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Understanding the Bible Series:
Our Lady in the Bible

by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

Jesus’ Humanity

…Jesus therefore had as God, His own natural Father being God, the First Person is the Father of the Second Person. That filiation, as we call it, on Christ’s side; or paternity on the side of the First Person never began and will never end. The generation of the Second Person is from all eternity. However Jesus did have a natural Father therefore, as God. He did not have a natural Father as man. Did He have a natural mother? Of course, we hesitate using the word ‘natural’ because of the way that Mary conceived her Son. But Jesus did have a natural mother because the human nature that He received indeed from God but came through her. Therefore Mary was a descendant of David. For legal purposes, in other words, to protect both Mary’s and Christ’s reputation, Mary, as we know, was espoused to Joseph. They did not live as husband and wife but in the eyes of everyone Joseph was the spouse of Mary and considered the father of Jesus. Joseph the name among all the possible interpretations of the name, the one that I like best is ‘may God give an increase’. As we know there were Joseph’s in the Old Testament of whom the most famous was sold, remember, to the Egyptians. And then when the second Joseph took Jesus with Mary to Egypt, he had been preceded by another Joseph who as we know was both a forerunner and what we call a pre-figurement of Christ. In any case, Joseph was the spouse of Mary and we say the foster father of Jesus. Over the years in teaching Mariology, and we’ll of course have other things besides our Lady during our semester in concentrating on the Bible. But I thought to get as a large amount of matter into both a short space and a necessarily short period of time I would do what a number of great writers over the centuries have divided Mariology into sets of threes. First of all the three famous words.

‘Full of Grace’—The Three Famous Words

First, the angel addressing Our Lady, as ‘full of grace’. And even as I am speaking I keep coming back to it and people smile when I say it, but it makes almost no difference to most people I talk to. There are so many scriptures, translations whose text you simply cannot trust. I repeat, and just because the biblical translation has an imprimatur does not guarantee that the text or the translation is sound. Like for example, the English translation, as you know that was done, has not yet been accepted by the Holy Father. Used the Revised Standard Version of the Bible which is well the Bible of the Anglican Church in England and the Catholics in England, somebody borrowed the Episcopalian bible and then put in those seven books that are missing from the Protestant bible and as you read that and of course the translation is the one used by Cardinal Law’s translator. For example, I think I’ve mentioned this more than once, seventh chapter of Isaiah, the text of Isaiah where the prophesy was made that, “A virgin will conceive and give birth to a Son and shall call His name Emmanuel.” In the Revised Standard Version, including the Catholic one which has a bright shiny imprimatur it says, “A woman”, “a young woman will conceive and bear a son.” There’s no miracle there. And I think I told you, ironically, in quoting St. Matthew because Matthew has, quoting from Isaiah he quotes Isaiah, “A virgin shall conceive.” Well the buggers, in England they improved both on Isaiah and on Matthew and changed the word ‘virgin’ to ‘a young woman’. This is why today unless we know our faith and I mean, know it, you are going to be misled even by people who should be teaching us the faith. So hear again, the angel addressed Our Lady, “Hail, full of grace” and not “hail, beloved of God”, “beloved daughter” forget it. It’s either “full of grace” or it’s not a Catholic translation. I wish I did not have to say it but say it I must, imprimaturs are no longer a guarantee of sound doctrine.

Hail, Full of Grace

The one who was sent by God, of course, was Gabriel, whose name means, power of God. And what do those words of the angel to Our Lady mean? “Hail” means rejoice. And Mary is “full of grace”. Could Mary grow in grace? Yes. Mary was as filled with grace as a human being can be but then the capacity can keep increasing and thus also, and the quantity if I can use the word of grace grows accordingly. And of course her fullness of grace means first that no human person ever was or will be as gifted with God’s grace as was Mary. She alone had the extraordinary grace of being chosen to be the Mother of God.

