pope Francis presented a little catechesis on motherhood and the Church, stressing three things. “First of all, a mother generates life.”
Mary is the Mother of the Life by which we live. A common temptation attempts to reduce Jesus to his teaching or to his moral example. What we need is the Person of Christ. For this reason, in the Eucharist Jesus leaves us his very self.
Anticipating our need, from the cross Jesus appoints his Mother to be our Mother also. “Mary is the Mother of the Life from whom all people take life,” wrote Blessed Guerric of Igny. “In giving birth to this life herself, she has somehow given rebirth to all those who have lived it. Her womb carried a child only once, yet it remains ever fruitful, never ceasing to bring forth the fruits of her motherly compassion.”
The Crucified commands us, Behold, your Mother (Jn 19:27). For our own good, we behold Mary fervently and constantly…not just on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Mother of our person
Pope Francis teaches, “A mother does not stop at just giving life. With great care she helps her children grow, teaches them the way of life, accompanies them always with her care, with her affection, with her love, even when they are grown up. In a word, a good mother helps her children to come of themselves.”
This echoes an insight of Pope Saint John Paul II: “Motherhood is a relationship of person to person: a mother is not only mother of the body or of the physical creature born of her womb, but of the person she begets.”
A Traces magazine featured a story about Professor Aleksandr Filonenko, a nuclear physicist at the National University of Kharkov, Ukraine. He and a small group of friends engage in charitable work at a local residence for disabled young people.
Among the residents is twenty-year-old Saša. When six months old, Saša was found with a fractured skull in a garbage dump. One day talking to Filonenko, Saša confessed that he never goes to bed at night without first writing a poem. Saša’s poems speak of a young woman, of her beauty and tenderness, of her gorgeous hair and sweet voice. Filonenko showed Saša’s poems to a psychologist, who was shocked by what she discovered. Because Saša’s poems were not dedicated to a girl, but rather to his mother…whom he had never met. A mother, the article relates, “whom he needs, because without that relationship he cannot make an adult life for himself.” Filonenko observes, “Saša doesn’t need corrective lessons. He needs maternity—to the extent that, if he doesn’t rediscover it every night, he can’t get to sleep.”
In some way we are all like Saša. The more we dedicate ourselves to the maternity of the Mother of God, the more we become ourselves. “The Blessed Virgin Mary communicates to believers an ever new capacity to await God’s future and to abandon themselves to the Lord’s promises” (Saint John Paul II).
Mother of our compassion
And Pope Francis tells us, “We all take part in the motherhood of the Church, so that the light of Christ may reach the far confines of the earth.”
Which means that we take part in the suffering and sacrifice entailed in motherhood. The writer Sarah Manguso, in reflecting on her own motherhood, states, “The point of having a child is to be rent asunder, torn in two.” A similar sentiment is expressed by an artist who explains why she had decided to become a mother: “I didn’t want to reach the end of my life intact.”
United in the woundedness of the Mother of God who was pierced by a sword (cf. Lk 2:35), we give ourselves in compassion to those in need, like our Lady at the wedding feast of Cana.
Flannery O’Connor once remarked, “I do not want to be lonely all my life but people only make us lonelier by reminding us of God.” We long for someone in our life who does not make us lonelier…for a very good reason: because she gives us God. The original loneliness of Adam in Eden is healed in the unending maternal embrace of the New Eve.
The article of the month
In the Sacraments by Father Richard Veras
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