Saturday, September 8, 2012

Day 5

Ok, so you might be wondering, “I get why we are doing all of this ‘stuff’ but where does a Marian consecration fit in to all of this?” Heck, you might not even be Catholic- and that’s totally OK! All the “stuff” we are doing (rather, what God is doing in us) beautifully complements and correlates with Marian devotion. Mary proclaims in Luke’s Gospel, “My soul magnifies the Lord.” As Catholics we use Mary as a magnifying glass to better understand God. As a magnifying glass to study purity. She was truly the first Christian and thus a wonderful role model on what it means to “be a Christian”. From the incarnation on, Jesus gave Himself totally, physically and spiritually to Mary’s care. Marian consecration means that we do the same. Mary, as any good Jewish mother would, taught Jesus how to pray, observe fasting, memorize scripture, and model acts of charity. She wants to show us too. The Ten Commandments instruct the people of God to “Honor your father and mother” and we know that Jesus fulfilled the Ten Commandments PERFECTLY. The word “honor” in Hebrew literally means, “to bestow glory upon”. Think of those implications. If we are the Body of Christ, then Mary is our mother. It is a Christian obligation to honor Mary. As Christians we are called to imitate Christ; and so we, too, venerate Mary. We honor her as His mother, and we honor her as our own. We do not revere her instead of him. We do not worship her. Our honor for her is itself an expression of our devotion to Jesus.

Mary is our spiritual mother and thus she cares about our purity. Jesus gave her to us as He hung on the cross. It was one of His last requests from the cross, “When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold your son.’ Then he said to the to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home” (Jn 19:26-27). John is referred to as “the one he loved” because he stands at the foot of the cross representing all humanity whom God loves. The cross is a decisive moment for mankind. It marks humanity’s incorporation into God’s family. Because of the cross, we can share Jesus’ life. We become his brothers and his sisters. We can share his home in heaven. We can share his father and his mother.

Mary’s role in Christianity is not reducible to a “Catholic belief,” on the contrary, it is a “Christian truth. A careful study of the Bible reveals the Holy Sprit’s revelation to the Church about the identity and importance of Mary. The fragrance of Mary fills the pages of the Bible form the beginning of the first book through the end of the last. In the book of Genesis, God tells the serpent (the Devil), “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he (or she in some ancient translations) will crush you head, and you will strike his heal”(Gen3:15). The offspring of the woman (Mary) is Jesus, who came to crush the head of the serpent, to defeat Satan and his work. In Revelation, John describes the ark of the new covenant, “Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of His covenant was seen …A great portent appeared in heaven, a women clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; she was with child and cried out in pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery” (Rev 11:19-12:2). Mary is the ark of the new covenant! What made the ark of the old covenant holy was that it contained the ten commandments, the Word of God inscribed by the finger of God; the manna, the miracle bread sent by God to feed His people in the wilderness; and the priestly rod of Aaron. What ever made the ark holy made Mary even holier. If the first ark contained the Word of God in stone, Mary’s body contained the Word of God enfleshed.. If the first ark contained miraculous bread from heaven, Mary’s body contained the very Bread of Life that conquers death forever. If the first ark contained the rod of the long-ago ancestral priest, Mary’s body contained the divine person of the eternal priest, Jesus Christ.
Mary’s value is more direct in the four Gospels. For example, Jesus’ first miracle, turning water into wine, was preformed though Mary’s intercession. The very first words of the New Testament fulfill the promise of the prophets and the longing of Israel: “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David” (Mt 1:1). Jesus was the Messiah who was to restore the kingdom of David. In this light, the small details of David’s monarchy take on enormous significance. All the kings in the Davidic dynasty ruled with their mother as queen. Solomon reigns with his mother, Bathsheba, at his right hand. Israel’s queen mother appears throughout the history of the Davidic Monarchy. The same monarchy that Jesus came to restore. Logically then, Mary would assume the role of the eternal queen if Jesus was to be the eternal king, “on her head a crown of twelve stars”(Rev 12:2). Also in Luke, the Angle Gabriel greeted Mary, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with thee” (Lk 1:28). This greeting is unique in Scripture because it marks the only time an angel addresses someone by a title instead of a personal name. The Angle Gabriel told Mary, “The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God”…Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word”(Lk 1:35-38). God allowed his whole plan of salvation to rest on Mary’s freewill and consent. Because of Mary’s “yes” to God, Mary is the new Eve, reversing the first Eve’s “no.” By the disobedience of Eve, all mankind became immersed in the bondage of sin. Mary’s obedience to God opened the way for the saving work of Jesus. Jesus reinforces the idea of Mary as the “new Eve” because he address her as “woman,” the same title that Adam gave to Eve, the first woman. Mary confesses, “For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed” (Lk 1:48). Later in the gospel of Luke, Elizabeth, inspired by God, recognizes Mary’s uniqueness as she cries out, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” (Lk 1:41-42). During the Wedding Feast at Cana, Mary told the servants, “Do whatever He tells you.” She has the same message for us servants today, “Do whatever He tells you.”

Remember, O most loving Virgin Mary,
that never was it known that anyone
who fled to your protection,
implored your help,
or sought your intercession was left unaided.
Inspired with this confidence, we turn to you,
O Virgin of virgins, our Mother.
To you we come, before you we stand,
sinful and sorrowful.
O Mother of the Word Incarnate,
do not despise our petitions,
but in your mercy hear us and answer us.

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