And then ‘the Lord is with you’. This is the standard term for predestination. Everyone of us has been pre-destined from the moment we came into the world. God knows our destiny. Our destiny, as we know, is determined indeed by God, and we must say that, but it is not pre-determined independent of our wills. God from all eternity foresaw how we would use our wills. He knows our destiny. And we must even say, He somehow mysteriously determines our destiny—but not unconditionally, but conditionally. What’s the condition? On how we cooperate with the grace that God gave us. And this is I keep repeating to one audience after another, it is an article of faith that those who pray will be saved. It is an article of faith that those will not reach heaven who do not pray. God then foresaw from all eternity who would pray and thus be destined for heaven. With Our Lady however, when God as we speak of pre-destination or destines us it is not only destining us for our final goal, which is heaven, there is also predestination on God’s side for how we will reach heaven. In other words, part of God’s predestination is the graces that from all eternity He planned to give us. But the graces that we receive are determined by the way that God intends us to reach heaven; some in one way, others in another way. When I look at my cassock I can’t believe, knowing myself before entering the Society of Jesus, it must be somebody else impersonating my name. The Hardon that I knew was no raw material for the priesthood, no. Consequently, when we speak of Our Lady as ‘full of grace’ that she was destined to not just receive the grace to reach heaven but the grace she needed to be and remain faithful to the role as the Mother of God. So that’s what technically the words, ‘the Lord be with you’ meaning what? The Lord giving you the grace, giving her the grace she needed and constantly giving us the grace that we need. And what was the message, it was to become the Mother of God.

And although we’ve touched on this again, before, I want to repeat, the most organized, militant and committed enemy of Christianity on earth is Islam, not to know that is not to know the A, B, C’s of the Church’s history. The five hundred million Muslims their number in the world, one of the largest mosques in the world, in case you don’t know is in Detroit. And the opposition to the point of twenty-four nations as I’ve said I believe in one of our classes, twenty-four Muslim nations have agreed to form, well an organization to extirpate, to remove Christianity from Africa. And in more than one country, there have been, like in the Sudan my figures are two million, two million Catholics starved to death by the Muslims in the 50’s of this century, in Africa.

So Mary’s divine maternity is a crucial mystery of our faith that we must recognize that the Mary that we believe in is no ordinary woman, even a great and holy woman but a woman who was chosen from all eternity and therefore pre-destined to be the mother of the Living God.

Behold the Handmaid

These words of course are those of Our Lady, they were spoken remember by Mary to the angel after he explained to her of the miracle of her own virginal conception of Jesus. It’s credible, it was the same God Who worked the miracle of having an aged and sterile woman, she was sterile to begin with, then she was way beyond childbearing years, that’s Elizabeth. God worked one miracle to make another miracle credible. In other words, Mary’s virginal conception of her Son became credible because as the angel explained, your kinswoman Elizabeth, already in her old age, she is now in her sixth month. That nothing is impossible with God, including an aged, sterile woman conceiving. Then Mary said, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord”. And of course the lesson for us, there’s only one lesson we have to learn in life. There are only two wills in competition in this world. Only two? Only two. God’s will and our will. Everything else is either a prelude to that or a consequence of that. And this is where the more gifted we are the more we must and we’ve got to work at it and work at it, the more humble we must become. Because in the last analysis, humility is submission of will to someone else, either the submission of our will to the will of God.

The Word was Made Flesh

As St. John tells us. The moment Mary said, “Be it done to me according to your word”, the Incarnation took place. And over the years how many sermons, lectures that I have given on this subject, I never tire repeating to people that God Who is Almighty, you don’t explain this, you believe it, the all powerful Creator of heaven and earth, will not do certain things unless we first bend our wills in obedience to His. Humble people work miracles. In other words, the Incarnation would not have taken place unless Mary had said yes. I’ve taught too many people, too many priests not to know, if we submit our wills to God, I mean it, I mean every syllable, God will work miracles through us, I mean it. He wants to work miracles. “But Father you have no idea what situation I’m in. It’s impossible.” Well then I repeat what the angel told Mary, remember, “Nothing is impossible with God.” There’s only one condition, only one condition for something impossible taking place, that is, does God want it? If He wants it, He’ll do it. One condition, that we are humble in accepting His will. You do God’s will from Sunday through Friday and by Saturday you can expect miracles. I’m using a figure of speech to bring out a principle.

