Monday, May 4, 2009

Mary in the Month of May


Father Ryan on Our Blessed Lady


Today I would like to talk to you about our Blessed Mother. I feel sure that during this month of May she will be occupying more time even than usual in your prayers and thoughts, and that you are trying to learn ever more and more about the wonderful graces that God gave her and trying also day by day to imitate her more perfectly. There is almost an endless source of inspiration in the life of our Blessed Mother. Someone has said that she is like the ocean with all its hidden treasures – and just as the study of the contents of the ocean, with its million forms of life, is a very fruitful one for those who are interested in such things, so also, meditating on Mary, on her life, her virtues, God’s gifts to her, is most fruitful for those who are striving after perfection in the Religious Life, (or in any walk of life for that matter). For Mary is God’s masterpiece among all his creatures. The Church in her Liturgy often applies to Mary the text from Proverbs which refers primarily to Divine Wisdom. “The Lord possessed me in the beginning of His ways, before He made anything from the beginning. I was set up from eternity and of old before the earth was made.” It was as though God were just waiting for the time to arrive when He would bring her into existence and lavish on her His greatest graces.

In the past centuries, thousands of volumes have appeared in which Our Lady’s clients have extolled her virtues and tried to help others to understand a little better how wonderful she is. We might think that by our time everything has been said and written. But such is not the case. In fact in our time more is being written and spoken of Mary than ever before. And especially have the Popes since Pius IX’s time used every opportunity to clarify and explain the teaching of the church concerning Mary. We know how very true this is of Our Beloved Holy Father, Pope John Paul II. All their pronouncements radiate an ever greater emphasis on Mary’s part in our salvation and our sanctification. It makes you think that we have arrived at that period in the life of the church in which Mary’s place is to be fully understood by all mankind. Many of the saints, especially St. Louis Marie de Montfort, prophesied an age of Mary, when Mary would be honored and through her intercession mankind would return to honoring and loving God. Our Blessed Lady herself assured us that through devotion to her Immaculate Heart, the world would come back (that Russia would be converted) and there would be a period of peace. I think we can take this peace to mean, not just a cessation of warfare, but peace in the Faith, in the spiritual lives of men who recognize and keep God’s commandments. I believe that in spite of the many evils of our present day, one of the many reasons for us to feel fortunate to be living in the present century is that we have such a great help through this emphasis on devotion to Mary, and by making our spiritual life based on devotion to Mary, we will find a wonderful means to grow in our love for our Lord.

We don’t have to be reminded that all of the Grace God gives us comes to us through Mary, as our channel. It stands to reason then that the closer our union with Mary and the more we use the help she gives us, the more we will please God and the more we will grow in the love of God. For God has given such a high place to Mary in His plans, she was Co-Redemptrix, uniting with Him in our Redemption, and now all grace comes through her (Mediatrix). As we wish to imitate Him, we too give her this high place in our spiritual lives. Our devotion to her is not just one of our many devotions, but it is a part of all of the others. We let her influence us in our daily round of spiritual exercises, prayer, our Mass and Holy Communion, in our daily task of trying to grow in virtue, in the keeping of our Religious Rule, which is itself such a powerful means of acquiring virtue. We want her to be constantly with us, not just occasionally, but constantly, in order that she can make us Christ-like. We could borrow a phrase from St. Paul and use it to refer to our relationship with Mary, that we will always be “her little children whom she continues to bear until Christ be formed in us.” That is what her Motherhood of us means. A mother gives life to her child. Our Blessed Mother, in God’s plan has been given an important role to play in the giving to us of our vocation, and in the development of our spiritual life, and make it grow and flourish. And if it is morally impossible for anyone to be lost who has a devotion to Mary, and many of the saints have said this, then with how much more certainty can we say that a religious, whose purpose in the convent is to strive after perfection, will acquire that perfection, if she confides her spiritual life into the hands of her spiritual Mother. While on the other hand, as Leo XIII said, “he who does not run to her when in need of help, is like a person trying to fly without the aid of wings.” Mary provides the wings for our flight to God.

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