Mary Mother of the Church Feast
May 21, 2018
The other day my Niece had a fitting for her Bridal Dress. Standing before that mirror, she was a radiant image of Angelic beauty, as she contemplated the significance of this moment which anticipates that day when she will receive the fullness of her bridegroom’s love. And not just her, as though they would be the only two at the ceremony and celebration, this would be an extended celebration where everyone present will get swept up into the power, joy and spirit of their nuptial love.
There will be the Wedding Reception. What is it that these guests will be receiving if not the joy of their love and the greater joy of God’s love who brought them and all present together as one great big family in one amazing place? Receiving and participating in this love not simply to be filled with good feeling but so as to have more love in their own lives…more to give to others and the world from each day forward.
As we hear from the Psalmist, Lord send out your Spirit and renew the face of the earth. When we attend a Wedding Ceremony the love and joy of the couple invites renewal and refreshment in our own lives: A Pentecost moment if you will.
In today’s celebration of Pentecost, the primary focus of this receiving of the outpouring of God’s love, is the Blessed Virgin Mary who is mentioned specifically by name. She then stands out most prominently as the center of attention…much as when those doors of the Church get swung wide open or at the reception Hall…all eyes there and in Heaven are drawn to the beauty of the Bride.
Tomorrow the Church will celebrate a new Liturgical Feast Day instituted by Pope Francis…Mary the Mother of the Church. And why is it that Mary is referred to as the Mother of the Church enabling our Church to reclaim the majesty and beauty which makes her so necessary a part of our lives and families as our Mother?
You can't have Mary without the Church, nor the Church without Mary. They exist in such an intimate and mutual relationship that one cannot be fully understood without the other.
From the earliest Church teachings, Mary and the Church were viewed together in a single reality - the New Eve. Jesus Christ, the New Adam and the true spiritual father of mankind, fittingly chose a New Eve to be his helpmate and the true spiritual mother of mankind. This New Eve has two forms: the personal form of Mary and the collective form of the Church.
But Mary precedes, being the Church in seed-form before Pentecost. She alone was given the singular grace of her Immaculate Conception in order to take on the unique role as the Mother of God.
At Pentecost, Mary's intercessory maternity becomes the beating heart of the Church. Mary is the Church's mother, and in her, the Church is mother. For this reason, we can marvelously say - through Mary's divine motherhood, the Church gives birth to Christ sacramentally in the Eucharist and spiritually in souls!
As when the Holy Spirit descended upon her in Nazareth she would be able to give birth to Jesus, forming that body and blood that one day, this day we would be able to receive sacramentally the Eucharist, again, by the descent of the Holy Spirit like dew fall upon the altar.
And as the Holy Spirit made Jesus Incarnate in the Womb of Mary, in cooperation with Mary He makes Jesus fully present now in our own bodies…not as the baby He once was in Mary’s body, but unlike then, we now receive the fullness of Christ’s Risen power in both spiritual and bodily form…incredible!
If Mary is the Mother of Christ, and the Church is the Body of Christ, then Mary is the Mother of the Church.
Mary is the Mother of Christ because of her unique relationship with Holy Spirit who makes Incarnate in her womb…Jesus Christ…therefore, since this is a cooperation between two people, this is a spousal relationship…these two persons become one and in doing so together co-create the new life of the now Incarnate Jesus Christ…the eternal Son of God now become man beginning in baby form.
Therefore before being the Mother of God…Mary is first the spouse or Bride of God by way of her super abundant life producing relationship with the Holy Spirit.
And so we come full circle to this celebration of Pentecost.
When the Angel greeted Mary: Hail, full of grace, she was already possessed by the Holy Spirit and filled with His grace. United then to Jesus by a close and indissoluble tie, she is endowed with the high office and dignity of the Mother of the Son of God, and therefore she is also the beloved daughter of the Father and the spouse of the Holy Spirit. Because of this gift of sublime grace, she far surpasses in dignity all creatures, both in Heaven and earth.
At Pentecost the Holy Spirit descended upon Mary and filled her soul in a new way. With God there is always more and ever-new grace for souls and the work of the Church. Just as in Marriage…when a couple marry they not only fill up their lives with each other’s love but also their families contribute to this love by loving and supporting them and then when new life comes in the form of children…even more love.
This is why in Scripture the Church is referred to as Bride…but only with the Blessed Virgin Mary first in mind because before Jesus Christ can be considered a Bridegroom or the Church His Body, Christ must be made incarnate in the womb of Mary by the power of her spouse the Holy Spirit.
As we hear Saint Paul today: To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit. As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.
And that one body is the Church…that one body is our Family with God as our Father and through the power of the Holy Spirit Mary as our Mother His Bride and Jesus Christ as our brother and Savior.
The tongues of fire that appeared in the Upper Room infused the hearts and minds of Mary and the Disciples with gifts required for their vital mission of evangelizing the world: worshipping, preaching, teaching, healing, administrating, serving and unifying the people of God.
We cannot separate what God has joined together—Mary and the Holy Spirit are mystically married and always work in communion for the sanctification of souls.
From the birth of the Church up to our own day all the good that has been done is the work of the Holy Spirit.
St. Augustine teaches, “What the soul is to the body of man, the Holy Spirit is in the Body of Christ which is the Church. The Holy Spirit acts in the Church as the soul acts in a body. To be possessed by the Holy Spirit is to be loved in an absolutely perfect divine way that frees us from the tyranny of false loves. Mary is the perfect model of full possession by the Holy Spirit and therefore she magnifies God alone. She can teach us to do the same:
All our good works, every prayer that we offer, the promptings and desires which impel us to be better, the necessary help to realize the inspirations of God, is the work of the Holy Spirit, our sweet divine guest, comforter, and sanctifier.
The Holy Spirit never ceases to act within the Church: awakening new desires of holiness, new and at the same time better children of God. Our Lady, collaborating always with the Holy Spirit in souls, exercises maternal wisdom for all her children. Our Heavenly Father and Jesus have provided for us the very Gift of God—the Holy Spirit. It is consoling to remember that Christ, at the time when His Ascension was near, taught that it was better (better!) that He go to the Father so that His Spirit would come and be poured into our hearts.
This past week so many people in the upstate lost power because of the storms…that is nothing compared to the loss of power, the loss of faith, hope, love, peace, healing and life when choosing to separate ourselves from the Church…we separate ourselves from family as it were…declaring ourselves orphans and placing ourselves at the lack of mercy of the wolves and fallen angels who lie in wait to ruin our lives, our culture and our families.
Today’s celebration of Pentecost, tomorrow’s celebration of Mary Mother of the Church and any Church Wedding Celebration and Reception reminds us…we are family…we must stick together in this one place called Church.