The Incarnation took place, when? Because Mary made her fiat. The Latin word, fiat, only the Italians and whenever I’m in Rome or Italy, it bothers me, oh no, imagine, naming an automobile after that very sacred statement that Mary made, “Fiat mihi, secundum verbum tuum”, let it be done to me, that’s what ‘fiat’ means, let it be done to me. When God does things for us, oh we sing His praises, how great Thou art O Lord, how great Thou art. But when He does things to us, oh no. Oh yes! In other words, fiat, let it be done to me, that’s what it means, as pronounced by Our Lady and the Incarnation took place because Mary said those words, and she said them because in her heart she believed them.

The Three Canticles

The First Canticle—Our Lady

The first and most important recorded in, who remembers in whose Gospel, who gives us the Magnificat of Our Lady? St. Luke. It is well to know that St. Luke is first of all the evangelist of Our Lady. Luke tells us more about Our Lady than all the other evangelists put together. Luke is also the evangelist of the Holy Spirit. Again, the Holy Spirit is referred to and speaks more in the Gospel of Luke than any other Gospels than all the other three put together. The Holy Spirit came down on Our Lady, that’s in the beginning of Luke and the closing verses of Luke’s Gospel, same thing, Our Lord promises, promises those who believe in Him the Holy Spirit. Luke is also the evangelist that gives us factual data. Luke is very specific, place, time, date, names, that’s Luke. In any case, the Magnificat of Our Lady is in Luke’s Gospel. And we may say that Mary’s Magnificat is an act of thanksgiving three times over.

God’s Providence

First of all, gratitude for Mary’s election, her choice to be the Mother of God. Again, Mary’s gratitude for God’s providence in her life. In other words, God plans everyone’s life differently and we might add distinctively. Nothing happens by chance and Luke’s Gospel is especially, especially clear in what one might call the providential timing of God. Elizabeth had to be six months already with child, not five months, not six and a half, six months. And then just long enough for Mary then to go help her kinswoman. And then when Mary’s time came to deliver her Son, again God’s timing. Then of all times, oh no, what did the emperor do? He calls for a census. Can’t you wait? Caesar Augustine didn’t know what he was doing but God did. And then remember when they got to Bethlehem and there was no room for them. All of this is part of God’s providence. And where then should the infant and Almighty God be born? Oh no. In a stable. All of that was planned by God. So God’s providence.


And finally, Mary thanks God for giving guidance to Israel, to the Jewish people and that is why after two thousand years since the coming of the Messiah, the Jewish people, just a handful are still on earth as a nation. They had for two thousand years a very special mission. The Messiah came, most of His own people did not acknowledge Him. But the Chosen People are still on earth. And may I ask, as Our Lady surely must have prayed often, for her own people, pray for the Jewish people, pray for the Jewish people.

Last night I got a call from Florida from a young woman whom I have known for about maybe eight years. She’s Jewish, she would like to become a Christian and a Catholic but the family is against it. So she calls me up every so often, I give her a great big Sign of the Cross. She knows all the basic prayers. But she’s waiting to be baptized once her own people allow her. In any case, prayer for Israel.

The Second of the Canticles—The Angels

Now of course, Mary was not there, to well, hear the song, but the song was made, made by the angels. Why? Because the moment Mary gave birth to her Son on earth the angels from heaven decided to tell and of all people, shepherds. Talk about choosing and picking. And whom did He choose? Nobodies who were keeping watch over their flock by night. You mean sheep can graze even during the night? Yes, and my shepherdess mother told me. I did tell you didn’t I, I know a lot about sheep? Sheep are dumb. They walk to the edge of the cliff and…not look where they’re going. Do we ever need a shepherd. Perfectly good food two feet away, they don’t realize, ‘here this is food, eat it’. So the shepherds watching their flock by night were blessed, and this is what the Church’s teaches, no sooner was Christ born at that moment the angels were sent by God to announce. To whom? To shepherds. Needless to say, not to the merchants, not to the business people and of course, not to the scholars. Like who? Like the Scribes and Pharisees. Then, and here again, ‘Peace to men, of good—’, ‘Peace on earth to men of goodwill.’ Do we have a copy of the Sacramentary here, is it still here? That we used for Mass. (It’s put away Father) Is it still room? (No.) Well, we all know it. Let’s say the Glory together until I tell you to stop. ‘Glory to God in the highest and peace to His people on earth.’ No, that’s wrong. The ICEL, International Commission for English in the Liturgy, pray for their conversion. This is not what the Latin says. Let’s say it again, ‘Glory to God in the highest and peace [to people on earth]’ No, ‘peace to men of good will’. Didn’t put the men in there because the feminists wouldn’t like it. And ‘of good will’ that’s, that’s the Catholic faith. What does your bible say? Does it say good will? Good bible. Because a person is of good will, when is a person’s good will good? When the person does the will of God. But notice we have a free will, we can choose to do God’s will, then our wills become good. Or we don’t choose to do God’s will and then we’ve got a bad will. Every person who chooses to do God’s will has a good will. But you’ve got to choose. Whereas the Protestants, as Protestants do not believe we’ve got a free will.

