Dear brother Knights,
A woman told our Lord, “Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that nursed you.” Jesus corrected that “Blessed is the one who hears the Word of God and keeps it.” Mary received the Word and gave it birth, not only physically but by the quality of her discipleship. She was the first disciple of her Son. She is now the spiritual mother, not only of the Redeemer but of all the Redeemed.
Mary held her child at Bethlehem and again at the Cross. Like a high priestess she holds her Son’s body as a sin offering for a fallen world. She cooperated with her Son in the very work of redemption, suffering her own vicarious martyrdom in witnessing the passion of her Son. What real mother cannot feel her child’s pain? Jesus came into the world through Mary, and on the level of grace her Son still comes to believers through her maternal mediation.
The early Church defined her as the Theotokos or the Mother of God. Some objected, but this title did not make Mary into a goddess, rather this simply girl, wholly immaculate, both virgin and mother, was a creature like us. But she was honored not for her own sake but to preserve the identity of her Son. Who is Jesus? He was born of a woman and so he must be a man. Mary is called the Mother of God and so Jesus must also be a divine Person. At the end of her life she was assumed body and soul into heaven by the power of her Son. This mystery reminds us that the resurrection is not a one time event but that we too will one day be restored body and soul. We will see God and know his joy with all the angels and the saints, forever.
Jesus at the Cross gives us his Mother. Jesus loved his Mother and we are called to love her in imitation. This is not negotiable. Some of the Popes have even gone so far as to say that Marian devotion is crucial for a genuine Christian faith and for the gift of salvation itself. Certainly the late Pope John Paul II saw himself “personally” dedicated to Mary in such terms, if not so for others. His motto was TOTUS TUUS meaning, “Totally Yours.” It was directed, not to Christ, but toward the Virgin Mary. Mary is not in competition with her Son; rather a relationship with her makes an orthodox Christology possible and a personal faith complete. The late Father Jelly, a Dominican priest, claimed that even Protestants who otherwise disavow Mary might have an implicit devotion to Mary because of the love and faith they have for her Son, Jesus. Mother and Son are never separated. You cannot fully love one without also having a relationship with the other. However, such a disjointed appeal to Mary is not sufficient for the Catholic. Indeed, this might be the particular reason why someone like C. S. Lewis, this and the malady of quaint English snobbery, refused to make the move to Roman Catholicism.
Mary is the Queen Mother of Christ the King. We are all invited into the royal household of God. The Bible called believers, “saints”. Later this word would come to apply to those who had run the race and had received their crown, the righteous souls of heaven. Mary is the Queen of the Saints. This title also says something about our necessary relationship with her. Christ has given her something of his own authority. Her intercession is chief among all the saints. It is for that reason that we so often appeal to her in hymns and in prayers like the Hail Mary and the Hail Holy Queen. Each of us has to ask, have I regarded her as a loving Mother? Do I give her even as much respect and honor that I would give an earthly monarch or the most profane celebrity? If Jesus is King and Master of my life, can I truly say that Mary is my beloved and merciful Queen? Chivalry is always the response that a soldier or a KNIGHT for Christ would offer to Mary.
One of my favorite passages in the Bible is the Presentation scene in the temple, Luke 2:22-38. Notice that even here there is the balance of a prophet, Simeon, with a prophetess, Anna. Although Simeon blessed Joseph and Mary, he addressed himself directly to Mary, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” Just as the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a sign of his loving sacrifice to pay the price for our sins; so too, the Immaculate Heart of Mary is imaged with a sword or dagger piercing the heart. This is a reminder of her participation with her Son. She cooperates with him in the act of our redemption, even though Jesus is uniquely our Redeemer. While Jesus is the head of the Mystical Body and we are the body, some authorities would speak of Mary as its neck. What they were trying to say was that while Jesus remains our unique Mediator, Mary gave him birth and continues on the level of grace to give birth to her Son in others. She is truly our Mother, not just figuratively, but in a spiritual and real sense. She is the window to heaven. As she says in her Magnificat, her very being “magnifies” the Lord and makes him present.
Our prayers and petitions to Mary signify the fulfillment of prophecy. No physical knife or sword stabbed Mary directly. When Christ was pierced, she was herself violated. She suffered for and with her Son but also for the many new sons and daughters who would orchestrate the passion by their sins. Her role as the Mother of the early Christian community has blossomed so that millions of believers have invoked her aid and “the thoughts of many hearts” have truly been revealed. This prophecy is spurned by Protestant churches or explained away. It only makes sense in the context of Catholic faith and practice.
Have a holy Advent and a joyous Christmas!
Father Joseph Jenkins