Father John A. Hardon, S.J. Archives
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Mary, Mother of the Church
by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
There is a special appropriateness in speaking on Mary, Mother of the Church at this time.
We are speaking on a Saturday, which from post-apostolic times has been considered Mary's Day. Why, because, as the Fathers of the Church explain; of all the followers of Christ, Our Lady was the only one whose faith did not falter at all after the Savior's Crucifixion. She remained the Valiant Woman not only under the Cross but after the Cross. She was absolutely certain that what her Son had foretold would come to pass. Just as He freely allowed Himself to be crucified, so He freely would raise Himself by His Divine power from the grave.
We are coming to the close of your annual retreat, and I am speaking to a community whose name includes the title, Mary, Mother of the Church. There is more than passing value in better and ever more deeply understanding what your name signifies, and what therefore it implies especially for you.
We are also living in post-conciliar times, when we are reaping both the harvest and some of the problems facing this Church since 1965, when the Second Vatican Council was completed. It was one of the glories of the late council to have emphasized Mary's Motherhood twice over:
During this meditation, I would like to ask three questions again and briefly answer them, while reflecting on their meaning and on their implication in our spiritual lives:
The titles of Our Lady are so many and so rich that to the non-Catholic they seem scandalous and even to some Catholics they are bewildering.
We address Mary as:
And so the Litany goes on. It is especially rich in the Eastern Church where, I am told, there is one feast of Our Lady for every day of the year.
Why, then, should the title Mary, Mother of the Church, be particularly appropriate for our times? There are several reasons, but one mainly deserves some explanation. We are living in the Age of Communication, when the whole world is becoming a global village. We are conscious of our relationship with people in distant lands; and are living in a day when the worst enemy of Christianity blasphemously calls itself Communism. All of this suggests the need for elevating our communitarian consciousness to a supernatural level; and look upon the growth of social sensitivity with the eyes of faith.
The world of mankind and therefore the Church which is to nourish mankind with God's grace, never needed a Mother more than today. How terribly the people today need to believe that God loves them, in spite of:
This lonely, suffering world needs to believe -- Oh how it needs to believe -- there is a God who still loves them, and a Mother of God who cares for them.
Living up to the Title
We close with our third question: How are we, and with emphasis, going to live up to this invocation of Our Lady as Mother of the Church?
Let me suggest this. We are to pattern our lives on the life of Mary by the practice of her motherly love:
Let me end with a prayer:
Mary, Mother of the Church, help me to become more like you in my own loving and tender sympathy towards everyone whose life I touch.
Teach me something of your kindness in my thoughts, your gentleness in my speech, and your patient cheerfulness under trial.
Mary, Mother of the Church, help the bishops and priests of the Church to love the Church as you love her, and be willing to sacrifice themselves for the Church, as you sacrificed yourself for your Son and with Him under the Cross.
Mary, I look forward to meeting you in the Church Triumphant where you will remain our Mother beyond time into all eternity. Amen.
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