The Third Canticle—Simeon

So the first was of Our Lady. The second canticle was of the angels and the third was, remember of Simeon the prophet. When Mary and Joseph brought the child Jesus to the temple to present Him to the Lord and it was then Simeon, in Latin, Nunc Dimittus, “Now Thou dost dismiss Thy servant, O Lord in peace, because my eyes have seen Thy salvation.” And not just the eyes of faith but the eyes of the body. Simeon lived, he prayed he would not die before he physically saw the Messiah and to make it even more sure he asked Mary, could I hold the baby. So he both saw the Messiah and held the Messiah in his hands and then he sang the third of the three great Marian Canticles.

Now you can, now ready, I’m ready Lord, because my eyes have seen your salvation. But remember it was in that same context that Simeon did what, having pronounced the Nunc Dimmitus, “Now Thou dost dismiss Thy servant, O Lord”, then he told Mary that she would suffer and a sword, remember, would pierce her soul, and why? Because she would see her Son accepted by some, but rejected by many. Mary’s sorrow therefore was both, you might say, the sorrow of a mother seeing her own son not just despised, no sooner was He born than Herod tried to kill Him. And Mary knew her prophets too well to have any illusion of how much she would have to suffer because of her Son being not just rejected or opposed but finally crucified. And when we ask, why did Jesus remain at Nazareth for thirty years, barring a stay in Egypt? He had to, they would have killed Him long before He could have preached the Gospel.

Now the three famous places. By the way, what I’m giving you is not just clever, over the centuries the great Marian theologians have reduced things to threes. I just put them on one page and well this morning made copies for class.

The Three Famous Places

The three famous places that are most important in the life of Our Lady. First Egypt, remember, shortly after Christ was born Herod tried to kill Him. And then as the angel told Joseph, “take the Child”, mind you, he didn’t say, take ‘your’ Child, “take the Child and His mother” and fly to Egypt and in the dead of night, again talk about providence. Couldn’t the angel wait until the morning until Joseph had a good night’s sleep? No. And if God wakes you up and wants you to do something at night don’t complain, get up and do it. Egypt as you know is a very important country in the Sacred Scriptures. In the Old Testament, as we know the Jews went to Egypt. How did the Jews first get into Egypt? Who remembers? By Joseph, see, talk about, oh what God does. No mystery by Agatha Christie. It’s more unpredictable, no Perry Mason novel is as unusual as the way God works and this is one thing, and we should learn this especially from Our Lady. The more strange the situation, the more sure you are that somehow God must be behind it. It is now more than five years that I am in the blessed state of Michigan and speaking in Ann Arbor. If anybody had told me five years ago, you are going to be giving lectures in Ann Arbor, “You’re kidding!” Happily teaching in five cities every month. Well, I’m here. And the secret is never to tell God, “Lord, this is, this is not, not real.” He’ll tell us, “Stop complaining, I’m in charge.” If it’s ordinary, must be some human beings. If it’s unusual, unexpected, unpredictable must be God. So the Jews got into Egypt and once they, I got this, let me just say this, it will illustrate something, I got this in Detroit, when I was teaching chemistry at Junior High School before my ordination, teaching chemistry one of my students asked me to put some glass tubing into rubber, rubber stopper. Well, I didn’t get the glass tubing into the stopper I got it into my hand. So my right hand has been crippled ever since. Without realizing it I would knock things over but not once, thank God, have I knocked over the chalice at Mass.

