May 24 – Mary, Mother of the Church
In Roman Catholic Mariology, Mother of the Church (Latin: Mater Ecclesiae) is a title officially given to Mary by Pope Paul VI. The title was first used in the 4th century by Saint Ambrose of Milan, as rediscovered by Hugo Rahner. It was also used by Pope Benedict XIV in 1748 and then by Pope Leo XIII in 1885. Pope John Paul II placed it in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and Pope Francis added a feast by this title into the Roman Calendar.
“I will make you enemies of each other: you and the woman, your offspring and her offspring. It will crush your head, and you will strike its heel.”
Our Blessed Mother was with the apostles in the Upper Room after the crucifixion. The apostles were in a state of terror, trepidation, despair and despondency. They were regretting many things – some regretted betraying Jesus, some regretted following him in the first place, some regretted denying him, the cowardice they showed, running away. Mother Mary however, only had one thing in common with them – she too was in deep sorrow. But unlike them, in that Upper Room, in the person of Our Blessed Mother, she showed why she was chosen to continue her salvific mission beyond bringing Christ into the world. This time, she was entrusted by God to ensure that Jesus lives on, in His Holy Catholic Church. The Mother of Jesus is now to fulfil her mission as Mother to the people that her Son died to redeem. She now becomes the Mother of the Church. Just as The Holy Spirit came upon Mary for her mission as the Mother of God, the Holy Spirit once again descends upon her to anoint her mission as Mother of the Church of her son, Jesus.
Mary’s role as Mother of the Church was not an event that happened only at the foot of the cross, nor in the Upper Room. This was in God’s eternal plan since the beginning of time. No, it was not at Calvary but at the Garden of Eden. What Adam and Eve destroyed, Mary and Jesus would redeem and restore. At Eden, it was already foretold that Mary would crush the enemies of the Church by crushing the head of Satan with her own feet.
Mary of the Upper Room was the embodiment of all the virtues and graces that the Church would need to continue the mission of Christ. Our Blessed Mother would continue to show her children what true discipleship really means, just as she was the first disciple of her own Son. She would show the Church what fidelity to Christ looks like, through her own unwavering fidelity and belief in her Son. She would teach the Church what it means to trust and accept the will of God no matter how impossible, painful and insane that would sometimes appear. She would be a pillar of steadfastness and guide her Church through its many dark moments of persecution, error, peril, heresy and waywardness. Unlike the apostles, she would show them what it was to hope, to cling on in faith, to surrender to the will of God — no matter how painful, how impossible, how insane it seemed, to never waver from trusting in the promise of God and in His goodness. She showed them what true courage really looked like. She would comfort her children in their despair, their hopelessness, their pain, sorrow, failures and disappointments, just as she was the only one that comforted her Son all through His life and when he finally took His last breath. And just as she protected Jesus in the womb and from Herod, she will provide maternal protection to her children from the folly, heresy and sinfulness of worldly secularism, materialism, individualism and relativism. And when her children stumble and fall to sin in their weakness and frailty, in their infidelity and cowardice, folly and stupidity, in their corruption and hypocrisy, in their discouragement and helplessness, she would be there to sanctify them, uplift and uphold them, give them refuge and intercede for their healing and restoration to the grace and the mercy of God. But above all else, that her heart of love for us and the example of that love, would bring all of us to also love her Son.
To Jesus… through Mary, Mother of the Catholic Church. Our Mother.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Justus Teo)
Prayer: Father, help us to truly treasure the gift of our baptism, which makes us one with Jesus. Remind us, help and empower us to fulfil your will and your mission for our Church. But help us Father, for we are weak. Send us the help of your Spirit and your Mother. Thanksgiving: In that oneness with Jesus, thank you for the most precious gift of Mary and her unfailing love and care for us and for our Church. Never was it known that anyone who fled to her protection, implored her help or sought her intercession, would ever be left unaided.