Mary’s Role in the Church
“Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breast that nursed you!”
Mary’s Role in the Church
When a woman in the crowd cried out this blessing in praise of Jesus’ mother, Our Lord responded, “Blessed rather who hear the word of God and obey it!” (Luke 11:28). While not denying the significance of her motherhood, Jesus was drawing attention to what is most commendable about Mary: her faith.
Like Mary’s cousin Elizabeth, we acclaimed Mary for believing “that there will be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by Our Lord” (Luke 1:45). Mary said yes to a pregnancy that seemed impossible. She waited patiently for God to shed light on mysteries and advised others to “do whatever He tells you.” She traveled with her son and stood with Jesus at the cross in what must have been the darkest of all possible nights of faith. From beginning to end, Mary believed.
Looking at Mary, the first and best of Jesus’ disciples, we learned how to believe.
But Mary never preached. She has been just intimately involved with us because she was essentially a mother… mother of the Redeemer and therefore of the Church, the body of Christ to which we are members.
“Here is your mother”
With these words from the cross, Jesus established a new family and affirmed Mary’s maternal role. More than a friend, more than an advocate and an intercessor, more than a role model, Mary, the exemplary disciple, has become our spiritual mother.
What a gift we have in Mary’s maternal presence and protection! As we discover it, we may find ourselves echoing Elizabeth’s words of surprise when Mary came to visit:
But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
Note: The Catechism of the Catholic Church, in paragraphs 721–726, claims that Mary is the first dwelling-place of God in salvation history. As such, she is the masterwork of God, and the start of God brings humankind into communion with Jesus.
The Blessed Virgin Mary is a collection of catechesis. She is a living catechism. The faith of the Church becomes made flesh in her person. In her, conceptual teaching becomes a personal commitment and Christian discipleship reaches perfection. As our Holy Father reminded us in ‘Marialis Cultus,’ Mary is “the first and most perfect of Christ’s disciples” (35). Mary is thus the best model for those who solicit to acquire a deeper knowledge and experience of the Word of God. In her they will see the life-giving results of the believer’s truthfulness to God’s power: the fruit of “listening to the Word of God and keeping it.” (Lk 11:27-28) They will see her as the Woman of Faith, who actively surrendered fully to God’s love.
Young people today desire to see religious belief in action. Let them look to Mary at the Annunciation, and they will see a soul their own age who is attentive to the Word of God, hears it, and courageously accepts the mission entrusted to her. In the Virgin of the Magnificat, they will uncover the boundless joy of a young person in solidarity with the poor and the helpless who experience the vindication of their hopes. The Woman of Cana will be their model and companion at all the joyful moments of their lives, while Mary at Calvary will show them what it means to be a person of faith in the darkest hours of human creation.
Prayers to Mother Mary
To Our Blessed Mother
We fly to your protection, most holy Mother of God;
Please listen to our petitions and needs,
And deliver us from all dangers,
Ever glorious and blessed Virgin Mary.
Mary, our model, and mother,
By your obedience and patience
You have taught us how to be true children of God.
Please help us with your powerful assistance
To overcome all our weaknesses,
And to fulfill perfectly our tasks in life.
By your compassionate aid may we ever stand
In spirit with you beneath the cross of Christ
So that we may also rejoice with you
In your divine Son’s triumphant victory over sin and death.
In your maternal kindness help us
to be faithful to prayers in the company of God’s Church
as you were one with the Apostles in the upper room
As you waited for the promised Spirit of Pentecost.
With your gracious assistance
may we be near you in the glory of Christ’s kingdom
Come to sing with you and all the faithful the eternal praise of God.
V. O Mary conceived without sin,
R. Pray for us who have recourse to you.
You are all fair, O Virgin Mary,
You never knew the stain of sin;
You are the glory of Jerusalem,
You, the joy of Israel,
You, the great honor of our people,
You, the advocate of sinners.
O Mary, Virgin most prudent,
O Mary, Mother most merciful,
Pray for us,
Intercede for us with our Lord,