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So Herod then wanted to kill Christ and to make sure, he killed all the, remember, all the boys two years old and under. Then in relation to Mary, and in relation to the Magi, in other words, Our Lady was meant to be part of Christ’s sufferings. From the very beginning, with Him being born in a stable and then having to fly into Egypt, to His crucifixion on Calvary Mary had to be there. And the Magi, remember, again talk about, not divine coincidence. See there are no coincidences with God, the word chance, coincidence, it’s not in God’s vocabulary, it’s providence. If the Magi had not been in search of Jesus they would not have stopped in Jerusalem. In fact, you think of the star at Bethlehem as far as Jerusalem, the star wasn’t getting tired, it could have gone on to Bethlehem, but no. See what God did, He made the star, well, whatever it was doing, stop showing where they were to go. They figured, maybe it’s Jerusalem. They said, maybe since he is a king maybe we should find out, maybe this king of the Jews was born in the king’s palace so they pay their respects to the king. He knew nothing about it. And because the Magi told him that’s why there was the massacre of the innocents. And as you read through Divine Revelation, one incident, what a word, one incident after another doesn’t just take place but it takes place, and hear it, it takes place because often of the machinations, the wicked designs, the sins of human beings, God used, God uses people’s sins to achieve His providential designs. Like in this case, the Magi were looking for the King. Not realizing what they were doing they reported, where else, at the king’s palace. King Herod, once he found out, well, and he couldn’t have waited too long, decided to kill all the children, the baby boys two years old and under. And the lesson for Christians and conversions and if there’s one group of people for whose conversion we should pray and pray daily, that is for the conversion of the Jewish people. I think I forgot to tell you or did I, that the lady calling me from Florida, she’s Jewish, did I tell you that, Jewish. And when they become Catholics, may I ask, is there any Jewish convert in class? Would you please get one? They make wonderful converts. Pray for their conversion. It’s very simple all they have to do is build on what they already believe. Believing Orthodox Jews are every Sabbath day in the Synagogues they pray, ‘O come Messiah, O come’. Well, now they can thank Him for coming. In any case, Egypt.

Now I thought I should quote at least one short sentence from Josephus. Josephus as you know is the Jewish historian, just for the record died 98 A.D. He wrote the history of the Jewish people, which is I would recommend it to all of you, read it. History of the Jewish People, in which he describes the history of the Jews including the fall of Jerusalem. Here’s what Josephus says about Herod.

That he was a brut, murdered the members of his own family. And as Josephus says, he was a stranger to all humanity. No humane or human virtues in Herod. And if there had been a less vicious person in power then there might not have been the massacre of the innocents. That’s why I tell people, I thank God for the heretics we’ve got today. I thank God for Hans Küng, Edward Schillebeeckx and Richard McBrian. They inspire my zeal to protect you people from the Hans Küngs, and the Schillebeeckxes and the McBrians.


I thought I would do a little research regarding Nazareth. Did you know that Nazareth, does not occur, the name of the town does not occur anywhere in the Old Testament, not even once. In other words, talk about obscurity. And now the significance of Mary conceiving Jesus at Nazareth and then coming back to the same place where she had conceived Him after returning from Egypt. Nazareth therefore was where Mary lived. Now the location, we are told, is or was then a very beautiful location. But then I thought I would tell you something about the house of Nazareth. Have you ever heard about it? House of Nazareth? Who knows what city in Italy has? How many know, put up your hands? Oh. It is the House of Loreto. As Jesuits, during our two years in novitiate each of us is required to give one homily on Our Lady, it goes back to St. Ignatius. Every young Jesuit in the novitiate is to give one homily on the Blessed Virgin to his assembled Jesuit brethren while they’re eating. You’ve got to talk very loud, you’ve got to be very interesting for them even to hear you not to say listen to you. Well I figured I’m going to get these fellows to listen. So I spoke on the House of Loreto. My first sermon in the Society of Jesus. And of course all kinds of learned scholars who claim it’s not the House of Loreto. You know what the story is, that angels transported from Nazareth to well, where else, Loreto. Well my whole homily was blasting those scholars who claimed that the angels did not transport that house. Well, years later people reminded me, they remembered that sermon.

Now, regarding the House of Loreto, let me read what it says from the Catholic Encyclopedia.

Loreto is famous for its shrine of the holy house of the Blessed Virgin. A stone edifice of 31 feet by 13 feet. The tradition as recorded by Pietro di Georgio. It is the basis of this story of the holy house according to the tradition, the building was the house of the Blessed Virgin at Nazareth, made into a church by the apostles for which St. Luke made a statue of Mary. After the fall of the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem angels transported the church to, oh, first to Fiume then to Rijecka in Yugoslavia and finally it was transported to its present location. As I say, all kinds of writings, learned books saying it’s all peoples’ pious imagination, don’t you dare say this is imagination, this is good. In any case, I thought I would quote Our Lady when the angel visited her at Nazareth and now that house is in Loreto, Italy. By the way, many of the popes, including the present Holy Father, made sure they visited that house and prayed there where Jesus was conceived of His Mother Mary.


Jerusalem figures, as we know, in Mary’s life in many ways. First of all, Jerusalem is important in Mary’s life because they went to the Temple to present Him to the Lord. Then secondly, again, Mary went to with her Son, to Jerusalem and then went back to Jerusalem to find Him when He was twelve years old. And what was the third very important occasion where Jerusalem figures in the life of Mary, where was Jesus crucified? In Jerusalem. Okay.

The Three Meetings

The first occasion, this is after Jesus had reached maturity and began His public ministry. It was the time of His first miracle at Cana in Galilee. In other words, we speak of Our Lady as being part of Christ’s public ministry by being there when He worked His first miracle. But notice, she had to be there to work, is working that miracle and ever since most of the miracles that Christ has worked over the centuries have been through His mother Mary. And what does that miracle provide us with. The miraculous turning of water into wine gave credibility to Christ’s teaching so that as saint…, who remembers, who describes Christ’s changing water into wine at Galilee, which evangelist? That’s the difference between teaching Catholics and teaching Protestants. (Is it St. John, Father?) Who was that? Who was that, did you say John? John does not have many miracles but every miracle that John records is a long story, it has a beginning, a middle and an end. And in this case I’m sure the disciples also drank the wine which helped their faith. ‘This Jesus is really great. Anybody who can make wine like this out of plain water, let’s follow him.’ All John tells us is that His disciples believed in Him. And then of course the finding and Mary was, was there, in fact it was Our Lady’s conversation and in fact Mary spoke at the Annunciation remember, she spoke at the Finding in the Temple and then… are there any more recorded words of Mary? Well, I like to keep, have people guessing. Find out would you? If Mary said anything after they, she and Joseph found Jesus in the Temple at the age of twelve. (Yes, at Cana.) Please? (Cana.) So Cana and Galilee followed the Finding in the Temple. Did then Mary speak after Cana and Galilee? Well. Look it up see if you can find something. And this by the way, I trust I will not be misunderstood. If there is one thing that all of us, and I begin with the speaker, that all of us are to learn from Our Lady is speaking very little, speaking only when necessary and saying only what God wants us to say. And we in the United States we’ve got all kinds of superlatives that we can apply to our country. One superlative that we can safely apply we are the most talkative nation in human history. Which is one reason why I tell people to write, because most people can talk without thinking, you cannot write without thinking. In any case, Mary spoke very little and then Jerusalem as we know, figures very largely in Mary’s life when Our Lord died on the cross and as the Doctors of the Church tell us and Christ’s blood splattered His Mother standing under the cross.


Galilee, I thought I should put the Scripture text where these statements occur. Remember the occasion when Our Lord was speaking and the context that Luke 8:1-4 is an introduction to what follows. In other words, there were women in the audience, sometimes thousands were listening to Christ speaking and now whether Mary really wanted to see her Son, at any rate the women who were there said, ‘she’s here and she’d like to talk to You.’ Now you can be sure that Our Lord did talk to His mother but He did not talk to her before He gave a lesson to the people. What did Jesus tell the people? “Who is My mother? Who is My brother? Who is My sister?” Who is it? “The one who does the will of My Father.” And this by the way, and if I lectured on Our Lady for the next three months I could not emphasize more clearly, there’s only one but it’s everything, only one lesson that Our Lady teaches us, and that is what she told, remember the stewards at Cana, “Do whatever He tells you”, that’s it, “Do whatever He tells you.” And then Christ emphasized that by saying, thanks I love my mother very dearly but in human language the dearest person that anyone of us has is our father and mother, those persons except for whom we wouldn’t even be on earth. And yet, as deep as the affection is and should be between their children and their parents, what does Christ do, He uses that deepest human affection to say the one whom God loves most is the one who does His will. In other words, Christ being God loves everyone. Does God love everyone equally and remember that and be able to theologically defend it. No. And one reason of course is because God does not give His, well, share in His own attributes equally to everyone. All of us could have been snails or worms or flies or fleas and we have no more right to be a flea than to be what we are. But given that God made us human beings, God does not make any two human beings equally and we have to use the word, gifted. I’ve taught for too many years not to know, oh. That’s what a test is. It’s the measure of how much, oh two things, a measure of how much a person has been gifted by God and a measure of how willing the student is to work. And over years of teaching, the laziest people I’ve taught have been the most intelligent. They’re lazy. However God loves us unequally because no two people respond to the grace they receive from God with equal generosity.


In Calvary under the Cross, this is where Mary was declared to be the spiritual mother of the human race. She was, as we know the natural mother of Jesus as Man. And through Him, Mary is our spiritual mother because she brought into being the source of all grace, namely her Divine Son. But on the cross Christ did more. In other words, Mary is the natural mother of Christ as Man and therefore the spiritual mother of the human race because she is the Mother of God from whom all graces derive but on the cross Christ declared, remember, speaking to John, representing us, ‘Behold your mother’ then to Mary, ‘Behold your son’. In other words, Christ made His mother the dispenser of the graces that He as God gives the human race.

The Three Titles—Mother, Mediatrix and Queen

Mother, Mediatrix and Queen. And over the centuries all three titles have been found in the Liturgy, the writings of the saints and that we as Catholics are to use.


She is the Mother of Christ and the Mother of the Church. On Calvary, therefore, Mary was made the Mother of the Church. Why? Because it was on Calvary that the Church was born and the labor pains as we call them, for the Church’s birth Mary endured along with her Son by watching Him and they lasted three hours on the Cross and finally her Son expired.


First, by giving us the Author of grace. Except for her we wouldn’t have Him, without Him there would be no heaven. But Mary also is Mediatrix, channel between God and us by interceding with her Son. Mary is constantly pleading at the throne of her Divine Son for us. That is why we should make sure that everyday all of us pray to Our Lady. We’ve said this before, I strongly recommend that all of you memorize certain, either short aspirations or short prayers to Our Lady then just casually when you’re driving, when you’re doing something between errands to say either those aspirations or those short prayers. For me, as I think I’ve told you, it’s the Memorare. And every evening, I think I’ve told you, I put down the number of Memorares that I’ve said during the day. I don’t go around with a list but afterwards your memory becomes attune to it. And the numbers can be quite high. And don’t just, don’t just drift or loaf, keep your mind busy always, always. And this helps.

Mary as Queen

This goes back to the very beginning of Christianity. Already in the catacombs Our Lady is portrayed as Queen. And then the famous statement of St. Ephrem, “The Lady ruler of all mortal beings.” I know St. Ephrem because his feast, it may still be, is on the 18th of June which is my birthday. Certain saints you don’t forget. St. Ephrem is the great Father of the Church who gave us from the Eastern Christianity, the most profound and inspiring language about the Mother of God.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Hail Mary, full of grace…

Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Copyright © 2005 Institute on Religious Life

Conference transcription from a talk that Father Hardon
gave to the Institute on Religious Life

Institute on Religious Life, Inc.
PO. Box 410007
Chicago, Illinois 60641

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